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Budget Magic: $99 (31 tix) GB Leap Whip (Modern)


Jó napot kívánok, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time again! This week, we're heading to Modern for a deck that combines two of my favorite cards from Standards past: Whip of Erebos and Evolutionary Leap! The idea of the deck is pretty simple—it's overloaded with creatures, many of which function like spells, so we play a creature, get value from its enters-the-battlefield trigger, sacrifice it to Evolutionary Leap to find another creature, Whip of Erebos it back from the graveyard to reuse the enters-the-battlefield trigger, and finally, before it gets exiled by Whip of Erebos, sacrifice it to Evolutionary Leap again to find yet another creature from our library! The end result is a deck that's absolutely stuffed full of value and really good at grinding out long games. Can we make Whip of Erebos and Evolutionary Leap Modern playable? Let's get to the videos and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck.

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GB Leap Whip Deck Tech (Deck Tech)

GB Leap Whip vs. Eldrazi & Taxes (Match 1)

GB Leap Whip vs. RB Graveyard (Match 2)

GB Leap Whip vs. UB Faeries (Match 3)

GB Leap Whip vs. Counters Company (Match 4)

GB Leap Whip vs. UW Control (Match 5)

The Deck

The plan of GB Leap Whip is basically what we talked about in the intro: playing creatures, sacrificing them to Evolutionary Leap for value, and then getting them back from the graveyard with Whip of Erebos for even more value. Probably the most unique aspect of the deck is that we have a ton of one-of creatures, since it's pretty easy to go through most of our deck to find what we need, thanks to the combination of Evolutionary Leap and cards that fill our graveyard for Whip of Erebos. The endless one-ofs are going to make writing about the deck a bit tricky, but let's start off with the main synergy of the deck: Evolutionary Leap and Whip of Erebos!

Leap Whip

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Evolutionary Leap and Whip of Erebos are both strong standalone cards, but they happen to be even more powerful alongside each other. Evolutionary Leap gives us a way to trade a creature on the battlefield for a random creature in our deck for just a single mana, which is especially powerful in the late game, when we can cash in our early-game support creatures (like Llanowar Elves and Satyr Wayfinder, which lose value turn by turn the longer the game goes) for real threats. It also gives us a way to fight through removal against midrange and control decks. Trying to kill our creatures with Path to Exile, Fatal Push, and Maelstrom Pulse simply isn't that beneficial for our opponent when we can sacrifice that creature to Evolutionary Leap to find a new one for just a single mana.

Meanwhile, Whip of Erebos allows us to reuse all of the enters-the-battlefield abilities on our creatures by getting them back from the graveyard with haste (although they get exiled at the end of our turn), while also gaining us a ton of life along the way. While the reanimation ability is the primary calling card of Whip of Erebos, the lifegain is sometimes very important as well, especially against aggressive decks or decks like Burn. 

Together, our two enchantments give us an endless stream of value, with each creature we play potentially representing a bit of lifegain, two enters-the-battlefield triggers, and two new creatures in our hand!

Graveyard Stuff

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One of the challenges of our deck is actually finding our two key pieces, and for this, our primary plan is to dump a bunch of cards in our graveyard. Grisly Salvage puts four cards into our graveyard and either a creature or a land into our hand, depending on what the situation calls for, while Satyr Wayfinder finds us a land while also dumping three cards in our graveyard. Satyr Wayfinder is the better of the two and actually very powerful in our deck, since it not only stocks our graveyard but gives us a body we can Evolutionary Leap into another creature and eventually Whip of Erebos back to stock our graveyard further.

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While dumping Evolutionary Leap and Whip of Erebos into our graveyard is fine, we also need a way to get them back from the graveyard for this plan to really work: enter Eternal Witness and Greenwarden of Murasa. With Eternal Witness and Greenwarden of Murasa in our deck, we can hope to mill over our Whips and Leaps, knowing that sooner or later, we'll be able to get them back from our graveyard, so in some sense, dumping cards in our graveyard is almost like drawing cards. If we happen to mill our Eternal Witness or Greenwarden of Murasa (both of which are just one-ofs), we can use Whip of Erebos to get them back from our graveyard, returning the best card in our graveyard to our hand.

