This is the second installment of my FNM Hero journey. If you did not read my last article, it spells out all of the guidelines. One thing I didn't bring up is the lag time between when I write articles and when they are published. I promise that all of the prices I use in articles are accurate as of the time I write them. To be honest, I didn't even think about it until a few card prices were different in between the writing of my first FNM Hero article and this article.
When we last left off, I had started to make a plan for what to do with my $100 budget. I planned on saving at least $20 for tournaments, and another $3 was bookmarked for a SCG deckbox. This left me with $77 to build an actual deck. In my last article, I went over the various Event Decks that I could start my journey with. Given that they are designed to help players make the jump into tournament Magic (generally at the FNM level), Event Decks seemed like a good starting point.
I budgeted out a deck based on buying two copies of the Simic Event Deck and then added a few cards to arrive at the following list.
- 4 Acidic Slime
- 4 Arbor Elf
- 4 Avacyn's Pilgrim
- 4 Borderland Ranger
- 4 Deadeye Navigator
- 2 Dungeon Geists
- 2 Gruul Ragebeast
- 2 Mist Raven
- 2 Sphinx of Uthuun
- 2 Thragtusk
- 2 Ruric Thar, the Unbowed
- 4 Farseek
Two copies of the Simic Event deck would set me back $50.00, and I would buy the following cards that are missing from the Event Deck.
A quick note: I had never really used the Deck Builder on StarCityGames.com (just to the right of the search box). This tool is awesome and saved me a ton of time. Being able to pull up prices for decklists is tremendously useful!
These singles will set me back $27, putting me pretty much exactly on my budget. I think this deck would be reasonably competitive. However, I started building other decks and quickly arrived at the conclusion that…
I will not be using Event Decks for FNM Hero.
Let's face it. These decks are budget versions of more powerful decks. That simply will not do. Instead, what I want to build is a deck that actively desires the cards that just happen to be cheaper. In other words, I'm not going to be playing Centaur Healers unless I also have Thragtusks. I'm not going to play Cloudshift unless I also have Restoration Angel. The above deck should absolutely be playing Sphinx's Revelation, but there's no way I can afford it. Besides, I want to build my own deck.
With that in mind, I looked through the prices of various Standard cards to see what I have to work with. One thing I noticed is that the nuts and bolts cards of Standard—the mana acceleration and removal—is usually inexpensive. Farseek is one of the best cards in Standard, yet it can be bought for the low, low price of $.99!
The more difficult part was finding high-impact cards that are inexpensive. I came up with the following list of inexpensive Standard staples. I won't claim that this list is exhaustive, but it helped me build the fundamentals of potential decks.
Cards I Could Build My Deck Around
Here are some cheapish decks I considered but ultimately ended up not choosing to develop very far.
This deck is incredibly cheap, clocking in at around $36, albeit without a sideboard. That being said, the mana looks atrocious. I could probably improve the mana quite a bit with some "buddy" lands, but I remember playing this deck when Dark Ascension was first released. I didn't like the mana then, and I'm really concerned about unstable mana. I know that I can't afford to give away games stumbling on mana. It's going to be difficult enough as is.
The next deck is something I could probably do fairly well with. I think this deck is a little underrated as far as actual Standard decks go, and I could do this on a budget.
- 4 Ash Zealot
- 4 Burning-Tree Emissary
- 4 Firefist Striker
- 4 Foundry Street Denizen
- 4 Legion Loyalist
- 4 Lightning Mauler
- 4 Rakdos Cackler
- 3 Rubblebelt Maaka
- 4 Stromkirk Noble
- 18 Mountain
This deck comes out to $70.91, which is nice for the budget. A sideboard would be unlikely to add much beyond Skullcrack, at least not until I could afford Boros Reckoner. My issue with this deck is the same one I had with the Rakdos Event Deck:
Every new player starts with a Mono-Red deck. I want to show that this doesn't have to be the case. Honestly, I would've been perfectly content building this deck, and truth be told this is probably the strongest deck you can build for less than $100. Being monocolored has some huge advantages, after all.
However, the last thing I want to do with this is to play someone else's deck. Part of the reason I'm so excited to do this is so that I can recapture the feeling I had when I played Magic: The Gathering before the Internet. You don't have access to things that your friends have. You have to build your own decks. This last part is what really swayed me away from the Mono-Red deck. At some point, I may try the Mono-Red deck, but today is not that day.
