We claim to be big fans of Treasure Map here at Arena Boys, but how can we really make that claim without ever having won a game just with Treasure tokens? This week, we set out to change that. Bravely unafraid of cliché, the Arena Boys went into battle with another expensive, clunky, do-nothing enchantment. What’s that? The real treasure was the friends we made along the way? Pull the other one—it’s got bells on.

Revel in Riches

4 Clifftop Retreat
4 Isolated Chapel
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 Godless Shrine
4 Blood Crypt
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Revel in Riches
4 Deafening Clarion
4 Fountain of Renewal
3 Kaya's Wrath
2 Brass's Bounty
4 Treasure Map/Treasure Cove
2 Moment of Craving
1 The Eldest Reborn
2 Karn, Scion of Urza
1 Star of Extinction
1 Dawn of Hope
2 Pirate's Pillage
2 Cast Down
4 Bedevil

Card Choice

Before going any further, I’d like to address the elephant in the room—or, rather, the man in the room who’s standing there violently throwing up coins. We very deliberately decided not to play Smothering Tithe, in a  move that will doubtlessly confuse fans of a) EDH and b) Ali Aintrazi. In a single player setting, the card isn’t that good—sure, it can pull weight against blue-based control, but more often than not it’s just a bad Trove of Temptation. As Trove of Temptation is just a bad Magic card, playing a bad version of a bad card was a little too far— even for us.

In any case, this deck has two-and-a-half distinct categories: Treasure-oriented cards, interaction, and “miscellaneous”. The Treasure cards are there to support Revel in Riches, but quite honestly don’t take a leading role, as you can see. Treasure Map and Pirate’s Pillage are useful tools to have, but they don’t define the deck’s game play—all they do is provide a little underlying support to the big, clunky finish.

Brass’s Bounty and Revel in Riches is certainly one way to end a game, although the game doesn’t usually end the way you’d hope (as evidenced in the video, when we lost three games the turn before Revel would have triggered with the ten Treasures). There are definitely less convoluted (read: “ridiculous”) ways to win games, sure, but that’s not really the point.

The second component of the deck is all the interaction. Primarily taking the form of creature removal, this is what gives the deck its real game plan—this is a Mardu Control deck with a questionable win condition. Bedevil is a particularly useful card, as there aren’t very many matchups where it’s dead, and being a full mana cheaper than Vraska’s Contempt is huge.

The “and-a-half” component is given to support cards that don’t directly interact with the opponent, but either provide ongoing value or drive towards an alternate path to victory. Given the shaky nature of our two-card combo, having a few powerful win conditions like Karn and The Eldest Reborn is a good bet. Finally, Fountain of Renewal is an all-star in the aggro-saturated best-of-one queues, and if you’re playing Fountain of Renewal then Dawn of Hope is a no-brainer.

Game Plan

As touched upon in the previous section, this deck is just a control deck. It doesn’t have counterspells, sure, but aside from that it features all the typical controlling elements: ways to slow the game down, keep the board clear, eke out value, and generally make life miserable for the opponent. The Mardu colors have a surprising amount of card selection and even a bit of card draw—when you break it down, it’s not radically different from blue-based control at a fundamental level.

The most awkward aspect of the game plan is the desire to play removal after casting Revel in Riches. Often you don’t have the chance—you have to deploy a sweeper earlier so as to not die—and that seems to run contrary to what the game is about, seeing as Revel in Richers rewards you for slaying your opponent’s creatures.

But you’ll notice that throughout the video we’re never really looking to slowly build up Treasures over time—that’s not the idea. Instead, unload a massive Bounty once you’ve stabilized, and cruise to victory from there. In other words, don’t be afraid to burn Treasure tokens on key spells in the early-to-midgame—if flipping Treasure Map to cast Kaya’s Wrath will keep your snoot above water, by all means do it. No one wants a submerged snoot!

An Alternative Approach

While this Revel in Riches deck is essentially just a control deck with a weird win condition, it’s possible to go much more all-in on the Treasure theme. This principally involves winnowing away the “and-a-half” section of the deck and replacing it with more Treasure-focused cards.

Revel in Riches: All-In

4 Clifftop Retreat
4 Isolated Chapel
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 Godless Shrine
4 Blood Crypt
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Gleaming Barrier
4 Revel in Riches
4 Deafening Clarion
3 Kaya's Wrath
2 Brass's Bounty
4 Treasure Map/Treasure Cove
2 Moment of Craving
1 Cast Down
2 Trove of Temptation
3 Pirate's Pillage
4 Bedevil
3 Angrath's Rampage

Why play good cards like Karn and The Eldest Reborn when you can get it done with Gleaming Barrier? That’s the real question. This deck is a Dutch Van der Linde special, as all it does is chase down more muneh (with a highly questionable methodology). Here, you’re much more incentivized not to cash in those early Treasure tokens, as between Gleaming Barrier, Treasure Map, Trove of Temptation, and Pirate’s Pillage, you’ll be well on your way towards ten Treasures much earlier than before.

I don’t necessarily think this version is better, but again, that’s not really the point. As April King pointed out to those frustrated by the lack of competitiveness of many of the decks we play: “There are infinite places to watch people play Serious Magic For Winners™”. You don’t need anyone’s permission to have fun playing Magic—there’s no obligation for you to play the best version of a deck if you genuinely prefer a different version more (even if it’s “worse”).

I say this because I think it’s very easy for people to assert superiority over others by talking down to people about their deck and/or card choices without understanding that there’s a lot more at play when it comes to enjoying a game of Magic. Before you smugly correct someone’s “bad” version of Mono-Red, consider that they might like winning—and may even like losing—with Demanding Dragon and Verix Bladewing.

At the end of the day, play the decks and the cards that you want. We do, and look how much fun we have every week! Although, then again, that may be less about the deck and how much we get to tease Jamin.