This is not another mashup article, although there is another sweet mashup deck in this article. This article is primarily about budgeting.
Budgeting is not just for the poor—in fact, it is generally better done by the rich. It is a skill for all people on all levels of income to manage expenses to an affordable level.
When we think of “budget deck building” what comes to mind is a dirt-cheap deck for someone who doesn’t have a lot of money to spend on cards. We think of minimizing expenses. This is one form of budgeting, but there is a lot more nuance to it.
Budgeting is more about maximization than minimization—specifically maximization of benefit with respect to cost.
Budgeting Efficiency = Benefit/Cost
For instance, consider we spend $30 on a “budget deck” but it is not really our style and we don’t end up playing it that much. If we don’t draw that much benefit from it, it still wasn’t good budgeting efficiency even if the cost was small.
By contrast, consider instead spending $100 on a playset of Aether Vials. If we end up thinking up all kinds of ideas, building all kinds of decks, and playing in all kinds of places with all kinds of people, that was great budgeting efficiency.
So we see that budgeting is not really about cheapness, but value maximization. It’s not always about “how little can I spend?” but “how do I get the most out of what I already have?”
Say that back in the day you bought or traded for a copy of the Living End deck. You have all the commons, but you also have your Fulminator Mages and Verdant Catacombs. The more you can play with this deck the better your budgeting efficiency.
Playing with the literal same stack of cards for years is great budgeting efficiency… IF you find that enjoyable! Most likely as the novelty wears off you will get at least somewhat bored and crave some variation.
At this point the questions become: 1) What can I get the most value from adding? and 2) What do I already own that I can add? Mashups start to become an attractive answer from a budgeting perspective. This is a way to get more from your collection.
We can take that same Living End deck, and we can get a whole new range of experiences in the same familiar shell by mixing in new cards. The options for variation with this deck are extremely broad.
If we own Splinter Twin cards, we can mix Living End with Splinter Twin and get some great new play experience out of that.
If we own Scapeshift cards, we can mix Living End with Scapeshift and get exciting new variation out of that.
For some of you, this may seem like trivial variation—an exercise in redundancy. But for some of us, all it takes is that 5% tweak to bring the passion back into things.
If you own Living End cards, the course is obvious, but this article is not just for Living End players. This is for everyone that owns Magic cards. First, manage your expenses. Second, focus on value maximization in respect to budget minimization. This means always looking to cards you already own, and only adding cards that you will play with over and over again. This is good budgeting.
I want to thank those who participated in the 10 Land Brew Off for inspiring this deck. There were a few Living Belcher variants in there. It’s something I had never thought of, and combines two of my favorite archetypes.
The reason this works well is because of how land-light Living End can run, and how much land thinning the deck runs. I’ve found this 10 land Belcher deck can still frequently hit its 7th land drop which makes for a Belcher with only 3 lands left in the deck. But unlike Scapeshift, we can also vomit out Goblin Charbelcher on turn 3 and start to control the board.
The key is in the land cyclers with support from Search for Tomorrow.
The deck basically plays like Living End, with a few differences. First, we have more win conditions. We have an alternative line of play that dodges most of the things that Living End is weak against. Second, we have more explosive draws. Chancellors can be pretty awkward, but they also make for some fast burst starts. There may be a lesson here for all Living End players that we don’t actually need to play 19 lands.
When building a sideboard, first of all, I want to make good use of cards that I already own. Second, I want to play the most generally useful cards in this version. Specialist hate is good when the matchups come up, but sideboard cards are often best the more we use them—so the more general the better.
Budgeting Living Belcher
If you randomly have Living End AND Belcher, put this together! If you have Living End AND Scapeshift, put that together! If you have Living End AND Splinter Twin, try that out!
For the rest of us, we should use the same mentality when building decks. How do we get the most play experiences out of what we already own? How do we get the most play experiences of the new cards we acquire? That’s good budgeting.