The Jank FNM Challenge

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Hey everyone, let me tell you a little bit about myself: I'm a guy that likes a challenge.  For the last 10 or so weeks, I've started attending my local FNM, which is great fun, but I tend to lose quite often. I simply don't have the income to pour into magic like most other people, but I can still afford the five bucks for gameday each week at the very least.

Like, really, I'd consider myself a fairly decent deckbuilder, but if I'm getting paired with a guy that's spent more than a hundred dollars on their deck, chances are I'm gonna lose. I've dedicated myself to attempting to build a clever deck to hopefully triumph over the FNM and finally get in the top 3. The very best I've done is 3-1, and that was under the most favorable conditions possible, but I still didn't place. I've tried a great deal of different deck builds of my own design, but each week produces the same lackluster results, most nights ending in 2 wins -- 2 losses, breaking even on average.

So I've resigned myself to maybe just being on the losing end of things forever, but if I'm gonna be a loser I might as well have the most fun possible attempting to win, so I've come here!

So your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to take a good hard look at the list of cards here that comprises my entire standard legal collection, and to make a deck out of it. I'll pick out the one I like, sleeve it up, and take it to FNM.

I'm not asking for miracle here, I'm not asking for a golden gun deck that'll score me 1st place for sure. Hell, it doesn't even need to be competitive, just fun. That's what this game is all about afterall.

Here's the list:


4 x Fiend Hunter
4 x aven squire
4 x knight of glory
1 x fencing ace
1 x war falcon
1 x farbog explorer
1 x angelic wall
1 x cathedral sanctifier
1 x battleflight eagle
1 x spectral gateguards
1 x emancipation angel
1 x serra avatar
4 x doomed traveler
2 x keening apparition
1 x armory guard
1 x griffin guide
1 x intrepid hero
2 x warclamp mastiff
2 x selesnya sentry
3 x guardians of akrasa
1 x prized elephant
1 x pillarfield ox
1 x trained caracal
1 x Bazaar Krovod

4 x Ghostly Possession
4 x Ethereal Armor
2 x oblivion ring
4 x arrest
4 x pacifism
2 x divine favor
1 x knightly valor
1 x sphere of safety

4 x rally the peasants
1 x show of valor
1 x erase
4 x safe passage
2 x eyes in the skies
2 x captain's call
1 x glorious charge
1 x leap of faith
1 x swift justice
2 x trostani's judgment

4 x knight of infamy
4 x typhoid rats
2 x servant of nefarox
2 x daggerdrome imp
4 x abattoir ghoul
4 x stromkirk patrol
1 x veilborn ghoul
1 x athrid gorgon
1 x phylactery lich
2 x sewer shambler
2 x walking corpse
2 x bloodhunter bat
2 x catacomb slug
2 x zombie goliath
1 x giant scorpion
1 x ogre jailbreaker
2 x slum reaper
1 x driver of the dead
1 x tavern swindler
1 x corpse traders
1 x necropolis regent
1 x crypt creeper
1 x undead executioner
1 x vampire nighthawk
1 x bloodthrone vampire
1 x tormented soul
1 x duty-bound dead
1 x Terrus Wurm
1 x drainpipe vermin
1 x dead reveler
1 x perilous shadow

4 x skeletal grimace
3 x crippling blight
1 x blood reckoning
1 x mark of the vampire
1 x deviant glee

4 x sign in blood
4 x victim of night
4 x duress
1 x diabolic revelation
4 x mind rot
4 x rise from the grave
4 x vile rebirth
2 x essence drain
3 x launch party
4 x disentomb
4 x moan of the unhallowed
1 x ultimate price
1 x human frailty
1 x wit's end
1 x destroy the evidence
1 x essence harvest
4 x murder
4 x barter in blood
3 x tribute to hunger
1 x mutilate
4 x cremate

1 x Liliana of the Dark realms

4 x lumberknot
4 x arbor elf
2 x silklash spider
4 x moldgraf monstrosity
4 x avacyn's pilgrim
2 x timberpack wolf
2 x vastwood gorger
4 x elvish visionary
2 x borderland ranger
2 x brushstrider
2 x flinthoof boar
2 x stonefare crocodile
2 x wandering wolf
3 x drudge beetle
1 x yeva's forcemage
1 x roaring primadox
1 x archweaver
1 x axebane guardian
1 x deadbridge goliath
1 x mwonvuli beast tracker
1 x towering indrik
1 x rubbleback rhino
1 x geist trappers
3 x axebane stag
2 x acidic slime
4 x ambush viper
1 x centaur's herald

4 x gutter grime
2 x ground seal
3 x rancor

4 x Spider spawning
4 x naturalize
4 x fog
4 x giant growth
4 x ranger's guile
3 x druid's deliverance
3 x titanic growth
3 x fungal sprouting
3 x plummet
1 x chorus of might
1 x terrifying presence
1 x farseek
1 x bountiful harvest
1 x serpent's gift
4 x caravan vigil
4 x bramblecrush
2 x aerieal predation
4 x prey upon

4 x charmbreaker devils
4 x falkenrath marauders
4 x dragon hatchling
4 x viashino racketeer
4 x Rage thrower
4 x ashmouth hound
4 x scourge of geier reach
2 x mogg flunkies
2 x goblin battle jester
2 x splatter thug
3 x fire elemental
2 x canyon minotaur
1 x furnace whelp
1 x reckless brute
1 x somberwald vigilante
1 x riot ringleader
1 x gore-house chainwalker
1 x fervent cathar
1 x batterhorn
1 x tenement crusher

