10/21/09 Building on a Budget: The Specter of Change

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

This is very similar to Brad Nelson's "Angry Face" block deck at PT Honolulu.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed a new opportunity for the Sedraxis Specter to take to the skies. However, I hadn't considered pairing it with a Jund-ish build because of the mana requirements. I guess there's more than enough fixing to make it possible, especially if you remove budget restraints and give yourself access to the M10 duals and the fetchlands (the Red/Blue fetchland would probably be the best option for this deck, I'm guessing.)


I took a similar, but worse, build like this, and even it is tearing up the casual room on MtGO just fine. Glad to see it make an appearance.

You got that manabase to work? AWESOME.

I had fears of the CIP tapped lands. Guess those were unfounded.

Jacob has become one of my favorite deck builders. I really appreciate his explanations on card choices.


Thanks Jacob.

You got that manabase to work? AWESOME. I had fears of the CIP tapped lands. Guess those were unfounded.


Actually, I went ahead and built the deck because it looked powerful and fun. And your fears about the manabase are totally justified. I have played a grand total of, uh... 2 games out of about 12 where the mana actually worked for me. Believe me, when it works, it can be obnoxiously powerful. But most of the time, I'm sitting on my butt, stuck with either the wrong CITP lands or a whole fistful of them so that I can't cast my three drops until turn 4.The curve is also a little odd... I guess the CIPT lands can count as one/two drops, but really, I almost feel like Birds of Paradise (which are rather cheap right now, I hear) would be a better choice.


It is entirely likely this deck simply can't work unless you use the new fetch lands, which unfortunately isn't very budget friendly. I'm not sure which would work best, but I can say right now that either he's the most awesome player ever (although he's certainly a better player than me), or just had the most incredible luck for those three rounds than anybody deserves to get with a manabase like that.


Perhaps I mulligan incorrectly?

what builds did that deck test against? I'm pretty surprised that that deck can win against jund and vampires, but maybe it works because it's so similar to Jund?

The mana in this deck looks fine. If you got color screwed often, I think you were just unlucky. I would probably run some Terramorphic Expanse in here though, make it easier to get the "outside colors" blue and green.


Maybe -1 mountain, -1 forest, -2 refuge, +4 Terramorphic. It will make things a little slower though.

For the mana base you should look into Lotus Cobra. Not very budget but that guy is just so broken, it can pump out Baneslayer turn three.


Also I disagree with the statement in the article that Bloodbraid is the best card in standard. I think both cards I mentioned above are better.


Bloodbraid is the best budget card in standard though, no contest.

A great article.  I really like this deck which is fairly similar to the deck the FFreak took to the PT for the ALA block constructed.  It seems that there are not too may Zen cards making into standard decks right now.


For the mana base (assuming no budget) I think I would probably favour 2 BG Fetches and 2 RU Fetches in order to smooth things out.  Obviously terramorphic expanse is signifcantly more budget but does slow the deck down a bit.


There have been numerous arguments as to whether Lotus Cobra or Putrid Leech are better in decks like this and the more I read the more I feel that Lotus Cobra is not as good as the Leech in this sort of aggro deck.  Yes, as mentioned, they may be able to power out a turn 3 Angel but this is only in the 'best-case' scenario.  I think Leech is a much better card for this sort of deck.


For the mana base you should look into Lotus Cobra. Not very budget but that guy is just so broken, it can pump out Baneslayer turn three.


Also I disagree with the statement in the article that Bloodbraid is the best card in standard. I think both cards I mentioned above are better.


Bloodbraid is the best budget card in standard though, no contest.




You do realise that 2 Lotus Cobras cost as much as the entire deck right?


Wow, basically the two most expensive cards in Standard are better than Bloodbraid Elf!?  How insightful!

There is no need in Terramorphic there. Ziggurat is a great card but not in the deck with 15-17 non-creature spells.



For the mana base you should look into Lotus Cobra. Not very budget but that guy is just so broken, it can pump out Baneslayer turn three.


Also I disagree with the statement in the article that Bloodbraid is the best card in standard. I think both cards I mentioned above are better.


Bloodbraid is the best budget card in standard though, no contest.




You do realise that 2 Lotus Cobras cost as much as the entire deck right?


Wow, basically the two most expensive cards in Standard are better than Bloodbraid Elf!?  How insightful!




I disagree with Lotus Cobra being better than Putrid Leech in Standard. In Standard, Cobra is usually little more than a Duress on legs. Building your deck around a 2/1 with a huge target on its forehead is usually a good way to lose matches. The successful Jund decks (though topping out at a whopping 6cc with Broodmate Dragon) all played Leech over Cobra, and there's a reason for that. Leech completely dominates the field, and is hard to answer. Cobra might land a big guy early, anywhere else in the game it sucks, it is unreliable, and cascading into it sucks.


