Cheap as Chips, Ep. 5: Enjoy a hot mug of Golgari


I’m lazy when it comes to card advantage. It’s a bad brewing habit I’m trying to break – stuff a bunch of cool synergistic creatures and spells into a deck, then realize you don’t have any ‘card advantage’ spells. Take out two or three cards and add a few [c]Curiosity[/c], [c]Read the Bones[/c] or [c]Hunter’s Insight[/c] into the mix. Deck done, ok let’s go play!

Clearly, there are much more sophisticated ways to achieve card advantage. I don’t know those, and they probably cost a lot of tickets – but let’s at least try to see if we can move from caveman-dumb to middle grade-school clever in terms of keeping a stock of cards in hand or on the battlefield.

We’ll do it in Golgari, my favorite color-combo for budget Modern and a word so smooth it could easily be a high-end organic coffee blend. And so…


Glissa and Friends

Glissa and Friends is a deck that aims to beat opponents with little critters that either refuse to die or can be recurred repeatedly via [c]Glissa, the Traitor[/c]’s triggered ability. In addition, a two-card combo with [c]Devoted Druid[/c] and [c]Quillspike[/c] offers the potential for a supersized kill-swing that your opponent will need to respect. Glissa herself is a beast of an elf that demands removal.

The main fighters are bantamweight swinger [c]Safehold Elite[/c] and super flyweight [c]Perilous Myr[/c]. The former can persist indefinitely thanks to Quillspike or [c]Bow of Nylea[/c] removing the -1 counter. The Myr blocks, dies, does damage on its way out, and then recurs later thanks to Glissa. [c]Vault Skirge[/c] is included to give you another pesky critter that your opponent will eventually want to remove (and that Glissa can bring back).

On the defensive side, Glissa can recur [c]Executioner’s Capsule[/c], giving you plenty of removal. The amount of dying going on makes [c]Tragic Slip[/c] a good secondary removal choice.

In addition to allowing your persisting to persist, [c]Bow of Nylea[/c] provides a life-gain option and takes care of pesky flying critters. Needless to say, giving all your attackers deathtouch means far more dying, and thus more recurring. Keeping a Glissa on the battlefield is a challenge, hence the addition of [c]Mwonvuli Beast Tracker[/c].

If you need more power on the battlefield (against a removal heavy deck, for example), bring in [c]Soulflayer[/c] which can gain Glissa’s awesome deathtouch+first strike ability, or gain flying courtesy of an exiled [c]Vault Skirge[/c].

[d title=”Glissa and Friends (Modern)”]


1 Bojuka Bog

1 Golgari Rot Farm

4 Woodland Cemetery

10 Forest

8 Swamp


2 Vault Skirge

4 Safehold Elite

3 Perilous Myr

3 Devoted Druid

4 Quillspike

4 Glissa, the Traitor

2 Mwonvuli Beast Tracker


4 Executioner’s Capsule

2 Tragic Slip

2 Explorer’s Scope

2 Grisly Salvage

2 Read the Bones

2 Bow of Nylea


2 Hex Parasite

2 Nihil Spellbomb

2 Pithing Needle

2 Gleeful Sabotage

1 Cranial Archive

2 Infest

2 Putrefy

2 Soulflayer


Ideal gameflow:

T1: Play an Executioner’s Capsule.

T2: Play either Safehold Elite or Perilous Myr.

T3: Swing with your critter, play Bow of Nylea or Quillspike.

T4: Use mana to remove a -1 counter on Safehold Elite, play a Devoted Druid or leave mana open for Executioner’s Capsule if your opponent has a combo piece on the battlefield (Pestermite, etc).

T5: Play Glissa and start to kill stuff, recurring either a Capsule or a Myr.

T6: Go off with your combo on a cleared battlefield, or just keep swinging with your critters if your combo pieces have been removed. 

The sideboard is a mix of cards intended to deal with planeswalkers, pesky artifacts and enchantments, and a bit more brute force with Soulflayer. This is a fun one to play with, but I’m not sure there’s enough firepower in the mainboard to keep up with the top decks. A card like [c]Mishra’s Bauble[/c] would be good a good upgrade if you have the budget for it. Me? For now I’m sticking with [c]Read the Bones[/c].

Have ideas for budget decks in Modern? Send them my way in the comments below!

Cheap as Chips, Ep. 3: Cake and Ice Cream

Ice cream and chocolate cake. Bagels and cream cheese. Prosciutto e melone. Trample and regenerate.

Some things in life go together so well that, as time passes, you really can’t imagine one without the other. In the pantheon of Magic creature static abilities, trample holds a special place. Almost every other creature static ability is designed to either wound your opponent or wound your opponent’s creatures. A few static abilities do neither, but instead help protect your creature.

