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Budget Magic: $90 Izzet Giants (Modern)


Nǐn hǎo, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! Giants are one of the most interesting tribes from Kaldheim, but so far, they haven't really caught on in Standard. However, there are some reasons to think the tribe might be even better suited for Modern. Lorwyn had a Giant theme, which offers some powerful options like Thundercloud Shaman. Plus, the old Core Set Titan cycle is all Giants, and cards like Inferno Titan and Frost Titan can be really hard to beat, especially if we can get them onto the battlefield quickly. Today, we're going to give the tribe a shot in the format by adding some sweet new Kaldheim Giants, along with some of the best Giants from Magic's past, in a deck that's looking to power big six- and seven-drops onto the battlefield as early as Turn 4 with some Giant-themed ramp. How good are Giants in Modern? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Izzet Giants

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The Deck

Izzet Giants is a tribal midrange ramp deck. Our primary plan is to slam some massive Giants early in the game, back them up with some removal, and hopefully crush our opponents before they get a chance to recover! While the Giants are the most exciting part of our deck and the way we win the game, perhaps more important is our ramp package. So let's start there before moving to our tribe members.

Ramp

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Izzet typically isn't thought of as a ramp color combination, but we actually have several good options for Giants specifically, all united by a common theme: any of the above cards allows us to cast a six-drop on Turn 4 (assuming we hit out land drops), which is the primary plan of our deck and—by far—the most explosive thing our deck can do. Invasion of the Giants is great—it's basically a Giant ritual that adds two mana combined with a weird, slow Preordain. While it takes a few turns to get full value, if we play it on Turn 2, the last lore counter will happen on Turn 4, allowing us to play a six-drop Giant (while the first two lore counters help us dig for a payoff). Meanwhile, Coalition Relic and Stinkdrinker Daredevil are both three drops that essentially add two additional mana the next turn, getting us up to six mana on Turn 4. Coalition Relic is the better of the two since it's harder to kill. Stinkdrinker Daredevil is just a two-of because it tends to be inconsistent since it dies to a lot of popular Modern removal, although it can lead to some extremely explosive turns if it sticks on the battlefield. (For example, if we Stinkdrinker Daredevil on Turn 3, we potentially can untap and play two four mana Giants on Turn 4, which is quite powerful.)

The Giants

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Why are we so concerned about ramping up to six mana on Turn 4? The answer is that our two biggest payoffs are Inferno Titan and Frost Titan. Both are incredibly powerful but in different ways. Inferno Titan offers some removal with its Arc Lightning–esque enters-the-battlefield / attack trigger and is an extremely fast clock thanks to its pump abilities, often killing the opponent with just two attacks. Meanwhile, Frost Titan is really annoying to play against since it can keep tapping down a permanent (usually either a blocker, so we can force through more damage, or a land, to disrupt our opponent's plays) and because it's difficult to kill since it costs two extra mana for the opponent to target it. We have the full four copies of each Titan to help make sure that we have one ready to go on Turn 4 in each and every game. 

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Our other four-of Giant is Calamity Bearer, which is a great payoff in a deck full of Giants. Doubling our Giant damage allows us to close out the game incredibly fast, especially in conjunction with Inferno Titan, which deals six damage with its enters-the-battlefield / attack trigger with Calamity Bearer on the battlefield and can often one-shot our opponent if we have some extra mana for its firebreathing ability. While Calamity Bearer mostly is in our deck to help power up our other Giants, it's a fine creature on its own, attacking for six since it doubles its own damage and having four toughness to dodge Lightning Bolt. Things get even crazier if we ever get two Calamity Bearers on the battlefield since the abilities stack, which means a single Inferno Titan or Frost Titan can attack for a massive 24 damage!

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Rounding out our midrange Giant threats are two copies of Tectonic Giant and two Surtland Flingers. Tectonic Giant is just a solid four-drop, either generating card advantage or dealing a bunch of direct damage when it attacks. The ability also triggers if our opponent targets it with a spell, which makes it somewhat resilient to removal. Meanwhile, Surtland Flinger might be a bit cute for its own good, although it does offer an interesting way to win through blockers with its Fling ability, which is legitimately frightening in a deck full of Giants (and Calamity Bearer). Let's say our opponent manages to build up some blockers to stop our Giant stompy plan and we attack with a Surtland Flinger and throw a Frost Titan at our opponent's face. Without help, this is 12 damage, which might be enough to win the game. And if we have a Calamity Bearer, it's a massive 24 damage, which should always be lethal!