I disagree with Baneslayer Angel being better than Bloodbraid Elf. Angel is a great control finisher, and sees play in midrange, but not as a 4-of. Bloodbraid Elf is played in all aggressive, midrangish and even controlling builds that can pay for his colours. Usually as a four-of. It is quite probably the single best card in the current Standard.


On topic, I have been advicing Jund players to play Specter over Thrinax in Jund Aggro if they could make the mana work - it was always insane, but like Oona's Prowler held back by the amount of flying in the meta. I don't know about this many three-drops in the deck though - 10 is a lot, especially when adding Blightning to the mix. I do, however, agree that the deck really wants something to stop the powerful offense of creature-based decks these days, and Thrinax does that phenomenally.


I have also been a large proponent for playing 3-4 Ziggurats in creature-based builds. It can really hold a deck together - it just requires one thing: That you don't have expensive/colour intensive spells in your deck. I'm especially talking about Burst Lightning here - five mana becomes a lot if you have two Ziggurats out. Blightning also dislikes the land, because (unlike Lightning Bolt), you usually won't be playing both a creature and a Blightning in the same turn. Thinking of Blightning as a 4-drop in this deck is probably more realistic. Seeing as red and black are your main colours, the Ziggurat doesn't need to colour-fix your spells, though, which would otherwise be needed with colour intensive spells such as Terminate and Blightning (and with how Ziggurat won't help you unearth Specter).


I'm not completely sold on Madrush Cyclops. I really like the thought of playing a Specter after a Cyclops, but the curve doesn't work out all that well on that end - of course, you often have to just screw the curve and go for the blowout plays, which this deck certainly does.


I don't know how I'd build the deck, but I'll definitely be working on it. Meta-wise, I like how this combats Jund Aggro, which lives off of CA, by taking excactly that away from them. It obviously puts the hurt on control decks, but decks such as R/W Bushwhacker seem like they would be bad MU's. Vampires seem like they can be handled rather easily with this deck, given that the mana works out (!!). Off to the testing pits - thank you JVL, this is quite possibly the best article you have written.

Photobucket Banner by zpikduM - typo also by zpikduM. =) Skide Fuld - Problem of Evil by frontsession Currently playing Standard: TurboJund Legacy: Zoo Block: Hahaha, good one! 1000th post on August 28, 2009 at 6:08PM

Bloodbaraid is only budget in compare with lotus cobra

I was just having a discussion YESTERDAY that Sedraxis Specter would be a good card to play.  I was looking through UBR cards for a Highlander deck, and came across it.  We started talking about how it was a Hippie that came back, and how the flying tokens were going away...  I mean this exact same discussion.


Cool.  I'm glad to see that I wasn't too far off with my thoughts. 

Amazing article, this deck is possibily one of your greatest creations ever. Manabase would be perfect with a few fetch lands added in.


Any place for the pulse in this deck?

I think there is defintely run for Pulse probably for burst lightning and/or terminate.  I would probably drop the Ziggarauts for Fetchlands as well. 


What about the sideboard?


Clearly 4 Fallout and/or Pyroclasm.  Anything else people would include?  Bitumous Blast, Broodmate Dragon?  Goblin Ruinblaster would probably make it in for me.

"My opponent draws for his turn and plays a Gatekeeper of Malakir; I sacrifice my Sprouting Thrinax and get three 1/1s. He attacks with Bloodghast and I double-block it."


 


Why?


There's no point in double-blocking a 2/1 in a mono-black deck when you're already ahead.  You might be playing around spot removal but why would he use it on a 1/1 saproling instead of your 2/2 flying Hypnotic Specter?


More inexplicable play decisions tainting an otherwise good-looking budget deck.  At least he didn't try Cryptic Commanding something this time..

I'm glad you guys enjoyed this one. As far as the double block goes. I probably misremembered the exact game state. I'm writing these game reports off memory and rough notes. I'll be doing the testing on Magic Online as soon as Zen goes live. I'm sure there will be less errors then.


The mana base should be pretty good actually.


Thanks for reading,


Jacob

I quite liked it. It seems like a budget deck that can actually compete, and has some solid upgrade paths with money. Cards like Maelstrom Pulse, Fetchlands (though I'm not sure on the mix), and swapping out Akoum Refuge for Dragonskull Summit looks like a good move because the 1 point of life shouldn't matter and it can be an increase in tempo compared to the Refuge.


