Building_on_a_Budget

I Lost My Alara

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The letter I! have been focusing most of my energy on extended since the release of Zendikar. Standard on a budget seemed incredibly difficult. The Specter of Change gave people an interesting alternative to the most popular decks, but even that deck is just Jund with some metagame tweaks. A few of my readers directed my attention to a deck development thread in a Magic forum. I read the thread in its entirety and was extraordinairily excited by what I found.


Gigantiform is not a card I ever thought about for 60-card decks. Creature Auras have been a common pitfall in deck building since the beginning of time. The big issue with these cards is the opportunity for card advantage one creates for one's opponent. An opponent is given a two-for-one opportunity when one casts an Aura spell. A simple Path to Exile or Lightning Bolt is usually enough to ruin the Aura slinger's day.


There have been a few exceptions I can think of, though. Rancor saw a ton of play in stompy decks because it had a built in defense against the card disadvantage usually accrued by decks with creature enchantments. Griffin Guide was also a playable creature Aura. Simply waiting for an opponent to tap out and slapping a Griffin Guide down was a good enough strategy, even in a block that saw cards like Slaughter Pact getting a reasonable amount of play.

Gigantiform seems strange. It fails to meet any of the tried and true requirements for a playable creature Aura in constructed. If you plan on hard-casting Gigantiform all day while crossing your fingers you are probably in for a world of hurt. Just about every playable deck in Standard packs a play set of Path to Exile, Lightning Bolt, or both. However, the puzzle still has a missing piece.


Sovereigns of Lost Alara is another card I never would have thought about. In fact, I found five copies of the Alara Reborn rare simply by sifting through draft leftovers I had in some shoeboxes. Sovereigns of Lost Alara makes Gigantiform a lot more attractive. A Bant-style aggro deck can play a lot of must-kill creatures and actually find a way to stick Sovereigns of Lost of Alara until combat.

Lets take a look at what cards might fit in the deck.


Gigantiform: Here's the ends.

Sovereigns of Lost Alara: Here's the means.

Sphinx of Lost Truths: The deck will probably play a lot of mana acceleration and card advantage. Having this as the top end makes the deck a lot more resilient in the long-term.

Knight of the White Orchid: I love this card. I want our deck to catch up on the draw and even jump the hurdle on the play. Blocking Bloodbraid Elf and living to tell the tale is definitely a plus in this format.

Steward of Valeron: This is probably the weakest link. I still feel like the deck needed more acceleration. I also like having a guy with vigilance that I can make into an 8/8. This card lets me use Gigantiform offensively and defensively.


Deft Duelist: This card is very undervalued right now. It seems like Deft Duelist is so good against so many decks right now. Playing a single copy of this card blanks all the Zektar Shrine Expeditions, Elemental Appeals, Ball Lightnings, Hellspark Elementals, and Bloodbraid Elves your opponent had planned. Definitely a worthwhile inclusion. And because Sovereigns of Lost Alara puts the Gigantiform straight onto the battlefield, you can attach it to Deft Duelist, shroud or not.

Borderland Ranger: Again, I want to hit my land drops to play big things like Sovereigns of Lost Alara and Sphinx of Lost Truths. I also like having expendible guys for the Gigantiform.

Rhox War Monk: This is just a solid dude. It has 4 toughness and lives through Lightning Bolt. It has lifelink, which is just bonkers with Gigantiform. It also has a very aggressive casting cost for its abilities.

Celestial Mantle: I want to have a single copy of this so I can search it up when I have my back against the wall against Jund or red decks.


Path to Exile: People still play Baneslayer Angel.

Borderposts: Playing a good amount of these alongside Path to Exile ensures the card-advantagey goodness of our Knight of the White Orchids. They also do a pretty good job fixing our mana.


Here's the list I settled on:



I lost the roll and kept Plains, Forest, Fieldmist Borderpost, Knight of the White Orchid, Sphinx of Lost Truths, Borderland Ranger, and Sovereigns of Lost Alara. My opponent played a Mountain and passed the turn. I drew a Rhox War Monk, cast my borderpost, and passed the turn. My opponent played another mountain and cast a Zektar Shrine Expedition. I drew a Deft Duelist, cast my Knight of the White Orchid, found another Plains, and passed the turn. My opponent played a fetch land and popped it, putting a pair of counters on the Zektar Shrine Expedition. Then he Lightning Bolted my Knight of the White Orchid and cast a Hellspark Elemental that got in for 3 damage. I drew another Knight of the White Orchid and pondered my options.

