Building_on_a_Budget

Ben tries out an exciting combo, then picks up one of his opponents' decks.

Round Robin Part 1: Thornbite Goblins & Black-White Control

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The letter H!ello everyone, and welcome to the Building on a Budget Round Robin extravaganza! As you all know, Building on a Budget is dedicated to building decks that cost 30 tickets or less using Magic Online. For the next three weeks, I won't just be evolving one deck—I'll be evolving several! And it won't just be any deck, oh no—it'll be the very decks that I'm testing against!

Haven't you ever played against someone and seen a deck that was so cool you thought to yourself, "Man, that's a really cool deck—I want to try that!"? Well, that's what the Building on a Budget Round Robin extravaganza (or BoaB Round Robin, for short) is all about! Every tenth game or so, I will switch off decks to use one from one of my previous set of opponents—and then make changes necessary to budgetize the deck, or give it my own personal touch! What better way to get things started than with a reader suggestion?

Thank you to Fernando from Brazil for this email!

From: Fernando
Subject: Deck with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Message: "It's a simple deck,but I don't have the cards necessary to do it. The idea is: Have Kiki with the staff on it and Skirk Prospector or Mogg Fanatic. You've got the idea, right?"

I sure do get the idea, Fernando! Thornbite Staff allows you to deal a point of damage to a creature or player for two mana—but if a creature goes into the graveyard, you untap whoever is equipped by the Staff! The untap effect is independent of the shoot effect, which is key for this C-C-C-Combo! Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker is a Shaman, so the Staff attaches to him when he comes into play. Every time a creature goes to the graveyard, you get to untap Kiki-Jiki.

If you have Mogg Fanatic in play, you can copy the Fanatic, and then sacrifice the copy to deal a point of damage to your opponent, which untaps Kiki-Jiki. Wash, rinse, repeat for infinite damage.

With Skirk Prospector, you get infinite mana!

With Goblin Sledder, you can pump Kiki-Jiki to an infinitely large size!

I took a look at the list of Goblins available in Extended, and came up with the following list (ticket cost of cards that are more than bulk price are listed in parentheses).

1 Flamewave Invoker
4 Goblin Sledder
4 Goblin Warchief (1.25 each)
4 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker (1.5 each)
4 Lightning Crafter (.5 each)
4 Mogg Fanatic (3 each)
4 Mogg War Marshal
4 Skirk Prospector
4 Thornbite Staff

4 Brightstone Ritual
4 Seething Song

Total Cost: 27.5 tickets

I figured that since I was going for infinite combos, I'd work Lightning Crafter into the deck as well! If you have Goblin Warchief out, all Goblins gain haste. This allows Lightning Crafter to tap to deal damage the turn it comes into play. Let's say you have a Crafter, and you have a Kiki-Jiki—you can shoot your opponent (3 damage), copy the Crafter (championing the Crafter), tap the copy to deal 3 damage (6 damage), and then have the original Crafter come into play untapped to shoot again (9 total damage!).

But wait, if you have access to three Lightning Crafters, you can go infinite! Take the above example. Have a Lightning Crafter. Shoot the opponent. Play Lightning Crafter #2, championing Lightning Crafter #1. Shoot the opponent. Play Lightning Crafter #3 (championing Lightning Crafter #2). Shoot the opponent. This returns Lightning Crafter #1 to play. Shoot the opponent. Champion Lightning Crafter #3, Bringing Lightning Crafter #2 into play. Shoot the opponent. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Want to know what's even better? Lightning Crafter is a Shaman! That makes him ideal with Thornbite Staff madness. And if you have multiple Thornbite Staves in play? They each trigger separately, allowing you to shoot with your Crafter (or copy with your Kiki-Jiki) multiple times.

The one Flamewave Invoker is in the deck to take advantage of the infinite mana combo that Skirk Prospector and Kiki-Jiki can produce when they hook up with a Thornbite Staff. It's easily tutorable with Goblin Matron!


Game 1: jarund (Black-Green Four-Post)

He builds up mana while I get down a Lightning Crafter (championing a Mogg War Marshal), a Mogg Fanatic, the Flamewave Invoker in my deck, and four Mountains. He has Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, double Cloudpost, and three Forests, and has just dropped a Plague Boiler. I draw, and my hand is another Mogg Fanatic, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, and Skirk Prospector. Jarund is at 15 life. Can you figure out how I can kill jarund this turn?

Click here.

