ello everyone, and welcome to the last part of the first Building on a Budget Round Robin! My name is Ben Bleiweiss, and I write this here column—dedicated to building decks using Magic Online
that cost 30 tickets or less. When we left off last week, we were about to evolve a blue-red card-drawing / Words of War
deck as brought to me by Enright.
This is a pure budget deck—Words of War cost a third of a ticket each, and Squee costs two tickets each—the rest of the cards are pretty much bulk pricing. My goal with this deck was to combine it with Zur's Weirding—we already have a ton of card drawing in place (and card drawing equals life with Zur's Weirding) and cards that come back from the graveyard (Squee), so it seems like an easy fit.
When building a Zur's Weirding
deck, there are three goals in mind: One, you want to be able to be at least slightly ahead when you drop the Weirding to the board. If your opponent is already winning the game, Zur's Weirding
will lock you out of being able to draw any answers, and you will
lose. If you are ahead, however, you pretty much stay ahead and that's the game right there and then. Two, you want cards that can get around the Weirding effect—transmute cards, tutors, flashback cards, cards that come back from the graveyard, etc. Third, you want a way to swing life totals. Even something as simple as double Fountain of Youth
plus a Weirding, in an otherwise even game, equals a lock on the game.
I made up a list of cards that might work well in a Zur's Weirding deck. Please keep in mind that madness cards do not combo with the Weirding; regardless of whether your opponent or you chose to pay 2 life to trigger the Weirding, the Weirding is a replacement effect that replaces your draw with either putting a card directly into a graveyard, or directly into a hand. If you have a Fiery Temper, and your opponent forces you to put it in your graveyard via Weirding, it will never have been discarded, and madness will not trigger!
Discard Effects (for use with Squee):
Circular Logic (2)
Pulse of the Grid (.25)
Wild Research (.5)
Graveyard Effects (for use with Weirding):
Deep Analysis (.33)
Hammer of Bogardan (.33)
Thunderblade Charge (.25)
Misc. (If we want to get totally wild):
Ancestral Tribute (.33)
Firemane Angel (1)
Jace Beleren (1.5)
Nevermaker / Repel / Temporal Eddy / Time Ebb
I wanted to start by just making a couple of simple changes to the deck, just to see how it would test-drive. That meant adding in a play set of Weirdings, and taking out the two Drowned Rusalka, and the two Goblin Lores. I also wanted to add in one recurring damage source, and due to my low creature count, I picked Hammer of Bogardan over Thunderblade Charge.
Out: 2 Drowned Rusalka, 2 Goblin Lore, 1 Turbulent Dreams
In: 4 Zur's Weirding, 1 Hammer of Bogardan
Game 1: secondary extinction (Blue-Black Rogues)
Secondary extinction drops Cloak and Dagger on turn two, and I answer with Looter il-Kor and Merfolk Looter. When he doesn't play a spell on turn four, I drop Zur's Weirding on my turn. My hand is Hammer of Bogardan, Chamber of Manipulation, and double Squee. Secondary extinction's hand is two lands, Nameless Inversion, Morsel Theft, and something else that won't affect the board. This pretty much ended the game on turn four—I could hit for at least 2 damage a turn (even if he killed one of my creatures), allowing me to deny him drawing any card that could change my board superiority. The only way he could win is if I had to make him discard nine cards in a row, while I discard none. This did not happen, of course, and I won the game on turn nine.
Game 2: Drunkensushi (Elves / Changelings)
I kill Taurean Mauler with Fiery Temper, and then get Looter il-Kor on the board, following it with Words of War. Drunkensushi drops Jodah's Avenger, and I swing my Looter into it. He gives his guy shadow and blocks, making the Avenger a 3/3 with a point of damage. At that point, I activate Words of War. If he gives his Avenger protection from red, I can activate my Words again... making him kill his own Avenger, as it would be a 1/1 with 1 point of damage. He makes me burn an Obsessive Search to show him the kill.
From there, I get Compulsion and Squee, and start burning down a procession of creatures (Imperious Perfect, Timber Protector) until drawing Zur's Weirding. This lets me lock down the game, as I can deal 4 a turn to the head (with Words of War, Compulsion, and Squee, plus my normal draw) to Drunkensushi's none.
Game 3: NecrAE (Black-Green Control)
NecrAE gets Spawning Pit and stalls at two lands. I drop Looter il-Kor, discard Squee to it on turn three, and play Zur's Weirding on turn four. His hand is Kodama's Reach and multiple game-busting spells that cost three, four, and five mana. However, since I have the Weirding in play, he will never get a chance to play any of these spells, as I deny him his next land drop, and he concedes.
Game 4: Ekonroth (Red-Black Control)
He drops down Tanglebloom and Rod of Ruin, which royally screws my pooch, since my deck is predicated on 1/1 creatures and getting Zur's Weirding for a lock—if he can kill all my creatures, and create a 2-point life swing each turn, I'm in bad shape, right? Well, I play for the long game instead: I get down Compulsion and Words of War, and just start fast-forwarding to as many Squee and lands as I can. Eventually I get triple-Squee and a ton of lands, and start doing 8 to the dome each turn (3x Squee to Compulsion, plus my natural draw), allowing me to barely pull out this game.
Even though I've gotten an undefeated record, every drawn Chamber of Manipulation has been a nearly dead card each game. With four games under my belt (every one of which I drew the Chamber—this deck draws a LOT of cards each game), I was ready to take it out.
