9/30/2009 BoaB: "Zendikar on a Budget"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Building on a Budget, which goes live Wednesday morning on magicthegathering.com.

I defienetly think hes wrong about Emeria Angel. Its a 3/3 flyer that pumps out tokens for no cost other than playing land. Thats good especially with fetchlands.

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A lot of dropped words in that article. I love you Kelly, but better editing plz.

Who's been asking for this? I could be a minority (which is fine) but I found this a little boring. Nothing against JVL if people were asking for it, but still...

I didn't mind the article itself, though it was rather dry, but the complete lack of response to last week's article comments was extremely disappointing.

I actually found this to be a fine read.

If this happened every week, there would be problems. But we get a new deck development almost every week, and that can get a bit boring after a while (I am reminded of Nate Heiss's robot-generated articles. At east metaphorically robot-generated.)

Identifying the power level of cards early on can be exciting (because you are working with very imperfect information.) Will Emeria Angle become the next Bitterblossom? After standard shakes out, we'll be able to see if he was right not wrong. (quick aside-not the next Bitterblossom, but will probably be put to good use sometime during its stint in standard)

Maybe a bonus decklist for thought would be nice for deckbuilding content for the people who miss that, but I'm fine with the article as it is.

I enjoyed it, yes dry, but reviews mostly are.

It does pertain to budget building, so it is appropriate.

Finaly thought; I would've hoped to see something like.. "I'm going to really look into..." like a top 3 personal favorites.. or even projected budget deck ideas.. I'd even be fine with Vampires as 1 of the 3

Here are a couple of the cards that I think are amazing for their budget:

Quest for the pure flame: I've already seen a few deck lists featuring these.  By using howling mine and runeflare trap to setup a coup de grace on an opponents face.  Quest for the pure flame doubles the amount of damage you can deal in a single turn, it's kind of exciting.

Journey to nowhere: An amazing enchantment, I'll be throwing these in my sigil of the empty throne deck.

Hedron Crab: With the fetch lands you could build a potent black/blue mill deck.

Into the Roil: A great card, I could see this in a lot of blue decks.

Gatekeeper of Malakir: No shriekmaw, but the best edict in the format.

Needlebite Trap: May see some use in black/red burn.  Great sideboard card at least.

There are quite a few interesting cards.  There are quite a few cool cards in the new set.

Liked the article though, I also like to think about cards in terms of what decks they would fit into.

I [definitely] think hes wrong about Emeria Angel. Its a 3/3 flyer that pumps out tokens for no cost other than playing land. Thats good especially with fetchlands.

I like his assesment. 3/3 flying for 4 mana is about par for limited, and pointless for constructed, so we're really just evaluating the power of the token generation. 

I would expect this sort of creature to come into play on turn 4, survive maybe 2 rounds if you're lucky, and hit maybe 1 landfall in that time.  So as a baseline, I would consider it a 3/3 flyer with a 1/1 buddy for 4 mana.  Pretty ok/strong-in-limited.

With some sort of fetchland trickery, maybe a particular deck might be able to squeeze out an extra buddy or two.  At that point you're into better-than-average/limited-bomb territory.

However, if it DOESN'T come down on turn 4, its impact on the game drops like a stone and goes all the way down to pointless-in-constructed/average-in-limited.  Additionally, you NEED this guy to survive 2-4 rounds for you to be happy with it.  If it dies right away, you get nothing productive.

I generally think that JVL underestimated he 4/4's for 5.

Malakir Bloodwitch reminds me of Demigod in that it is nigh unkillable (like Demigod was when it was first printed - before Unmake and Path), it smashes face from the moment it enters play and it dominates the board.

World Queller seems like a beating to me. The versatility and the fact that a 4/4 on its own is pretty dominating against aggro-ish decks makes it a card that I wouldn't mind getting hold of.

Also, I really like Magosi, the Waterwell. It is brilliant in combo decks that need two turns of must-answer combo pieces to break through, say, a counter wall.

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Personally, IMO

Archive Trap is a card that can go either way.