Much to my chagrin, jarund destroys my plan by casting Putrefy on my Flamewave Invoker in response to step 4, leaving me just a couple of points short of killing him. He then follows it up by blowing up my board with Plagueboiler the next turn (leaving me with Kiki-Jiki, which I had championed under Lightning Crafter, and a Mogg War Marshal token) and a Tendrils of Corruption on Kiki-Jiki. This puts him way out of range considering I have a single token on the board and no cards in hand, and he finishes me off by wiping my entire board clean with Possessed Portal and kills me with Urza's Factory.

Record: 0-1

Game 2: Shruktus (Black-Blue Control)

I start bringing it early with Goblin Sledder, Mogg War Marshal and Mogg Fanatic, but he stops my offense cold with Nekrataal, aided by a Shade's Form. I lose the Sledder, and add Flamewave Invoker to the board. I then champion the Invoker with Lightning Crafter and drop Skirk Prospector. He keeps his defense steady, adding Gravedigger and Drudge Skeletons. I get down Thornbite Staff, put it on the Crafter, and machine gun him to death by sacrificing my Goblins and Goblin tokens to the Prospector, allowing me to shoot him five times in one turn! With the damage I did with my early attacks, this is enough to finish him.

Record: 1-1

Game 3: nine9s (Black-White Mirror Entity)

He drops a first-turn Soul Warden, and a third-turn Mirror Entity. I get Goblin Warchief on turn three, and then cast Goblin Matron (fetching Lightning Crafter) turn four, play Brightstone Ritual, play the Crafter (championing the Matron) and shoot the Mirror Entity. On his turn, he plays Galepowder Mage. On my fifth turn, I shoot Galepowder Mage, play Brightstone Ritual, play Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, copy Lightning Crafter (championing the original Lightning Crafter), fetch a second Lightning Crafter with the now-returned Matron, shoot his Soul Warden with the copy of Lightning Crafter, swing for 3 (Matron and Warchief) and shoot him again at end of turn when the Lightning Crafter token leaves play, returning the original Lightning Crafter to play. He concedes the game.

Record: 2-1

Game 4: DedTheros (Mono-Black Control)

I play Mogg Fanatic, Goblin Sledder, and Goblin Warchief on consecutive turns. He attempts to kill the Sledder with a Consume Spirit for 1, but I keep it alive by sacrificing the Fanatic to give it +1/+1. On my turn, I drop Thornbite Staff, and then I opt to lose half my life (going to 10) to counter Temporal Extortion on his turn. I then play Mogg War Marshal, sacrifice the Marshal to give the token +1/+1, and then swing with everything, equipping one of the tokens with the Staff after the attack. He is down to 7, and concedes after drawing his card.

Record: 3-1

Game 5: weapons_master (Breakthrough / Hunting Grounds)

He drops a first-turn fetchland to get a Ravnica dual, and plays Birds of Paradise. I kill it dead with Mogg Fanatic. He then repeats this play, and I drop double Goblin Sledder. His third turn is Breakthrough for two, putting a ton of large fatties in the graveyard—I'm thinking Reanimator. To keep him off four mana, I drop Mogg Fanatic and Thornbite Staff on my third turn, killing his Birds. He then plays back-to-back Hunting Grounds, keeping two cards in hand. I decide that it's not worth it to play the single Skirk Prospector in my hand (given that he has already shown me a ton of fatties) and I just start swinging with my Sledders, bringing him to 11 before he finally plays a blocker—Sakura-Tribe Elder.

On my turn, I play Skirk Prospector (against his one card in hand), to which he has no answer, and then I play Lightning Crafter, which eats a Draining Whelk (now 5/5). He swings in for 5, and then plays Golden Wish for Orzhov Pontiff. I equip my Prospector with the Thornbite Staff, shoot down his Sakura-Tribe Elder, and swing in with both Sledders (9 life). He opts not to immediately play his Pontiff, but also chooses to keep his Whelk back to block. I answer with Goblin Warchief, which sees his Pontiff come into play—I sacrifice my Sledders to keep my Prospector alive, plus I shoot down his Pontiff and ping him once. On my next turn, I get Mogg Fanatic, push through to get him down to 5 on the attack, 4 from shooting and untapping after the Warchief dies, and that's enough for me to kill him with the Fanatic, the Prospector, and the Thornbite staff on the following turn.

Record: 4-1

Believe it or not, I haven't seen a single Seething Song in five games – but no matter, so far Brightstone Ritual has been a lifesaver in some of my games. I also have mulliganed a little bit too much, so I take out the three Seething Songs to give the deck a little more consistency with a Mountain, a Brightstone Ritual, and a Goblin Matron.

