Friday, October 14, 2016

Price of Progress: Bushwhacker Zoo

(The Price of Progress series is designed to help you buy a deck to start playing modern while keeping your eye on improvements as you get further into the format. When I make the decks, budget is the number one goal. You won’t ever have to buy a card over $5 that doesn’t make the final list of the improved deck. I want people to play and enjoy Modern as much as I do, and hopefully by working on these budget decks, more players will be able to come to the table.)

Welcome back, faithful readers. Today we are once again going to delve into the world of Budget Modern. Last time we talked about a $500 Jund list, but today’s offering is quite a bit cheaper. Today we are going to explore the world of making a bunch of dudes and turning them sideways. Bushwhacker Zoo has been a deck that has existed for a long time, but with the printing of Reckless Bushwhacker in Oath of the Gatewatch, the deck has gotten a lot more potent. The total price for the deck is under $200 and will allow you to get started playing right away. Once you are financially able, you will be able to add to the deck and convert it to Naya Burn. It is possible that you could play Small Zoo with this starting point as well, but it is pricey (Hello, Tarmogoyf). I am going to cover upgrading to Burn today.

The Deck

This is a two color deck that could have easily been a three color deck. Keeping the price under $200 necessitated that I cut white (taking Wild Nacatl with it). After some testing with this deck, I found that the two color mana base is very easy to deal with and will make a fairly consistent playing experience. The deck simply aims to go wide and overwhelm your opponents on turns 3 and 4 to try to close out the game quickly.

Card Choices

Reckless Bushwhacker
Goblin Bushwhacker
These two One Dollar All-Stars (trademark pending) are the engine that make this budget deck go. With the ability to go wide in a big hurry, these two can give you 10 or 12 extra power one board in a single turn. Often one of these guys is enough to close out a game on turn 3 or 4, but having eight in your deck is no small advantage. Don’t play either of these cards on curve, hold them out for critical mass and swing in with the whole Zoo.

Burning-Tree Emissary
If the Bushwhackers are the engine, Burning-Tree Emissary is the gas that makes it go. A 2/2 body that replaces the mana spent to cast it (or in some cases filters your mana), Burning-Tree can push you over the edge a turn early.  The red and green mana that is produced by BTE’s enter the battlefield effect can be used to cast another Burning-Tree, Blood Rush a Ghor-Clan Rampager, cast Atarka’s Command, or (best of all) cast Reckless Bushwhacker for it’s Surge cost. This will be one of your favorite cards to see in your opening hand.

Experiment One
Kird Ape
Foundry Street Denizen
These three cards are your beaters. Playing these guys on curve is the the way to establish a board presence and set yourself up for a big swing on turn 3 or 4. Each one has a little added benefit. Experiment One is an underestimated card. It can get to a 3/3 with relative ease, (Remember, turn one Experiment, turn two Dryad Militant THEN Kird Ape. That’s untapping with seven power on turn 3.) giving you an intimidating board going into the pivotal turns of the game. Kird Ape is a turn two 2/3, and while it lacks haste, that kind of body can put a hurting on someone if they don’t have an immediate answer. And Foundry Street Denizen is the gift that keeps on giving. He is a living Fireball, ready to deal out 5 or 6 damage in a single, explosive turn. These three guys, while being nothing special on their own, are a potent three-man tag team that will really put a hurting on slower decks.  

Dryad Militant
When I had to cut White out of the deck, I was very sad to see Wild Nacatl go, but then I remembered this Return to Ravnica-era beater. A 2/1 for one is a good deal in any situation, but a 2/1 that exiles instants and sorceries is fantastic. You are never going to be using your graveyard, so Dryad Militant can help against Tarmogoyf decks, Snapcaster decks, and Dredge. This is one of the first cards that you will cut when you start to upgrade, but while it lasts I think you will get a ton of mileage out of this $0.50 card.