It also scratches an itch I've had for playing a disruptive deck.

MTG Rules Advisor

Loved the deck.


It feels like I am just repeating myself, but in a cold world, praise is seldom to abundant.


I cherish this column because it encompasses most of my wants in 60-cards gaming. Competitive, comtemporary and consumerfriendly decks with cards that are fun, powerful and no-frills.


And they coincide freakishly often exactly with the ones I myself had a yearn to play and of recent acquisition. (All my cards are acquired from and most of my playing is done, in the 40 deck format. And those games dont quensh your needs to cast warmonk, nighthawk, bituminous blast and the other grenades (cf. bombs) of current format)


By now you have not only cemented your prominence, but continuing in this vein will create a reign.


P.S


Can you clarify "He attacks with Bloodghast and I double-block it" - with what / why?


 


[EDIT] I had a snack inbetween starting my reply and finishing it so I missed the "first" post and jacobs answer to it, so ignore the exact same question [EDIT]


"Bloodghast and I double-block it."


Why?There's no point in double-blocking a 2/1 in a mono-black deck when you're already ahead.  You might be playing around spot removal but why would he use it on a 1/1 saproling instead of your 2/2 flying Hypnotic Specter?



You sir are either trolling or a derelict, spiritual speaking.


More inexplicable play decisions tainting an otherwise good-looking budget deck.  At least he didn't try Cryptic Commanding something this time..


Ok, trolling.


Loved the deck.


It feels like I am just repeating myself, but in a cold world, praise is seldom to abundant.


I cherish this column because it encompasses most of my wants in 60-cards gaming. Competitive, comtemporary and consumerfriendly decks with cards that are fun, powerful and no-frills.


And they coincide freakishly often exactly with the ones I myself had a yearn to play and of recent acquisition. (All my cards are acquired from and most of my playing is done, in the 40 deck format. And those games dont quensh your needs to cast warmonk, nighthawk, bituminous blast and the other grenades (cf. bombs) of current format)


By now you have not only cemented your prominence, but continuing in this vein will create a reign.


P.S


Can you clarify "He attacks with Bloodghast and I double-block it" - with what / why?


 


[EDIT] I had a snack inbetween starting my reply and finishing it so I missed the "first" post and jacobs answer to it, so ignore the exact same question [EDIT]




 


Quite true.  I was actually building a modified Jund disruption deck that functioned eerily similarly to this one.  I ran a bit more removal and curved out the deck nicer for a few cascade shenanigans, of course, but the strategy was the same.


As everyone else has already said, loved the article and the deck.  Strong but still budget, with clear ways to improve it if you wanted to put more money into it.  Fantastic job.


I quite liked it. It seems like a budget deck that can actually compete, and has some solid upgrade paths with money. Cards like Maelstrom Pulse, Fetchlands (though I'm not sure on the mix), and swapping out Akoum Refuge for Dragonskull Summit looks like a good move because the 1 point of life shouldn't matter and it can be an increase in tempo compared to the Refuge.


It also scratches an itch I've had for playing a disruptive deck.




Agreed! I've wanted to play an annoyin-- er, "disruptive" deck for a while too. Wink

I picked up the specters (both kinds) on MTGO to give this list a spin this week. Thankfully I opened 2 Pulses doing ARB drafts, so I will try those in place of the 2 Burst Lightning I'm currently missing (though will likely open my ZEN release events). I was thinking the same in terms of swapping the RB life-gainer for the M10 one, but the ZEN uncommon land makes sense given that this is budget friendly.


I also wonder how Guul Draz Specter would behave in this deck. It costs one more mana, so can't Bloodbraid into it (plus the discard isn't random). But the opp's hand should be empty at some point, and as a bonus you get a black dragon on your side (until the opp's draw step, but then the choice is "play or hold" on that card). Is the cost/reward worth it? Not sure, but it at least seems worth experimenting with to see if it can be mixed into the list effectively.



I quite liked it. It seems like a budget deck that can actually compete, and has some solid upgrade paths with money. Cards like Maelstrom Pulse, Fetchlands (though I'm not sure on the mix), and swapping out Akoum Refuge for Dragonskull Summit looks like a good move because the 1 point of life shouldn't matter and it can be an increase in tempo compared to the Refuge.


It also scratches an itch I've had for playing a disruptive deck.




