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Budget Magic: $88 (5 tix) Orzhov Blink (Standard, Magic Arena)


Fastyr mie, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! This week, we are heading back to Ravnica Allegiance Standard for a deck I've been wanting to play ever since Lumbering Battlement was spoiled: Orzhov Blink! The primary plan of the deck—which is overloaded with powerful enters-the-battlefield creatures—is to grind out value in the early game with our random creatures and then eventually exile them all to Lumbering Battlement, giving us a huge vigilant threat. This puts our opponent in a tough position: either they die to our massive Lumbering Battlement or they are forced to kill our Lumbering Battlement, which gives us back all of our creatures, allowing us to reuse all of their enters-the-battlefield triggers and hopefully generating enough value that we take home the victory. Can the power of Lumbering Battlement make Orzhov into a real contender in Standard? Let's get to the videos and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Orzhov Blink (Standard)

The Deck

Orzhov Blink is basically a midrange deck built to take advantage of the power of Lumbering Battlement, with a ton of creatures with powerful enters-the-battlefield triggers. The main goal of the deck is to grind out incremental value with our enters-the-battlefield creatures before putting the game away with Lumbering Battlement exiling our own board to give us a huge threat (or the ability to reuse all of our enters-the-battlefield triggers if Lumbering Battlement dies.

Lumbering Battlement

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Lumbering Battlement is the centerpiece of our deck and our primary finisher. On its own, it's fairly underpowered—while a 4/5 vigilance for five isn't horrible, it's not really all that powerful compared to other options in Standard. However, when we can use Lumbering Battlement to exile several cheap creatures with enters-the-battlefield triggers, it becomes incredibly strong, often ending up a 10/11 or better for just five mana. This puts our opponent in a no-win situation. Thanks to Lumbering Battlement's vigilance, we can attack with it every turn and our opponent either needs to endless chump block or risk losing the game in just one or two attacks. Meanwhile, if our opponent kills our Lumbering Battlement, we unlock all of our creatures exiled by it, which not only rebuilds our board but also allows us to reuse all of their enters-the-battlefield triggers. This typically means drawing some cards and killing whatever creatures our opponent has left on the battlefield. 

It's also worth mentioning that we can do some really powerful things with multiple Lumbering Battlements. With two copies of Lumbering Battlement, we can use the second to exile the first and get back all of our creatures, while with three, we can go infinite and blink our entire board as many times as we want. While this doesn't happen often, when it does, the end result is that, depending on what other creatures we have on the battlefield, we can draw our entire deck, gain infinite life, wrath our opponent's board, and make them discard their entire hand!

Enters-the-Battlefield Creatures

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As far as creatures with enters-the-battlefield triggers, we kick things off in the two-drop slot with Seekers' Squire and Dusk Legion Zealot, both of which generate card advantage when they enter the battlefield, with Seekers' Squire exploring and Dusk Legion Zealot drawing us a card. Apart from putting up some early-game defense, these cards keep us churning through our deck to make sure we hit our land drops and find our more powerful, more expensive threats.

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Ravenous Chupacabra and Plaguecrafter give us two removal spells that come attached to blinkable bodies. Ravenous Chupacabra is pretty simple: it comes down and kills our opponent's best creature, and then it kills another creature after it is exiled and returns to the battlefield with Lumbering Battlement. Meanwhile, Plaguecrafter isn't quite as good at killing creatures as Ravenous Chupacabra since our opponent loses their worst creature rather than their best, but it makes up for this by having a lot of additional value. First, Ravenous Chupacabra is pretty lacking against control decks without many creatures, but Plaguecrafter is great since it can also force our opponent to sacrifice a planeswalker, and in the worst case, it still does something if our opponent's battlefield is empty by making them discard a card. Second, and perhaps even more importantly, Plaguecrafter gives us a way to kill our own Lumbering Battlement if we need to get back all of the exiled creatures hidden beneath it by allowing us to sacrifice one of our own creatures. Together, Ravenous Chupacabra and Plaguecrafter are a devastating combo for creature-based decks, giving us a ton of two-for-one removal to eat through our opponent's threats.

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Basilica Bell-Haunt is one of the most underrated cards in Standard. It's the best card in our deck against aggressive decks, where the combination of us gaining three life, our opponent discarding a card, and a 3/4 body on the battlefield often ends up gaining us somewhere between six and nine life, which is a huge swing in our favor. Meanwhile, while not as good against control, forcing our opponent to discard a card and leaving behind a mostly on-curve body is still fine. It also just so happens that Basilica Bell-Haunt curves perfectly into Lumbering Battlement, making it a fine choice to exile and eventually return to the battlefield. Oh yeah, and it's also one of the best creatures we have if we manage to assemble the infinite Lumbering Battlement loop, since if we can blink it an infinite number of times, we not only gain infinite life but also force our opponent to discard their entire hand, which pretty much guarantees we'll win the game from any board state.

Other Stuff

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While Knight of Grace and Midnight Reaper don't have enters-the-battlefield abilities or work especially well with Lumbering Battlement, they are solid curve fillers in Orzhov Blink. Knight of Grace gives us a two-drop that is great on defense, as a 3/2 with first strike (most of the time) that also dodges a meaningful amount of removal against decks like Golgari and Sultai. Meanwhile, Midnight Reaper gives us a source of card advantage as our creatures die or trade-off in combat that keeps us digging through our deck for more action and eventually Lumbering Battlement to close out the game.