Ghor-Clan Rampager
You will likely never find yourself in a situation where you have this 4/4 Beast on the battlefield. This card is in the deck to serve as a glorified combat trick. The +4/+4 and trample that is given to a 5/3 Experiment One can save him from a Bolt as well as help you get through for lethal. As a two of in the deck, you won’t see this creature as often as the others, but once you use the ability in combat, you will see just how powerful this Beast truly is.

Lightning Bolt
I don’t think I need to explain what Bolt is doing in this deck. You play Red, this is modern. Play four Lightning Bolts.

Atarka’s Command
Atarka’s Command has developed into quite an all-star during my testing of this deck. Usually, you are going to use the three damage and +1/+1 modes of this card, but all four modes can have a place in the game. Stopping life gain can put you over the edge, and playing an extra land can give you one more creature that your opponent didn’t account for when calculating blocks. This card is hovering right around the $5 mark with it’s recent rotation, but go ahead and pick it up. Whether you decide to build Burn or Zoo, you will likely use all four of these in either build.

Devastating Summons
I like to have some one ofs that make people stop and take notice. “You are playing that?” Turning your extra lands into dudes AND casting a spell to set up Surge? What more could you ask for? This topdeck will absolutely win you some games that you thought were unwinnable as you were flooding out.

Another way of getting in some extra damage, Rancor is a persistent threat that opponents have to catch in your hand to get rid of. Usually you will want to leave green open so you can replay this after combat again.

This deck isn’t to intense on the mana requirements. You only play two colors and VERY rarely will you be required to produce two of the same color (the only exceptions are RR to kick Goblin Bushwhacker and RR for Eidolon of the Great Revel and Molten Rain out of the sideboard). Generally speaking, this the area where you should look into improving first. Adding fetches can help you get even more consistent and can expedite your transition from RG to Naya.

Upgrading to Burn
The cheaper of the two options, Burn is still a very powerful tier one deck. As you try to get into Burn, you will notice the deck changing over to a more spell-centric deck from a creature-centric one. You will already have a fair number of pieces for Burn, but adding each subsequent piece will make the deck run more and more smoothly. I have laid the cards out in the order that I believe you should upgrade in, however, you may find that this order doesn’t work for you. Improve it as you see fit to help you conquer your local LGS.

Goblin Guide
I think that Goblin Guide is the first important piece to moving into Burn. This hasty 2/2 will allow you to get in 2-4 points of damage before your opponent has much of a chance to do anything (especially on the play). These guys are sitting around $35 dollars at the moment, so they are pricey (and always available for reprint) but by getting them first, you can stay in two colors while still improving the deck.

Bloodstained Mire
Wooded Foothills
These Khans of Tarkir fetches are still on the lower end of the price spectrum (between $13-$16 apiece). When you feel like you are ready to expand to three colors, these are the first pieces that you are going to want. Unfortunately for your wallet, they are both going to be a 4 of in the deck. It is vitally important to be able to fetch red in Burn so that is the focus. After you pick these up, you will immediately need to pick up...

Sacred Foundry
You probably will continue playing the Budget+Goblin Guide version of the deck while you upgrade the land base. The switch over from Bushwhacker Zoo is a pretty stark transition. So while you collect the lands and spells it is probably best to stay with the above version, subbing Guides for Dryad Militants. Once you pick up three Sacred Foundries, it will be time to change your focus over to the creature and spell bases of the deck.

Wild Nacatl
Naya opens up a world for this 3/3 cat to thrive. Having played Burn for a bit, I know that there are a lot of divided opinions on this card, but the dedicated Burn players that I know definitely advocate having this card in your Burn 75. It is still relatively cheap (around $2) and should be easy enough to acquire. After getting Nacatls, I don’t think that the order matters very much. You are going to need all of the cards, but you are going to implement them all at once, so pick them up at your leisure.

Monastery Swiftspear
Eidolon of the Great Revel
Grim Lavamancer
You probably already have two Eidolons from the sideboard of the original list, so picking up the other two will not be too expensive. Swiftspear was an uncommon from a recent set, so there are no shortage of them in the world. Grim Lavamancer has been sitting around $6 for about a year now. You probably only need one or two of these guys, depending on the list.