There is a deck I've been itching to play for quite some time. I built it for a few FNMs when Return to Ravnica was new, and I loved it. Without further ado, I present my FNM Hero deck!
Delver of Secrets is exactly the type of card I want to play. It is an incredibly powerful card that was capable of dominating previous Standard formats and is seeing play next to Tarmogoyf and Force of Will in Legacy. Obviously, Standard is missing cards like Ponder to make Delver of Secrets reliable, but I'm happy to ride the variance wave. If lucky Delvers is how I have to get my power, I'm happy with that. Amusingly enough, Delver of Secrets may cost only $.75, but it has a hidden cost when you're playing without sleeves.
Checklist cards! That's right! Another $.40 down the drain.
After that, I want a few creatures in the deck, but I want them to have similar properties to Delver of Secrets. Mainly, they are very good creatures if they don't die. I want to stretch my opponent's removal thin by presenting creature after creature that needs to be killed.
Goblin Electromancer, Guttersnipe, and Talrand, Sky Summoner all fit the bill. They are much better when you have a ton of spells to play and pretty much demand an answer immediately. Talrand, Sky Summoner is a personal favorite of mine, so I'm happy to play it again. Interestingly enough, foil ones are cheaper than non-foil ones. Thanks M13 Intro Packs!
As for the spells I want to play, I have quite a few options. In fact, almost any card I would want to play is relatively inexpensive. With the spells, I want cards that can consistently trigger all of my cards throughout the game. Think Twice, Desperate Ravings, and Thought Scour all help churn through the deck and ensure that I have spells to play. I've even added a couple of Thoughtflares to really make sure that I don't run out of gas. The rest of my cards are either threats that can be easily removed or one-for-one removal spells. I'm going to be playing against some value cards ala Thragtusk, and I'll often need to spend multiple cards to deal with one of theirs. It seems weird to have Thoughtflare and Delver of Secrets in the same deck, but my cheap threats are still potent later.
As for the removal spells, I decided that I wanted a blowout card. That blowout card is Mizzium Mortars. I'd probably be willing to play Bonfire of the Damned if not for the cost, but Mizzium Mortars is often just as devastating. I didn't have Mizzium Mortars in my first build of this deck, and I knew that I would want it if I were to revisit it.
The rest of the removal spells were selected to play well with Goblin Electromancer. Searing Spear gives some reach if we need it, Turn // Burn is super flexible, and Syncopate gets stronger the cheaper you can make it. I strongly considered Essence Scatter for this slot, and it's entirely possible that I should have the Remove Soul wannabe.
Finally, I had enough money in the budget for four copies of Steam Vents. This is huge for me and makes me far more comfortable playing a deck like this. Sulfur Falls are on the short list of cards that I want to get in the future. As for Izzet Guildgate, I want to start out with two and see how much they disrupt things. Cards like Delver of Secrets and Thought Scour (and Pillar of Flame out of the board) don't really like how slow the Gates are, but I have to fix mana somehow. If my mana works better than I think it will, I'll cut the Gates. If I find myself missing a color too often, I'll add more.
As for the sideboard, I wanted to take cards that other decks have played in the sideboard and see how they would work in this deck. To be honest, this sideboard is fairly shoddy. I don't have a coherent plan—yet. I want to get some tournaments under me before I really play around with the deck. I have the obvious archetypes covered at minimum. Pillar of Flame and Electrickery help against small creature decks, while Negate and Dissipate are excellent against control decks. Skullcrack is for Thragtusk decks—a tool I am excited to use.
Looking over my options, I am relatively impressed with how good a Standard deck can be for under $100 (or $77). Each article, I plan on attaching a spreadsheet with the changes I've made both to my FNM inventory and my remaining budget. It's pretty simple this week; I've just purchased a deck. If you are interested in keeping up with it, you can find it here.
If my only goal was to succeed, I would've probably picked the Mono-Red deck. Alternatively, either the Selesyna or Simic Event Deck would've been nice to build a good foundation. However, I wanted to build my own deck, so that's what I did. Based on the comments from last time, you guys had lots of great ideas as well! I look forward to evolving this deck along with you.
Join me next time when I play the deck in some tournaments!
Thanks for reading,