Building_on_a_Budget

Rareless and Careless

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Readers have been asking for a deck with no rares or mythic rares since I first took the reins of Building on a Budget. Back in March, Standard was a format dominated by Caw-Blade, and it became clear to me that many of the red and blue commons and uncommons were well positioned in the current format. I found a great opportunity to build a deck with no rares or mythic rares. This piece showcases the column's ability to create relatively competitive decks with little to no investment on the part of the deck builder.

I'm currently investigating the possibility of a rareless deck for the current Standard format. Be sure to check out Building on a Budget in January for the latest rareless Standard endeavors.



The letter I!'ve had a number of readers ask for a Standard deck that plays no rares. To be honest, I wasn't sure if this was even possible. Cards like Jace, the Mind Sculptor are so powerful that it becomes very difficult to compete while confining oneself to commons and uncommons.

I decided to do a Gatherer search of Standard including only commons and uncommons to see what colors offered the most powerful spells with the rares and mythic rares out of the picture.


Red was a clear winner here. Lightning Bolt, Arc Trail, Staggershock, Searing Blaze, and Forked Bolt all seemed like cards that had the power level to compete in a world of Stoneforge Mystics and Jaces.


I didn't just want to make a red burn deck, though. That would risk becoming a boring down version of the red deck played by Patrick Sullivan at the recent StarCityGames.com Standard Open in Edison, NJ.


Neurok Commando is a card that has the ability to completely dominate a game. It's especially strong when paired with cards like Arc Trail and Forked Bolt that can clear the way and let the card advantage really pile up. One thing that's especially nice with Neurok Commando in the current Standard is how often your opponent will leave back just a single Squadron Hawk back to block. "You already used two burn spells. Could you really have another one?"


The truth is, yes, of course you have another one—if your deck plays twenty burn spells!

I already wanted to play all the good commons and uncommons that red has to offer. Kiln Fiend seemed like a perfect fit to give this deck some really explosive draws. Kiln Fiend has the potential to let you end games very early. It works especially well when you have multiple one-mana burn spells or a Staggershock.


Æther Adept may not seem like the best card, but I've been pretty impressed with its ability to bounce creatures wielding Sword of Feast and Famine. It's also nice to bounce your opponent's blocker when you have a Neurok Commando waiting to net you some extra cards.


I played a few games with the deck and found myself wanting some amount of countermagic. Deprive seemed pretty good in a deck like this, and Mana Leak is always a welcome addition. I decided to play a relatively even split and see which card did better for me in actual game play.


As with other red decks I've worked on lately, I need a sideboard plan to deal with Kor Firewalker and Baneslayer Angel. This time around, though, it's much easier. Blue gives us access to Narcolepsy, and even if they're still gaining the life from the Kor Firewalker, it's much more important that we have a way to force our Kiln Fiend and Neurok Commando through their team.

I wanted extra countermagic in my sideboard for matchups like Valakut. I'll play a full set of Flashfreeze. I'm also a fan of Spreading Seas against a lot of different decks that don't play many creatures.

I played a full set of all the aforementioned burn spells and decided to take the deck to battle in the tournament practice room of Magic Online. Here's the final 75.

Rareless Aggro-Control
Standard

Main Deck

60 cards

Evolving Wilds
Island
Mountain
Terramorphic Expanse

23 lands

Æther Adept
Kiln Fiend
Neurok Commando

12 creatures

Arc Trail
Deprive
Forked Bolt
Lightning Bolt
Mana Leak
Searing Blaze
Staggershock

25 other spells

Sideboard
Deprive
Flashfreeze
Mana Leak
Narcolepsy
Spreading Seas

15 sideboard cards




I lost the roll and kept 2 Island, Terramorphic Expanse, Arc Trail, Mana Leak, Neurok Commando, and Staggershock. My opponent played a Razorverge Thicket, cast Birds of Paradise, and passed the turn. I drew an Æther Adept, played Terramorphic Expanse, and passed the turn. My opponent cast Fauna Shaman, played a Raging Ravine, and passed. I cracked my Terramorphic Expanse for a Mountain, then drew a Lightning Bolt, played my Island, cast Arc Trail wiping my opponent's board, and passed the turn. My opponent played a land and cast Cunning Sparkmage before passing the turn. I drew a Mountain, played my Island, cast Neurok Commando, and passed the turn after getting pinged for one.

My opponent cast a Stoneforge Mystic, searched for Basilisk Collar, cast the Collar, and passed the turn. I drew a Burst Lightning, cast Staggershock targeting the Stoneforge Mystic, played my Mountain, cast Burst Lightning targeting the Cunning Sparkmage, attacked with Neurok Commando, drew a Terramorphic Expanse, and passed the turn. My opponent played a fourth land and cast Linvala, Keeper of Silence. I shocked Linvala with my Staggershock rebound, drew a Searing Blaze, played a land, cast Searing Blaze on Linvala to finish her off, attacked with Neurok Commando, drew a Deprive, and passed the turn. My opponent ripped a fifth land and tried to cast a Baneslayer Angel, but I countered with Mana Leak, and my opponent had no more plays. I drew a Kiln Fiend, attacked with Neurok Commando, drew Staggershock, cast Kiln Fiend, and passed the turn. My opponent went for another Baneslayer Angel, but this time I had Deprive. I drew a Lightning Bolt, attacked with both creatures, Staggershocked my opponent, and cast Lightning Bolt. That was enough damage to finish things with the Kiln Fiend.

