Keep It Casual: “The Big 3″

Hello, allow me to introduce myself. For those that did not read what they have just clicked on, I am known as ShardFenix as far as all things concerned with Magic go. You can just call me Matthew though. Now you may be thinking just why is this guy writing an article? Well, to be honest, I love to write about Magic and I really enjoy this site, but always thought there wasn’t enough Casual content. So what does this mean for you? Am I going to give you the next PTQ or PE winning deck? Probably not. Will I show off the fun possible with random decks that someone can have in casual? Hopefully.

Now a little bit about me. I started plating Magic in fourth grade when a friend spent the weekend with me and introduced me to the game. Luckily for me, I have an awesome mother who when she went out for groceries the next day found a comic book shop and bought me two starters of Fourth Edition and some boosters of Ice Age. I have been hooked pretty much since. I took a break in high school for unknown reasons and started back my freshman year of college with Onslaught. This was when I started playing in tournaments. I did fairly well on a FNM level, even though I always brought my own very odd rogue deck builds. Around Ravnica/Time Spiral Standard I started trying really hard to at least Top 8 a PTQ. After a highly disappointing summer of TSP Block PTQ’s where I would consistently go 5-3 or worse, I quit Magic. Sold all my cards and threw out the rest. Then like a good portion of people, I lost my job in the economic downturn. After sitting around all day I sucked it up and decided to give MTGO a try. I started with PDC thinking the low price entry would be fun, and it was. I slowly built up my collection from winnings at PDC events. Finally I started to explore other formats and fell in love again with casual Magic. Winning is fun, but it isn’t everything in my book. I also currently host a Classic Tribal PRE for players just looking to have a good time and maybe win a ticket or two. So what does all that have to do with all this. Well I wrote to Travis (Academy’s Content guy) and said I wanted to cover just Casual fun things and do it on a budget. He agreed and this is where we are now.

Well now that I have hit you with two long boring paragraphs of my journey through the world of Magic, here is what I have as my first article. As a first look at the various fun which can be had in Casual, I went with the Extended format card pool. Why Extended? I believe it offers the most choices in deck exploration without breaking the bank. To prove this, none of my decks will be over 15 tickets. Sure, there are more cards to choose from in Classic, but you are also looking at a far larger investment. Personally, I just avoid Standard, as I feel it can be slightly narrow sometimes. Now as far as my deck, well, I chose three. I figured I would hit a brief overview of the three main archetypes, give a little something for everyone. So today we will be looking at Aggro, Control, and Combo decks in that order, as well as a few matches with each one. So without further ado, let’s get started.

Deck 1: Aggro

To begin I figured I would go with the most straight forward of the three decks I have today. I guess you could just call it a Blightning Beat down deck. It is a typical Red Aggro deck with a small splash of Black in order to abuse Blightning. As I feel it’s easier to explain something with visual aids, here is a deck list:

(Total Cost: $9.80)

Blightning Beatdown Click the arrow to download the above deck in .txt format

(To load a .txt deck into Magic: Online’s Deck Editor, click “Load”, select “Local Text Deck”, find the location of the downloaded deck file and double-click the deck.)

As you can see it follows a rather basic 24/20/16 split. Now 24 lands may seem like a lot in this deck, and while playing they do seem to be more frequent than preferred. I just like my first drafts of decks to be better safe than sorry. The creature base is pretty good I think. I would though love to squeeze in Hellspark Elemental, probably over the Ashenmoor Gouger and then Goblin Guide of the Tattermunge Maniac. Other than that I really do enjoy this deck. I’m a halfway Aggro player, so the slash and burn tactic works pretty well for me. The all-stars in this deck though are probably Frenzied Goblin and Burst Lightning. The goblin is great when it comes to combat in forcing through extra points of damage or in orchestrating unfavorable blocking situations for the opponent. Burst Lightning is incredible. Early on I use it to clear out blockers and hit with my creatures. Late game, which is normally Turn 5 or 6, I can “kick it” to deal the final four damage. This is another reason I like being able to hit all my land drops. The other burn spells and creatures where chosen based on their damage to cost ratios. Just in case your curious, yes, I realize I have somehow completely neglected the 2-drop slot and got heavy on 3′s. That is another reason for the Hellspark Elemental replacement. Here are a few of my games to see how it all works out.

