I often end up hitting a pretty hefty word count in these articles each week. Because the meat and potatoes of Building on a Budget is teaching people how to build decks, I sometimes run out of room to talk about topics peripheral to the article at hand – such as deck ideas I thought about while testing that I didn't have time to build, or in-depth explanations about cards I chose not to use at all. If you read Building on a Budget each week and want a little insight into what goes on outside of the article itself, check out the forums of this week's article for an extra helping of my thoughts and writing.
There are four rescue creatures in Planar Chaos – Dust Elemental, Stonecloaker, Stormfront Riders, and Whitemane Lion. These creatures all have a common ability: When they come into play, they return X number of creatures you control back to your hand. Why would you want to return your own creatures back to your hand?
- To save your other creatures from removal. Three of the four Rescue creatures (all except Stormfront Riders) have the flash ability. This allows you to bounce your own guys in response to an opponent’s kill spell. Opponent trying to Shock your Leonin Skyhunter? Play Whitemane Lion in response to save your flyer! Wrath of God getting you down? A timely Dust Elemental will put your entire team back in your hand virtually every time!
- To reuse comes-into-play effects. White and black have a bevy of creatures that cause an effect to happen when they come into play. Why kill one creature with Nektrataal when you can return it to your hand with a Stonecloaker and then kill a second creature? Ravenous Rats are decent, but they are better when they make your opponent discard, chump block an opposing fat creature, and return to your hand after damage is on the stack – only to make your opponent discard a second time the following turn!
- To reset vanishing and upkeep costs. Vanishing creatures are great, but they’re a limited-time offer. If you’ve only got one counter left on Waning Wurm, use Stonecloaker to return it to your hand and play it anew! Necroplasm about to kill itself? Not with Whitemane Lion on the job.
- To remove global drawback creatures from the board. Only want Ghosts of the Innocent or Marble Titan to affect your opponent? Play it out, and then bounce it when you’re ready to come in for your attack!
- To reset creatures that make a choice when they come into play. Done killing your opponent’s red creatures with Pentarch Paladin? Return it with Dust Elemental, and then replay it set to green! Goodbye, Spectral Force!
- To abuse leaves-play effects. The same as #2, above, but in reverse. This applies to Aven Riftwatcher and Faceless Butcher, mainly.
- My Faceless Butcher comes into play. The trigger to remove a creature from the game goes on the stack – for sake of argument, let’s say it’s Avatar of Woe.
- In response, I play Whitemane Lion. When its comes-into-play trigger resolves, I choose to return Faceless Butcher to my hand.
- When Faceless Butcher leaves play, the trigger to return a creature to play goes on the stack.
- The return-to-play trigger resolves. Since there is no creature removed yet, nothing happens. Then the remove-from-play trigger resolves, removing the creature from the game permanently!
- If you later replay Faceless Butcher, it has no memory of its previous life – so even if it leaves play, the Avatar of Woe it gigged the first time out is still removed from the game.
As you can see, the rescue mechanic has a lot more depth and versatility than one might give it credit for! For the first build of Rescue Me, I decided to go with a discard theme – I already have copies of The Rack and Muse Vessel on hand, so why not put in a few of the black-white discard creatures, and use the rescue creatures to recur them over and over?
Wow! After taking out the blue cards, Urzatron, Gemstone Mines, and gold cards from last week's deck, we're left with ten cards to build around. I've found that a good starting point with these decks it to insert the appropriate number of Ravnica Block bouncelands and Signets into the deck.
The rescue creatures are not without a drawback. You need another creature in play to get a Rescue creature to stick to the board. Whitemane Lion will bounce itself if it can't bounce another creature, and it's no good if you get stuck with a hand of five rescue creatures with no way to get them into play! If we assume that 24-26 of the slots of this deck will be lands and Signets, that leaves us around 34 cards left to build with. Eight of these are Muse Vessel, Wit's End and The Rack, so the remaining 26 cards need to be divided between rescue creatures and creatures to be rescued.
I wanted to start with the rescue creatures that also have flash. Stormfront Riders is almost certainly the worst of the four rescue creatures from Planar Chaos, because it lacks that second ability. The greatest strength of rescue is the ability to use it in response to an opponent's action, and Stormfront Riders neuters that option. If I wanted to put two 1/1 creatures into play, I'd play Icatian Crier. If I want to stop Pyroclasm from wrecking my team, I'll play Dust Elemental thankyouverymuch.
