Unleash the Beastmaster

Posted in Reconstructed on December 4, 2012

By Gavin Verhey

When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he dreamt of a job making Magic cards—and now as a Magic designer, he's living his dream! Gavin has been writing about Magic since 2005.

In this guild-dominated world, there are still plenty of guildless citizens who plan to make their mark on Ravnica. Devotees to single colors of Magic still remain, despite the jeers and stares they may receive. But really, who needs multiple colors when you have one good one?

If you are one of those single-color devotees, you're in luck. Today, it's time to beat down without any of those fancy "un-basical" lands so many other Planeswalkers lean on like a crutch. It's just going to be you, Forests, and the untamed ferocity of the wild.

Are you ready? It's time to unleash the Beastmaster!


During weeks where I ask for budget decks I always tend to receive some of my most interesting, creative decks. It would seem restriction does truly breed creativity, as I searched through all of these decks and found many favorites

This week, the one that stood out to me and I wanted to write about the most was Victor Garcia's mono-green beatdown deck. Let's have a look!

Victor Garcia's Here Comes the Boom

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Budget Rules

Before getting into the actual deck revision, let's quickly recap my rules for working on budget decks to help refresh everyone.

  1. I will not add any new rares or mythic rares to the decklist. I'd rather make the deck extra budget-y and then let you season to taste with delicious rares than cook it so rare you won't eat it at all.
  2. The one exception to the above is mana fixing. I know this will especially be a point of contention considering how sought after the Ravnica block dual lands are, but the bottom line is you're going to want to have access to these lands for the next two years of Standard. They're certainly worth trading for.
  3. I try not to make substitutions. Budget doesn't need to mean making a worse version of a current deck—it just means building toward an archetype that has easier-to-obtain cards. Cards like Snapcaster Mage and Geist of Saint Traft simply can't be replaced in decks that need them.
  4. Budget doesn't mean bad. I'm not setting out to make a deck we know will be suboptimal through this process. There have been plenty of highly successful low-rare decks throughout Magic's history, and there are certainly ways to follow in their footsteps.
Snapcaster Mage
Geist of Saint Traft

If you want more explanation on any of those points, check out the beginning of my first budget article.

With that out of the way, onto the deck's specifics!

The Battle Plan

Defeat your opponent.

...Okay, I'll elaborate a little. At its core, this deck aims to use efficient, powerful creatures backed up by pump spells to overrun the opponent and win on the axis of creature combat.

To make the situation even more problematic for your opponent, you have some acceleration to get your huge creatures onto the battlefield even quicker. Wolfir Silverheart is hard enough to deal with on turn five—but putting him onto the battlefield on turn four or even turn three is quite menacing.

How does this deck remove opposing threats? Attacking! Your creatures will be larger and better-positioned to deal damage. Not to mention, the best source of creature removal is to just reduce your opponent's life total to 0. It's like a Day of Judgment, Armageddon, and Wit's End all in one! No wonder you usually win when that happens.

Two of the key cards out of this deck are its pair of three-drops: Wild Beastmaster and Champion of Lambholt. The champion can grow large and ensure that all of your creatures get through in any kind of creature mirror, but the Beastmaster is the real crazy one of the two. Alongside any of the deck's many pump spells—such as Giant Growth or Wolfir Silverheart—she can make your entire team huge. Giving all your creatures +5/+5 when she attacks is just brutal. With Revenge of the Hunted, she becomes just completely off-the-rails insane.

In fact, thanks to Revenge of the Hunted, this deck can even kill as quickly as turn three! Turn one, Arbor Elf; turn two, Wild Beastmaster; turn three, miracle Revenge of the Hunted on Wild Beastmaster, Giant Growth your Beastmaster, and then attack. Take 21, please!

If you don't manage to string together a quick kill, the game still has some late-game gas. Not only can some of its creatures grow fairly large on their own, but Garruk, Primal Hunter helps pack a Planeswalker punch that gives you plenty of card advantage in the long game.

So, to sum it up: attack, pump up your creatures, and—yes—defeat your opponent.

Deck Breakdown

Now that I've laid out how the deck works, let's look through each card in this deck and see how it fits into the larger strategy.

