Thing in the Ice feat. Scab-Clan Berserker

I'm kinda new around here (this will be my first post), but I have been lurking for a couple weeks. I wanted to share a deck with everyone that has been giving me very good results online (I've lost 2 matches to someone else playing BUG Thing in the Ice and Eldrazi). I will admit that I'm not exactly an expert on this deck since I've only played about 18 matches with it, but I have absolutely destroyed almost all of my opponents.

I initially thought about this deck thanks to @Islandswamp 's article on mtggoldfish, but I didn't have any success in my matches. Then I saw Rich Shay's deck here which I mostly copied. I'll admit I don't like copying decks, so I did make a few changes; but his list was so solid there wasn't a lot to change at first. I ran through almost everyone with the amazing wombo combo of TITI and Scab-Clan Berserker (hereafter "SCB"). I did run into a very difficult opponent in the white Eldrazi deck that recently popped up. I took a page out of LSV's book who splashed white for Swords/Path on VSL and have been happy with my list so far.

A link to the deck for people that like graphs and whatnot.

If you prefer to see the cards listed out or can't access for some reason, I'll post the list here:

Creatures 8
4 Thing in the Ice
2 Scab-Clan Berserker
2 Snapcaster Mage

Instants/Sorceries 32
4 Force of Will
3 Gush
4 Preordain
4 Mental Misstep
3 Gitaxian Probe
3 Lightning Bolt
2 Path to Exile
2 Pyroblast
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Time Walk
1 Treasure Cruise
1 Dig Through Time
1 Brainstorm
1 Ponder
1 Flusterstorm

Artifacts 4
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Pearl

Planeswalkers 1
1 Dack Fayden

Lands 15
2 Scalding Tarn
4 Flooded Strand
3 Volcanic Island
2 Tundra
2 Island
1 Strip Mine
1 Library of Alexandria

3 Containment Priest
3 Ravenous Trap
2 Serenity
2 Serene Master
1 Path to Exile
1 Scab-Clan Berserker
1 Wear//Tear
1 Mindbreak Trap
1 Plains

I'll talk about some of the cards I'm playing, their strengths/weaknesses, and why I'm playing them (possibly over something else).

Thing in the Ice

TITI is BIG especially for vintage. This means it can tango with basically any creature in the format and win including Griselbrand if they need to block for some reason. TITI kills almost as quickly as Monastery Mentor does and will often kill in 2 attacks backed up with Lightning Bolt since most decks will do at least 3 damage to themselves (probe/misstep + fetch) putting them at the magic number 17. Some decks will even do more damage to themselves meaning TITI kills in 2 attacks all by itself.

TITI returns basically all other creatures to their owner's hand (barring Phyrexian Revoker of course). This clears up monk/elemental tokens, removes blockers, puts Oath'd up creatures back in their hand, and even gives the deck a chance vs Dredge game 1 by returning zombie tokens or a Dread Return target back to their hand.


TITI does not go wide like Mentor or Pyromancer which leaves it vulnerable to removal. Luckily it dodges Dismember once flipped (and can still be relevant in combat as a 2/3 for the turn), but Swords are going to get it pretty easily. You can definitely fight Swords with Misstep however.

TITI does nothing on the front side. If you can't flip it, it's an okay blocker. Personally I have rarely been in a situation where I could not flip it in 2 turns; and if you can't flip it, you'd probably be losing if you had Pyromancer or Mentor instead.

Scab-Clan Berserker


Damage. The damage from SCB adds up FAST against almost all decks in the format. It can easily wreck Mentor, artifact heavy decks like Belcher/Welder/Tezzerator, and storm. SCB honestly wins games all by itself, and I am very happy to use Lotus to get it out asap. If your opponent does not have an immediate answer to it, they will take a lot of damage digging for an answer and possibly even more fighting you to get it off the table. It also attacks for 3 since most decks don't have a ton of blockers.


Quite frankly it's almost a dead card against some decks like Shops, Eldrazi, and Dredge. It's not particularly good in combat nor does it really do much damage assuming it connects. This is the main reason I've followed Rich's 2 main 1 side plan, but it could easily be correct to run 3 main deck and just cut them if they're dead since they're so good vs many decks.

Lightning Bolt

I don't really have a pros and cons section for this card since they're kind of obvious, but I have been very impressed with this card despite thinking it probably isn't that great in the format. 3 damage to the face has been so relevant so many games you might be surprised. I've had an opponent Oath up Griselbrand, draw 7 down to 3, and die to my Lightning Bolt. It kills Mentor (assuming you cast it in response to some triggers), Jace if they don't +2, all of those lovely annoying hatebears, and can easily throw a wrench in any plan if you have a resolved SCB doing work on their life total.

