One of the things that I like best about Magic is the simple act of opening a new pack of cards. I don’t know if it’s because it’s like a little present I give to myself, or because it reminds me of when I was eight and the new baseball cards had just come out. For whatever reason, I love it… And even though I’ve been over the spoiler a hundred times, there’s just something different about holding the card in your hand, seeing the art and text, and realizing that there’s something new here.
That happened to me again this weekend. I got a tournament pack of Onslaught cards, and one of my uncommons was Aether Charge.
Of course I’d seen it in the spoiler… But being able to hold it in my hand made me decide that I had a new favorite card. Here was a card that could end my opponent’s game just because I cast a Beast. I didn’t have to attack with it; just cast it.
There’s one small drawback, though: It costs five mana. This is probably not the kind of card that we’re going to build our entire strategy around. However, given the fact that I could possibly deal eight damage to an opponent the turn after I get Aether Charge into play simply by casting two Beasts, this card has the looks of a finisher. Given its cost, that means that we’re only going to put three in the deck. But they’ll still leave very big holes in your opponent.
Two Cups Self-Rising Flour, One Cup Wheat Flour, Two Tablespoons Baking Powder, One 12-Ounce Can Of Beer
The recipe for this deck clearly starts with the Aether Charge… But we have to have beasts. (One of the reasons that I was given this writing job was my incredible grasp of the obvious. You only have to hit me over the head with a hammer once or twice for me to notice things.) So, I set my FIND option to”Beast,” and off I went.
Actually, I stayed in my chair. The computer did all of the work, and it didn’t really go anywhere either. But I’m digressing again.
Sure, I knew that there were some beasts already in Standard even before they were unleashed in Onslaught. One that jumps to mind, of course, is Beast Attack. One card, two Beasts, eight points of damage from Aether Charge. That sounds good to me.
Interestingly, Beast of Burden is not a beast; it’s just an artifact creature. We have to do something about that. Please, sign my petition to have Beast of Burden’s creature type changed to Artifact Creature Beast. Thank you for your support.
Back to the search. Lotsa beasts showed up; a ton of beasts, in fact. Pun intended, thankyouverymuch. And, also, a non-beast that has to be in the deck because it gives the deck something that you almost always want if you can get it: Card drawing. That card is Wirewood Savage.
Notice that this doesn’t just draw you a card when a beast that you control comes into play; it gets you a card whenever any beast comes into play. Boo-ya!
Wirewood Savage also gives us a fairly early play; that’s something that this deck is going to need badly, since those beasts tend to be pretty expensive to cast. If they’re going to be expensive to cast, then, we need mana acceleration. Since this column is dedicated to making cheap decks, I say we go with Llanowar Elves.
And guess what? Go ahead. You’ll never guess. Seriously. So why don’t I just tell you? Krosan Tusker is also a beast! It’s true. As Casey Stengel would say – if he wasn’t, you know, dead -“You could look it up.” While the Tusker’s cycling ability isn’t truly mana acceleration, it doesn’t hurt to have that extra land in your hand. Again, though, given his cost if we need to cast him, I’m going to stick with just three of them. If you want to use four, by all means, go ahead. It’s not going to kill you. I don’t think.
Season As Desired And Mix Everything By Hand Using A Fork In A Large Bowl Until The Dough Pulls Together
At this point, we need to talk about mana. We want lots of it in here. We have the Llanowar Elves. We have Krosan Tusker. We know that our curve is kind of high, and this means twenty-five lands. We can’t afford to miss a land drop before turn 6 or 7. But, we can help ourselves later in the game by adding in a couple of each of the red and green cycling lands from Onslaught, Forgotten Cave and Tranquil Thicket. If you have the rare lands Karplusan Forest, Mossfire Valley, and Wooded Foothill, use them – but they aren’t required.
Back to our search for beasts, the computer has finally finished. The first thing I asked myself is,”Are there any beasts that we just must have four of in our deck?” I know that sounds funny, me talking to myself like that; but I do it all the time.”Self,” I say,”Why should I use four of any creature when all I care about is that it’s a certain creature type? I mean, can’t I lessen the impact of a devastating Haunting Echoes if I use less than four of a card?”
To which my Self replies,”That is indeed true, You. But if a card has a very nice effect also known as Suh-weet! – then, you probably want four of them. For example,” Self continued,”look at Avarax.” At which point I looked at Avarax.”Here’s a beast that let’s you put another Avarax into your hand. You probably want four of those.” And I did.
At this point, I realized that Self had it goin’ on as far as the Beast thing was concerned.”Self, do you see any other Beasts that we just have to have four of?” Self replied,”Nothing that’s Must-See TV or anything, although four Beast Attacks would be nice. But first, I think we need to look at doing stuff like protecting ourselves early in the game. I mean, you don’t really plan on using the Wirewood Savages and the Llanowar Elves for blocking, do you? I mean unless you absolutely have to, right?”