Sideboarding: -4 Searing Blaze, +4 Narcolepsy


I kept Mountain, Evolving Wilds, Terramorphic Expanse, Lightning Bolt, Burst Lightning, Staggershock, and Neurok Commando. My opponent played a Raging Ravine and passed the turn. I drew a Lightning Bolt, played my Evolving Wilds, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Plains, cast a Fauna Shaman, and passed the turn, and I popped the Expanse for an Island. I drew Narcolepsy, played my Mountain, cast an unkicked Burst Lightning on the Fauna Shaman, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Razorverge Thicket, cast Kor Firewalker, and passed the turn. I drew a Mana Leak, cast Narcolepsy on the Kor Firewalker, played my Terramorphic Expanse, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Squadron Hawk and searched up a few more copies, and I popped my land for an Island at end of turn.

I drew a Mountain, played it, cast Neurok Commando, and passed the turn. My opponent cast Sword of Body and Mind and passed the turn. I cast Lightning Bolt on Squadron Hawk during the end step, giving my opponent a life point from the Firewalker. I drew Deprive, attacked with Neurok Commando, drew Kiln Fiend, cast Kiln Fiend, and passed the turn. My opponent played a fourth land, cast Squadron Hawk, equipped Sword of Body and Mind, and passed the turn. I drew a Burst Lightning, cast Burst Lightning on the Hawk, cast Staggershock on the Hawk to kill it, and attacked with both creatures. My opponent went to 12 from the attack after the Firewalker life gain from the spells, and I drew Lightning Bolt. My opponent played another Hawk and equipped the Sword. I used my Staggershock rebound on my opponent's face, dealing a net total of one. Then I drew Staggershock and cast Lightning Bolt on the Hawk to put my opponent back to 12. I attacked with both creatures and drew an Island, played the Island, and passed the turn. My opponent drew a fifth land, played it, and went for Baneslayer Angel, but I cast Deprive, and my opponent scooped.



I won the roll and kept, Mountain, Island, Kiln Fiend, Arc Trail, Lightning Bolt, and 2 Staggershock. I played my Mountain and passed the turn. My opponent played a Seachrome Coast, cast Preordain, and passed the turn. I drew an Æther Adept, cast Kiln Fiend, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Stoneforge Mystic, searched up Sword of Feast and Famine, and passed the turn. I drew a Mountain, played it, cast Staggershock on the Stoneforge Mystic, attacked for four, and passed the turn. My opponent cast Sword of Feast and Famine and passed the turn. I shot my opponent for 2, drew a Lightning Bolt, attacked with my Kiln Fiend, and cast both Lightning Bolts targeting my opponent, and that was game.

Sideboarding: -4 Searing Blaze, +4 Narcolepsy


I kept Terramorphic Expanse, Island, Mountain, Neurok Commando, Æther Adept, Lightning Bolt, and Arc Trail. My opponent played a Celestial Colonnade and passed the turn. I drew an Island, played Terramorphic Expanse, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Plains and cast Kor Firewalker. I drew a Lightning Bolt, played a Mountain, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Stoneforge Mystic and found Sword of Feast and Famine, played a land, and passed the turn. I drew a Mountain, cast Neurok Commando, and passed the turn. My opponent used Stoneforge Mystic to put the Sword onto the battlefield, equipped the Sword onto Kor Firewalker, and attacked. I took the damage and discarded a land, and my opponent's lands all untapped. My opponent then cast Jace, the Mind Sculptor, used the +2 ability, and passed the turn. I drew Narcolepsy, cast Æther Adept returning the Kor Firewalker to my opponent's hand, cast Lightning Bolt on the Stoneforge Mystic, attacked my opponent with Neurok Commando, drew another Neurok Commando, and passed the turn. My opponent recast Kor Firewalker and equipped the Sword of Feast and Famine, then used Jace's Brainstorm ability and passed the turn. I drew an Island, played it, cast Narcolepsy on the Kor Firewalker, cast Neurok Commando, and passed the turn. My opponent cast Day of Judgment, used Jace to Brainstorm, played a land, and passed the turn. I drew a land and passed the turn. My opponent used Jace to Brainstorm again, cast Gideon Jura, gave Gideon +2, and passed the turn. I drew a land and packed this one in.