Game 1 vs. Batmort playing MBC

Opening Hand: 2 Mountains, Graven Cairn, 2 Blighting, Tattermunge Maniac, and Lightning Bolt

I get a fast start with a Turn 1 Tattermunge Maniac, followed by another on Turn 2. Turn 3 I have two Maniacs to his Phyrexian Arena and hit him with a Blightning putting him at 10 life. He responds with a Tendrils of Corruption to return himself to 14. I attack and Blightning again to put him to 9. He tries another Tendrils, but I Lightning Bolt my own guy to prevent the life gain. Hehe. I take him to 5 with a fresh Boggart Ram-Gang. He gains a little more back with a Consume Spirit… back to 8. Turn 6 I play Shambling Remains with a Flame Javelin in hand. He draws and plays Gauntlet of Power and concedes.

Game 2 vs. Klick playing UW levelers

Opening Hand: Tattermunge Maniac, Aunties Hovel, Lightning Bolt, Flame Javelin, Ashenmoor Gouger, 2 Mountains

I start with a Hovel into Tattermunge Maniac and he plays Skywatcher Adept. My Turn 2 I Bolt the Adept and hit for 2, he has no plays. Turn 3 I hit for 2 again putting him at 16 and play Ashenmoor Gouger. My opponent draws, plays a land, and concedes. Pretty uneventful.

Game 3 vs. Bharp420 playing Red/Black Burn

Opening Hand: Mountain, Aunties Hovel, 2 Graven Cairns, Burst Lightning, Lightning Bolt, Shambling Remains

I start beating down with a Boggart Ram-Gang and he plays Raging Goblin as his first play on Turn 3. I get a second Ram-Gang down and he hits one of them with a Vampiric Link. Next, I attack for another 3 and I get a Shambling Remains, which he also hits with a Vampiric Link. I hit my Remains with a Bolt at his EOT and unearth it during my turn. I hit him with the unearthed Remains and a Flame Javelin to take him to 7. A third Ram-Gang comes down on the next turn and he goes to four. He proceeds to draw a land while I draw a Burst Lightning and attack for the win.

This went down about as I thought it would. Luckily I never ran into any life gain to really spoil my day. Though the lack of two-drops is disconcerting and slightly affecting my early turns, the deck is solid despite certainly needing to be adjusted.

Deck 2: Control

Well now let’s take a 180 in deck style and explore a Control build I tried out. I’ll start out by saying I’m not the average Control player. If, and it’s a big IF, I play a Control deck, I have never used a Blue one. I’m horrible with them. Maybe it’s the threat assessment, maybe it’s the whole Draw-Go aspect, but it’s not me. I do enjoy killing things and destroying things though. So give me a deck like this and I’m ready to go:

(Total Cost: $8.37)

Orzhov Control Click the arrow to download the above deck in .txt format

(To load a .txt deck into Magic: Online’s Deck Editor, click “Load”, select “Local Text Deck”, find the location of the downloaded deck file and double-click the deck.)

What we have here is a Fenix style Control deck. Give me a lovely assortment of proactive hand destruction and a healthy dose of removal spells. I also love the small synergies in the deck. The early Duress and Castigates go great with a Phyrexian Arena and a Descendant of Kiyomaro. Descendant himself can easily lock games away as long as he can connect fully powered up. Also I ran one of my favorite cards from the current standard. Baneslayer—wait no, the budget BSA, Battlegrace Angel. I don’t really think enough people appreciate Battlegrace Angel. In this deck she is awesome. The turn you play her because of wording you can get double Lifelink from a Descendant and by herself she still attacks for 5 Lifelinked. Sure there is no vigilance or protection, the vigilance is a slight loss, but the protection never really mattered. I have Hallowed Burial over Wrath of God or any other sweeper mainly for budget reasons. The rest of this deck is fairly basic. Mortify and Oblivion Ring for removal against all sorts of issues and Shriekmaw to clear out creatures. I guess now would be time to see how I did with this deck.