I did believe we were going with a discard theme here, so Ravenous Rats and Shrieking Grotesque are auto-includes. While Ravenous Rats is mainly a speedbump on the road of life, Shrieking Grotesque is a pretty efficient beater and can double as a win condition in the air.
As mentioned above, the rescue creatures can abuse leaves-play triggers on creatures as well as comes-into-play triggers. Aven Riftwacher has both a comes-into-play and a leaves-play trigger, so it seems like a natural fit. I want removal in the deck, so I figure I'll go with fancy-pants Faceless Butcher tricks to start, and then see if Nekrataal, Keening Banshee, Nightshade Assassin, Big Game Hunter, or Orzhov Euthanist might be a better choice for this slot.
For the last non-land slots in the deck, I decide to try out Magus of the Disk. Magus of the Disk has the ability to destroy all artifacts, enchantments, and creatures in play. One interesting note is that the cost to use Magus of the Disk is a colorless mana and a tap – meaning that Magus of the Disk does not sacrifice itself! This is integral to our purposes, since it means that you can activate Magus of the Disk, rescue it with Whitemane Lion, and have the Magus return to your hand for a second use!
In: 2 Magus of the Disk
Game 1: Sunflower Seed (Izzet)
I take Browbeat and Lava Axe for 5, knocking me to 10. I get Ravenous Rats, and save it from Electrolyze with Whitemane Lion. I replay the Rats, and he plays Pyroclasm. I try to land Dust Elemental, but he has Remand. Frown! I drop Muse Vessel to the board, and then proceed to draw my second Dust Elemental, two Whitemane Lions, and a Stonecloaker. Five turns later, I finally draw a Shrieking Grotesque, finish stripping his hand, and play/replay the Grotesque for Whitemane Lions and Stonecloakers behind two Islands (of his, via Muse Vessel), a Cancel, and two Remands (again, via Muse Vessel). Record: 1-0
Game 2: Accord3 (Scryb and Force)
He gets an early Scryb Ranger and Wall of Roots. I get down Aven Riftwatcher and Shrieking Grotesque, and trade the Grotesque for his Ranger. He has another, and then drops Spectral Force. I Faceless Butcher the Force, but he drops a Plains and a Mountain, Lightning Helixes my Butcher, drops a second Spectral Force, and bashes my face in for 16 a turn.
Game 3: Malaki_Rith (Mono-Blue Morph)
This was a really, really intense game. I get early beats in with my flyers, but I can't seem to draw any rescue creatures, so I lose two Aven Riftwatchers. Malaki_Rith drops three morphs. He uses one (Fathom Seer) to keep himself out of The Rack range. I hit him down to one, and then try to play Wit's End. He flips up Willbender, and knocks out my entire hand!
Well, he's at 1 and I've got Shrieking Grotesque and Magus of the Disk on the board, and he's at one life with four cards in hand. He passes the turn, and on my turn he flips up his last morph to reveal Vesuvan Shapeshifter – copying my Magus of the Disk and blowing up the world. He then proceeds to play Teferi (which keeps my rescue guys from doing any real rescuing) and Tidewalker.
I draw and play Stonecloaker to return my Faceless Butcher, and then replay the Butcher on his Tidewalker. On the final turn of the game, I chump block one of his Tidewalkers, go down to 1...and finally get through for lethal damage with the Stonecloaker!
Game 4: WonderboyXD (B/R Gargadon)
He suspends turn-one Greater Gargadon, and I hit him with Ravenous Rats and Shrieking Grotesque. He discards Nether Traitor, and when he tries to Crypt Champion it into play, I drop Stonecloaker – this returns my Rats to my hand and removes his 1/1 hasty shadow guy from the game. He plays Mindslicer and strips out both of our hands (via the Gargadon), but I draw Aven Riftwatcher and race him in the air for the win.
Game 5: Decicco123 (U/B Reanimator)
I get a draw with a bunch of Rescue guys and no support, and he hard-casts Avatar of Woe, and then Clones it. When he attacks with the first one, and I Faceless Butcher it and Stonecloaker my Butcher in response, removing his Avatar for the game. He then attacks again, and I Faceless Butcher his second one, but hold back on the Stonecloaker – he has Lurking Informant on the board, and I'm afraid of him flipping a large guy into his yard and then reanimating it. Unfortunately, he drops Teferi, which puts a hose in my gears. However, I draw back-to-back Muse Vessels, strip double Vigor Mortis from his hand, and then drop The Rack to finish him – flying damage plus no-cards-in-hand damage = I win.