Out: 3 Seething Song (which I literally have not seen a one-of in five games!)
In: 1 Mountain, 1 Goblin Matron, 1 Brightstone Ritual


Game 6: yizhi (Kithkin)

He drops a Steely Resolve (naming Kithkin) and an Ensnaring Bridge. I get Skirk Prospector, double Thornbite Staff, and Goblin Sledder. I then drop Lightning Crafter, championing the Sledder and equipping both Thornbite Staffs. On my next turn, I draw Goblin Matron (with five lands out). I shoot yizhi for 3, play Goblin Matron (fetching another Matron), and then sacrifice the Matron to my Prospector (which puts two untap triggers on the stack). I resolve them one at a time, shooting him with the Crafter after each one (9 total crafter damage so far), and then play Goblin Matron #2. I get a Goblin Sledder, sacrifice Goblin Matron #2, and shoot him twice more (15 damage), which is enough to kill him. I still had another 12 damage coming, if necessary (6 from Sledder, 6 from Prospector), which made my damage potential that turn a full 27 damage from the double Staff and Crafter.
Record: 5-1

Game 7: SupriseMe2Day (Mono-Black Control)

He starts with Mutavault, Prickly Boggart (which I kill with Mogg Fanatic immediately), and Bottle Gnomes. I get down Goblin Sledder, Mogg War Marshal, and Lightning Crafter (championing the Marshal). I then use Crafter to kill his Bottle Gnomes, and then his Gravedigger (which brings back Bottle Gnomes) and his Bottle Gnomes again, and follow them with Goblin Warchief. He Terrors my Crafter, and then drops Stronghold Overseer.

I answer by playing a second Lightning Crafter and then Kiki-Jiki. This lets me shoot him for 3, copy the Crafter (championing the first Crafter), shoot him for another 3, and then shoot him for a third 3 once the copy of the Crafter dies at end of turn (for a total of 9 damage). He is unable to survive two turns of this, and I win.

Record: 6-1

Game 8: Nachazar (Black-White-Green Control)

He drops a second-turn Sakura-Tribe Elder, and back-to-back Troll Ascetics on turns three and four. I get down a Mogg Fanatic, a Thornbite Staff, and a Mogg War Marshal. He hits me a couple of times, and I put down two more Mogg Fanatics to the board. I chump with the War Marshal and a token and play double Brightstone Ritual to get Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker on the board. He allows me to get the Staff on Kiki-Jiki, and tries to Mortify in response to my first Mogg Fanatic copy. I simply sacrifice a second Mogg Fanatic, untap Kiki-Jiki, and then copy the Fanatic 17 more times to kill him from 18.

Record: 7-1

Game 9: ZursRealityAcidBurns (White-Blue-Red Wizards)

He gets down Vedalken Æthermage to block my early Mogg War Marshal, and then drops Diviner's Wand and follows it with Storybrook Schoolmaster. I play Goblin Matron (fetching Skirk Prospector) and then drop a Warchief and the Prospector the following turn. I follow this with Lightning Crafter, play a second Matron, get a second Lightning Crafter, and draw a concession right before I cast Kiki-Jiki.

Record: 8-1

Game 10: RickySelman (Urzatron)

He assembles the Urzatron quickly and gets double Skinthinner to kill two of my creatures—a Goblin Warchief and a Lightning Crafter (championing a Goblin Matron, which I used to fetch said Crafter). I then fetch up a second Crafter with the Matron, drop another Warchief, and play a second Matron, fetching the third Crafter. I use the two Crafters to champion the Matron and the other Crafter, allowing me to Matron up the fourth Crafter—which I then drop and go infinite with, as I have a Lightning Crafter on the board, one coming into play, and one being championed at all times (so the one coming into play Champions the one already in play, which brings the third one back into play, and since they all have haste from the Warchief, I can shoot RickySelman as many times as I want).

Record: 9-1

Game 11: MX3SERZE (Orzhov Control)

I get a textbook draw with Mogg Fanatic, Thornbite Staff, Flamewave Invoker, a second Thornbite Staff, and Kiki-Jiki to go infinite. He had played Faith's Fetters on my Invoker to stop it the turn earlier, so Kiki-Jiki kills him by copying Mogg Fanatic about a twenty times, allowing me to swing with another dozen in the red zone to speed up the kill (so it's a big attack, and not just a point at a time).

