Hello, and welcome back to another edition of Ultra Budget Brews, the monthly column that firmly believes that August is the worst month of the year. Seriously, think about it. There are no holidays, you’re right in the middle of summer (objectively the worst season of the year), school starts back up, my baseball team of choice has long ceased to be relevant (RIP Kansas City Royals), people tend to play less Magic, and everything is on fire (both literally and figuratively).
Month preferences aside, this is also the column that builds entire EDH decks in which no card costs more than $1, which is what you’re likely actually here for. Last week, I gave you all a few options. The voting went as follows:
Intet, the Dreamer – 10%
Daghtar, the Adamant – 29%
Samut, Voice of Dissent – 19%
Drainu, Lich Lord – 9%
Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper – 33%
If I’m being completely honest (and I strive to be), I am beyond thankful that Daghatar did not win. As a rule, I’m not a fan of Abzan colors. Longtime readers will know that anytime green and white get together, I’m running for the hills, hunkering down in anticipation of the value apocalypse that Eternal Witness and Saffi Eriksdotter are spearheading. Besides my generic distaste for that color pairing, Daghatar really only wants to be a +1/+1 counters deck, and that crap is expensive.
I was a bit sad about the lack of love for Dralnu. That card is sweet, and would lead to some pretty open-ended builds. C’est la vie. Instead of focusing on what could have been, let’s focus on what is.
Noyan Dar clearly wants a deck full of instants and sorceries. His ability practically begs you to make a deck with no creatures and a fistfull of decent blue and white instants or sorceries and just beat people to death with lands. There’s certainly more to it all than that, but before we get to the specifics, we’re going to need a decklist to work with.
Total cost at Card Kingdom: $32.64
I should note here that a comment last time from Draco Cranium had me brewing in a completely different direction. He accidentally (I’m assuming) voted for Noyan Car. I immediately envisioned creating a Vehicles deck simply because the idea of lands piloting a bunch of vehicles amused me to no end. Sadly, this ended up as a bit of a dead end. I mean, you certainly could go that direction, I’m just not entirely sure how good it would be. So there you go, a strange, outside-of-the-box area to brew around.
The deck is noticeably heavy on instants and sorceries, and since Noyan Dar encourages us to play a bunch of them, this shouldn’t come as a great surprise. We’re playing 41 in total. Really, I was surprised that we weren’t playing closer to 50, not because that would necessarily be better, but because I like to find a theme and really highlight it (or run it into the ground).
The average Noyan Dar deck runs roughly a billion counterspells and a couple of ways to interact with your lands. I wanted to avoid that for a few reasons. To be able to run that many counterspells, we would have to play some pretty loose (read: nigh unplayable) cards. All told, the deck has 13 counterspells, which means it has basically every playable counterspell that is under $1. Sure, I could have added Cancel and Convolute, but I didn’t want to be highlighted in one of Dana Roach’s articles (https://articles.edhrec.com/in-the-margins-cancel/ Give it a read. It’s pretty great). Threat of public humiliation notwithstanding, those cards are… less than ideal. I’d much rather run cards that do something different, and more efficiently. In related news, have you ever played against a deck that seemingly does nothing except counter everything that you attempt to do?
Besides the fact the running only counterspells is miserable to play against, there are a surprising number of creatures and enchantments that work well with what the deck is trying to do, which is to to animate lands and get into the red zone. There are two different paths that we can go down when doing this: tall and wide.
Going tall means we are loading up all of our counters on a single creature. We’re all in on that one creature getting us there. Going wide means we’re spreading the love around a bit, putting fewer counters on more creatures. There are pros and cons to both.
Like many decisions, the correct one will vary game to game, but I’d wager it probably is going to be 90-10 in favor of going tall. This has more to do with the ubiquity of boardwipes in most playgroups than anything else. Not only do you lose your creatures, you lose your lands that are creatures. Losing one isn’t too bad. Losing two or more? Giving that kind of value to your opponents is a perfect recipe to lose a lot of games of EDH.
Speaking of boardwipes, we are running a few ourselves. The difference is that all of ours have a very specific word in them: ‘Nonland’. Planar Cleansing, Displacement Wave, Urza’s Ruinous Blast, Planar Outburst, and every other boardwipe that we run doesn’t touch our lands. This can leave us with a huge advantage, a bit like a budget, build-your-own Cyclonic Rift.
