Squandered Resources: Super Budget Super Series 4
By James Heslip on September 25th, 2012 · Filed in Legacy (Type 1.5) · Comments not available just now
Every card from the new Return to Ravnica set has been spoiled, and there are more Legacy-playable cards in this set than my little heart could hope for. So, to celebrate Ravnica's most rejoiced return, I have sidled it into my article. Although its cards have not been released, and their prices not yet decided, I can at least pay homage to Ravnica by following one if its main themes: multi-color decks. Both Ravnica and its Return block have been governed by multi-color strategies, and for this article I have brought in some awesome lists that honor that battle plan--and better yet, all five decks tap out at $100 or less. We can't all play with one color of mana forever. After a while, you and that one color will get lonely. Ravnica has the perfect cure for that. First you just need to decide which guild you want to team up with!
Deck Name: Cascabalance
Deck Type: Combo
The original creator of this deck, MTGSalvation user Nikorasu, sure has a knack for seeing powerful synergies and creating interesting decks. The first deck to be discussed today is a combo deck called Cascabalance.
Any Cascade card + Restore Balance
Any Sac Land + Restore Balance
Restore Balance + Nihilith
As my readership knows, cascade ability + suspend ability = awesomeness. Because suspend cards have no cost, a cascade card will always cast it, and there is no suspend-time wait. Sure cuts out the "waiting" factor so many of us combo players aren't particularly fond of. This interaction is crucial in some powerful combo decks like Hypergenesis and Living End. This deck works similarly, with one main difference: it relies on the combo between the Invasion sac lands (e.g. Tinder Farm) and the card Restore Balance.
The deck is pretty simple to play on the core level. Use up your first few turns to play your sac lands, preparing a sufficient amount of mana for the main combo turn. After you are comfortably sure you can blow your opponent out with a Restore Balance, you sacrifice all of your lands for mana and then cast any cascade spell. Depending on the cost of your spell, you will cascade into other cascade spells. This creates a chain which eventually ends with all of their respective abilities on the stack while Restore Balance does its thing. Because you sacrificed all of your lands, and all of your creatures are cascade creatures--meaning you have none on the field yet--your opponent will be forced to sacrifice all of his lands and creatures, and possibly discard a few cards. After the bomb hits, all of your cascade spells will finish resolving, providing you with a few creatures hitting the field and a few spells hitting your opponent.
Nihilith is your go-to win-con. The main idea is to suspend him as soon as possible and force him out by casting a Restore Balance, whose sacrifice affect speeds his suspend clock. Once Restore Balance clears your foe's field, you should be able to ride him--and whomever was cascaded onto the field--to victory... before your opponent can defend himself. The synergy with this card and Restore Balance is pretty crazy. He will never cause you to miss a Restore Balance, but you can still suspend him whenever you want. He will also never affect how many creatures your opponent has to sac because he will never be on the field until after Restore Balance resolves. That is, unless you cast a second Restore Balance at some point in the game.
One of the major flaws of this deck is its lack of protection. Discard and well-timed counter-magic can really hurt, as your sac lands don't come back for you to try again. That being said, the deck runs a whopping 30 lands and you really only need one cascade spell to resolve in order to bruise your opponent well beyond recognition. In short, the deck is cheap and can really be a blowout.
Deck Name: Rogues
Deck Type: Midrange
And here we have another list provided by an MTGSalvation user. Thanks, Obscurus, for this conniving little rendition of Rogues.
Rogues are not the most popular tribe in magic, but, as is customary of rogues, they couldn't care less. When you're stuck on a budget, Rogues give a lot of pounce for your penny. The main identity of this deck is really nothing new to tribes. Play your tribe creatures, play your tribe lords, and take people down. Its easier than you'd think, with two sets of two cost lords, one of which gives a nifty +2 +1 when your guys are not blocked (which happens pretty much every combat step, since nearly every rogue in your deck has evasion) and another that adds a Mind Peel to every account of unblocked damage. Because of that cool +2 +1 stats boost I have swung for a nice 15 damage on turn 4, and I know more is possible.
What sets this tribe apart from its more common counterparts is the amount and variety of disruption it can run, while still being able to put on a respectable aggro clock. Swinging in for 15 evasive damage on turn 4 is nice, but doing so while having counter spells, discard and creature destruction to back you up is--well--rogueish. That is to say, it's nothing your opponent will be happy about.
Prickly Boggart and Nightshade Stinger are your turn-one drops. If you are not casting a turn-one Duress, then you are playing one of these guys, hopefully to set up a turn-two Stinkdrinker Bandit. Oona's Blackguard can also come down on turn two. She turns all of your rogues into psuedo-Hypnotic Specters, making it very hard for your opponent to have any kind of card advantage. This discard ability is very nice when combined with Oona's Prowler, who is your main beat stick. If your opponent has no cards in hand, they cannot make your prowlers any smaller.