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Last but not least, we have our removal, which—you guessed it—is mostly Giant based (with the one exception being Lightning Bolt, which is just too efficient to pass up). Bonecrusher Giant gives us a Shock on Turn 2 and an on-curve Giant body on Turn 3, making it a great way to fill two different spots on the curve with just a single card. Meanwhile, Cyclone Summoner does two things in our deck. If we are ahead, we can play it, bounce all of our opponent's stuff (since they presumably are not playing Giants or Wizards), and potentially close out the game in one alpha-striking attack. On the other hand, if we are behind, Cyclone Summoner potentially can help us catch up by bouncing our opponent's board while leaving (at least) a 7/7 behind on our side of the battlefield. 

The Mana

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I wanted to mention the mana of Izzet Giants for two reasons. One is that Glasspool Mimic is pretty absurd in the deck. Being able to copy things like Inferno Titan and Frost Titan for three mana is a great way to build an overwhelming board of Giants and close out the game, and even copying Tectonic Giant or Calamity Bearer offers a lot of value. Second, the mana is pretty decent for being a budget deck. Temple of Epiphany is the only tapped dual land in our deck (and since our only one-drop is Lightning Bolt, we can get away with playing a few tapped lands). So while we don't have fetch lands and shock lands, in general, the mana is good enough that we can cast all of our spells on time.

Playing the Deck

First and most importantly, it's essential to realize the goal of the deck: play a six-drop on Turn 4. While we don't need to mulligan to four or anything crazy to get this start, keeping a hand with a bunch of random four-drop Giants and no ramp is unlikely to work out in a format like Modern. We really, really want one of our ramp spells in our opening hand, and it's often worth going to six to find one. 

Keep in mind that both Tectonic Giant and Surtland Flinger can deal damage to our opponent without actually connecting in combat. Toss in Lightning Bolt and Invasion of the Giants, and, if we can get our opponent low on life, we have quite a few non-combat ways to close out the game. In a lot of matchups, we don't technically need to kill our opponent with combat damage; we just need to almost kill our opponent, and our direct damage can finish the job, even through blockers. 

Finally, Thundercloud Shaman is a sideboard all-star against decks built around smaller creatures. In general, it is—at worst—a one-sided Pyroclasm or Anger of the Gods. And with the help of Calamity Bearer or a big board full of Giants, it can easily turn into a Plague Wind that leaves behind a 4/4 body. Not a bad deal for a five-mana on-tribe body.

Wrap-Up

Record-wise, we finished 4-2 in our video matches but lost another match to UW Control (every time I play a budget tribal deck in Modern against a control deck, I die a little inside because Cavern of Souls would go a long way toward beating counterspell-heavy decks, but now that it's usually reprinted at mythic, it's unlikely ever to be anywhere near cheap enough to show up on Budget Magic), giving us a solid 4-3 matchup overall.

As far as changes to make to the budget build of Izzet Giants, I'm pretty happy with most of the deck. The one change I might make would be cutting Surtland Flinger for more copies of Tectonic Giant. Not that Surtland Flinger is bad, but it didn't really do anything in our matches, and Tectonic Giant felt pretty solid. Otherwise, I'd run the deck back as-is.

All in all, Izzet Giants felt solid and was a blast to play. Modern players don't expect to get wrecked by Inferno Titan or Frost Titan, and a lot of decks aren't really prepared to deal with these massive threats, especially when they come down on Turn 4. While the deck isn't the new tier zero or anything like that, it did feel like a competitive budget option. If you're a fan of Giants or just like stomping around with big creatures, give it a shot!

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Getting Giants down near $50 is pretty easy: we play the same deck but cut back on the mana base, dropping Cascade Bluffs and Glasspool Mimic and replacing them with more basic lands. This might lead to some inconsistency, mana-wise. In theory, we could play Evolving Wilds or a tapped dual land like Swiftwater Cliffs, which would make the mana more consistent but at the cost of giving us a lot of tapped duals. For now, we'll go with the basic land plan, but if you have consistency issues, feel free to toss in whatever random Izzet dual lands you have (preferably untapped but not a necessity). 

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For our non-budget list, we get a few massive additions. Apart from upgrading to a tier Modern mana base of fetch lands and shock lands, the biggest main-deck addition is Chalice of the Void. Since our curve mostly starts at two mana anyway, it's sort of a freeroll on one. The only cost is dropping Lightning Bolt for Abrade, which isn't a big deal, especially compared to the power that Chalice of the Void offers in some matchups. Meanwhile, in the sideboard, we get Blood Moon over Pillage in our Tron hate slot, now that we have the mana base to support it. In general, the deck should play mostly the same but with a bit of extra power in certain matchups since both Chalice of the Void and Blood Moon can win games by themselves.

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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