But trample? Trample is all about crushing through a wall of critters to smash your opponent’s face all in one go. Do that and also throw in the ability to protect your creature and you are well on your way to a rib-tickling good time at the Magic table.

Enter [c]Lotleth Troll[/c].

Now, before we go further, let me say that at a current price of 0.25 tickets on Mtgotraders, Lotleth Troll is at the outer end of what we uber-budget brewers are willing to spend on a card. But for Lotleth Troll, it’s worth it. We want this guy so bad we’re going to build a deck with 8x of them (well, sort of, keep reading). This deck may stretch our 5-ticket limit, but let’s see what we can do.

Lotleth Troll’s ‘discard a creature’ buff ability led me to think that adding [c]Necrotic Ooze[/c] would allow a range of fun activated abilities to stay on the table even if a pile of creatures are in the graveyard. And if one of your precious Lotleth Trolls should somehow perish, Necrotic Ooze becomes a big impersonator of the troll (well, ok, minus the trample, but that’s what [c]Rancor[/c] is for).

The starting point falls within the same overall playbook as my rogue deck from last week: play weenies that can grow, and disrupt your opponent’s hand while you’re hitting them in the face. The difference here is better disruption, but at the cost of having some more expensive 4-mana critters. [c]Necrotic Ooze[/c] offers up a range of possibilities. Let’s see what I came up with:

[d title+”Necrotic Troll”]


8 Forest

9 Swamp

4 Woodland Cemetery

1 Bojuka Bog

1 Golgari Rot Farm


2 Slithering Shade

1 Elvish Mystic

2 Scute Mob

2 Slitherhead

4 Lotleth Troll

1 Royal Assassin

4 Necrotic Ooze

1 Glissa Sunseeker

2 Reaper of the Wilds

1 Avatar of Woe


2 Despise

2 Duress

3 Extirpate

3 Rancor

1 Font of Return

2 Wrench Mind

4 Grisly Salvage


1 Font of Return

2 Geth’s Verdict

1 Infest

1 Memoricide

2 Murderous Cut

2 Killing Wave

2 Gleeful Sabotage

2 Great Sable Stag

2 Glissa Sunseeker


Ideal gameflow:

T1: Disrupt your opponent’s hand. Consider using Extirpate to remove a set of fetch lands from the game, for example.

T2: Play Lotleth Troll. You know you want to. In fact, this is risky here because you have no mana to protect him. It requires a monumental amount of patience, but try to play him next turn. Instead play one of your one-drop dorks or disrupt again.

T3: Okay, play your Lotleth Troll here so you can protect him.

T4: Discard a Slitherhead and then scavenge it. Swing with a 4/3 trampler. Grisly Salvage or Wrench Mind, while leaving black mana open to protect Mr. Lotleth.

T5: Now consider some of your other creatures, primarily [c]Necrotic Ooze[/c] or [c]Reaper of the Wilds[/c]. Depending on what’s in your graveyard, you can tap the Ooze to destroy stuff, buff it by discarding creatures, or give it hexproof or deathtouch.

The many options you’ll have make this a fun deck to play with. I feel it’s missing a big finisher, however. There’s no real way to jump up and surprise your opponent with a huge pile of damage (like [c]Notorious Throng[/c] from my deck last week, for example). But your board presence by T6 can get substantial if you have a [c]Scute Mob[/c] down and either of your 4-drops. The question with this deck is whether there’s really enough power to close out fast enough to avoid the T5-T6 kills that most premium Modern decks can easily manage.

Card analysis:

[c]Duress[/c], [c]Despise[/c], [c]Wrench Mind[/c], [c]Extirpate[/c]: These cards work well together as combo-busters, but they do take up a lot of space I would normally reserve for weenies. But I feel like the deck lacks power against tier-1 or 2 match-up without a bit of disruption.

[c]Slithering Shade[/c]: Once in the graveyard, allows you to pump your [c]Necrotic Ooze[/c].

[c]Scute Mob[/c]: Loads of fun when he starts to grow.

[c]Slitherhead[/c]: A key engine to grow Lotleth Troll.

[c]Font of Return[/c]: You may end up with too many critters in the graveyard. A single Font is there as deep back-up. Do you guys know rugby? This card is your full-back.

[c]Royal Assassin[/c], [c]Glissa Sunseeker[/c], [c]Avatar of Woe[/c]: My attempt to be a bit tricksy with Necrotic Ooze. You want these cards in your graveyard, so toss them to Lotleth Troll’s ability if you can.

