Tribal Thriftiness #68 – Regionals Re-Thriftified

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Tuesday, May 12th – Dave takes a look at some deck options for the upcoming Regionals that play nice with your pocketbook. If you have a pocketbook, that is.

We are officially less than a week away from Regionals. Playtesting is going on fairly heavily around town as all sorts of people are setting up sessions to test out the impact of Alara Reborn on the format. I mean, I personally have scrapped about a dozen deck ideas so far! It’s been great. No, really!

So I need to pick out a deck. I’m about this close *insert five-dollar foot long hand motion here* to just playing Warp World – I mean, why not? It did get Anathemancer, after all. But what else is out there? And what options are available for a player on a tight wallet?

Most of the big guns rely on big-dollar rares – it’s a vicious cycle, really. Decks perform well, so more people are interested in playing them, driving the cost of the associated rares up in price. Supply and demand. Faeries, for instance, runs Bitterblossom ($20) and Cryptic Command ($20). Five-Color runs Command and Reflecting Pool ($27.50). Black-White Tokens runs Bitterblossom and Reflecting Pool. Boat Brew runs Figure of Destiny ($20), Wrath of God ($15), and Reflecting Pool. If you don’t start out with these rares available to you, you’re probably NOT going to be running one of the Big Four.

Or, at least, not one of the strongest versions of those decks.

But there are other options out there. And these options are much easier to adapt to a limited budget.


Let’s start with Bill Stark Turbo-Grind, the Sanity-Grinding-based mill deck that he’s been advocating over the last couple of weeks over at the Starkington Post.

Turbo-Grind by Bill Stark

17 Island
3 Reliquary Tower
4 Shelldock Isle

4 Howling Mine
4 Jace Beleren
4 Sanity Grinding
4 Twincast

4 Broken Ambitions
4 Cryptic Command
4 Evacuation
4 Boomerang
4 Plumeveil

4 Bottle Gnomes
4 Cursecatcher
4 Negate
3 Flashfreeze

Rare Cost Summary:
Shelldock Isle ($2.50 x 4 = $10.00)
Howling Mine ($5.00 x 4 = $20.00)
Jace Beleren ($10.00 x 4 = $40.00)
Sanity Grinding ($6.00 x 4 = $24.00)
Twincast ($7.00 x 4 = $28.00)
Cryptic Command ($20.00 x 4 = $80.00)
Evacuation ($2.50 x 4 = $10.00)

On the surface, it seems like there are a lot of rares, but they fall into two groups: Ones that are critical to the way the deck operates, and then the ones that are simply the most effective spells in mono-Blue.

You need the Sanity Grindings to provide the win condition. Twincast is a nice bonus, as you not only can speed up your victory condition, but it also has a variety of other applications. Twincast the Path to Exile you just aimed at my Plumeveil and get rid of your biggest attacker? Sure!

The deck relies on Evacuation and Cryptic Command to slow down opposing aggro decks to a manageable point. Evacuation is reasonably priced, but if you have to replace the Cryptics, how about trying out a little-seen card from Tenth Edition called Deluge? Go ahead, click it, I won’t feel bad. No, it certainly won’t serve all the functions that Cryptic does in this deck – countering, tapping creatures down, drawing a card, not to mention a three for the Chroma effect – but it will serve the most important function, which is providing you the time you need to set off your combo. On the bad side, it doesn’t tap down Bitterblossom or Spectral Procession tokens; on the plus side, it doesn’t tap down your Plumeveil either.

Jace is another card that’s hard to lose, not because of the cards you draw, but because he can act as a second win condition. The replacement options, like Tidings or Oona’s Grace, aren’t even able to be aimed at your opponent if they’re low on cards.

Shelldock Isle ($2.50 x 4 = $10.00)

Font of Mythos ($1.00 x 2 = $2.00)

Sanity Grinding ($6.00 x 4 = $24.00)

Twincast ($7.00 x 3 = $21.00)

Evacuation ($2.50 x 4 = $10.00)

One of the guys at my playtesting session, Sexy Mike (who might be named Mike in the only honest portion of that nickname), played Font of Mythos over Howling Mine. He eventually switched back to Howling Mine, but I think, in the interest of picking up a few card slots (and cutting a little bit of cost), I’d rather give the Font a shot. Dream Fracture is the “counter-draw” replacement for Cryptic Command; it works because often you don’t care about your opponent drawing cards (in fact, you often want them to draw them). I went with a combination of Oona’s Grace and Tidings; some times you need quick cards, some times you need them in bulk.

Green-White Tokens

Sure, Red-White and Black-White are the flag-waving standards that we all know and love, but Green-White is picking up steam, making good showings before Alara Reborn and winning the first Magic Online Championship Series tournament last weekend.

