Budget Magic: $76 (15 tix) Mono-White Servos (Standard)
by SaffronOlive // Feb 14, 2017
Haa marʉ́awe, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time again! For the past couple weeks, ever since Aether Revolt released, we've been playing combo decks—first Paradox Engine and then Infinite Bantharmonicon—so this week, we are going to change things up a bit. Instead of comboing off, we are beating down! My goal for the week was to build a tribal deck in Aether Revolt Standard, so I started searching for lords. To my surprise, Servos had more lords than any other creature type in Standard. When you combine this with a bunch of powerful enablers that can put multiple Servo creatures on the battlefield, it seemed like the tribe has the potential to not only be quite powerful but cheap as well! The end result is a deck that is part tokens, part tribal, and 100% beatdown: Mono-White Servos!
We'll talk more about Mono-White Servos after the videos, but first 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 of the latest and greatest.
Mono-White Servos: Deck Tech
Mono-White Servos vs. Temur Aetherworks
Mono-White Servos vs. Four-Color Copy Cat
Mono-White Servos vs. Artifact Combo
Mono-White Servos vs. Jeskai Copy Cat
Mono-White Servos vs. UR Prowess
Mono-White Servos is actually very simple: half the deck is lords (we have a total of 15, which is pretty close to Modern Merfolk), and the other half is Servo generators, with a small number of support cards filling in the gaps. As such, to break down the deck, probably the easiest thing to do is look at it in three parts. We'll start with the lords and then talk about the Servo-makers, before finishing with the other cards in the main deck.
Metallic Mimic is sometimes the best of our lords and sometimes the worst. Unlike most lords, it needs to be on the battlefield before we start playing our Servos to do anything, which means it can be a lacking draw in the late game when we are empty handed. On the other hand, unlike most lords, the benefit it grants our Servos comes in the format of a +1/+1 counter, which means the boost sticks around even if our Metallic Mimic dies. Thankfully, it also turns itself into a Servo, meaning that the second copy gets a +1/+1 counter from the first, which is a nice upside.
As odd as it sounds, Master Trinketeer is the worst of our Servo lords for a couple of reasons. First, it isn't a Servo (or Thopter) itself, so additional copies don't pump the first copy (unlike all of our other lords). Second, and more importantly, Master Trinketeer is a three-mana creature that dies to Shock, and losing a three-mana lord to a one-mana spell is a painful tempo swing in our opponent's direction. On the other hand, Master Trinketeer is amazing in some matchups. If the game goes long, the ability to make a 1/1 Servo (that's at least a 2/2 thanks to Master Trinketeer itself and sometime much, much bigger) is a huge upside and a great mana sink to protect us from flooding out.
Meanwhile, while Chief of the Foundry doesn't actually say Servo, since Servos are artifacts, it is essentially another Servo lord. While it doesn't have any significant upside, it does dodge Shock, which is pretty nice. Otherwise, it's just another good way to make sure our Servo tokens are as big as possible.
Angel of Invention transitions us from the first part of the deck—lords—to the second part of our deck: Servo makers! On one hand, Angel of Invention is an expensive lord, but it pumps everything, with is helpful since we have some non-Servo creatures in our deck. Most importantly, thanks to fabricate, we can use Angel of Invention to make two Servo tokens when it enters the battlefield. While these tokens will (at worst) be 2/2s thanks to Angel of Invention itself, they will sometimes be 3/3s, 4/4s, or even 5/5s thanks to our other lords, which means Angel of Invention puts a ton of power and toughness on the battlefield for its mana cost.
Servo Exhibition and Cogworker's Puzzleknot are key pieces of our deck. While Servo Exhibition is the better of the two, since it makes two Servo tokens immediately, both cards do put two Servos on the battlefield sooner or later. More importantly, both are two-mana plays, which means they combo down on curve with all of our three-mana lords. Cogworker's Puzzleknot, while a bit expensive, does have the upside of making a Servo at instant speed, which can give us a surprise chump blocker or a hasty attacker if we make the token on our opponent's turn.
Sram's Expertise is—by far—the best card in our deck. Not only does it make three Servos for only four mana, but it also lets us cast one of our lords for free, which means that when we resolve a Sram's Expertise, we often go from having nothing on the battlefield to having eight or nine power split across four bodies, all for just four mana!