Lava Spike
Rift Bolt
Searing Blaze
These Red spells are vital to Burn’s game plan. Blazes are about $1 apiece, Rift Bolts are about $2.50, and Lava Spikes are going for about $3.50. You might be able to pick them up all at once, if your LGS is large enough. Aim to spend under $30 to pick up all twelve of these, if you can swing it.

Boros Charm
Lightning Helix
The final touches to the starting 60, these red and white spells should be picked up for around $30 for all eight. You will probably only play one or two Helix in the mainboard, but picking up all 4 will help you fill out the sideboard as well. Once you have them, you can make the switch over to playing Burn while you work on the sideboard.

Path to Exile
Deflecting Palm
Destructive Revelry
Here is your sideboard suite. Paths are growing in expense but are always a threat to be reprinted. Buy them when you are able, and don’t worry about the reprints. Reprint fears will paralyze you and keep you from playing the deck. Deflecting Palm, Destructive Revelry, and Skullcrack are available for under a dollar apiece having been in standard within the past three to four years.

I think the starting point of this deck is very good. Modern is a fast format, and this deck can race a lot of decks that don’t pack a ton of removal. Going wide is an underutilized strategy that can get you a long way (with a proper amount of practice). As I have said, Burn is not my favorite deck, but I know a ton of players that love it. Once you have upgraded, you will have access to a tournament staple. Burn is capable of taking down any event, from FNM to a PPTQ. Learn all the lines, watch replays of great players, read primers. A ton of players much smarter than me can teach you how to play the deck to maximize your success. Just get out there and keep grinding!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Hi all!

Sorry that I was unable to get an article out to you guys yesterday, not only has hurricane matthew put me behind on a lot of things, but I also have had a significant amount of unforeseen conflicts this week that made me unable to get an article out to you guys. However, I will be back next week with a new article, and you all can check back tomorrow for Alex's article. Have a wonderful day!


Monday, October 10, 2016

Honing the Blade - Mardu Tokens

I spent a lot of time looking over spicy brews that I’ve found, ones that have been sent to me, and one’s that I’ve spent time refining on my own for the second edition of Weapon of Choice. However, for my time this week, I’d like to share my thoughts on the evolution of my Mardu Tokens deck.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Buying Into Modern

Buying into Modern can be an overwhelming prospect. For many players, it happens after a few cycles of playing standard. A favorite card rotates out, or the price of keeping up with standard becomes too much and players look to make a foray into a non-rotating format where they can cast Siege Rhinos until the end of days. Players constantly ask, “How do I get into Modern?” But there is no tried and true method to getting into Modern. Some people will say collect staples low and then worry about a deck, others will tell you to buy the deck you want to play. Personally, I prefer the latter approach, but I don’t think there is a “one size fits all” approach, so we are going to talk about the pros and cons of each.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Tron is Dead


That’s about it: “Dang”.

I prayed I would never have to write an article like this, but it has happened, and I must do so. Tron, my beloved tron, is officially done for. The deck is not good. It is one of the worst in the format. It is barely tier 2. The deck has gone by the wayside, and has been pronounced dead. But, why? Why did it die? What happened? How did the deck go from one of the 3 best decks in the format to being unplayable garbage? Most people would simply say “Eye of Ugin”, but it’s more than that. Tron is a deck that always seemed to stay steadily in a good position. It was never truly bad, but never truly amazing. How did it get so far from that? That is what we will find out today.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Price of Progress: Budget Jund

Modern is expensive to begin with. There is no doubt whatsoever about that. It is expensive to play, and worse yet, it is even more expensive to compete. A lot of sites on the internet will teach you how to play Jund, and do a much better job than I ever could. But this isn’t a guide for playing Jund, this is a guide for building Jund. I am going to try to walk you through the process of starting with a small investment and watching it grow.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Make Island Great Again - Breaking Blue in Modern

As Modern players, I think we have been a nostalgic bunch. “I want Splinter Twin back.” “Birthing Pod was my favorite deck!” “Give us Moxen!”

