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Budget Magic: 2020 MTG Challenger Deck Upgrades | GB Final Adventure Knights


Xsaqär, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! This week's Budget Magic is a bit different. Rather than building a deck from scratch, we are working with one of the 2020 Challenger Decks: Final Adventure. Our plan for today is to start off with the straight-out-of-the-box Challenger Decks, play a couple of matches to see how it works, take a break to make about $20 worth of upgrades, and then play some more matches with the improved version of the deck, before wrapping up by discussing the optimal build of Final Adventure.

So why did I choose Final Adventure for today's episode? Two reasons. First, Final Adventure—essentially a GB Adventures / Lucky Knights deck—offers the most long-term bang for your buck because unlike the rest of the 2020 Challenger Decks, which mostly rotate in September, both the straight-out-of-the-box Final Adventure deck and the upgraded builds are very close to rotation-proof, which means you'll be able to play with them for the next 18 months rather than just the next six (which is especially important right now, with paper Magic mostly shut down due to the coronavirus. Second, Final Adventure is a really fun deck! Back after Throne of Eldraine was released, we played a very similar deck (under the name Lucky Knights) to mythic on Magic Arena, so we have quite a bit of experience playing and tuning the archetype. How good is the Final Adventure Challenger Deck out of the box, and how can you upgrade it to make it even better? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Final Adventure

The Challenger Deck

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Our starting point this week was the straight-from-the-box Final Adventure Challenger Deck, which you can pick up starting Friday for somewhere around $40. While the deck's overall themes are adventures and Knights, the most important thing to realize about the deck (and the upgraded builds) is that while Final Adventure might look like a midrange or aggro creature deck, it's really a combo deck and should be played as such.

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In the early game, our two most important cards are our adventure payoffs, Edgewall Innkeeper and Lucky Clover. We want at least one of these cards in our opening hand basically every game, and you should mulligan semi-aggressively to try to have at least one. Edgewall Innkeeper is an insane source of card advantage since our deck has 18 adventure creatures to draw us cards. Meanwhile, Lucky Clover also generates card advantage in a strange way by copying our adventures in spell form, allowing us to draw more cards with Foulmire Knight, make more tokens with Lovestruck Beast, kill more things with Murderous Rider and, eventually kill our opponent with Smitten Swordmaster

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Speaking of Smitten Swordmaster, it's our most important late-game card and our primary plan for winning the game. Rather than attacking aggressively with creatures, Final Adventure really wants to grind out card advantage, stay alive by trading creatures in combat (since we can get our creatures back from the graveyard with both Order of Midnight and Find // Finality), stack up some copies of Lucky Clover on the battlefield, and then eventually drain our opponent for 20 in one turn by making a big board of Knights and casting a couple of Smitten Swordmaster]s in Curry Favor mode. While getting 10 Knights on the battlefield isn't usually practical, getting four or five is, and with two or three Lucky Clovers to copy Curry Favor, this is usually more than enough to win the game. 

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The rest of the deck basically falls into four categories: Knights that are also adventures (these are some of our best support cards because they support our Edgewall Innkeeper / Lucky Clover plan in the early game and our Smitten Swordmaster combo kill in the late game), Knights that aren't adventures (which work with Smitten Swordmaster but not Edgewall Innkeeper or Lucky Clover), adventures that aren't Knights (in Lovestruck Beast, which is a good blocker against aggro but not especially synergistic with the rest of our deck), and utility cards (Disfigure, Vraska, Golgari Queen, and Find // Finality). 

