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Budget Magic: $130 (18 tix) Modern Red-White Allies


բարև Budget Magic lovers! It's that time again. This week, as we wait for Shadows over Innistrad to release, we are heading to Modern once again for a deck I've been wanting to mess around with, Red-White Allies! When Battle for Zendikar was announced, I was super excited with the idea that we might get some powerful Allies, maybe even enough to make the tribe playable in Modern. While this situation didn't exactly happen, with most of the new Allies being worse than the older ones from the original Zendikar block, the tribe did get enough new toys to make competitive in Modern. The biggest addition was the seemingly underpowered Expedition Envoy, and while she certainly isn't a Hada Freeblade, having a second Ally one-drop is a huge deal, not only allowing for more aggressive starts, but giving us another way to trigger all of our Allies abilities for just a single White mana!

Let's get to the videos, then I'll talk more about Red-White Allies. A quick reminder. If you enjoy the Budget Magic series and the other video content on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish Youtube Channel to keep up on all the latest and greatest.

Red-White Allies Deck Tech

Red-White Allies vs Tron

Red-White Allies vs Mono-Green Devotion

Red-White Allies vs Bogles

Red-White Allies vs Death Cloud

Red-White Allies vs Living End

The Deck

Red-White Allies is a pretty interesting deck. In a lot of ways it feels like what would happen if 8 Whack and Slivers had a baby, but instead of being some monstrous Goblin/Sliver hybrid, it came out Human. It's quite aggressive like 8 Whack and even benefits from some "bushwhacker" effects from Akoum Battlesinger and Reckless Bushwhacker. At the same time the deck feels a lot more resilient. One of the problems with 8 Whack is that pretty much every creature in the deck is a 1/1, so if it doesn't win quickly, it probably isn't going to win at all. This size disparity isn't a problem for Red-White Allies.

The "when you play an Ally, something happens to your team" feels a lot like Slivers, as does the fact that our creatures can grow big super fast. Essentially, the way I view Red-White Allies is a slightly less explosive, but much more resilient version of 8 Whack, mixed with a more consistent (because we don't play all five colors), but slightly less powerful version of Slivers. 

Allies

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Hada Freeblade and Kazandu Blademaster are the reasons to play an Ally deck in Modern. With enough tribal support, both of these cards are incredibly powerful, presenting a fast clock and quickly growing out of the range of Lightning Bolt. Hada Freeblade may look like a 0/1 for one on paper, but in practice it consistently attacks for two or three damage on turn two, and he's usually a 4/5 by turn four, which makes him this weird, White "build your own Tarmogoyf" card. Meanwhile, Kazandu Blademaster is really hard to deal with in combat thanks to first strike, and vigilance means he's always back on defense. Within a couple turns Kazandu Blademaster is usually a 5/5, which trumps every early game creature in the format. 

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As I mentioned in the intro, Expedition Envoy is the most important Ally from Battle for Zendikar, even though she doesn't have any text. Just being an Ally Savannah Lions is good enough. Unintuitively, we don't really want to play Expedition Envoy on turn one. While we will cast her to start beating down if we don't have any other options, the true power of Expedition Envoy is being a card that reads "pay one White mana, trigger every Ally you control." A 2/1 for one really isn't playable, but when you consider she often gives our Hada Freeblades and Kazandu Blademasters another counter, pumps our entire team, gives them menace and/or protection from a color — all for just a single White mana – the true power of the Ally one-drop shines though. 

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Akoum Battlesinger and Reckless Bushwhacker are our nut draw package. It's what makes Red-White Allies feel like 8 Whack. Of course, both of these creatures are Allies, so they trigger our Kazandu Blademasters and Hada Freeblades, but more importantly they pump our entire time. In an Ally deck, Akoum Battlesinger is likely the best Bushwhacker ever printed. Not only does she trigger and give our team +1/+0 when she enters the battlefield, but she triggers again for any other Ally that enters the battlefield. Meanwhile, Reckless Bushwhacker does something similar, but he only triggers once. 

Together, these two cards are the way our deck is able to win the game on turn four with some amount of consistency. Picture this: we play a Hada Freeblade on turn one, a Kazandu Blademaster on turn two, and then a three-drop Ally like Kabira Evangel or Firemantle Mage (which we'll talk more about in a minute) on turn three. Our board is a 3/4 Hada Blademaster, a 3/3 Kazandu Blademaster, and a Firemantle Mage. On turn four, we can untap, play a Akoum Battlesinger giving both Hada Freeblade and Kazandu Blademaster another +1/+1 counter and pumping our entire team, then we surge a Reckless Bushwhacker to give our creatures another counter and pump our entire team two more times (once from Reckless Bushwhacker and again from Akoum Battlesinger). When the dust settles we have an 8/6 Hada Freeblade, an 8/5 Kazandu Blademaster, a 5/2 Firemantle Mage, a 4/1 Akoum Battlesinger, and a 3/1 Reckless Bushwhacker. That's 28 damage! Plus, all of our creatures have menace from Firemantle Mage, and if our three drop was Kabira Evangel instead, all our creatures would have protection from two colors of our choosing!

