Tribal Thriftiness #46 – More Budget Options for States

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Tuesday, November 4th – States is right around the corner, but Standard decks are springing up all over the place. Dave takes a look at some competitors from this past weekend’s Cruise Qualifier that are adjustable to match your wallet.

With Halloween coming and going, I have to tell you how bummed I am that there’s no “orange” in Magic. We ran a St. Patrick’s Day event one year, just a casual thing, but every deck had to be Green. Can’t really do that for Halloween, unless you want to make everyone run Undead decks of some sort. That being said, it would be a cool casual event, if only to bust out my Italian Headless Horsemen for some tournament play. (He’s a Zombie Knight now, in case any one was wondering.)

States: T-minus One Week and Counting

This States is … a little different from the ones from my recent memory. It used to be that States was the first real “definer” of the new Standard metagame, being held so closely to the release of the big Fall set. But as Wizards has cut down on the big tournaments they’ve been running, and Premier TOs like StarCityGames.com have stepped up the number of big tournaments, we’ve been able to have about a dozen big Standard tournaments leading up to States.

Does that mean that the metagame is well-defined? Has everything been discovered, tested, and played out over $5K tournaments and Cruise Qualifiers? Will States just be more of the same decks that we’ve been seeing listed in the Deck Database for the last month?

Even if States isn’t format-defining, it’s still worth playing in, if only for the bragging rights. And that prize… free tournament entry for a year! That’s nothing to sneeze at.

More Budget Decks

There were some interesting decks to come out of this past weekend’s Cruise Qualifier up in Denver. The top spots were populated with your usual suspects – Faeries, Merfolk, Toast – but mixed in among them were some interesting decks that I haven’t seen yet, and I think are pretty fair budget choices if you still haven’t decided a deck for States.

Thanks for the decklists go to Scott Marshall and FrontRangeMagic.com.

I’ve Been Summoning Elementals All Day

Riddle of Fire

Robin Chestnut
Top 8, Cruise Qualifier, Denver

4 Flamekin Harbinger
4 Smokebraider
4 Incandescent Soulstoke
4 Nova Chaser
4 Incinerate
4 Flame Javelin
4 Soul’s Fire
4 Thunderblust
2 Stigma Lasher
1 Fulminator Mage
1 Spitebellows
4 Mutavault
4 Spinerock Knoll
16 Mountain

3 Shock
4 Guttural Response
3 Spitebellows
3 Fulminator Mage
2 Ashenmoor Gouger

Rare Cost Summary:
Incandescent Soulstoke ($3.50 x 4 = $14.00)
Nova Chaser ($3.00 x 4 = $12.00)
Thunderblust ($1.00 x 4 = $4.00)
Stigma Lasher ($6.00 x 2 = $12.00)
Fulminator Mage ($7.00 x 4 = $28.00)
Mutavault ($25.00 x 4 = $100.00)
Spinerock Knoll ($2.00 x 4 = $8.00)

The deck swaps out the usual gang of creatures prevalent in the traditional “Red Deck Wins” for the Elemental creatures, and runs off the backbone of Smokebraider to power out the big hitters. Flamekin Harbinger acts not only as a fetch piece in the Nova Chaser / Soul’s Fire combo, but also picks up the singleton utility guys when needed.

Obviously a budget version of the deck would need to replace the Mutavaults, but that might be all. I’d be okay with trying Ghitu Encampments in that slot, since they seem to be standard-issue for Red Decks these days. Fulminator Mages have come down in price despite the havoc they can wreak on Toast’s manabase, and anything you’d replace them for functionality-wise wouldn’t have the same interaction with the rest of the deck’s creatures.

Continuing on the Elementals subtheme we got goin’ on:


Kyle Bundgaard
Top 8, Cruise Qualifier, Denver

3 Flamekin Harbinger
4 Smokebraider
4 Incandescent Soulstoke
4 Fulminator Mage
3 Shriekmaw
1 Soul Snuffers
4 Mulldrifter
4 Reveillark
2 Horde of Notions
3 Cloudthresher
3 Makeshift Mannequin
4 Reflecting Pool
4 Primal Beyond
4 Vivid Crag
2 Mutavault
2 Graven Cairns
2 Forest
2 Swamp
1 Island
4 Mountain

2 Nameless Inversion
1 Cloudthresher
1 Soul Snuffers
3 Guttural Response
3 Crib Swap
3 Faerie Macabre
2 Spitebellows

Incandescent Soulstoke ($3.50 x 4 = $14.00)
Fulminator Mage ($7.00 x 4 = $28.00)
Reveillark ($5.00 x 4 = $20.00)
Horde of Notions ($2.00 x 2 = $4.00)
Cloudthresher ($8.00 x 4 = $32.00)
Reflecting Pool ($25.00 x 4 = $100.00)
Primal Beyond ($2.50 x 4 = $10.00)
Mutavault ($25.00 x 2 = $50.00)
Graven Cairns ($4.00 x 2 = $8.00)

Again, once you remove the $25 lands from the equation, the price comes way down. The question would be, how reliably can you cast Horde of Notions relying on just Primal Beyond and Smokebraider? The deck is a mass of synergy, with Smokebraiders pumping out Mulldrifters, to be brought back by Reveillark, to be chained out of the graveyard by Horde of Notions. Luckily the most expensive Elementals are Cloudthresher and Big Fulms; even Reveillark has dropped down in price to a reasonable level.

