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This Space For Rent

Building Budget Decks
With Max

January 26, 2007


Part II: the control


            First thing I would like to do is to correct some errors from the previous article. Cards like Feldon’s Cane and Rewind are not commons in their new versions, so they should be removed from the last article’s list. And forget about that Eye of Nowhere comment…I thought it is an instant, and not a sorcery, so I bow my head in shame.

             Well, as I promised, we’ll now try to combine some cards into a working control deck. First thing to have in mind is to cover all the game areas-your draws, your hand, the field and enemy permanents, enemy spells, enemy life and some other ones.

            Your Draws: cards that say “draw a card” are a plus for this area. Simple... But we must balance the draw-only cards (like Train of Thought and Think Twice), cards that get you a draw with an effect (like Remand and Repeal) and cards that control what you draw (like Telling Time and Index).

            Your Hand: cards that enlarge you maximum hand number (like Minamo Scrollkeeper)

            The Field and Enemy Permanents: this covers a lot… enchantment destruction (Aura Flux is a good one against decks with lots of enchantments), artifact destruction (Shattering Pulse or Builder’s Bane), damage (everything from Shock to Yamabushi’s Storm), tapping/untapping (Dream Grip, Gigadrowse…), return-to-hand spells (Boomerang, Echoing Truth) and direct permanent cripplers (Frozen Solid, Erosion, Immobilizing Ink…)

            Enemy Spells: counterspells are the force here. Anything like Counterspell, Mana Leak and similar.

            Enemy Life: all damage spells and creatures you control.


            Now, let’s choose a system to use in this deck. It can be a counter/burn (lots of counterspells and damage), something close to aggro (stompy creatures with a bit of counter/return cards to influence the game), or something different. Well, for example we will decide to build an “aggroized” control. Now there would be no point in just throwing cards in…we have to choose a subsystem-a way to connect the cards. That system could be “when this creature comes into play…” and “return a creature you control…” cards, or flying creatures with Tibor and Lumia…but let’s just make a plain control deck-a counter/burn. When it comes to constructing the deck we could go for the average few creatures, but we could also go for the extremes-no creatures at all…we’re going to do something like that now. Some may call it dumb, but I call it fun-four Gelectrode cards in the deck. The thing with this kind of deck is that you will find very hard to protect the Gelectrodes in play, but if you manage to sneak one into the next turn, you can do some serious damage… Now, let’s start.

            Lands-of course, you need Islands and Mountains, but you could also use a couple of Izzet Boilerworks. Lands with cycling are not needed because you’ll need all the mana you can get. Just in case, throw in a couple of Izzet Signets. Now, the draws: Think Twice, Gush, Compulsive research, Serum Visions, Counsel of the Soratami…the choice is wide, but let’s just use Think Twice (handy flashback), Gush (play something with two U, then return the tapped Islands, and play one of them back untapped), Counsel of the Soratami (straight draw, no discards as with Compulsive Research) and Serum Visions (gives the Gelectrodes a round of pinging). For enchantment problem solvers, I like to keep Cut the Earthly Bond (against a deck with a lot of “enchant something” cards) and Aura Flux cards in my sideboard-in case I meet a straight enchantment deck. For artifacts I like to keep Shattering pulse cards (cheap, but you can buy them back if needed) or Smash (gets you a draw). For tapping, my favorite would be Dream’s Grip (for this deck). For return-to-hand purposes, Repeal is one of the best cards to use, but it can get tricky with returning expensive cards, so you might want to use Boomerang or Snapback. Creatures are Gelectrodes (as said) and Drift of Phantasms (just for defense). As for damage…the choice is wide, but let’s stick to some good old ones: Shock, Seal of Fire, Yamabushi’s Flame (for those “special” creatures), Arc Lightning (for group tours) and Barbed Lightning (for the pet and the master). Add a couple of good old counterspells. And the final product:


Lands: 19

Mountain x 7

Island x 9

Izzet Boilerworks x 3


Creatures: 6

Gelectrode x 4 (ping your opponent with these as you play your spells)

Drift of Phantasms x 3 (play as defenders or transmute for more useful cards)


Artifacts and Enchantments: 6

Izzet Signet x 2 (extra mana never hurts…unless it’s mana burn)

Immobilizing Ink  x 2 (to immobilize your opponent’s important creatures)

Seal of Fire x 2 (a shock on hold)


Other spells: 28

Arc Lightning x 2 (dispatch a couple of weak creatures)

Barbed Lightning x 2 (kill a creature, and hurt the player)

Yamabushi’s Flame x 2 (for killing creatures that have go-to-graveyard abilities)

Shock x 2

Cancel x 3

Mana Leak x 3

Serum Visions x 2

Think Twice x 2

Gush x 1

Counsel of the Soratami x 2

Dream’s Grip x 2 (works well with Gelectrodes in play)

Boomerang x 2

Repeal x 3



Smash/Shattering Pulse (for artifacts)

Cut the Earthly Bond/Aura Flux (for enchantments)

Grip of Amnesia (for those dredge/flashback/threshold decks)

Echoing Truth (for tokens)


That’s something around the main idea-return, counter and kick your opponent’s creatures, and ping him with Gelectrodes. Of course, this deck can be made better with a bit of work, but I’m just too lazy J. Note that I haven’t made disenchants/artifact destroyers a part of the deck, mostly because it’s easier you return them to your opponent’s hand and then counter them. Instead, such cards are kept in the sideboard, in case of meeting a deck with lots of enchantment/artifact cards.

That’s it for this one, in the next article we’ll be building fat black, suicide black, red burn or red Goblin budget deck (I got a couple of deck requests, and I still don’t know what to build). Thank you for you attention. Feel free to e-mail me with any comments, suggestions and stuff.


Live long and prosper!

Max (Burn_To_Fade)


P.S.: thanks to Ben and Talrum for their help


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