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Budget Magic: $62 (24 tix) Standard GB Value Leap

Selamat pagi Budget Magic lovers! It's that time again. This week we are headed back to Battle for Zendikar Standard for a deck I'm super excited about: Green-Black Value Leap. While I'll explain the intricacies of the deck in the videos, the basic concept is pretty sweet. We play an Evolutionary Leap, a ton of creatures with enter the battlefield triggers, and a few card advantage generating finishers to grind our opponents into the ground. It's a 2-for-1 by 2-for-1!

Let's get to the videos, then I'll talk more about the deck. 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.

GB Value Leap Intro

GB Value Leap vs Mage Ring Esper

GB Value Leap vs Jeskai Green

GB Value Leap vs Atarka Red

GB Value Leap vs Mardu Aristocrats

GB Value Leap vs GR Landfall

The Deck

Let's talk a little about my philosophy of building budget decks. While they might seem random (and to be fair, some are random), much of the time the inspiration strikes me while I'm looking at the metagame of the current format. GB Value Leap is one of these decks, and the idea arose when I realized Abzan Aggro makes up 30% of the Standard meta, while Atarka Red, Esper Dragons, and Dark Jeskai each made up another 10%. What this means is if we can build a deck that has a positive matchup against Abzan Aggro and at least one of the other three decks, while still having a passable matchups against the other two decks, we'll have a deck that can compete in the Standard meta. I believe GB Value Leap is such a deck, and I'll explain why. 

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On level one, Evolutionary Leap is very good at blanking our opponent's removal spells since we can sacrifice whatever creature is being targeted and get another creature to replace it. Even if this play was all Evolutionary Leap did, it would still be good against decks that are loaded with removal like Dark Jeskai and Esper Dragons. In our deck, Evolutionary Leap is so much more. It turns a bunch of semi-playable cards into completely busted ones. The main idea is to overload on creatures with enter the battlefield abilities, preferably abilities that we can put on the stack, and then sacrifice the creature with Evolutionary Leap, gaining us the benefit of the enter the battlefield trigger and a replacement creature to do it all over again.

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Merciless Executioner and Fleshbag Marauder are the centerpieces of GB Value Leap thanks to their interaction with Evolutionary Leap. The basic idea is to get an Evolutionary Leap on the battlefield and play either of these creatures with one Green mana available to activate Evolutionary Leap. When Fleshbag Marauder or Merciless Executioner enter the battlefield, they put a trigger on the stack that says, "Each player sacrifices a creature." The trick is to sacrifice the Executioner or Marauder to Evolutionary Leap before the trigger resolves. This trick turns either creature into a card that says, "Target opponent sacrifices a creature. Reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a creature. Put that creature in your hand." That text is broken on a card and an automatic two-for-one.

Because we have the full eight copies of Merciless Executioner and Fleshbag Marauder, there is a reasonable chance we will Leap into additional copies, allowing us to take care of the next creature. It is this synergy that led to our Jeskai opponent rage scooping in Game 1, after we mowed down creature after creature. Esper Dragons and Abzan Aggro have difficulty keeping up when they get Diabolic Edicted every turn. 

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Elvish Visionary is a fine card even without Leap, but with Evolutionary Leap on the battlefield, he turns into a Green Divination. We can sac him after he enters the battlefield or after he's been declared as a blocker. The other reason Elvish Visionary is super important to the deck is that it's our only two-drop creature, which makes him an important road block against aggro decks while we wait to get our engine online.

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I just can't get away from Greenwarden of Murasa; the card is too good. Since we spend a good portion of the early and mid game sacrificing creatures, Greenwarden of Murasa allows us to use our graveyard like a tool box. Do we need to deal with a creature? We can get back a Merciless Executioner. Are we running low on cards? We can get back Elvish Visionary. Do we need a wrath, a Ruinious Path, or a land? We can get one back from the graveyard, or get back a Sidisi, Undead Vizier to find one. Just remember, the "when it dies" ability is a "may" ability. Often times it is better to leave the Greenwarden of Murasa in the graveyard rather than exiling it so we can chain together Greenwarden of Murasas in the late game. 

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Sidisi, Undead Vizier is the perfect tutor for our deck. We can use her to find whatever we need in any situation, and then get her back later with Greenwarden of Murasa or Palace Siege. Plus we have a ton of expendable creatures. Upgrading a Elvish Visionary to a 4/6 with deathtouch is a pretty big deal. 

Erebos's Titan, on the other hand, is in the deck to give us some more game against dedicated control decks. While I like our matchup against Esper Dragons because hexproof Dragonlords match up poorly against Merciless Executioner and Fleshbag Marauder, non-dragon control can be a bit tricky. Thankfully, these are the matchups where Erebos's Titan shines. Being indestructible and coming back from the graveyard in response to Dig Through Time is big game. For a great example of the card's power against control, refer to game three of the Mage Ring Esper match in the videos. 