Ramp Stuff

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Our deck is very mana intensive. Even apart from Evolutionary Leap and Whip of Erebos, which require a lot of mana, we have a lot of expensive creatures in our deck, so having some ramp is an important backup plan for when we don't get our namesake enchantments on the battlefield. Llanowar Elves is great on Turn 1, helping ramp us into Whip of Erebos and our big finishers, while Sakura-Tribe Elder is basically the creature version of Rampant Growth, bringing us from two mana on Turn 2 to four mana on Turn 3, exactly enough to cast a Whip of Erebos. Normally with early-game ramp spells, these cards lose value as the game goes along and we get a bunch of lands on the battlefield, but both Sakura-Tribe Elder and Llanowar Elves are better in our deck than most, since if we draw them in the late game, we can always use Evolutionary Leap to upgrade them into more impactful creatures.

The Leap / Whip Targets

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The rest of the creatures in our deck are all one-ofs, with the exception of one: Mindslicer, which is a two-of. Mindslicer might be my favorite card in the entire deck. The main plan is simple: we cast a Mindslicer and then use Evolutionary Leap to sacrifice it on our opponent's next draw step, which makes both us and our opponent discard our hands. The good news is that our deck is likely much better than our opponent's deck at playing empty-handed thanks to Evolutionary Leap generating card advantage and Whip of Erebos reanimating all of the creatures we discard. Plus, when we activate Evolutionary Leap, the Mindslicer trigger resolves before the Evolutionary Leap trigger, which means we actually end up with a creature in hand right away (while our opponent is empty handed), which means we are guaranteed to have something to sacrifice to Evolutionary Leap in future turns!

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Duplicant], Shriekmaw, and Acidic Slime give us some creature-based removal. Duplicant is a bit slow but powerful, since it can hit any creature and sometimes end up quite big (for example, if we exile a 10/10 Death's Shadow). Plus, remember—we get to use all of these creatures' enters-the-battlefield abilities twice, since eventually we'll sacrifice them to Evolutionary Leap and Whip of Erebos them back into play. Acidic Slime isn't great at killing creatures but deals with some problematic artifacts and enchantments like Rest in Peace and Ensnaring Bridge, and if our opponent has no good targets, we can always just blow up their best land, which is rarely bad. 

Shriekmaw has a ton of sneaky synergy with our Evolutionary Leap and Whip of Erebos. In most cases, it's our best removal creature, although we occasionally run into matchups where it isn't great (against Affinity or some Death's Shadow decks, since it can't kill artifact or black creatures); plus, it allows for some cool tricks involving evoke. For example, we can evoke Shriekmaw for two mana to kill a creature, and then with the "sacrifice it" trigger on the stack, we can sac it to Evolutionary Leap to get another creature. We can also evoke it to kill something, which puts Shriekmaw in the graveyard to immediately Whip of Erebos back to kill something else. 

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Thragtusk doesn't have a specific purpose but offers too much value to pass up. It's at its best against aggressive decks, where gaining five life and blocking at least twice are super helpful, but it's pretty good in most matchups. Since Thragtusk's token-making ability triggers when it leaves the battlefield instead of when it dies, not only do we get a token when we cast it from our hand (and potentially sacrifice it to Evolutionary Leap), but we get the 3/3 Beast even after we Whip of Erebos it back from the graveyard and it goes to exile at the end of our turn. This means that a single Thragtusk represents at least 10 points of lifegain (not counting potential lifelink damage from Whip of Erebos) along with two 3/3 Beast tokens and up to four Evolutionary Leap activations, which is a ton of value for a five-mana creature.

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We have two primary plans for finishing the game (apart from simply out-valuing our opponent). The first is Hornet Queen and Craterhoof Behemoth. Hornet Queen with Whip of Erebos is actually an old Standard trick. While Hornet Queen itself gets exiled at the end of our turn when we whip it back from the graveyard, the four deathtouch Insect tokens stay behind, which is a lot for most decks to fight through. While we can use these tokens for chump blocking or sacrifice them to Evolutionary Leap, they can also help us close out the game the following turn with some assistance from Craterhoof Behemoth. With four Insects on the battlefield, if we Whip of Erebos back (or hard cast) a Craterhoof Behemoth, we have 24 power of flying, deathtouch, trample damage along with a huge trampling, hasty Craterhoof Behemoth on the ground, which is generally enough damage to kill the opponent on the spot, especially considering that the combination of deathtouch and trample means we can assign just a single point of damage to anything that blocks one of our bees (like a Restoration Angel, for example) and trample over with the other four points of damage. 

