Innistrad – Bitterheart Witch and Curse of Death’s Hold

I don’t even remember what I was originally going to write about today, but I just got home from an epic podcasting run with BDM. And by “epic” I mean epic. Like the great game that is life put Enduring Podcast on the stack, turn after turn, hour after hour, for like five hours.

We actually did five separate podcasts, one for each color of Innistrad, reviewing almost every card! We spend an hour each on White, Blue (news flash, Blue is gas), Black, Red + the goofball stuff… and about twenty minutes on Green. Poor Green. By then it was kind of late, but Green is the worst of the bunch and there are only so many ways one can say “Another Werewolf? Next.”

BDM is going to put up the podcasts later today, and I will update this blog post to link to them when those go up.

Anyway, what was interesting to me, more than anything else, was BDM’s attitude towards Bitterheart Witch.

Bitterheart Witch

“I think the card is good,” he claimed. “Well… pretend it doesn’t cost five. There are some pretty good Curses.”

I thought about it for a second and agreed that the card might be good.

“Well, what does it matter if it costs five if we aren’t going to pay for it? Wouldn’t this be great in a Birthing Pod deck?”

I then went on to envision the soul-crushing sequence of Solemn Simulacrum into Bitterheart Witch (drawing a card), into [whatever] (probably Inferno Titan). “In fact,” I concluded: “It’s almost a compliment that it costs five, so you can go and get a six!”

I don’t know that you would play Bitterheart Witch straight up very often; but it is kind of like an Academy Rector. The plan proposed here is to try it as a two-pack out of your Birthing Pod sideboard to deal with particular kinds of cases.

Curse of Death’s Hold… Courtesy of Bitterheart Witch by way of Birthing Pod

Curse of Death’s Hold is a very special spell. While it costs one more mana than the highly influential Night of Soul’s Betrayal, it is 1) not Legendary, and 2) only affects one player. Bringing one in from the Birthing Pod sideboard allows you to search and ramp into the Bitterheart Witch, sacrifice that, and potentially lock down the opponent… all for the price of just two sideboard slots. You can do this even if you aren’t actually Black, utilizing Birthing Pod to get where you need to go, or leaning on Birds of Paradise in a pinch.

When might Curse of Death’s Hold be most effective?

There are certain decks that just can’t beat this card. One unanswered copy fells every Glistener Elf, Blighted Agent, most of the Infectious artifact creatures, and even “turns off” Inkmoth Nexus. No, this isn’t a combo that you will typically want to play in the main… but that’s why we are proposing it from the side.

In another context, Curse of Death’s Hold might just be a card you want to play in multiples. One takes out his Birds of Paradise, but by stacking multiple copies of this non-Legendary creature-hating enchantment, you can grow up to eliminate bigger or more dangerous threats.

A Note About Bullets:

Some players look at one-ofs — including bullets out of a Birthing Pod deck — at least somewhat reactively. That is, they wait for the opponent to play an artifact, almost so they can have permission to go and get an Acidic Slime to can kill it. These players wait for the opponent to put down something and get the specific thing to deal with that thing, and use their selection engine contextually opportunistically.

There is nothing expressly “wrong” with that operating system, but you might be cutting a large portion of your potential advantage out by tutoring that way. Think back to Michael Jacobs’s quote about Urabrask, Inferno Titan, and 20 damage as a combination from Facebook / yesterday. Theoretically a card like Urabrask can function as a bullet (go and get it in play and the opponent has to deal with it before trying to go off with Deceiver Exarch); Inferno Titan is the top of the curve, and can either be the summit of Birthing Pod tutoring in the abstract, or a tool for cutting down lots of small guys… And you do win lots of games with Value RUG-Pod just on value. The admiring way I talked about Patrick’s Hero of Oxid Ridge play in last week’s Flores Friday comes from another place: These guys are not playing their bullets reactively… They are trying to find the fastest, least predictable, way to stick them and win.

Same deal here.

If Bitterheart Witch is in your deck, chances are, if you can try to search her up, you should. She isn’t “just good” but rather, has a job to do. Grok?



I originally had an idea to combine Invisible Stalker with Strata Scythe. I don’t know if it is still productive to be Mono-Blue [with this sketch] if I have moved away from Strata Scythe (rather than to the low CMCs and high synergies of Black or Red with Snapcaster Mage), but this is where I am right now.


2 Batterskull
2 Spellskite
4 Sword of Feast and Famine

3 Dismember

2 Consecrated Sphinx
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Invisible Stalker
4 Mana Leak
4 Snapcaster Mage
4 Twisted Image

23 Island

Nobody but nobody just has 23-24 Islands as his mana base. It is possible I am too in love with that. Invisible Stalker + Sword of Feast and Famine just seems so unbeatable though!

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#1 MTGBattlefield on 09.23.11 at 2:03 pm

Innistrad – Bitterheart Witch and Curse of Death’s Hold…

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