Game 1 vs.Tastydactol playing U/R Kiln/Dragonauts

Opening Hand: 2 Castigate, Plains, Swamp, Phyrexian Arena, Hallowed Burial, Battlegrace Angel

On the draw I luck into a Duress which allows me to remove hit his hand right away and plan targets for my Castigates. I Castigate 2 of his 3 Wee Dragonauts. I’m at 5 when I am finally able to [cad]Mortify[/card] his Faerie Wizard and then cast the Battlegrace Angel. This slowly gets me back in to the game where I can safely cast Phyrexian Arena. He makes an good effort but the card advantage eventually pushes past a Clone and an Act of Treason for the win.

Game vs. 2luneez playing UG Teferi Ramp

Opening Hand: 3 Swamp, 2 Orzhov Basilica, Castigate, Shriekmaw

I keep a land heavy hand and he starts ramping early with Kodamas Reach. I Castigate a Oblivion Stone and he plays a Teferi the next turn. I bait out a Draining Whelk with a Mortify on Teferi, then Shriekmaw it the same turn. He stumbles a little on counters and I finally get 2 Battlegrace Angels in play to his 2 Solemn Simulacrum. I get one attack and BAM! Oblivion Stone number two. I draw a few lands, and some more lands, and get beat to death by my Phyrexian Arena and a second Teferi.

Game 3 vs. giobhniu playing U/B Reanimator

Opening Hand: Swamp, Plains, Orzhov Signet, Castigate, Hallowed Burial

This was rather cut and dry in this match. Starting Turn 2, I Castigated a Merfolk Looter, followed by Shriekmawing a Thought Courier. Then I hit an Oblivion Ring on Hells Caretaker, attack for third time with the Shriekmaw and put my opponent at 14. Nothing happens but me attacking him and him drawing for 2 turns before I Shriekmaw another Looter and put him to 5. I attack with both ‘Maws for the win the next turn. Obviously without the discard outlets I had no worries against the Reanimator deck.

Well, I did better than I thought I would have with this deck. Again, I am not much of a Control player. I guess I don’t have the patience or the mindset to play a more reactionary style. As a test run, it was fun though.

Deck 3: Combo

Ahhh, finally. I’m starting to feel a little more comfortable here. It’s time for the last, but certainly not the least, of the three main archetypes: Combo. That’s right; it got it’s own sentence. Truthfully, I’m a Johnny at heart. I love Combo decks and everything to do with them. This little beauty here is a fun deck I have messed around with off and on since Darksteel. It got neutered by the banning of Affinity from Standard. And then I never really had a chance to play it competitively in Extended, so it got relegated to the little spot in my mind of neglected Magic decks. Take a look:

(Total Price: $13.27)

KCI Combo Click the arrow to download the above deck in .txt format

(To load a .txt deck into Magic: Online’s Deck Editor, click “Load”, select “Local Text Deck”, find the location of the downloaded deck file and double-click the deck.)

This is my current Casual fun baby. It has stayed fairly in tact since the original. The only few tweaks being Ponder over Serum Visions, Banefire over Fireball, and Chromatic Star over Chromatic Sphere. I no longer remember what the Etherium Sculptors replaced. They may have been Myr Retrievers. In case you are wondering it works…: you “ramp” into early mana with Pentad Prisms and Talismans, and hopefully with all the Thoughtcasts, Chromatic Stars, Fabricates and Thirst for Knowledges, you should have all the Combo pieces ready to go by Turn 5, at the latest. I do not believe I have ever had a problem winning between Turn 4-6 yet with this deck. Normally the first thing to do is play out the Krark-Clan Ironworks. There are times when this is incorrect, but those are more of a learned response that you “just feel”. But after landing the Ironworks, you proceed to sac’ 6 Artifacts so that you can cast and activate Myr Incubator. What happens now depends on which finisher you have. If you have Goblin Charbelcher then pull all the lands out. If you have Banefire and a way to produce Red mana, then pull out enough to kill them and any extras. Then you sacrifice all the newborn Myr Tokens to the Ironworks and either Bane them to death or cast and activate the Belcher and hit them for what is normally 20+. As you will see in the sample games, 20 is sometimes relative.