Okay, maybe no one said that last one that didn’t need a prescription for quaaludes. The fact stands, however, that the last few years have seen cards (really fun cards) taken out of the format. I think the most controversial of the cards to get the guillotine treatment was Splinter Twin.

Splinter Twin, as a deck, did three things. 1) It rewarded decks that wanted to interact. 2) It punished decks that did not want to interact. 3) It dominated the Modern format for most of its lifetime. There were very few times, if any, that it wasn’t tier one (T1).

I could go on for a couple hours about balance and power creep and format warping, but I don’t think that that’s a constructive, nor intuitive, discussion to have. A much more proactive and productive discussion lies in what blue is, inherently. There is a complete disconnect between what blue was a year ago, and what Wizards would like for it to be in future. I think that somewhere in the divide between what we want and what we will go on to have is the answer to the question:

“Why is blue so bad right now?”

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Theory of Elves

Many of you may not know this, but Elves is one of my favorites, and if not my favorite, deck in modern. However, I have always been one of those people who enjoyed very out-there strategies over proven-to-be-good strategies (It’s a hard life for the tier 2 deck lover). I can’t exactly tell you why I have always been attracted to Elves, RG Tron, and Kiki-Jiki combo decks, I just kind of am. The satisfaction of winning with a less-than-adequate deck is certainly a selling point, along with the fact that many of these decks reward you for being familiar with them. Elves, unfortunately, has yet to quite cross over into the tier 1 category. It has put up results before, but never consistently got there. A good Elves player can certainly dominate a tournament, as we saw with Liam Lonergen who took his Elves deck all the way to first place in the recent New Jersey invitational. But, Elves has always had a big problem with the fact that it is easily disruptable along with being easy to hate out. However, today I would like to take a moment and show you why this deck has the potential to be great. I want to show you what the deck is, the different variations of it, and the things people are overlooking for it. I hope by the end of this article you see why I love this deck and why it has such huge potential.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Weapon of Choice: Mardu Tokens

The Modern format is in a place where decks of all shapes and sizes are coming out of the woodwork. Being able to fight Tarmogoyfs and Liliana of the Veils is just is just as important as being able to hang with Glistener Elf, or Goblin Guide, or Death’s Shadow. A meta game this diverse requires a deck that can control, race, and also be less-than-impossible to pilot. I would like to propose Mardu Tokens as a great answer to the question “What should I play?”

Friday, September 23, 2016

Unbans: The Speculator's Pitfall

With every new set there is a window where people get very excited about bans. It is in these little windows that all eyes turn to Modern, because Modern is where the shake ups happen. Standard doesn’t have a ton of bans (and when there are bans, they are much needed) and Legacy has too small of a player base to make waves in the greater MTG community.
In recent years, Modern has been met with a wave of bannings (some warranted, some not so much) that have really changed the face of the format. Starting with Deathrite Shaman in February of 2014, Birthing Pod in January 2015, and Splinter Twin in January 2016, Modern players have seen the decks that defined the format get tossed by the wayside. Generally, these bans are upsetting to a large number of people who have invested hard earned time and money into purchasing and piloting these decks. But in these same moments of anguish, there is often excitement when cards come off the banned list. Cards like Golgari Grave-Troll, Bitterblossom, Wild Nacatl and most recently Ancestral Visions have returned to a changed Modern landscape. And the impact of each of these cards can be hotly debated, however it isn’t the playability that I want to talk about today. It is the ever looming question that a lot of MTG finance dabblers ask themselves, Should I buy into banned cards and hope for a spike?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Quick Update

Hello again all!

I just wanted to let everyone know our schedule for the foreseeable future.

We will be posting monday, wednesday, and friday of each week so look back for us then! Parker will be posting mondays, myself will be posting wednesdays, and Alex will be posting fridays. Check back friday for Alex's first installment of his "Price of Progress" series and have a great day!


In Regards To The Modern Ban List

Hi everyone! Welcome to the very first article on the Modern Day Magic blog! I just want to say thank you for checking this out and I hope you all enjoy this article!