I seem to be drawing too many rescue creatures, so I decide to cut Dust Elemental. Wit's End doesn't seem to be great in this deck, because I have eleven other spells that can force an early discard, eight of which can be recurred. In their place, I add in two Necrotic Sliver – I'm having troubles with larger creatures, and I'd like to try having a Vindicate-on-legs before resorting to Mortify.
Game 6: Tadat (Mono-Red Burn)
I get Riftwatcher and Shrieking Grotesque, hit him twice, and then have my Grotesque die to Volcanic Hammer. I drop Magus of the Disk, and when I untap he tries to burn out my team with multiple spells. I save them with Dust Elemental, drop Ravenous Rats and The Rack, and finish him with a replayed Riftwatcher.
Game 7: Nettpuppy (G/W Enchantress)
Nettpuppy lets me know that he's playing my G/W Enchantress deck, and I think that I've got this game in hand after destroying an early Auratog with Necrotic Sliver. Unfortunately for me, Nettpuppy gets an Enchantress, uses it to draw into two more Enchantresses, and is soon drawing nine cards a turn! The Rack sits useless in my hand as he drops triple Moldervine Cloak on his Enchantresses. When he play Temporal Isolation with me at 6, I scoop the game. As I said to him, "Good Game. I know what's coming next!"
Game 8: Shark_Man (Mono-White Beats)
This was a very close game. He gets a lot of the 2/2 flanking guys for two mana, and I get a few of my two-power flyers. He suspends Duskrider Peregrine and Ivory Giant, and I rescue my Riftwatcher and keep coming in the air. He drops Griffin Guide, and I strip out his hand with Rats and drop The Rack. The final turn comes down to him drawing a way to kill me versus me having the win on the board, and he gets a second Griffin Guide to force through just enough damage to win.
Game 9: MomirMaster (U/G Graft)
He gets multiple graft guys, and I get the snot beaten out of me. This one wasn't even close – he was hitting down 5/5 dudes every turn thanks to Cytoplast Root-Kin and Vigean Hydropon, and he had Plaxcaster Frogling to keep me from killing any of his guys.
So far, the discard component of the deck has been relatively lacking. Muse Vessel and The Rack don't really work well with rescue creatures, and I keep dying to creatures. My wins have mainly come through the air with Stonecloaker, Aven Riftwatcher and Shrieking Grotesque, so I decide to take out the discard component of the deck in favor of more defense.
I add in two Magus of the Disk and three Nekrataal – Nekrataal works well with the rescue creatures, and so far Magus of the Disk seems like it could have been good against some of my losing matches (the Scryb Ranger/Spectral Force match and the U/G Graft game, to name two), but with only two in my deck, I can't draw it reliably enough.
Since a lot of my games have come down to a last-minute race, I also decide to put in Revenant Patriarch. This gives me a 4/3 body that can stall my opponent's attack, and then stall it again later with a little help from his rescuing friends.
Game 11: Strovos (G/R Sprouting Phytohydra/Pyrohemia)
Strovos has a really cool deck revolving around Sprouting Phytohydra, Pyrohemia, Fungus Sliver, and Hivestone. Unfortunately, his combo is four cards large, and I have several ways to make him discard cards. After getting hit by double Ravenous Rats and triple Shrieking Grotesque (thanks to Stonecloakers and Whiteman Lions), Strovos has to lose most of his combo pieces, and I fly in through the air with the greatest of ease. Record: 7-4
Game 12: Manxset (Mono-Green Beatdown)
This is a very frustrating game. I drop an early Shrieking Grotesque, but take a lot of trample damage from double Bull Aurochs. I drop Aven Riftwatcher and Magus of the Disk to stabilize, and he gets double Mire Boa. Luckily, I have no Swamps on the board at this point, so he cannot Swampwalk. Unfortunately, it also means that the double Nekrataal, Faceless Butcher and Revenant Patriarch in my hand are useless. He proceeds to beat me down slowly but surely with his Mire Boas, and I draw a Swamp a turn too late to stabilize (I was forced to blow up the Magus and was stuck on 2 life) and die to his Boas.
