Building on a Budget - For The Birds

Of all the major Magic tribes, one always seems to get the short end of the stick. I'm not saying that it's a bad tribe, but that it's not displayed in the glory of Tribal goodness like Elves and Goblins. No, I'm not talking about the Gnome tribe; I'm talking about Birds.

While some tribes get Goblin Warchief, Birds get Soulcatcher's Aerie.

While other tribes get Timberwatch Elf, Birds get Keeper of the Nine Gales.

Do you see where I'm going with this? Frankly, I feel sorry for the little critters. I mean, their tribe barely outranks Volvers and, to be honest, having a Volver Tribal deck would look a lot cooler. Having said this, I took it upon myself to make the best Bird deck that I could.

Building on a Budget - For The Birds

Main Deck

60 cards

13  Plains

22 lands

Keeper of the Nine Gales
Lieutenant Kirtar
Skywing Aven
Stormscape Familiar
Suntail Hawk
Wingbeat Warrior

22 creatures

Battle Screech
Mana Leak
Shared Triumph

16 other spells

I've been trying to make this deck work for a long time. I even delved into the depths of Invasion Block and added Stormscape Familiars. I rarely use IPA cards because I like to keep my decks using cards form the more current sets to keep pace with the world around them. Birds needed a little help from the past. If you really don't want to use the Familiars, I suggest Coast Watchers instead.

I thought that perhaps Thieving Magpie -- the Book of Birds -- might be the key, but the real key ended up being Curiosity. Curiosity lets you make any of your weakling birds a threat to be reckoned with -- and makes it happen fast. When Mirrodin cards come out for Magic Online, I recommend including powerful equipment, like Mask of Memory and Empyrial Plate. Besides equipment, I don't see any good Mirrodin birds to add.

This deck works using fast, unexpected beatdown with a little disruption backing it up. The combination of Shared Triumph and Battle Screech along with little Birds provides the beats. An optimal hand would be playing Suntail Hawk on turn one, Stormscape Familiar on turn two, Battle Screech on turn three (flashed back immediately), and Shared Triumph on turn four. That's attacking for 12 -- not bad for Birds.

Besides getting lucky with Battle Screech, this deck has the potential to disrupt your opponent with Mana Leak and Keeper of the Nine Gales. The Keeper was one of those preview cards that hasn't quite lived up to the hype. Everyone said that maybe, just maybe, this is the new Tradewind Rider. It looks now like Birds weren't cut out for the big show and the Keeper fell by the wayside, forgotten.

Well, I'm pulling this buzzard out of retirement. With this Bird deck, Keeper of the Nine Gales can easily go active on turn four -- possibly land locking an opponent. The Keeper can also get rid of unwanted blockers and save your Birds after damage goes on the stack. Mostly, it will just be a nuisance, tying up your opponent's mana while birdies peck at your opponent's life total.

Tips On Playing The Deck

  • Try to cast white creatures before blue creatures -- you never know when you'll draw Battle Screech and you want a white creature available for immediate flashback.

  • Sometimes it may be right to morph your Wingbeat Warrior. It probably won't be often, but if you have the mana the first strike might come in handy. Also, if you're extra tricky, you might be able to bluff it off as an Exalted Angel.

  • When you have Mana Leak, use it. Disrupting your opponent's turns is vital as it lets you get more beats in. However, hold one back if you're afraid of a mass-removal effect.

  • Think twice before activating the Keeper -- it might get big with Shared Triumph. Is tapping three Birds worth bouncing a permanent? That could be as much at 6 damage worth of attackers!

  • If at all possible, avoid putting two Curiosities on one creature. It happens sometimes, but it sucks if your birdie gets cooked.

Adding Money To The Deck

Flooded Strands will help the mana base a little. Besides that I would hold out until the Mirrodin set arrives to pick up some of the more expensive equipment like Empyrial Plate. You could even use the common Bonesplitter and the uncommon Mask of Memory.

Chrome Mox would also be a good addition, but at that point you can pretty much decide to throw your wallet out the window. Cards with the word "Mox" in their names simply were not meant for budgets.

Alas, this deck is indeed for the birds. A player would have to be seriously dedicated to working this deck to bring it into the limelight of Tribal Wars. I feel for this type of deck because I'm the kind of guy who plays decks not because they're the best, but because I really want to make them win. I trust that there are a few of you out there who, like me, have been trying to get Birds to work from the dawn of Magic and could never quite get it right.

Something tells me this will be the closest it's going to get. I guess all Birds can't come from paradise.

Until next time, grow with the power of Soldiers and Birds.

Nate Heiss
Team CMU
NateHeiss on Magic Online
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