[c]Necrotic Ooze[/c], [c]Reaper of the Wilds[/c]: Four mana creatures are not the normal style for a budget deck that needs to swing fast before the combos start going off. Reaper’s scry ability is great, she also helps out in the graveyard. I just couldn’t resist.

Sideboard: Just some standard removal cards and [c]Great Sable Stag[/c] if you run into dimir colors. The [c]Killing Wave[/c] is my attempt at a budget [c]Damnation[/c]. Yeah I know, not the same thing. I feel like this sideboard needs a lot of improvement. Let me know what you think.

How does it play? Let’s check out some sample games.

Life and Magic


I’d like to start out by apologizing for missing last week’s article. As many of you all know, life and Magic are two separate things. Occasionally one gets in the way of the other and visa-versa. That’s what has happened to me for the last few weeks. I work in robotics and it’s typically not a straining job physically. However, I somehow managed to hurt my back, and after a trip to the chiropractor I found out I have Scoliosis.

While this will most definitely affect my Magic traveling, it will be something I will be able to overcome and continue grinding as much as I can.

I will most definitely be attending the Grand Prix Orlando tournament in October. For those who haven’t seen any information on this, you should definitely check it out! It’s looking to be one of the best non-qualifier tournaments I have ever been to.

Balancing life and Magic can be extremely challenging, occasionally. The fact remains that unless Magic is your primary source of income, you have a regular full-time job and, for many, a family as well. Traveling takes its toll, and is costly as well. It’s something I struggle with every day.

Now moving on from that into a subject that’s much more interesting, Standard!


Guess who’s back!

I’ve been jamming a ton of Black/Green devotion decks in Standard trying to find the optimal build. This is about as close to the best deck as I think Standard can have. Having [c]Abrupt Decay[/c], [c]Vraska the Unseen[/c], and [c]Gray Merchant of Asphodel[/c] alongside [c]Thoughtseize[/c] and [c]Hero’s Downfall[/c] is insanely difficult for most any deck to fight through. Factor in this sweet new Planeswalker to the mix of already game-changing cards this deck has at its disposal is just going to be something that people will have to be fighting through for quite some time.

For those of us who hate the Black Devotion decks: I’m sorry to say the problem isn’t going away soon. On top of having a bomb Planeswalker to add to the deck, the deck gets a better mana-base with [c]Llanowar Wastes[/c].

[d=title Black Green Devotion]

4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Llanowar Wastes
4 Temple of Malady
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
4 Mutavault
8 Swamp

4 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
4 Pack Rat
4 Desecration Demon
2 Scavenging Ooze
2 Lifebane Zombie

1 Vraska the Unseen
2 Garruk, Apex Predator

3 Abrupt Decay
4 Thoughtseize
3 Hero’s Downfall
4 Underworld Connections
2 Sign in Blood

I won’t add a sideboard for now because I think that every sideboard should be up to the players to build. Copying deck-lists from articles is fine when you’re trying to play a certain deck. Unless you understand the full game plan in every match-up, and how exactly to board, you should build your sideboard yourself. Come up with your own boarding plan, and execute it.

There are Standard Opens every weekend, and it rapidly allows Standard to evolve week in and week out. I’m not sure what the top decks this weekend will be, but I do think that Garruk will be a powerhouse in whatever he’s played in. The card alone just has so many powerful abilities, and even more so, it’s in the perfect colors to be played right now.

Lets look at some of the choices for the deck, starting with the manabase:
4 [c]Llanowar Wastes[/c]
4 [c]Mutavault[/c]
1 [c]Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth[/c]

I know having potentially 8 colorless lands can hurt, but the Wastes can make either color, and while the damage can hurt when you draw multiple copies, the [c]Gray Merchant of Asphodel[/c] makes up for the life loss.

[c]Mutavault[/c] is obviously one of the more powerful cards in Standard, and combines greatly with [c]Pack Rat[/c] against midrange decks and [c]Thoughtseize[/c] against control decks.

The Urborg is there as an insurance policy for when you draw too many of your colorless lands. Making it perfect for the deck as a singleton.

Creature-wise you play the same as the average Black deck, but you have a couple of [c]Scavenging Ooze[/c] that can gain life and play perfectly with your discard and removal. On top of being a great threat, they also gain life to make up for the insane amounts of damage you’ll take from connections and lands.

You play the same average spell count with a couple of [c]Sign in Blood[/c]s. This acts as a great draw spell and the 2 cards for 1 can matter a lot when keeping a 2 land hand. I personally think this is one of the better black cards the deck gained from M15 and I’m happy that it’s in the deck once more.

So there you have it. What I think is the best deck for the time being in Standard and something that would be a great choice for this weekend.

I hope you have a great time slinging spells this weekend!

cburton8223 on MTGO