'Building with Box-Tops #1: Orzhov Enchantments'



22 July 2015


Welcome to Building with Box-Tops (thanks for the name tooTimid!), written by me, Magicrafter. In this mini-series we're going to be exploring budget standard decks and the occasional budget modern deck. For the purposes of this series I am taking a budget build to be less than $60 for standard and under $130 for modern including sideboard. However, these are experimental values and may well change; if you have a better idea for what 'budget' should mean then please feel free to leave a comment below!

Today on 'Building with Box-Tops' we look at a new standard deck: Orzhov Enchantments. The Abzan version is slightly better, but also more expensive, therefore I opted for a two colour version to keep costs low. Without further ado, the list:

Creatures (20):

4x Blood-Cursed Knight

1x Athreos, God of Passage

3x Blessed Spirits

3x Brain Maggot

1x Master of the Feast

3x Gnarled Scarhide

2x Grim Guardian

2x Herald of Torment

Enchantments (14):

2x Banishing Light

2x Demonic Pact

3x Infernal Scarring

2x Mortal Obstinacy

2x Sigil of the Empty Throne

2x Starfield of Nyx

Artifacts (2):

2x Helm of the Gods

Lands (24):

4x Caves of Koilos

10x Swamp

10x Plains

Sideboard (15):

2x Tormod's Crypt

2x Ultimate Price

2x Banishing Light

2x Glare of Heresy

4x Self-Inflicted Wound

3x Surge of Righteousness

The deck revolves around playing Blood-Cursed Knight as a 4/3 with lifelink for 3 mana. In the mid-game, the deck hits hard with Master of the Feast and Herald of Torment, along with the previously mentioned card. In the early game, Gnarled Scarhide and Brain Maggot provide aggro and control options respectively, and add to our total enchantment count. In terms of interaction, this deck gets rid of opposing threats with Banishing Light, Demonic Pact, and Brain Maggot. Remember that all of these enchantments can be recurred with Starfield of Nyx. In this respect the Theros block is currently offering a lot of synergy for us.

One part of the deck I am loving in particular is the Demonic Pact + Mortal Obstinacy combo. You get your value off of Pact, then pop an Obstinacy onto a flyer and use it to destroy your own Pact. Later you can use Starfield of Nyx to bring back Pact, and then when you need to destroy it you can recur Obstinacy to repeat the process. Specific win conditions include Helm of the Gods along with Blessed Spirits. With all the enchantments, Sigil of the Empty Throne does a lot of work late game building up an army of tokens.

The sideboard is pretty self-explanatory; Surge of Righteousness against red/black decks, Self-Inflicted Wound against G/W decks, Glare of Heresy against white decks, Banishing Light against decks like Abzan (because of Siege Rhino etc.), and Ultimate Price against mono-colored opponents. I have Tormod's Crypt in there because of a fear of a graveyard based deck featuring Jace, Vryn's Prodigy  Flip.

Lets draw some hands to see what kind of options and curves this deck produces. In my first, I have Blood-Cursed Knight, Athreos, God of Passage, Plains, Plains, Starfield of Nyx, Sigil of the Empty Throne, and Helm of the Gods. I'm not sure about keeping this, but if I draw into a black mana I can probably start getting on track. I note from this hand that the curve may be a little high - we can't do much until turn 3 with this, which could be problematic.

Alright, here's my second: Plains, Swamp, Mortal Obstinacy, Gnarled Scarhide, Brain Maggot, Demonic Pact, and Master of the Feast. This is a great hand in my opinion. It has early game drops, and then the potential to dominate late game with Master of the Feast and Demonic Pact. We have flexibility with both our aggressive and control options too, which allows us to adapt our play style to fit different situations.

Third hand: Brain Maggot, Brain Maggot, Blood-Cursed Knight, Swamp, Swamp, Plains, and Plains. This is kind of good. We can curve into a 4/3 lifelink for 3, and we also have control options to play in the early game. I also like that we have enough mana in this hand to not have to worry about late game plays. I would probably keep this hand at FNM, but not so much at a highly competitive event.

That's all for today folks, I'll see you next time with a brand new deck! Please leave suggestions in the comments about how you think the deck could be encouraged - bare in mind the budget! I would also appreciate suggestions about the article in general, as I have never done an article before. Finally, if you want to influence what I'm writing about next time, please go here!

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luisserpa says... #1

That was a very interesting reading, I really liked it. Thanks for sharing it.

