MTG Brewing on a Budget: 4 Budget Standard Decklists – Before and After Amonkhet Standard
Greetings, readers! I am back, finally, with a new article on Standard budget deck building.
Some of you may recall the immensely popular budget decks I featured back in Kaladesh Standard, Mono-Red Madness Bugwhacker (5 tix, $25 paper) and Mono-Black Foundry (3 tix, $12 paper). (Interestingly enough, both decks are still somewhat playable in current Standard, and I even recommended Bugwhacker to a friend getting into Magic.)
Well, I hit a dry spell with budget brews since then. Part of it is the amount of time investment required to make such an in-depth article with five gameplay videos (with actual editing to clean up the audio, which is lacking in most MTG content, and video editing to make the matches exponentially shorter and more digestible). The primary reason, however, was the rise of two back-to-back oppressive and ultimately banned Tier 1 decks.
Don’t get me wrong, I still did my fair share of budget brewing. Some ideas stayed on the cutting room floor, while others enjoyed some success at FNM. For example:
Cutting room floor: WB Interlude (5 tix)
Before figuring in lands, this deck comes in around 4.5 tix and $24 on paper. When I first brewed it, the price was closer to 9 tix (due to the high price tag on Panharmonicon), which was ultimately the reason I scrapped it as a possible article candidate.
4 Fairgrounds Warden
4 Wasteland Strangler
4 Weaponcraft Enthusiast
2 Gonti, Lord of Luxury
4 Restoration Gearsmith
3 Visionary Augmenter
2 Noxious Gearhulk
2 Transgress the Mind
4 Acrobatic Maneuver
4 Eerie Interlude
What I liked about this deck was the focus on Panharmonicon and ETB triggers, and the synergy between some of the creatures’ abilities. First off, the ability of Weaponcraft Enthusiast and Visionary Augmenter to fill the board with Servos, and Gonti’s ability to take one of the opponent’s best cards.
Fairgrounds Warden and Wasteland Strangler interact nicely here. First, Fairgrounds is able to exile two creatures thanks to Panharmonicon. While those creatures are in exile, Wasteland is able to put them directly into the graveyard and give two more creatures -3/-3. This amounts to the two creatures exiled by Fairgrounds Warden never coming back, even if Fairgrounds is hit with a removal spell. Noxious Gearhulk is a good all-purpose double removal spell as well.
The final creature card is a playset of Restoration Gearsmith, bringing back any creature you want, or a Panharmonicon that was hit with artifact hate. But the true beauty of the deck is Acrobatic Maneuver and Eerie Interlude, blinking one or more of the team and creating more servos, stealing more cards, and killing more creatures.
The other reason I ended up scrapping the deck idea was its reliance on creatures to win the game. It was strong against creature decks of a similar speed, but it felt really soft to control.
If your local FNM meta is filled with creatures ripe for the killing, you should definitely give it a try.
UW Metallurgic Summonings (10 tix)
Shortly before the release of Aether Revolt, I decided to brew around Metallurgic Summonings and see if I could come up with anything worth featuring. Though I enjoyed quite of a bit of success at FNM with a UW Summonings brew, I ended up focusing on Top 10 Build-Around MTG Cards in Aether Revolt, and shortly moved on to another deck idea.
UW Budget Summonings comes to 9.6 tix and $32.80 on paper:
2 Blighted Catarect
3 Evolving Wilds
4 Blessed Alliance
3 Declaration in Stone
1 Immolating Glare
2 Revolutionary Rebuff
4 Scatter to the Winds
2 Void Shatter
3 Glimmer of Genius
2 Summary Dismissal
2 Confirm Suspicions
1 Trail of Evidence
3 Metallurgic Summonings
Metallurgic Summonings decks are quite fun to play, and amount to a lot of “land-go, counter your spell” scenarios. What I most liked about Summonings was its ability to abuse otherwise unplayed cards like Confirm Suspicions. As long as you’re able to finish off the stack (especially with sideboarded Dispel), you get a 5/5 and three Clue tokens at the bare minimum.
This deck’s main weakness is creatures that resolve and aren’t answered. I always felt like it needed at least one more Fumigate, for example. In mirror matches, as long as the opponent didn’t see all four sideboarded Dispels, it did exceedingly well because the Summonings were sided out for Dynavolt Towers. For example, I had a game against Esper Superfriends where I stopped a planeswalker ultimate with Summary Dismissal, getting enough energy from Dynavolt to then shoot the planeswalker for its remaining loyalty.
It is entirely likely that a deck like UW Summonings could still be competitive in Amonkhet Standard, if built correctly. Many UR Control players are moving over to a land-go build without Towers, which makes it a bit hairy to try to resolve a 5 mana enchantment. Whether Fumigate buys enough time against Amonkhet’s aggro decks is the ultimate decider.