Path to Exile

I might have some weird numbers in the deck since I trimmed some of the cards to make room for this main deck. I'm running this over Swords since several decks can't get a basic land, it doesn't really matter for us, and we absolutely do care about the opponent's life total. It's not the most impactful card against Mentor or most combo decks, but it puts in work vs Shops, Eldrazi, and Oath.


Containment Priest - Obviously a super great card against Dredge and Oath. Hits Show and Tell which Grafdigger's Cage cannot and also avoids Mental Misstep

Ravenous Trap - Dredge is always a scary deck, and you need some dedicated hate. I like this over some of the other options like Rest in Peace since their anti hate cards don't work on RT. It also has does some splash damage against Oath decks who want to win with Yawgmoth's Will or Auriok Salvagers.

Serenity - Mostly there for Shops/Belcher/Painter/etc, but it's not a bad card vs Storm since you can often take out 2-3 mana sources at once. I honestly haven't seen anywhere near as much Shops as I did when Lodestone Golem was unrestricted, but I would never go down all my Shops hate unless I were very confident there would be none at a tournament or event.

Path to Exile - More answers for the Eldrazi deck and not an awful card vs Oath. You might consider bringing this in vs Shops or other decks with lots of creatures as well.

Serene Master - I haven't really had that many chances to test this card, but it seems like a good one vs any heavy creature deck. It blocks and wins unless the other creature has Equipment or +1/+1 counters (found this out the hard way vs Endless One).

Scab-Clan Berserker - I have an extra copy here to bring in vs several decks, but it's not always amazing; so I think a split between main and side is correct.

Wear//Tear - A flexible card that can often hit what ails you from Oath of Druids to Time Vault to Belcher. I'd feel strange not running this card in a deck with RW, but you could replace it with a more dedicated piece of hate if you don't think you need enchantment removal.

Mindbreak Trap - Just a single copy as an extra counter and possibly against storm. Might be better as a Flusterstorm though I do like the idea of exiling an Eldrazi cast off Cavern of Souls.

Plains - This was mostly here to help cast Serenity/Path to Exile against a deck with several Wastelands (looking at you, Shops/Eldrazi), but this may serve you better as something else.


Like I said, I haven't tested this deck a ton, so I'll be going off my general vintage experience for some matchups.

Mentor - This should be a relatively easy match considering the deck is basically set up to beat Mentor. TITI and SCB are both great cards against the deck, and we have more than enough removal to get Mentor off the table plus Pyroblast to give us a great 1 mana counterspell. No matchup is infallible especially in vintage where you can have an okay hand vs your opponent's Black Lotus Mentor Ancestral Recall turn 1, but you should be happy to see Mentor across the table.

Artifact Heavy Combo Decks - I feel kinda weird lumping all of these decks into the same category, but you should have a similar matchup no matter if your opponent is on Belcher or Tezzerator. SCB is very strong if you can get it down early vs their numerous artifact accelerators and filtering cards. TITI is not the best here, but it is still a quick clock you'll want to insure you can close the game before you die. You might want to include more artifact hate on your sideboard if you're running into these often, but Serenity will be a slam dunk if you can hit 3 things.

Shops - I honestly have not played against Shops with this deck at all, and there are roughly 8 dead cards main deck between Misstep, Pyroblast, Flusterstorm, and SCB. Hopefully Path should help you a little game 1 before you can sideboard into your dedicated hate. If you see this matchup as frequently as I did pre Lodestone restriction, you will want to consider cards like Steel Sabotage (Ceremonious Rejection?) main deck and possibly Pulverize on your sideboard.

Eldrazi - This matchup gave me a lot of problems the one time I did play against it, but Awoken Horror being a 7/8 gives you a better chance than decks playing stuff like Pyromancer or Mentor. I have quite a few sideboard slots dedicated for this matchup, but I definitely need more testing to know if there's enough (or even too much).

Storm - Sadly, I also have not played against Storm much with this deck, but SCB is definitely very strong against this deck. In the only match I did play vs Storm, my opponent conceded immediately to SCB. I feel like the deck has enough disruption combined with a must-answer threat in SCB to make this matchup relatively easy. Storm is always scary, and you may want to add some more sideboard hate cards if this deck is common in your meta.

Oath - Sadly, we're looking to win with creatures making this matchup kinda awkward, but TITI does give us a chance by bouncing their creature. Overall, I think this shouldn't be too difficult considering our plethora of counterspells, SCB punishing them for digging to hit Oath or Orchard, and Path to exile their Oath targets.

