Building on a Budget is dedicated to making decks that cost 30 tickets or less on Magic Online. Weekly deck testing is done using Magic Online.
This week's format? Standard. This includes Ninth Edition, Ravnica, Guildpact, Dissension, Coldsnap, Time Spiral, Planar Chaos, and Future Sight.
MadBent! – Coming Soon to a Theater Near You.
ello everyone, and welcome back to Building on a Budget! This week is part two of my Madbent! deck evolution. Last week I went step-by-step through my choices for the deck, and ended up with this 75-card concoction:
Before I get started on my playtesting results, let me answer some questions that came in on the forums of last week's article. There were several excellent questions and comments posted by you guys, and I'd like to address them now!
Jwmints asked: "hmmm... he said the deck was going to be mainly black with a splash of red, but he used equal portions of black producing lands and red producing lands."
Well jwmints, let me refer you to Jeff Cunningham's Magic Academy column. Specifically, let's take a look at his column "An Introduction to Mana Base".
"How many cards of each color are you playing? (26 Green, 10 Red) Knowing a deck's color ratio will help govern the color ratio of mana used.
However, this ratio should not be followed exactly. It is difficult to win if you can't play all of the cards in your hand, even if you can play most of them. Again, we aim to be able to play all of our cards most of the time. Also, it is usually the case that any additional land of a color beyond the first or a second is redundant. Even if we were to have twice as many green spells as red spells, it is more important that we have (at least) one Forest and one Mountain than it is we have two Forests and one Mountain. That said, we still want to pad our green spells since, one, if we have to draw only one or the other, we would much rather it be a Forest and, two, there will be turns when we play more than one card. In these cases, since we have more green cards than red cards, we will need some extra Forests.
So, it is generally better to bias heavily used colors down and lightly used colors up in the mana ratio."
As a side note - I can't recommend reading Jeff's take on Magic Academy enough! It's one of the very best weekly Magic articles being written right now. No matter your level of skill in Magic, Jeff's clear, concise writing style and knowledge of the game provides tips that can improve your game. Several topics that my readers have asked me to cover (How do I beat a combo deck? How do I build a mana base?) have been covered by Jeff over at the Magic Academy!
Shalie said: "Dark Confidant sees a lot more play in other formats, and your deck could use another aggressive 2-drop, so you might wanna switch those."
When building this deck, I had a choice about whether to put Dark Confidant or Phyrexian Arena in the card-drawing slot. Unfortunately, Dark Confidant doesn't play well with madness cards or morph creatures. With Phyrexian Arena, I pay one life to draw an extra card, regardless of the card drawn. With Dark Confidant, Reckless Wurm and Gathan Raiders both turn into five-point hits, a pretty huge chunk of my life total.
In addition, Phyrexian Arena runs around four tickets on Magic Online. Dark Confidant runs five. This deck already hits 30 tickets with the Arenas, so I would have to make even more cuts to fit in Confidants.
Enough preamble. On to the games!
Match 1: Silee (Black/White Weenie)
Game 1: I Madness out an early Reckless Wurm and clear out his creatures with burn. This game is pretty one-sided in my favor.
(Sideboard In: 4 Pyroclasm, 3 Shadow Guildmage)
(Sideboard Out: 1 Smallpox, 3 Call to the Netherworld, 3 Phyrexian Totem)
(Sideboarding notes: He is playing with small creatures, so Pyroclasm is useful as a Wrath of God-type effect. Shadow Guildmage deals with small guys like Savannah Lions and Dark Confidant. Phyrexian Totem isn't likely to swing through his board, and he isn't going to kill many of my guys, invalidating the need for Call to the Netherworld.)
Game 2: I get out an early Shadow Guildmage and follow it up with Rakdos Guildmage. He neutralizes some of my board with Faith's Fetters, and we go back and forth damaging each other. Eventually, I get out Phyrexian Arena and he gets out Orzhova. He kills me the turn before I would kill him.
Game 3: We are mutually low in life, with my Rakdos Guildmage and Deepcavern Imp facing down his Knight of the Holy Nimbus and Ghost Council of Orzhova. I have double Keldon Megaliths, so I am able to pick off his auxiliary creatures during this match (including Soltari Priest). On his attack I go down to two life, but am able to shoot him with my Megaliths, make a Goblin token at end of turn, untap, make a Goblin, attack him, and shoot him with a Megaliths to win.
