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Budget Magic: $100 8-Squee Infestation (Modern)


Anyoung, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! Squee, Goblin Nabob is one of the most unique creatures in Magic. While it isn't very powerful on the battlefield, its ability to return itself from our graveyard to our hand each turn opens up some shenanigans with cards that allow us to discard for value. Well now, thanks to Modern Horizons 2, we essentially have eight Squees, with Master of Death offering the same ability but at the cost of one life. The idea of 8-Squee Infestation is to self-mill aggressively in order to fill our graveyard with copies of Squee and Master of Death and then find Zombie Infestation (so we can discard our Squees each turn to make 2/2 Zombie tokens) and Faith of the Devoted (so we can drain our opponent out of the game as we are discarding as Squees). The end result is a weird, grindy graveyard deck that can generate a ton of free value when the game goes long, thanks to our sneaky Squee synergies! How big of a deal is having eight Squees in Modern? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: 8-Squee Infestation

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The Deck

Quick story on the deck: a little over a week ago, a viewer named Eli R. sent me a list they were working on featuring Squee, Goblin Nabob, Master of Death, and Zombie Infestation, which is what inspired me to build around the synergy. So, thanks for the inspiration, Eli! Anyway, 8-Squee Infestation is a graveyard-centric, grindy, slow combo deck. Our goal is to fill our graveyard with as many copies of Squee, Goblin Nabob and Master of Death as possible, use Zombie Infestation to repeatedly discard them to make Zombie tokens, and use Faith of the Devoted to drain our opponent out of the game as we discard.

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Squee, Goblin Nabob and Master of Death essentially are the same card in our deck: as a Golgari deck, we don't actually have the ability to cast either card (although in a non-budget build, we'd probably play a fetch land–for–shock land mana base that would allow us to cast them in a pinch). Instead, we're looking to take advantage of the cards' ability to return themselves from our graveyard to our hand each turn for zero mana. 

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Since our Squees return to our hand from our graveyard each turn anyway, we don't really want to draw them naturally. Instead, we're hoping to get them into our graveyard, which is just as good as drawing them (discounting graveyard hate) because they'll end up in our hand the next turn anyway. Stitcher's Supplier and Commune with the Gods help us stock our graveyard with copies of Squee, Goblin Nabob and Master of Death, while Commune with the Gods also helps us dig for our enchantment payoffs. Meanwhile, Stinkweed Imp and Life from the Loam help to fill our graveyard thanks to the dredge mechanic. Stinkweed Imp also offers a repeatable pseudo-deathtouch blocker, while Life from the Loam gives us another way to fill our hand with cards to discard to Zombie Infestation to make Zombies.

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Apart from our eight Squees, we have two important payoffs in Zombie Infestation and Faith of the Devoted. Zombie Infestation allows us to discard two cards to make a 2/2 Zombie token. If we can find all eight Squees, this ability allows us to make four 2/2 Zombies each turn (since we can discard all of our Squee, Goblin Nabobs and Master of Deaths and then return them to our hand on our upkeep to do it again). Even with just a couple of Squees, we're still getting a free Zombie. Once we find Zombie Infestation, Faith of the Devoted becomes our best finisher, allowing us to pay one mana to drain our opponent for two whenever we discard a card. This allows us to discard two Squees / Master of Deaths to Zombie Infestation to make a 2/2 Zombie and then pay two mana to have our opponent lose four life while we gain four life. Once we get a bunch of Squees going, this usually kills our opponent in just a couple of turns (with the Zombies chipping in for extra damage). And even earlier in the game, draining for four each turn is a good way to stay alive against aggro decks as we look to find more copies of Squee to up our Zombies and drain.

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The rest of the nonland cards in our main deck are removal spells. Abrupt Decay and Maelstrom Pulse have the upside of hitting artifacts and enchantments, which allows them to answer graveyard-hate spells like Rest in Peace and Relic of Progenitus, which are really strong against our plan. Meanwhile, Deadly Brew and Bone Shards are pretty insane in our deck. Thanks to Squee, Goblin Nabob and Master of Death, we have a ton of cards in our deck that we can discard to Bone Shards without losing any value, making it a one-mana way to kill pretty much anything without a meaningful drawback. As for Deadly Brew, it offers not only removal but also a budget-friendly Eternal Witness. Since our deck self-mills fairly aggressively, we're liking to mill over payoffs like Zombie Infestation and Faith of the Devoted. Deadly Brew gives us a way to return them to our hand while also being a good enough answer to opposing creatures in the early game.

