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By: JXClaytor, Joshua Claytor
Dec 08 2016 1:00pm
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Last month over at MTGGoldfish, Saffron Olive wrote a piece comparing the price of the current Standard with that of past Standard formats.  This coupled well with a piece from last year that showed how expensive Standard had gotten.  For the sake of brevity, Saffron found that compared to other Standard formats during this point in their life cycles, top eight decks now are thirty percent cheaper than they were when compared to Return to Ravnica Standard. 

Of course three hundred dollar decks are still a bit of a luxury item, but when compared to a six hundred dollar Standard decks, especially during the holiday season, it's a bit of a gift in itself.  Considering that we're looking at MTGO and digital prices, we're already in for deals, where a deck like Aetherworks Marvel is twenty dollars cheaper online, Blue White Flash is almost 90 dollars cheaper, and Black Green Delirium is almost 70 dollars cheaper, we kinda have it better than our paper playing counterparts if we are digital only.  Of course we don't have Grand Prix, or Standard Showdowns, but we can make up for that with Power Nine Challenges and format and set championships! 

When looking at Standard, some players enjoy a budget option, and I think that's fine.  It's not normally my cup of tea, but as the Standard season has evolved, so too have decks.  There are legitimate budget options that are doing well in events, and I wanted to take a bit of time to show those decks off.  It's personally been a while since I have been able to play Magic, because with the holidays, I wanted to make sure I could give the best Christmas to my son.  Magic has to take a backseat sometimes, but with these competitive options, all under 110 dollars (I'm not sure what defines a budget deck, but I am less likely to spend 300 on cardboard than I am 100), a budget minded Standard player has some real options to win treasure chests online! 

I think there are three pillars in Standard right now.  We have Smuggler's Copter decks, which are mainly aggro, but have started to see play in Tempo Decks like Panharmonicon decks.  After that we have Energy.  While not a card itself, the mechanic lends itself to Aggro and Midrange decks.  Finally I believe the third pillar to be Torrential Gearhulk.  This will give us Midrange and Control options. 

These are not firmly in place.  One could argue that the Pillars are Mythic based, being Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Aetherworks Marvel, and Liliana, the Last Hope.  However since we are looking at these decks with a budget in mind, I think my pillars are pretty good. 

Copter Decks

We're going to start off the Copter decks with a look at BW Humans.  With time, you could grow the Humans deck in a lot of directions, you could go RW or GW with it, but the main attraction to me for this deck is the lack of Gideon, which saves more than 100 tickets.  

BW Humans
James Black, 31st Place, GP Denver, 87.88 Tix - 75 Cards Total
Creature
4 Expedition Envoy
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
4 Stern Constable
4 Thalia's Lieutenant
2 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
4 Thraben Inspector
4 Toolcraft Exemplar
4 Town Gossipmonger
30 cards

Sorcery
4 Declaration in Stone
4 cards
Enchantment
4 Always Watching
4 cards

Vehicle
4 Smuggler's Copter
4 cards
Land
4 Concealed Courtyard
10 Plains
4 Shambling Vent
18 cards
 


Sideboard
2 Fragmentize
2 Kambal, Consul of Allocation
2 Make a Stand
4 Selfless Spirit
2 Stasis Snare
1 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
2 Transgress the Mind
15 cards


If you get tired of playing BW Humans, you can easily take a bulk of this deck and put it in the next deck, a spicy Mardu Vehicles from JohnnyHotSauce.  A strategy I found to add variety to the decks I play is look for those that play common cards, and build from those format staples.  For example, the bulk of these two decks are in Smuggler's Copters and the fast lands, so adding colors to what is essentially a Mono White deck (yes, yes, I know there are black spells in the previous deck, but they are more like a splash) is something that can easily be done. 

Let's look at the common cards between the two decks.  They really do not share much, but with Copter, Scrounger and Courtyard in both decks, you're not making another huge purchase.  As a note, I'm not really counting Basic Lands in the shared pile of cards, as it is assumed that everyone just has free access to basics. 

4 Concealed Courtyard
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
4 Smuggler's Copter
4 Toolcraft Exemplar
3 Thraben Inspector
1 Fragmentize

There may be only twenty shared out of the 150, but after you build Mardu Vehicles, you're well on your way to BR Madness.


After the initial 84.96 from the WB Humans deck, buying what you need for the Mardu Deck adds another 32.86 to the cart.  So for 117.82 you have two decks.  Not bad at all, and you'll be hard pressed to buy two competitive decks for that prize outside of the Pauper format. 

