Posted in Building on a Budget on February 20, 2004

By Nate Heiss

Everyone get on the bandwagon.

Go on, get on. It won't hurt you. Really kid, here is some candy. Try out this goblin, his name is Gurt. Gurt is your friend, yes?

Is this what you feel like when you are looking at Magic decks online sometimes? Are the net decks getting you down? Well one thing that I try to do with this column is bring all the cool decks out of the woodworks. Yes, they are not chock full of goblins, but instead they have some cool interactions and let you win in some rather fancy ways. For those of you who read my column last week and are looking for an even fancier way to win, I would try Unspeakable Symbol – while it is really unnecessary once you have infinite life, you might as well go for the gold and win in the flashiest way possible.

Isochron Scepter
This week, we are going to focus more on suffering.

That's right, if infinite life wasn't enough suffering for your opponent, what will they say when you cast an Isochron Scepter imprinting a Holy Day? Yeah, that's right – Fog. Every turn, for the rest of time.

Or maybe Metamorphose. Wouldn't it be fun to draw the same creature over and over again? Yeah, I suppose your opponent could stop casting creatures…but that wouldn't do very well for his plan of wining, now would it?

Of course, everyone knows about the wonders of Boomerang on a Scepter. Tradewind Rider never felt so outdated.

So once all these cool little tricks get going, what will the win condition be? How about little Soldiers? No…not Decree of Justice – this is a budget deck! I'm using Mobilization! It may be slower, but once it gets going it is more deadly. Plus, it should extend the amount of suffering in the game by at least five turns.

Are you ready to Scepter –cize? It is quite a workout!

Building on a Budget: Scepter-cize!

Download Arena Decklist

This deck is all about control. You use countermagic and Sun Droplet to help buffer the beats until you can cast a Scepter with some goodie on it – hopefully something that is especially good against whatever deck you are playing against. There are a lot of 1-of targets because you can merchant Scroll up whichever one is good for you (minus the Holy Day because it is White). I will go through the list of targets and what they are good for against various decks.

Holy Day:
This is your primary Scepter target against beatdown decks – most of these decks simply cannot defeat Fog every turn. Make sure to keep up countermagic protecting this scepter when at all possible. You will probably lose the game if they destroy it.

Secondary target vs. beatdown decks. While it is not a bad primary target, it will not win the game for you alone.

This is your primary target against control decks. Just bounce their land every turn and they cannot develop a mana base. No mana base means they have no game against you. If you start this early enough they might not even be able to cast Akroma's Vengeance, likely the only card in their deck that can destroy the Scepter. Not bad vs. Beatdown decks either.

Brain Freeze:
Another card versus control decks – this is for when you can't get the Boomerang up fast enough. It is likely that you can deck them before they can kill you. 3-6 cards a turn off the top is a rather fast clock against these types of decks.

Dream's Grip:
This is more of a late game card to put on your second Scepter to re-use your first scepter or try to hurt their mana supply by using Entwine on the Sceptor (untapping) and repeating the process. You can use this against creatures too, but the only ones they will be fast enough to stop are Eternal Dragons and Akromas (and possibly Angels).

Flash Counter:
This is another card that is decent against control – but I wouldn't really put it on your Scepter. It is good for fighting counter battles if you expect the game to come down to an Akroma's Vengeance – it gives you one extra cheap counter to throw into the fray. You can Merchant Scroll it up so I am talking about it here as a potential Scepter target, but that's nor normally going to be the plan.

Control vs. Beatdown

The deck is easy to play against control – Just try to force your Scepter through early with Mana Leak or Flash Counter backup and imprint a Boomerang or a Brain Freeze – then go to work. The beatdown match-ups are much more difficult. This is mostly because so many more things can go wrong.

Remember back when you were learning about Magic theory and there were things called threats and things called answers? Well the threats were better, but this deck is just full of answers. Why would I make a deck like this? Well, in general, the decks with the answers are more fun…that's something they don't teach you in Magic theory 101…

The other thing you learned about was something called card advantage. Those of you who look closely at my deck list will notice that there is no real way to gain card advantage. What this deck does is gain something called virtual card advantage. This happens when you put a Holy Day on a Scepter, thereby nullifying your opponent's team. That is using two cards to make 90% of their deck useless. The trouble is that it makes the other 10% deadly. This is where your countermagic comes in handy – you have to make sure to hang on to that countermagic for dear life to stop every Pillage or Oblivion Stone that will threaten to wreck your day. Having backup Scepters with Holy Day might be a smart idea too.

Now, some beatdown decks are just going to lose to your Scepter with Holy Day, and some are going to have more answers than you can counter, assuming you let them draw their whole deck. This is why the Mobilizations are in there – to, well, Mobilize. Given that you have quite a few turns to amass an army, you should be able to finish the job before they draw too many answers – just try to make sure if you are tapping out at the end of their turn to make guys that you have a backup Scepter with Fog in your hand – you never know when they will have instant removal like Shatter. It might be wise to leave up counter mana all the time – thus ensuring a victory, even if it is a victory full of suffering.

Tips on Playing the Deck

  • Don't be afraid to just cast your Scepter targets like Boomerang and Metamorphose. It might buy you the time you need to win.
  • Sun Droplet
    Sun Droplet is your best friend against beatdown. Drop it as early as possible – it makes your stall cards like Boomerang and Holy Day much more effective. It will also ensure that you do not get burned out later in the game (unless they stockpile 20 points worth, in which case counter the last one).
  • The hardest thing to do with this deck is keep up mana. You might really want to cast a spell, but if you tap out, it could be really bad news for you. Keep those counters at the ready!
  • Against control, try to use your Merchant Scrolls and Fabricates as fast as possible – you will want to have that mana up later in the game. Against beatdown it is fine to do, but be aware that they might drop a lot of guys and do a lot of damage – if you are going to follow up the next turn with infinite Fogs, then it might be worth the risk.

Adding Money to the Deck

This deck really wants Wrath of God and Eternal Dragons. You could probably take out the Mobilizations and just try to win with Dragons and Brain Freeze. The Wraths would make your Metamorphose plan much better – since they will no longer eventually be able to overwhelm you with creatures by holding them until they can cast several at once – you will just Wrath them away at that point. When Darksteel becomes legal, Last Word would be great against the control decks trying to kill your Scepters.

Until next time, may their creatures get lost in the fog for a whole extra turn.

-Nate Heiss
Team CMU
Nate Heiss on Magic Online

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