I decided to add in a second Hammer of Bogardan (to increase my chances of drawing one) and three Arcanis the Omnipotent. A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I missed getting a chance to really chew in Arcanis. Combined with Words of War, Arcanis is a 6-point bolt each turn—plus it is just plain card advantage in other situations.
Out: 4 Chamber of Manipulation
In: 3 Arcanis the Omnipotent, 1 Hammer of Bogardan
Game 5: Swetz (Mono-White Artifacts)
Swetz gets down triple Cloudpost in the first three turns and proceeds to destroy me with double Oblivion Stone, Auriok Champion, and then Coat of Arms backed with double Summoning Station. I can't keep up with that, and concede against his barrage of huge creatures.
Game 6: hephaest (Shrines)
Hephaest gets down four Hondens (all but Honden of Life's Web). While I am able to keep up with the discard with triple Squee (more or less), I am unable to keep up with him gaining 8 life a turn, drawing four cards a turn, and dealing 4 to my head each turn. I need a way to mass-remove artifacts or enchantments—and considering I can draw a good portion of my deck, I should be able to find some solutions!
After losing two in a row, I wanted to make some more changes. Arcanis just took the deck way off goals! The deck was sleek, low-mana cost, and revolved around Squee and efficient discard / draw outlets. Arcanis is large, clunky, and not exactly cut out for this deck.
Engineered Plague set to Rogues took out both my Looters, so I took out Merfolk Looters for Thought Courier (Merfolk Rogue / Human Wizard). This is a small change where I'm just swapping out functionally identical cards in order to make creature types matter less.
I also decide to add in a couple of one-of solutions to certain problems, as well as add white to the deck. In all of my matches, I want inevitability, so that once I drop the Weirding, I will win the game... and until that point, as long as the game goes long, I will be able to pull things out. Firemane Angel is great for this; it gives me life for the Weirding, works if forced as a discard, and comes back after dying or being discarded. Ancestral Tribute also gives me a huge late-game life gain outlet to pump should the game run long.
As my solutions to the last two matches, I add in a single Tempest of Light and a single Shatterstorm. Against both of those decks, I drew over half of my deck, and then some; if I had a single Tempest of Light, I would have a decent chance of taking out the Shrine deck, because one turn of respite is all I needed to win, and I doubt that hephaest would have seen that single Tempest of Light coming. Swetz would have, well, sweated, if he had been hit by Shatterstorm.
Out: 2 Hammer of Bogardan, 3 Arcanis, 4 Island, 3 Mountain, 4 Merfolk Looter, 1 Obsessive Search
In: 1 Tempest of Light, 1 Shatterstorm, 2 Ancestral Tribute,2 Firemane Angel, 4 Thought Courier, 3 Boros Garrison, 3 Azorius Chancery, 1 Izzet Boilerworks
Game 7: dolphin754 (Red-Blue Planeswalkers)
I get the set-up with Compulsion, Words of War and Squee, and use them to burn down a ton of creatures, plus a Chandra Nalaar. He gets down Jace, and I start building up my mana, so I can cast Ancestral Tribute—I am at 11 life when I stabilize from the initial onslaught and am afraid of being burned out. Once I get to Tribute mana, I cast Zur's Weirding, and lock down the game.
Game 8: jusjade81 (Mono-Green Treefolk)
Jusjade81 starts the game with Evolution Charm, Door of Destinies, and double Natural Spring. That puts jusjade81 on around 40 life by the time the first creature hits play: Orchard Warden. I get Compulsion and start looking for cards with Squee, finally getting multiple Looters and Couriers on the board. This lets me burn out the Orchard Warden with triple Fiery Temper, and then Zur's Weirding locks down the board thanks to an Ancestral Tribute in my hand. Even with Guardian of Cloverdell in jusjade81's hand, there's no stopping the inevitable—I can keep going until I hit my Firemane Angels, which I can bring straight into play under the Weirding, whereas I will be around 100+ life thanks to Tribute and flashback, with multiple Looters / Couriers in play.
Game 9: gigio978 (Blue-Black Megrim)
Gigio978 plays Lonely Sandbar on turn two, leading me to believe that he is mana-shorted. Because of that, I play the game for Words of War on turn three, and Zur's Weirding (with nothing else on the board) turn four. He gets stuck at three mana, and has double Isochron Scepter (one with Mana Leak and one with Vision Skeins). I just deal 2 a turn on my draw phase each turn with Words of War, and prevent him from drawing past three lands or any action spells (he is welcome to other card-drawing spells or creature kill spells however!). After ten turns, he is dead.
Game 10: ibdv4521 (Elfball)
Ibdv4521gets a third-turn Gilt-Leaf Ambush into Heritage Druid. That lets him drop double Llanowar Sentinel on turn four, and Elvish Promenade / Elvish Champion / Jagged-Scar Archers on turn five. I get a slow draw with comes-into-play tapped lands, and can't Fiery Temper his Heritage Druid early, which leaves me open to this strategy. I concede against a horde of elves.
And that's it for the first Building on a Budget Round Robin! Special thanks go out to Fernando, MX3SERZE, Flywheel, LordofDucks, tkennan, MagicProVirus, and Enright for helping out with the Round Robin, and to anyone else I playtested against during this five-part series. Did you like the Round Robin and want to see it again? Let me know!
Do you want to see another Building on a Budget Round Robin in the future?
See you all next week when we figure out what to do with infinite 0/2s with defender. Take care until then!