Time for another Budget Blues… wait, that doesn’t sound right. Budget Brews! Today’s is a monster of a deck and I can’t imagine wanting to be Captain Ahab hunting the giant whale at the top of this deck’s curve. Or is it Cap’n Crunch, and the whale is saying “Energize me Cap’n”? Either way, somehow that all applies to today’s deck:
Budget doesn’t mean free. These decks will often be built around a rare or mythic, though it won’t be a chase rare. This means you won’t see the most expensive cards in Standard in these deck lists, and though they’ll vary in price, I’ll always keep them under 75 tix on Magic Online at the time of writing the article.
Mana bases can be more expensive and that’s okay. Having a working mana base lets you play Magic and cast your spells, which is the easiest difference between winning and losing. Sometimes there will be a direct budget replacement such as Foul Orchard instead of Hissing Quagmire. If I’m not running both, I’ll leave it up to you which one you want in your final version.
I want these decks to be as competitive as possible, but they’re much more suited to do well at FNM than a GP (though we might find hidden gems along the way!).
As the only creature in the deck, this beast has quite the target on its back. Luckily, it’s not particularly hard to amass enough energy to fire off a bounce thanks to Dynavolt Tower. The bounce should give you a big enough tempo boost that you’re happy even if this dies immediately, though that won’t always happen, and then it’s a great win condition as well as a way to help pressure planeswalkers.
Speaking of key cards, this is your true engine. All your other cards are designed to keep the energy flowing through the Tower and it helps you stabilize as you slowly gun down the opposing board. One concern is that there will be games where you simply never draw any Towers, but there’s enough card filtering that this shouldn’t be a problem all that often. In addition, there are other built-in ways to win, and while Pieces of the Puzzle can’t find Towers, it can dig toward your 1 Rise From the Tides.
Engulf the Shore
This is the reason to stay mono-blue and it lets you have an instant-speed “wrath” to protect you while you set up your energy to take over the game. It’s fine to take a bit of damage to set up an end of turn Engulf such that your opponent can’t immediately replay all their threats. Sometimes when you do this they’ll even have to discard some of those threats thanks to maximum hand size!
Glimmer of Genius
This is a new card and just looks like Inspiration, but the ability to dig 4 deep for a card makes for considerable selection. Furthermore, it helps toward more Tower activations or saving up for Aethersquall Ancient, both of which are great bonuses. The fact that it’s an instant also gives you the option to leave up mana in case you it them or use this when you’re not pressured into reacting.
Pore Over the Pages
Pore was a staple in last Standard’s mono-blue Jace’s Sanctum deck, but is still great in this deck. Before it let you churn through a bunch of spells cheaply by doubling up Sanctum’s discount. It still lets you chain a 2-drop on the same turn you cast Pore, which provides card advantage and selection without losing tempo, but more importantly offers a double charge for your Dynavolt Towers.
Playing the Deck
Your primary goal when piloting this deck is to stay alive. Sometimes that will be harder than it sounds, but the best way to do so is to find a Dynavolt Tower, then chain spells as long as you can while taking as little damage as possible. When you cast Anticipate early, it’s important to balance having enough lands to curve out while maintaining enough action to gain energy throughout the midgame.
Missing land drops is truly fatal against some of the fastest decks in the format, which explains why there are so many lands in this deck, even when it might look like it doesn’t need them all. Really this deck is a control deck, even though you don’t have the true control elements of removal and sweepers. It just so happens all the tempo spells function as those classic control cards and merely buy time until you assemble your powerful engines. Gaining tempo here is worth the card disadvantage since the rest of your deck is all card advantage.
As for the card draw spells, when you have a choice of which to cast, think aboutwhether you need specific cards, or card quantity. If your hand already has key pieces in it on turn 2 and you can cast Anticipate or Take Inventory, cast Take Inventory. If you are missing your 3rd land and have a Dynavolt Tower you want to deploy, casting Anticipate is better.
The same principles mostly apply to Glimmer of Genius and Pore Over the Pages, though you’ll also have to consider the impact of having instant-speed mana up because there are many more options you’ll have at 4 mana compared to 2 in the early game.
It’s also frequently correct to tap out at sorcery speed. This might matter if you want to cast a card draw spell to hit your land drop for the turn. You might also want to cast Unsubstantiate or Engulf the Shore in your main phase versus an opponent playing counters, or even worse, Spell Queller.
Sideboarding should be pretty straightforward here. You can make the deck lower to the ground with Select for Inspection by boarding out Take Inventory, which you really don’t have time for. Against more midrange and control decks you can take out the Engulfs for counters and a few card draw spells depending on how long you see games lasting. The Summary Dismissals are there solely for Eldrazi Titans, since this deck is quite weak to them otherwise.
Metallurgic Summonings is a great finisher that can replace the Aethersquall Ancients and is a particularly tough card to interact with. It still protects your life total with blockers, which can also help attack planeswalkers and thus accomplishes much of what the Ancients do while also providing additional bonuses, mainly being 2 mana cheaper and saving your energy for Tower activations. I don’t think you’ll be able to activate the trinket text of returning all your instants and sorceries very often, but when it does happen it will almost assuredly be game over much in the same way as a medium planeswalker ultimate.
If you’re like me then you’re already loving Kaladesh. I’ll have a couple more early format budget brews coming your way the next couple weeks and then I’ll be back to tracking the Magic Online ticket amounts once Kaladesh is on Magic Online!