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Apart from going wide with Hornet Queen and Craterhoof Behemoth, our other plan for winning the game is going tall with Emrakul, the Promised End. Oddly, our deck does a pretty good job of reducing the cost of the Eldrazi, in part because Whip of Erebos counts as both an artifact and an enchantment. Then, we can simply tutor up Emrakul, the Promised End with Rune-Scarred Demon, steal our opponent's turn, empty their hand, wrath away their board by making bad attacks, and close out the game in short order. 

Apart from just winning the game, both Rune-Scarred Demon and Emrakul, the Promised End are very strong in our deck. If we aren't quite ready to go for the win, Rune-Scarred Demon can tutor up a Whip of Erebos, an Evolutionary Leap, or one of our removal creatures while also giving us a massive flying body. As for Emrakul, while using Whip of Erebos to get the Eldrazi back from the graveyard doesn't give us the "cast" trigger, it does give us a hasty 13/13 flying trampler, which is a lot of damage out of nowhere. 

Other Stuff

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Finally, we have a playset of Inquisition of Kozilek, which give us something to do on Turn 1 and helps us stay alive against some of the unfair decks in the format by picking apart our opponent's hand. While the discard spell doesn't serve any real specific purpose, it's so good that it's hard to pass up in any deck that can cast it.

Wrap-Up

Let's start with the bad news: overall, we finished with a 2-3 record, which obviously isn't ideal. The good news is that, even in our losses, we were still extremely competitive. Probably the best example of this was against UW Control, where we needed a perfect storm of things to go wrong (starting with two copies of Whip of Erebos being the very last two cards in our library and ending with our opponent being out of lands to fetch when we stole their turn with Emrakul, the Promised End) to end up losing. Basically, we were super close to having at least one and maybe even two more wins with the deck. It just didn't happen to work out that way.

As for changes I'd make to the budget build of the deck, now that we've played some matches, I'm not really sure there are any. Most of the things I'd love to improve (like the mana and having more interaction for non-creature decks) need non-budget fixes. This being said, I didn't want to point out that one of the best things about GB Leap Whip is that the deck is extremely customizable. Thanks to our ability to dig through our deck by filling our graveyard or using Evolutionary Leap, you can play just about any creatures you want as one-ofs and have a pretty good chance of finding them. I think Mindslicer is sweet, but if you want to run something else in that slot, go for it! I also considered Avenger of Zendikar and Grave Titan as finishers before landing on Hornet Queen and Craterhoof Behemoth. The possibilities are endless!

In sum, even though our record wasn't ideal, the deck was still a blast to play and more competitive than the record alone would suggest. If you like grindy value; creatures with sweet enters-the-battlefield abilities; and reanimating huge, hasty threats, GB Leap Whip is a solid budget option for you!

Getting GB Leap Whip into the ultra-budget range is tricky, since we have so many one-ofs, which means we can't just cut a playset of an expensive card and call it a day. To get down into the $50 range, we start by cutting most of the dual lands from the mana base. Normally, this would be a problem, but the mana should still work reasonably well in this build thanks to Sakura-Tribe Elder and Satyr Wayfinder. The other big loss is Craterhoof Behemoth, which is simply too expensive for an ultra-budget deck at $12 a copy. In its place, we get anther Hornet Queen, which is still a great way to close out the game, but without the explosive one-turn kill aspect of Craterhoof Behemoth. Otherwise, we go down an oddly expensive Mindslicer for another Shriekmaw and make a couple of small changes to the sideboard. All around, the deck should play like the one in the videos, just lacking the one-turn-kill potential of Craterhoof Behemoth

For the non-budget version of GB Leap Whip, we get an improved mana base and a massively upgraded sideboard along with a handful of main-deck changes, including Grim Flayer over Grisly Salvage (giving us another graveyard filler that is also a creature for Leap and Whip) along with additional discard for the non-creature matchups. We also add in a couple of copies of Traverse the Ulvenwald, which seems great in the deck as another way to find our big finishers or a land in the early game, since we almost always turn on delirium thanks to milling over Whip of Erebos, which gets us halfway to delirium by itself. All around, the non-budget version gets a pretty big boost in power—mostly in the sideboard and mana—but should play pretty much like the build in the videos.

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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