4 x furor of the bitten
1 x volcanic strength
1 x pyroconvergence

4 x Traitorous blood
4 x infernal plunge
4 x searing spear
3 x fling
2 x mark of mutiny
2 x chandra's fury
2 x kindled fury
2 x explosive impact
1 x smelt
1 x krenko's command
1 x electrickery
1 x uncanny speed
1 x craterize
2 x survery the wreckage
1 x goblin rally
1 x pillar of flame

4 x chandra, the firebrand

4 x lantern spirit
3 x watercourser
3 x arctic aven
2 x wind drake
2 x harbor serpent
2 x kraken hatchling
2 x Archaeomancer
1 x courtly provocateur
1 x merfolk of the pearl trident
1 x stormtide leviathan
1 x welkin tern
1 x soulsworn spirit
1 x doorkeeper
2 x aquus steed
1 x stealer of secrets
1 x scrapskin drake
1 x latch seeker
1 x nephalia smuggler

4 x curiosity
4 x spectral flight
2 x tricks of the trade
1 x paralyzing grasp
1 x chronic flooding

4 x negate
4 x cancel
4 x unsummon
4 x mind sculpt
3 x dispel
2 x downsize
2 x downpour
1 x talrand's invocation
1 x second guess
2 x inaction injunction
1 x index
1 x divination
1 x essence scatter

2 x phyrexian hulk
1 x chronomaton

4 x inquisitor's flail
4 x mask of avacyn
3 x staff of nin
2 x tormod's crypt
2 x sands of delirium
1 x izzet keyrune
1 x bladed bracers
1 x gem of becoming
1 x ring of valkas
1 x ring of kalonia

4 x goblin electromancer
3 x frostburn weird
1 x chemister's trick
1 x counterflux

1 x centaur healer
1 x dryad militant
1 x wayfaring temple
1 x common bond
1 x sundering growth
1 x hero's reunion
1 x courser's accord
1 x armada wurm
1 x call of the conclave

3 x spawn of rix maadi
1 x carnival hellsteed
1 x rakdos cackler
2 x rakdos charm
1 x dreadbore

4 x trestle troll
3 x grisly salvage
1 x lotleth troll
1 x slitherhead
2 x sluiceway scorpion
1 x golgari longlegs
1 x korozda guildmage

2 x new prahv guildmage
1 x search warrant
1 x azor's elocutors
1 x vassal soul

4 x rakdos guildgate
4 x golgari guildgate
2 x selesnya guildgate
1 x izzet guildgate
4 x evolving wilds
4 x transguild promenade

Now, don't let that list restrict you, I can actually pitch in about 5-10 dollars to buy singles if I really have to. Keep that in mind.

If I actually WIN FNM, or atleast place 2nd or 3rd, with the deck built here, well, damn, I guess I'll just have to declare you the winner of the Jank FNM Challenge.

Honestly, if you can go 2-2 with this, you may be significantly more skilled as a deckbuilder than I am...

But, There is a standard pauper thread started by servicegames where Ive been throwing out some decklists with only commons. You can look at my G/W list there. I think that by adding 4x call of the conclave, and 4x selesnya charm, you can have yourself a deck that is somewhat reasonable (adding rancor is probably also a good idea).  
Well, I have tried alot of ideas, and my strategy so far has been to make a control style deck (though I've tried aggro and tempo, believe you me. I don't have enough quality creatures for midrange) that heavily interacts with other people's decks and strangle out victories that way. I'm currently experimenting with a GRUB near creatureless, dedicated mill control, with a sideboard that allows me to transition out of mill into control that drops fatties for the wincon or transition into less creature-hate and more counterspells when facing the control matchup.

But I suppose I wanted other people's opinion. Building for pauper doesn't interest me, since my local card shop doesn't host pauper or peasant events.
Your red/black cards are pretty decent. You could try a red/black control deck. It would include cards like mutilate, barter in blood, sign in blood, rise from the grave, chandra the firebrand, staff of nin, carnival hellstead, liliana of the dark realms, murder, and charmbreaker devils. Rise from the Grave seems really fun with chandra's -2 or returning with charmbreaker devils.

"This list much made Niche barf a lil' in his mouth, so I can be proud of that." -rstnme

I guess I was suggesting that investing 5-10 in quality commons/uncommons would likely get you a decent list, and then you could play that "pauper"-like deck in a normal standard tournament. Here is an example of such a list:


 Sure, a lot of the above you dont have, but they are all commons/uncommons. The deck definitely has a direction. If people in your meta play wrath you really need strangleroot geist, and have rootborn defenses. A lot of what might work depends highly on what decks people play at your local card shop. At my card shop, most people have many more dual lands than basics in their decks, except a couple RDW players. Whether are not your gaming store is like this dramatically affects what strategies you can be successful with.
Challenge Accepted! So what I did was go R/G for you. You'll have to buy some of the cards, but if you buy at your local shop or order online they should cost you less than the $10 you said your budget is.

3 Rakdos Cackler
4 Borderland Ranger
2 Instigator Gang
2 Faithless Looting
4 Pillar of Flame

I rummaged through my older collection of cards stored behind my desk and I found 2 borderland rangers and an extra 2 elvish visionaries. I've updated the list to reflect this.

Also, I went to TCG player to sanity test the costs, without needing the extra two borderland rangers, Porvaznik is spot on just under 7 dollars approx.

Mr. Physics' selesnya crack team is a little over at 12.50 approx. Really underestimating the cost of selesnya charms, dryad militants, and the extra rancor, though I could try to scrape the few extra dollars if I decided to go with it.