Beastmaster Ascension will be a good card.

Bloodchief Ascension will be good. Lifeloss in constructed is aplenty (in the 1st few turns) in today's standard.

Conquerer's Pledge will see play.

Devout Lightcaster will just be a staple Sideboard card for MW decks.

Journey to Nowhere is good. But its a common, so no worries there.

Luminarch Ascension will certainly to be played in Fog Decks.

Malakir Bloodwitch - MBV's answer to Baneslayer in the case you don't seem to draw your removal.

Who decided a column for competitive budget play was a good idea? The entire scene is based around using all the most expensive cards and he knows it, leaving his comments on the more quirky cards budget players tend to play frustratingly incomplete, almost irrelevant.


The site owners may want to think about the necessity of Building on a Budget's competitive ambitions - I've never read a convincing article in its style.

I'm sorry if this came off as dry.

@ Jasonx1488 - If red decks cease to exist, then this could be good enough. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening. I feel like Guardian Seraph and Ajani Goldmane are much better cards to have in the four mana slot.

@ Throgan - That is certainly my fault. Don't blame Kelly! Sorry about the typos.

@ Alienfinger79 - I actually like the Bloodwitch a lot, I never said it wasn't good. It does something when it comes into play and it has protection from path to exile.

You may be right about World Queller, but Baneslayer Angel is the only universally playable five mana creature that doesn't have shroud and doesn't have a come into play effect in the past decade. I just don't see the Queller being on the same level as Baneslayer. There are corner cases where you could make it good, though. If you made a quick RW land destruction deck this might be a good card to just repeatedly name land with. Against decks with artifact lands you can name artifact and swat mana sources every turn. I probably didn't explain this card's applications as much as I could have, but I think most of these scenerios probably won't exist in Constructed.

Magosi is incredible, I'm a big fan of this card.

@ Zan-zan-zawa-veia - This column isn't about winning every tournament. I feel one can be competitive and win some real matches with budget decks. I want to make fun decks that stand a chance against tournament level decks. I thought a column like this would be a good way to lay out the groundwork for future budget decks. It only becomes irrelevant when you assume that budget deck building has no purpose. (Which is not true.)

The e-mail response to this has been quite good.

Sorry about the bold type at the end there. I'm not sure how that happened.

I seriously LOL'ed when I read his comment on World Queller, "This doesn't do anything when it first comes into play, so it probably isn't worth the five mana."  That must mean Smokestack is a bad card too, right?  Granted yes I know SS cost 4 and its a colorless artifact, thus easier to get into play but even still.  This dude is way underrated, get ready to start seeing him rule the tables in W/x control varients.  Ive been testing him in W/R control with ajani v, demolish, scepter of dominance, goblin ruinblaster, and random removal and BSA.  He is an absolute house, ruins many decks and many players.  Pick up 4 before his price goes way up.

jacob, i am sorry you are STILL having to read posts about how building on a budget shouldn't be competitive. i continue to enjoy your articles.

i am really hoping archive trap will be put to good use by someone.

I plan on grabbing a couple of Oran-Rief's, but I'm not sure that I would put four in a deck.  I might have read it wrong, but that's what I felt like JvL was saying.  I plan on getting at least one to exchange with a Forest in my Squirrel deck.  Other than that, the deck can't afford to play a tapped land when it's trying to pump out tokens as fast as possible.  I agree that it's a good card; I just don't see four being played the right move.

I agree that Grappling Hook will see casual play in groups.  It has great flavor, and it seems very cool, even if it does end up costing you 8 mana to get it going.

I think Devout Lightcaster will be a popular card for casual groups.  SOMEBODY is always playing black/cheating big things into play.  It's a solid card for the white mages.

Just my thoughts.  I liked the article; it was a nice change of pace.

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@ Coldlogic - You've clearly tested the card, but I strongly urge you to test it against a deck with putrid leech, bloodbraid elf, lotus cobra, and a healthy  dose of removal. Smokestack cost less mana, is much harder to kill, and is essentially a turn two play off city of traitors. There doesn't seem to be a good way to ramp into world queller, and cards like trinisphere don't exist. Stax seems like it's not really a possibility in standard. However, I would love to be proven wrong. I'm putting together a RW list with the cards you listed above and I'll test it tonight.