Again, Self was correct.”So, what do we do?” As expected, Self was ready.”Turns out that there are some nice three-casting cost beasts. Anurid Barkripper, for example, is a 2/2 that gets +2/+2 at Threshold. And Thoughtbound Primoc is a 2/3 red flier for 3 mana that is also a Beast. Can you believe that?” Truly, I could not.”And don’t forget Ember Beast. People were saying that he was going to be the reason that Sligh decks made a comeback, but no one ever did anything with him. Let’s use two of each of those.”
“Okay, so we have twenty-one creatures now. How many are we planning on using, Self?”
“I say let’s blow the roof off this mutha,” [Self lived in New Orleans for four years]”and go with twenty-five. We want to be casting lotsa beasts, drawing cards, and generally attacking for much damage. The good thing is that we can look at some of those really huge Beasts now. Guys like Towering Baloth, a 7/6 for 6GG… And did you know that Gurzigost is a Beast?”
To be honest, I didn’t. As much as I like this guy, with his uber-trample and the fact that he’s a rare that’s still cheap to buy, I had never paid attention to his creature type. I was ashamed.
“We’d also like,” Self continued,”a way to break the creature stall. Krosan Groundshaker does that by giving a Beast trample for G. And just in case we see something that flies and can’t be stopped by Thoughtbound Primoc, let’s use the Spitting Gourna.”
At this point, Self and I had twenty-five creatures, twenty-five lands, and three other spells in the Aether Charges.”But, Self, that only leaves us 7 more cards. What are we gonna do?” I was beginning to panic.”Don’t we need creature control? Aren’t we going to use Beast Attack?”
“Calm down. Okay, let’s add two Beast Attack. That leaves us with five cards. We still love Blaze, right? It still has X in its casting cost. That should get rid of anything that we can’t beat up in combat. Let’s use three of those. Then, for our last two cards, just so that we can get through any creature defenses, we’ll use Wave of Indifference to prevent pesky blockers from getting in the way.”
Bake In A Bread Pan At 375 Degrees For 60 Minutes
So we were done. Self and I had created a Beast deck that would (hopefully) abuse Aether Charge or, at worst, make lots of big Beasts. We decided to call it:
Other Common And Uncommon Beasts For Your Consideration
If you really wanna go crazy and use nothing except for one- and two-of’s to really keep Haunting Echoes in its place, here are some other common and uncommon Beasts that you might consider:
- Chainflinger. It never even crossed my mind that this direct damage stud was a Beast. But he is.
- Gang of Elk. A powerhouse 5/4 for 6 mana that just gets bigger and bigger the more it’s blocked. Ouch.
- Giant Warthog. Another six-mana Beast, this one’s a 5/5 with trample.
- Longhorn Firebeast. The Punisher Beast. If they take the five damage to destroy him AND there’s an Aether Charge in play, that’s nine damage for 2R. Yummy.
- Shaleskin Bruiser. Okay, so he costs a lot. But if he attacks with two other Beasts, he’s a 10/4 trampler.
- Snarling Undorak. Pumps up Beasts including himself.
- Anurid Scavenger. An efficient 3/3 for 3 mana, this guy also has Protection from Black and makes you recycle cards.
And That’s How You Make Beer Bread
“But, Chris,” you say,”I have some extra money that my grandmother sent me for my birthday, and I’d really like to spend it on a Beast deck with a ton of rares in it. What do I do?” Well, first off, you have to realize that, while I can hear my Self when I talk to my Self, I can’t hear you when you talk to me. Unless you got my phone number. Which would be a great trick, since I don’t have a phone. But if you really wanna call someone, I can give you Karl Allen’s number. He won’t mind.
We should get back to your question. There are some fine, fine rares to use in this deck: Two that leap to mind are Hystrodon and Ravenous Baloth. Hystrodon is the 3/4 trampler that draws you a card when it damages an opponent. Ravenous Baloth is the 4/4 for four mana (2GG) that allows you to sacrifice a Beast and gain 4 life. Of course, we have all sorts of rare lands that produce red and green mana now as well as Contested Cliffs, the land that turns all of your Beasts into direct damage for creatures in the Tahngarth, Talruum Hero mold. So, if money were no object (I sweat just writing those words), here’s what the Beast deck would look like:
Beast Master II: Attack Of The Beef
So, there you have it: a great, big, honkin’ Beast deck on the cheap.
As usual, you’ve been a great audience. I hope you did well and had fun at States. Stay tuned for my tale of States… Next week!