Wilson, Agent of the Shadow Thieves
10 Jun 2022 - 10 min read
What makes a good man?
This question has haunted scholars since the beginning of time as they ponder the qualities of right versus wrong, morality versus loyalty, every axis one can be judged on to qualify “goodness”. Well, in the year 2022 we finally have our answer - nothing can make a good man, because nothing can be as good as Wilson, Refined Grizzly. Thus, the bar has been set high, high above our primate instincts. Wilson is the finest of creatures and may well be the being we find ourselves comparing ourselves to in moments of stress, anger, sadness, or grief. If you gain nothing else from this deck tech, remember: WWWD: What Would Wilson Do?
The Bear, the Byth, the Begend
Wilson was bound to get a lot of attention during spoiler season with not only an exquisite form, but also by being an incredibly pushed bear. We’re looking at a 2/2 for two mana with vigilance, reach, trample, ward, and choose a background. This is not a bear to throw hands with. Hell, in one of our early Baldur’s Gate episodes I even talked about changing the commander of the deck Oakley gave me for Secret Santa from Thrun, the Last Troll to Wilson (paired with Raised By Giants ). He’s that good. But y’all ain’t here to talk shiny mana symbols. Y’all are here to find out how Wilson is gonna smash heads in PDH. As refined as Wilson has become in his later years, you’ll be shocked to find it’s all a front. A ruse. An illusion. For really, Wilson is the top assassin of…
…the Shadow Thieves. Honestly, who could have seen this coming? Certainly not I. Even before we get to the 98, this combination is deadly. Wilson comes down turn two, and by turn three he’ll be swinging as a 3/3 with deathtouch and indestructible (and all those other keywords he already had). This is true power. We’ll be leaning into these synergies by wrapping Wilson, Shadow Thief in a BG Voltron Shell. The strategy is simple: bonk opponents on the head while they look on in horror as the Biggest Bear takes them from this mortal realm. All hail Wilson.
The Bear Necessities
While Wilson might be the object of our complete desire, I fear our opponents might not share the same views. Thus, protecting Wilson from a death most cruel is a key component of this deck and honestly, any voltron deck. We do this by utilizing the innate power of BG to give temporary reprieves from death, Wilson’s own ward, and some good old-fashioned human sacrifices.
Return to Action - Basically everything in MTG has been turned up to 11 these past few years, but few effects have such an impact on PDH than black’s “return to the battlefield” instants. They’re great in Gray Merchant of Asphodel , they’re great in this, really any black deck where you don’t want your creatures dying. Currently this deck doesn’t run too many of these effects. If we’ve got Wilson Voltron-ed up, all our auras and equipment will fall off. But NEO’s flavor of the week gives lifelink, and if there’s anything a 10/10 bear wants…it’s lifelink.
Snakeskin Veil - Green’s take on creature protection is just don’t let them get targeted in the first place. Again, there’s a lot of this type of card cropping up in recent years, so pick your favorite. I like veil cause it also adds a +1/+1 counter, further taunting our foes who dared to attempt to murder the Bear. For shame! Snakeskin Veil is joined by Tamiyo’s Safekeeping , just in case you need to remind them Wilson is off limits, twice. Now, some of you out there might be saying “But Chev, what if removal isn’t targeting? What then?” and to that I say “just let me get to the next paragraph…”
Nested Shambler - Edict protection. Doomed Dissenter , Myr Sire , Shambler - all edict protection. This is a format ripe with Fleshbag Marauder s and their ilk. We can’t afford to lose Wilson once he’s all armored up, so having a few chumps to take a hit is always a good idea. Nested Shambler has even more utility considering it creates tokens equal to power, so whether you give it a couple pieces of equipment or a last minute Cranial Plating , it can hopefully provide you with more than a one-for-one.
Right to Bear Arms
As much as Wilson would like to settle disputes over a dirty martini and some light jazz, sometimes he’s got to arm up.