Match 2: TeetopND (Mono-Red Burn)
Game 1: TeetopND is playing a ton of weenies and burn spells. I stabilize early against his creatures by trading at every opportunity (Rakdos Guildmage for Karplusan Wolverine, Mindlash Sliver for Scorched Rusalka). I have more creatures than him in my deck, but he has a ton more removal. He burns me down to two, and kills most of my creatures, but a Hellbent Gathan Raiders proves too much for him to handle. I draw 8+ cards off of Phyrexian Arena this game, giving me enough threats to divert his burn spells away from my head.
(Sideboard In: 4 Yixilid Jailer, 3 Shadow Guildmage)
(Sideboard Out: 3 Smallpox, 3 Phyrexian Totem, 1 Call to the Netherworld)
(Sideboard Notes: I wanted as many creatures as possible in for Game 2, because the match will come down to "who can keep a creature on the board." Phyrexian Totem is horrible against a deck packed with burn, so out it goes. I didn't see enough creatures to warrant Pyroclasm, as the deck seemed around 75/25 burn/creatures for the non-land cards.)
Game 2: This game is very similar to the first, as I end up at two life again, but get a board filled with creatures. I could have died to any top-decked burn spell for one turn, but that one turn also saw me with a Hellbent Gathan Raiders and a Deepcavern Imp on the attack.
Match 3: Jcmmcl (Mono-Black Control)
Game 1: I smash him down, and have a board with Gathan Raiders, Rakdos Guildmage and Reckless Wurm. He casts Damnation, and then casts Tendrils of Corruption on Deepcavern Imp on my next turn. This boost of life puts him out of killing range, and his 8/8 Korlash finishes the games shortly thereafter.
Game 2: He draws double Tendrils and double Damnation within the first 10 cards, and I can't recover from that. I end up doing 20+ damage over the course of the game, but I have no creatures on the board and no cards in hand when he starts swinging in with an ever-growing Korlash.
So far, not too bad. I felt like I had little-to-no chance against the Mono-Black deck, as I was pretty much at the mercy of him drawing (or not drawing) Tendrils and Damnation. To fix this, I decided to make a couple of changes to the deck.
First, I wanted to take out the Phyrexian Totems. I almost never wanted to use mana to activate them in the games I drew them, and I sided them out two of the three matches I'd played already. In a land filled with burn and weenie decks, the Totem is not king.
Conversely, Shadow Guildmage is really great - it kills lots of early-drop creatures, gives me another one-drop to play with, and can poke damage through large blockers. Those need to be moved from sideboard to main deck.
I've had a couple of games where I drew multiple Phyrexian Arenas, but only wanted to have one in play. Because of this, I decide to take out a Phyrexian Arena (-4 tickets) to add in a fourth Shadow Guildmage to the main deck, and add three Greater Gargadon (+3 tickets - 1 each) to the sideboard. Greater Gargadon gives me a double-threat against control decks. First, I can use it to sacrifice creatures that are being targeted by Tendrils of Corruption, Faith's Fetters or Lightning Helix in order to counter those spells (which will avoid any lifegain on my opponent's side of the board). Second, it's great against many control decks. I can suspend it early against a Mono-Black or White/Blue deck, and have it drop to the board (with haste) on my turn, circumventing many sorcery-speed kill spells, such as Wrath of God, Damnation, or enchantments like Faith's Fetters.
Madbent! (rev. 2)
Out: 1 Phyrexian Arena, 3 Phyrexian Totem
Move from Board: 3 Shadow Guildmage
In: 1 Shadow Guildmage
Sideboard In: 3 Greater Gargadon
Match 4: Bigslick90 (R/W/G Dredge)
Game 1: This match is hard for me, because I have few creatures that can survive Stormbind, and he can constantly gain life from many of his spells. He gets Life from the Loam/Stormbind going, plays a couple of Loxodon Hierarchs, and proceeds to smash my face in.
(Sideboard In: 4 Yixilid Jailer, 4 Blood Moon, 2 Greater Gargadon)
(Sideboard Out: 4 Mindlash Sliver, 3 Smallpox, 3 Call to the Netherworld)
(Sideboard Notes: The only way I'm going to win this is to hose his engine and mana base, and hope he doesn't draw Stormbind. This is a really bad match for my deck.)
Game 2: I drop a couple of early creatures, and follow it with a third-turn Blood Moon. This shuts down the majority of his lands, but he is still able to cast Call of the Herd and Loxodon Hierarch. I shut down his Flashback with Yixilid Jailer, and proceed to burn out his team with multiple Fiery Temper activations from Shadow Guildmage plus some blocking.
