Brewing is rewarding, but it also ends in failure a good portion of the time. Due to Thanksgiving, I didn’t have nearly enough time to bring you a new brew today, so I thought it would be fun to show you some failed Budget Brews. The best part about failing is that it offers up so many opportunities to learn. Both the decks I’ll show you today brought about valuable lessons.
Life Gain (42 tix)
I built this deck because I was trying to achieve two goals. First, I wanted an ultra-budget deck. At the time, Collective Brutality was quite a bit cheaper and the deck price was almost negligible aside from the mana base.
Second, I wanted to make a Lone Rider deck. This card caught my eye right away—it’s a powerful threat that takes over any game it’s left unchecked. The good news is the very first game I played I flipped a Lone Rider turn 3! That particular instance was a double Gryff’s Boon, but Collective Brutality, Unnatural Endurance, Blessed Alliance, and Essence Extraction all get you to a flip as well as a combination of Boons and Kalastria Healers. The bad news was my Lone Rider got killed before I ever untapped.
That by itself would not be a failure, and in fact I got to do the very thing I set out to do, but I kept drawing horrifically underpowered creatures like Drana’s Emissary and Cliffhaven Vampire while my opponents were casting Thalias and Gideon, Ally of Zendikars.
From this list I learned two lessons. The first is that incredibly powerful situational cards are just that—situational and metagame dependent. I’m not counting Lone Rider out yet though, and I hope I get to feature it in a successful Budget Brew sometime in the future. The second is that you can trade power for synergy only so much before you aren’t getting a big enough return. As cool as Allies and getting a ton of drain triggers from Kalastria Healer are, they just aren’t good enough.
Let’s check out another brew:
U/R Orrery Visions (18 tix)
This deck was actually pretty awesome. It was my attempt to create the “Fevered Visions lock.” If you combine Fevered Visions plus Ghirapur Orrery and a discard outlet then you can discard the card you draw off Visions in your end step and draw 3 each turn while your opponent is locked out from ever using Orrery unless they draw an instant off the Visions. But just writing that sentence was convoluted, and it ended up playing that way in game. The Orrery also works against the Visions in that it lets your opponent play a ton of lands to get under the Visions and sometimes everything would end up backfiring.
Despite all the nombos, this deck actually had a lot of power. I ended up drawing a lot of cards with Orrery and burning people out, or just killing them with an unchecked Fevered Visions. Key to the City was continually impressive and I loved the way it let me dump cards to the Orrery. I saw a bunch of awesome synergy in my deck, but I was just trying to do a little too much. With some more focus, I could choose a different direction for the deck and take advantage of the cards working with each other rather than pulling focus away from one another.
After repeatedly casting Incendiary Flow at my opponent when they were on 3 life, I knew U/R Burn could make a comeback. I was winning a decent amount with a pretty horrible list. This gave life to the updated U/R Prowess Burn I wrote about a few weeks ago. What was even more exciting was seeing Ghirapur Orrery in action. It was incredibly powerful but required a little more work. I realized Noose Constrictor paired perfectly, and wondered if I could take the inspiration from this deck but better optimize Ghirapur Orrery. Turns out I could, because the G/B Madness Frog deck emerged from that line of thought—the most successful budget deck to date!
The interesting thing there was the inclusion of Voldaren Pariah in G/B. The card doesn’t really fit all that well with the idea of Ghirapur Orrery, but I wanted to maximize the combination of Noose Constrictor and Orrery. When you’re building around a specific combo you start to see other elements as support that you wouldn’t expect. Because I wanted to dump my hand a bunch, I ended up adding a Prized Amalgam engine, at which point I was going wide while putting a ton of creatures in play. As you can see, one brewing idea can lead to the next, and if you keep an open mind on where synergy can form, it will lead to an overall stronger deck.
Sometimes you’ll build a bad deck when brewing but can come up with powerful components. When that happens, don’t throw out everything you’ve worked on, but try to see what was actually working so that you can adjust. Alter your path but don’t hold yourself to rigid outlines. Sometimes shifting your attention ever so slightly can turn a failed deck into a successful one with ideas emerging from entirely unlikely places.