I'm constantly looking for new ways to evolve Building on a Budget. Of all the columns on the site, BoaB is the one that has the greatest amount of reader input regarding content. This is intentional—I strive to incorporate as many reader ideas as possible, and to give you, the reader, the chance to influence upcoming columns.
The biggest problem I face is the ability to incorporate reader input in a timely fashion. This is because of my deadlines—articles that are posted at midnight on Wednesday are due in at 1 p.m. EST on Monday. This leaves me only five days to use poll results/forum ideas before my next article is due.
Ten Decks in Ten Weeks originated as an idea I pitched to Scott Johns and Kelly Digges—a way to give weekly continuity to the column, and to allow readers to determine deck focuses weeks in advance. I really, truly believed that 10 Decks in 10 Weeks would be the series within Building on a Budget that really made this column my own—something completely unique that neither Nate Heiss nor JMS had done before. I am thankful that Scott and Kelly let me run with this series, because it did indeed end up being the most popular segment of Building on a Budget from this past year. Here is the final part of the 10 Decks in 10 Weeks series, which includes links to the other parts.
While I probably won't do an exact copy of 10 Decks in 10 Weeks next year, I do have an idea for a continuous deck evolution that I think will blow people away. Look for it early next year!
This article originally ran May 7, 2007
ey everyone, and welcome to the last week of 10 Decks in 10 Weeks! It's been two and a half months since I started this experiment, and I think that overall it's been pretty successful. Some deck transitions were smoother than others, and some decks performed better than others, but there were a lot of good ideas, some pretty killer decks, and a whole lot of budgeting going on!
The most requested follow-up to this series was definitely a Battle Royale in which all ten decks squared off against one another to see which would come out on top. I'm not averse to figuring out how to do this if it's something you, the reader, really want to see—so if you wow my socks off on these poll results, I'll see what could be arranged!
Do you want to see a Battle Royale between these 10 decks?
This week's article focuses around Fungal Behemoth, a rare from Planar Chaos. Fungal Behemoth is part of the same cycle of creatures as Aeon Chronicler. Functionally, I could describe Fungal Behemoth as the mismatched offspring of Hunting Moa and Emperor Crocodile. Like the former, it gives +1/+1 counters to other creatures. Like the latter, if you control no other creatures, it dies.
That's the rub against Fungal Behemoth—in almost all situations, it cannot be your only creature on the board. If you don't either suspend it put a counter on other creatures, or have other creatures in play with +1/+1 counters, it dies. In order to build a successful Fungal Behemoth deck, you need creatures with +1/+1 counters—lots of them.
In order to get started, let's take out the black from last week's deck.
Out: 4 Chromatic Star, 1 Consume Spirit, 1 Diabolic Tutor, 4 Null Profusion, 10 Swamp, 1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, 1 Forest
Profusion Confusion No Black
I've taken out a Forest
in order to make room for Simic Growth Chamber
s. In this deck, we're definitely going to need the color fixing, because the focus of this deck is creatures with +1/+1 counters. Which creatures have the most +1/+1 counters? The green spikes and the Simic graft creatures from Dissension
In: 8 Island, 4 Simic Growth Chamber
I'm not going to lie—a lot of the green combo pieces from last week's deck aren't going to end up making the next cut—but I'm leaving them in to see what happens just in case. To start the deck off, I added in 4 Vinelasher Kudzu. This is one of the earliest drops that can get +1/+1 counters, and it works extremely well with Rampant Growth and Search for Tomorrow. Naturally, 4 copies of Fungal Behemoth need to be in the deck, and I've returned Draining Whelk from A Blink in Time to make a repeat appearance, four weeks later. I don't expect this version to play very well (there aren't enough creatures to reliably be able to play Fungal Behemoth), but I want to see how the cards interact.
