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Budget Magic: $86 (26 tix) Standard GW Bloodbriar


Mar7aba, Budget Magic lovers! It's that time again. This week, we are heading to Standard to play a green-white sacrifice deck built around a powerful but overlooked common from Eldritch Moon: Bloodbriar. The basic plan of the deck is to grow Bloodbriar as big as possible by sacrificing Clue tokens and other permanents, and generating value along the way, before finishing our opponent off with the powerful three-drop. Oh yeah, and we sometimes meld Bruna, the Fading Light and Gisela, the Broken Blade into Brisela, Voice of Nightmares!

The other thing I really like about this deck is that it's almost rotation proof. While we do have one card that will rotate when Kaladesh enters the format in a couple of weeks, it's a card that's quite easy to replace and won't be nearly as good after rotation anyway, but we'll talk more about it as we break down the deck. 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 the latest and greatest.

GW Bloodbriar: Deck Tech

GW Bloodbriar vs. UW Spirits

GW Bloodbriar vs. UR Thermo-Thing

GW Bloodbriar vs. Bant Company

GW Bloodbriar vs. WB Legends

GW Bloodbriar vs. Mono-Red Eldrazi

The Deck

GW Bloodbriar is really a synergistic, value-focused midrange deck that generates a lot of card advantage thanks to an endless stream of Clue tokens. Because of this, it's somewhat difficult to talk about, because we have quite a few powerful standalone cards that are in the deck simply because they are above the curve. That said, we can break down the deck into two parts: first, we have the Bloodbriar half of the deck that either supports or takes advantage of sacrifice synergies; then, we have the good stuff part of the deck that is only loosely associated with the sacrifice effects. 

The Value Sacrifice Plan

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Bloodbriar and Tireless Tracker work extremely well together and give us a pair of powerful three-drops that quickly grow out of control and take over the game. Bloodbriar gets a +1/+1 counter whenever we sacrifice a permanent, while Tireless Tracker grows whenever we sacrifice a Clue, so with both on the battlefield, whenever we play a land, we get a Clue, and then whenever we sacrifice the Clue, we pump up both our Bloodbriar and Tireless Tracker permanently. 

While Tireless Tracker is the more powerful card overall, generating its own sacrifice fodder as well as card advantage thanks to the Clue tokens, Bloodbriar does have one big advantage: it starts off as a 2/3, which means that just one sacrifice grows it big enough that it's out of range of commonly played removal spells like Incendiary Flow and Fiery Impulse. Sometimes, we can do this right away by casting Bloodbriar on Turn 4 and immediately playing and sacrificing a Evolving Wilds

Over the long game, it's very likely that Bloodbriar ends up being the biggest creature on either side of the board, which means it's not only a massive threat but also quite hard to kill. A lot of the format is leaning on conditional removal like Dromoka's Command and red burn spells to keep creatures in check. If we are careful about how we manage our sacrifice effects, it's pretty easy to maneuver around these cards and grow a Bloodbriar that's big enough to dominate the board. 

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Tragic Arrogance is the one card in our deck that's rotating, but in all honestly, it's not that great in a lot of matchups. In fact, if you watch the game play videos, you'll see that we sided it out a lot. The main reason we are playing it in the main deck is Bant Company, which is currently more than 40% of the Standard meta, but Bant Company will be rotating along with Tragic Arrogance, so even if Tragic Arrogance somehow stayed in the format, we probably wouldn't want it in the main deck anyway, since it will be losing its best matchup. As a result, it will be pretty easy to drop Tragic Arrogance (there's a post-rotation list at the end of the article) and keep playing GW Bloodbriar even after rotation. 

That said, Tragic Arrogance can sort of combo off with Bloodbriar, since it forces a mass sacrifice. Imagine we are in the late game and have a board cluttered with random creatures, some creature tokens, and some Clues. We cast a Tragic Arrogance and sacrifice everything except Bloodbriar. When this happens, it's pretty likely that we end up with a massive Bloodbriar, maybe even big enough to kill our opponent in one shot, thanks to all the +1/+1 counters we generate from sacrificing the rest of our board. Ideally, we'd be able to leave our opponent shields down (for example, leaving them with just a tapped creature) and use Bloodbriar to attack for the win!

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This next group of cards is in the deck because they work extremely well with our sacrifice plan. Thraben Inspector makes a nice roadblock in the early game, while also giving us a Clue token that we can sacrifice to pump Bloodbriar and Tireless Tracker. Ulvenwald Mysteries generates a ton of value over the long game, turning dying creatures into Clue tokens and Clue tokens into 1/1 tokens, so eventually, we get to the point where every time we sacrifice a Clue token, we get +1/+1 counters on multiple creatures, draw a card, and get a 1/1 token, all for just two mana! Evolving Wilds and Blighted Woodland might look weird in a two-color deck, but they give us additional sacrifice effects that do not cost us non-land slots in the deck. 