Arbor Elf

In decks like this, mana Elves are crucial. Starting off with a turn-one mana Elf can make all the difference, allowing you to power into everything a turn faster—and the more you draw, the quicker you can also reach cards like Wolfir Silverheart and Garruk, Primal Hunter.

In this deck, Elves are especially good, because of Champion of Lambholt and Wild Beastmaster. The Champion wants you to draw plenty of cheap creatures to pump it up, and with Beastmaster you want to have as many creatures on the battlefield as possible for you to boost up. The Elves give back by also allowing you to cast those creatures on turn two instead of turn three. Not only am I going to want four copies of Arbor Elf here, but I am also going to dip into Avacyn's Pilgrim for another turn-one accelerator.

Wild Beastmaster

As noted before, this is one of the deck's key cards. It's actually what caught my eye about the deck first! Ever since Alex Day sent an email to tell me he'd like to see a deck built with Wild Beastmaster, it's been on my mind, and this was the perfect opportunity to show off the card's power!

Is it fragile? Yes. But if your opponent doesn't kill it on the spot, there's a good chance all of your creatures are going to be getting at least a +3/+3 boost on your next turn. I'm definitely going to want all four. Ride the Beastmaster to victory!

Champion of Lambholt

While the Champion can be a little situational, her evasion-granting ability is so game-changing against any other deck with creatures that she's worth it. Thanks to cards like Rancor, Champion of Lambholt is often going to make it completely impossible for your opponent to block at all. Although she isn't great against control decks, she can still stop their Thragtusks from being able to block, which is a huge deal. I'm sticking with four copies.

Strangleroot Geist

Strangleroot Geist is one of the format's premier beatdown creatures, and this deck is certainly happy to have him. He gets in for damage quickly, provides some resilience in the form of undying (which also grows your Champion again!) and wears a Rancor quite well. Victor was spot-on to include four in his original decklist.

Elvish Visionary

I like Visionary more than most. A squishy body that "cantrips" (draws you a card) when you play it is a versatile option that's right up my alley. In this deck especially, Elvish Visionary gives you an extra creature for Beastmaster to pump up!

However, while I am generally a fan of Visionary overall, I think this deck can do better. There are just more powerful cards it could be playing, and, unlike attrition-based decks where I love the Visionary, in this deck time is everything. You can't afford to spend a turn playing Elvish Visionary because you need to be playing your huge creatures on time, on-curve. Visionary isn't quite the fit this deck wants—I'd rather have something else.

Wolfir Silverheart

Pow! Wolfir Silverheart lends a huge punch to this deck. This is one of the best cards you can accelerate out. Not only does it make any of your creatures scary, but alongside a Beastmaster or Champion he can be downright lethal. And it's not like he gets worse in the late game either—I've had plenty of "I thought I had the board stabilized" situations that Silverheart has clawed my opponent out of.

I'll happily play all three Victor put into this deck, and if I had free reign on the number of rares in this deck I would strongly consider playing a fourth. I could also see trying a Druid's Familiar or two—the curve of Wild Beastmaster or Champion of Lambholt into Druid's Familiar seems fairly strong.

Rancor

Rancor is absolutely perfect for this deck. As a staple of green beatdown, it really doesn't get too much better than this when it comes to one-mana pump Auras. It's great on a Wild Beastmaster, Champion of Lambholt, Wolfir Silverheart, Strangleroot Geist... or practically any other card in the deck. I'll keep all of them!

Giant Growth

The classic pump effect of Giant Growth isn't flashy, but for only a single mana it's very efficient in any kind of creature tangle. It's interesting—Giant Growth is card I seldom put into Constructed decks, but yet, when I do and I draw it against a creature-heavy deck I'm always extremely happy to have it. A cheap combat trick your opponent isn't expecting can go a long way.

While normally I wouldn't be too interested in Giant Growth, the presence of both Beastmaster and Champion make me far more interested than usual. Beastmaster turns Giant Growth into a single-mana Overrun (sans trample), and with Champion it's going to let you slide right past any defenders. I don't want the full four, but three copies means I'm likely enough to find one without them clogging up my hand while it's developing. I'll stick with three.

Ranger's Guile

Ranger's Guile, on the other hand, just doesn't do enough as a pump spell to interest me. Getting +1/+1 doesn't make a huge impact, so the primary reason I would want it is the protection effect that hexproof provides.