Agreed! I've wanted to play an annoyin-- er, "disruptive" deck for a while too. Wink

I picked up the specters (both kinds) on MTGO to give this list a spin this week. Thankfully I opened 2 Pulses doing ARB drafts, so I will try those in place of the 2 Burst Lightning I'm currently missing (though will likely open my ZEN release events). I was thinking the same in terms of swapping the RB life-gainer for the M10 one, but the ZEN uncommon land makes sense given that this is budget friendly.


I also wonder how Guul Draz Specter would behave in this deck. It costs one more mana, so can't Bloodbraid into it (plus the discard isn't random). But the opp's hand should be empty at some point, and as a bonus you get a black dragon on your side (until the opp's draw step, but then the choice is "play or hold" on that card). Is the cost/reward worth it? Not sure, but it at least seems worth experimenting with to see if it can be mixed into the list effectively.




Not really sold on guul draz specter; it only costs one more but as you said, that means you can't cascade into it, which makes all the difference.  It's slower and very importantly the discard isn't random.  And for late-game threats you already have the madrush cyclops.  For discard, blightning and the two spectres are prolly good enough.   Imho the power boost isn't all that great since if you've demolished their hand with persistent discards, ending the game one or two turns earlier doesn't really matter.  In the meantime, he's a dead card and/or a much more fat and useless specter.

Great deck and nice article.


 


I have a question though: Would Megrim be a viable card to play in this deck?

That's an extremely good deck indeed; I almost feel ashamed I didn't see the power of Specters in that flying-free Standard myself.


It seems only the mana base needs perfecting. Like others suggested, I'd definitely try Terramorphic Expanse in there, budget or not. I can't help but feel that's it's being grossly underplayed at the moment; a four-color deck that can afford to play that many CIPT lands is exactly the kind of build which I think should have it. I didn't get to test to prove my point so I could be wrong, but even for three-color decks, I feel the Expanse may be better than a Zendikar fetchland as long as it doesn't mean you're playing over 8 CIPT lands. I can see why one would like the Alara trilands better, though, and it may be hard to find room for the Expanse for that reason if you're playing 4 color and already want a playset of each fitting triland.


I know the reason people don't play the Expanse is that it combines the CIPT weakness with the weakness of fetchlands (once you've chosen the color it's gonna produce, it's only gonna produce that one), but I'm sure there's a place for it, either in complement to trilands and/or in complement to Zendikar fetchlands, which together help a landfall theme and help the M10 duals work too by finding basics.

Magic The Gathering DCI Lvl 1 Judge Don't hesitate to post rules question in the Rules Q&A forum for me and other competent advisors to answer : http://community.wizards.com/go/forum/view/75842/134778/Rules_Q38A


I also wonder how Guul Draz Specter would behave in this deck.




Don't undervalue the Unearth value of the Sedraxis specter.  An unearthed specter means 3 damage plus a discard.  Thats pretty good for only 2 mana.

@Jacob.  Second advent. I'm truly discouraged. Smile


Each week i met new people in your article discussion which are interested in adding megrim to discard deck. To deal an opponent much more pain than just 3 points from Sedraxis e.g. The answer is here: read last 5-6 article's discussion of building an a budget and you 100% find an answer + few decklists of what could be made. Megrim deck is already an old idea which isn't popular for the moment because no one posted it in the main DailyMTG screen or win some pro-tour with it. Undecided


Combine and build/

Great article Jacob!


Another bad play was your opponent playing Ob nix on 5th turn. But you probably forced him into it with the discard.


Another is by your opponent in the control match up, he paths your leech on second turn which benefits you. He should of saved it for one of your recurring creatures like the specter or the lizard that a wrath cant handle effectively.


I personaly think that the vampires match up is tough, your opponent can prolong the game with a tendrils then grind it out with recurring Bloodghasts.


Another is by your opponent in the control match up, he paths your leech on second turn which benefits you. He should of saved it for one of your recurring creatures like the specter or the lizard that a wrath cant handle effectively.





I think this is a very tough decision for a control based player to make.  When the Leech is attacking, the opponent probably presumes you are playing a Jund deck (there is nothing really to hint at the Spcetre slant to this deck).  Accordingly, the opponent has to consider his life total very carefully.  In a standard Jund build the only card you get advantage of exiling is the Thrinax (there are no unearth shenanigans in normal Jund) and there is less than a 50% chance of you casting the Thrinax on Turn 3. 

So your opponent is facing down a Leech which could knock him down to 16.  There are 3 potential plays that your opponent is thinking you might make, Thrinax, Blightning or nothing/another leech etc.  Only playing a Thrinax next makes not exiling the leech the right play.