Some of my favorite cards in the deck are the Genjus. Genjus are a little-known cycle from the Kamigawa block. You enchant your lands and thereafter can pay mana to turn them into a creature. Genju of the Falls naturally gives that land evasion while Genju of the Fields can gain you that little bit of life to help you stay in the game. Putting counters on to lands that have been enchanted with Genjus allows them to become even better. The 3/2 flyer quickly become a 6/5 or 9/8 with flyer that ends games rather quickly. As a bonus, if you ever lose the land it’s attached to, you get the enchantment back.
The one of the other themes I touch on in this deck is Awaken, one of the more interesting mechanics from the little-loved Battle for Zendikar block. Awaken is essentially a Kicker that has been added to a number of cards that allows you to turn your lands into creatures. You can either cast the card for its normal cost, or you can pay a bit of extra mana and get some additional value out of it. This makes the cards (sort of) modal, increasing the amount of control and flexibility you have in any given game. I’ve always had a soft spot for the mechanic, and this seems like the perfect place to take it out for a spin.
Remember earlier when I mentioned that getting stonewalled by a bunch of small deathtouchers is brutal? Fear not! A hero has emerged from out of a waterfall to guide us down secret streams that lead to our opponents’ faces! Thanks for leading the way buddy. You’re the real MVP.
It has been said that blue cannot ramp.
Ok, Ygritte is half right. It’s not the most efficient ramp I’ve ever seen, but we’ll take what we can get. For added value, play this alongside the next card on our list.
Remember all of those basics that you turned into creatures that then got blown up? Me too. It was depressing to watch. What if I told you you could get them all back for two mana? Every deck needs a panic button they can hit when things get all SNAFU’d, and this is a great example of just that.
Who thought white borders were a good idea? The only thing worse than white-bordered cards are white white-bordered cards. Ignoring the art, this card is the cat’s pajamas in this deck. The bee’s knees. The gnat’s elbows. Getting back your lands that will inevitably be destroyed, and doing so for free, is lots of value. Play this card.
This isn’t necessarily a particularly good card in this deck, outside of being an instant, but I didn’t know that it was less than $1 and it is one of my favorite cards in Magic simply because you get to dream crush people so incredibly hard. If your opponent has nothing but a single plains untapped, how often are you going to cast your Torment of Hailfire for 22 instead of 23? You aren’t, because you’re a black mage and you’re drunk on the powers of darkness. Logic doesn’t play in to it. This card leads to hilarious stories and that’s worth a slot.
As always, these are cards that would be in the deck if they were cheaper. If you have access to them, are looking to up the power level of your deck, or are looking to do away with the strict budget limitations this article series uses, these would be the first places I would look.
Step 1: Cast a bevy of instants and sorceries
Step 2: Get artifact creatures
Step 3: Profit
The last part of this card almost never matters in this deck, but if it ever does, you’ll likely be winning that game.
This card was recommended to me in the comments last time by Matthew (no last name given). Make your basic islands and plains into creatures and when they die, search your library for a basic island or plains and put it into your hand. It’s a small amount of value, but it adds up over time. It’s innocuous enough to not draw much attention, which means it should hang around awhile.
This is pretty expensive mana-wise, but its a fantastic catch-all answer. Doesn’t matter what’s got you down, it’ll take care of it. Unless it’s a land. Remember how we don’t want to get rid of those anyway? Perfect.
This card might seem like a strange inclusion at first glance. We aren’t messing around with tokens much in this deck (Crush of Tentacles barely counts), so it grows all of our creatures and gives them vigilance. This is very important in our deck, since it allows us to both attack our opponents with our lands and save them for casting spells. Even better if you plan on going wide.
This works the same as the Genjus, but it doesn’t take up a slot in our deck. That 2/1 can get out of hand quickly, and naturally having evasion is a huge plus. This card will put in a ton of work for you and would probably be the first card I’d add in.
What do you think of the deck? Does the idea of defeating your opponents with a bunch of lands get you going, or do you wish I had gone another way with this deck? Let me know below! Also, for next time, I am going to take a look at the precons. Let me know which of them you’d like to see get the Ultra Budget treatment. Until next time!