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Budget Magic: $60 Mr. Plow (Pioneer)

Hey there, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! This week, we're heading back to one of my current favorite formats—Pioneer—to play another deck that's so cheap you can play it for free on Magic Online with the help of the free card-rental programs (and for just $60 in paper): Mr. Plow! The idea is to play a bunch of low-cost, higher-powered but high-crew-cost vehicles, like our namesake Colossal Plow and Consulate Dreadnought, and then use some sneaky non-creature ways to avoid their high crew cost and turn them into creatures, like Armed and Armored, Peacewalker Colossus, and Mech Hangar, to turn them into creatures and hopefully beat our opponent down in just a couple of turns. How good are Vehicles in Pioneer? Is Consulate Dreadnought the new Colossus Hammer? Is Colossal Plow more than a meme? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Mr. Plow

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The Deck

Mr. Plow is a mono-white Vehicles aggro deck. The primary goal is to play cheap Vehicles with lots of power but high crew costs and then avoid their crew cost by turning them into creatures using things like Armed and Armored and Peacewalker Colossus

The Vehicles

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While we have a ton of Vehicles in our deck, we are kicking things off with the two most important: Consulate Dreadnought and Colossal Plow. Both of these Vehicles are extremely above the curve, with Consulate Dreadnought being a one-mana 7/11 and Colossal Plow being a two-mana 6/3 that makes mana and gains us life when it attacks. The problem is that both Vehicles have a crew cost of six, which means it's extremely difficult to turn them into creatures the traditional way—by tapping creatures. Thankfully, our deck has a bunch of ways to get around the crew-cost problem, and we can even attack with Consulate Dreadnought as early as Turn 2, which is an extremely scary start that is good enough to beat most decks in the format.

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Next up, we have our removal Vehicles, Surgehacker Mech and Skysovereign, Consul Flagship. Surgehacker Mech is pretty insane in our deck since we have 17 Vehicles, which means by the time we play Surgehacker Mech, it typically can kill any creature or planeswalker on the battlefield, making it a Vehicle Ravenous Chupacabra with the upside of sniping planeswalkers as well. Oh yeah, and it can turn into a 5/5 menace, which isn't a bad deal for five mana. We also have one Skysovereign, Consul Flagship, which is a bit expensive for our deck at five mana but is strong once it hits the battlefield, giving us repeatable removal and a massive flying threat.

The Crew

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Our first crewer is actually another Vehicle: Peacewalker Colossus. In many ways, the three-mana 6/6 is the perfect example of what our deck is trying to do, as an above-the-curve Vehicle but also a way to turn our Vehicles into creatures without crewing them. The main power of Peacewalker Colossus is that once it's on the battlefield, we can turn any Vehicle into a creature for just two mana, making it a great way to beat down with Consulate Dreadnought and Colossal Plow. The only downside is that Peacewalker Colossus's ability can't be used on itself, but sooner or later, we'll find a way to turn Colossus into a creature as well, giving us another massive beater to close out the game.

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Mech Hangar is pretty simple: it's a land that can turn Vehicles into creatures for four mana (three plus tapping Mech Hangar itself). Armed and Armored is more interesting. The card is one of the weird Theme Booster cards from Kaldheim, not part of the main set, but is still legal in Pioneer, and it's perfect for the deck, turning all of our Vehicles into creatures for just two mana at instant speed. This allow us to get off to some super-fast starts, like playing Consulate Dreadnought on Turn 1 into Colossal Plow on Turn 2, turning them both into creatures on Turn 3 with Armed and Armored, hitting our opponent for 13, and making enough mana that we can follow up playing a four-drop in our second main phase!

