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Budget Magic: $98 (25 tix) Metallurgic Drakes (Modern, Magic Online)


I nhlikanhi, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! As we wait for Ravnica Allegiance to release in a few days, we are heading to Modern this week to play a deck that looks right at home in Standard: Metallurgic Drakes! One thing that people have asked for in the past is "Standard decks in Modern" videos, and while we aren't really playing Standard Izzet Drakes, our deck today shares a lot of similarities with the Standard build, so if you own Izzet Drakes in Standard, you should be able to put Metallurgic Drakes together quickly and cheaply. The main plan of the deck is to overload our graveyard with cheap spells, play Enigma Drake and Crackling Drake, and hopefully beat our opponent down with one or two big attacks in the air. The "Metallurgic" part of the deck name comes from one of my favorite cards: Metallurgic Summonings. The enchantment provides us with some protection from graveyard hate by allowing us to make a bunch of small artifact tokens as we cast our cantrips, theoretically allowing us to go wide on the ground and steal a win through Rest in Peace or Leyline of the Void. Can Drakes work in Modern on a budget? Let's get to the videos and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Metallurgic Drakes (Modern)

The Deck

Metallurgic Drake is weird. It's sort of a hybrid midrange–combo deck, with the combo being getting a bunch of spells into our graveyard as quickly as possible to make our midrange creatures (our Drakes) into massive threats that can win the game in just an attack or two. Probably the easiest way to break down the deck is to start by looking at our finishers and then walk back through the support cards, removal, and utility spells.

The Finishers

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Our two primary finishers are Enigma Drake and Crackling Drake. You probably know how these cards work, since they see heavy play in Standard, so we won't spend too much time talking about them, although it's worth mentioning an interesting aspect of playing this cards in Modern. First, while these cards are essentially the same in our deck, there is one huge difference: Crackling Drake doesn't care about graveyard hate, since it grows based on spells in our graveyard or in exile, while Enigma Drake can be shut down and turned into a 0/4 flying wall by cards like Rest in Peace or Leyline of the Void. Outside of graveyard hate, Enigma Drake and Crackling Drake are essentially the same card in our deck. 

One of the big upsides of both Drakes in Modern is that they do a good job of dodging some removal. Four toughness means they don't die to Lightning Bolt, and being three and four mana means the opponent needs revolt to kill either with Fatal Push. Most importantly, both Enigma Drake and Crackling Drake are even scarier in Modern than in Standard because Modern has an abundance of cheap cantripping spells, so it's pretty easy to grow our Drake to 10 or more power early in the game, which allows us to 20 our opponent in just two attacks (or one, with the help of another card we'll talk about later on).

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Metallurgic Summonings is an attempt to answer one of the problems with Drakes in Modern: graveyard hate. As we talked about before, cards like Rest in Peace and Leyline of the Void can completely shut down Enigma Drake, leaving us with just four copies of Crackling Drake to try to kill our opponent, which often won't be enough. Metallurgic Summonings gives us a backup plan. Outside of our Drakes and Summonings itself, the rest of our deck is 100% cheap, mostly cantripping spells, which means if we untap with a Metallurgic Summonings on the battlefield, it's pretty easy to make two or three 1/1s a turn for free as a weird enchantment-based Young Pyromancer, giving us at least some chance of killing our opponent in the worst-case scenario where our Drakes get shut down. While it doesn't happen often, it's also possible that we can eventually get six artifacts on the battlefield and get back all of the spells in our graveyard with Metallurgic Summonings' second ability. But most of the time, we'd rather have it sitting on the battlefield making a steady stream of small creatures.

The Spells

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Outside of our finishers, the most important spells in our deck are the 16 cantrips. The main reason we are playing these cards is because they offer cheap, card-neutral ways of filling our graveyard with spells for our Drakes and making tokens with our Metallurgic Summonings, but they come with some additional upsides as well. As far as powering up our Drakes, all of our cantrips are helpful. But Faithless Looting and Thought Scour are especially powerful, since they offer ways to get multiple spells in the graveyard with just a single card. For example, if we can Faithless Looting and discard two instants or sorceries, we not only get to draw through our deck but also grow our Drakes by +3 power—almost being a permanent Giant Growth

Outside of just growing our Drakes and making Construct tokens, having 16 cantrips makes our deck incredibly consistent. It's usually not a problem to find one Drake (or more), since we can spend the first two turns of the game drawing through our deck to find our finishers. Having so many cantrips also allows us to play only 18 lands, but we rarely get mana screwed. Even a one-land hand is typically a keeper, since we'll likely have multiple cantrips to find more lands for the following turns.

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Izzet Charm and Stubborn Denial help us defend our Drakes from our opponent's removal, while also being great against various spell-based combo decks, where we can counter things like Krark-Clan Ironworks and Past in Flames. Izzet Charm isn't especially efficient no matter what mode we choose, but the flexibility of being a bad Spell Pierce a bad Faithless Looting and a bad Shock adds up to a really good card, since it's rarely bad in any situation or matchup. 

As for Stubborn Denial, it might be the single best card in our deck. Our Drakes almost always have four or more power, which means Stubborn Denial is a one-mana Negate. Not only does this give us a really powerful and cheap way to protect our Drakes from removal, but it's also super important for staying alive against unfair decks (see: our match against [[Restore Balance],] where Stubborn Denial singlehandedly won us the game). 