Game 13: TheWizard (G/W Fatties)
He wrecks me with a thresholded Mystic Enforcer and a Dust Elemental of his very own tagging along, and I draw Magus of the Disk one turn too late to reset the game.
Game 14: Dokan2004 (???)
I triple-mulligan and still haven't seen a land. I don't know what Dokan2004 was playing, and if you are Dokan2004 – sorry I didn't stick around to play this game. I didn't feel like playing a three-card hand on a three-game losing streak.
The way the deck was turning out was disheartening, to say the least. I had started out with a 5-1 record, and then ended up going 2-6 over my next eight games to wind up with a pretty mediocre 7-7 record. What was going wrong?
Review my game logs. The games that I won were mostly won through my air force or by racing damage. The games that I lose were mainly due to being run over by larger, bigger creatures. I took a long, hard look at my deck and reached a conclusion – I had no clue what my deck was trying to do!
Originally, I had The Rack and Muse Vessel as a discard theme to rally around. I also wanted to incorporate rescue creatures, but I had removed the discard theme, and was left with a jumbled pile of cards that didn't necessarily work well together. Yes, all of them worked with the rescue guys, but how did Magus of the Disk interact with Necrotic Sliver... or Aven Riftwatcher?
In order to make optimal use of the rescue creatures, I needed to focus my goals. Since beating down was the best avenue for victory in the deck, I retooled the deck to beat down.
Let me say a few words about Jötun Grunt. It's been pretty well-played in Vintage, Legacy and Extended, but hasn't found a deck yet in Standard. Right now, Jötun Grunt sells at two for a ticket through most places I found on Magic Online. It's huge, comes out early, and works pretty well with the rescue guys – I get to hit for 4, rescue it, and then reset its upkeep.
To round out the offense, I put back in a Dust Elemental (I have a lot more early drops that can take advantage of a turn-four monster now), added in three Orzhov Pontiff (which works as both offense and defense), and rounded the gang off with Voidstone Gargoyle. This would give me a large creature that could stop potentially game-breaking spells and could deal with on-board problems with as Scryb Ranger.
In: 3 Icatian Javelineers, 3 Martyr of Sands, 3 Orzhov Pontiff, 3 Jotun Grunt, 1 Dust Elemental, 3 Voidstone Gargoyle
Out: 4 Magus of the Disk, 4 Ravenous Rats, 3 Revenant Patriarch, 2 Necrotic Sliver, 3 Faceless Butcher
Game 15: Rommel321 (Leyline of Singularity)
I start beating him in the air with Shrieking Grotesque, and he drops Leyline of Singularity. I misclick my Voidstone Gargoyle (meant to name Hunted Horror, but hit Righteous Aura instead!), and he drops Hunted Horror. I drop Stonecloaker, redrop my Grotesque, and race him in the air with 8 points of damage a turn versus his 7 on the ground.
Record: 9-7 (1-0 Reboot)
Game 16: verystrait42 (Slivers)
He drops an early Gemhide Sliver, and follows it with double Reflex Sliver. Jotun Grunt stops his team, and I proceed to get out Shrieking Grotesque, Aven Riftwatcher, and a bunch of rescue guys to both reset my life total (with Riftwacher) and stabilize the board. He gets Telekinetic Sliver, and taps down my black mana sources. I play Voidstone Gargoyle naming Telekinetic Sliver – while this only shuts down the Telekinetic Sliver itself and not his other Slivers, it also prevents him from playing future Telekinetic Slivers. I continue to pour creatures down to the board, and eventually verystrait42 needs to tap down my guys instead of my lands. This lets me Nektraal his Telekinetic Sliver, and then my team beats down past his team.
Game 17: Corks (R/U/B Control)
He gets Shadowmage Infiltrator, Cruel Edict, Remand, Rise // Fall, Moroii, and Garza Zol, Plague Queen. All of my creatures are either dead or discarded, and I die quickly.
Record: 9-8 (2-1 Reboot)
I've drawn Martyr of Sands in two of the above three games, but you'll notice I haven't mentioned it at all – that's because it did diddly and squt in those games. My deck wants to crush heads, so in place of Martyr of Sands I add in Calciderm. Calciderm whacks skulls and can also be returned by rescue creatures! Whitemane Lion and friends do not target the creatures they return (note the use of "return a creature" versus "return target creature"), meaning that they can rescue a vanishing Caliderm with no problems.