Modern is a weird format, a cool format, a great format, in all honesty the best format, but still a weird format. When i’m not stuck doing work, school, or listening to “Hamilton” (It’s really good guys), I’ll try to get down to the lgs to play some modern. It’s always been my favorite format, but it hasn’t always been the best format. It’s had a long, sometimes dark, history. We’ve been through the combo pro tour, eldrazi winter, The eggs GP, Bloom-titan week (More on that later), and many, many price spikes. Modern is a format that isn’t particularly perfect at every point in it’s history, but is, in the end, the most balanced and fun format when it’s in its prime (OBVIOUSLY THIS POINT IS SUPPOSED TO BE SUBJECTIVE BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE DON’T LIKE MODERN OK GUYS). The biggest problem with modern has been its fragileness, many oversights happen because the format isn’t tested (Treasure cruise, eldrazi, deathrite shaman,etc.). Even a single card being printed can literally ruin the format for months. While it is fragile, it has a lot of high points, this current meta is actually a very high point for modern, it’s diverse, not full of combo decks, it’s a turn 4 format, and even ridiculous decks like suicide zoo are winning things. However, there is a certain 33-card list that people haven’t really been talking about. Now, why the hell am I talking about the ban list if modern is in such a good place right now? Well, because modern still has plenty of it’s problems, and while we can’t fix all of them, we can at least talk about the ups and downs of each banned card in the format, let’s dive right in.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

What Is "Modern Day Magic"?

Modern Day Magic

Hi all! My name is Levi Pitts and this is my magic blog! Well, it’s not just my blog. We have a few people here in our Modern Day Magic crew. Now, this blog is about the game “Magic: The Gathering”. It’s a fun game i’ve been a part of for a while now and I’m happy I get a chance to write about it. But this blog isn’t just about any old articles of “Magic”, it’s specifically about the format that all of us here are most passionate about; Modern. Now, if you’ve never heard of modern before, I would suggest looking into it. The modern format is a non-rotating format that includes all cards printed from 8th edition until today, besides a few banned cards (we’ll get to that later). The modern format allows for many unseen and incredibly fun interactions, it’s relatively easy to get into (as long as you’re committed) and despite it not rotating, it’s constantly able to change because new sets can actually have a very big impact on what happens in modern. The modern format is really awesome and I hope you all can see that through our posts and the format in general. Now, let’s meet the team, shall we?

Parker Lewin

Parker is a well-versed modern player (mostly because he switches decks on a weekly basis) and knows plenty about the format to be our resident deck-builder. He’ll pretty consistently tell you he is terrible at playing, but don’t let that fool you, he can play like a champ when he needs to. Parker’s real skill, however, comes out in his innovative ideas for decks. He’ll try anything, even when he’s 90% sure it’s bad, it’s always worth at least one week of testing out. In his upcoming series “Weapon of Choice” he’ll take you through his thought process and his deck choices with a brand new deck each week. So look out for some out there decks that will get you thinking and will keep you hooked.

Alex West

Alex is another innovator, but not in the same way most people are. Alex is an innovator because of his financial innovation. Alex is our finance guy. He is extremely skilled with his speculating and his use of cheap decks to great success. In his “Price of Progress” series, he will present budget alternatives to tier 1 decks, show his ideas about speccing and why cards move in price, and will cover as much as he can about finance every week. Don’t forget to watch his articles closely as he explains what is on the up or down, you won’t regret it.

Levi Pitts

Hey, that’s me! I know what all of you were wondering, “These guys are cool and all, but what about that super cool and handsome guy who was talking at first?”. Well, I’m essentially going to be the general modern musings guy. I’ll tackle decks, tournaments, metas, and even the banlist once or twice. I’m here to cover everything from the pro tour to the local modern night at your LGS. I hope you all enyoy!

So now that you know what purpose this blog serves, I have to let you go. But we shall meet again! Very soon in fact! I will see all of you on official launch day; September 21st. Get pumped! Get ready! Get a glass of water you seem dehydrated! Get hyped! I’ll see you all right back here next week.