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Budget Magic: $60 Sac and Whack (Modern)


Xsaqär, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! Whenever people ask me about the best budget deck for Modern, I usually answer with one of two decks: Burn or 8 Whack. While Burn is Burn and will always be about throwing Lightning Bolts at your opponent's face, 8 Whack is an interesting archetype since there are a bunch of different ways to build around the core of Goblin Bushwhacker and Reckless Bushwhacker. For example, Theros: Beyond Death gave use a card that can potentially allow for a new sacrifice-heavy build of 8 Whack in Anax, Hardened in the Forge! As such, we're going to revisit one of my favorite Modern budget decks today but with some new additions and a sweet twist, in Sac and Whack! What does Anax, Hardened in the Forge offer to the 8 Whack archetype? What sacrifice synergies can we add to the deck to maximize Anax's power? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Sac and Whack

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The Deck

Sac and Whack is an aggro deck. The deck's primary goal is to go wide with cheap creatures and then pump them with Goblin Bushwhacker and Reckless Bushwhacker to quickly kill the opponent (maybe as soon as Turn 3!) with combat damage. The other key piece of the deck is Anax, Hardened in the Forge, which not only provides protection against removal and allows us to aggressively attack into blockers, since it replenishes our creatures when they die with 1/1 Satyr tokens, but also has some interesting token-creating synergy with some sacrifice-based threats in our deck!

The Whacks

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Goblin Bushwhacker and Reckless Bushwhacker are the two most important cards of our deck, allowing for extremely explosive turns where we dump our hand of cheap (or even free) creatures, use a Bushwhacker to give our team haste and +1/+0, and get in for a massive attack early in the game. They are very close to the same card, with the main difference being that Goblin Bushwhacker requires double red mana (making it a bit clunky with Burning-Tree Emissary), while Reckless Bushwhacker needs to be surged (by having a spell cast before it in the same turn) to actually whack our opponent. (This usually isn't an issue since we have a bunch of free and cheap creatures, although it is worth keeping in mind if you play the deck—sometimes, it's worth holding back an Ornithopter or Memnite to surge Reckless Bushwhacker rather than casting it on Turn 1). 

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Signal Pest and Castle Embereth are what I call pseudo-whacks. While they don't give our creatures haste like Reckless Bushwhacker or Goblin Bushwhacker do, they still pump our team +1/+0, helping us force through even more damage. Castle Embereth is especially powerful in the deck; it's essentially a free-roll since our mana base is exclusively Mountains, so it should almost always come into play untapped. Meanwhile, Signal Pest's evasion means it is usually free to attack and pump our team even through blockers, allowing us to force through extra damage turn after turn.

The Sac

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As I mentioned in the intro, Anax, Hardened in the Forge is the biggest new addition to the deck, and after playing a bunch of games with Sac and Whack, it might be the best card in the deck outside of the Bushwhackers themselves. One of the reasons why Anax, Hardened in the Forge is so powerful in Sac and Whack is that most of our creatures are 1/1s anyway, so the 1/1 Satyr we get when a creature dies often directly replaces the dying creature with a creature of the same power for no net loss. On level one, Anax, Hardened in the Forge offers wrath and removal protection (rebuilding our board with Satyr tokens if our other creatures die) and allows us to swing even more aggressively into blockers since we get replacements if our creatures die. Combine this with the fact that Anax, Hardened in the Forge often ends up a five- or even seven-power trampler that can force through a ton of damage, and Anax, Hardened in the Forge is great in the deck even without extra sacrifice synergies. But it has even more synergy in our deck...

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The package of Memnite, Ornithopter, and Kuldotha Rebirth does a few things for the deck. First, Ornithopter and Memnite join Burning-Tree Emissary in our "free creature" package. Sometimes, we just dump our hand of free creatures, follow up with a Bushwhacker or two, and close out the game on Turn 3. Second, the give us more free spells for surging Reckless Bushwhacker, which is helpful. Third, Kuldotha Rebirth greatly speeds up the deck. We can sacrifice Memnite or Ornithopter to end up with three 1/1 Goblins as early as Turn 1, giving us some very solid Bushwhackers on Turn 2 or 3. Kuldotha Rebirth gets even better later in the game once we have Anax, Hardened in the Forge since along with the three Goblins, we get a 1/1 Satyr, giving us a total of four 1/1s for a single mana, which is exactly what a go-wide aggro deck like Sac and Whack wants. 

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Vexing Devil and Bomat Courier give us some more sacrifice-friendly one-drops. Vexing Devil is cute with Anax, Hardened in the Forge since it has four power, so if our opponent chooses to have it die, we end up with four damage and two 1/1 Satyrs, while if our opponent lets it live, we end up with a one-mana 4/3, which is a decent threat on its own and even better once it gets haste from a Bushwhacker and trample from Legion Loyalist. Meanwhile, Bomat Courier gives us a way to refill our hand after we empty it of cheap threats. And with Anax, Hardened in the Forge on the battlefield, we replace the 1/1 Bomat Courier with a 1/1 Satyr token when we sacrifice it, so we end up neutral in terms of threats on the battlefield!