Game 18: Signut (U/B Reanimator)
I get turn-one Javelineers, turn-two Signet, and turn-three Calciderm. He plays turn-three Compulsive Research, discarding Kaervek and Teneb. When he tries to Dread Return on turn four, I get Stonecloaker, take out his Teneb, return my Javelineers, and draw a concession.
Record: 10-8 (3-1 Reboot)
Game 19: Azuresky (Black/Blue/White Control)
This is the game that showed me that Rescue Me was for real. Over the course of the game, Azuresky plays FOUR Wrath of God and double Compulsive Research, drops and uses two Necrotic Slivers, plays Sudden Death, Castigates me twice, hits double Shadowmage Infiltrator to the board, and Remands my early threats.
Record: 11-8 (4-1 Reboot)
Game 20: Sblade (U/B Control)
I get double Shrieking Grotesque, and he plays Compulsive Research. I play Jötun Grunt, which will be in play forever thanks to his card-drawing spell. He gets to six mana and tries to stabilize with Skeletal Vampire, but I use Orzhov Pontiff to take out most of his defense and continue my beatings. After my attack, I play Whitemane Lion to return my Grunts and reset their upkeep. He dies to my board and shows me his hand of countermage and Persecutes afterwards.
Record: 12-8 (5-1 Reboot)
Game 21: Morrow.r (W/G Thallids)
I get Calciderm, Whitemane Lion, and Stonecloaker, and beat him down with my 5/5 untargetable guy. I had a second Calciderm and an Orzhov Pontiff in hand if things ever got out of control with his Saprolings.
Record: 13-8 (6-1 Reboot)
Game 22: Basantes (R/W Aggro)
He gets Savannah Lions, Volcanic Hammer and Mogg War Marshall. I get double Shrieking Grotesque, and Calciderm, and then use Orzhov Pontiff to wipe out most of his board. With a the Calciderm about to fade, I cast Dust Elemental the following turn – he's at four life with a Mogg War Marshall token on the board. He answers with Desolation Giant, and I replay my Calciderm. He attempts to stunt my mana development with Razia's Purification, but he can't draw more chump blockers, and Calciderm goes all the way.
Record: 14-8 (7-1 Reboot)
Game 23: mrdylanb (U/G Wild Pair)
I get turn-three Grotesque and turns four, five and six Calciderm. He gets Sage of Epityr and Thieving Magpie, but can't deal with 15 points of untargetable damage on the board.
Record: 15-8 (8-1 Reboot)
Easily, the MVP for the deck is Calciderm at this point. A fourth is an absolute must.
Game 24: Bombdoggie (R/W)
He plays Stone Rain on my Basilica, and then plays Blazing Blade Askari and Glorious Anthem. I get double Shrieking Grotesque and a Voidstone Gargoyle, and name Volcanic Hammer. He plays Evangelize, taking one of my Hybrids. I answer with a second Gargoyle set to Evangelize, and then cast Orzhov Pontiff the following turn to push through enough flying damage to win.
Record: 16-8 (9-1 Reboot)
Game 25: Liveart (R/B/U Control)
I get Shrieking Grotesque and Calciderm. He attacks into my Calciderm with Orzhov Euthanist, and then tries to kill my Calciderm with a second Euthanist – but of course, Calciderm can't be targeted, so this does not work. He then tries to stop the beatings with Stinkweed Imp, but I use Whitemane Lion and Stonecloaker to save my Calciderm twice, and this leaves me with a Calciderm plus 7 points a turn of damage on the board. This is enough to push past his dredged-multiple-times Stinkweed Imp for the win.
Record: 17-8 (10-1 Reboot)
After a bit of a false start with the deck, Rescue Me came through big-time in the end. The deck is cheap (I was able to put it together for around 12 tickets using prices in the Magic Online – Sellers room), powerful, and efficient. You get to be an aggro deck with multiple solutions against control – and best of all, a lot of these guys will be back again next week when 10 Decks in 10 Weeks continues with the blue-white "A Blink in Time" Momentary Blink deck. See you in the forums, and then next week!
|Okay, be honest here. Were you alive when I built that deck in December of 1994?|
|Yes, I was alive and kicking!||6499||97.8%|
|No, I wasn't even born yet!||145||2.2%|