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Angelic Purge gives us a good removal spell that also works well with our sacrifice plan. Not only can it hit a wide range of permanents, from artifacts to enchantments and creatures, but since it exiles, it gets rid of these things forever, which can be pretty important in a world where some decks are built around Grapple with the Past to get back Emrakul, the Promised End

Primal Druid gives us some sacrifice fodder for Angelic Purge while also providing a good roadblock on the early turns of the game. As you'll see in a minute, our deck does have some more expensive cards, so having a Rampant Growth is actually pretty nice. Hedron Archive fills a similar role; we can use it to ramp into our late-game finishers. Plus, when we don't really need the mana, we can turn it into cards while pumping our Bloodbriar at the same time. Finally, we have Duskwatch Recruiter, which doesn't really have a specific purpose other than to be another solid two-drop and to generate additional card advantage, allowing us to cycle through our deck to find more Bloodbriars and Tireless Trackers. 

Value Tutor Toolbox Plan

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Eldritch Evolution is where our deck starts to shift. While we can use it to turn a Thraben Inspector into a Bloodbriar or Tireless Tracker (generating a sacrifice trigger along the way), what we really want to do is use Eldritch Evolution to search up some really powerful one-ofs and ramp into the top end of our deck. One of the big problems with Eldritch Evolution in our current Standard is that Spell Queller is a huge blowout, but in our deck, we naturally minimize the downside because in the worst case, even if our Eldritch Evolution gets countered or exiled, we still grow our Bloodbriar. So, just what are we searching up with Eldritch Evolution?

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Thalia's Lancers does double duty with Eldritch Evolution. On the one hand, we can sacrifice a three-drop like Bloodbriar or Tireless Tracker to search up a Thalia's Lancers and then use Thalia's Lancers' enter-the-battlefield trigger to search up one of our silver-bullet one-ofs. On the other hand, we can also sacrifice Thalia's Lancers to Eldritch Evolution, which allows us to tutor up any other creature in our deck. Better yet, Thalia's Lancers is just a solid body on its own, as a 4/4 first strike is actually reasonable on the ground, while also matching up well against Reflector Mage and Spell Queller

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Playing the Eldritch Evolution / Thalia's Lancers package means we can get away with playing only one copy of some really powerful but situational creatures and still have access to them when the situation calls. The best examples of this are [[Sigarda, Heron's Grace] and Linvala, the Preserver. Sigarda, Heron's Grace is incredibly good against one important card: Emrakul, the Promised End. While we still have to find an answer to a 13/13, flying, trample, if we have a Sigarda, Heron's Grace on the battlefield when our opponent casts an Emrakul, the Promised End, at least our opponent doesn't get to steal our turn (which can be devastating, since we have so many sacrifice effects in our deck). Linvala, the Preserver is also a trump but in different matchups. Against aggressive creature decks or burn decks featuring Fevered Visions, Linvala, the Preserver gives us a main deck way to gain just enough life to stay out of the danger zone and hopefully win the game with our massive fliers. 

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Last but not least, since we have the ability to tutor up legendary creatures, we also have access to the meld combo of Gisela, the Broken Blade and Bruna, the Fading Light. One thing our deck is very good at is gumming up the ground with massive Bloodbriars and Tireless Trackers, which means we sometimes end up getting into huge board stalls where no one can attack on the ground. Melding into Brisela, Voice of Nightmares is the solution to this problem. Not only does Brisela, Voice of Nightmares offer a great way of winning the game in their air, but the combination of lifelink and locking our opponent out of casting low-converted-mana-cost spells means that she is incredibly hard to deal with for most decks and usually wins us the game in short order. 

Post-Rotation GW Bloodbriar

Making GW Bloodbriar completely rotation proof doesn't actually take too much work. We simply drop Tragic Arrogance and add in a Planar Outburst along with more copies of Angelic Purge and Primal Druid. As I mentioned earlier, the main reason to play Tragic Arrogance right now is Bant Company, but with Collected Company rotating, we probably wouldn't want four copies of Tragic Arrogance in our deck anyway, so it really isn't a big loss. I actually played a couple of games with this build of the deck, just to make sure it was functioning properly, and it seemed to work fine. It plays almost exactly the same as the version in the videos, just without the Bloodbriar / Tragic Arrogance combo, which was more of a fringe play than the focal point of the deck anyway. 

Ultra-Budget Post-Rotation GW Bloodbriar

Going ultra-budget with GW Bloodbriar means we lose one very good card in Eldritch Evolution and one solid value card in Duskwatch Recruiter. Thankfully, we do have a pretty good replacement for Eldritch Evolution in more copies of Thalia's Lancers. While less explosive, the white rare offers almost as much consistency in finding our important silver bullets and putting together our game-ending meld combo. As for Duskwatch Recruiter, we don't really have a great replacement and went with some Noose Constrictors as the next best green two-drop, but we didn't really have any choice but to cut it, because it's the only other expensive card that isn't essential to our deck's plan (cutting Tireless Tracker isn't really an option, because it works so well with our sacrifice theme in general and Bloodbriar specifically). While I think this build of the deck is a bit worse than the version we played in the videos, I also think it's perfectly playable, so if you are looking for an ultra-budget deck that's playable the first week of Kaladesh Standard, this might be the deck for you!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. All in all, we ended up going 3-2 in matches, but I'm not really sure how representative this is of the deck's true power. Every single match we played (win or lose) went to three games, and most were extremely close. As such, I felt like we were equally close to being 1-4 and being 5-0. Regardless, the deck was fun to play, Bloodbriar was extremely impressive, and melding into a Brisela, Voice of Nightmares has to be one of the best feelings in Standard! 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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