I can see the attraction, since it helps keep your Beastmasters and Champions safe. However, usually this deck is going to need to tap out to play whatever spells it has on each turn and there isn't the time to leave up protection. I'd rather just have more cards that are powerful on their own—this Guile is going to need to go.

Revenge of the Hunted

Easily the swingiest card in the deck, Revenge of the Hunted can aid in kills as early as turn three—or just sit in your hand. Fortunately, this deck can reach six mana on enough occasions to actually cast Revenge, but it's still definitely not a card you want to see staring you back in your opener.

Revenge is just so powerful and game-ending in this deck when it's a miracle that I'm going to keep it. While it is weak to draw in your opening hand, practically any time it's a miracle, whether it's 6 damage early on or found in the midgame to pump your Champion and send your entire team over, Revenge is fantastic. Three is just the right number.

Garruk, Primal Hunter

Garruk is a nice fit for this deck, although he's far from a necessity.

Garruk makes for a nice two-of. He's not the card you want every game, but against control decks he gives you some long-lasting oomph, and in any kind of long game versus a creature-based deck Garruk will give you the upper hand. His -3 turns your Giant Growths into Ancestral Recalls... plus, you can always live the dream and draw a bunch of cards after miracling a Revenge of the Hunted—sounds like fun to me!

If you're looking for a budget deck and don't have any copies, don't worry: this deck will run fine without him. However, if you have a couple, I recommend playing with them.

Beast Mode-ifications

So, with all of these tweaks to the main deck, what's coming in? Let's take a look!

Avacyn's Pilgrim

As I mentioned when talking about Arbor Elf, I wanted to maximize my number of mana elves. White mana doesn't hurt the deck too much since nothing costs , although occasionally you can get slightly burnt when you're trying to Rancor up a Strangleroot Geist on turn two. Still, it's usually just as good as an Arbor Elf. I'll play all four.

Wolfir Avenger

This Avenger may not be a superhero, but he's shaping up to be a great metagame choice for the current Standard format. He blocks Geralf's Messengers and 2/2 Zombies over and over, while also surviving all the Supreme Verdicts people can throw around. With more mana Elves added into the deck, he's yet another great creature to plop down on the second turn. I'm going to start with three copies, but feel free to tweak that higher or lower depending on your metagame.

Druid's Familiar

With the slightly reduced amount of pump spells after the modifications, I wanted one more way to power up my creatures that was also on a body. This Avacyn Restored Limited all-star curves well with your three-drops, setting you up for a huge Beastmaster or Champion attack. To top it off, it is pretty huge on its own.

A fourth Silverheart might be better, so if you have the fourth one feel free to give it a try. Otherwise, give a singleton Familiar a try!

That brings the updated decklist to:

Gavin Verhey's Unleash the Beastmaster!

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If you're looking to beatdown on a budget, this should fit the job quite well! With no dual lands and some rares that are fairly obtainable (plus, as I noted, the Garruks aren't crucial), you should be able to acquire the cards for this deck without too much hassle.

If you're looking to un-budgetify this deck, cards I might look at are Ulvenwald Tracker to keep your opponent's creatures under control, the fourth Silverheart, and maybe Thragtusk—although I don't even think it's that much better than Silverheart or Vorapede in this deck. Really, this deck does run on non-rares. What a perfect fit for budget!

Ulvenwald Tracker
Thragtusk

With plenty of fun creatures and explosive draws (including the potential of a turn-three kill!) this deck is a lot of fun. Let Wild Beastmaster lead the charge—give the deck a try!

Honorable Mentions

There were plenty of great submissions for this week, and only one of them could become the main feature. There are a lot of great budget-friendly ideas out there! Let's take a look at some of the others.

Benjamin Naveaux's Descent into Madness

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Samuel Yaw's Full Moon Mayhem

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Kaosubaloo's Budget Self-Mill

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JB's White Weenie

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Lucas Keasby's Budget Defender Combo

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Mahdi's Dimir Seclusion

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Sean Knowelden's Heartless Demons

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SciCat's Turbofog

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Cid's Azorius Beatdown

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Callan Howell-Pavia

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Stefano Petracca's Lobber Stalker

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Daniel Haas's Turbospells

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Joel Stone's Red-White-Blue Tokens

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Tim Pinder's Electric Boogaloo

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Harris Fong's 14-land Ghoultree

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