Record: 10-1

After the game, MX3SERZE comments to me that his deck has problems with faster decks. I ask him if he would mind if I took his deck list and evolved it for the column. He was more than happy to do this, so it was time for:



3 Angel of Despair (2.5 each – 7.5 total)
4 Blind Hunter 
4 Ghost Council of Orzhova (.75 each – 3 total)
3 Skeletal Vampire (.33 each – 1 total)
Total Creature Cost: 11.5 tickets

3 Damnation (12 each – 36 total)
4 Debtors' Knell (3 each – 12 total)
4 Faith's Fetters
4 Hide // Seek (1 each – 4 total)
4 Mortify (.5 each – 2 total)
2 Pillory of the Sleepless 
3 Wrath of God (10 each – 30 total)
Total Spell Cost: 84 tickets

4 Orzhov Signet

4 Godless Shrine (8 each – 32 total)
4 Orzhov Basilica 
6 Plains
6 Swamp
Total Land Cost: 32 tickets

Total Deck Cost: 127.5 tickets

There's definitely some work to be done here. From this column's perspective, I need this deck to cost thirty tickets or less, or it ain't budget—and this deck clocks in at over four times that amount! Also, this deck has some mana problems; it only has twenty lands, and with the average cost of a card (in mana, that is) being 3.9, it's going to be short on mana quite a bit. In addition, the deck has virtually no action before the fourth turn, so it is slow, just as MX3SERZE stated.

The first cut is easiest—the non-budget cards have to get the yank. Thankfully, eleven of them are easy: seven Wrath of God effects and a set of Ravnica shocklands. I also kill Debtors' Knell, because it does not seem to be essential to get this deck running. What caught my eye was the Hide // Seek, which lets you kill a threat out of an opponent's deck and try to figure out what is in their hand based on what you see is left. Given that every creature in this deck has a comes-into-play effect, you would probably want to dip into blue (Momentary Blink, Crystal Shard) if you wanted to go in that direction!

Budget Out: 3 Damnation, 4 Wrath of God, 4 Godless Shrine, 4 Debtors' Knell (110 Tickets out)
New Cost: 17.5 tickets (need 13 cards)

If the deck is having problems against fast decks, the main thing you need to do is either slow those decks down, or extend your lifespan. Ghost Council of Orzhova is a fine card, but it's best if you have early drops to feed it, so you can avoid removal spells. If it is the first creature on your curve (as in this deck), you will not get optimal use out of it. Instead, I wanted to run Descendant of Kiyomaro. It swings life totals more (3 points a swing), plus comes down a turn earlier.

I cut 2 Pillory of the Sleepless to get down to sixty cards—remember, unless you have a really good reason to go above 60 cards in a deck, math dictates that you are best going at the minimum! I keep Faith's Fetters because it A) can neutralize multiple permanent types, and B) it gains me 4 life, which is crucial if I am getting by an early onslaught.

I also add in Shriekmaw. I don't think this deck has as many problems with mass creatures as with large, early creatures (Kird Ape, Watchwolf and the such). I want to be able to kill any attackers as early as turn two, and Shriekmaw combines that flexability along with the ability to come down as a 3/2 evasion creature late-game.

I also add in Castigate to the deck. It is cheaper than Duress or Thoughtseize (in price) and can pretty much nix any non-land card in the game. It gives me something else to do with two mana in the early game. I also put in Phyrexian Arena. With so many ways for this deck to gain life (Blind Hunter, Descendant of Kiyomaro, Faith's Fetters), the card advantage that the one-way Howling Mine gives me will come at virtually no disadvantage.

Last, I add in five basic lands. This may be one or two less than what I want, but I've significantly dropped the mana cost of the deck (Taken out: 2 three-drops, 11 four-drops, 3 six-drops, 3 seven-drops. Added in: 4 two-drops, 8 three-drops, 4 five-drops that can be two-drops, plus dropped two cards entirely and switched one other for a land), so I'm willing to see how this configuration works before making more changes.

At heart, this deck is the same: a black-white control deck that uses comes-into-play creatures and a lot of control spells to finish off the game with a large creatures. I've just taken out some of the more expensive cards, and swapped them for budget counterparts (switching global removal for more local removal, in the case of Wrath / Damnation versus Castigate / Shriekmaw).

Out: 2 Pillory of the Sleepless, 3 Skeletal Vampire, 4 Ghost Council of Orzhova (13.5 Tickets)
In: 4 Castigate, 4 Shriekmaw, 4 Phyrexian Arena, 4 Descendant of Kiyomaro, 3 Swamp, 2 Plains (25.5 Tickets)

Budget MX3SERZE Black-White

Main Deck

60 cards

Orzhov Basilica
Plains
Swamp

21 lands

Angel of Despair
Blind Hunter
Descendant of Kiyomaro
Shriekmaw

15 creatures

Castigate
Faith's Fetters
Hide // Seek
Mortify
Orzhov Signet
Phyrexian Arena

24 other spells



Game 1: Incubus666 (Wildfire)

I get every land I have hit by Stone Rain, Demolish, Boomerang, Eye of Nowhere, or Wildfire. I kill two of his five win conditions (Hide // Seek on a Magnivore, and Mortify on a Magnivore), but he is safely able to drop a third Magnivore once I am at zero lands and have been discarding for three turns.