The deck is extremely greedy with the variety of Elementals it plays, which gives it great versatility. The problem is, the Elementals run across all five colors, sometimes in just one guy. To keep the ability to make early plays but give you the reach in the mid-game, I’d probably start out by replacing the Reflecting Pools with Fire-Lit Thickets ($8) to make sure I could hit Cloudthresher mana, as Faeries will be out in force and need to be handled. If Cloudthreshers (and Fire-Lit Thicket) are out of your budget, I’d pack Firespouts maindeck to fill the same anti-Faeries hole; you won’t get a 7/7 from the graveyard from it, but you will kill a bunch of Faeries, at the very least. For the truly budget, Crumbling Necropolis is another option that will help you cast those mid-game Mulldrifters and Shriekmaws.

Using Flamekin Harbinger to fetch out important silver bullets is a good way to keep the costs down; reducing the “expensive” rares down to one or two cuts down the total cost of the deck without removing the functionality of the cards totally. How about an amalgamation of the two decks?

Rare Cost Summary:
Incandescent Soulstoke ($3.50 x 4 = $14.00)
Fulminator Mage ($7.00 x 1 = $7.00)
Reveillark ($5.00 x 3 = $15.00)
Horde of Notions ($2.00 x 2 = $4.00)
Cloudthresher ($8.00 x 2 = $16.00)
Primal Beyond ($2.50 x 4 = $10.00)
Fire-Lit Thicket ($8.00 x 2 = $16.00)
Graven Cairns ($4.00 x 2 = $8.00)

Cutting back to “one of” the silver bullets gave me room to add in the Nova Chaser / Soul’s Fire combo from the first deck, which I really like. I don’t think there’s room to squeeze in the Spinerock Knolls, however; I already ended up increasing the number of comes-into-play-tapped lands in the deck, which could slow it down in the early game.

Red Deck Evolves

Last week I talked about the “standard” build of Red Deck Wins while presenting a budget-friendly version of the deck. The common belief about Red Deck Wins is that its time in the spotlight has pretty much come and gone; it can’t compete with the mass-removal (and pinpoint Condemn) and it doesn’t have as much “game” in the new Standard. Here’s a build with a little more… reach.

Red Deck Wins

Benjamin Wiley
Top 8, Cruise Qualifier, Denver

4 Incinerate
4 Flame Javelin
4 Ashenmoor Gouger
4 Figure of Destiny
4 Magma Spray
4 Shock
4 Puncture Blast
4 Hell’s Thunder
4 Demigod of Revenge
1 Thunderblust
4 Ghitu Encampment
19 Mountains

4 Vexing Shusher
4 Fulminator Mage
4 Pyroclasm
2 Manabarbs
1 Everlasting Torment

Rare Cost Summary:
Figure of Destiny ($17.50 x 4 = $70.00)
Hell’s Thunder ($4.00 x 4 = $16.00)
Demigod of Revenge ($14.00 x 4 = $56.00)
Thunderblust ($1.00 x 1 = $1.00)
Vexing Shusher ($5.00 x 4 = $20.00)
Fulminator Mage ($7.00 x 4 = $28.00)
Manabarbs ($3.00 x 2 = $6.00)
Everlasting Torment ($2.50 x 1 = $2.50)

This build of Red Deck Wins foregoes most of the “vulnerable” creatures and opts for, simply, more face-punching. The old builds topped out at twelve burn spells; Benjamin’s deck runs twenty. The creatures that he’s chosen either have extreme bang for the buck, like Demigod, or simply act as burn spells 21 through 25, like Hell’s Thunder.

With this build, you’re more likely to be directing your burn at your opponent’s face rather than burning a path for your guys, so you want to make sure that any guys that you bring in to replace the big-money cards will give you some value when they can’t attack any more. Mogg Fanatic will never do as much early damage as Figure of Destiny, but he at least gives you some value on the back end when your opponent makes a blocker. To replace the Demigod, I don’t hate the idea of going up to the full complement of Thunderblusts, and for that last spot, how about a big dragon like Shivan Hellkite ($2) or Flameblast Dragon ($2)?

With this deck, you could even replace the Fulminator Mages, who don’t benefit from the cool Elemental interaction. Sadly, with the removal of Stone Rain from Tenth Edition, you’d be stuck with either Cryoclasm or Demolish. Meh.

Now Go Out There and Be a Champion!

Good luck to everyone heading out to States this weekend! Next week, expect to hear about the trials, tribulations, antics, and Mongolian Barbeque as I come back with stories from Colorado States!

Until next week!