I forgot to discuss the meta, just from the people I play, there's always atleast 2 people each playing some variation of Zombie tribal and UW tempo. Though there are some oddballs in there like the rakdos aggro guy, the RWG reanimator guy, and the golgari aggression that's getting a little bit more popular. It's a real diverse bunch full of people that aren't tryhards, alot of casuals as well, so it's not an intense atmosphere filled with top 8'd netdecks.
Well, you can change up a couple cards in my "selesnya crack team" list, although most of the cards you mentioned are the best cards in the deck. Against decks that dont have sacrifice outlets, pacifism can be a very good sideboard/maindeck card, taking care of things like thragtusk and messenger without going through the graveyard. nearheath pilgrim is a reasonable option vs aggro in the place of fencing ace. dryad militant maindeck should do well against the reanimator guy, and also you should be able to exile whatever he reanimates with charm. Well placed pump spells, pro black guy, and phealers help carry you past aggro (and lifelink with pilgrim is a good option, id recommend buying those over more fencing aces). If you want to cut costs, I guess sticking to 3 rancor is fine. 

Relevant sideboard cards:
pacifism vs thragtusk (if they dont also have other ways to easily kill their own tusk)
sundering growth (kill an enchantment and sometimes randomly get a free guy. Dont forget you can kill your own rancor to switch which creature its on and get an instant speed free guy)
intrepid hero (against other G/W decks, you can rancor their guys and then kill with hero. You can do a similar trick with selesnya charm)
rootborn defenses (vs supreme verdict)
ground seal reasonable reanimator hate I guess 

Is it possible to trade for any of the cards? If not then probably a couple cuts could get you to $10, although any token maker cut weakens any possible populate significantly, and cutting militant will hurt you vs reanimator and a 2 power 1 drop is pretty nice. 

so: -1 rancor -3 fencing ace +3 nearheath pilgrim +1 pacifism maindeck 
Well, you can change up a couple cards...

No no no! You misunderstand me, think of this as a forum game, with the rules I've given you being to build the best deck possible given the source of cards and pool of money. I won't change a thing in your list, I'll do it exactly as it's laid out unless it's impossible given the set limitations. So yeah, just think of it as a game, but unlike most other forum games though, this will have real life ramifications on me, atleast as far as FNM is concerned.

So if you're gonna add a sideboard as well, that'll need to be spelt out exactly card-for-card as well.

I most likely'll be starting with next week's FNM, since I want to give people that might be interested a chance to jump in and recommend a list, but also because the cheapest possible price for a list will need to come through an online retailer, as my local card shop marks up things by a not insignificant margin, with 25 cents for most commons, 50 cents for most uncommons (I've noted that all charms and things like rakdos cacklers are double the price at a dollar each), and even junk rares are a dollar or more each.

And about trading, to tell you the truth, I've never traded anything before. In my earlier and younger days of playing, I was always reluctant since I was never sure what I wanted to build, so I was afraid to let anything go, and I didn't know how valuable things were, so I could never reassure myself that I wasn't getting ripped off, so I just never did it. Now that I'm more experienced though, I could give it a try. And seeing as how I painstakingly wrote down the contents of my entire collection, I can just print it out and see if any of the traders find anything in there they like. I'll even highlight some of the good stuff like I've pulled like my Lotleth troll and my foil Liliana of the dark realms.
A lot of players should be willing to give someone trying to start out/get back into the game a lot of the uncommons for free. I mean, I wouldnt expect free cards but, Im sure people will try to help you out.

Here is version 2 of selesnya budget aggro:

Card choices: I missed the dryad would exile your own travel preparations, so I moved a couple copies to the side and took them out of the main for this reason. They can really help you beat damage based sweepers like electrickery, bonfire for 1 (or maybe 2), and rolling temblor (if you have time to flash it back) This deck has an unusual weakness red based sweepers.

I realized that G/W had another competitive token maker in midnight haunting, and that gives enough tokens to begin making cards like wayfaring temple worthwhile. Doomed traveler should be solid against some of the aggressive creatures you are facing, and you can populate the token as well. Another (cheaper) version of this deck probably replaces militants with doomed travelers, adds back in more midnight hauntings, and goes for a more proliferate angle. That probably not a bad idea, but seems like it would lead to the deck having a lot of 3 drops. Midnight haunting can come in when you add more propulate to the deck, and its likely better than centaur healer vs control.

Sideboard: pacifism comes in if the opponent has many very problematic creatures. Oblivion ring can take out planeswalkers. Sundering growth can help us limp past cards like underworld connections and curse of death's hold, as well as detention sphere, etc. Intrepid hero vs reanimator and G/W. Ground seal vs reanimator. Travel prep against agressive creature based aggro and red sweepers. rootborn defenses against red sweepers and verdict.
Honestly, for a super cheap deck with o-rings, pacifisms, and rancors, I'd main deck some ethereal armors. Something like this is super cheap and easy to get the cards:

4x Dryad Militant
4x Call of the Conclave
4x Centaur Healer
4x Knight of Glory
4x Avacyn's Pilgrim
1x Wayfaring Temple
3x Nearheath Pilgrim
1x Fencing Ace
1x Midnight Haunting

4x Rancor
4x Ethereal Armor 
2x Oblivion Ring
2x Pacifism 

10x Forest
8x Plains
4x Selesnya Guildgate


3x Deadly Recluse
4x Selesnya Charm
1x Ground Seal
2x Oblivion Ring
1x Interpid Hero
2x Sundering Growth
1x Intrepid Hero
1x Pacifism

This whole deck probably costs less than twenty bucks.

I mean, a T1 Dryad into a T2 Rancor + Ethereal Armor is 6 first strike trample damage. On turn 2. And then as you save money, invest in better creatures like Loxodon Smiter and Silverblade Paladin. Or check out SCG's GW midrange/aggro decklists.