Game 7 vs. Tastydactol playing U/R Dragonauts/Kiln Fiend

Opening hand (after a mulligan to 5): Goblin Charbelcher, Krark-Clan Ironworks, Myr Incubator, Seat of the Synod, Fabricate

My opponent starts the action with a Turn 2 Renegade Doppelganger and follows it up with a Turn 3 Wee Dragonauts. My first play is Turn 3 where I have to Fabricate for a Pentad Prism. He plays another Wee Dragonauts and a Peek. I take 6 putting me at 14. Turn 4 I cast Pentad Prism and Goblin Charbelcher. By Turn 5 my opponent gets me down to 1 life. Now it’s my Turn 5. I cast KCI, sac’ everything but the KCI, and then cast Myr Incubator. I activate it removing all my wins and let off a giant Belch ftw.

Game 8 vs. kossolossus playing Soldiers

Opening hand (after a mulligan to 6): Vault of Whispers, Great Furnace, Chromatic Star, Pentad Prism, Myr Incubator, Talisman of Dominance

I have no major action until Turn 4. I’m at 12 from a Veteran Armorsmith and Kazandu Blademaster. In hand, I have Myr Incubator, Fabricate, Krark-Clan Ironworks[/cad], [card]Talisman of Progress, and [cad]Thirst for Knowledge[/card]. I cast the Ironworks and pass. It’s now Turn 5 and I’m at 6. I mean to Fabricate, but I mess up and click Thirst instead! At this point, I think I have lost entirely. Luckily I Thirst into my one and only Charbelcher in the whole deck. It’s rather elementary from here: I win.

Game 9 vs. d0rp playing UW Skies

Opening hand (after a mulligan to 6): Ancient Den, Chromatic Star, Ponder, Pentad Prism, Etherium Sculptor, Seat of the Synod

So for the first 4 turns I am getting beat down by Pride of the Clouds and some other flying guys. Finally on Turn 5 I land KCI and Myr Incubator, but I have no Banefire or Belcher to win and only one more turn before lethal damage. His EOT I sac’ only enough artifacts for 6 mana and activate the Incubator. I exile all the artifacts left in my deck getting roughly 30 1/1 Myr tokens. I win via token beatdown! I do, however, draw the Banefire, so if he had had any untapped mana, I still would have been safe against say a Holy Day.

Now this was fun. I did mulligan every game which may or may not be indicative of a problem. Though this was only three games and I know I haven’t mulliganed everytime I played the deck. Then again I still won no later than Turn 6. This was my favorite deck I played. If I changed anything it would be Chrome Moxes in place of Etherium Sculptors.


Well now, we have come to an end. What did I learn? Obviously I’m still the Combo player I have been for years. Aggro can be fun, but gets tiresome. And I may as well just pretend Control doesn’t exist, as an option for me at least. As far as for you… well hopefully you saw some cool decks or interactions you may want to tweak or rebuild for yourself. And as a side note, all three of these decks cost less than 32 tickets combined. Just in case anyone out there is budget-minded like myself. Anyways I would love audience participation. So if you could pick any Enchantment (non-aura) to build a deck around what would it be? I will go through the comments below and base some future decks off of them. Until next time keep it Casual, MTGOAcademy.

- ShardFenix

  1. Great article.
    I love the combo deck, I started playing magic around that time and remember the old KCI combo decks and had a variant myself. Good stuff to read and remember again.

    I’ve never been to fond of control but you aggro deck seems fun as well, might give these a try and try a tweak if I can muster some tickets!

  2. When you compare Battlegrace Angel to BSA in the first article, you talk about vigilance which BSA doesn’t have. It has first strike, just saying!

    I think maybe you should put in 1 more land in the KCI deck, as well as cutting the sculptors and maybe a couple talismans for a playset of prophetic prism. I think the cantrip will be helpful while leaving you with 6-7 ways for turn 3 incubator still (if you wanted to).

    enchantments: abundance, quest for renewal!

  3. Man, I can’t even count how many times I have died to KCI Combo. I usually only beat it when my opponent misplays it, which happens far more often than it should

  4. Very nice article, I look forward to reading more.

    I especially liked how cheap the decks were to build. As a new player to MTGO (I tried it ages ago without an account but I went back to paper until a few months ago) this is great for me.
    The opposition you faced sounds a little disappointing though. Raging Goblin? -.-

    But great decklists! Too bad you don’t like blue/control, it’s my personal favorite.

  5. Great article, Shard! I’m going to have to give some of these decks a try! I’ve been wanting to try my hand at extended, and these decks seem very budget-friendly.