I recently purchased the Magic “Duel Decks: Izzet vs Golgari” (which I will review on this blog soon) and found a ton of useful and interesting cards in both decks. In the Golgari Deck, which is Green/Black, one card caught my eye in particular, as it so often happens when I am looking through a bunch of cards that are new to me. Meet Dreg Mangler:
Dreg Mangler is in my opinion a Creature that is both very cost-efficient and versatile at the same time. It is a solid 3/3 for just 3 Mana with Haste, which is very unusual for this particular color combination of Green and Black. What is more, Dreg Mangler is even quite useful when it ends up in your Graveyard as it has the Scavenge ability, letting you exile it from your Graveyard to put no less than three +1/+1 Counters on any of your Creatures if you pay 3BG! What a fantastic Creature for an Uncommon card.
As I was aware of several other Black Green Creatures which were similarly efficient and powerful for a considerably low mana cost, I had the idea of building a Black Green Deck focussing on pure beatdown – at a budget. The deck which I am going to show you below has only 8 Rares in total, all costing less than 2 dollars a copy, so I can include them without any worries and still call this a budget deck. If I wanted to make it slightly less budgety, I would probably be running some other cards like this one for example:
While this one would certainly be a very good Creature to run in a Black Green beatdown type of deck, I found very viable Common and Uncommon alternatives for Lotleth Troll, such as Putrid Leech and Strangleroot Geist for example. Maybe I will pick up a playset of the Zombie Troll and add it to the deck if a) I enjoy the deck and b) I have the feeling after some test runs with the cheapo-build that adding the Troll would improve the deck considerably.
But without much further ado, here’s the deck I came up with for you:
Putrid Beatdown (Budget Version):
4 x Birds of Paradise
4 x Elves of Deep Shadow
4 x Putrid Leech
4 x Strangleroot Geist
4 x Dreg Mangler
4 x Shambling Shell
4 x Creakwood Liege
4 x Rancor
4 x Sign in Blood
4 x Putrefy
4 x Llanowar Wastes
10 x Forest
6 x Swamp
My Thoughts on Strategy:
Well, first of you will notice that this deck runs more Creatures than usual – at least by my deckbuilding standards. There is a total of 28 Creatures and only 12 non-Creature Spells. The reason behind this is that my plan is to swarm the field with a relentless ambush of cheap but powerful Creatures, in the best case boosting their stats considerably with the costliest card (at least when it comes to mana cost) in the whole deck, Creakwood Liege, while the few Spells are there to draw cards (Sign in Blood) to make sure you do not “run out of steam” after playing an army of Creatures from your starting hand, remove bothersome Creatures or Artifacts (Putrefy) and give your Creatures additional attack power (Rancor). Let me go through the cards one-by-one and share my thoughts with you on them:
Birds of Paradise & Elves of Deep Shadow:
Both Creatures cost 1 Green Mana and can be tapped to produce one Mana, which will allow you to drop your many 3 casting cost Creatures one turn earlier, starting on turn 2, which is essential in a deck trying to overwhelm the opponent quickly with an army of cheap but efficient beaters. While Elves of Deep Shadow produce black mana only, at the negligable cost of 1 Life, Birds of Paradise produce mana of any color, which gives you great flexibility and will allow you to summon and cast your many multicolor Creatures and other Spells easily. I have to note that the lowly 0/1 Birds of Paradise can be used as a way to get through the last few damage needed to win against an opponent who managed to put up their defenses after losing considerable amounts of life to an early onslaught of your cheap beaters. This can be done by enchanting your Flying Birds with one or, even better, multiple Rancors or by using Dreg Mangler’s Scavenge ability to put three +1/+1 Counters on one of your Birds.
A great common Creature that is a 2/2 for 2 mana, which is pretty much standard. What makes the Leech a considerable threat however is that you can pay 2 Life once per turn to make it a 4/4, which is amazing for a 2 Mana Common Creature – the life you have to pay should not worry you in the least: You have 20 to spare anyways and the plan is to overpower the opponent in a couple of turns, before they can pose a threat against your life points anyways.
This is the one Creature I may be replacing with Lotleth Troll, but Strangleroot Geist has its merit as well, being a 2/1 Creature with Haste, which is pretty rare in green Creatures, for just two green mana, with the awesome ability that he respawns when destroyed for the first time with a +1/+1 Counter on it, making it a 3/2 which can attack again right away due to Haste. An amazing deal for a 2 Mana Uncommon!
As discussed and seen in the image above!
Another 3 Power for 3 Mana Creature. Not as powerful as Drag Mangler, Shambling Shell can still be very useful as you can sacrifice it to put a +1/+1 Counter on any Creature. This might seem not that exciting, but basically every time a Shell would die, you can sack it in response to boost one of your other Creatures permanently. Furthermore, Shambling Shell has the Dregde ability at Dredge 3, which means when you would be drawing a card you can instead return Shell to your hand from your graveyard and then discard the top 3 cards from your library to the graveyard. The latter can interact nicely with Dreg Mangler, who might end up in your graveyard when using Dredge from where its Scavenge ability can be used, putting three +1/+1 counters on any one Creature for 5 Mana.
One of the two different rare cards I am playing in this deck (basically, the other rare – Llanowar Wastes – is not really needed but I decided to run a playset as they are cheap these days and it will ensure that the deck runs more reliably and smoother with 4 Lands that produce both Green and Black Mana) is also the most costly card at 4 Mana. But Creakwood Liege is surely worth the investment in a deck like this one. Please take a look:
At a mere 2/2 his stats may be weak compared to the other Creatures in the deck, but his abilities definitely make him a game winner in this deck. First of all he acts like a double Crusade (if I may refer to a central card in all old-school White Weenie decks which gives all White Creatures in play +1/+1 for as long as it stays in play) for all of your two color Creatures (you have a total of 12 of those) and as a regular Crusade for your 12 mono-color Creatures. With just one Liege out, your hasty Dreg Maulers for example will attack for an amazing 5 damage the very turn you play them. But that is not all there is to Creakwood Liege. Besides giving +1/+1 boosts to Green and Black Creatures, he produces a 1/1 Black and Green Worm Creature Token during each of your upkeeps. The tokens will be 3/3 due to the fact that they are both Black and Green in color. Those will aid you greatly in beating down on your opponent so overall Creakwood Liege is a fantastic addition or “killer card” in this deck.
This gives the Creature it enchants +2 Power as well as Trample, which can be very useful to get through your opponent’s defenses. Furthermore, when the Creature Rancor enchants dies, you will get it back into your hand instead of having to send it to the graveyard so you can cast it again at just one green Mana to boost another Creature.
Sign in Blood:
I wanted some draw cards to ensure the ambush of Creatures will not stop and you will have ample backup during mid- to late-game. I was considering to run the oddly Green draw card Harmonize which draws you 3 new cards at the cost of 4 Mana. However I decided to go with the cheaper option – Sign in Blood – which will draw you 2 cards for just 2 Mana, with the managable additional cost of 2 Life. Also, if you want to get back your Shambling Shell from your graveyard, you can use a draw from Sign in Blood to do the Dredge thing to retrieve Shell.
An incredibly efficient and cheap pinpoint removal card which kills any Creature or destroys any bothersome artifact. Just too good to not include it in a deck of the right colors.
I decided to go the cheap route with 16 out of 20 lands in total being basic Forests and Swamps. Since the Black and Green Mana producing “Painland” Llanowar Wastes is incredibly cheap money-wise nowadays, I decided to run a playset of that one in order to have a more flexible mana base ensuring you will conistently have the right types of Mana for casting your multicolor cards.