Armory of Iroas - Barely needs an introduction. With Wilson + Agent of Shadow Thieves alone we can kill someone with commander damage in five turns. That’s..a bit slow (hence the voltron theme), so when a single equipment can reduce that to four turns and by then Wilson’s swinging for 10…this can become an Avengers level threat. AND the buffs stick around if the Armory is destroyed.
Ceremonial Knife - The voice of Papa Pauper rings true in all equipment that create tokens. Ceremonial knife is best in this non-blue build for providing a form of card advantage, but make no mistake, we’re also running Goldvein Pick and Prying Blade cause, ya know… ramp. And Cranial Plating.
Viridian Longbow - Since Wilson natively has vigilance, we can get a little cute with some of this stuff ( Vulshok Gauntlets anyone?). But per usual, Viridian Longbow is the best of the bunch. If we’ve got Agent of the Shadow Thieves out we’re attacking with both vigilance AND deathtouch…hopefully you can see where I’m going with this. Wilson becoming a FREAKING MASTER ARCHER BABY THERE’S NOTHING HE CAN’T DO!!
Wilson, Master Chef
Speaking of Wilson’s many talents, did you know he can make a mean Garlic Butter Baked Salmon? Equipment is going to usually be our path to success, but Golgari has a few too many bonkers auras to be left out.
Blessing of Leeches - All black PDH decks that need their commander should play this card. For us, that 1 life fee to keep Wilson free from harm is priceless. Well, okay it has a clearly defined cost but I’m saying it’s worth more than the life lost. Something something economic theory and value of goods and services.
Master Chef - Okay, okay, this isn’t an aura but…isn’t it?? We really only care about Wilson attacking, so think of this like an aura that doesn’t target. Generally minimal enough to not warrant an opponent’s removal spell, and helps pick Wilson back up when he gets knocked down.
Wilson’s secret Stash
Like always, there are a few cards that don’t quite fit into my amazing wordplay above. Here are a couple:
Fortuitous Find - Kaladesh had some wild support for artifacts in black, something we don’t normally see outside of Esper. This can help us get back a chump, another Fleshbag, and a piece of equipment. Easily worth the cost of admission.
Parasitic Impetus - Sometimes, Wilson might need to face down an even bigger Wilson. While we’re sure ours can take on any other in a fight…sometimes it’s better to let our opponents figure out their problems among themselves. With Baldur’s Gate we’re seeing the C20 Impetus cycle downshifted to common… and this is your call to action. Plus it gives us a bit of life back which should be helpful.
So long and thanks for all the Fish
And that’s it! Wilson, Shadow Thief is a terrifying combination when given the access to the resiliency of GB at common and can easily become enemy number one. So join me with this truly un-bearable deck and let’s smash some heads. Full decklist below, and on Moxfield!
Wilson, Agent of the Shadow Thieves
1x Armory of Iroas
1x Ceremonial Knife
1x Cliffhaven Kitesail
1x Cranial Plating
1x Darksteel Axe
1x Giant's Skewer
1x Goldvein Pick
1x Honored Heirloom
1x Network Terminal
1x Prying Blade
1x Quick-Draw Dagger
1x Viridian Longbow
1x Vulshok Gauntlets
1x Whispersilk Cloak
1x Deadly Dispute
1x Return to Action
1x Return to Nature
1x Rotten Reunion
1x Shred Memory
1x Snakeskin Veil
1x Snuff Out
1x Succumb to Temptation
1x Tainted Strike
1x Tamiyo's Safekeeping
1x Vines of Vastwood
1x Druidic Ritual
1x Evincar's Justice
1x Feed the Swarm
1x Fortuitous Find
1x Kodama's Reach
1x Nature's Lore
1x Nissa's Pilgrimage
1x Pointed Discussion
1x Read the Bones
1x Sign in Blood
1x Syphon Mind
1x Three Visits
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