Since we are an aggressive deck (filled with lands that enter the battlefield untapped), it's important to have something to do on Turn 1, and even though our one-drops don't really enable the Servo plan, they are pretty solid in our deck. Animation Module is only a one-of, but if we happen to get it on the battlefield alongside a Metallic Mimic, we can make a bunch of Servos (one for each mana we have available) with the Thopter Foundry / Sword of the Meek loop. Plus, it's an artifact, which means it enables our other one-drop: Toolcraft Exemplar.
Toolcraft Exemplar is just the most efficient one-drop beater in Standard, and since our deck is built around artifact tokens, it will almost always be attacking for three damage on Turn 2. More importantly, it is the key to our best starts. A typical good hand with our deck will be something like Turn 1 Toolcraft Exemplar, Turn 2 Servo Exhibition (attack for three), Turn 3 either Chief of the Foundry or Master Trinketeer (attack for seven). This leaves us in a position where we have our opponent dead on board on Turn 4! Of course, this won't happen all that often in practice because our opponent will have removal and / or blockers, but having access to Toolcraft Exemplar in the one-drop slot speeds up our clock significantly.
Aethersphere Harvester is in the deck just because the card is very well positioned right now, dodging the most played removal spells in the format, blocking Heart of Kiran, gaining us a bit of life to swing aggressive matchups in our favor, and also pressuring planeswalkers from midrange and control. While it doesn't do anything special with our Servo plan, it's just so good that we had to find room for a couple of copies.
Stasis Snare is our removal spell of choice for two reasons. First, it's instant speed (and also dodges Dispel), making it a good answer to the Copy Cat combo, which is seeing a lot of play. Second, it doesn't have many conditions. Since our deck doesn't have a lot of room for removal, it's best to err on the side of the card that hits the highest number of targets, even if it is more expensive than some more conditional removal spells.
The sideboard is pretty straightforward. Authority of the Consuls and the fourth Stasis Snare are for Copy Cat decks. Fragmentize is a catch-all artifact answer to various Vehicles, and Aetherworks Marvel, Blessed Alliance, and Immolating Glare give us more removal for Winding Constrictor and other aggressive creatures. Lantern Scout can swing a race in our favor by gaining us a huge chunk of life, and Make a Stand is essentially our budget version of Selfless Spirit to save our Servos from Radiant Flames and Fumigate against more controlling decks.
To get the deck down into the $50 range (for paper), we don't really have a choice but to drop of our lords. Since Master Trinketeer and Chief of the Foundry are already inexpensive, it came down to Metallic Mimic and Angel of Invention, and in the end, I decided that the Servo-making power of the Angel made it worth keeping around, so Metallic Mimic got the axe. In place of the Shapeshifter, we get Collective Effort, which sort of works like a Metallic Mimic by putting a +1/+1 counter on all of our creatures while also giving us the option of killing a big creature or enchantment thanks to escalate. The other big loss was Aethersphere Harvester, which, as I mentioned before, isn't really needed for the primary plan of the deck, but it's a nice card to have access to, since it is super powerful. Since there really isn't a direct substitute for the Vehicle, we just move one copy of Make a Stand and the fourth Stasis Snare into the main deck. Apart from having a bit of a clunky curve (with a ton of three-drops), I'm not sure there's a big drop off in power between this deck and the one we played in the videos, and if you are looking for a slightly cheaper starting point, this will do just fine!
Most of the additions to the non-budget build of Mono-White Servos fall under the "not really on theme but super-powerful white card" heading. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar can be an anthem to pump up our Servos, but it can also give us a hard-to-deal-with threat against more controlling decks with tons of removal. Selfless Spirit gives our team resilience against removal and is a reasonable flying clock on its own, while Archangel Avacyn is basically a Make a Stand that just happens to come along with a flying, vigilant, flashy 4/4 body. To make room for these cards, apart from dropping Animation Module altogether, we mostly just trim, going down a couple of Metallic Mimics, a couple of Angel of Inventions, an Aethersphere Harvester, and a Stasis Snare. All things told, these changes certainly make the deck more powerful, but it doesn't do much to directly help the Servo theme. If you are thinking of playing Servos at a tournament of some kind and have copies of the upgrades lying around, I would certainly add them in, but for kitchen tables or even FNM, I'm not sure I'd run out and spend the money to buy them—the deck functions fine (and is arguably even more on point, flavor-wise) without them.
Anyway, that's all for today. We finished 3-2 in our video matches and 4-4 overall (beating UR Prowess again and losing an additional match to Copy Cat and Aetherworks Marvel). The deck was a lot of fun to play, and it is actually super powerful when it curves out. So, if you like tribal decks or token strategies, especially aggressive ones, give it a shot—I don't think you'll be disappointed!) As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments. You can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.