Casting Rhox War Monk and Knight of the White Orchid seemed like the robot play, but I really wanted to put Deft Duelist on the table before my opponent popped the quest. I decided to play it safe and cast Deft Duelist and Knight of the White Orchid, searching up another Plains. I played my land and passed the turn. My opponent was pretty stuck at this point. The Shrine was dead so long as Deft Duelist was on the table, and Hellspark Elemental looked pretty silly in the graveyard. A timely Volcanic Fallout could have blown me out, but he wasn't so lucky. He played a Mountain putting the extra counter on his shrine, cast a Hell's Thunder, attacked me for 4, and passed the turn. I drew a Forest, played my land, and cast Sovereigns of Lost Alara. I attacked with my Knight of the White Orchid and turned it into an 8/8 with trample and first strike (plus an exalted bonus). My opponent took 9. On his turn he played a fifth land and used the unearth ability on Hell's Thunder to attack me for another 4, but the next turn I attacked with my 8/8 and searched up a Celestial Mantle for lethal damage.

Sideboarding: +1 Celestial Mantle, -1 Sphinx of Lost Truths


I mulliganned and kept Wildfield Borderpost, Seaside Citadel, Forest, Island, Deft Duelist, and Knight of the White Orchid. My opponent cast a Goblin Guide on the first turn and attacked for 2, and I found a free Plains. I drew a Celestial Mantle, cast my Borderpost, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Hellspark Elemental and attacked for 5. I drew Rhox War Monk, cast my Deft Duelist, and passed the turn. My opponent thought for a bit and passed the turn without any play. I drew a Gigantiform, cast Rhox War Monk, and passed the turn. My opponent used Lightning Bolt and Burst Lightning to deal with the Rhino. On his turn he simply passed again. I drew another Rhox War Monk, cast my Knight of the White Orchid, finding a Plains, and cast my second Rhox War Monk. My opponent finally drew a third land and used it to cast a Hell's Thunder and attack for 4 in the air. On my turn I slapped a Gigantiform on my Rhox War Monk and attacked for 9 points of lifelink damage. My opponent conceded.



I won the roll and kept Seaside Citadel, Plains, Steward of Valeron, Borderland Ranger, Borderland Ranger, and Sovereigns of Lost Alara. I played my my Seaside Citadel and passed the turn. My opponent played a Glacial Fortree and passed back. I drew a Sphinx of Lost Truths, cast my Steward of Valeron, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Howling Mine and passed the turn. I drew a Gigantiform and another Sovereigns of Lost Alara, attacked for 2, cast Borderland Ranger, finding a Forest, played the Forest, and passed the turn. My opponent drew his cards, cast another Howling Mine, and passed the turn. I drew a Plains, a Seaside Citadel, and a Fieldmist Borderpost, I played my land, slapped a Gigantiform on my Borderland Ranger, and attacked for 8. From this point forward the game turned into a mess. My opponent had a Fog effect or a Day of Judgement for every subsequent turn. Eventually I was milled to death by Jace Beleren.

Sideboarding: -1 Celestial Mantle, -3 Sphinx of Lost Truths, -4 Path to Exile, +4 Qasali Pridemage, +4 Bant Charm


I mulliganed and kept Fieldmist Borderpost, Plains, Forest, Qasali Pridemage, Qasali Pridemage, and Knight of the White Orchid. I cast my Borderpost on my first turn. My opponent played his land and passed the turn back. I drew Deft Duelist, cast it, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Howling Mine and passed the turn. I drew a Bant Charm and a Gigantiform, I cast Qasali Pridemage, attacked for three, and popped the Pridemage to destroy the Howling Mine. My opponent simply played a land and passed the turn. I drew Sovereigns of Lost Alara, attacked for 2, cast Knight of the White Orchid searching up a Plains, played my land, and passed the turn. My opponent tapped out for a Font of Mythos. I thought during his endstep. I could let myself draw the two extra cards and destroy the Font on my turn, or I could just destroy it now and cast Gigantiform and get in for 10 on my turn. I decided on the latter and destroyed the Font of Mythos with a Bant Charm. I untapped, drew a Borderland Ranger, cast Gigantiform on my Knight of the White Orchid, and attacked for 10. My opponent went to 5. On his turn he cast a Day of Judgement and passed. I drew a Deft Duelist, cast the Duelist, cast the Borderland Ranger, and played the land I found. My opponent untapped and played another Howling Mine, and I drew a Bant Charm and another Deft Duelist. I attacked for 4 and my opponent used a Safe Passage. I used Bant Charm to destroy the Howling Mine and put lethal damage on the table with Deft Duelist. My opponent simply passed. I swung the next turn and walked into another Fog. The next swing finally did him in.


