Tribal Thriftiness #91 – Zendikar Dollar Bin

Claim your territory at The 2009's State and Provincial Championships!
Tuesday, November 24th – Now that Zendikar has been out for a while and the prices have stabilized, it’s time for Dave to see what he can scrounge up in the Zendikar Dollar Bin.

With the smaller set sizes, even in the base sets, as well as the increasing participation in tournaments, pre-releases, and just Magic in general, we’re seeing a lot more rares being priced at reasonable rates. It’s time to take another dive into that rich swimming pool of bottom-feeding cardboard we call… the Dollar Bin!

The rules of the Dollar Bin: Rares must be under two dollars, and must be the focus of the deck. It doesn’t HAVE to be Standard, but since that’s what I play the most (and what gets played the most at local FNMs), that will be the format most often used. (It also cuts down on hard-to-find older cards, even though they might be commons or uncommons.) The purpose? Wizards has been giving us good commons and uncommons, and you don’t NEED to spend two hundred bucks to build a deck that will perform well for you in a local tournament – or at the kitchen table.

Beastmaster Ascension ($1.25)

I recently drafted triple-Zendikar at the local shop for Friday Night Magic. I try and read all the drafting articles here on StarCityGames.com, but all I really took away from them was, “Don’t draft Green.” I guess everyone else had also heard that, because I started seeing rares like Scute Mob, Oran-Rief the Vastwood, and Beastmaster Ascension come around the table. I took it as a sign to move into Green. Ultimately, I should have stayed out of Green (going 1-3 in the draft) but it just seemed like these were too good to pass up.

Beastmaster Ascension is great because it rewards you for doing what you already want to do in this type of deck: attack. On the flip side, it also requires you to throw your creatures into the red zone to get some kind of reward, unlike Eldrazi Monument or Overrun, who are both content to let you build up creatures passively until you can unleash a single, lethal strike. Beastmaster Ascension is really only decent if your creatures stick around to gain the benefit from all their hard work …

… or can reap the benefit when they come back.

Rare Cost Summary:
4 Beastmaster Ascension ($1.25 x 4 = $5.00)

This deck is somewhat inspired by the new Crypt-of-Agadeem-fueled “Dredge” decks that are floating around the lower tiers of Standard right now. I decided not to use the Crypt because I don’t think this deck needs a single-turn win; certainly you’re okay with reanimating an 8/8 Viscera Dragger or a 7/7 Anathemancer without any of his buddies. Cards like Grixis Slavedriver and Kathari Bomber are great for a deck like this, because they not only come back from the dead, but they also leave behind creatures to continue attacking (or to be plumped up by the Ascension). Every deck nowadays needs a little removal, so Lightning Bolt and Terminate make an appearance to round out the deck.

Rares You Could Add, If You Had ‘Em: How fun would Bloodghast ($9.99) be in this deck? He works hard to set up the Ascension, and once it’s online, he becomes a 7/6 monster. Goblin Assault ($2.49) would be a good producer of tokens to set up the Ascension … and then late in the game, it starts churning out a 6/6 every turn. Siege-Gang Commander would bring a veritable army to the party.

World Queller ($1.99)

World Queller isn’t a “bottom feeder” necessarily – at least, not in the strictest definition of the word. He’s a 4/4 for five mana that at worst starts forcing you both into a resource crisis and at best handles problematic permanents on the other side of the board. (I guess, technically, you could name a permanent type that neither of you have if you need your mana, but that’s not really in the spirit of the card.)

The problem I have with World Queller is that he is, essentially, a “griefer” card at heart – at its very best when its whittling through your opponent’s land, slowly denying him any future answers that might come his way. But Land-Dee? In my column?

Rare Cost Summary:
World Queller ($1.99 x 4 = $7.96)
Mycoloth ($2.25 x 2 = $4.50)

Well, as the kids say, it’s more likely than you think. Sure, the casting cost is a little on the heavy side, but you have Into the Roil and Bant Charm to help deal with anything that shows up in the early turns, and Harrow to power you into those expensive five- and six-drops. And once you hit that point, you should have a pretty firm grasp on the game. Bant Charm and Negate will help you protect the World Queller once he comes online, and the bigger creatures will work with him to limit your opponent’s resources if you need to blow up an artifact or a planeswalker or something. And Mycoloth can provide some sacrificial lambs if you need World Queller to take down a Baneslayer Angel or a Wall of Denial or something.

Rares You Could Add, If You Had ‘Em: You want to stay away from other permanent types to get the most use (and least impact to your own game) out of your World Queller, but there could be room for a beefy flier to knock down the life total quickly and take advantage of the resource destruction – something like Battlegrace Angel or Djinn of Wishes, potentially. Either of the Sphinxi (Sphinx of Jwar Isle or Sphinx of Lost Truths) could fill this role as well. (I don’t even think I’m allowed to say “Baneslayer” in this column, what with its current price tag.)

Eternity Vessel ($2.99)

I splurged a little for this last one, since (a) I love Eternity Vessel and (2) the only Mythic in Zendikar that fit the “two-dollar” rule was Lorthos, the Tidemaker and really, there was already one Blue-based “griefer” deck in this article. And there aren’t any pirates in Standard to fight him.

Eternity Vessel is just a great design. If ever there was a card that would make lifegain an attractive win condition, it’s Eternity Vessel, which essentially says, “whenever you play a land, gain 19 life.” The trick is keeping your life total high enough to make Eternity Vessel worthwhile once you can play it.

Rare Cost Summary:

Eternity Vessel ($2.99 x 3 = $8.97)

Felidar Sovereign ($4.99 x 1 = $4.99)

Sanguine Bond ($2.99 x 2 = $5.98)

Before we get too far – yes, this combo works. “For your life total to become the number of charge counters on Eternity Vessel, you actually gain or lose the necessary amount of life. For example, if your life total is 4 when Eternity Vessel’s landfall ability resolves and Eternity Vessel has 12 charge counters on it, the ability will cause you to gain 8 life. Other cards that interact with life gain or life loss will interact with this effect accordingly.” So if you control both cards and play a land, you gain life up to the number of counters on Eternity Vessel, and your opponent loses that much life.

The bulk of the deck is centered around gaining enough life for Eternity Vessel to be relevant. Once you get an Eternity Vessel on the board and set to 20-30 counters, it shouldn’t matter so much what your opponent is doing, and you can set about finding one of the win conditions – either getting Sanguine Bond going and burning them out, or finding Felidar Sovereign and gaining enough life to trigger his alternate win condition.

Rares You Could Add, If You Had ‘Em: The manabase is okay as-is, but you could use Marsh Flats in place of the Expanses if you have them. It’s not critical, though, since you don’t have a heck of a lot of early-game plays, and the Expanses fetch up Swamps and Plains just fine. You could increase the number of Felidar Sovereigns if you find that one isn’t enough.

Next Week

Back to the 8UC EDH Challenge! I’m currently in California visiting friends for Thanksgiving, and so I’m not playing any kind of competitive Magic, but I am contemplating teaching them how to play Magic, and so next week might be about my personal preferences for teaching Magic. Until next week!


dave dot massive at gmail and davemassive at facebook and twitter