A large portion of your deck is two-cost creatures and spells, which makes it kind of difficult to be doing multiple things in a turn. Frogtosser Banneret mends this issue, making your prowlers, Stalkers and Blackguards all one-drops, and drastically increasing the speed of your board gain. Keep in mind that your Frogtosser (man I love that name. You can even see a frog in the artwork. That's just silly.) does indeed reduce the cost of you Stinkdrinker's (Another great name) Prowl cost as well. Cold-Eyed Selkie continues this chain of rogue-dropping by providing you with insane card advantage. Islands are very popular in Legacy, and when a Cold-Eyed Selkie attacks for 3 damage, you can be sure your field will be filling up very fast.
Smother is my removal of choice, as it hits pretty much everything in Legacy that didn't come into play with a Show and Tell. Other options are basically any two-cost black removal spell that does not have double black in its casting cost. Running two colors with no fetch lands means running the spells that are least likely to give you issues with your mana base. This is also why you run Mana Leak. Sure, you could run Counterspell, as they are both two-cost spells--but we are much more likely to be able to pay for Mana Leak than the double-blue cost of Counterspell.
At $60, this deck is certainly worth its cost. I have a blast playing it and really, its nothing to laugh at in terms of power. I did make a few changes to his original list, but Obscurus really knows what he is doing when it comes to going rogue.
Deck Name: Eggs
Deck Type: Combo
Next up is a very old combo deck that has recently gotten some resurgence thanks to the new card Faith's Reward. Eggs is similar to the Cheerios decks that I have written about in the past in terms of what it aims to do. What makes it different is a speed-factor sacrifice and a resultant improvement in consistency. See for yourself:
Conjurer's Bauble + Lotus Bloom + Seal of Fire + Second Sunrise or Faith's Reward
Reshape + Lotus Bloom
Really not your typical combo deck, Eggs works by casting as many "Egg" cards as possible (I.E Artifacts that mana-fix and draw you cards) as well as lands that can be sacrificed for some kind of gain. Once you are comfortable that you will not fizzle, which should be around turn three or four, you start sacrificing everything. This should net you quite a few cards and mana. Once everything has been sacrificed, including all of your lands, bring them all back with either Second Sunrise or Faith's Reward and do it all again! This hopefully results in a net gain of mana, and drawing into more copies of your eggs as well as more Second Sunrise or Faith's Reward cards. Eventually you draw through your entire deck with the specific collection of cards needed in the graveyard to go for the kill of infinite damage.
The kill works as follows: Conjurer's Bauble takes a card from your graveyard and puts it on the bottom of your library. Afterwards it draws a card from the top of your library. With zero cards in your library you can sac it to put Second Sunrise back into your hand an infinite number of times. You target a used Second Sunrise, which goes to your hand, while the Bauble goes to your graveyard. After this, you crack a Lotus Bloom or two and sacrifice Seal of Fire to do two damage to target opponent. Then, cast Second Sunrise, which brings everything back while going to the graveyard itself. Then, Conjurer's Bauble is sacrificed, repeating the whole loop again. Infinite damage loop for the win. Oh, and this can all be done at instant speed as well.
Reshape is your all-star for the deck, or rather, it grabs your all-star. When you use it to grab a Lotus Bloom, you get to ignore the suspend, effectively getting you a Black Lotus. This is really what allows the deck to accelerate into insane amounts of mana. Reshape can also be used to find you your Eggs if needed, or a Conjurer's Bauble, should you feel the need to stick a previously used Second Sunrise or Faith's Reward back into your deck. Cephalid Coliseum and Ideas Unbound are your super-draw cards, which keep you from fizzling through their insane mana cost-to-draw ratio. Conjurer's Bauble can also be used in combination with them, bringing back anything you discarded through Coliseum, or, though not optimal, through Ideas Unbound as well. Noxious Revival is often used in a similar way. My list does not run it, but based on other common lists that I see, and its synergy with your Eggs and Second Sunrise, I know it is a very powerful option.
Silence is your only protection in the deck, but finding it through your Eggs and casting it should not be too much of an issue. Using your Lotus cards intelligently should give you plenty of mana to play with. Seal of Fire can also be used in a pinch to kill a hate bear such as Thalia, but such plays will be very uncommon.
If you like off-the-wall combo decks as much as I do, then this deck would be a great choice. It's fun, it's fast, and it's crazy. What more could you want?
Deck Name: Gruul Aggro
Deck Type: Aggro
It was about time I included an aggro deck on this list. No other colors in magic are more aggressive than red and green, so you know you are in for a good time when you combine the two together.
Bloodbraid Elf + anything that costs less than four.