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Two quick things on our mana base. First, as I mentioned before, we can't actually cast Squee, Goblin Nabob or Master of Death. In general, we're not planning to, but there are weird, fringe situations where it would be nice to have the option to cast a Squee to chump block for a turn or two. Sadly, it just isn't possible to make a four-color mana base work on a budget without it becoming really inconsistent and slow. For non-budget lists with fetch lands and shock lands, it's probably worth playing a Triome or a Watery Grave / Blood Crypt to have the option of casting a Squee or Master of Death

Second, Field of Ruin is pretty insane in this deck, thanks to Life from the Loam. Being able to keep recurring Field of Ruin can lock some decks out of the game (see our Tron games). Don't underestimate the value this offers.

Playing the Deck

Perhaps the biggest issue with the deck is that we only have four copies of Zombie Infestation, and Zombie Infestation is the most important card to making our deck function. We have eight Squees, so we'll find them eventually. And while Faith of the Devoted is a great way to close out the game, we don't need it especially quickly because the Zombie tokens from Zombie Infestation can, at worse, buy us a lot of time and, at best, win the game by themselves. All of this is to say, you should value hands with Zombie Infestation pretty highly because it's the card that holds the rest of our game plan together.

Speaking of issues with the deck, graveyard hate is also a concern. While we have plenty of answers, getting all of our Squees exiled makes it a lot harder for our deck to win. If you're expecting a lot of graveyard hate, considering bringing in Reclamation Sage from the sideboard to have additional answers. 

Wrap-Up

All in all, we went 3-2 with 8-Squee Infestation, beating Eldrazi Tron twice along the way (and also Affinity) while losing to two Izzet Aggro decks (one Izzet Delver and one Izzet Prowess). This makes sense. Aggro can be a tricky matchup for our deck because 8-Squee Infestation can be slow. We have a ton of grindy power for when the game goes long, but it takes a few turns to find Squees and get Zombie Infestation and Faith of the Devoted up and running, which means we sometimes can get run over by aggro if they have a good draw. On the other hand, against slower midrange and control decks, we usually can outvalue our opponent thanks to the absurd amount of free value we can generate with our Squees.

As far as changes to make to the budget build of 8-Squee Infestation, I'm generally happy with how it turned out, although Stitcher's Supplier underperformed, especially compared to its $5 / copy cost (making it the second most expensive card in our deck behind Life from the Loam). While we do need a lot of ways to fill our graveyard, it's possible that something like Grisly Salvage, Benefaction of Rhonas, or even Vessel of Nascency would work instead. Stitcher's Supplier wasn't horrible, but I'm not sure it's worth it, compared to its cost.

All in all, I liked 8-Squee Infestation. It's slow and grindy, and graveyard hate is a concern, but it offers a ton of free value and, outside of graveyard hate, is pretty tough for a lot of decks to deal with. If you're a fan of grindy graveyard-value decks, give it a shot!

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My main goal for the ultra-budget build was to get the deck down near $50 without cutting any copies of Life from the Loam (it's really good in the deck), but that just wasn't possible in the end. Two copies of Life from the Loam are almost $33, which just doesn't leave enough budget for the other 73 cards. While we do get to keep a copy, losing a Loam is pretty painful. Outside of Life from the Loam, the changes are pretty minimal. We get Vessel of Nascency over Stitcher's Supplier, Evolving Wilds over Necroblossom Snarl, and a couple of other small changes (like an extra Bone Shards over Abrupt Decay), and we're good to go!

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For the non-budget build, the biggest upgrades come to the mana base, where a combination of fetch lands, shock lands, and Triomes not only ensures that our mana will be coming into play untapped when we need it but also allows us to cast things like Squee, Goblin Nabob and Master of Death if we need to. Otherwise, we get an extra copy of Life from the Loam in the main deck and an updated sideboard, with cards like Assassin's Trophy, Collective Brutality, and Leyline of the Void

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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