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While they might look different, Kabira Evangel and Firemantle Mage actually serve a very similar role in our deck by making it really difficult for our opponent to block our our Allies. If our opponent only has one blocker (assuming it isn't colorless), either one of these creatures will make our entire team unblockable. Even when our opponent has a bunch of creatures, they still make it really hard for our opponent to chump block in an effort to stay alive. Generally speaking Kabira Evangel is the more powerful of the two, especially when we are playing against a deck where most of the creatures are the same color. However, there are some situations (e.g. Eldrazi or Affinity) where protection from a color doesn't do anything, and Firemantle Mage is the better option. Regardless, by playing eight of these effects we can make sure that we usually have one on turn three to facilitate our turn four kills.

Burn

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The other thing I love about Red-White Allies is we get access to the best reach in the format. We don't really need to get our opponent's life total to zero with our creatures. Instead we can focus on getting him or her to around six and burning our opponent out. Lightning Bolt is simply the most efficient burn spell ever printed, and it was an obvious inclusion in the deck. Lightning Helix is mostly a bad Lightning Bolt since it costs an additional mana, and our deck is fast enough that we don't care too much about the lifegain, but it can sometimes swing the math when we are racing against another aggressive deck. 

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Finally we have Boros Charm, which is usually a four damage burn spell that helps us finish off our opponent. Sometimes the card says, "You win a game you really, really should have lost," thanks to its ability to make all of our permanents indestructible. One of the things I dislike about playing aggressive decks is how they often scoop to sweepers ranging from Anger of the Gods to Supreme Verdict. Thanks to Boros Charm we have a main deck way to stop a wrath, which is never dead because we can throw it at our opponent's face. Oh, and don't forget Boros Charm has a third mode of giving a creature double strike. There are cases where we cast Boros Charm after blockers are declared on an unblocked Kazandu Blademaster or Hada Freeblade, and spot our opponent for eight to ten damage out of thin air.

 

One of the strangest things about Red-White Allies is just how big of a spread there is between paper and Magic Online prices. I'm used to paper cards costing more, but not seven times as much. Instead of doing an ultra budget list (The Magic Online build is already ultra budget at only 18 tix), I'm going to use this slot for a less expensive build designed exclusively for paper Magic

Now, admittedly we can only do so much to make the deck cheaper in paper. That's the downside of playing a deck full of Uncommons that cost $10 a playset. The biggest subtraction is Lightning Helix, which is just too expensive for a budget deck in the paper world (it's essentially free on Magic Online). In its place we get another Ally in Ondu Cleric, which can replicate the lifegain of Lightning Helix and trigger all of our other Allies' enters the battlefield abilities. Otherwise, there are many little changes, a Lantern Scout over a Kabira Evangel, Clifftop Retreats becoming Evolving Wilds, and the sideboard Relic of Progenitus becoming Tormod's Crypts. Overall, I think this build is a little bit worse than the one in the videos, mostly because it has less reach when our opponent can stop our creatures. 
 

While much more expensive, the Four-Color Allies build is pretty sweet. Not only does it get Blue and Green for some more powerful Allies creatures, it also gets Collected Company which allows it to trigger all of its Allies at instant speed. The downside is the mana is pretty rough. When you get to the point where you're happy to put City of Brass in your deck, you know you are being greedy. While I expect the deck will have all of its colors thanks to the 17 five-color lands, paying a life every time you want to cast something adds up, especially in aggressive matchups. Other cards I would consider are Aether Vial, which is another sweet way to trigger Allies at instant speed, but may just be worse than Collected Company and Champion of the Parish, which isn't any Ally itself, but would provide for another aggressive, fast growing one-drop in a deck that contains 27 Humans. 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Give Red-White Allies a shot; I don't think you'll be disappointed. The tribal synergy is very strong and the aggressive creatures can close out the game quickly! 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.

Don't forget: We're now doing a Weekly MTGGoldfish Stream featuring Budget Magic and Against the Odds decks. If you ever wanted to come ask questions or make suggestions, here's your chance! Drop by our twitch.tv/mtggoldfish channel Thursday March 7 from 7:00-9:30pm Eastern!


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