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Budget Magic: $65 (32 tix) Mono-Green Liquimetal Control (Modern, Magic Online)


Sí?, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! This week, we're heading to Modern for a deck that's super janky but also super fun, unique, and ultra-budget: Mono-Green Liquimetal Control! While Mono-Green certainly isn't the most traditional color for a control deck, the color is really, really good at destroying artifacts. While this is great if you happen to play against Affinity or Hardened Scales, in most matchups, the ability to destroy an artifact isn't all that useful. But what if we can turn our opponent's permanents into artifacts and then blow them up with efficient artifact-removal spells? That's our plan today! Can a deck built around Liquimetal Coating, Myr Landshaper, and a ton of creatures that destroy artifacts when they enter the battlefield compete in Modern on an ultra-budget form? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Mono-Green Liquimetal Control (Modern)

The Deck

Mono-Green Liquimetal Control is basically a Mono-Green Control or Mono-Green Tempo deck. Its plan is pretty simple: turn the opponent's permanents into artifacts and then use a bunch of creatures that kill artifacts as unconditional removal, blowing up anything from lands to creatures to planeswalkers. Then to win the game, it simply beats down with its motley crew of creatures while the opponent is low on resources from all of the removal.

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The two most important cards in Mono-Green Liquimetal Control are Liquimetal Coating and Myr Landshaper—the two cards in our deck that can turn our opponent's permanents into artifacts. Our deck really struggles without at least one of these cards by playing a bunch of overcosted and underpowered creatures that are in our deck since they blow up artifacts. Liquimetal Coating is the better of the two since it's cheaper and a non-creature spell and, most importantly, can turn any permanent into an artifact rather than just lands. Meanwhile, Myr Landshaper gives us some redundancy by turning our opponent's lands into artifacts, although it comes with the drawback of being a 1/1 creature that dies to basically any removal spell in the format. While we don't necessarily need to mulligan until we find one of these cards, our best hands have at least one Liquimetal Coating or Myr Landshaper, and it takes a pretty special hand (or good matchup like Affinity) for us to keep a hand without a way to turn things into artifacts.

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Reclamation Sage and Viridian Shaman are pretty close to the same card in our deck, as two-power three-drops that destroy an artifact when they enter the battlefield. Our dream draw with Mono-Green Liquimetal Control is to have our Liquimetal Coating on Turn 2, untap on turn three, and play one of these cards to blow up our opponent's best permanent. In the worst case, this ends up being three-mana land destruction, and in the best case, we kill a huge Death's Shadow or Tarmogoyf. After blowing up something, Reclamation Sage and Viridian Shaman go into  beatdown mode, attacking our opponent in the hopes of closing out the game before our opponent assembles enough resources to win through our constant barrage of janky removal.

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On the top end of our artifact destruction curve are Wickerbough Elder and Conclave Naturalists. They are basically bigger and more expensive versions of Reclamation Sage and Viridian Shaman, blowing up a permanent with the help of Liquimetal Coating or Myr Landshaper while leaving behind a 4/4 body to close out the game a bit quicker. While the two cards are worded differently, they basically end up the same as 4/4s for five mana. The main upside of Wickerbough Elder is that if our opponent doesn't have a good permanent to blow up (or we don't have a way to turn our opponent's stuff into an artifact), it can sit out on the battlefield as a 3/3 and blow up an artifact later. On the other hand, if we run our Wickerbough Elder without enough mana to activate it, it's only a 3/3, meaning it dies to Lightning Bolt, which can be painful. Disregarding the small differences, the cards are in our deck to make sure that we can blow up a permanent every turn once we get our Liquimetal Coating engine running, which is the most powerful thing our deck can do.

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Our last artifact-destruction spell is two copies of Dissenter's Deliverance. The downside here is that Dissenter's Deliverance isn't a creature, so it doesn't help with our tempo-based beatdown plan. On the other hand, it's also our cheapest artifact-destruction spell and comes with the huge upside of cycling. As we talked about a minute ago, having at least one Liquimetal Coating or Myr Landshaper is essential. As a result, Dissenter's Deliverance can be a permanent destruction spell when we have our primary combo pieces. But if we are desperate for a way to turn things into artifacts, we can cycle it away for just one mana to dig for a Liquimetal Coating or Myr Landshaper and trust that we'll draw more artifact destruction later since we have so many artifact-destruction spells in our deck.

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Llanowar Elves and Elvish Mystic are pretty simple: they help speed up our deck. Modern is a fast format, so we really need to start blowing up permanents as quickly as possible. Either of our one-mana dorks ramps us into Myr Landshaper on Turn 2, which allows us to start blowing up lands on Turn 3, a plan that is especially impactful if we are on the play. Then, as the game goes along, both Llanowar Elves and Elvish Mystic can chip in for damage while our opponent is low on resources.

