How to Design a Magic the Gathering Sneak Attack Deck
What is Sneak Attack: Sneak Attack is a combo deck that utilizes the namesake card to cheaply bring out powerful creatures for a swing. Once the initial casting cost of 3R is paid, you can pay R to bring a creature card out of your hand with haste to swing at your opponent. However, the chosen creature must be sacrificed at the end of turn. While this may sound like a downside, creature cards chosen for this deck are either reshuffled, returned to hand, or already have benefits for being sacrificed. You may also win once a creature has successfully attacked.
To go for speed, or not to go for speed: Considering that Legacy has Force of Will, comboing as soon as possible is a huge risk of card disadvantage. General rule of thumb: “With big risks come big rewards”. If you sneak out the right creature early successfully, you can discard your opponent’s hand or kill them in one turn. If you fail, then you’ve spent your hand to lay down an enchantment and little or no land.
If you’re on the play and can combo out, by all method do so. Winning the game is enough of a risk to take with Force of Will being the only commonly played answer to a first-turn bull rush. However, once the opponent lays down his first land, you leave yourself open to Pithing Needle, Swords to Plowshares, or already Fog.
Delaying the Sneak Attack reduces the explosive strength of the deck but increases the stability and vice-versa.
What are basic cards you should run:
- Ancient Tomb – The best, most stable option for two-colored lands in Sneak Attack unless you run Serra Avatar.
- City of Traitors – An different to Ancient Tomb, trading lessened stability for without of damage repercussions.
- Crystal Vein – Versatile in that if you can go off early, you’ll have the two mana. If you can’t, then you have a stable source of a colorless mana.
- Dwarven Ruins – Like Crystal Vein, except producing R mana and entering the battlefield tapped.
- Sandstone Needle – ETBT (Enters the battlefield tapped). However, provides two R mana twice before being sacrificed.
- City of Brass – Taps for all colors at the cost of 1 life.
- Seething Song – Trade 3 mana for 5 mana.
- Rite of Flame – Accelerant that gets better as more copies go into the graveyard.
- Desperate Ritual – Trade 2 mana for 3 mana.
- Simian Spirit Guide – One-time R mana at the cost of RFGing this card from hand.
- Elvish Spirit Guide / Summoner’s Pact-Fetchable mana speeding up in addition as minor deck thinning. Red is more vital than green however.
- Tinder Wall – Blocks + provides mana for when you’re sneaking.
- Dark Ritual – Trade 1 mana for 3 mana; however, it’s black.
- Cabal Ritual – Trade 2 mana for 3 mana (5 with threshold); again, black mana though.
- Pentad Prism – Accelerates/fixes mana, best used for 3+ color decks.
- Mox Diamond – Accelerates mana, but requires a land to go to the grave. Run it if you have plenty of lands to throw away (25 at the minimum).
- Chrome Mox – Accelerates mana at the cost of 1 colored card in your hand.
- Ruby Medallion – Reduces the cost of R spells, meaning your rituals produce more R, your Sneak Attacks cost less, and you have more mana to Sneak Attack.
Color-Specific Utility Cards
- Stifle – Stops the EOT sacrifice cause on Sneak Attack, keeping the creature in play.
- Trickbind – Same as Stifle except with divided second.
- Magus of the Jar – Fetches more cards to use with Sneak Attack, but also does the same for the opponent.
- Rite of Consumption – Fling for B, plus provides some padding with life.
- Recurring Nightmare – Swaps creatures in play for creatures in the graveyard.
- Shallow Grave – Returns creatures from the graveyard to the battlefield for another swing.
- Fling – Deal direct damage with a creature you’re going to sacrifice EOT anyway.
- Blazing Shoal – Provide that last additional bit of oomph for the killing blow.
- Final Fortune – Couldn’t deal lethal damage this turn? Try again next turn.
- Gamble – Red tutor, while risky, provides a way to stick to mono-red in Sneak Attack.
- by the Breach- One-time Sneak Attack.
- Weird Harvest – Search for creatures you want to sneak out.
- Kavu Lair – Get a one-time draw for sneaking out a powerful creature.
- Regrowth – Return a spent card to your hand.
- Berserk – Double the strength of a creature for a fatal swing.
- Survival of the Fittest – Search for critters to sneak out.
- Living Wish – Allows you to run a creature toolbox.
- Xantid Swarm – Guarantees you to not get a Sneak Attack countered.
- Academy Rector – Search for a Sneak Attack enchantment.
- False Prophet – Clear the field of creatures when this card leaves play.
- Serum Powder – Increases the chances of getting a godly starting hand.
Bread and Butter Creatures
- Magus of the Jar – Refill your hand with more accelerants and creatures.
- Hoverguard Sweepers – Bounce up to two creatures to swing in again next turn, including itself.
- Sakashima the Imposter – Take a hint from Extended combos and use Sakashima to copy nonlegendary creatures.
- Body Double – Use this to copy a spent creature, or try copying a Phage the Untouchable in your graveyard for the win.
- Dragon Tyrant – Double-remarkable + firebreathing can raise this up to 20 damage.
- Crater Hellion – Clear the board of creature swarms
- Dragon Mage – Restock your hand and your opponents; considering your hand would be spent, this gives you an advantage
- Bogardan Hellkite – Deal 5 direct damage and
- Kilnmouth Dragon – With a handful of dragons, this has the possible to be a 20/20.
- Rorix Bladewing – Cheap dragon to sneak out in addition as being able to be hardcast.
- Arc-Slogger – A backup win condition should the Sneak Attack attempts fail.
- Weatherseed Treefolk – Returns to hand after sneaking out.
- Genesis – Reuse spent creatures with this in your graveyard.
- Symbiotic Wurm – Swings for damage and leaves behind saprolings.
- Penumbra Wurm – Swings for damage and leaves behind a powerful creature.
- Thorn Elemental – Swings for complete damage despite despite being confined.
- Tornado Elemental – Like Thorn Elemental, except with one less P/T and a flyer-clearing ability.
- Woodfall Primus – Destroys two noncreature permanents with Sneak Attack courtesy of persist.
- Serra Avatar – One of the pioneers of the Sneak Attack deck, getting this out early enough kills your opponent.
- False Prophet – Clears the board once it leaves play. An different to Crater Hellion.
- Academy Rector – Tutors for Sneak Attack or Survival of the Fittest.
- Progenitus – Usually a guaranteed 10 damage.
- Nicol Bolas – Another pioneer of Sneak Attack, discards your opponent’s hand when it goes by.
- Angel of Despair – Blows up a long-lasting when it enters play.
- Darksteel Colossus – 11/11 trample that goes back in your library, nothing too special.
- Sundering Titan – While this may end up destroying your mountains, this will also hurt your opponents land base greatly should they run basics.
Some types of Sneak Attack decks to try:
Straight Mono-R Sneak Attack– No cute tricks, just accelerating into Sneak Attack to bring out creatures.
Mono-R Sneak Attacking Dragons – Amplify Kilnmouth Dragon as much as possible, and bring out a Dragon Tyrant should that not be enough.
Survival Sneak Breakfast – Use Survival to get a Phage the Untouchable in your graveyard, then Sneak Attack out a Body Double for the win. Academy Rector would work great here in addition to control elements.
Flinging Progenitus – Sneak attack out a Progenitus for 10 damage, then Fling it at your opponent for an additional 10.
Reanimating Sneak Attack – Use reanimation after sneaking monsters out for another round of beats.
Sneak Attack is the perfect deck for players who like to take high risks and win in the beginning rounds of a game.