I cannot WAIT to make a deck based around Bloodchief Ascension.   Seriously, could you imaging this guy in multiplayer?  Would take one or two times around the table before it goes on-line, and then anything starts swinging life totals.

Board sweepers?  Dreamborn Muse? Anything, really.  And most of the time, your opponents will be doing the work for you. 


I'm happy to see the forum interaction Jacob!

Interesting article.. I appreciated it, but I would actually have liked more of a description of how you picked these cards to talk about.  Did you find a bulk rares bin?  Where did you find these bargains?

One more thought: I liked the content of the article, but the organization probably could have been improved.  Since I'm reading fantasy football articles right now, I have them on my mind.. One organizational trick that would fit well would be "strong buy", "moderate buy" "hold".

It's very helpful to see comparisons of relative value.. even if it's only divided into tiers.


@ Jacob,  I apologize if I sounded really rude, and now I realize it was probably me just being freshly woken up by my 4 month old.  Anyways, your article was a good read thru and I agree with most of your postulations other than World Queller which I discussed in my earlier post.  The W/R deck I have has a few other things I didnt mention, mainly being the removal package.  In the current format with little dudes and such running around, namely vampires. I find that lightning bolt, path to exile, and intimidation bolt to be plenty.  Intimidation Bolt will be played much more due to the fact that its removal + fog for 3.  Right now for my sideboard I have put Day of Judgement, Celestial Purge, Devout Lightcaster, and Ignite Disorder.  DoJ is in the side because I would prefer the LD package main, and if they arent running non-basics I swap out the ruinblasters for DoJ.  I like to run alot of black hate because vampires seems to be the only thing I lose to on a consistant basis.  Im not sure about Ignite Disorder but I couldnt think of anything better for that slot, maybe the white ascencion against control?  Overall the build pretty much owns anything ive played it against, other than vampires which they have the edge pre-board, and that swings in my favor pretty dramatically post board.  If you or anyone else have any suggestions at all, feel free.  I'm always open to helpful critisism.


I forgot to mention I also run Elspeth in mine.

I think that Summoning Trap is going to lead to a lot more Progenitus decks.

i have to say the new scroll over is nice with the new cards but i see sigil deck being wiched a 2 drop that gets rid of the nocturnuss and other pump card in the set that just could not attack or block but did not need to to hurt you so

but i have been looking at i nece deck idea that i would like seen an old bulk rare named realm razor in shards block with land fall


Fairly nice read, I'm sure there will lots of Zendikar deck ideas in future articles.


I would've liked to see a review of a wider range of rares, like lotus cobra instigator etc. because I feel a lot are overhyped and then state your opinion of which rares are being overlooked and are good to pick up for budget players.


Also I wouldn't mind peoples opinion on oracle of mul daya, obviously her abilities are nice for a landfall deck but ramping into her on turn 3 with a birds or whatever could be very hard for people to deal with.

I think she has chances in aggro decks not based off of landfall at all as she can net you a lot of cards in the long run.

Also I think bala geld thief is horrible atm and world queller will not see constructed play given the current format. (I think it's only chance would be land destruction.

So - the late hello..

I am really amazed by "Jacobs forum appear" =) And it seems again that i missed everything interesting cuz i'm always late(

@Jacob - a lot of respect for your work! Innocent

I think that world Cueller will see constructed play anyway - don't forget about Esper decks, Planeswalkers or imagine the lifegain B/W combo with lots of 1/1 creature tokens Soul Warden and his B Prototype with inverted ability?! You just force your opponent to lose creatures for your's 1/1 and gain life each turn for coming tokens and dying ones + Borderpost "landhate" deck can be created with that nice guy. Possibilities are in your hands why not to use them.

Lotus cobra and goblin mythics (for e.g.) are not included in this article because of their started price.