July 20, 2015 1:35 p.m.

NoviceMagician says... #2

Hot beans.

Let me know when you do a modern build, standard ain't my thang.

July 20, 2015 11:42 p.m.

ChiefBell says... #3

Epochalyptik - this needs changing / removing.

July 21, 2015 noon

Epochalyptik says... #4

Still waiting on privs.

July 21, 2015 12:17 p.m.

Nice read. I'm actually not a huge fan of standard, but yeah, EDH and modern. If you make anything like that, I'll be happy.

July 21, 2015 8:47 p.m.

Dalektable says... #6

Sweet, new article series with a cute name to boot. I love budget decks, especially effective ones so I'll be following. Also, as far as the "what counts as budget" question that varies from person to person greatly...I think you would be safe going with $75 for standard, and $150 for modern. This gives you enough wiggle room for some fun brews. I'm excited to see what comes.

July 22, 2015 5:10 p.m.

For the poll, could there be a none of the above option? Or maybe a bit more janky, such as Azorius Thopters?

But nice article :)

July 22, 2015 5:31 p.m.

quesobueno123 says... #8

Nice job, I can't wait for the modern one!

July 22, 2015 5:34 p.m.

grumbledore says... #9

this... this makes me want to get back in to standard. i don't know if thats a good thing or not, but there ya go! :)

July 22, 2015 6:42 p.m.

HolyFalcon says... #10

Thanks guys!

FAMOUSWATERMELON: I'll add that for next time.

July 22, 2015 8:03 p.m.

Ohthenoises says... #11

I feel like Underworld Coinsmith got passed over for Grim Guardian. Cheaper to cast, in our colors, is an enchantment, is a mana sink, etc.

I like the series idea, keep it coming! For modern: U Tron is naturally budget but to be honest I would like to see something on a mono green stompy (the Aspect of Hydra/Leatherback Baloth deck) with the addition of Collected Company.

July 22, 2015 8:12 p.m.

kengiczar says... #12

That possible 4/3 life-linker makes me very happy! I do think Coinsmith deserves a spot although I can't really say for sure whether or not he's better against burn.

July 22, 2015 8:25 p.m.

Nice article, fun deck.

July 23, 2015 12:54 a.m.

Boza says... #14

I am curious - what are box-tops and why are we building with them? Is that a magic term I have not heard before?

July 23, 2015 2:28 a.m.

dreamaddict says... #15

It used to be that if you saved up the box-tops from your cereal and sent enough of them to the cereal company, you'd get a toy, like the decoder ring from A Christmas Story. Also, this deck is awesome, not only because it is budget but because it takes the enchantment theme from Theros, which wasn't super good, and adds a little spice to make a legitimately delicious farewell to the block.

July 23, 2015 2:59 a.m.

Boza says... #16

Thanks for the cereal info :)

Ok, while I do enjoy budget decks and think there is a severe lack of such articles here, the article can be improved.

First, the article:

  • The deck format is very hard to read. If the whole deck cannot be seen on a single screen, it is bad. I really suggest getting some better deck formats, like the ones in the Spootyone articles (I am butchering the name). It really helps visibility.

  • More on visibility - clearly defined sections. Have three sections that are clearly defined and have headings. They can be "early, mid, lategame" or "deck general plan, key interactions, sideboarding" or even just "creatures, other things, sideboard stuff". But it will make it a lot clearer.

  • Current sections - we have Deck Strategy and Description and three Sample Hands - 2 sections total. While I understand that the target audience can benefit from starting hands, most people reading this will not care about whether or not to mulligan (especially hand 3, I would have not hesitated to keep that). It comprises about 1/3 of your article. People glossing over/not caring too much about 33% of your output is not very good. However, a section on "how to improve the deck with more $$$" would offer better info to those that decide to pick this deck up.

One note on the deck itself - when you are a playing a synergy dependent deck like this one, having 0 enchantments in the SB will make your deck synergy worse, debilitating it more than a couple of sideboard cards will improve it. For example, Tormod's Crypt can easily be Agent of Erebos to keep the amount of enchantments the same.

July 23, 2015 3:25 a.m.

you decklist is only 58 cards by the way. 19 Creatures, and 13 Enchants. I'm far from a Standard player, more exclusively Legacy and EDH, Standard is just too rich for my blood. however I will play standard as long as its dirt dirt cheap. Keep up the articles.

July 23, 2015 9:17 a.m.

