Building_on_a_Budget

As Subtle As A Freight Train

Building on a Budget - Beasty Beats

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Well folks, Scourge cards have finally arrived for online play, and I must say that good times are ahead. Hopefully, while you are reading this, I'm tearing things up at US Nationals with the rest of the team. For those who can't be there, I suggest trying out all the new cards that are just begging to be put into decks.

One of the most popular decks that came out of the last block-Constructed Pro Tour was the Beast deck played by Jordan Berkowitz that revolved around making a very big Canopy Crawler. I know that the last Grand Prix Trial here in Pittsburgh was over 50% Beasts, which is a statistic that says people really like this deck! Scourge cards only help fuel this flame by adding Krosan Warchief, an excellent card all around.

Beasts have just been getting better over the past year. It could be because of Tribal Wars, or it could simply be because of Brian Schneider, an R&D member known to the Pro Tour crowd in his glory days as loving to "smash with monsters."

Monsters indeed, Brian.

While the decklist here is for the Standard or Tribal Wars environment, one could easily convert it to a block deck by taking out the four Llanowar Elves and adding four Wirewood Elf or four Beasts of choice. While this means you can't get a nutty Elf/Warchief draw, it still works out well. This is a versatile deck to be viable in so many formats!

Building on a Budget - Beasty Beats

Tips On Playing The Deck

This deck has some pretty obvious things going for it, but it also has a few sleek interactions. The most obvious ploy is the large Canopy Crawler plan. Considering the number of Beasts in this deck, getting it to be a 5/5 on turn four won't be difficult. You can then use its pumping power on Crested Craghorn for some interesting provoke action. The Warchief is also pretty good with the Craghorn, as I am sure most of you know from Limited play.

One of the best draws the deck can get is when you play Llanowar Elves turn one, Krosan Warchief turn two, and random fatty turn three (preferably one that costs five mana, like Tephraderm or Avarax if you plan on casting an amplify Beast soon thereafter). Feral Throwback is one of the more vicious Beasts in the deck, and even though it takes six mana to cast, it can end up being 9/9 without much trouble. Even at 3/3, the provoke ability makes Throwback worthwhile with Canopy Crawler and Warchief. This deck is light on removal, so use provoke creatures wisely!

One interesting conundrum is the Warchief versus Canopy Crawler question: If you have both on turn three, do you cast the Krosan Warchief or wait and use it to amplify the Crawler? The answer is usually to amplify the Crawler, unless you're playing against a deck where a loss of tempo will make your game suffer.

One of this deck's most powerful options is to simply smash all of your opponents' creatures with Contested Cliffs (which gets a little better with the regeneration ability of the Warchief). Be careful when using the Cliffs and attacking -- don't forget that your creature gets damaged by your opponent's creature. I've seen countless people activate Cliffs on a 2/2 and then walk their Beasts into trading with another 2/2 -- not a wise maneuver if that was your only Beast (hopefully not a problem with this deck, but still worth mentioning). If your opponent has a bunch of creatures to your bunch of Beasts, attack first, then Contested Cliffs with damage on the stack, using a Beast that will die anyway or one that wasn't blocked. Get the maximum usage out of your monsters!

Sideboarding Options

Flaring Pain
Flaring Pain is useful against any deck that uses Moment's Peace, which is rather good versus an all-creature deck.

Lava Dart
Lava Dart is useful versus Elves, Lavamancers, Birds, Shades, Rootwallas, and other sundry critters. I would bring them in when you are playing against a fast deck and you need something more to do on the first couple of turns. Earthquake or Volcanic Spray would also be decent here.

Naturalize
Green has Disenchant now -- so use it!

Boil
Boil is a lifesaver versus Tog and Wake, and it's not half bad versus Blue-Green decks either, considering they would rather use Islands as Wild Mongrel fodder.

Vitality Charm
Yes, I do mean Vitality Charm. There are a lot of Beasts in here and Vitality Charm has the flexibility to save your creatures from Akroma's Vengeance or create Chainer's Edict and Innocent Blood fodder. I'm sure as people start to appreciate this card, more uses will become apparent.

Adding Money To The Deck

The first card that comes to mind is Ravenous Baloth -- a Beast that is especially good in a deck with other Beasts in it. If you can afford it, get four in there. Birds of Paradise is another card that's excellent in a deck that has a mana curve starting at three. I highly recommend them, but they aren't required.

Karplusan Forest and Wooded Foothills would help smooth out the mana a bit, which is important for decks that use double-colored mana costs in spells of both colors (in this case Feral Throwback and Avarax). Mossfire Valley is also decent in this deck, since most of the spells are high casting cost and there are four lands in the deck that produce colorless mana.

That is all for the Beasty Beats! Make sure you smash face wisely!

Until next time, may your Stone Rains cost 1 ManaWhite ManaBlack Mana.

Nate Heiss
Team CMU
nateheiss@yahoo.com
Nate Heiss On Magic Online

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