Building On A Budget - In The Army Now

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Thanks to everyone who left feedback last week, I plan to do those polls regularly to help pick your brains. You will see the results of the first poll next weeks' article. Until then, I am going with the feedback that people directly emailed me. It looks like Soldiers was the tribe itching to be written about.

Unlike Birds or Druids, Soldiers know how to fight. They are trained and prepared for it. Soldiers represents one of the greatest Magic deck archetypes ever -- one that's close to my heart. For those of you who don't know, I am talking about White Weenie, the deck that never dies. No matter what the environment, no matter how creature unfriendly, there will always be White Weenie, and it will always win. Why? I can't say. It's almost legendary how White Weenie decks have conquered unbeatable odds to come out and win the prize.

Soldiers are fast, but not the fastest. Soldiers are tricky, but again, not the trickiest. They are simple, balanced, and effective, much like actual soldiers. The deck is mostly composed of little soldiers, but there are a few heavy hitters in there for cleanup duty if need be.

Building on a Budget - In The Army Now

The key cards in the deck are Deftblade Elite, Gempalm Avenger, and Shared Triumph. These cards let you keep attacking with all your creatures without fear of them getting wiped out. And, if a bigger creature blocks one, there's always Piety Charm to help keep your Soldiers alive while smashing through the opposing side.

Two of the more interesting cards in the deck are Stoic Champion and Catapult Squad. Stoic Champion, while seemingly innocent, can grow large with the help of the twelve cyclers in the deck. While this isn't an overwhelming amount, the Champ is a decent two-drop and will give your opponents pause when deciding whether to block. The Champ is very tricky, indeed -- with the help of a single Gempalm Avenger, Stoic Champion grows to a 5/5 first striker.

Catapult Squad gives this deck the ability to work itself out of a bad situation. If the game is going poorly for the home team, leave your creatures back to block. With a Catapult Squad on defense, it's unlikely that any attack will be successful, since you can block and shoot. Catapult Squad also has great synergy with Deftblade Elite -- simply provoke something with two toughness and shoot it before damage is dealt. As long as you have the Squad and even a freshly-cast Soldier back, your opponents will always be somewhat worried about blocking your attacking creatures. Remember, you just have to tap two soldiers; it doesn't have to be the Squad.

Tips On Playing The Deck

  • White Weenie is an aggressive deck, but you can also pilot it like Control. If you're against a faster deck like Goblins, don't be afraid to play it slow and safe.

  • It's not always clear if you should attack with Catapult Squad or leave two Soldiers back to activate the Catapult. Often it's better to just attack with everyone. Assess the situation carefully before making this decision.

  • Deftblade Elite is an all-purpose removal spell. Use it to get more damage through, as well as wiping out your opponent's blockers with provoke and a pump spell. It also works well as a pseudo-regenerating blocker. Kai Budde may have been right when he said Deftblade Elite is the best one-drop in Magic (over Savannah Lions). Time will tell.

  • Don't forget that Gempalm Avenger and Noble Templar can also be cast -- especially with a Daru Warchief in play.

  • Gustcloak Runner is deceptively powerful with Catapult Squad. Teach your opponents to fear it!

Alternative Builds

This is a new section that I am adding to the Building on a Budget articles when talking about Tribal decks. I usually include alternative cards as part of the sideboard, but the Tribal Wars format doesn't allow for one. This is my solution so you have more options for a deck that might suit your play style better.

With Soldiers, you could go with a build that pumps out big Daru Stingers. If you're going that way I would go up to four Warchiefs and include four Daru Lancers and four Daru Cavaliers. The Cavaliers are especially useful for clogging up the ground without diluting the Soldier content of your hand in case you draw a Stinger. Your goal for this deck should be to stop the early beats and win the game with a large Stinger. Adding a couple Aven Brigadiers might not be a bad idea either.

Adding Money To The Deck

Wakefield strategy echoes from the past to remind us to always have a reset button. Wrath of God or Akroma's Vengeance will do fine. I would throw in two copies just in case things get out of hand.

Savannah Lions is another card that would fit well in here. It's not a Soldier, but the big, bad cat holds its own enough to be included in any white Beatdown deck. It is, after all, one of the best creatures ever printed. Meow!

With the addition of Mirrodin cards, I would seriously consider putting Empyrial Plate and Steelshaper in this deck. Bonesplitter would not be a bad addition, either. I see many Soldier decks gradually moving towards an equipment-centric strategy -- which is going to be powerful.

Until next time, win one for the Champ.

Nate Heiss
Team CMU
NateHeiss on Magic Online

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