That's about all I have to say about the deck for now. Please ask any questions or provide any feedback; I'm always looking to improve the deck or this primer. If you want to test vs this deck, I play on Xmage.

I absolutely must give a special thanks to Rich Shay for being both the mad scientist of vintage and a very intelligent player/deck creator. I hope you see this post, Rich, and I hope I didn't give away your super secret tech for upcoming VSL matches.

last edited by Brass Man

Isn't the whole point of playing four Thing in the Ice that you don't have to dedicate six slots to spot removal?

@wappla TITI is a temporary reprieve from most threats since your opponent will usually just recast them. I don't think you can flip TITI and just win unless you have a Time Walk for another turn. Making your opponent recast their Thought-Knot Seers and Reality Smashers is not a problem especially for TKS since they'll get another card from your hand. If you're really confident you don't need the removal, go right ahead and play without it; but I am not.

You've done an excellent job explaining why Young Pyromancer and Monastery Mentor are superior win conditions and defensive creatures.

last edited by wappla

@Water0 thank you for the write-up. I know it takes a long time to write thoughtful postslike this. This sort of post, and the subsequrnt discussion, is often the basis for moving the format forward.

@Water0 Welcome to TMD and thank you for taking the time to do a write up. You might want to consider Path to Exile in place of Swords to Plowshares...In similar builds, I have found the life gain from Swords to be relevant when trying to close out the game with SCB and Bolt.

@ChubbyRain I have some on the sideboard. Would you say replace as many Swords as possible with Paths, go Path main Swords side, or just go 4 Paths and play no Swords at all?

@Water0 In your testing going forward, I would keep a log - every time you draw Swords, note whether it would be better as Path and go from there. I think it will probably end up being Path but I haven't done enough testing with your list specifically.

Have you considered black over white? Baleful strix is pretty good with TiTi and dismember/snuff out are fine replacements for the white hard removal. Having access to cabal therapy, dt, vt, yawgs, and maybe tendrils seems pretty reasonable

@ChubbyRain Honestly, I'm not even sure giving them a basic land really matters (assuming they can even get one). The opponent's life total is definitely something that I don't want going up, so I think I can reasonably safely replace Swords with Path. I will do more testing and keep notes.

im a little surprised you couldnt find room for a 1 of fire//ice its quite strong in this type of shell. imo

I'd switch the rav traps out for rest in peace, Rip is simply the best cars for the job and once you rav trap they know to play around it and the card becomes much worse. Rav trap also doesn't help you if they sac tokens to either therapy or dread return. Also a fair amount of dredge decks are either on force or unmask, which do a lot of damage to rav trap as a viable card. If you are looking for that type of hiccup effect I'd recommend tormod's crypts as it costs zero, does the same thing as rav trap, but doesnt have any conditions behind it.

last edited by BusOfTheUndead

I really like the list, but I think Dack Fayden should be a 2 of somewhere in that 75, if not maindeck.

@The-Atog-Lord I second this. It takes a lot more work and it's a lot more beneficial to the community to make a post like this, as opposed to just leaving snide comments.

@BusOfTheUndead Like I said in the post, I'm playing Ravenous Trap because it gets around the standard anti-hate cards like Chain of Vapor, Nature's Claim, Wispmare, etc. They know about Tormod's Crypt and will play around it; they won't know about Ravenous Trap until it's too late.

@Serracollector I like Dack a lot, but I'm really not sure what to cut to fit him in especially after I trimmed to get Swords/Path in the main deck.

@Water0 said:

@BusOfTheUndead Like I said in the post, I'm playing Ravenous Trap because it gets around the standard anti-hate cards like Chain of Vapor, Nature's Claim, Wispmare, etc. They know about Tormod's Crypt and will play around it; they won't know about Ravenous Trap until it's too late.

Iam behind that. Each of those cards are a fine choice, but i like Ravenous trap for it beeing relatively hard to interact with for a dredge deck that packs a ton of enchantement and atrifact removal in the board (and even main)

I updated the OP with the current list I'm running. I was trying out Balance for a bit, and it seemed great in several spots; but it never quite got there for me. I may try it out again, but I'd shaved a land for it which I regret. Back up to 15 which seems to be the sweet spot.

I went down on a Gush since it felt kinda weird at times having 2, but 4 may be the correct amount.

Also squeezed a Dack into the list which has felt great so far. I've been happy even just using the +1.

last edited by Water0
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