I found Carmen Sandiego before you were born unless you're Zlehtnoba.

So I just got back, the deck of my own design did pretty poorly this time around at 2-3. Granted, I got paired up against some of the harder people this time around back to back. It was just them brutaly slaughtering me.

Also, due to unforeseen circumstances, my budget has dropped to only 5 dollars. That's really what I have in spare change really, it won't be missed. But hey, this is a challenge, time to get creative.

 In other news, I got a fistful of new cards from the FNM, and I pulled some neat stuff, and I got a promo foil pillar of flame that I traded (!) for some guy's entire opened pack that, which seemed like a good deal from what was in it.

The additions to the list of cards include include:

I was tempted to sell it, but I looked around for people to trade, but I was struck with doubt on what to try to trade it for. I just kept it then thinking maybe it could fit into a potential selesnya colored deck.

Well, I guess I'll post some of the decklists I've been building myself, just to show people what I've been trying, and maybe even some of the ideas I had. Really, it's pretty obvious that feedback is just so intensely important, and it's something I can't deny.

I'll throw up something tomorrow though, it's almost 1 A.M. right now.
Alright, my usual pile I've been using is a Black/X control pile that's taken many forms in the last few weeks. It's been Monoblack, Rakdos, Golgari, Dimir, Jund, Four color GRUB, but unless some really unlikely pieces fall in place, it usually only places very average.

It usually has something along the lines of, give or take:

I don't mill people often, but often enough that the sands make their keep. That's just the control skeleton I've been relying on, and it works if I'm not facing a top tier deck.

It would seem it's high time to change things up though.

It would seem that people have some sort of fixation on making a selesnya token populate kinda deck.

Here's my take on a selesnya colored deck, granted with a little splash of black in the sideboard.

4 elvish visionary
2 borderland ranger
4 fiend hunter
4 acidic slime
4 centaur healer
1 Mwonvuli beast tracker
1 roaring primadox
1 emancipation angel
1 dryad militant
1 deadbridge goliath
1 armada wurm

24 creatures

4 cloudshift
3 titanic growth
3 rancor
2 ranger's guile
1 chorus of might

13 noncreature spells

4 evolving wilds
4 selesnya guildgate
8 forest
7 plains

23 lands


4 knight of glory
4 cremate
4 golgari guildgate
1 swamp
2 oblivion ring

For my sideboard, I'm not too sure about those two O rings, but I can't think of anything else to stick in the sideboard to deal with planeswalkers, especially that in my meta there's the constant threat of Jaces and Tamiyo's. I want cremates in my sideboard because I just don't feel safe if there's no graveyard hate available to me, cause there's also alot of recursion, reanimation, and snapcasters in my meta. Then there's the 4 knights of glory to combat the GB or BR zombies that seems like an inevitable matchup that usually just pulverizes me.

For my mainboard, obviously there's a big theme of bouncing and cloudshifting in this deck to avoid creature removal and to squeeze extra usefulness out of my ETB effect triggers. There's creature removal in the form of fiend hunters, extra points if I can cloudshift to perma-exile things, and I can combat trick with titanic growth, chorus, and ranger's guile, doubling to save my creatures if I have to. I have acidic slimes to deal with noncreature, nonplaneswalker threats, and I have armada wurm to act as a huge finisher, and I have Mwonvuli Tracker to tutor them up.

It's just a matter of having to race damage to win with my rancors and such, and that may be the hardest to do if I'm paired up against RDW, but I just have to hope that my Centaur healers pull through on the life gain.

I think the mana base is sound, it should ensure that I'm never mana screwed with the amount I have, or flooded with the amount of thinning, or color screwed with all the fixing I have. It's a silly thing to worry about with just two colors, but man, I worry about color screw so much. SO MUCH. Especially when there's the very real chance of having to board in cremates, and where I'll need that one swamp that's tutorable.

Now it's just a matter of settling the buy list, which, according to my estimates is:

+2 acidic slime
+3 centaur healer
+4 cloudshift

according to my approximations, that's a total of $2.75 for everything. +/- 1 dollar.
Best way to deal with planeswalkers is pithing needle. I have two in my sideboard for the Jaces and Tamiyos as well.
Actually, I just kinda had the revelation that my local card shop bases their prices on what Starcity games prices them. Though, that's just kinda a suspicion of mine, though it seems really likely just from how wonky their pricing scheme seems to be.

This makes my pricing predictions just a little bit easier on me though.

Here's another idea. When I'm not trying some jank control pile, I'm playing some variation of boros. Or, I WAS pre-rotation, when the majority of my collection that consisted of Mirrodin said bye to standard.

Gathering up my cards, I cobbled this idea together real fast:

The aim of the deck, as you might be able to guess, is to get alot of dudes down, swing in, and hope to maybe get in huge damage with the help of one of my favorite cards: Rally the Peasants. 4 Krenky commands, 4 Townsfolk: the gathering, 3 captain's call, and 2 goblin rallies that can all be doubled thanks to chandra, it's theoretically possible to get quite alot of dudes down in short order.

There's a little bit of enchantment removal in the form of the keening apparitions, so curse of death's hold won't wreck me completely. aggro decks like thse tend to run low on cards real fast, so dangerous wager is there to help me out when my hand runs dry. Searing spear makes another appearance, yet again worming it's way into every deck that even has a splash of red in it.

I'm just not confident about the Racketeers, which WILL help me huck lands and junk that's not helping me, which is important since the mana curve ends at five, and filtering is super important when your deck relies on certain key cards. Heck, the most I'd want is 6 lands so I can cast and flashback Rally backtoback. I just can't think of anything else that could suitably replace them.