In: 4 Vinelasher Kudzu, 4 Fungal Behemoth, 2 Draining Whelk
Game 1: Oldmanwinter (Mono-Blue Control)
I get an early Vinelasher Kudzu and follow it with Overgrowth. He tries to Boomerang it, and I play Early Harvest, untap, and Draining Whelk. I then get double Harmonize, Reclaim, two more Overgrowths, and another Early Harvest. He counters a couple of spells with Muddle the Mixture and Boomerangs my Kudzu, but the Whelk goes all the way.
Yeah, pretty much what I thought—I had lots of mana generation and barely any creatures. To fix the deck from this point, I took out a lot of the Null Profusion engine pieces, and added in some good blue, green, and artifact creatures that deal in +1/+1 counters. Plaxcaster Frogling is a 3/3 for three and Cytoplast Root-Kin is a 4/4 for four, and both give great benefits to other creatures with +1/+1 counters—they are auto-includes in this type of deck. I also added one each of four utility creatures—Triskelavus (a large flyer and tim), Spike Feeder (lifegain, and the ability to move around +1/+1 counters), Spike Tiller (another Spike, and one that can make three more creatures with +1/+1 counters), and Cytoplast Manipulator (a limited Control Magic).
Out: 4 Early Harvest, 3 Summer Bloom, 1 Mirari, 4 Overgrowth
In: 4 Cytoplast Root-Kin, 4 Plaxcaster Frogling, 1 Triskelavus, 1 Spike Feeder, 1 Spike Tiller, 1 Cytoplast Manipulator
Game 2: Joysynthesis (U/B Control)
I get stuck on three mana, and he plays Dimir Guildmage and Nekrataal on my Vinelasher Kudzu. I then get Reclaim into Rampant Growth for a fourth land and play Cytoplast Manipulator and Plaxcaster Frogling. They die, one to blocking his Dimir Guildmage and one to a Consume Spirit. When I try to play another Frogling, he answers with Remove Soul and I lose.
Game 3: Countrythug (Mono-White Rescue
I get Vinelasher Kudzu
, it hits once as a 4/4, and he plays Devouring Light
to kill it. Sunlance
kills Spike Feeder
, but I land another Kudzu, follow it with Triskelavus
, and watch him block with Aven Riftwatcher
and Dust Elemental
to gain 4 life and stop a creature. He then does that again, except with Whitemane Lion
. When he tries to put Griffin Guide
on his Lion the next turn, I kill it with Triskelavus
tokens in response. I get Plaxcaster Frogling
to the board, and it protects me the rest of the way for the win.
Game 4: Garthug (U/W Urzatron)
Mulligan a one-land hand into some offense. After a long game, he plays double Ancestral Vision and double Tidings, gets double Urzatron and triple Wrath of God, and beats me while at 4 life. I have a ton of offense and he's almost dead, but he locks me down with Spell Burst. I nearly beat him three times, once with Triskelavus, once with Spike Tiller plus Fungal Behemoth, and once with Cytoplast Root-Kin and Draining Whelk.
Game 5: hirohito_0 (Slivers)
I get turn-two Vinelasher Kudzu, turn-three Rampant Growth, turn-four Plaxcaster Frogling, turn five suspend Fungal Behemoth, turn six unsuspend, play Cytoplast Root-Kin, attack with an 8/8 Kudzu and a 15/15 Behemoth.
I'll say this—when the deck works, it works fast. Fungal Behemoth virtually doubles the power I have on the board at the time, since almost all of my creatures are 0/0 dudes with +1/+1 counters.
To make the deck more explosive, I took out more engine pieces (Reclaim was nice, but hardly necessary to smash down on an opponent), and added in Terramorphic Expanses (there are great with Vinelasher Kudzu—I play the Expanse, the Kudzu gets +1/+1, and I sacrifice the Expanse to get another land and another +1/+1 counter), Llanowar Elves (to speed up the deck a turn, and to give me another creature for the deck), and a second Spike Tiller—so far, I've been happy whenever I drew the first.
