Hi all,

Last time in this series we took a look at Affinity by zbishop. This user took an oppressively tier 1 strategy and discovered that even stripped of Mox Opal, the robot swarm could function effectively and cash. It should be noted at this point, that for the same budget this player has assembled Burn, but I can’t really know without finding him on MTGO whether he sold his Affinity pieces to do so.

Be that as it may, if any of you bought into zbishop Affinity, or even more cheaply, Drinkard affinity with Ensoul Artifact instead of Steel Overseer, then you can expect a high payout reward for your patience if and when Mox Opal is reprinted in a future set (here’s to Modern Masters 2)! The price of the rares without reprints will go up to keep the Affinity price tag at roughly the same level even when Mox Opal goes down.

Similarly, many users have taken out chunks of expense from archetypes only to discover that the decks could still cash in Daily and Premier events. Take a look with me at some bare minimum Modern builds of Living End and Ad Nauseum.

Living End

At its core, Living End is a deck that wants to cycle creatures into a cascade spell, which casts Living End and returns all the cycled creatures. The deck has such a smooth functionality where the draw engine also kills the opponent, and when graveyard hate comes in games two and three, the deck hardcasts Deadshot Minotaur and Monstrous Carabid. An additional element of the deck is a recurring Fulminator Mage for disruption. While it can be satisfying to win the game with your opponent left without permanents (also thanks to Shriekmaw), user W00llyCerna discovered on September 21 that the deck can win packs even without the 30 ticket rare.

Woolly End (Modern)

Land (19)
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Copperline Gorge
Forest
Kessig Wolf Run
Mountain
Overgrown Tomb
Stomping Ground
Swamp

Creatures (27)
Architects of Will
Avalanche Riders
Deadshot Minotaur
Monstrous Carabid
Shriekmaw
Simian Spriit Guide
Street Wraith
Valley Rannet

Other Spells (14)
Beast Within
Demonic Dread
Living End
Violent Outburst
Sideboard (15)
Anger of the Gods
Gnaw to the Bone
Ingot Chewer
Ricochet Trap
Slaughter Games

Wow, for less than $40, I’m rather impressed. First of all, I wouldn’t change anything about the sideboard except perhaps try to include Faerie Macabre as an Arcbound Ravager on Affinity’s side of the table can really spoil your exile plans.

Now with the maindeck, the performance just shows how powerful Living End is as a card. I feel like W00lly, while deserving of a lot of respect, shot himself in the foot with Architects of Will. It is a great cycler, and it is very disruptive once you combo, but he is all-in on not getting his graveyard disrupted and has a weaker midrange plan than most decks. Additionally, he probably is playing 1 too many of Living End itself. Finally, I can’t imagine the deck ever being optimal with less than 4 Beast Within. If I were playing on the same budget (which, building Living End, I would be), then I would assemble this 75.

Drinkard End (Modern)

Land (19)
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Copperline Gorge
Forest
Kessig Wolf Run
Mountain
Overgrown Tomb
Stomping Ground
Swamp
Temple Garden

Creatures (27)
Avalanche Riders
Deadshot Minotaur
Faerie Macabre
Jungle Weaver
Monstrous Carabid
Pale Recluse
Shriekmaw
Street Wraith
Valley Rannet

Other Spells (14)
Beast Within
Demonic Dread
Living End
Violent Outburst
Sideboard (15)
Anger of the Gods
Faerie Macabre
Gnaw to the Bone
Ingot Chewer
Living End
Slaughter Games

The Faerie Macabre may just be better as more Shriekmaw. I get what the Ricochet Trap does, and it’s a common sideboard card, but with the 4th Living End and Slaughter Games, we should be able to shore up the same match-ups.

Don’t get me wrong; there is an argument for Architects of Will; the one-mana cycling is very enticing. Nevertheless, we have to look at how the deck performs in a match and not just every individual card in a vacuum.

I love the Gnaw to the Bone in the face of all the burn that’s out there.

Here we have an example of a deck that is in the opponent’s face on a budget. It’s not a rogue deck, and it’s not a hate deck, so it’s not cheaper because the strategy is suboptimal. Instead, it just has an element missing and can still perform. Again, if Fulminator Mage sees Standard or Modern Masters 2 play, we’re definitely onto something.

Shamans

What’s this? I thought Shamans already was a budget deck! Well, it is, by many standards. After taking repeated beatings from it in Modern Silverblack, I did some research. Taxideos is an MTGO user who repeatedly got packs for playing Modern Shamans, even after the banning of Deathrite Shaman. The lists he played averaged around 220 tickets, and Sadpanda91 correctly observed (September 4) that the mana-base could operate on a very tight budget. Here is his list clocking in at less than TWENTY tickets.

Sad Shamans (Modern)

Land (22)
Copperline Gorge
Forest
Mountain
Rootbound Crag

Creatures (30)
Bosk Banneret
Burning-Tree Emissary
Burning-Tree Shaman
Elvish Visionary
Fauna Shaman
Flamekin Harbinger
Rage Forger
Skinshifter
Wolf-Skull Shaman

Spells (8)
Lead the Stampede
Lightning Bolt
Magma Spray
Sideboard (15)
Ancient Grudge
Essence Warden
Eyes of the Wisent
Goblin Ruinblaster
Reclamation Sage
Relic of Progenitus
Stigma Lasher
Sylvok Replica

Wow, boys, give it up! A 30-creature aggro deck with a card advantage engine, some hate, a toolbox, how did he find the room for it all? Besides all that, when was the last time you saw Burning-Tree Shaman outside of when the term “Gruul” was first invented? I love it against all the Pod and Twin!