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Last but not least is some card draw. One of the challenges of playing a mono-green control deck is that, unlike blue-based control, we have a tendency to run out of cards. And once we stop blowing up a permanent every turn, our opponent has an opportunity to rebuild. Harmonize takes advantage of our fast mana and gives us a way to refill our hand, either to dig for our Liquimetal Coating or Myr Landshaper or, if we already have them, more artifact-destruction spells to keep the pressure on our opponent's resources. Meanwhile, Relic of Progenitus gives us a way to exile our opponent's graveyard, which is surprisingly relevant against many of the best decks in Modern, while also cycling if our opponent isn't playing a graveyard deck, getting us one card closer to our combo pieces or more artifact destruction.

Wrap-Up

Heading into our games, I figured that Mono-Green Liquimetal Control would be fun and do some cool things in certain games but probably wouldn't post that great of a record. As such, finishing 3-2 in our video matches and 3-3 overall was a good surprise. We managed to beat UW Turns Control, Sultai Wilderness Reclamation (somehow), and Dredge while getting blown out by Humans and losing a really close three-game match to Death's Shadow. Sadly, we didn't get to play against Affinity or Hardened Scales, which would be hilariously good matchups since we don't even need Liquimetal Coating to blow up all of our opponent's stuff.

As far as matchups, Mono-Green Control is at its best against slower, more controlling decks where blowing up a land each turn is good. Meanwhile, things are harder against more aggressive creature decks like Humans. While we can beat these decks (as we showed against Death's Shadow), we're under a lot of pressure to have Liquimetal Coating early to kill creatures. And if we don't find one (or our opponent can deal with it), things can go wrong in a hurry since our creatures are pretty underpowered if they aren't doing an Ashen Rider impression when they enter the battlefield. 

As far as improvements to make to the deck, I'm not sure there's a whole lot to do while remaining ultra-budget. In theory, we could play Arbor Elf and Utopia Sprawl over Llanowar Elves and Elvish Mystic. But while this might be an improvement, it doesn't really change things in a meaningful way. The biggest challenge of the deck is inconsistency: Mono-Green Liquimetal Control looks great when we have our namesake Liquimetal Coating on Turn 2 but looks like the worst deck in Modern when we are playing Reclamation Sage as a 2/1 for no value on Turn 3. Splashing into another color for more removal or counters could be good, but adding a color increases the budget quite a bit, which might not make it worth the effort.

All in all, Mono-Green Liquimetal Control seems like a great deck to have around and play for fun but not something to make your primary Modern deck. The inconsistency would make it hard to win a Grand Prix or even to 5-0 a league on Magic Online. But as we saw in our matches, the deck is good enough to compete, and when it works, it's a really funny and unique way to win games of Modern. It's the kind of deck that will have everyone talking at your FNM even if you end up posting a 50 / 50 record. As such, considering how cheap the deck is, my recommendation would be to put it together and have it around for when you feel like playing something unique, funny, and semi-competitive. But I wouldn't plan on Mono-Green Liquimetal Control being my only Modern deck.

Ultra-Budget Mono-Green Liquimetal Control

No ultra-budget list this week since the version from the videos is already quite cheap. If you're looking to pinch pennies, the deck can survive without Relic of Progenitus, with Tormod's Crypt being a good ultra-budget sideboard replacement. And Raking Canopy isn't 100% necessary, although it does improve the matchup against Izzet Phoenix and Spirits significantly.

Non-Budget Liquimetal Control

First off, I should say that if budget isn't a concern, you're probably better off building a deck like GR Ponza or Mono-Green Land Destruction. While those decks aren't as unique as Liquimetal Control, they are a lot more consistent. The biggest problem with making a non-budget version of Liquimetal Control is that, even with an unlimited budget, we still only have four copies of Liquimetal Coating, so the inconsistency remains. With that in mind, heading into two or three colors opens up some interesting Liquimetal Coating possibilities. 

The biggest upside of going into the Jund colors with Liquimetal Control is that we gain access to a bunch of cards that are great with Liquimetal Coating but still good if we don't draw our namesake cards. For example, both Abrade and Putrefy are fine creature removal without Liquimetal Coating, but once we find our Coating, they can be used to blow up lands, planeswalkers, or any other permanent for the low cost of two or three mana. Likewise, planeswalkers like Vraska, Relic Seeker and Vivien Reid give us finishers that can also be permanent destruction with Liquimetal Coating. And Sunder Shaman is an efficient 5/5 for four that just happens to destroy a permanent every turn it deals combat damage, if we have Liquimetal Coating on the battlefield. The biggest shift in this version of the deck is dropping the mana dorks. Rather than looking to speed up our own deck with Llanowar Elves and Elvish Mystic, the plan of Jund Liquimetal Control is to slow the opponent down with early-game discard and removal—a plan that comes with the additional upside of getting potential answers to Liquimetal Coating out of our opponent's hand on Turn 1 before playing our artifact. Basically, the primary idea of the non-budget build of Liquimetal Coating is to do what we can to increase the consistency of the deck. But since we can't just add more copies of Liquimetal Coating, we do this by playing cards that are good even when we don't have Liquimetal Coating on the battlefield and become busted once we draw a way to turn our opponent's permanents into artifacts.

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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