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Playing giant creatures without paying giant prices.

Big Guys, Big Discounts

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The letter H!ello everyone, and welcome back to Building on a Budget, the column dedicated to building decks that cost 30 tickets or less on Magic Online! This week’s column is the evolution of the Big Guys, Big Discounts deck from two weeks ago. You voted, and here’s the deck that you most wanted to see evolved!











The concept behind this deck is to drop guys who double as mana accelerants (Brighthearth Banneret, Stinkdrinker Daredevil) in order to make the huge guys (Hamletback Goliath, Sunrise Sovereign, Borderland Behemoth) cost a lot less than six to seven mana. For instance, if you get Stinkdrinker Daredevil on turn three, you can drop Sunrise Sovereign on turn four, both Brion Stoutarm and Cloudgoat Ranger on turn five, and finish it off with Borderland Behemoth on turn six as a 12/12 trampling monstrosity!

However, you aren’t going to be able to get the curve every game, especially if your opponent is savvy and wants to kill your guys who give discounts. Therefore, I put in a bunch of early spot-removal spells (Incinerate, Oblivion Ring) to stall the beginning of the game. If the game goes long, chances are that your Giants will dwarf (literally) any creatures your opponent can put into play; but you need to survive to that point, so you can’t just roll over and die to Elves / Kithkin / Merfolk without a fight.

One of the key creatures in this deck is ironically the smallest Giant in the deck, Brion Stoutarm. Brion is hyper-efficient as a 4/4 lifelinked creature for four mana, but his second ability (throwing creatures at your opponent) is where it’s at in a Giant deck. Imagine: you play Brion Stoutarm, and follow it with both Hamletback Goliath (6/6) and a Borderland Behemoth (12/12, making your Hamletback Goliath 18/18). Without ever actually needing to attack, you’ve got 30 points of direct damage on the board, with Brion champing at the bit!

Let’s see what happens with the deck when I take it into the casual rooms of Magic Online!

Game 1: ravarshi (Withering Elfball)

Ravarshi starts out with Heritage Druid, which I kill with extreme prejudice using Incinerate. I follow up by removing an Imperious Perfect from the game with Oblivion Ring, and following that with Stinkdrinker Daredevil and Brion Stoutarm. I then drop Hamletback Goliath, facing down against a second Imperious Perfect. My Hamletback Goliath gets to 15/15 as Ravarshi continues to drop Elves, so I use Brion’s Fling ability to dome Ravarshi for 15 damage at the end of his turn, and then drop and immediately fling another Hamletback for 6 to win the game on my turn.

Record: 1-0

Game 2: Flight (Blue-White-Red Control)

Flight leads with Ancestral Vision. I drop Brighthearth Banneret, and have my Brion Stoutarm countered by Rune Snag. Flight then drops Ajani Goldmane, and I get Cloudgoat Ranger, which is promptly killed by Wrath of God. Two Ancestral Visions, a bunch of lands, a couple of Lightning Angels, and an Aeon Chronicler later, and I am dead.

Record: 1-1

Game 3: Shane061183 (Black-Green Elves)

Shane061183 drops Llanowar Elves and Wren’s Run Vanquisher, which I Incinerate. I get Brighthearth Banneret, and get Cloudgoat Ranger on turn four. I then get Stinkdrinker Daredevil and Borderguard Behemoth, though my Cloudgoat Ranger dies to a Nameless Inversion. Still, the large number of 1/1 creatures lets me stay his Elves until I get Brion Stoutarm. I then have an 8/8 trampler, and a guy who will throw an 8/8 trampler at my opponent’s head. This is enough for my big guys to get a big win!

Record: 2-1

Game 4: [name withheld] (Blue-Black Snow Control)

My opponent gets Ancestral Vision, Shriekmaw, Scrying Sheets, and Damnation. After a spirited discussion about how appropriate that deck is for the casual room, I concede the game.