Unfortunately, he draws Stormbind shortly after I start getting board position, and then casts Congregation at Dawn to get Loxodon Hierarchs numbers two, three and four from his deck. I can't overcome a combination of his twelve life gain, his three 4/4 creatures, and his ability to start picking off my guys at will.
Match 5 (One Game): Colinfrickinkelly (Mono-Black)
Game 1: I run him over with fast creatures - the only spell he plays is Diabolic Tutor, but I have him dead on turn six with Reckless Wurm, Rakdos Guildmage, and Gathan Raiders.
Match 6: Ratao69 (U/W Pickles)
Game 1: This is a long, long, LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG game, lasting 25+ turns. He counters almost all of my early spells, and begins dropping morph creatures to the board. I land a Rakdos Guildmage, and it stares down a board of Fathom Seer (face up) and two morphs. He attacks his morphs into my guy, and I block and then give that one morph -2/-2. He flips it up to reveal Vesuvan Shapeshifter, and draws two cards by copying Fathom Seer. His Shapeshifter dies, and I figure his other morph is a Shapeshifter as well.
It's not - it's a Brine Elemental. Ratao69 hits me with it the next turn, after flipping it up and locking down my board. I reach eight mana, but am stymied by two Deserts on his side of the board. Luckily, I have a Keldon Megaliths and am able to start blocking once a turn by making a Goblin, and swinging one a turn by making another goblin at his end-of-turn. After a few turns of this, I finally get him low enough where I can take a hit from his guys, go to two, make two goblins, untap, make two more goblins, and swing for ten in one turn. This ends the game, as he's at four life and can't block enough of my creatures (even if he didn't attack).
This game lasts 30 minutes. He concedes the match.
Match 7: Lordfeyr (G/W Aggro)
Game 1: He keeps a 2-mana hand, never draws another land. His plays are double Saffi Eriksdotter, Llanowar Elves, and double Silhana Ledgewalker. I have Shadow Guildmage, Gathan Raiders, Rakdos Guildmage and Reckless Wurm, and I quickly finish him off.
(Sideboard Out: 4 Mindlash Sliver)
(Sideboard In: 4 Pyroclasm)
Game 2: I get a draw of double Shadow Guildmage and Rakdos Guildmage. He draws more of the same, and I sit back, shooting his creatures every turn as I can. This takes me down to five life, but I literally empty his board and leave him with no cards in hand, and then I start cranking out the creatures to take the game.
Mindlash Sliver just isn't doing very much. It's a 1/1 for one, and by the time it can enable Madness (especially on Reckless Wurm), I have better options for enabling Madness (Gathan Raiders, Deepcavern Imp). I'd be better off with more burn, both to kill creatures and to kill my opponent.
Madbent! (rev. 3)
Out: 4 Mindlash Sliver
In: 4 Rift Bolt
Match 8: Geo0 (U/R Storm)
Game 1: I get comboed out with Empty the Warrens - he makes sixteen Goblins on turn four, and I don't have enough blockers or creature kill to stem the tide of his attack.
(Sideboard Out: 3 Call to the Netherworld, 1 Reckless Wurm)
(Sideboard In: 4 Pyroclasm)
(Sideboard Notes: I'm hoping that this is a version of Storm that has been popular at States this year - one that runs Empty the Warrens and Ignite Memories as the kill, and eschews Dragonstorm and dragons. If so, I stand a chance by winning the game with Pyroclasm and keeping my hand empty. If it's Dragonstorm, I'm hosed.)
Game 2: He goes nuts on one turn, using Perilous Research on Hatching Plans to draw five cards, and then casting nearly a dozen spells. His fifth turn ends with fifty Goblins on the board.
I untap, cast Pyroclasm, and swing in with double Gathan Raiders.
He has no hand left. I win.
Game 3: I get a quick start with creatures, and he has a draw that contains triple Lotus Bloom, but little card drawing and no Empty the Warrens. The turn before I kill him, he casts Ignite Memories for five. My hand is Reckless Wurm and Rakdos Guildmage, and I get knocked down from 20 to 6 life. Thankfully, that's all he has, and I proceed to drop my hand the next turn and kill him with Deepcavern Imp and double-Hellbent Gathan Raiders.
Strangely enough, I haven't really needed to draw or play Phyrexian Arena to win games. Several games against aggressive decks or combo decks have been too much of a race to allow time to cast the Arena - it's either been stabilize, or die. In other games, I've curved out with creatures and spells every turn, never needed extra cards, and won the game on turn 6-7 making full use of my mana the whole game.