I had to put a little thought to my sideboard. I guess I can auto-include the knights for zombies, tormod's crypt for the tiniest bit of graveyard hate, though I feel it won't be enough. Investing in some rootborn defenses will be necessary when the inevitable sweeper occurs, and it'll make my board position just a little bit more threatening. One sundering growth and 2 O rings just for the little bit of each artifact and PW hate. Finally, 2 plains since shifting around my mana base may just make the difference. Can't wait for boros guildgates to become a thing.

If I have the prices of everything right, my buy list looks like this:

+1 goblin rally
+3 krenko's command
+4 gather the townsfolk
+4 dangerous wager
+4 rootborn defenses

Which should put the cost at approximately $5. Unless I've slightly miscalculated, it might be a little bit more or less.
Mind if I post my collection also?
I'm kinda running on a budget right now, but I got some nice stuff, just don't really know what to do with them.

I had fun with my Izzet deck this weekend, guttersnipe is an all-star to me, once I got him out and two of my goblin electromancers it was great.
But I didn't expect to do that well, 2-2, but it was great seeing how much potential it has.

I think you might want to start a new thread for that Tehro, given how much information is in a "build a deck out of my collection" thread.

JoshuaFH: R/W tokens is a powerful budget deck, but no intangible virtue really hurts you. I know its $6 for a playset, but doesnt your FNM give prizes for victory? Either way, Id recommend 4x doomed traveler in such a deck, which you already have in your collection. Another budget finisher is goldnight commander. Follow that up with a golbin rally and your opponent is in a world of hurt. Also, midnight haunting is quite important.

Given your new budget, Id recommend either looking up a standard pauper G/W deck (since its probably ~$5) and adding your best cards like armada wurm, or using rstnme's idea of an enchantments/ethereal armor type deck.
What was with Tehbeasts decklist? Guess he just had the wrong thread?

Anyway, I found an old budget infect deck that I built last year, and took it apart to find the missing Prey upons and the 2 absent bramblecrushes I was looking for. I was quite happy about that. Those are added to the list.

Intangible virtue is pretty great, I've played with it pretty extensively in MTGO. But the difference being that I picked up a digital playset of them for next to nothing, while the physical version weighs in at 1.50 per. I think the value of of it is a little inflated though, since it's a dead draw after a wipe, but if you already have board position, this just makes it that much better and more intimidating.

Goldnight commander looks really amazing, I could easily see taking out the flunkies and the thugs for four of those guys if I can splurge on them. I might even reconsider the Gather the Townsfolks and pick up 4 thatcher revolts instead. Or not, just an idea.

Midnight haunting is pretty good, but it's a no go at a dollar each. Though I will admit they'd be pretty great for the tricky blocks and sudden pumps with Mr. Goldnight. I'll tell you what though, IF I did decide to go with this decklist. and it performed pretty well, I might decided to pimp it out just a little bit more the next time I have some free money.

And finally, I'm not sure how extensively you've played with Doomed Travelers, but I've played with them tons and tons, and they're not that great, especially since there's so little that synergizes with them specifically in this deck. If there were some easy way to recur them, if I had intangible virtues, or if I splashed green for the parallel lives I don't have, then I might consider giving them a spot.
What's with this control pile of mine? I swear, each week I swear it off, but then I think of the possibilities and I wind up using that. Like an angry love, I storm out of the house, but Control just smirks to itself going "Oh, don't worry, it's only a matter of time before he comes CRAWWWWWLING back." and damnit, it's right more often than not.

Anyway, here's another variation of my control pile that I thought of at the spur of the moment:

Budget Creatureless Control

The idea of the deck is to go for the long haul. A very long haul. An almost sadomasochistic long haul. But it's something I enjoy atleast. It's win conditions involves slowly squeezing in damage with burn, pings from Staff of nin and Chandra, and clearing the field and attacking with the Rakdos keyrune. Adding in green is just for the bramblecrushes which adds ALOT of versatility in the things I can destroy, and because next to everything is a sorcery or instant, chandra can double up on near everything. Volcanic geysers get thrown in because an ordinary game can last a long time, and I can build up a rather substantial number of lands to just burn them out and end it finally.

For the sideboard I included 4 duress and mind rots for the control matchup. 4 rise from the grave to grab the too excellent midrange beatsticks that show up far too often (Looking at you thragtusk), and some extra graveyard hate just in case I find a reanimator deck that's just a little too spry, and 4 cremates just aren't enough to make sure I have the hate in hand. This sideboard is really hapdash, I just slammed it together real fast.

The buy list looks like:

+4 Rakdos keyrune
+2 volcanic geyser
+1 stensia bloodhall

about 4 dollars if I have my Local card shop's backwards pricing scheme right. I'm not sure if I should also purchase and throw in an elixir of immortality since in one very peculiar match, albeit with a more mill focused version of the deck that didn't go off, I wound up milling myself out. True story, it was an interesting way to die.
You've got a pretty good looking list on there, but I see a few holes that would be easy to patch.

First off, lose the cremates and bramblecrushes in the main deck. Those aren't doing you any favors here, they are sideboard material at best. In their place, I would add in 4 Pillar of Flame and 4 Annihilating Fire OR, if your meta has a lot of x/1's in it, a 2/2 split of fire and Flames of the firebrand. Mutilate with only 6 swamps feels lackluster too. It would be better off as another land, ironically. Doing this will also get you off of 3 colors, which will be WAY better for your mana.