Rare Cost Summary:
Brushland ($3.00 x 4 = $12.00)
Windbrisk Heights ($9.00 x 4 = $36.00)
Wooded Bastion ($8.00 x 4 = $32.00)
Noble Hierarch ($15.00 x 4 = $60.00)
Wilt-Leaf Liege ($10.00 x 4 = $40.00)
Ajani Goldmane ($15.00 x 2 = $30.00)
Garruk Wildspeaker ($16.00 x 2 = $32.00)
Martial Coup ($4.00 x 2 = $8.00)

The biggest cost of this deck is the Planeswalkers. Both of them are designed to make your little 1/1’s bigger, so we’ll need something that fits that bill. Even Glorious Anthem ($7) is a cheaper option, but I really think I’d like to try out the uncommon Sigil Captain in that slot. He turns Spectral Procession from a small set of flyers into an air force that survives Volcanic Fallout; Cloudgoat Ranger becomes four 3/3’s for five mana. Yikes!

Running Sigil Captain means we can also get decent midgame value out of swapping in Llanowar Elves as our mana accelerant of choice. I also like how it works with Martial Coup — it finally gives you a reason to cast it with an X less than five.

Rare Cost Summary:
Brushland ($3.00 x 4 = $12.00)
Wooded Bastion ($8.00 x 4 = $32.00)
Martial Coup ($4.00 x 3 = $12.00)

It’s hard to do away with the Windbrisk Heights, especially considering that really the only thing you do on turn 1 is play a mana accelerant (and there’s only the four Llanowar Elves in that slot), but more often than not you want your comes-into-play-tapped first land drop to be that Treetop Village, and then you want to be able to use it make two-drops the next turn, so another comes-into-play-tapped land there is of questionable value. It doesn’t hurt that they’re the most expensive part of the manabase either.

Qasali Pridemage makes an entrance to both act as the Exalted mechanic you lose without the Noble Hierarchs, as well as a maindeck answer for stuff like Bitterblossom. And I added a singleton Behemoth Sledge – it’s almost a ‘win-more’ card at this point, but sometimes the lifegain and the trample will break you through a creature stalemate.

Blightning Aggro

The last deck is one I’ve been talking about in this column for the few months. Blightning Aggro is a fast deck that packs enough removal and burn to finish the job, and the addition of the powerful Anathemancer into the fold gives it a reliable – and uncounterable – end game versus any deck with a decent number of nonbasic lands.

Blightning suggested by Evan Erwin in last week’s Magic Show

4 Auntie’s Hovel
4 Graven Cairns
4 Sulfurous Springs
3 Ghitu Encampment
8 Mountain
1 Swamp

4 Boggart Ram-Gang
4 Figure of Destiny
4 Hellspark Elemental
4 Mogg Fanatic
2 Anathemancer
3 Goblin Outlander

4 Blightning
4 Flame Javelin
1 Banefire
3 Terminate
3 Volcanic Fallout

Rare Cost Summary:
Auntie’s Hovel ($4.00 x 4 = $16.00)
Graven Cairns ($5.00 x 4 = $20.00)
Sulfurous Springs ($3.00 x 4 = $12.00)
Figure of Destiny ($20.00 x 4 = $80.00)
Banefire ($8.00 x 1 = $8.00)

Evan Erwin put this list forth in last week’s episode of The Magic Show. It looks like it probably hits most of the right cards for the deck. Really, the only expensive card is that confounded Figure of Destiny, good in so many decks and still twenty bucks despite being a Launch Party giveaway.

Personally, I can’t see why you wouldn’t play all four Anathemancers in this deck. They’re almost never a bad play; even if you only do two or three with them by playing them early, they’ll still do some damage before being swept away, leaving them plenty of opportunities to come back out of the graveyard to take a second swipe.

To round out the Figure replacements, I’d like to recommend Hell’s Thunder ($3). Rolls into the Unearth theme, plays a pretty aggressive game, and comes with evasion built-in. And he’s a heck of a lot cheaper than the Figure.

Rare Cost Summary:

Auntie’s Hovel ($4.00 x 4 = $16.00)

Graven Cairns ($5.00 x 4 = $20.00)

Sulfurous Springs ($3.00 x 4 = $12.00)

Hell’s Thunder ($3.00 x 2 = $6.00)

It’s all manabase. I think they’re all reasonably priced as well – this is the kind of rare manabase that I like to see. The most expensive of the bunch is Graven Cairns, and it’s arguably the most important – but you’ve had two shots now to pick them up, so they should be readily available in your buddies’ trade binders. Cairns will not only help you with the BR you need on a number of cards, but won’t hinder your Red production for Flame Javelin.

Good Luck at Regionals

Best of luck to everyone who’s going out there this weekend and playing for their ticket to Nationals. You’ve got about a week to figure it all out, and then to get out there and be all out of bubble gum.


Dave dot massive at gmail and facebook and twitter