I’m sorry; I think I dozed off for a minute there. Where were we?
If you were a reader of the now late and lamented Yogurt Decks, you might have been asking yourself, “what happened to that” for the last six months or so. Or, alternately, you might have shrugged and said, “what’s for lunch?” before moving on with life.
But here we are now, in a new year, with a new column and a new direction. Instead of trying to budgetize existing competitive decks, we’re going to be coming up with crazy budget decks that are just a ridiculous blast to play.
Over the course of the last year, I essentially came to the conclusion that trying to make budget versions of competitive decks is like a dog endlessly chasing its own tail. Eventually, the competitive Magic scene will take the at-the-time budget components of your deck and just ruin the holy hell out of them. Like a ravenous beast intent on devouring everything in its path, competitive Ma—
Sorry. I actually resolved to not rant about #mtgfinance in 2015. (grasps chip) One day at a time.
It was Birthing Pod that really put me over the edge. Long-time readers may recall, my second column on this site (and arguably my first good one) was a budget version of a Melira Pod deck. What happened between then and now? Well, first Birthing Pod shot up in price, and spent some time at $20 apiece. Eventually the price did go down again, in part because the card was so prevalent in competitive circles that it got banned; the post-ban price is now back to $6. This is the same price as when I wrote the column in the first place. Now that the card literally cannot be used in the format.
So anyway. We’re not going to ape competitive decks anymore. If anything you see in this column is even moderately expensive, or if a major component appears in a top-tier deck, it means you’re reading this in the future, and there’s been some major paradigm shift since I wrote the column. And in the future, don’t you have bigger concerns? Are there Robot Wars? It seems like there would be Robot Wars.
I hope we survived the Robot Wars.
In the meantime, let’s take another look at that Birthing Pod deck we built, way back in the more innocent days of 2013. If you’ll recall, we based the deck around a two-card creature combo, the idea being that a creature combo is easier to pull off when you have an artifact that tutors creatures directly onto the battlefield.
And you know what? With or without Birthing Pod, I like that combo. That’s a buck-twenty infinite combo that can go off as early as turn four on a lucky draw. And turn-four infinite combos are the kinds of tricks Modern decks live for. It’s not as elegant as Splinter Twin/Deceiver Exarch, and it leaves you more vulnerable to removal before it gets going. But the ability to win in one move is nothing to sneeze at under any circumstances. All we need is a way to account for the fact that our combo pieces will likely wind up in the graveyard before we can go off.
And yes, that’ll do nicely.
I’ve said in the past, I don’t know why some cards aren’t a bigger deal. Necrotic Ooze is one of them. As combo enablers go, it’s one of the best. Do you have some ridiculous combination of abilities that’ll never happen because it means having three creatures on the battlefield at once? No sweat. Let them all die; Necrotic Ooze will pick up the slack after they’re gone. Heck, pitch them straight into the graveyard if you’ve got the means.
And as it happens, we’ve got the means. I gotta tell ya, I don’t miss Dig Through Time. Because I’ve been enjoying my own little more-powerful-Impulse for three years now, and it’s not going anywhere any time soon.
If your deck uses the graveyard in any way, this card is nuts. You dig five cards deep—which won’t quite substitute for Birthing Pod, but it’ll numb the pain a little—and dump the other four cards exactly where you want them to be. All we need now is a little support-staff synergy to round the deck out.
I’m on record as liking Skinshifter. It’s an interesting card, with the potential to be a powerful beater in the early game or a tall hunk o’ wall to block those pesky Siege Rhinos in the midgame. It’s versatile, which is always a good thing in a Magic card. But more importantly, his versatility is in the form of evasion as an activated ability. Which means if he’s in your graveyard, he can give your Necrotic Ooze flying or trample before you swing for lethal, keeping your opponent from eternal chump blocking.
You know what would be a good card in a deck that fills the graveyard? Tarmogoyf. You know what else would be a good card? Hooting Mandrills. You know which one costs twelve cents apiece? Quick hint: it’s not Tarmogoyf.
You can actually fill this slot with Either Hooting Mandrills or Gurmag Angler. Personally, I like the way Hooting Mandrills plays right off Grisly Salvage. Five cards (including the Grisly Salvage) in the graveyard, five cards ready to feed the delve cost on Hooting Mandrills.
Kitchen Finks is a good card in almost any Modern Deck with appropriate colors. But it’s especially fun in a deck that runs Quillspike. I doubt the interaction needs much explanation: Kitchen Finks dies, comes back with a -1/-1 counter. Quillspike eats the counter; Kitchen Finks just never dies for good, but you gain two life every time he tries.
All right then, let’s put it together, see what we’ve got.
Ooze It or Lose It
So where does that put us at the end of our first step in a new direction?
“This isn’t as good as Splinter Twin.”
Oh nuts, you found the hole in my clever plan to Top 8 at the next Pro Tour. These are budget decks; they’re built to be fun, cheap, and hopefully win more than they lose. They’re not as efficient as professional decks, and that’s okay; if you’re reading this column, you’re almost definitely not a professional. Have a good time with something dumb! Lose a few games, learn a thing or two.
“This would probably be a better deck if you added eight fetchlands and four Tarmogoyfs.”
You have a weird concept of budget deck, person I made up. But sure, if you can improve this deck with more expensive cards, knock yourself out. Heck, I can think of a few immediate improvements off the top of my head; Abrupt Decay in the place of Beast Within, or Thoughtseize instead of Inquisition of Kozilek. The point isn’t to give you a set of instructions that you have to follow. It’s to provide a jumping off point, so you can work with some ideas that won’t come up if you’re only looking at the competitive netdecks.
Build a deck! Go nuts! Get mad.