You can safely read about them on tcg or somewhere else.

O'd like to comment some on the "Progemorph" deck but all Progenitus guys left my beatiful city and now only available in Moscow(

I see no play of a new Summoning Trap in this deck either.

I liked the review of Zendikar "what should be traded" list it was nice. Thanks Jacob.

If somebody have some arguements to discuss i'll be very happy about that.

I was slightly surprised by the absence of uncommons/commons. I thought that ' the cards [you] deem "budget" ' would include all the lower rarities.

I also think a review of those rarities would be more interesting to me.

Maybe this could be a future week's theme?

I was slightly surprised by the absence of uncommons/commons. I thought that ' the cards [you] deem "budget" ' would include all the lower rarities.

Well those are budget by default.

His goal here was to find things that are budget now but won't stay that way once their true power is discovered.  Like the way Glen Elendra Archmage shot up around Alara to become one of the hot cards from Eventide, despite being cheap for several months after release. 

Actually I found the mention of cards like Journey to Nowhere to be a waste.  Yeah, it's good, but it's a common, so it will only go down in price as more get opened.  Mentioning it now doesn't really do much.

What I would have liked to see most was a look back at other cards whose value may increase.  For some it's a bit late - Knight of the Reliquary shot from .6 tix online to 4.75 once the Landfall mechanic was known.  (This may also have something to do with Extended coming back into focus, as the card already saw play there.)  But his insight could be useful. 

For example, he mentioned Sigil of the Empty Throne in context of another card, and I think the Sigil itself is a good budget pick right now if you don't have some yet.  With the Quest and Ascension enchantments playing roles, this could finally be a real roleplayer.

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First off, I wanted to say how glad I am that you finally make an appearance on the forums, Jacob! Please keep discussing with us as long as you have the time to, we greatly appreciate it. I'm curious, what made you wait so long to make that jump ?

Some thoughts on a few of the cards you reviewed :

Archive Trap : I don't think this is a card for Standard, as library searching, which is gonna be limited to the fetches and some green cards, is not gonna be present that much. I think Standard decks won't be necessarly be playing fetches, even if they're multicolor. You have to keep in mind that those aren't gonna get anything else than basic lands, making them a lot less impressive for mana fixing than in formats where they can get duals. Also, there's gonna be a good amount of monocolor around (white, black and red) with not too much landfall and few reasons to play fecthes, at least not enough reasons to go over budget for them. Besides, the amount of good milling to go with the trap isn't extremely high in Standard. In Extended however, where the fetches are gonna be at the foundation of the mana base of most decks, and where you have such things as Glimpse the Unthinkable and Mesmeric Orb to support the milling theme, I believe there is a deck to be made.

Conquerer's Pledge : A sleeper, really ? I think it's already pretty much awoken by now. White Weenie players know they want this bad. Maybe it's not already at its full price tag because people aren't sure just how good WW will be in the new Standard, but with Honor of the Pure and the solid soldier theme in M10 joined by a few good Kor Soldiers, I think it's obvious that's a real deck. I do agree one should get them as fast as possible.

Hellkite Charger : One of the most efficient fatties around, I don't think you're right in that it would primarly be for sideboards. I can easily envision it in as a main threat in some kind of RG mana ramp deck. In a situation where the opponent has no flying blockers (and with Bitterblossom and Spectral Procession out of the way, that's gonna be often), if it is allowed to stick for a turn, you pretty much win, Relentless Assault style.

Journey to Nowhere : At two mana, I think this is the perfect spell to supplement Path to Exile in any white deck that wants more than four hard removal. This is Unmake, sorcery-speed, for two mana, which is nothing to scoff at. I'm convinced it will play a much more major role than just in Sigil of the Empty Throne control (which will be great with Day of Judgement, anyhow).