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Each of these removal spells have a very specific purpose. Ultimate Price gives us a turn two play against decks like Atarka Red and GR Landfall. While we can kill just about everything from turn three forward, sometimes this is a bit slow in these matchups, making [[Ultimate Price] essential. 

Ruinous Path, on the other hand, shores up our weakness to planeswalkers. We can grind creature decks all day, but once our opponent starts playing Gideon, Ally of Zendikar or Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, our path to victory gets much more difficult. Watch the Mardu match, where we have complete control of games two and three, until our opponent finds Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker and proceeds to beats us down. After playing with the deck a while, I think a couple more answers to planeswalker are necessary, which means either playing a couple more Ruinous Paths, or splashing for Utter End

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One thing our deck does not like is to be behind on board. We can two-for-one our opponents almost every turn, but this doesn't do us much good if they play a card like Hordeling Outburst. Languish, and Crux of Fate

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Ob Nixilis Reignited is another card advantage engine, and he just so happens to be an unconditional removal spell as well. Ob Nixilis's emblem also gives us a way of winning the game more efficiently than beating down with 1/1's and 3/1's. 

Palace Siege is an amazing card in this build, and we use both options equally. The Dragons mode of draining two life every turn is one of our most common ways of winning the game. It allows us to continue on our gameplan of keeping the board clear, while gradually killing our opponent with very little effort. The Khans mode can be a hard lock in the late game, since it allows us to get back a Merciless Executioner or Fleshbag Marauder every single turn. When a deck like Abzan Aggro is in topdeck mode, this is pretty much game over. 

Matchup Notes

  • Abzan Aggro: Having a very strong matchup against Abzan Aggro was the reason I built the deck, so I was a little disappointed we didn't run into the deck during our matches. In theory, wraths backed by two-for-one removal spells should be a recipe for taking down the deck. Just watch out for Anafenza, the Foremost exiling our creatures when they should be going to the graveyard. 
  • Atarka Red/GR Landfall: Beating Atarka Red during our matches gave me a huge boost of confidence with this deck. While I think it is one of our toughest matchups, knowing that it is winnable is a big encouragement. Bringing in additional copies of Ultimate PriceFeed the Clan, and (possibly) Virulent Plague post board can be a big help. If we can survive to the mid-game we are a huge favorite to win; the problem is getting there.
  • Esper Dragons: This one is a laugher. Assuming we can keep them from flipping a Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, I'm not sure they can beat us. They have a total of six dragons and one Haven of the Spirit Dragon, while we have unlimited Edicts. Eventually we just run them out of resources and let our card advantage take over the game.
  • Dark Jeskai: Here it's all about Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. If we can keep them from flipping a Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, we should win with our Evolutionary Leaps blanking their removals spells. A flipped Jace can be a big problem since we are not very good at pressuring planeswalkers in the early game and we have a very limited number of answers. Having access to more copies of Ruinous Path or Utter End would be helpful. I usually bring in the Ultimate Prices just to deal with Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and Ojutai's Command getting back Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
  • Various Token Decks: These matches are rough pre-board because our primary plan of grinding people out with Merciless Executioner and Fleshbag Marauder doesn't work very well against cards that put multiple creatures onto the battlefield. Post board we get two copies of Virulent Plague, which is probably the best card in the matchup and has the potential to win games all by itself. 
  • Eldrazi Ramp: This one is all about Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is pretty much a joke because he dies to any of our sacrifice creatures, but a well timed Ugin, the Spirit Dragon can ruin the game. Having access to Duress post board helps. Make sure to save Ruinous Path to minimize the damage caused by Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

Ultra-Budget GB Value Leap

The main difference between the ultra budget version of GB Value Leap and the one in the videos is the loss of Ob Nixilis Reignited. While I really like the planeswalker in this deck, he probably isn't essential. Otherwise, we can switch up the manabase a bit, leaning more heavily on Evolving Wilds and cutting Llanowar Wastes. Overall, I think these downgrades cost us a few percentage points, but I think this version of the deck would be fine for FNM. The key synergies of Merciless Executioner, Fleshbag Marauder, Elvish Visionary, and Evolutionary Leap are still present.

Non-Budget Value Leap

The non-budget version looks quite similar to the budget version, except it gets access to White for a few important cards (Utter End and Arashin Cleric), better mana, and a few sweet one-ofs. Nissa, Vastwood Seer fits in the deck as a fifth Elvish Visionary that always draws us a land and sometimes turns into a planeswalker. Liliana, Heretical Healer has tons of reanimation targets to generate value. However, the single biggest addition is Hangarback Walker, which gives us another turn two play that is great against control and aggro, and synergizes with Evolutionary Leap


Anway, that's all for today. As I mentioned in the intro, I'm really excited about the deck. I think it has a good matchups against several of the most played decks in Standard. It's a ton of fun to play. I'd definitely recommend taking it for a spin; I don't think you'll be disappointied. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, improvements, and suggestions in the comments. You can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive. 

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