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Assault Strobe and Maximize Velocity are just one- and two-ofs, respectively, but they can do some pretty impressive things in conjunction with our Drakes. If we can get our Drakes up to 10 power (which isn't as hard as it sounds), Assault Strobe allows us to kill our opponent with just a single attack. Meanwhile, Maximize Velocity does the same thing it does for Izzet Drakes in Standard: allows us to get in surprise Drake attacks by giving our Drakes haste. While combo killing with double-striking, hasty Drakes isn't our main plan—we normally just win with a couple of Drake attacks—just having the possibility available makes our opponent play less efficiently. For example, once we discard Assault Strobe to Faithless Looting, our opponent probably has to leave up removal for the rest of the game in fear of getting one-shotted by a Drake attacking. The other upside of both of these cards is that they are only one mana, which makes it easy to cast a Drake and also a Maximize Velocity (and maybe even Assault Strobe) all in the same turn, to kill our opponent by surprise.

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Last but not least, we have a bit of removal in Lightning Bolt and Lightning Axe. Lightning Bolt is simply too good to not play in a deck that cares about cheap spells, taking down creatures in the early game and then throwing damage at our opponent's face in the late game to support our Drake kill. Meanwhile, Lightning Axe gives us a way to deal with bigger creatures (like Tarmogoyf, Gurmag Angler, and Thought-Knot Seer) that are too big to Lightning Bolt to death. Thanks to cards like Faithless Looting and Maximize Velocity, discarding a card to cast it for one mana isn't really that big of a downside, especially when you consider that we want instants and sorceries in our graveyard anyway to pump our Drakes.

The Mana

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Normally, we wouldn't talk about the mana, but it's worth mentioning in the case of Metallurgic Drakes. One of the challenges of building an Izzet budget deck in Modern is that the dual lands are really expensive. Cascade Bluffs and Shivan Reef are the two cheapest untapped Izzet dual lands in the format, which is why we have them in our deck (although Cascade Bluffs is actually pretty good with Crackling Drake, giving us a good way of getting UURR). I wanted to mention the lands because if you have Izzet Drakes in Standard, you don't need to buy Cascade Bluffs or Shivan Reef. Playing Sulfur Falls and Steam Vents is just as good and might arguably be better, so don't bother spending $40 on the Metallurgic Drake mana. I would have just played Sulfur Falls and Steam Vents for the videos, but they are actually significantly more expensive than Cascade Bluffs and Shivan Reef, upping the total cost of the deck.

Wrap-Up

Metallurgic Drakes was surprisingly awesome. We played five matches and won all five! Apparently, playing huge flying creatures backed by a ton of cantrips, good removal, and counterspells is just as good in Modern as it is in Standard. While we did play against a couple of more rogue decks along the way (Restore Balance and Mono-Blue Control), we also beat Hollow One, Storm, and Restore Balance. More impressive is the fact that we managed to win through both Leyline of the Void and Rest in Peace, even without the help of Metallurgic Summonings!

Speaking of Metallurgic Summonings, now that we've played a bunch of matches with the deck, I'm not sure it's really necessary. While I love the card, it is a bit slow at five mana, and we managed to beat graveyard hate just fine without it. Young Pyromancer might be a better budget option, while non-budget builds can look to take advantage of something like Arclight Phoenix. Another possibility is to simply play more burn spells to close out the game even faster and to have some additional creature removal for the early game.

All in all, Metallurgic Drakes felt great and surprisingly competitive in Modern. If you already have Izzet Drakes in Standard, you can throw this build together incredibly cheaply (somewhere around $40, with the two biggest costs being a playset of Lightning Bolt and Serum Visions, at about $3 / card), and it seems competitive enough that you can at the very least have some success with it at the FNM level. There's also a pretty solid upgrade path toward Izzet Phoenix—the new hot deck in Modern—which is always a nice bonus for a Modern budget deck. Basically, Metallurgic Drakes was not only a blast to play but competitive as well, so if you're looking for a cheap way to convert your Standard deck to Modern or just like casting a ton of card-draw spells and winning with a huge creature or two, give it a shot!

Ultra-Budget Metallurgic Drakes

Unfortunately, there's no ultra-budget build this week. The problem here is that the non-land cards in Metallurgic Drakes are already super cheap, so the only way to really cut the price of the deck down to $50 is to get rid of all of the dual lands. While you can in theory play all basic lands or tapped dual lands, Metallurgic Drakes really needs untapped lands (because of all of the cheap spells), and Crackling Drake is a difficult card to cast without dual lands. As we talked about before, an easy option is to just play the dual lands you have from Standard, to cut down the price of the deck. Steam Vents, Sulfur Falls, Cascade Bluffs, Shivan Reef, and Spirebluff Canal are all roughly the same power level in the deck, so just play whatever untapped Izzet dual lands you happen to have in your collection (and if you need to go out and buy lands for this deck, you might as well buy Steam Vents and Sulfur Falls, since you can get some extra bang for your buck by playing them in Standard).

For our non-budget list this week, we have Izzet Phoenix—currently one of the hottest decks in the Modern format. The plan of the deck is similar, but instead of relying on Enigma Drake, it plays Arclight Phoenix and Thing in the Ice alongside Crackling Drake as backup finishers. Otherwise, the most expensive upgrade is Manamorphose, which is mostly just a free cantrip, along with a mana base of fetch lands and shock lands. Otherwise, the deck plays pretty much like our Metallurgic Drake build from the videos: you cast a bunch of cheap spells in the early game to stock your graveyard and beat down with Crackling Drake and Arclight Phoenix to close out the game!

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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