A tactic worth noting that is fun as hell to play, and involves using multiple Elixir of Immortality: Diabolic Revelations. 3 Revelations, 3 elixir, and a deck full of burn and removal makes for some super grindy, spirit crushing games. Once you have enough mana, you can Revelations for an elixir, removal, and another revelations. Once 2 revelations are in your yard, you crack an elixir, shuffle up, and then cast your next revelations. The result is a constant cycle of tutoring up removal, another tutor, and a way to make this S$$t go infinite. It's hilarious, and great in a semi-casual scene. And sweet jesus, if you have chandra in play, copying Diabolic Revelation for anything greater than x=2 is massive.
Splashing for bramblecrush in your list is not a good idea. Also, if you are creatureless, you should still play liliana as a way to get swamps and an overcosted removal spell. Necropolis regent is probably worth a spot as well
The deck is called 'The Jank FNM Challenge,' so I posted a jank-ass list.
I can understand about not splashing for the Brambles, guess you could call it a kneejerk reaction on my part just cause I hate Jace and Tammy. They both start out of burn range, and if I let them stay, they just twist the game into the opponent's favor, and that their very presence just lords over me. I can't afford dreadbore, so brambles is the next best thing. I wouldn't consider making that accommodating if they just weren't played so very very often.

I can see taking out the mutilate though, getting a hold of a playset of Pillars or Sick Fires would be nice, since it also solves my problem of undying critters getting card advantage on me. Flames of the fireband is a nice card, though I don't anticipate getting alot of 2-for or 3-for ones in my meta, which is the whole point of the card. If I did get some F-Brands, they'd have to sit pretty in the sideboard for their time to shine should I face the fluke deck that requires it.

I love keeping the cremates in though, since it's basically cycling for B if I don't anticipate it'll be useful, and it makes everything run just a little bit smoother, plus there's alot of Graveyard interaction in my meta.

So I went out of my way today, sifted through my entire collection, including all my nonstandard legal collection, and filled a binder for trading.

Meticulously checking the price of each card that I suspect to be worth anything on Starcitygames, which I hear is somewhat reputable, I have a nice little trade binder now that I can show people and maybe not get laughed out of the room.

Granted, among the cards I'm willing to trade, only 32 are standard legal. That's really close to the total number of standard legal rares I own. Then there's about 20 pages of all the cards I've picked up over the years, which includes some nice stuff like 2 liliana Vess', a Garruk Wildspeaker, an aether vial (a little old and tattered though), a skullclamp, but most of it are the junk rares I picked up for cheap during Scars of Mirrodin. Just kinda have to hope that people aren't exclusively looking for standard legal things, but maybe some cool stuff from around that time period for casual or whatever.

There's also first generation pokemon cards that I've been hoarding since I was ten years old, which I predict are completely worthless, but I can't tell because while Magic has nice sites like Starcitygames, Pokemon has no equivalent website to gauge prices from what I can find. I guess I'll keep'em in there though, in case through complete fluke accident I catch the attention of a magic player that is also somehow someway into oldschool pokemon cards as well. Or maybe I should take them out and stash them in my closet again, for fear of embarrassment.
I'll take your first edition Charizards.
The day of action is approaching! It's time to finalize my decisions so I go as prepared as I possibly can.

I'm thinking the golgari idea I had, because I've honestly never played something like it, and it would be a learning experience. Plus, self-milling like that seems like it would be durable strategy until the grave hate gets whipped out.

I've only made a few changes.

Buy list looks like:
1 Salvage
2 acidic slime
2 slum reaper
3 gnaw to the bone
1 mulch

About $2.25 if I have it right.
A couple Mulch's and 1-2 Gnaw to the Bone would do that deck well.

Seriously, Gnaw is stupid in a "fill the yard" kind of deck. 
I can't believe I forgot how stupidgood Gnaw is. I might even bump out some barters for'em.
How open are you to trading for some cards?  Both your Armada Wurm and your Liliana of the Dark Realms could be traded for major bombs in a deck.  It might take some time to make the trades though, and will probably require you trading at a loss since you have so few cards to trade.  Anyways the card I'm looking at is getting a couple Ajani, Caller of the Pride's for your Chandras, Liliana, and Armada Wurm.  My suggestion for a deck is Esper exalted.  I don't think it's a good enough deck to win FNM but it is a budget deck and it will improve (better manabase, possibly some Orzhov/Dimir cards) with Gatecrash.

This is the list I would propose.  I'm doubtful that it will win but on a good night it might be able to go 3-1 depending on your matchups.

Until you have the Ajani's run New Prahv Guildmage in his place instead.  Also, unless things are really desperate use the Ghostly Possessions on your own guys to make them into powerful blockers that still have exalted rather than on your opponents creatures.

Of that list here's what you would need, it comes to $11.23 with shipping on TCGPlayer but you could probably get some of the cards from local players to lower the cost, it would also be playable without the exact list as you have plenty of substitutes (see below) so if you're a couple dollars short you can add cards later on and use fillers for now.  Many of these are commons or uncommons that people have lots of.  It's unlikely they'll have them with them in a trade binder but you might try something people at my store do, they make a list of cards they need and find someone willing to give/trade them the cards for what they have.  Then the next week that person brings those commons/uncommons with them.  I think you could get this entire list minus the Invisible Stalkers and Cathedral of Wars for free that way.  Anyways here's what you're missing out of that list.
2 Cathedral of War
3 Duty-Bound Dead
1 Angelic Benediction
1 Tormented Soul
3 Invisible Stalker
1 New Prahv Guildmage (temporary card, but get it for now unless you can get an Ajani right away)
3 Tragic Slip
2 Ultimate Price
2 Feeling of Dread

I would also suggest trying to trade for 2 Ajani, Caller of the Prides.  Like I said before you'll probably have to trade at a loss to get someone to do it because your trading pool is so limited but Ajani's are kind of tough for people to move so you may be able to get someone to do one for an Armada Wurm+Chandra ($16 vs $14) and the other for Liliana+2 Chandras ($18 vs $14).  People that trade on value will be willing to do that.  In the case of Liliana+2 Chandras you may be able to get a $1-$2 card in the deal as well (this would be a good way to get a Cathedral of War).