Out: 3 Reclaim, 1 Gaea's Blessing, 1 Island, 1 Forest, 3 Search for Tommorrow
In: 4 Terramorphic Expanse, 4 Llanowar Elves, 1 Spike Tiller
Game 6: Darthslogger (R/W Rescue)
I get turn-one Llanowar Elves, turn two suspend Fungal Behemoth. I'm playing for the win—if he can't kill my Elves, I get a 2/2 Elves, with a Cytoplast Root-Kin in hand, to make my Elves 3/3 with a 6/6 hasty Fungal Behemoth coming down on turn three. He has Magus of the Scroll on the board. He aims for my Elves and hits them with Stingscourger. My Behemoth dies, and my Cytoplast Root-Kin gets hit by Stingscourger three straight turns thanks to Whitemane Lion. Record: 3-3
Game 7: Splashdown (W/U Control)
He gets an early Weathered Wayfarer, and I let him get lands as I build up with Llanowar Elves and Spike Tiller. He tries to play Crovax, Ascendant Hero, and I hit it with Draining Whelk. That's all she wrote, as my 7/7 flyer dominates the rest of the game.
Game 8: Lexcupid (Mono-Blue)
I get a turn-three Kudzu, follow it with Spike Feeder, suspend Fungal Behemoth, land it, and then drop Plaxcaster Frogling to protect the rest of my guys plus swing with my 9/9 hasty creature. He has a Lotus Bloom suspended but not much other action, and he rolls over and plays dead.
Game 9: Rapid0 (Thallids)
He starts with Essence Warden. Here's how my turns go:
Turn one: Forest, Llanowar Elves.
Turn two: Vinelasher Kudzu, Island (2/2 Kudzu).
Turn three: Forest (3/3 Kudzu), suspend Fungal Behemoth, swing for 3.
Turn four: Fungal Behemoth unsuspends, puts a +1/+1 counter on Llanowar Elves. (Elves: 2/2). I play a Forest (Kudzu: 4/4) and play a Cytoplast Root-Kin (Elves: 3/3, Kudzu: 5/5, Fungal Behemoth 10/10). I swing for 18 on turn four, and kill him the next turn.
Game 10: jktk0401 (Orzhov)
I draw triple Harmonize
and no creatures, and die to Adarkar Valkyrie
and Angel of Despair
Game 11: Varsity171 (R/G Aggro)
He gets turn-one Rift Bolt, turn-two Skraggan Pit-Skulk with Dust Corona, turn-four double Brute Force, and turn-five Resize, and then shows me a hand with Llanowar Elves and Sparkmage Apprentice. I had dropped a 4/4 Vinelasher Kudzu, was about to make it a 6/6, and had Cytoplast Manipulator on the board to grab his guy.
Just some minor tinkering here. I don't have a ton of graft guys to give my opponent's creatures +1/+1 counters, so Cytoplast Manipulator hasn't been a great deal at 2/2 for four. I also cut the Spike Feeder (I haven't needed to gain life) and a single Harmonize. I add in trips of Coiling Oracle, as another way to accelerate my mana early and to give me another early creature in case I draw an early Fungal Behemoth.
Out: Cytoplast Manipulator, Harmonize, Spike Feeder
In: 3 Coiling Oracle
Game 12: Diamondsnake (Mono-Red Goblins)
I get a second-turn Rampant Growth, then play Plaxcaster Frogling third turn, Vinelasher Kudzu and a suspended Fungal Behemoth fourth turn, and play Cytoplast Root-Kin on the fifth turn to swing for twenty-one and win. (5/5 Plaxcaster, 4/4 Vinelasher Kudzu, and 12/12 Fungal Behemoth).
Game 13: Denfun (B/G Control)
He gets triple Putrefy with Recollect and drops Vulturous Zombie with a Moldervine Cloak. I get a late Triskelavus, hold it off thanks to double Cytoplast Root-Kin, and then get Spike Tiller to push through just enough damage to kill him exactly. This game wouldn't have been as close, except I stacked my Fungal Behemoth wrong and had it come into play before giving a +1/+1 counter.