Other Stuff

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Burning-Tree Emissary is our nut-draw card. Occasionally, we have games where we have two or three Burning-Tree Emissarys in hand, cast them all on Turn 2, follow them up with a Reckless Bushwhacker, and hit for something like eight or 11 damage, which makes it easy to close out the game in the following turns. Just keep in mind that it doesn't work as well with Goblin Bushwhacker since we need double red to kick it, so if we're on the Goblin Bushwhacker plan, it is sometimes better to wait until Turn 3 to flood the board with Burning-Tree Emissarys. Meanwhile, Legion Loyalist helps us fight through blockers by giving our team trample and haste. This is good in general and even more impressive now that we have Anax, Hardened in the Forge. Traditionally, 8 Whack decks are exclusively filled with small creatures, making trample less impressive (although making tokens not block is really nice against Lingering Souls and Young Pyromancer decks). Much like in Standard, where Anax, Hardened in the Forge made Embercleave good in Mono-Red Aggro, Anax, Hardened in the Forge being massive makes the trample of Legion Loyalist much scarier and more game ending in Sac and Whack. 

The Mana

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While the specific lands in our deck aren't that interesting (especially since we already talked about Castle Embereth), the total number of lands is: Sac and Whack is running just 17 lands. One of the easiest ways to lose with a deck like Sac and Whack is to flood out, so we want to play as few lands as possible while still being able to hit our third land drop on time a reasonably high percentage of the time (after our third and especially fourth land, each additional land we draw decreases our odds of winning the game). With 17 lands, we're unlikely to flood out very often, although we do occasionally get one-land hands. Whether they are keepable or not mostly depends on the specific cards in our hand and whether we are on the play or draw, but don't be afraid to go to six. Our deck is powerful enough and fast enough that a good six-card hand is often better than a questionable seven. 

Wrap-Up

For some reason, every time we play an 8 Whack variant, we crush people. We ended up 4-1 with Sac and Whack, with our one loss coming to Mono-Red Prowess in a really weird match where both players got stuck on one land and our opponent happened to draw land number two before we did, allowing them to put away the game. Sac and Whack felt really strong. If you're looking to win games in Modern with a $60 deck, I wouldn't be surprised if it were the best option available. 

As far as changes to make to the budget build of the deck, perhaps the biggest question is whether we should play some amount of creature removal (like Lightning Bolt or possibly Goblin Grenade). I think at a minimum, if I were building the deck over again, I'd play Lightning Bolt in the sideboard over Gut Shot, and it might be worth finding room in the main deck. Another interesting possibility could be adding Embercleave to the non-budget build of the deck, although we don't have that many good targets outside of Anax and Vexing Devil, so it might not be worth the potential clunkiness.

Speaking of Anax, Hardened in the Forge, if there's one thing you take away from Sac and Whack, it should be that Anax, Hardened in the Forge is absurd in the 8 Whack archetype. Not only does it add a new angle of attack (giving the deck a high-power creature), but it's also very synergistic and offers removal protection that the deck was previously lacking. 

All in all, I think Sac and Whack is a very legitimate ultra-budget option for Modern. If you like aggro or just like winning games, it is very likely the most competitive ultra-budget option in the format. With a bit of luck, the deck can certainly 5-0 a league or win an FNM, especially with the addition of Anax, Hardened in the Forge. Anax is that good.

Ultra-Budget Sac and Whack

No ultra-budget build this week since the build we played in the videos was already just $60.

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For our non-budget build this week, we splash into green for Gruul Party Whack. My initial idea for Sac and Whack was for it to be a Gruul deck, to take advantage of Gallia of the Endless Dance, which not only offers some additional card advantage on an on-curve threat but is also great with the Satyrs that Anax, Hardened in the Forge makes, but I couldn't make the mana work on a budget (the deck really needs fetch lands to find Stomping Ground to make the curve work). Along with Gallia, the non-budget build also gets Hidden Herbalists as an extra Burning-Tree Emissary (with fetch lands to trigger revolt) and Manamorphose to make the Hidden Herbalists mana more useful for casting our various Bushwhackers. To make room for these additions, we drop the Kuldotha Rebirth package, which is powerful but requires a lot of slots since we need enough artifacts to consistently have one to sacrifice. The random Sacred Foundry probably looks strange with no white cards, but it's in the deck to pump Wild Nacatl (which joins Goblin Guide as a new addition to the one-drop slot) to three power. While the non-budget build gets a lot of changes, the playstyle is very similar to the build we played for the videos: be aggressive, play free creatures, and whack the opponent as quickly as possible!

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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