You are right that DOJ can deal with the Leech but your opponent might very easily be down to single figure life before he can cast it (Turn 3 - Leech (16) Blighting (13).  Turn 4 just the leech sends you to 9, Bloodbraid flipped into a Blighting/Lightning Bolt puts you on 3!).


So, in conclusion I think exiling the Leech was the right play by the opponent.

...You are right that DOJ can deal with the Leech but your opponent might very easily be down to single figure life before he can cast it (Turn 3 - Leech (16) Blighting (13).  Turn 4 just the leech sends you to 9, Bloodbraid flipped into a Blighting/Lightning Bolt puts you on 3!).

So, in conclusion I think exiling the Leech was the right play by the opponent.



Maybe you are right but if opponent was thinking about playing against Jund he'll be probably using PtE to exile Sprouting Thrinax or Broodmate thing =)


I've changed some commons to Putrid Leeches yesterday after reading an article and stay happy bout that.


 

Anyone have any idea which fetch lands would fit best into this deck's manabase?

There are 3 potential fetches to play: RU, GU and BG. 


Blue is the colour you need least of and Red and Black the most.  If I was building the mana base from scratch I probably wouldn't run Crumbling Necropolis or Ziggaurats but would have 25 land as follows:


4 Savage Gardens


4 Dragonskull Summits


4 Misty Rainforest


2 RU Fetches


2 BG Fetches


1 Island


2 Forests


3 Mountains


3 Swamps

Guys!?


You are reading Building on a BUDGET article it's not serious money fun article, Sorry.


If you all want to spend a lot of money on fetches it's your choice. But it's not a budget choice. Even duals are not budget. Jacob creates budget decks with some addition of a bit expensive cards like Honor of the Pure, PtE or Bloodbraid. He is not Ben Bleiweiss who made serious decks for 20-30 tickets but it's still budget building - if you want some serious deck you'll can afford try Jund Aggro of the LAst ProTour or new Boros deck!


 

I feel so lame for wanting Jacob to use Goblin Bushwacker, sign in blood, grim discovery, cruel ultimatium and soul manipulation in favor of cutting the green and replacing them with equvilant creatures. (Bushwacker for Mad Cyclopos as an example) I like recursion in the face of pleantiful removal. Plus lots of cheap card advantage.

If you went UBR you'd almost certainly want Agony Warp.  I'd also consider Swerve as tech against Blightning, Lightning Bolt, Maelstrom Pulse etc.  In fact, thinking about it Swerve may actually be worth seriously considering.  Certainly in the sideboard.

Built this deck on MTGO lastnight and took it into the casual tourney practice room.  It definitely felt the pain from Jund decks which is a major problem for the meta.  As other's have mentioned the manabase is pretty shaking and moreoften than not the Zigg's kept me from casting vital spells like Blightning.  What do you guys think about changing the base and including an extra mana?


Besides manabase Jund would tend to win by using their more plentiful burn to get board position and their more plentiful cascade spells for card advantage.


Madrush Cyclops never really presented an advantage and I'm wondering if that card can be replaced for an alternate (Resounding Thunder, Sign in Blood, ect.)...


I came up with this build... Thoughts?


4 Putrid Leeches
3 Hellspark Elementals (could be 4 but I wanted to try the 25 mana base which is what most Jund run)

4 Sprouting Thranix
2 Hypnotic Specters
4 Sydraxis Specters

4 Bloodbraid Elves

4 Lightning Bolts
4 Blightnings
4 Terminates

2 Bituminous Blasts

(Mana Symbols= 31R 27S 12F 4U)

4 Savagelands
3 Terremorphic Expanses
1 Island
2 Crumbling Necropolises
5 Swamps
5 Mountains
5 Forest

(Mana Sources = 15M 15S 12F 6U)  *This is counting the Expanses as a source of each mana*



I'm having trouble working out the manabase...  So any thoughts there would be nice.


 


 

Enjoyed this deck.  Set rotations are fun because you get to see new uses for underused cards.  I'm dubious about the mana requirements here, but the idea definitely got the creative juices flowing.


I'd love to see an Extended deck next.. it looks like there's some huge shake-ups there, and tons of innovation.  I'd like to see Jacob's take on a budget way to approach the format.


 


I'd love to see an Extended deck next.. it looks like there's some huge shake-ups there, and tons of innovation.  I'd like to see Jacob's take on a budget way to approach the format.




Dito.

i wonder if Duress might be a good inclusion for the deck. i know that it will likely not be played till turn 3-4, but against Jund, its defintley worth getting rid of Bituminous Blasts/Terminates as soon as possible, and for one mana Duress seems a nice fit. Any feedback for a different manabase/what should be taken out?