Record: 2-2

Game 5: hillbilly_magic (Red-White Control)

Hillbilly_magic drops quadruple Forbidden Tower and double Loxodon Warhammer and Wraths my guys off the board three times! I eventually get double Sunrise Sovereign, Brion Stoutarm and Borderland Behemoth, and start swinging in for thirty-plus life a turn. He’s got a cushion thanks to his two Warhammers, but I eventually hit him with a 20/20 Borderland Behemoth, and then throw that Behemoth at him with Brion!

Record: 3-2

Just a quick note about Game 4: I was entirely willing to play that game out, but my opponent was concerned about how I would portray our match in this column, and so I conceded rather than push that point. Long story short is this: folks, if you’re going to play a deck that’s won a Pro Tour, or Top 8ed a Grand Prix, swapping out 4 to 8 cards for 4 to 8 other high-level tournament cards does not make your deck casual. As for me, I don’t mind a challenge, but the casual play room just doesn’t seem the place for a deck that is comprised of 100% high-tournament playable cards.

Commence discussion in the forums!

As far as the Big Guys, Big Discounts deck goes, Brighthearth Banneret hasn’t been great in this deck. On its own, it’s a 1/1 creature, which isn’t high licks or super kicks. Its reinforce ability is less than optimal in a Giants deck, because A) Giants are already huge on their own, and B) I can’t curve the reinforce ability well with five to seven cost critters. I decide to focus more on monsters, so I take out the Bannerets and the Fatal Frenzys (which have been stuck dead in my hand every game) in favor of three more high-end Giants (Hamletback Goliath, which has been my favorite card to drop so far!), a Borderland Behemoth, a fourth Austere Command, and a fourth Oblivion Ring.

Out: 3 Brighthearth Banneret, 2 Fatal Frenzy
In: 2 Hamletback Goliath, 1 Austere Command, 1 Borderland Behemoth, 1 Oblivion Ring

Game 6: zinquox (Blue-Black Aggro)

Zinquox gets Infathom Infiltrator with Helm of the Ghastlord, and it hits me once before I kill it with a topdecked Incinerate. I then lose a Stinkdrinker Daredevil and a Cloudgoat Ranger to Nameless Inversion, but land a second Daredevil. This allows me to chain into Hamletback Goliath, Borderland Behemoth, and Sunrise Sovereign, allowing me to swing with some truly massive tramplers for the win.

Record: 4-2

Game 7: theotherplayer (White-Green Aggro)

Theotherplayer curves with Elvish Hexhunter, Safehold Elite, Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers, and Wilt-Leaf Liege. He then enchants both of his high-end creatures with Shield of the Oversoul, and I stop at five mana with an Austere Command in my hand. Brion Stoutarm cannot keep me alive long enough for me to find a sixthth mana, and I get run over.

Record: 4-3

Game 8: Robert_T (Mono-Red Burn)

I get stuck at four mana, and Robert_T gets off double Wheel of Fate, burning me to a crisp with burn spell after burn spell after burn spell until I’m finally dead.

Record: 4-4

Game 9: Rage4Change (Red-Green Aggro)

Rage4Change drops multiple mana-producing Elves, and then Valleymaker and large guys. I take them out with Oblivion Ring, or by trading with my “smaller” Giants like Cloudgoat Ranger or Brion Stoutarm. I start dropping Hamletback Goliaths and Sunrise Sovereigns, ending the game in a heartbeat.

Record: 5-4

I definitely have the big guys, but now I need more big discounts. I reach deep into my pockets to pull out Coalition Relics, which usually run between 2.5 and 3 tickets each. Relics are the closest thing to running more Stinkdrink Daredevils in that both cost three, and both effectively “produce” two mana, moving me from four mana (the turn after they are played) to six mana (which is Giant territory, baby!) I also have had slight problems getting to double white for Austere Command and Cloudgoat Ranger, so I take out a single Mountain for a Plains.