Not too much to say in terms of strategy. Just get as aggressive as possible as soon as possible. Goblin Guide is your go-to one-drop as he nets you the most damage early on. Seeing him in your opening hand is almost always a good thing. Skyshroud Elite comes next. Because there are very few decks in Legacy that do not run any non-basics, this guy is basically a Kird Ape, only you don't have to worry about spending a ton of money on dual lands just to make sure he can do something. Tattermunge Maniac is the weakest of your one-drops, but two damage for one mana... not too shabby. If you really don't like him you can spend a little extra to play Vexing Devil, or go with a two drop and run Strangleroot Geist. It won't hurt the deck at all.
Bloodbraid Elf is the real juggernaut. This deck may as well be called Bloodbraid Elf Aggro, because pretty much the whole deck benefits from one of the ladies hitting the field. Cascading into a Lightning Bolt, Forked Bolt, or Simoon lets you really take advantage of her Haste by getting rid of most blockers that may be in the way. Not to mention the thorough awesomeness of Simoon, the most underrated card in this list. It can and will kill un-flipped Delver of Secrets, Snapcaster Mage, Vendillion Click, Dryad Arbor, Dark Confidant, and a plethora of other key creatures, as well tribal decks like Goblins and Elves. Even cascading into a pump spell, such as Colossal Might or Rancor, is awesome, as it just makes your elf that much more of a threat the turn she comes out. Your cascade can also hit one of your Hasted creatures, e.g. Goblin Guide or Boggart Ram-Gang, which just gives you more of a punch when the combat phase rolls around.
Vithian Renegades and Hull Breach serve as your answers to common non-creature threats. Umezawa's Jitte, Baterskull, and even Goblin Bombardment are seeing play in today's Legacy meta. These guys make sure you can throw a punch and not have it stopped by a pesky sword or catapulted corpse.
Blue decks will have a difficult time keeping up as long as you have a decent start. Along with the card advantage that Bloodbraid Elf brings, Spellbreaker Behemoth is a powerhouse. A 5/5 for four mana that can't be countered is a very dangerous threat that they must answer. Behemoth works as your trump and finisher against control decks and he is good at what he does.
That's about it when it comes to Gruul aggro. Not that the deck doesn't have a lot going for it. If you enjoy being as aggressive as you can be without spending $1300 on a zoo deck, then this is the deck for you. What other deck lets you cascade into a tornado? Heck, what other anything on the entire planet lets you do something that even sounds that cool?
Deck Name: New Alara Aggro
Deck Type: Aggro
This is my favorite deck of the day. It can give you a 6/5 creature with Shroud for two mana. New Alara Aggro, named after its key card Knight of New Alara, is probably the strongest deck in this article... and it still rides in at $10 under our max cost.
Knight of New Alara or Wilt-Leaf Liege + Bant Sureblade or Naya Hushblade or Marisi's Twinclaws
Green Sun's Zenith + Dryad Arbor or Oracle of Nectars or Gaddock Teeg or Sylvan Safekeeper
New Alara Aggro is similar to the super popular Maverick Legacy decks, but instead of using equipment to buff its creatures it uses Knight of New Alara, which effects almost every creature in your deck. Bant Sureblade and Naya Hushblade are the beaters of choice once your knight hits the field. The fact that they are three colors--in combination with their own buff should you control a multi-color creature--means that a single Knight of New Alara gives them +4 +4. This insane power boost is almost universal among the creatures of the deck. Even Wilt-Leaf Liege gives a nice bonus to most of your creatures. The fact that she serves as the fifth and sixth Knight of New Alara is kind of overshadowed by the fact that she pumps all of you non multi-color creatures as well.
Llanowar Elves and Avacyn's Pilgrim are your accelerators, ensuring that you can get to that magical four mana as soon as possible. Digging out a Dryad Arbor on turn one with a Green Sun's Zenith can also speed up your mana. Of course, that's not all Zenith can do. Zenith is one of the main reasons this deck is as strong as it is. Not only can it find you copies of Knight of New Alara, Wilt-Leaf Liege, or Naya Hushblade, it can also find you one of the many toolbox answers the deck is equipped with. Qasali Pridemage answers your typical Artifact and Enchantment threats, Gaddock Teeg hoses combo, Oracle of Nectars wins you races and trumps Burn, and Sylvan Safekeeper keeps your key creatures alive. Make note of the fact that every one of these toolbox creatures, with exception of Olle Rade, is a multi-color creature, which means they all synergize with Knight and Liege.
Marisi's Twinclaws works like Bant Sureblade and Naya Hushblade, beating face once Knight hits the field. Really, these three tri-color creatures are the heart and soul of the deck. Printing them all in the exact same set as Knight was just Wizards's way of screaming "Use these guys in the same deck!" I mean, once Knight is on the field, Twinclaws is swinging for 10 damage! The only creatures in Legacy that can stand up to that are those that are cheated into play in combo decks. It is this raw power that makes the deck such a blast to play. One second your opponent is wondering why you are playing Naya Hushblade and Bant Sureblade in Legacy, the next they are wondering how they just died to a slew of 6/5 Naya Hushblades and Bant Sureblades in Legacy. Oh, and don't even get me started on what happens when you get multiple Knights on the field. That's just silly.