Game 14: FloozyBoozy (B/G Control)
He gets double Putrefy, double Last Gasp and double Tendrils of Despair. I can't keep a creature on the board, and I lose to Phyrexian Totem and double Yavimaya Dryad.
Game 15: Hisria (W/U Weenie)
He gets Glorious Anthem and Azorius First-Wing. I get Llanowar Elves, Coiling Oracle, and double suspended Fungal Behemoth plus Llanowar Elves, and then play Spike Tiller to make my guys huge. He concedes.
Game 16: Nicofree (U/B Discard/Mill)
He plays Glimpse the Unthinkable
, then kills three of my guys. I land Cytoplast Root-Kin
, and he knocks me down to one card with Cry of Contrition
and Consult the Necrosages
. That one card, though, is Harmonize
, so I draw back up to a nearly full hand. When he tries to Persecute
, I hit him back with Draining Whelk
, and that ends the game.
Game 17: dvsone (R/G Aggro)
I draw Coiling Oracle, Harmonize, and twelve lands. By the time I get my first non-Oracle creature, I'm already at 6.
The mana acceleration hasn't been working as well as I'd hoped, at least at the two-slot. Llanowar Elves have been great, because they allow a natural curve into Plaxcaster Frogling, or to play Vinelasher Kudzu on turn two and then play a land. Coiling Oracle and Rampant Growth, not so much.
Also, the deck is skewing heavily towards green. To further increase my chance of having an early creature for Fungal Behemoth, I add in Aquastrand Spider and Whirling Dervish, and take out a couple of Islands in favor of Forests. I want to always have at least one Forest in my opening hand for Llanowar Elves, and two green by turn two to play Whirling Dervish.
Out: 4 Rampant Growth, 1 Terramorphic Expanse, 3 Coiling Oracle, 2 Island
In: 4 Aquastrand Spider, 4 Whirling Dervish, 2 Forest
Game 18: Lobo20 (G/B/U Reanimator)
I drop turn-one Llanowar Elves, turn-two Whirling Dervish, turn-three Vinelasher Kudzu with Terramorphic Expanse, turn four suspend Fungal Behemoth with Llanowar Elves number two, turn-five Plaxcaster Frogling for the kill.
Game 19: LtCmdrJNA (Slivers)
He gets Sidewinder, Firewake, Gemhide and Bonesplitter Sliver, knocks me to three. I get Llanowar Elves, Vinelasher Kudzu, suspend Fungal Behemoth back-to-back turns, and drop Aquastrand Spider to drop him below zero on my turn five, on the draw.
Game 20: TheLostWiggin (U/W Momentary Blink)
He gets turn-one and -two Ancestral Vision and then drops Teferi's Moat naming green. That's that, as he proceeds to drop multiple Riftwing Cloudskates, Faith's Fetters my Triskelavus, and win.
I was pretty happy with the performance of Fungal Behemoth, and I was quite surprised by how quickly the marquee creature of this deck could come down and kill an opponent (sometimes as early as turn four!). This deck would probably be improved somewhat by adding in countermagic (Remand/Mana Leak) to stop a key spell around turn four or five at a key moment, and I'd probably take out the Whirling Dervishes to make room for that—but I've added in the 4-8 counterspells before, so you know how that works if you want to make that change!
Thank you for the great response to the 10 Decks in 10 Weeks experiment! I've been very happy with how it helped focus this column and allowed me to have continuity from week to week plus incorporate a ton of reader feedback (with the massive lead time on a lot of these deck ideas, I've had lots of time to get ideas from e-mail and the forums). I am sure that, in some way, shape or form, 10 Decks in 10 Weeks will be back again to Building on a Budget someday and will be tweaked to flow better and make the deck transitions a little smoother!
Next week: You voted for Battle of Wits with Battle of Wits with Planar Chaos, and so it is!
Which of the 10 Decks in 10 Weeks did you like the most?
Which was your least favorite of the 10 Decks in 10 Weeks?