Cheap as Chips, Ep. 8: Stuck in the Middle with Blue

daxos of meletis art

Win with weenies has been my main mantra. This is partially because the weenie approach works on a budget, and partially because I simply may not have the patience required to play a strict control approach.

This week features two decks because I flip-flopped repeatedly when I tried to build an “Azorius Control Deck.” I pictured myself brewing a sweet pile of frustration based around bouncing [c]Stonehorn Dignitary[/c] to halt your opponent’s attack whilst using [c]Render Silent[/c] to ruin their entire turn. Rage quits baby!

Alas, it just didn’t work. I tweaked and twiddled until I had a bunch of heroic soldiers … and not much else. No bouncing rhinos. Protection spells instead of counters – in other words, not a control deck. Not even close.

So this is the first deck – Daxos Azorius Weenies:

[d title=”Daxos Weenies (Modern)”]

Land

1 Halimar Depths

2 Evolving Wilds

7 Island

10 Plains

4 Glacial Fortress

Creatures

4 Favored Hoplite

4 Battlewise Hoplite

2 Phalanx Leader

4 Preeminent Captain

4 Daxos of Meletis

2 Lavinia of the Tenth

2 Captain of the Watch

Spells

4 Feat of Resistance

2 Ordeal of Thassa

4 Gods Willing

2 Curiosity

2 Apostle’s Blessing

Sideboard

3 Celestial Flare

2 Detention Sphere

2 Relic of Progenitus

2 Render Silent

2 Oppressive Rays

3 Echoing Truth

1 Echoing Calm

[/d]

I played a few games with the weenie deck – and it was fun enough. The goal is to play a [c]Preeminent Captain[/c] on turn 3 or 4 and then attack with it, launching either a [c]Daxos of Meletis[/c], [c]Lavinia of the Tenth[/c], or [c]Captain of the Watch[/c] straight from your hand onto the battlefield. This is plenty powerful when it happens, but like all weenie approaches, the right removal card at the wrong time leaves you vulnerable to any tier 1 mid-range deck or anything with a strong turn 4 or 5 combo.

So I went back to the drawing-board with the goal of making a budget mid-range deck that could keep the board free of pests until the [c]Preeminent Captain[/c] move could take hold (but later in the game, say turn 6 or 7).

So this is the second deck – Daxos Azorius Midrange:

[d title=”Daxos Midrange (Modern)”]

Land

1 Halimar Depths

2 Evolving Wilds

7 Island

10 Plains

4 Glacial Fortress

Creatures

4 Preeminent Captain

4 Daxos of Meletis

2 Captain of the Watch

2 Lavinia of the Tenth

Spells

2 Detention Sphere

2 Render Silent

2 Echoing Truth

3 Celestial Flare

2 Ætherize

4 Delay

3 Reciprocate

2 Curse of the Swine

1 Foresee

2 Singing Bell Strike

1 Oppressive Rays

Sideboard

2 Relic of Progenitus

2 Echoing Calm

2 Mana Leak

3 Dispel

2 Aegis of the Gods

2 Foresee

2 Hindering Light

[/d]

This deck features a slew of removal options lead by [c]Reciprocate[/c], [c]Curse of the Swine[/c], and my personal favorite, [c]Aetherize[/c]. There are also a smattering of counters led by [c]Delay[/c] as an alternative to [c]Mana Leak[/c] (which too often with a slow approach has opponents holding the three open mana). The creature curve starts at three mana, where [c]Preeminent Captain[/c] still leads the charge into a Daxos, Lavinia, or Captain.

Which deck is stronger in the current meta?

I played a half-dozen games with each and ran across everything from infect to elves to a fan of 19th-century German philosophy and a guy playing 2/2 bears. I did better with the weenie deck but only, I think, because I made more mistakes and rushed my games with the midrange approach. (I didn’t upload the infect video, but it was a satisfying 2-1 win for the midrange deck.)

Check out the gameplay videos and let me know your thoughts on which deck is stronger!

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”]

Lands

8 Forest

9 Swamp

4 Woodland Cemetery

1 Bojuka Bog

1 Golgari Rot Farm

Creatures

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

Spells

2 Despise

2 Duress

3 Extirpate

3 Rancor

1 Font of Return

2 Wrench Mind

4 Grisly Salvage

Sideboard

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

[/d]

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.