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While using creatures to turn our Vehicles on isn't our primary plan, it is one of our backup plans. Giant Ox is—by far—our best pilot, crewing any Vehicle in our deck. It works especially well with Consulate Dreadnought since we can play Dreadnought on Turn 1, play Giant Ox on Turn 2, immediately crew the Vehicle, and hit our opponent for seven! Meanwhile, Hotshot Mechanic and Toolcraft Exemplar both crew up bigger than they look, with Hotshot Mechanic crewing as if its power were four, while Toolcraft Exemplar will turn into a 3/2 at the beginning of combat on our turn if we have an artifact. Any two of them can crew any Vehicle in our deck, while just a Hotshot Mechanic can drive Surgehacker Mech or Peacewalker Colossus. Apart from driving Vehicles, these cards can also help us chip in for some early damage, reducing the amount of damage we need to deal with our Vehicles to close out the game.

Card Advantage

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Last but not least, we have Ingenious Smith and Karn, Scion of Urza, which do double duty in our deck. Their primary purpose is to dig through our deck for Vehicles, Ingenious Smith with its enters-the-battlefield trigger and Karn, Scion of Urza with its +1 and –1, although both can also turn into pretty good Vehicle crewers later in the game. Ingenious Smith grows slowly, but we have enough artifacts in our deck that it should get a +1/+1 counter every turn, which will eventually turn it into a meaningful threat or a pilot for an even bigger Vehicle. Meanwhile, the Construct token that Karn, Scion of Urza makes with its –2 is often huge in our deck, giving us another big beater and another way to crew our high-crew-cost Vehicles.


All in all, we finished our Pioneer league with a 3-2 record, which is solid, especially for a deck that you can get for free with the free-card-rental programs. If you can consistently go 3-2, you'll slowly grind your way into a full Magic Online collection, and Mr. Plow felt solid enough that the deck could do even better if we run well or hit the right matchups, by getting a 4-1 or 5-0. 

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While I hate to make this comparison, the deck that Mr. Plow reminds me of the most is Hammer Time. Consulate Dreadnought is surprisingly similar to Colossus Hammer. Both are one-mana artifacts that are incredibly powerful but hard to use, Dreadnought thanks to its high crew cost and Hammer thanks to its high equip cost. However, if you can find a way to turn these cards on early (free equip cards for Hammer, and ways to turn Consulate Dreadnought into a creature without crewing), your reward is extremely fast free wins. Both decks also have great pop-culture-reference names, which is a nice bonus. If you remember the history of Hammer Time, we played it right after Colossus Hammer was released. It performed well for a budget deck but was mostly written off as an Against the Odds deck. But some people kept working on the deck, and a year or two later, it developed into the best deck in Modern. I don't think it's impossible that Mr. Plow could do something similar in Pioneer. The deck's super powerful, and sooner or later, it could end up a real threat to the Pioneer format.

As far as changes to make to the budget build of the deck, I wasn't especially impressed with Toolcraft Exemplar or Hotshot Mechanic. On paper, they seem like decent crewers that can also support a backup aggro plan, but they felt super clunky in reality, not being quite powerful enough to crew our best Vehicles and quickly getting outclassed on the ground. The next time I play the deck, I'm planning to drop Toolcraft Exemplar for some more main-deck removal and see how it goes. 

So, should you play Mr. Plow in Pioneer? I think the answer is a clear yes. The deck is super cheap, surprisingly competitive, and a blast to play. Plus, I can't shake the feeling that it could be on the Hammer Time trajectory to top-tier status—there are just too many similarities to ignore. If you like Vehicles; Hammer Time; and fast, janky wins, or if you are just looking for a competitive free deck to play on Magic Online (or a good ultra-budget paper deck), Mr. Plow seems like a really solid option for Pioneer!

Ultra-Budget Mr. Plow

No ultra-budget list this week. The build we played for the video was already cheap enough to qualify as ultra-budget!

Non-Budget Mr. Plow

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For our non-budget build, we have a deck that OddlyUneven used to 5-0 a league recently. The game plan is super similar to ours, but it has a slightly updated mana base and sideboard. If you do decide to go with this non-budget build, just keep in mind that the deck has a lot of colorless lands, perhaps too many. It might be worth trading Field of Ruin or Rogue's Passage in for another Plains or two.


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

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