And that is basically the Final Adventure Challenger 2020 deck. Draw cards, trade off in combat to stay alive (since we can very easily return our creature from the graveyard to hand), and play toward a big turn in the late game in which we have a few Knights and Lucky Clovers to kill our opponent with Smitten Swordmaster

$20 Upgrade

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Two quick notes on the upgraded version of Final Adventure: first, the goal of the upgrade was to keep the cost to around $20, which mostly means we don't have Overgrown Tomb in the mana base, even though it would be optimal. Second, while the upgrade would cost about $20 if you just purchased the cards, it can actually be close to free if you do a bit of trading since Vraska, Golgari Queen and Knight of the Ebon Legion are two of the most expensive cards in the Challenger Deck but are cut from the upgraded build since they aren't really all that good. You can also drop the one copy of Fabled Passage (it's not played in the fully powered build of the deck with Overgrown Tomb) for another Jungle Hollow, if you want, giving you a $17 card you can trade or sell.

As far as the specific updates we made to the deck, the main goal was to increase the level of synergy. Remember: we're a combo deck, not a random beatdown deck. Here is the list of cards that I cut from the Challenger Deck: x2 Knight of the Ebon Legion, x2 Disfigure, x2 Find // Finality, x1 Vraska, Golgari Queen, and x1 Lovestruck Beast (moved to the sideboard). Here are the additions: x2 Murderous Rider, x2 Blacklance Paragon, x1 Midnight Reaper, and x3 Reaper of Night

As you can see, the main goal is to increase the number of Knights and the number of Adventures while getting rid of cards that either aren't synergistic (Vraska, Golgari Queen, Disfigure) or are too focused on beating down (Knight of the Ebon Legion). In general, we mostly added more copies of cards that we already had in the deck, although Reaper of Night is a brand new addition:

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Reaper of Night is one of our best cards against midrange and control. While making our opponent discard two cards for four mana isn't great, if we can play a Lucky Clover on Turn 2 or 3 and then Harvest Fear on Turn 4 to make our opponent discard four cards, it's often game-winning all by itself, wiping our essentially our opponent's entire hand! While not as strong against aggro, that's fine; the rest of our deck is solid against aggro, and if we run into something like Mono-Red, we can take out the Reaper of Nights for Legion's End and Massacre Girl in the sideboard. 

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Speaking of the sideboard, it gets some upgrades too, along with the mana base. As far as lands, we add in two more Temple of Malady over basic lands and one more Castle Locthwain. Meanwhile, the sideboard gets a ton of changes, with the biggest being Agonizing Remorse and Legion's End

No-Budget Upgrades

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Now, let's say that rather than making a $20 upgrade, you want to play Final Adventure (or Lucky Knights or GB Adventures—whatever you choose to call the deck) fully powered at a MagicFest or SCG Open. The good news is that you don't really need too many more upgrades. In fact, the main-deck non-land cards from the $20 upgrade build are exactly the same as I'd play in the fully powered build. The only changes come to the mana base, where you get four copies of Overgrown Tomb (over Jungle Hollow and a couple of basic lands) and one more Castle Locthwain. Altogether, this adds around another $50 to the cost of the deck, mostly because Overgrown Tomb is about $11 per copy.

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Here's what this leaves us with financially: 

  1. Buy the Challenger Deck: $30
  2. Make $20 of upgrades: $20 (total cost $50)
  3. Make the final upgrades: $50 (total cost $100)
  4. Sell / trade the unused cards (Fabled Passage, Vraska, Golgari Queen, x2 Knight of the Ebon Legion): $40 (total cost $60). 

In the end, by starting with the Challenger Deck, making upgrades, and trading away some expensive but unneeded cards, you can end up with the optimal build of Final Adventure, including almost $50 worth of Overgrown Tombs for around $60, which is a pretty insane deal, especially since Overgrown Tomb will maintain its value forever thanks to Modern and Pioneer, so you should always be able to get your money back out of the deck if you need to. This strategy gives you a powerful (and in my opinion, super fun) Standard deck that will be legal for another 18 months for a very low price. And if you eventually trade or sell your Overgrown Tombs when you are done with the deck, it's very close to free! 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for this week. Did you find the Challenger Deck upgrade Budget Magic interesting? Should we do it with the rest of the Challenger 2020 decks? Let us know in the comments! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com


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