I figured that, having spent an entire article gushing over multi-color decks, it would be fitting to end it with a few thoughts on the thing that inspired it all in the first place: the upcoming Return to Ravnica set. Below are my five favorite budget Legacy-related spoiled cards. Keep in mind these are not the the most powerful cards, per se, or my favorite from the whole set. These are just the cards I think would fit best into both brand new and preexisting budget Legacy decks.
While not really a card that fits into a specific deck form articles past, I really like Judge's Familiar. This is a card that is the eptiome of cost-to-service efficiency. For one mana you get an evasive attacker with no downside. Compare that to a card like Nightshade Stinger, who made the cut in a deck just mentioned in this article. Now, stick on the ever-so-powerful Cursecatcher ability and we have ourselves a winner. Does this guy win games by himself? No, but rarely are there ever cards that do such things. Fit into the right shell and this guy can really shine. All that for an Uncommon.
I bet you know where this is going. You just read about the Knight of New Alara deck that gets me all warm inside whenever I play it, and now this card is spoiled? Granted I'm not completely sold on its power, but being a one-cost with an equal equip cost means that this is just about the best budget equipment Alara could have hoped for. Slapping this on Marisi's Twinclaws can end the game pretty fast, and you know that, being a combo player, fast games are something I can sign up for.
3- Axebane Guardian
Remember that mono-green Urzatron deck I presented in my second Super Budget Super Series article? It ran four Overgrown Battlement to combo with the other walls in the deck to produce insane amounts of mana, even without a full set of urzatron on the field. Yeah, now the deck gets to run eight copies of it. And they can produce any color mana. Thank you Wizards. Playing fatties on a budget just got that much easier.
2- Ethereal Armor
Speaking of past Super Budget decks, lets harken back to the one that started it all: Aura Aggro, or Aura Gnarly, was a mono-green Aggro Enchantress deck that I wrote about in my first Super Budget Super Series article. The main bomb of the deck was Ancestral Mask, which often ended the game a turn or two after it hit the field. For a long time I have been wondering if there was ever going to be a similar card printed, or if there would ever be good reason to splash white in the archetype beyond Kor Spiritdancer. Ladies and gentlemen, Ethereal Armor is that reason. This is literally the best aura that Aggro Enchantress could have ever hoped for. It is a one-cost aura that pumps for every other enchantment on the field... and it provides first strike. By giving us a real reason to splash white in the archetype, this card has singlehandedly opened up a whole new world for Aura Gnarly. I was waiting for a reason to break out my angry badgers again, and this is the best one I could have hoped for. And, just because I like you guys, here is a list I wrote up for the occasion.
This is something I kind of just threw together, but the basics are all there, probably just needs a bit of polishing. I can see Utopia Sprawl sometimes causing issues with Brushland and Razorverge Thicket, but I have not tested all too much. Oh, and yes, that is a Flickering Ward, and yes, it is crazy with Kor Spiritdancer.
1- Dryad Militant
This girl is insane. There was no contest for what my number-one slot would be. Dryad Militant is an efficient 2/1 body for one mana that just so happens to destroy any and every Legacy deck that has anything to do with the graveyard. RUG delver will have 100 times more difficulty getting Threshold for their Nimble Mongoose, Goyf is smaller as long as she is on the field, Snapcaster Mage becomes pretty much useless, and Dredge never sees a Dread Return, Cabal Therapy, or Faithless Looting ever again. She is green, which means you can Green Sun's Zenith for her, and she has no drawback whatsoever. Think Tattermunge Maniac is sub-par in the Gruul aggro list I presented above? Run four copies of Dryad Militant instead. If you liked the New Alara Aggro deck above, you will love the fact that Dryad Militant is both green and white, which means you can bet your bottom dollar I would recommend running four copies of her in that deck as well. Having multiple main deck copies of tutorable graveyard hate is one of the best things you can do in legacy. But when it attacks for two damage as a one-cost and it's an uncommon? Sometimes, all you can do is smile.
So that's it for this article. Six super cool multi-color decks for less than $100 each and a little top five countdown for you to boot. Hope you enjoyed it all despite the length, and, as always, let me know what you think! I love hearing form you guys. So, until then, see you next time.
By James Heslip on September 25th, 2012 · Filed in Legacy (Type 1.5) · Comments not available just now
About James Heslip
James Heslip has been playing Magic on and off since he was eight years old. A member of team Sad Robots, James loves making and playing crazy and unconventional decks. He spends his free time playing Dota, brewing new decks, and wishing he could go to more Legacy tournaments.