Welcome to Old School Month on Eternal Central. We’re looking at a different Old School 93-94 deck each day of the month. Today’s deck is Story Time (aka Shahrazad’s Sick Burn), named for playing Shahrazad in a sick Blue-Red-White shell, with a ton of burn spells. Shahrazad functions as a burn and tempo spell in the deck.
Many people don’t realize it, but Shahrazad is fully unrestricted and available for use in Eternal Central’s recommended Old School 93-94 deck construction rules. This is quite a bit different than the Swedish rule set, which allows a single copy to be used, or other rules sets which may not allow it at all (it is banned in most other constructed formats, sadly). It is a very unique card, and one which presents some small challenges for tournament play – namely setting everything aside in an orderly fashion in preparation to prepare a sub-game. There are some ways to do this, but the easiest way is to simply stack up your permanents in piles for what they are (tapped permanents, untapped permanents, hand), and then take a small piece of paper and write what each is. Alternatively, both players can simply stack and mirror each other’s stack in a corner of the table/playing surface, to prevent any discrepancies. Having a streamlined methodology for this ahead of time is recommended in regards to ensuring that time rounds operate efficiently, and that you can finish matches in time. Some organizers and players may be weary of a Shahrazad player going to time, but this is not really much different than grindy control mirror matches in Old School, and the prepared Shahrazad player really does not require (or deserve) any different consideration.
With all of that being said, here is but one shell for Shahrazad that can easily finish games on time, effectively using it as a burn spell.
Constructing Story Time
The theme of this deck is similar to that of a burn deck, in that it has tons of direct damage spells, and a handful of efficient creatures that can also threaten to do damage quickly and efficiently, based on their mana cost. This is mainly Red-White, and the color scheme is up to you, but I like the damage that blue provides in combat and via Psionic Blast, and the draw spells (especially Timetwister) help it race other decks.
If you have dual lands, but not Power cards like Moxen and Black Lotus, this strategy is still playable (albeit probably not as fast and powerful), but can be adjusted slightly. You can make room for stuff like Fork, more burn, more creatures, or simply keep it Red-White. In the decklist above, space is very tight as is, so whatever you don’t own can easily be substituted out for other spells or creatures.
Savannah Lions is the most efficient white creature, and the White Knight and Order of Leitbur aren’t far behind. If you want a heavier creature component I’d lean towards Order of Leitbur first, beyond what I already have in the sample version above.
Serendib Efreet is another efficient creature, which has evasion, and when combined with all of the burn spells can quickly finish an opponent off. As the purpose of this deck is to quickly reduce the opponent to 0 life, I don’t like other creatures higher than 3 mana in this deck, as it slows the deck down, and requires that you run more mana (diluting the potency of everything else).
This deck is happy to play the Restricted List draw spells like Ancestral Recall, Time Walk, Wheel of Fortune, and Timetwister. Unlike many other decks that should shy away from the Draw 7’s, this deck has so many burn spells that resolving either one of these will often lead to victory within couple of turns at most, provided the opponent has already taken some damage.
Braingeyser is very powerful, but very mana intensive and slow. I have cut it from this version to keep all of the spells at about 3 mana or below, but try it out for yourself and see if you think it’s worth it.
Constructing a Mana Base
Dual lands that produce white mana are the most important for this deck, as the only card that requires two of any one color is Shahrazad. If you want to add countermagic you can change that to also emphasize more blue mana.
Beyond the on-color Moxen, Sol Ring, and Lotus, Fellwar Stone merits consideration, or if you are on a budget may be a replacement option for one of those.
Spot removal is one of white’s best attributes, with Swords to Plowshares and Disenchant leading the way. The blue and red burn package supplements this nicely, ensuring you’ll usually have an answer to whatever creature you’re facing down, and Balance and Chaos Orb further buttress this removal suite.
Designing the Sideboard
Dust to Dust is very efficient at sweeping away artifacts, and probably better suited to this deck than Energy Flux or Shatterstorm. Divine Offering is another instant speed removal spell that also merits consideration, and at a low mana investment.
Red Elemental Blast and Blue Elemental Blast are narrow removal and disruption, but very good at addressing some of the blind spots for this deck (such as Blood Moon), or for winning a short countermagic skirmish.
Playing Story Time
Drop cheap threats, burn your opponent, and use Shahrazad as another burn spell. It’s pretty straightforward, and the main challenge is learning when to throw burn at your opponent, or when to nail their creatures to prolong the game.
Ten Opening Hands with Story Time
Here are ten randomly drawn opening hands with the deck (in order, and not manipulated in any way), and a few brief words with how I might look to play said opening hands.
Opening Hand 1
With on-colored mana, removal, and burn, this hand is fine. I’d probably lead with Mishra’s Factory on Turn 1, knowing that my colored mana is going to be more important in the first couple of turns. This also allows for a Factory attack on Turn 2 if the opponent does nothing of relevance.
Opening Hand 2
This hand is light on colored mana, but heavy on action and removal. I’d lead with Plateau in to Savannah Lions, and if the opponent spends their turn killing Lions we can then untap and play both Mishra’s Factory and a replacement Lions, putting the pressure back on them again. If they play a creature instead we can simply Lightning Bolt it, play the Factory, and attack with the Lions from Turn 1.
Opening Hand 3
Library of Alexandria, another land, and multiple removal spells make this a pretty easy keep.
Opening Hand 4
Black Lotus, mana, and multiple Serendibs make this a keeper. We can play Volcanic and Lotus in to Serendib, and then on the second turn drop the Mox and Tundra and either cast another Serendib or a Psionic Blast as a removal spell if the opponent manages their own Serendib or Serra Angel as a potential roadblock.
Opening Hand 5
This hand lacks enough mana to do anything we want to do for a couple of turns, without drawing mana off the top of the deck. I think we can do better, so let’s try a fresh six.
This mulligan can lead with Savannah Lions on Turn 1, Sol Ring on Turn 2, and then hopefully fire off its removal spells as the game goes on. I’d keep this, and use the pregame scry to exclusively search for a blue draw spell or a red mana source, and send anything else to the bottom of the deck.
Opening Hand 6
This hand has mana, removal/burn, and that’s about it. It’s not great, but we can cast anything we draw from the first turn onwards, so it’s keepable.
Opening Hand 7
Lacking the mana to do anything relevant for a few turns, I’m sending this back for another hand.
With mana, removal, Strip Mine, and Library, this is a fine hand of six. Depending on what we’re playing against, I’d probably lead with Library and just wait my opponent out for a couple of turns to try to get it active, or perhaps lead with Strip Mine if I suspect the opponent has a Strip Mine they’d like to use to start off the dance.
Opening Hand 8
Now this is a sweet hand. We can lead with Mishra’s Factory, Black Lotus, Savannah Lions, and then cast Shahrazad, all on the first turn! When we get back from the sub-game we’ll already have Lions and Factory on the battlefield ready to attack on the next turn, along with colored mana and Chaos Orb waiting in hand.
Opening Hand 9
This hand has dicey mana, but can curve out with Savannah Lions in to Disenchant in to Serendib Efreet or Psionic Blast. All we need is mana from this point forward, and we have a couple of draws to find it. This gives us a very aggressive stance, and I’ll roll the dice with this one.
Opening Hand 10
A mix of mana, a creature, and removal and burn are present, so this is a keeper, which also represents the standard operating procedure for most opening hands with this deck.
This is a fun deck that utilizes Shahrazad, and is highly customizable in 93-94 Old School. Play around with the creature and spell ratio to see what works best for you if you’re interested in trying this deck.
Stay tuned to Eternal Central for more sick 93-94 brews all month long. Thanks for reading.