Last week I built a Rabbleless red deck for Manaleak’s budget competition (don’t panic I can’t enter) and before I settled on a RDW I went through a few lists to see what I would be comfortable playing at FMN.
At the end of May I went to Manchester GP. Those of you who attended will recall the fun little puzzle that is Block Constructed. The two cards that defined that format were Elspeth, Sun’s Champion and Courser of Kruphix but I spent a lot of time with my teammates looking at a white based Heroic deck. It ran Fabled Hero and a bunch of stuff to make him huge. It was a kind of draft-style strategy and, as such, proved a little too fragile for a 9 game tournament.
In the end it was a heavy red Boros deck that showed up in Journey into Nix Pro Tour Top 8. As is the way with the PT decks, we looked at them very closely but nearly everyone decided that the heroic deck was not strong enough against the courser decks.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I get a message from Manaleak HQ about the ‘Design a Standard deck for under £100’ competition. My mind went straight to the RDWs deck that I had seen in a few GP Top 8s. It was just a case of taking out my Goblin Rabblemaster from the deck I had been running since rotation but I wanted to test a few match ups before I got there.
In the cupboard, like a lot of you I’m sure, I have a box simply marked ‘Brews’. In there are a few things I tried but that didn’t quite work, or decks that just need a little something that I haven’t figured out yet. I normally just use it as a sort of good card storage. Cards that should work but aren’t in any current decks.
Well in there I found the Heroic deck that I built for the GP, untouched since then. It was built along the lines of a White weenie strategy, low costing curve and spears to anthem my team. There was something not quite right at the time and as I pulled it out of the deck box I could see the potential in the cards but I remembered how weak it had been against the Green matchups.
Ah but we live in the world of three colour Clans now. From my weeks of playing aggro I know if you can get your guys down early and keep the pressure on it is possible to beat the all out card quality of Abzan decks.
The red deck is all about punching through with Hammerhand and the old Frenzied Goblin. Could I put these guys in there to help the white guys? Sure but I only had a playset of each and I wanted to test whatever decks I built against each other.
What about making them unblockable? That’s in blue, right? So lets have a look at blue.
Aqueous Form makes your dudes unblockable and you can scry whenever you attack. We should all by now understand how powerful repeatedly scrying can be. Another form of evasion is flying and that’s in blue too. Stratus Walk and it’s a cantrip, so…
This card will help solve another problem: the RDW strategy runs out of gas. If you don’t have the win by turn five you are open to a board wipe and then you are top decking for a burn spell. Blue can solve this with the Ordeal of Thassa. Half the time it’s quicker than three turns and it pumps your guy too.
I built this deck and ran it against the RDW a few times. It was a little slower and the matchup was not great so I went with the RDW.
I have a lengthy commute most Mondays so it’s the perfect opportunity to catch up with the Magic news and see what decks have shown up in the Top 8s of the big tournaments. And to my surprise there was a list that looked a little bit like the deck I had tested with. A top four finish for Tom Ross in the Starcity Games Standard Open in Columbus.
And there it was, the card that made the deck work, Heliod’s Pilgrim. She had escaped my attention when I was making improvements to the block deck. Showing up late to the party in M15, she had done some great work in draft by fetching up a Spectra Ward or even a Stab Wound but since then this card had gone into the, as yet unsorted, M15 commons box.
This new tech (new to me at least) changed the way the deck looks. It was now possible to have an assortment of aura cards as one of’s and then go and get the one you need at that precise moment.
Because of the abundance of auras, it made more sense to run the Hero of Iroas as a four of in the main deck.
I went through the list and nodded along at the choices that were made. I also made note that I had most of these cards in my common & uncommon piles. Those I didn’t have I knew I could pick up cheap at my LGS.
Then I came to the land. That is where the money in this deck is. To be fair that is where the money is in most decks. It runs four Flooded Strand. Now you might expect me to tell you that it’s cool, you can play Tranquil Cove as they do the same job, but that isn’t true. The tap lands are great, and they will do work for you during Kahns Standard, but they’re not fetches.
BUY FETCHLANDS. They are worth the investment. In the last article I talked about not having to put the money cards in to make the deck strong enough to win at FNM but in the case of Fetchlands I believe they are a necessity. You will get the play value from them during this Standard and the next. They will be played in all formats of the game and once Kahns stops being opened in great numbers the price will creep back up.
I know this is an article about budget decks and the inclusion of the Flooded Strand is over half that amount but trust me… once you have a decent mana base a lot more decks come in under your budget.
It also has the Temple of Enlightenment which is the same deal as the Fetchland but to a slightly lesser extent. I would say that the list could stand to have a mix and match of these and Tranquil Cove as long as you have six other Blue/White lands.
Lets have a look at the list and talk through what it does.
4 Lagonna-Band Trailblazer
1 Ordeal of Heliod
1 Treasure Cruise
3 Stubborn Denial
2 Ajani’s Presence
1 Aqueous Form
2 Wavecrash Triton
With the exception of the two land cards, no card in the deck cost more than 99 pence on Manaleak. You can buy the whole rest of the main and side for around £15. There are no £4 uncommons in this list.
I have mentioned about sideboards before. I don’t think it’s a good idea to lift them straight off the net for a local meta like FNM. This sideboard, however, has a lot going on so it is a fairly decent start. The numbers of each card can go up or down depending on what type of decks are prevalent in your shop.
Green decks are everywhere. The most popular is the Abzan Menace. I see this list everywhere, which is good because this is the deck that will beat that. The plan is simple: get your guys down on the board, you run a lot of two drops and the Abzan decks run a lot of three drop removal. Once your guys are there you can hold up Gods willing to protect them. Your guys get big too, so you can pump them out of range of the three mana sweepers but you have to play around them.
In match ups where your opponent is faster than you, it’s a decent shout to bring in the Wavecrash Triton. Tapping their team down will keep you in the race. Also it’s good idea to bring in the Lagonna-Band Trailblazer. They will sure up the ground for you and will eventually start dishing out damage.
It’s possible that the number of counterspells in the sideboard is too few but, like I said earlier, the sideboard is something you should tailor to your scene.
Okay. This deck comes in at just a squeak under the £100 budget, largely due to 8 lands, but this is a tier 1 deck. It will take down GPs in the next few weeks.
Community Question: How would you improve UW Heroic in Standard? What are it’s weaknesses?
Can I call this a budget brew?