We've built two decks, mainly from the Smuggler's Copter core, but you're getting tired of casting White creature to go along with them.  To branch out you could go two ways, you could stick with White, and move towards the Panharmonicon decks, or you could remove white, and move towards the BR Zombies deck.  With a stop off at BR Madness land, I figured it would make more sense to move towards Black Red.  That way you could finish Madness, and with a small additional investment you could finish off Zombies as well. 

BR Madness
Aaron Barich, SCG Open Atlanta, 14th, 62.91 Tix - 75 Cards Total
Creature
4 Bomat Courier
4 Insolent Neonate
4 Inventor's Apprentice
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
16 cards

Instant
4 Fiery Temper
4 Unlicensed Disintegration
8 cards
Sorcery
4 Alms of the Vein
2 Incendiary Flow
6 cards

Artifact
4 Key to the City
4 cards
Vehicle
4 Smuggler's Copter
4 cards

Land
4 Foreboding Ruins
11 Mountain
4 Smoldering Marsh
3 Swamp
22 cards
 

Sideboard
4 Galvanic Bombardment
3 Lightning Axe
4 Transgress the Mind
4 Weaver of Lightning
15 cards


This adds another 49.12 to the cost of decks. 

Here are the common cards between Mardu and Madness

4 Unlicensed Disintegration
4 Smuggler's Copter
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
2 Key to the City
4 Inventor's Apprentice
2 Incendiary Flow
4 Galvanic Bombardment

So far between the three decks you have spent 166.94 which split over a period of three weeks is 55.65.  Not a terrible thing for a new deck a week.  We're not quite done, because we're going to add a slightly more expensive deck to the end of this process. 

Now from here, you can go one of two ways with your Zombie deck, and it's a huge decision to make, because it can open the door to a new deck, with a new color, or you can rest comfortably here.  Which Planeswalker do you want to play with?  Liliana or Chandra?  If you pick up Liliana, you can start to move towards GB Delirium.  If you go with Chandra, you can take your Spirebluff Canals and go towards a Dynavolt Tower deck. 

I go for Chandra personally.  I'm not a fan of Delirium, though it's a powerful deck, I want to take my budget in as many different deck directions as possible.  So this is the BR Zombies deck I would start building after finishing up Madness.  Going in the Chandra direction may make Aetherworks Marvel decks a bit more expensive. 

BR Zombies
JohnnyHotSauce, 5-0 League, 117.6 Tix - 75 Cards Total
Creature
2 Bomat Courier
4 Cryptbreaker
4 Haunted Dead
4 Prized Amalgam
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
4 Voldaren Pariah
22 cards

Instant
4 Fiery Temper
3 Lightning Axe
4 Unlicensed Disintegration
11 cards
Vehicle
4 Smuggler's Copter
4 cards
Land
4 Foreboding Ruins
5 Mountain
4 Smoldering Marsh
10 Swamp
23 cards


Sideboard
3 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
1 Essence Extraction
2 Heir of Falkenrath
2 Key to the City
1 Lightning Axe
4 Lost Legacy
2 Pia Nalaar
15 cards


Here are the common cards of Madness and Zombies

2 Bomat Courier
4 Fiery Temper
4 Foreboding Ruins
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
4 Smoldering Marsh
4 Smuggler's Copter
4 Unlicensed Disintegration

Sharing non basics, Copter, Courier, and Scrounger help a ton, so the main bit of what you need to buy will come from Chandra.  She may be 47 for three, but having her in your collection does open things up for other deck directions. 

Purchasing this deck adds another 58.39 to the total.  That puts the cost of four Standard decks, which have done a lot of winning, to 225.33. 

If you're buying a new deck a week, that puts the cost to 56.33 per week.  That's not terrible, but may be a bit much.  Let's look at the price per week (acknowledging that prices will change by then) if you set you goals to the release of Aether Revolt online.  We have seven weeks until that comes into play, and at a cost of 32.19 per week, you could have four decks, pretty much the mana base one would need for Mardu decks and a lot of play options between now and then! 

Let's say Smuggler's Copter is not where you want to go aggro wise.  With the deck options we looked at for Copter, we were pretty much all in on aggro, and that is appealing for some, but maybe you want to switch up to a midrange deck every so often?  The next pillar of Standard, Energy, can do just that, going from hyper aggro to aggro to midrange very easily. 

Energy Decks

We can start off with our fastest option, the Electrostatic Pummeler version of Energy.  This will be the first deck we buy, and look to grow to other decks. 


For fifty three tickets you're getting a deck that goes to the face, and goes to it fast!  You can win with the best draws on turn four with this deck.  It's very consistent in that manner,


These two decks do share twenty two cards, even if the Temur version actually has a cheaper buy-in! 