Some other cards you could consider looking at for the deck which you have Inquisitor Flail, Spectral Flight (good sideboard card if you need evasion), Tricks of the Trade, Mask of Avacyn, Dispel, and the 4th copy of each Knight.

As for the Pokemon cards, try checking ebay.  If you've got some cards worth something you could try selling them on there.  Alternatively, if your card shop sells stuff online they would probably be willing to give you store credit (or cash, but you generally get more in credit) for the cards that they would then take and sell for a profit.  You could get more money for a deck that way.

Edit: Added a sideboard.  I was thinking about this a bit more and realized you needed a sideboard.  You probably want cards that give you versatility.  Against control you'll want things that give you resilient threats and against aggro decks like RDW you'll want lifegain.  The lesson of standard right now is that lifegain is critical (just look at the popularity of Thragtusk and Centaur Healer with bouncing... even Heroes' Reunion is seeing a little play).  With that in mind here's what I suggest
1 Vampire Nighthawk
2 Daggerdrome Imp
1 Fencing Ace
1 Trained Caracal
3 Purify the Grave / Rest in Peace
3 Negate
2 Dispel
2 Mask of Avacyn

If there's little GY interaction in your meta remove the 3 Purify/Rest in Peace and add something else such as 2 Inquisitor Flails and a Spectral Flight.  If there's lots of GY interaction remove something (maybe the Fencing Ace) for a 4th Purify/Rest in Peace.  Including shipping the Purify the Graves will run you 40-50 cents for the set going by TCGPlayer.  Rest in Peace hits the budget a bit harder so you probably won't go that route (and if you do get the extra money there's better spots to spend it).

Last, while I'm not quite sure where it would go, you may want to keep your eyes out for a Ring of Xathrid or two.  They can be quite good with Tormented Souls or other evasive black creatures.  Alternatively there's Ring of Evos Isle which gives you fewer +1/+1 counters but makes it very difficult for your opponent to mess up your combat step.  To obtain these I would try my earlier suggestion of making a list of cards and seeing if anyone around the store will bring them and trade you next week.  They'll probably bring cards and just trade card for card of the same rarity, or maybe even just give them to you.
I actually experimented with a black/white exalted deck with a heavy emphasis on enchantments. I got 2-2 with it but it was janky enough that I just took it apart at the first opportunity, and it's the reason I have 4 knights of glory, 4 aven squires, and 4 knights of infamy already.

But I never thought of anything along the lines of solar flare colors (or is it Esper? I can never tell with arbitrary labels).

I'll tell you right away, that I really like that your post pretty much has the most effort and thought invested into it of those seen thus far, even taking into consideration trading deals and whatnot. That said, I don't think it's gonna happen. I'm just not too hyped about the idea of throwing in such a great deal of effort and trading some of my nicest cards at a loss for, if I may quote you:

I'm doubtful that it will win but on a good night it might be able to go 3-1 depending on your matchups.

So yeah, I can already get 2-2 pretty easily. I just don't feel it's a wise investment of money and energy and, more importantly, it's a harsh conversion of my liquidable trading assets into much a more much narrowly useful and significantly less liquidable trading asset, just for a one game difference that might not even happen.

Of course, we each just have our own experiences to draw from, and you might have a more inhospitable meta than I do.
It's Esper.  Typically 2 color pairs are named after their Ravnica guild colors while 3 color pairs are named after their Alara shards.  White/blue/black was the Esper shard while Solar Flare was a deck that used those colors.

You can avoid the downside of trading at a loss if you ignore the Ajani's and instead just use the guildmage (you could even use Specral Flight in place of the second guildmage... creature enchantments are risky though).  The main thing you want out of the guildmage is that he gives you evasion.  He's not as good as Ajani but I think he would work in the deck.  I do stand behind the idea that it's not going to win though.  I can only base that off of my own meta, but here everyone plays tier 1 decks and exalted will get eaten alive by things like R/B zombies, RDW, Reanimator, and even newcomer U/W Flash.  I imagine that in most stores this is the case and you'll have a good number of people playing tier 1 decks, I just don't think exalted has the power to beat them.  Then again most decks don't, if they did they would be a higher tier deck instead of as you put it, jank.

Depending on how your matchups go though it's probably possible to beat anything else.  Without knowing your meta however I can't reliably say if you'll do better than your current 2-2's or not.
The day of action is approaching! It's time to finalize my decisions so I go as prepared as I possibly can.

I'm thinking the golgari idea I had, because I've honestly never played something like it, and it would be a learning experience. Plus, self-milling like that seems like it would be durable strategy until the grave hate gets whipped out.

I've only made a few changes.

I changed it, so now the 3 rancors that were mainboarded are now sideboard. The Tributes are ejected from the list entirely, along with one Rise from the grave. In their place, I added two gnaws and a mulch. Replacing the Rise is one more gnaw in case lifegain becomes a serious necessity.

Buy list looks like:
1 Salvage
2 acidic slime
2 slum reaper
3 gnaw to the bone
1 mulch

About $3.25 if I have it right.

I'm not sure if I should include my singleton Lotleth troll, or if I should bump out a gnaw or a barter for another mulch.

Maybe I should look into splinterfrights if I can get them at a dollar? The most I could get is two though.
Oh, oh, oh! I completely forgot about Kessig Cagebreakers! They're really cool, I was thinking of grabbing some of those instead of Splinterfrights, but maybe I won't since then I'd have ten cards at the 5 CMC slot.