I’m way out of my element here because I’ve never played this archetype; all I’ve worked with is the super cheap (yet still barely cheaper than this) mono-Red Shamans list highlighted by bava. Comparing his list with that of Taxideos, I miss Birds of Paradise and Eternal Witness. Also I think the Essence Warden numbers could be bolstered in the sideboard for the burn match-up. But wow, he’s ready for so much in his side! There’s Affinity hate, Tron hate, Bogles hate, Living End and Storm hate, control hate, and burn hate! I guess all that’s left is Aggro, but maybe the reach of Rage Forger prevents stalemates from getting you down.

Finally, I think the mana-base is perhaps a little too greedy. I want to provide more access to both colors and bolster our creature base and toolbox engine by dropping some basics, 1 Flamekin Harbinger and Skinshifter for Karplusan Forest, 1 Essence Warden maindeck and 1 Eternal Witness.

Things are getting Zooey.

A big lesson to take from the Shamans deck is that Aggro puts some pressure on your opponent to make good mulligan decisions, smart land drops (particularly with shock-lands), and optimally-sequenced plays. If you are going to win on turn 4, playing Delver of Secrets versus Serum Visions matters. I’ve talked so much about Burn and how consistently it wins on turn 4 or sooner, but cheap aggro decks can do it too. What’s more, they can do it through Leyline of Sanctity.

Green Red beats decks are under-represented in Modern. Players are attracted to Zoo, and for good reason, but the fact is that today’s aggro creatures look like the midrange creatures of yesteryear. For one or two mana, we have access to creatures ranging from 2/2 and a hateful ability to a 4/5 or larger. Here are two decks that take advantage of this fact and the reprinting of Wooded Foothills.

Leatherback Baloth – “Mono Green”

Leatherback Baloth has gained some traction in recent times. Coupled with Rancor and Vines of Vastwood, he has awarded many a player with a 3-1 and 4-0 finish for less than $60 over the past few months. He doesn’t have flash, but I’m going to try and give him some here:

Green Devotion Aggro (Modern)

Land (20)
12 Forest
Stomping Ground
Wooded Foothills

Creatures (26)
Dryad Militant
Experiment One
Flinthoof Boar
Leatherback Baloth
Scavenging Ooze
Slaughterhorn
Strangleroot Geist
Wild Beastmaster

Other Spells (12)
Aspect of Hydra
Rancor
Vines of Vastwood
Sideboard (15)
Ancient Grudge
Choke
Creeping Corrosion
Nylea’s Disciple
Obstinate Baloth
Raking Canopy
Setessan Tactics
Thrun, The Last Troll
Tin-Street Hooligan

If you’ve followed up on the mono-green aggro lists, then you probably have seen many things like this. I just add in the Wild Beastmaster for the occasional combo kill, red for the sideboard and the Kalonian Tusker upgrade into Flinthoof Boar (even if the green mana symbols aren’t equal). Wild Beastmaster hasn’t seen play in a format together with Vines of Vastwood or Rancor, and goodness, I think it should. For an online metagame, perhaps more life-gain is necessary, and you can feel free to bring in more Nylea’s Disciple or moving around the Ancient Grudge and Creeping Corrosion count to include enchantment hate for Eidolon of the Great Revel. Finally, you may find it a good idea to remove some two-drops for Elvish Mystic and the like, to soften the top of the curve.

Or One-Drops

Another consistent beater deck includes a lot of 1-drops that quickly attack for 2-6, even if they die that turn. It could be the Aggro Warrior Hearthstone player in me (forgive me), but I just really like this style of deck and think that it should be played more.

R/G Zoo (Modern)

Land (20)
Copperline Gorge
Forest
Mountain
Stomping Ground
Wooded Foothills

Creatures (32)
Burning-Tree Emissary
Experiment One
Flinthoof Boar
Ghor-Clan Rampager
Goblin Bushwhacker
Goblin Guide
Hellspark Elemental
Kird Ape
Spark Elemental

Other Spells (8)
Lightning Bolt
Rancor
Sideboard (15)
Arc Trail
Choke
Destructive Revelry
Dragon’s Claw
Forked Bolt
Raking Canopy
Scavenging Ooze
Tin-Street Hooligan

This deck is all about immediate board impact. We have 18 creatures with haste, 6 spells (Lightning Bolt and Ghor-Clan Rampager) that deal damage directly, 4 Rancor that act as a 2/x creature with haste, and creatures that add to the damage dealt by Experiment One. It is better to think of this as a burn deck instead of an aggressive combat-based creature deck. That way, you can see that it is in fact resilient despite its x/1 creatures. Your favorite play will quickly become a turn 1 Experiment One followed by turn 2 Burning-Tree Emissary into Hellspark Elemental; repeat on turn 3 for 14 damage.

We’ve learned a lot about some aggro possibilities in Modern, and if you want to get there on a budget, there are plenty of examples to cite as aggro being a good idea. Just swing big, and don’t get paired against Living End.

-drinkard

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