Summoning Trap : Not a very good card IMO, especially in Standard where the only spell that will ever allow it to be played for free is Essence Scatter. I really don't like the gambling aspect of this card. Seven cards deep is a lot, but it still might not be enough if your deck doesn't have a big density of powerful creatures. The only type of deck where I could see that card make a splash is one with both strong early game utility creatures and late-game bombs, say Lotus Cobra + fatties. But again, not in Standard, because your opponent needs to have that turn 2 Essence Scatter in hand AND decide to play it on the Cobra for it to work.



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Well those are budget by default.

tell that to spell snare, path to exile, or...goblin lackey and force of will. Smile

in general you're right, though.

First of all I think the counter-trap is an amazing card and will see a lot of play in extended sideboards.

The key is not to just use it for it's alternate cost but want to hard cast it as it's still a reasonable card at that price. Will still probably stay in sideboards though.


Secondly I really don't think Instigator is all that good right now, like it's potential is obviously there but what are you going to drop if your opponent doesnt kill it right away? Everyone says siege gang but how many of those are you going to be playing in a goblin deck? and it STILL gets blown out by fallout. Even if you drop a chieftan.


When I said I wanted a review of the big money rares those are some of the criticisms I was looking for, I really don't think some of the mythics are all that great.

Like what he said about eldrazi monument.

Also I think Sorin kinda sucks.


I love it...wow, I can't say it enough.  I LOVE IT.

Please make ALL the articles like this.


"Four-mana creatures that die to Lightning Bolt and don't do anything when they come into play seem like a bad choice these days."
Wow.  Good one.  Good point.

"Path to Exile" + Traps.  VERY nice.  Didn't see that one.

i looked back at the cards roil elemental if i read it right if you play a land then another you get 2 thing plz tell me this is not so if it is blue green ramp control lol that is so stupid and sounds like it should not be but if it is living tunamie will be brocken

look at it it says gain control of target but says nothing about only having one at a time so that is why it cost an arm and a leg to get out


Secondly I really don't think Instigator is all that good right now, like it's potential is obviously there but what are you going to drop if your opponent doesnt kill it right away? Everyone says siege gang but how many of those are you going to be playing in a goblin deck? and it STILL gets blown out by fallout. Even if you drop a chieftan.

When I said I wanted a review of the big money rares those are some of the criticisms I was looking for, I really don't think some of the mythics are all that great.

Like what he said about eldrazi monument.

Also I think Sorin kinda sucks.

I'd agree with you if you say smth. like Sorin is overcosted or it's not that worth of money but how could you tell that he is a "kinda sucks" when he is real perfect against Lifegain decks and is absolute control in MBC control deck Yell ? If you can not understand it's full power - poor you. I don't think he should cost 15-18 but if i find it for less than 10 i'll totally take it. Money mouth

Ok let everybody play Volcanic fallouts 7-9 copies in the deck... nearly each creature can be killed simply - why do they cost so much money? - Nobody knows Laughing

Even think of Goblin Lakey, Elvish piper, Ms Transmuter, Disciple of the Vault - Pyroclasm and goodbye all. Why people play/buy cards which are so vulnerable?!?!

Everyone says siege gang but how many of those are you going to be playing in a goblin deck?and it STILL gets blown out by fallout. Even if you drop a chieftan. - Everyone will play 4 Copies of SGC it's the answer. Put Eldrazi or/and Coat of Arms in your goblin deck and forget about fallout and other mass removal.

I wish conquer's pledge put out ally tokens... it would have made allies instantly playable, and would have been a great finsher for the tribe. Now I have to look for a token producer that lets me choose the creature type.... (response to JVLs comments on allies)

Nice colum i always look forward to your post on decks and even though this isn't a deck it still gives idea of what cards will be more useful then others, and one of my most favorite decks you ever made was the shaman one


on other note the only thing i found you gave a say about was

World Queller
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simply because i run 2 in a W/B control deck and i find it awsome when i go and face some one with alot of equips or something along the lines, its a easy way to remove lands when you have extra as well as if you have a 2/2 and there lowest is a 4/4 you can make a trade off, so really i love this card alot for white

Started to write 2 articles a week on getting ready for GP Toronto were i will be talking about getting ready for sealed. The first one is up so go check it out on PMP post.
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