This is a good indication that I can cut the pricy Phyrexian Arena out of my deck. The three remaining copies cost twelve tickets total, so this frees up a lot of budget cap in the deck.
My losses so far have been to Mono-Black control and Red/Green/White Stormbind, with a close call against Mono-Red burn and Red/Blue Storm. In all of these matches, one commonly seen card would have immensely helped my chances. That card is Persecute.
Persecute costs three tickets in most places on Magic Online, but it's tickets well-spent. A single Persecute can take 5+ cards out of an opponent's hand - especially against a reactive, defensive opponent. Moreover, Red and Black don't have any efficient counterspells (I'm not counting you, Dash Hopes!). Persecute is a very proactive discard spell - against Dragonstorm or Storm Combo, I'd rather take out two Rite of Flame, a Seething Song, Ignite Memories and Empty the Warrens on turn four, than play a one-card discard spell (or two card, in the cast of Stupor or Rise // Fall) and leave them with multiple combo pieces.
Call to the Netherworld has similarly been disappointing, since the only creature I've really wanted to get back is Rakdos Guildmage. Instead of Call, I decide to try out two Undertakers, though I'm not sure how good they can be. Yes, they are Madness enablers, and yes, they can get back Reckless Wurm and Gathan Raiders, but how often have you seen me need to start swapping creatures back-and-forth in the above games?
Madbent! (rev. 4)
Out: 3 Phyrexian Arena, 3 Call to the Netherworld
In: 4 Persecute, 2 Undertaker
Match 9: Airproductsandchemicals (B/R/W Control)
Game 1: I beat him down with little guys, and Persecute out most of his hand on turn four, getting Demonfire and Firemane Angel. He drops down Peace of Mind and casts Mortify on a Gathan Raiders, but I have four+ creatures on the board (double Shadow Guildmage, double Rakdos Guildmage) and beat him down over the course of a few turns.
(Sideboard In: 3 Greater Gargadon, 4 Blood Moon)
(Sideboard Out: 3 Reckless Wurm, 4 Fiery Temper)
(Sideboard Notes: During that match, I saw him discard several huge guys like Angel of Despair. Also, I saw eight lands, and I didn't see a single basic land. Blood Moon for the win!)
Game 2: I suspend a first-turn Gargadon, and then play Rakdos Guildmage, Undertaker and Shadow Guildmage. He tries to Lightning Helix my Guildmage, and I sacrifice it to my Gargadon. I then play Gathan Raiders, swing for a turn, and he answers with a hard-cast Firemane Angel.
On my next turn, I play a second (face-down) Gathan Raiders, cast Smallpox (he loses his only creature - I lose my Undertaker), discard the last card in my hand to flip up my Raiders, and swing in for five. He doesn't have anything he can do about my board, as I'm left with two 5/5 creatures and a suspended Gargadon (four counters) and he's below nine life.
Match 10: wyerleader (Mono-Green Aggro)
Game 1: I get stuck on 2 lands and get beat down by a horde of Elves, Moldervine Cloaks, and Timbermare.
Game 2: In this game, I kill most of his small creatures with Rakdos Guildmage, including stopping his Groundbreaker. Unfortuantely for me, he drops down Spectral Force once he hits five mana, and then puts Moldervine Cloak on it the following turn. I'm not equipped to deal with an 11/11 trampler, and I die.
After my 10th Match, I decided to hang up the MadBent deck. Why is that? Because I was about to make the next change to the deck, and it was a major one: getting rid of the Madness cards entirely! I found that my Black/Red deck had a pretty good curve, but the cards I was often stuck with in hand were Fiery Temper and Reckless Wurm. Both of them were unwieldy - Gathan Raiders gave me a 5/5 for three mana (without the need to discard it), but Reckless Wurm required a lot of maneuvering to get going. I'd rather play with something like Plague Sliver (5/5 for four, nothing special to cast him other than mana) then have to tailor my deck around Reckless Wurm.
If I were to retool the deck, I would start pushing the Hellbent theme more (add another Keldon Megaliths) and move the deck in a more burn-heavy direction such as this deck by Kai Davis, which took second place at Portland Regionals last week
2nd Place - Oregon - Portland
As of the build of MadBent! 4, I would take out the Undertakers, Fiery Tempers and Reckless Wurms, and add in 3 Rakdos Augermage, 4 Volcanic Hammer, and 3 Hit // Run.
That's all the time and space I have for this week! Join me next week as I dredge up some fun. For the week after that? Well, my friends, that's entirely up to you!
This Week's Poll:
Which card would you most like to see Ben build a deck around in two weeks?