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Budget Magic: $35 Mono-Black Treasure Discard (Standard 2022)


Përshëndetje, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! Thoughtseize is a powerful card—one of the most powerful cards in the history of Magic. Sadly (or perhaps fortunately), it isn't legal in Standard...or is it? While it takes a bit of effort and we have to jump through a hoop or two, technically, we don't just have a Thoughtseize in Standard—we have a strictly better Thoughtseize in Standard, in Devour Intellect. While Devour Intellect is only a Thoughtseize if we cast it using mana from a Treasure token, this isn't really that difficult thanks to cards like Deadly Dispute and Skullport Merchant. Today, we're going to see just how good our Standard Thoughtseize can be in a deck I'm calling Mono-Black Treasure Discard! Along with emptying our opponent's hand with a bunch of discard spells, we also have one of the best discard payoffs ever printed in Tergrid, God of Fright, which allows us to steal any of the permanents we make our opponent discard (or sacrifice). The best part? The deck costs just $35 in paper or $1 on Magic Online and will only set you back 12 rare wildcards and one mythic wildcard on Magic Arena! How good is Devour Intellect? Can a discard deck work on a strict budget in rotated Standard? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Mono-Black Treasure Discard

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The Deck

Mono-Black Treasure Discard is a synergistic midrange deck. Our main goal is to empty our opponent's hand quickly with discard and then win the game either by getting Tergrid, God of Fright on the battlefield and stealing our opponent's permanents with discard and sacrifice, or by using the backside of Tergrid—Tergrid's Lantern—to drain our opponent out of the game.

The Payoff

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Tergrid, God of Fright is our primary finisher. While a 4/5 might not seem like it's up to the job of closing out the game, it's actually quite powerful in a deck overflowing with discard and sacrifice effects. While it can chip it for some damage itself thanks to menace, being able to steal our opponent's best permanents when we force our opponent to sacrifice or discard them greatly speeds up the clock, to the point that some opponents just scoop to the first discard or sacrifice card we play once Tergrid hits the battlefield because they don't want to get beaten down by their own cards. While we're playing Tergrid because the front side is so powerful in our deck, Tergrid's Lantern sometimes is an even better finisher, and having both Tergrid and its Lantern on the battlefield at once puts our opponent in a really difficult position where, if they discard cards to avoid taking damage to Tergrid's Lantern, we can steal them with Tergrid proper, but if they take the damage, we can quickly burn them out of the game. In the late game, being able to activate Tergrid's Lantern multiple times each turn by untapping it is a surprisingly fast clock and a solid way to finish games.

The Discard

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Of course, to fully power up Tergrid, God of Fright, we need to be able to make our opponent discard and sacrifice cards. Thankfully, we have a ton of discard in our deck, starting with Acquisitions Expert and Elderfang Disciple in the two-drop slot, both of which make our opponent discard when they enter the battlefield. On their own, neither card is especially powerful, but when backed up by other discard spells, it becomes pretty easy to empty or opponent's hand fairly early in the game. While Elderfang Disciple and Acquisitions Expert are basically the same card, if we have both in our opening hand, it's best to play Elderfang Disciple first since it's a Cleric, which will allow allow us to see two cards with Acquisitions Expert's enters-the-battlefield trigger the next turn.

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Backing up our two-drops is a bunch more discard. Inscription of Ruin might be the best Mind Rot ever printed, thanks to its flexibility. One of the challenges of playing discard spells is that they don't really do anything once the opponent is empty-handed, often making them dead draws later in the game, especially in a deck with a lot of discard. Inscription of Ruin breaks the mold. If our opponent has cards in hand, we can make them discard two. But if they don't, we can kill a creature or reanimate something like Acquisitions Expert or Eyetwitch. In the late game, once we have a bunch of mana, we can even do all three by kicking it. The other upside of Inscription of Ruin is that it's also a fine (if slightly overcosted) removal spell against aggro, where killing any creature with mana value three or less hits basically everything against a deck like Mono-Red or Mono-White. Meanwhile, Pelakka Predation is mediocre (although good against control, where we can grab expensive Dragons or planeswalkers), although it is a way that we can get a bit more value out of our man abase, which is especially important to our budget deck since we can't afford to play Faceless Haven or Hive of the Eye Tyrant

Last but certainly not least, we have our Thoughtseize: Devour Intellect. It's absurdly powerful if we can cast Devour Intellect with Treasure mana—literally better than Thoughtseize, widely considered the best discard spell ever printed. Ideally, we'll make some Treasures in the early game, get up to six mana, and, all in one turn, cast Tergrid, God of Fright and Devour Intellect to steal the best permanent from our opponent's hand for just a single mana! Of course, Devour Intellect gets a lot worse if we don't have a Treasure, allowing our opponent to choose what to discard, but, backed by all of our other discard, it can still help us empty our opponent's hand. 

The Treasure

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Next up, we have our Treasure package. Eyetwitch doesn't technically make a Treasure, but it is great sacrifice fodder for our Treasure makers Deadly Dispute and Skullport Merchant, not only giving us a body to sacrifice to draw cards but also tutoring up a lesson like Pest Summoning to make some chump blockers, Necrotic Fumes for removal, or Mascot Exhibition to finish the game. Since Standard 2022 is only best-of-one, being able to get some value our of our otherwise useless sideboard is very powerful. 