Out: Austere Command, Borderland Behemoth, Oblivion Ring, Mountain
In: 3 Coalition Relic, Plains

Game 10: Deroute (Black-White Control)

My initial investments of Brion Stoutarm and Cloudgoat Ranger die to Wrath of God. I then decide to play the “one at a time” strategy, and drop Sunrise Sovereign, burning Doomed Necromancer out of the way with Incinerate in case there were reanimation shenanigans down the road. There were not, and when Deroute empties his hand, I drop Hamletback Goliath and follow it with Cloudgoat Ranger. I stack the +1/+1 counters ability from the Goliath on the stack, and then the Ranger’s “put three creatures into play” ability. The three Kithkin come into play, I tap all three of them to make my Ranger +2/+0, and this allows my Ranger to give an extra two +1/+1 counters to the Hamletback Goliath! I swing in with a 19/19, which is blocked for one turn by a duo of Mirror Entity and True Believer (pumped to 5/5 each) but is lethal the following turn.

Record: 6-4

Game 11: andrewBm2 (Kithkin)

I face down turn-one Goldmeadow Stalwart, turn-two Wizened Cenn, turn-three Spectral Procession, turn four concession, as I get a Coalition Relic and three lands but cannot find the fourth land on turn four to play Austere Command.

Record: 6-5

Game 12: IXISyphorIXI (Black-Red Gravepact)

I lose my first set of guys to Damnation, and... I lose my SECOND set of guys to Damnation as well! IXISyphorIXI then drops Nantuko Husk, Mogg War Marshal and Gravepact. I kill all of them with Austere Command. He follows up with Siege-Gang Commander, and I mop up his 2/2 and tokens with another Austere Command. Momentum shifts into my court as I drop a Hamletback Goliath, and his Siege-Gang Commander #2 only servers to make my guy super-huge. I drop Brion Stoutarm, and he finds himself in an impossible blocking position, ending the game.

Record: 7-5

Game 13: roy_mckrank (Mono-Blue Control)

My first couple of Giants get hit by Remove Soul, and roy_mckrank drops quadruple (yes, all four) Mulldrifters. I kill the first couple with Incinerates, and he continues to pour out creatures like Sage Aven and Phantom Warrior. I sneak through an Austere Command at 8 life, and stabilize the board. My next couple of Giants meet with Broken Ambitions, but I finally land Borderland Behemoth and Brion Stoutarm. This duo (an 8/8 trampler and a way to throw him) finally turn the tide of the game, and I win a couple of turns later.

Record: 8-5

Game 14: ryun002 (Rogues)

I get stuck at two land (how is that even possible with this deck?), and ryun002 drops Looter il-Kor, Oona’s Prowler, Earwig Squad, and Latchkey Faerie on successive turns. I die to a Morsel Theft without ever having made this much of a game for ryun002.

Record: 8-6

Game 15: Nolight (Kithkin)

Nolight leads with double Goldmeadow Harrier, and Cenn’s Tactician. I drop Mind Stone and Coalition Relic, and take out his entire board with Austere Command at 8 life. He then drops Preeminent Captain, which I put in the Oblivion Ring. He puts my Oblivion Ring in his Oblivion Ring, and I put his Oblivion Ring in my Oblivion Ring so I can put his Captain back in my original Oblivion Ring. He plays a fourth ring, basically leaving the board back with his Captain. I drop Hamletback Goliath, and follow it with Cloudgoat Ranger. He lets it through for one turn, and a Sunrise Sovereign (to make my Hamletback a 20/20 trampler) finishes the game for me the next turn.

Record: 9-6

Big Guys, Big Discounts was a blast to play, and dominated most creature-based decks I faced. Non-control decks are not equipped to deal with 18/18 tramplers, and multiple times that’s how I ended the game: with a humungous force of Giants that could turn the game from 20 to 0 in just one to two combat phases. The deck is a little weak against weenie decks, though the spot removal helps; I might add in a couple of Pyroclasms if I were going to focus on hosing those decks in particular. Overall though, this was a good deck, and it smashed face... and isn’t that what you want from a Giant deck?

Before we wrap up, just two quick polls based on Mark Rosewater’s three player psychographics and two appreciation profiles.

Check all that apply.

 What are you?  
Timmy
Johnny
Spike
Melvin
Vorthos
None of the above


 What is Ben?  
Timmy
Johnny
Spike
Melvin
Vorthos
None of the above

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