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The Eldest Reborn and The Immortal Sun do two really important things for our deck. First, they give us even more grindy card advantage, with The Eldest Reborn ending up a three-for-one if it sticks on the battlefield until the third lore counter and The Immortal Sun giving us a personal Howling Mine. Second, both cards help shore up one of Orzhov Blink's big weaknesses: planeswalkers. The main idea of Orzhov Blink is to grind out incremental value, and while we're really good at dealing with creatures, because most of our creatures are pretty small and lack evasion, our deck is pretty bad at pressuring opposing planeswalkers. A Vraska or Teferi, Hero of Dominaria sitting on the battlefield for a few turns can undo our card advantage plan and allow our opponent to fight through our incremental value. The Eldest Reborn gives us another planeswalker removal spell, assuming we can keep the board clean of creatures, and The Immortal Sun is basically a wrath for planeswalkers as long as it stays on the battlefield.

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Last but not least is Mortify, which we've talked about many times before. If you're in white and black, Mortify is perhaps the best removal spell in Standard, since along with killing creatures, it can take down Wilderness Reclamation and Search for Azcanta against control, where other removal spells like Cast Down and Seal Away are mostly dead cards. As such, it's the perfect removal spell for Orzhov Blink to back up all of our creature-based removal.

The Mana

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As for the mana, it's a pretty typical budget mana base with Orzhov Guildgate instead of Godless Shrine (if you have Godless Shrines, you should 100% play them over the Guildgates). Otherwise, Memorial to Folly gives us another way to get our creatures back from the graveyard if they die, with the low, low cost of being a land that enters the battlefield tapped. In a grindy deck like Orzhov Blink, playing an extra tapped land is more than worth it if it means we can get back Lumbering Battlement, Ravenous Chupacabra, or our other threats back from the graveyard in the late game.

Wrap-Up

Overall, Orzhov Blink felt pretty solid. We played five matches and finished 4-1, only losing to Bant Turbo Fog (which does feel like a pretty rough matchup, since Fogs are a pretty hard counter to our Lumbering Battlement plan because they can stop our Lumbering Battlement damage without actually killing the Battlement to give us back our creatures). We took down Sultai Midrange (although our opponent made some really strange choices), Gates, Bant Control, and Mono-Blue Tempo, giving us a solid cross-section of midrange, aggro, and control.

The deck is pretty interesting. While we rarely overwhelm our opponent quickly and pick up free wins, the small bits of incremental value really do add up, and they eventually overwhelm our opponent, allowing us to take home the victory. If you're looking for fast, easy wins, Orzhov Blink isn't the deck for you. On the other hand, if you enjoy grinding our value and picking together wins in the late game, Orzhov Blink feels like a really solid budget option.

Speaking of budget, apart from being amazingly cheap (under $5) on Magic Online, the deck is pretty budget friendly on Magic Arena as well, with just one mythic and 10 rares in the main deck along with one more mythic and rare in the sideboard. If you're looking to make the deck even cheaper on Arena, I could see cutting Midnight Reaper for two more copies of Dusk Legion Zealot in a pinch, even though Midnight Reaper is solid in the deck. You should also have one Vraska's Contempt and one Settle the Wreckage from the starter decks, both of which are easy inclusions in the sideboard.

All in all, Orzhov Blink was a lot of fun and felt like a really solid budget option. There are also some fun possibilities in terms of non-budget upgrades, potentially splashing into a third color like blue for cards like Hostage Taker and Mirror Entity. If you're looking for something fun, different, and super cheap and don't mind playing grindy, long games, give Orzhov Blink a shot!

Orzhov Blink is a pretty easy deck to get down into the $50 range. We cut both copies of The Immortal Sun, with The Eldest Reborn being our main-deck replacement and Sorcerous Spyglass showing up in the sideboard, and turn our Midnight Reapers into the third and fourth copies of Dusk Legion Zealot. This gets the deck down to $50 all by itself, and if you want to make the deck even more budget friendly, you could cut the Isolated Chapels for Forsaken Sanctuary. While adding more tapped lands to the deck isn't ideal, it would get the cost down to around $30 in paper, and even with all the tapped lands, the deck should be fine for kitchen table play.

For our non-budget list this week, we move into Esper. While going into a third color ups the cost of the mana base significantly, blue offers some really sweet tricks with Lumbering Battlement. As we talked about earlier, with three copies of Lumbering Battlement, we can go infinite with enters-the-battlefield triggers, but with our straight Orzhov build, this happens pretty rarely since it's hard to draw three copies of Lumbering Battlement. Blue allows us to play Mirror Entity and Hostage Taker, both of which work like additional copies of Lumbering Battlement in terms of the combo while also fitting the theme of our deck, with Mirror Entity copying our powerful enters-the-battlefield creatures and Hostage Taker giving us a Ravenous Chupacabra with the upside of hitting artifacts and potentially stealing our opponent's stuff, rather than just killing it. Otherwise, the deck is basically the same, with some slight tweaks to the sideboard to add in some counterspells since we now have blue mana to cast them. While I'm not sure how much better this build is than the one we played for the videos (just upgrading the mana in the budget build is a nice middle ground in terms of an upgrade, if you don't want to go all out), it does add a lot of extra fun to the deck by increasing the odds of us going infinite with our Lumbering Battlements.

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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