I mulliganed and kept Island, Mountain, Neurok Commando, Arc Trail, Forked Bolt, and Kiln Fiend. I played my Mountain and passed the turn. My opponent played a Seachrome Coast, cast Preordain, and passed the turn. I drew a Lightning Bolt, played my land, cast Kiln Fiend, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Squadron Hawk and found more Squadron Hawks. I drew an Island—how lucky!—and attacked with Kiln Fiend. My opponent took the 1, and I played my land, cast Neurok Commando, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Celestial Colonnade, cast another Squadron Hawk, and passed the turn. I drew a Staggershock, cast Arc Trail dispatching both blockers, attacked for 6, drew Æther Adept, and passed the turn.

My opponent played a land and cast two Squadron Hawks. I drew a Neurok Commando, cast Forked Bolt destroying both Squadron Hawks, and attacked for another 6. I drew a Mountain off my Commando, played it, cast another Commando, and passed the turn. My opponent played a fifth land and cast Baneslayer Angel. I drew an Island, cast Æther Adept to bounce the Angel, cast Lightning Bolt targeting my opponent, and attacked for lethal damage.



I lost the roll and kept 2 Mountain, Island, Evolving Wilds, Neurok Commando, Lightning Bolt, and Arc Trail. My opponent played a Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, and passed the turn. I drew an Æther Adept, played my Evolving Wilds, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Forest, cast a Lotus Cobra, and passed the turn. I drew a Staggershock, cast Arc Trail dealing ` to the Lotus Cobra and 2 to my opponent, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Khalni Heart Expedition, played a Terramorphic Expanse, and passed the turn. I drew a Kiln Fiend, cast Neurok Commando, and passed the turn. My opponent cracked the Expanse on my end step. My opponent cast Cultivate, played the newly fetched land, and passed the turn.

I drew a Lightning Bolt, attacked with Neurok Commando, drew Deprive, played my Mountain, cast Kiln Fiend, and passed the turn. My opponent played a land and attempted to cast Primeval Titan. I was ready with the Deprive, but my opponent had a Summoning Trap! Down came an Inferno Titan, which killed my Kiln Fiend and dealt me 2 damage. I drew a Lightning Bolt and used both Bolts to kill the Inferno Titan, then attacked with Neurok Commando, drew an Island, played it, and passed the turn. My opponent played a land and cast Avenger of Zendikar, taking the opportunity while I was tapped out to crack the Expedition and make all of those Plants into very scary monsters. I drew a Mountain for my turn and passed back, but my opponent cast Harrow and attacked me for lethal damage.

Sideboarding: -4 Searing Blaze, -4 Arc Trail, -3 Forked Bolt, +4 Flashfreeze, +4 Spreading Seas, +2 Deprive, +1 Mana Leak.


I kept Evolving Wilds, Mountain, Island, Spreading Seas, Neurok Commando, Lightning Bolt, and Staggershock. I played my Evolving Wilds and passed the turn. My opponent played a Forest and passed the turn after I found an Island with my Evolving Wilds. I played my Mountain, cast Spreading Seas on my opponent's Forest, drew Kiln Fiend, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Mountain and passed. I drew a Mana Leak, cast Neurok Commando, and passed the turn. My opponent cast Pyroclasm, played a Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, and passed the turn. I drew Mana Leak, cast Kiln Fiend, played my land, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Raging Ravine and passed. I drew an Island, played my land, cast Staggershock targeting my opponent, attacked for 4, and passed the turn.

My opponent cast Khalni Heart Expedition, played a Forest, cast Cultivate, and passed the turn. I rebounded the Staggershock, cast another Staggershock targeting my opponent, and attacked for 9, putting my opponent at 1. My opponent couldn't find a way to beat the Staggershock rebound, and we were off to Game 3.


I kept 2 Island, Evolving Wilds, Neurok Commando, Burst Lightning, Lightning Bolt, and Flashfreeze. My opponent played a Forest and passed the turn. I drew an Island, played Evolving Wilds, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Lotus Cobra and passed the turn after I found a Mountain. I drew an Æther Adept, played my land, cast Burst Lightning on the Cobra, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Cultivate and passed the turn. I drew Staggershock, played my land, cast Neurok Commando, and passed the turn. My opponent cast Pyroclasm, cast Explore, played some lands, and passed the turn. I drew a Flashfreeze and passed the turn. My opponent attempted to cast an Inferno Titan, but I had the Flashfreeze. Again came the Summoning Trap, but I had another Flashfreeze. My opponent played a seventh land and passed the turn. I drew a Neurok Commando, cast it, and passed the turn. My opponent cast Avenger of Zendikar, played an Evolving Wilds, cracked it, and passed the turn. A resolved Avenger really puts the breaks on a deck like mine. I drew a Mana Leak and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Cultivate and played the land, then attacked with a team of Plants and took the game.


The deck performs surprisingly well against the best decks in the field. It took some elbow grease, but it's still very possible to make a viable deck that doesn't play any rares.

I'd love to hear comments and suggestions from my readers. Hit the forums or shoot me and e-mail with your thoughts.

Happy brewing!



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