Deadly Dispute works well with Eyetwitch but also gives us something to do with discard creatures like Acquisitions Expert and Elderfang Disciple, which generate most of their value with their enters-the-battlefield trigger by allowing us to turn them into two new cards and a Treasure token for Devour Intellect or to ramp into Tergrid, God of Fright. Skullport Merchant is similar, giving us a way to make a Treasure and also sacrifice some of our less powerful creatures for value, while also putting a 1/4 body on the battlefield, which makes it a really solid blocker against aggro. 

The other big upside of our Treasure package is that it gives us a card-draw engine. As we talked about before, once we empty our opponent's hand, some of our discard spells lose a lot of value and become dead-ish draws. Being able to draw some extra cards helps to ensure that we don't draw a string of dead discard spells in a row and allow our opponent to get back into the game with their topdecks. 

The Removal

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Rounding out our deck is some removal. Soul Shatter is the best of the lot since it makes our opponent sacrifice, which allows us to steal whatever it kills with Tergrid, God of Fright. It's also the cleanest answer to Goldspan Dragon, killing it without giving the opponent a Treasure, which is key in Standard 2022, where Goldspan Dragon is one of the most heavily played threats in the format. Otherwise, Flunk can be a bit awkward in some situations if our opponent has a handful of cards, but against aggro, it usually kills everything and often can kill bigger threats in the midgame as well. The one copy of Crippling Fear is to help against go-wide aggro decks like Mono-White and Goblins, which can get off to some really explosive starts and be too fast to control with targeted removal, especially if they are on the play.

The Mana

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There isn't much to say about the mana in Mono-Black Treasure Discard. It's as cheap as it gets, with a bunch of Swamps and Pelakka Predation. However, the mana base is one of the easiest ways to upgrade the deck if you have a few more dollars or wildcards. The ideal mana base is probably something like four Faceless Haven and some number of Hive of the Eye Tyrant along with a bunch of Snow-Covered Swamps. 

Playing the Deck

The biggest challenge of playing Mono-Black Treasure Discard is managing Tergrid, God of Fright. Thanks to our Treasure ramp, we often have the option to run it out on Turn 4 but sometimes choose not to, if we expect our opponent to have removal. In removal-heavy matchups, it can be better to try to wait and play Tergrid, God of Fright when we have enough mana to follow it up immediately with a discard spell so we get at least some value out of it, even if it gets killed. Even just stealing a single big permanent with Tergrid is often enough to win the game, and since we don't have many other finishers, we put a high value on protecting Tergrid. 

Speaking of Tergrid, the other challenge is knowing when to play it as Tergrid itself and when to play the backside, Tergrid's Lantern. While there isn't any one answer and it mostly depends on the matchup and the board state, it is worth keeping in mind that Tergrid's Lantern is really powerful. If we are worried about creature removal, then running the first copy of Tergrid, God of Fright out as Tergrid's Lantern often is wise. This can also be true if we have a bunch of mana and our opponent is empty-handed. Being able to activate Tergrid's Lantern two or three times a turn by untapping it makes it a much faster clock than Tergrid, God of Fright itself in some situations, especially if we aren't especially likely to steal anything with Tergrid. 

Wrap-Up

I've played a ton of games with Mono-Black Treasure Discard and currently have exactly a 50% win rate, which isn't amazing but is pretty solid for a ultra-budget deck. The deck has a lot of sweet synergies and can do some really fun things, although there are times when we just get run over by aggro, especially if our opponent happens to be on the play. 

As far as changes to make to the budget build of the deck, I'm not sure there is really much to change that doesn't increase the budget. As I mentioned before, the easiest way to improve the deck is to play creaturelands like Faceless Haven (don't forget to switch to Snow-Covered Swamps if you add it) and / or Hive of the Eye Tyrant in the mana base. If you have any of these cards in your collection, throw them in!

As for our Standard Thoughtseize, Devour Intellect, it's definitely not a Thoughtseize, but it still felt quite powerful. Part of the power of Thoughtseize itself is that it's a great Turn 1 play. Devour Intellect, on the other hand, is actively poor on Turn 1. Thankfully, a Thoughtseize on Turn 2 or 3 is still quite powerful in Standard, and doubly so in our deck, thanks to Tergrid. While Thoughtseize-mode Devour Intellect with Tergrid, God of Fright out is insane, even without a Treasure, making our opponent discard a card for a single mana is still solid when we get to steal it if it's a permanent.

So, should you play Mono-Black Treasure Discard in rotated Standard? I think the answer is yes, if you are looking for a fun and fairly competitive budget deck and like the play style. A 50% win rate is solid enough, especially considering that it should be pretty easy to make the deck even better by adding a few creaturelands to the mana base. While Tergrid, God of Fright wasn't powerful enough for Eldraine-infused Standard, I think it might be once we get rotation (depending on how busted Innistrad: Midnight Hunt ends up being). Most importantly, stealing our opponent's stuff and beating them down with it are super fun!

Ultra-Budget Mono-Black Treasure Discard

No ultra-budget list this week. At $35 in paper and $1 on Magic Online, the deck already is incredibly cheap. As far as Magic Arena, I'm not sure there is a ton you can do to make the deck cost fewer rare and mythic wildcards without significantly decreasing its power level. 

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No huge changes to the non-budget list. The biggest upgrade is the addition of Faceless Haven and Hive of the Eye Tyrant to the mana base, along with a couple of copies of Professor Onyx as an additional finisher.

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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