HolyFalcon says... #18

You are right my good sir. Add 2 Underworld Coinsmith for anyone who actually used this list.

July 23, 2015 10:44 a.m.

ChiefBell says... #19

Magicrafter - I can help you format the next one to use tapped outs special deck widget. The one that displays decks in a nice little box.

July 23, 2015 11:08 a.m.

HolyFalcon says... #20

Yeah, ABadMagicPlayer100 showed me the code.

July 23, 2015 11:12 a.m.

Is there a final budget for this list or did I miss it? I know it's under $60 but wouldn't mind knowing the total. Also would this deck benifit from the gain land in these colours? This is a great first one posted and hope that the keep getting better as you go along.

July 23, 2015 8:17 p.m.

HolyFalcon says... #22

It'a 54.75$ on tcgmid. The deck is more of an aggro deck and I didn't feel like a tapped land would help it much.

July 23, 2015 8:23 p.m.

That makes sense. Again this is awesome and look forward to more of these xD.

July 23, 2015 8:26 p.m.

Izu_Korasu says... #24

i really like this deck, seems like a blast to play and

what about the addition of Mastery of the Unseen as a sideboard against certain decks? the life gain/mana sink aspect (aswell as it being an enchantment) could help your aggro deck against decks like control (also pairs well with the Athreos as manifests trigger the ability) also not sure Demonic Pact's gains are worth it's downside in this deck. (even with the combo, assuming you can get through an attack, thopters and dragons are common)

Tormod's Crypt also has the value of being able to keep delve cards at a high mana cost, and removes Deathmist Raptor (probably the only way you have to deal with it)

July 24, 2015 1:53 a.m.

kyuuri117 says... #25

Before I read this I just want to point out that "budget" does not, in fact, mean "inexpensive". It just means you had a "budget" to build the deck on. You're "budget" for the deck could have been $800. Reasonable for two color modern, overboard for three color standard, and cheap for mono colored legacy.

July 25, 2015 9:51 p.m.

kyuuri117 says... #26

I think demonic pact is getting too cute here. You've got Mortal Obstinacy and Banishing Light to get rid of it, and both cause you card disadvantage. It just feels like it's gonna sit, dead in your hand, until you pull one of the four cards to deal with it.

I also think the deck is a bit slow while also being very frail to Languish and other board wipes..

Dictate of Heliod Might be a good end game enchantment for you. Might allow you to race languish decks, while also fitting with your theme.

Nyx-Fleece Ram could be a good addition to the sideboard to stop more aggressive decks.

Doomwake Giant as a four of really seems like a good idea. Survives languish, allows you to shrink the enemy team, and can tango with siege rhino's and tasigurs.

If you went more midrange, Mastery of the Unseen could be useful.

If you decide to keep it aggro, Spirit of the Labyrinth Would be a very good aggressive card.

Lastly, you should probably add Scoured Barrens. Helps fix mana.

July 25, 2015 10:07 p.m.

pumpkinwavy says... #27

Hand #3 seems very keepable. You have a turn 2 Thoughtseize followed by a huge beater and then another Thoughtseize, plus whatever you draw. I wouldn't risk getting a bad 6 when you have good turn 2 and 3 plays.

About the actual deck, most of the enchantments that are good cards on their own seem to be pushing midrange, while the deck is aggro. Doomwake Giant, Mastery of the Unseen and more Banishing Light help improve the individual card quality, which is still important in a synergy deck.

I'd cut the auras, Gnarled Scarhide, and Demonic Pact for the cards kyuuri117 mentioned. Cool article!

July 26, 2015 4:48 p.m.

wakawakawaka says... #28

kyuuri117, don't forget that Starfield of Nyx allows the 4 damage option of demonic pact to target itself, giving the deck 6 ways in total to deal with the 2 demonic pacts. Additionally in removal heavy matchups demonic pact can easily be sided out or simply not played.

while I'm not saying that demonic pact is the best card in the world, it is a really interesting and surprisingly powerful addition to the deck.

July 27, 2015 12:15 a.m.

Mtg_king says... #29

I simply just don't like the card Demonic Pact unless you can remove your own enhancements

July 29, 2015 1:56 p.m.

HolyFalcon says... #30

You can, using Banishing Light and Mortal Obstinacy.

July 29, 2015 2:41 p.m.

HolyFalcon says... #31

nvm, not Banishing Light.

July 29, 2015 2:41 p.m.

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