I kept Seaside Citadel, Plains, Island, Fieldmist Borderpost, Knight of the White Orchid, Sovereigns of Lost Alara, and Bant Charm. My opponent played a land. I drew a Qasali Pridemage, cast my Borderpost and passed the turn. My opponent played a land and passed the turn. I cast my Knight of the White Orchid, found a Plains, and passed the turn. My opponent cast Jace Beleren and made each of us draw a card. I drew a Rhox War Monk off of Jace, and a Forest for my turn. I cast Qasali Pridemage, attacked Jace for 3, and passed the turn. My opponent made us each draw another card off of Jace and cast Day of Judgement to clear the board. The game degenerated into a typical game where Jacerator wins at this point. My opponent continued to make each of us draw cards, every time I attacked I was Fogged, and anything I committed to the board met with a Day of Judgement.



I won the roll and kept Fieldmist Borderpost, Wildfield Borderpost, Forest, Knight of the White Orchid, Borderland Ranger, Sphinx of Lost Truths, and Path to Exile. I cast a Borderpost and passed the turn. My opponent played a land and passed back. I drew a Rhox War Monk, cast another Borderpost, and passed the turn. My opponent played another land and passed. I drew a Seaside Citadel, played my forest, cast Rhox War Monk, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Maelstrom Pulse Targetting my Rhino. I drew a Forest, cast Knight of the White Orchid, fetching up a Plains, played my Forest, and cast Borderland Ranger finding an Island. My opponent played a Bloodbraid Elf and flipped into a Terminate, which killed my Knight, he attacked and I blocked. I drew a Deft Duelist, cast it, played my Seaside Citadel, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Sprouting Thrinax and passed the turn. I drew a Plains, played it, and cast a kicked Sphinx of Lost Truths, drawing Path to Exile, Sovereigns of Lost Alara, and another Seaside Citadel. My opponent attacked with his Sprouting Thrinax and I blocked with Sphinx of Lost Truths. He cast Bituminous Blast on the Sphinx post combat and flipped into a Blightning. I discarded the land and a Path to Exile. I drew another land, played my Sovereigns of Lost Alara, attacked with my Deft Duelist, and turned it into an 8/8, dealing 9. My opponent cast a Terminate on my Sovereigns and attacked for three with his 1/1s. He cast a Putrid Leech post-combat. I drew another Sphinx of Lost Truths, attacked for 8, cast the Sphinx with kicker, and drew Gigantiform, Sovereigns of Lost Alara, and another Borderpost. My opponent cast a Broodmate Dragon and passed. I cast Sovereigns of lost Alara, attacked with Deft Duelist, and fetched up a Celestial Mantle. My opponent blocked with Putrid Leech and both Dragons. He pumped the Putrid Leech, going to 1, but I cast Path to Exile on one of the Dragon tokens and he took lethal from the trample.

Sideboarding: -3 Steward of Valeron, +3 White Knight


I kept Seaside Citadel, Plains, Forest, White Knight, Knight of the White Orchid, Deft Duelist, Sphinx of Lost Truths. My opponent played a land and passed. I drew another Forest, played my Seaside Citadel, and passed back. My opponent cast a Putrid Leech and passed the turn. I drew a Borderland Ranger, cast White Knight and passed back. My opponent cast a Blightning, and I discarded both my Forests. I drew an Island, cast Knight of the White Orchid, getting a Plains, cast Deft Duelist, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Bloodbraid Elf, flipped into a Jund Charm, pumped his Putrid Leech, and passed. I drew another White Knight, cast Borderland Ranger finding another Plains, cast the second White Knight, and passed the turn. My opponent failed to find a fifth land and cast another Bloodbraid Elf, flipping into Maelstrom Pulse, which killed my Borderland Ranger. I drew another Borderland Ranger and cast it, I found and played the land. My opponent cast a Sprouting Thrinax and passed the turn back again. I drew a Forest and cast Sphinx of Lost Truths with kicker again. I drew Path to Exile, Forest, and Plains. My opponent finally drew a fifth land, cast a Terminate on the Sphinx, and passed the turn. I drew another Sphinx of Lost Truths. I cast it, kicked, and drew Path to Exile, Fieldmist Borderpost, and Steward of Valeron. I kept one white mana open and passed the turn again. My opponent drew a sixth land and cast Broodmate Dragon. I drew Sovereigns of Lost Alara, cast it, and attacked with a White Knight, suiting it up with a Gigantiform. My opponent took the 9 damage. On his turn he attacked with both Dragons, and I blocked one and Pathed the other. He cast another Broodmate Dragon after his attack. I attacked with White Knight again and searched up the Celestial Mantle, and my opponent conceded.


Well, that went pretty well. I think the Jacerator match is entirely winnable after sideboard. It simply important that they don't have a Jace into a Day of Judgement with the mana to cast it. The deck's sideboard seemed to work very well. I really like the way this deck approaches the format, and I hope all of you find time to try it out for yourselves. As always, I'd love to see what ideas you guys have in the forums or in email.

Happy brewing!

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