4 Aether Hub
4 Attune with Aether
1 Botanical Sanctum
4 Bristling Hydra
3 Harnessed Lightning
2 Longtusk Cub
4 Servant of the Conduit

The bulk of the costs for this deck would come from Tireless Tracker, Skysovereign, and Jace.  The rest of this deck would add 33.52 to your digital cart.  We're now looking at two decks for less than 100! 

The final Energy deck that I am going to show off will also be the starting point of our third pillar of Standard, the Torrential Gearhulk.  Remember that when I move on to Gearhulk decks! 


Here are the shared cards from the two decks

4 Aether Hub
4 Attune with Aether
2 Botanical Sanctum
3 Evolving Wilds
4 Harnessed Lightning
1 Lumbering Falls
4 Tireless Tracker
1 Appetite for the Unnatural
2 Ceremonious Rejection
1 Natural State

The bulk here would in Torrential Gearhulk, it's an expensive card, but it's worth just about every ticket!  Right now it's 44.60 for a playset of the monsters, but overall we would be adding 70.36 to the cart.  

The total for all three decks 157.56.  For three decks that is one heck of a deal!  Over three weeks you would be spending 52.52 for each deck, and over seven, 22.51.  This would get you Gearhulks, and the Temur manabase in time for Aether Revolt, and would put you in a great position to take advantage of any new Energy cards in Aether Revolt! 

Gearhulk Decks

I guess we are kinda cheating here, because we did mix pillars with the last deck.  However starting from the Temur Energy Control deck, we can easily build UR Spells.  Let's take a look at a list here. 

UR Spells
azatoyellow, 5-0 League, 101.74 TIX - 75 Cards Total
Creature
3 Torrential Gearhulk
3 cards

Instant
4 Anticipate
1 Confirm Suspicions
1 Flame Lash
4 Galvanic Bombardment
4 Glimmer of Genius
4 Harnessed Lightning
3 Negate
4 Revolutionary Rebuff
1 Summary Dismissal
4 Void Shatter
30 cards
Artifact
1 Dynavolt Tower
1 cards
Land
4 Aether Hub
1 Highland Lake
10 Island
3 Mountain
4 Spirebluff Canal
4 Wandering Fumarole
26 cards


Sideboard
2 Aether Meltdown
2 Confiscation Coup
1 Dispel
2 Dragonmaster Outcast
1 Negate
1 Sphinx of the Final Word
2 Summary Dismissal
4 Weaver of Lightning
15 cards


They do share a large amount of cards as well. 

4 Aether Hub
3 Anticipate
4 Galvanic Bombardment
4 Glimmer of Genius
4 Harnessed Lightning
3 Negate
2 Spirebluff Canal
3 Void Shatter
1 Dispel
1 Summary Dismissal
3 Torrential Gearhulk

The bulk of the money you'd need to spend here would come from Wandering Fumarole, which is about 30 for a playset.  Also Flame Lash will be a bit harder to get ahold of, because they are not in Kaladesh booster packs. 

Our starting price came from the decision to start with the Temur Energy Control deck.  We'll be adding 84.37 to our cart to finish up the UR Spells deck. 

The last deck we will look at does not share a ton between the other two Gearhulk decks, but it is cheap, did well at Grand Prix Denver, and puts you in position to work on a Grixis should the need arise in Aether Revolt. 

UB Summonings
Bobby Fortanely, 11th place, GP Denver, 55.29. - 75 Cards Total
Creature
3 Torrential Gearhulk
3 cards

Instant
4 Anticipate
1 Confirm Suspicions
2 Essence Extraction
4 Glimmer of Genius
4 Grasp of Darkness
3 Murder
1 Negate
4 Spell Shrivel
23 cards
Sorcery
3 Ruinous Path
2 Transgress the Mind
5 cards

Enchantment
3 Metallurgic Summonings
3 cards
Land
2 Aether Hub
1 Blighted Fen
4 Choked Estuary
6 Island
4 Sunken Hollow
9 Swamp
26 cards
 


Sideboard
3 Contraband Kingpin
3 Dynavolt Tower
1 Essence Extraction
3 Flaying Tendrils
2 Negate
1 Ruinous Path
1 Summary Dismissal
1 Transgress the Mind
15 cards

Nineteen cards is not much of an overlap, but not having to buy Gearhulks for the deck makes it a bit more palatable.