Red Deck Wins (11 tix)
Speaking of aggro, after enjoying the quick gameplay of Bugwhacker, I eventually morphed it into a slightly less budget version of Red Deck Wins and arrived at the following build. Currently, this version is priced at 11.19 tix and $38.50 paper.
1 Geier Reach Sanitarium
4 Hanweir Battlements
4 Inventor’s Apprentice
4 Soul-Scar Mage
3 Kari Zev, Skyship Raider
4 Hanweir Garrison
2 Pia Nalaar
4 Sin Prodder
2 Combat Celebrant
2 Impetuous Devils
4 Lightning Axe
4 Fiery Temper
2 Collective Defiance
You may notice a strong resemblance to a brew featured on Top 4 Hottest Red Cards for Brewing in Amonkhet Standard, though I’ve since had a chance to iron out some of the problems. Recently, a friend getting back into Magic after several years adopted my pre-Amonkhet Red Deck Wins list and has won several FNMs over the course of the past few months (including a Turn 4 kill with Combat Celebrant, post-Amonkhet).
The main bit of feedback I’ve received is the deck’s weakness to land-go control. It’s pretty strong to UR Tower and various Superfriends decks, but UR Torrential (my current competitive deck of choice) never taps out except for an early Sweltering Suns. My response to this problem is to make the deck even faster, which is reflected in the above decklist.
Another possible solution is to slow things down so that a single Sweltering Suns doesn’t completely shut down your strategy. Such a build might include cards such as Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Thought-Knot Seer, Reality Smasher, and Combustible Gearhulk. At this point, the deck no longer falls under the “budget” category, but part of the fun of playing with budget brews is the ability to easily upgrade to a less budget version with minimal investment.
Ravenous Intruder Implement Combo (2.7 tix)
Now we get to a real budget combo deck, priced at $19 on paper. I recently featured this deck on r/budgetdecks and it went over so well, I knew I had to include it in my next article. There’s only one problem: it doesn’t have a single card from Amonkhet…
4 Aether Hub
3 Evolving Wilds
4 Implement of Combustion
4 Implement of Ferocity
4 Implement of Improvement
3 Key to the City
3 Metalspinner’s Puzzleknot
4 Prophetic Prism
3 Servo Schematic
3 Metallic Rebuke
4 Foundry Inspector
4 Ravenous Intruder
3 Reckless Fireweaver
My favourite response from an opponent at FNM was, “What the heck is a Terrarion?” In a nutshell, that sums up Implement Combo. To be completely honest, I didn’t even know what Terrarion was until I started looking up cards for the combo and it fight right in.
Over the past few months, I’ve gotten into the habit (and you should too, if you don’t save them) of pulling commons out of my FNM packs that I might eventually brew around, in addition to pulling out useful rares and uncommons. The rest of the pack is donated to the store so they can be given to new players, which is a common practice at many stores. So it happened that the Implements were printed in Aether Revolt and I became intrigued at the idea that they might somehow be abused by the right brewer.
My first idea was artifact recursion, but there’s nothing in Standard quite broken (read: janky) enough to make it work. Instead, I settled on Ravenous Intruder and decided Foundry Inspector was broken enough to make the combo work. I mean, just look at those two cards and the one-mana artifacts. It’s potentially a Turn 3 kill (and I’ve pulled it off).
The sideboard is a bit trickier. At first, I wanted to add another combo with Efficient Construction, Indomitable Creativity, and Pia’s Revolution. That didn’t quite work. Instead, the sideboard is almost entirely anti-aggro, with some additional combo capabilities for control matchups.
3 Underhanded Designs
4 Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot
3 Whirler Virtuoso
1 Reckless Fireweaver
2 Efficient Construction
2 Indomitable Creativity
Again, I acknowledge that this isn’t a purely “Amonkhet Standard” budget brew since there isn’t a single Amonkhet card in the main deck or sideboard, but I think it’s well worth trying out. It’s capable of some quick, explosive games, and it can even grind out a win if things get tough through Fireweaver triggers and using Key to the City to get the final points of damage through.
My head is full of so many other ideas I’d love to show you all, but I think it’s time to bring this article to a close. Nearly every deck idea featured above is worth exploring if you’re looking for something new and fresh for your local store. I only featured a sideboard for one deck because times change, metagames shift, and especially with the older brews, there are definitely better sideboard cards for answering what your local players will throw at you.
I’m always available to chat about potential sideboard cards, new brew ideas, etc. Maybe one day I’ll even sit down and tell you all about the brews that didn’t work – at all – because trust me, there were some doozies!
In the meantime, continue brewing, and may your commons beat upon the brow of your opponents!
Thanks for reading,