Record: 0-1

Game 2: gleevan (Red-Green Big Mana)

I start out with the first play of the game: a Descendant of Kiyomaro. He gets down Keldon Megaliths and Ghitu Encampment, and then plays Overgrowth on his Forest. I drop a couple of Signets and a couple of Orzhov Basilica, because I have double Angel of Despair in my hand, and that Overgrowth signals trouble! When he drops a fatty, I am able to Mortify it at the end of gleevan's turn, and then cast Angel of Despair to take out the Forest (with Overgrowth). On my next attack, he activates Ghitu Encampment, blocks, plays Shock on my Descendant to kill it (we have equal cards in hand after the Shock), resolves first-strike damage, and then plays Lightning Axe (discarding Pyroclasm) to kill my Angel. This nice play is for naught, as I get down a second Descendant and the other Angel in my hand, and that is enough to win.

Record: 1-1

Game 3: semovente (Polymorph Reanimator)

I go first, and he casts a first-turn Serum Visions. I play Castigate, and see lands, Lightning Greaves, Telling Time, and double Polymorph. I take the Telling Time, as I have a Mortify in my hand to take care of any creature he drops before he gets a Polymorph down—I just need to make sure that I leave three mana open. This plan works, as I drop double Blind Hunter while he is setting up, and then sit back on the Mortify the rest of the game. He plays Careful Study, discards Darksteel Colossus (which I am guessing is the only creature in his deck), and then plays Zombie Infestation. When he attempts to Polymorph a Zombie token, I have the Mortify ready, and then I swing in for the win on my turn.

Record: 2-1

Game 4: alittlesea (Mono-White Cycling)

He leads with a second-turn cycled Eternal Dragon, and a third-turn morph. I get third-turn Phyrexian Arena on the play, and pass on my fourth turn. He unmorphs Exalted Angel, which I then kill with Shriekmaw on the following turn. I try to Castigate, but he plays Gilded Light and starts building up mana. I join Shriekmaw on the board with Descendant of Kiyomaro, and start swinging for 5. alittlesea simply starts building up mana with Eternal Dragon.

When I do land a second Castigate, I see that alittlesea's hand is double Wrath of God, double Akroma's Vengeance, Wing Shards, and Mindslaver (with him at seven mana). My hand is Faith's Fetters, double Shriekmaw, and double Blind Hunter. I take out the Wing Shards, knock him down to 10, and prepare to have my stuff Wrathed away every turn. Sure enough, Akroma's Vengeance takes out my board (Arena, Shriekmaw, and Descendant), and my next play is a single Blind Hunter. He builds up more mana by copying my Orzhov Basilica with Vesuva, and hits me with a Mindslaver while he is at 6—playing two Blind Hunters from my hand (making me target myself so I neither gain nor lose life) and evoking a Shriekmaw. He then plays Wrath of God on his turn to wipe out all three Blind Hunters.

I draw another Descendant, and put it on the board. He drops Exalted Angel, which I Faith's Fetters, and then swing him down to 4. He casts Eternal Dragon—and I get another Fetters, and stop that as well, knocking him to 2—and then I get my fourth Blind Hunter to kill him!

Record: 3-1

Game 5: Mrva (Blue-Black Bounce)

He suspends Riftwing Cloudskate on turn two and Reality Strobe on turn three. I play Orzhov Signet on turn two, and then play Hide // Seek on turn three, revealing that his deck is full of bounce—Reality Strobe, Echoing Truth, Warped Devotion, Recoil, Boomerang, Blizzard Specter—but his only kill conditions are four Cloudskates, four Specters, and three Dread. I kill out a Dread from the deck, and then start dropping Signets (which get Echoing Truthed twice) and Blind Hunters. I kill three of his creatures with Shriekmaw and Mortify, and then kill two Warped Devotion with an Angel of Despair and a Mortify. He gets two Reality Strobes going, but all of my creatures have comes-into-play abilities, meaning he can only safely hit my lands and Signets (and later, a Phyrexian Arena). After many turns of having my permanents bounced ad nauseam, I finally stick an Angel and Blind Hunters around long enough to win.

Record: 4-1

So far so good, but I still think the deck needs a little more speed or disruption. Aside from the Castigates, I am pretty much at the mercy of whatever my opponents throw at me. Is reactive the way to go, or can I start getting a little more proactive in my duties?

Next Week: The Round Robin continues, as I evolve MX3SERZE's deck further, and move on to the next decks! See you all in seven!

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