2 Aether Hub
4 Anticipate
1 Confirm Suspicions
4 Glimmer of Genius
3 Negate
1 Summary Dismissal
3 Torrential Gearhulk
1 Dynavolt Tower

Now with a new mana base, we would expect to add a ton of money to the cart, but we're not, we are adding 13.41 to the cart, which is an outstanding deal to play a deck that finished 11th at a Grand Prix.  With this deck built, we have a good start on a Grixis mana base, and can use that and the Gearhulks to probably work well with whatever new version of Tezzeret or Nicol Bolas comes with the set! 

The total for all three decks is 134.78, which for three solid decks is almost unheard of.  Over three weeks that comes to 44.93 per week and 19.25 over a seven week period, again not accounting for price changes between now and then. 

Let's run a few more numbers. 

I presented nine decks today, the total cost for them would be 375.67. 

The price per deck is 41.74.  If you wanted to purchase these decks in time for Aether Revolt you could spend 53.67 per week, and have a very solid collection for Aether Revolt! 

I hope that you all enjoyed this look at some cheaper competitive Standard decks.  I'd recommend the Temur Energy Control to start off with, as it looks like a great amount of fun, and you can grow your collection in two decks in the control direction, and two decks in the faster aggressive direction.  Five decks is not the worst deal! 

Joshua

7 Comments

Great article Josh! I too by Plainswalker83 at Thu, 12/08/2016 - 14:02
Plainswalker83's picture
5

Great article Josh! I too also think Standard is affordable and love the cards that can be shared.

yeah Standard is very by JXClaytor at Thu, 12/08/2016 - 20:02
JXClaytor's picture

yeah Standard is very affordable, especially now since you can buyin in with a really cheap competitive deck, and build up over the weeks. The cheaper mana bases and Mythics that are played in only certain archetypes works out well for that I think.

Good work by Fred1160 at Thu, 12/08/2016 - 14:51
Fred1160's picture

I really enjoyed this article. I think you did a great job of breaking down how a player can invest in Standard, have a variety of competitive decks, and not break the bank.

Chandra, Flamecaller at 3.6 by MarcosPMA at Thu, 12/08/2016 - 14:53
MarcosPMA's picture

Chandra, Flamecaller at 3.6 and Nissa, Vital Force at 2 are very cheap buyins for good planeswalkers. I'm still surprised that they're that cheap on MTGO.

I think it's because in the by JXClaytor at Thu, 12/08/2016 - 20:01
JXClaytor's picture

I think it's because in the case of Nissa, what you're doing on turn five in green decks is tapping a marvel and putting Emrakul into play ideally. There is just no room for it.

For Chandra, I'm not sure why that version sees play, other then the deck that she was in just fell out of favor, which was a UR eldrazi control deck, and with the rise of UR spells, Dynavolt Tower is a "walker" that can't be ruinous pathed.

great article by stsung at Thu, 12/08/2016 - 15:25
stsung's picture
5

This is exactly the kind of article I expected. It looks like tons of fun for that price that almost equals to yesterday's price tag of my BG Delirium deck (340tix) which honestly is not really a fun deck (reminds me of Jund/Junk in modern but in the deck's defense I actually think it is more fun than the Modern decks). I really wanted to see an energy deck with Whirler Virtuoso though (and dynavolt tower). I was very sad not to see blue control decks or more combo decks based in UR, but it seems that such decks are totally possible to build and play (just bought the cards so I can play anything in Jeskai/Grixis colors). Since I don't really play Standard nor limited since the introduction of Draft Leagues I did not really follow what cards were printed but this article sparked my interest in Standard because I see many nice cards and even ways how a deck can win. Honestly that's awesome and it is a pity I failed to see that because all I know is Delirium/Marvel/Flash metagame :-(

After my accident of entering a Friendly Standard League I can see that Standard can be tons of fun. There are many decks that work and are actually pretty enjoyable to play. Not only that, they can compete with BG Delirium, Marvel and UW Flash (the meta game might have shifted already, but that's pretty much all the decks I encounter at events except that Friendly League). It is a pity that the current Standard does not really look diverse. IRL many players stopped playing Standard because it seemed pretty boring with more or less just two dominant decks and Emrakul everywhere. I thought that the main reason was Emrakul but I'm not really sure anymore. I wonder how to show those people here that they can play something else and it does not need to be expensive.

(btw I played against Paradoxical Outcome deck and after controlling my opponent's turn in which I drew 11 cards and left him with 7 lands in hand g1, and in g2 I killed him with his own Reservoir, I have the urge to put it together as well^_^ - it just needs a plan B against control decks)

I did show the temur energy by JXClaytor at Thu, 12/08/2016 - 20:17
JXClaytor's picture

I did show the temur energy with Whirler Virtuoso, I think the green is needed because there are so many good green energy cards, the bulk of them I think, to where it would be much harder to do in a straight UR build.