Decisions decisions.
Your Red/Black Control lists looks much more doable than your GB self-mill pile. Staff of nin and a bunch of removal and mass removal plus some planeswalkers isnt terrible. The self mill may be more fun, but I dont think your current list is very playable. 
Just to shore up what that sorta list would look like:

Budget Creatureless Rakdos Control

The buy list looks like:

+4 Rakdos keyrune
+2 volcanic geyser
+1 stensia bloodhall
+4 annihilating fire

I know that Pillar is probably better value than Annihilating fire, but I do love keeping my instant speed mana open. Plus, it would round out the price to five dollars on the dot instead of six, if I'm guessing right.

But you really think that would do better?
I dont like your current list

-4 3 mana fire burn spell
-2 volcanic geyser
-4 cremate
-3 transguild promenade
-3 murder

+2 swamp
+1 mountain

+1 chandra
+4 pillar of flame
+4 sign in blood
+1 necropolis regent
+1 vampire nighthawk 
+1 homicidal seclusion
+1 ultimate price
I also suggest 3-4 appetite for brains in the side. Seclusion works quite well with the keyrunes but with only 6 'creatures' total you only want at most 1 copy. More nighthawks is probably good. Sign gets you lands and more removal, and works well copied vs control. Promenade is terrible, and I cut all your double red spells. Mutilate is much better here.  Pillar helps deal with gravecrawler, etc, also, you can cast it turn 3 off the keyrune. Murder is too slow, I kept tribute because the lifegain is very good, and it can take out geist of saint traft. Also, a lot of the cards I added, you already have. This deck is much much better. You can move cremates side if reanimator is huge in your meta.
Something just doesn't feel right about your revisions.

The thing I have against adding only a handful of ordinary creatures like Nercopolis or Nighthawk, is that it's playing into how alot of people deckbuild. They have creature removal, and if they're the type that wants the most efficient removal, it's sorcery speed like dreadbore, pillar of flame, or a wipe to reset the field, the keyrune gets around those those beautifully, making them have dead cards in hand.

I can see how the keyrunes would synergize with Seclusion though. A 6/2 first strike lifelink ain't half bad. I'll consider it, but it's awfully expensive.

I don't like ultimate price though, because when there's a good chance of facing a multicolored creature at any given game, it doesn't feel worth it to maindeck a card might just rot in my hand. That's what I hate alot, cards that aren't useful at times.

I've played around with Sign in Blood alot, but often it feels that the +1 CA isn't worth it for the tempo and life hit, which can set me behind on my opponent's clock. If something like corrupt or tendrils of corruption were in standard, I'd feel alot better about it.

And I can understand Pillar though, there's alot of things in the early game that certainly don't mind getting exiled that have only 1 or 2 toughness. I just felt that Sick Burn, even though it costs more, does a bit more work while expending a single card.

Also, I don't think Transgender Promenade is THAT bad, especially when the deck is meant to pack out removal to blow out an opponent's tempo with removal, the tempo loss from Prom doesn't hurt that bad. I don't mind excluding them though when only two colors are present though.
On fire vs flame: The deck is heavily tilted towards black with mutilate and barter and murder, etc. Cutting out all the double red lets your manabase sigh in relief, and helps you take out those promenades. 

on 2x creatures. Nighthawk survives pillar, and dies to spear and volley (and dies to flames of the firebrand, another removal I'd probably consider over fire). Considering the instant speed spells also kill keyrunes, this isnt too big a loss. Cards like sphere and oblivion ring also hit keyrunes, so really it seems like dreadbore and ultimate price are the only commonly played removal spells you are likely to blank. Once you get control of a game vs a red deck wins deck for example, you dont want to take 10 turns pinging them out, because that gives them time to draw burn. Killing them with 2 swings of regent is very preferable. It also helps the 1x seclusion I recommend. Also, if they do have targets for dreadbore and price in game 1, they might not side them out, and you can side out your creatures, so it makes for better postboard games. If they do side out the removal in game 2, you can always bring back the creatures game 3. If they dont see the creatures g1, then you can guess they'll side out dreadbore and then cards like regent can be a beating.

On ultimate price: This may be a meta choice, but I can say with quite a bit of confidence that many more successful tournament decks run price than murder. In terms of all purpose removal I much prefer sever the bloodline, as your deck is weak to tokens, but that card is ~$3 so you cant afford it.

On sign in blood: Most meta's arent full to the brim with aggro, and if they are not then sign is a great choice. Deck's with bunch of 1 for 1 removal like burn, murder, price, tribute need some sort of CA to get ahead. Sure, if you tend to play against a bunch of red deck wins, sign may not be your best bet, but it does sit in a very nice spot on the curve. Your build has far too many 3 drops and not enough 2 drops to keep up with more competitive decks. 

You know your meta much better than I do, and as you say you have a lot of experience with sign, but I would expect it to be in most mono-black, mostly-black control lists. Also, it could be that in some of your previous decks you didnt keep a low enough curve, in that case sign is much much worse, as you dont have time to cast the spells you draw. With removal like ultimate price and pillar of flame, hopefully are better able to cast the cards you draw.

Try mono-red. Cost me about 30 dollars to put mine together (most of that ashe zealots and stromkirk nobles), and while it's really draw based, I feel confident that I at least have a chance to win against just about any deck at my FNM.
I agree monored is the cheapest and best budget option for a competitive deck that likely could win his FNM, although a proper version still costs $50-$100 (depending if you decide to go for the 2x thundermaw hellkite version) and he only has $5 and isnt looking to trade.
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