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Budget Magic: Historic Hammer Time (2 Mythics / 13 Rares)


Selamat siang, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! This week, we're playing one of my all-time favorite budget decks—Hammer Time—but in a brand new format: Historic! We know that the plan of cheating a Colossus Hammer onto a creature on Turn 2 can be devastating in Modern, but can it work in Historic, where we need to support the plan with a Warrior tribal subtheme? That's what we're going to find out today! The best part is the deck only has two mythics and 13 rares, making it fairly budget-friendly for a Historic deck on MTG Arena. Can Colossus Hammer be a real card in Historic?  Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Historic Hammer Time

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The Deck

Historic Hammer Time is a weird mashup of aggro, combo, and tribal. Having a bunch of cheap creatures allows for some very aggressive kills, and getting a Colossus Hammer on a creature early in the game allows for some fast Turn Three combo-ish kills. But we're also sort of Warrior tribal since Resolute Strike and Nahiri, Heir of the Ancients are the only ways to cheat a Colossus Hammer onto a creature without paying its massive equip cost in the Historic format.

The Equipment

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Perhaps the most important cards in our deck are our equipment. Colossus Hammer is the headliner, potentially allowing us literally to kill our opponent on Turn 3 with the right draw if we can find a way to get around its high equip cost. Giving a creature +10/+10 means that any creature wearing a Hammer is, at worst, a two-turn clock. And with the help of some of our support cards, we potentially can kill our opponent with just a single attack. Backing up Colossus Hammer is a full playset of Maul of the Skyclaves, which is a solid backup plan. While not nearly as fast of a clock as Colossus Hammer, the combination of flying and +2/+2 (along with its free equip when it enters the battlefield) still offers a lot of pressure. Finally, we also have one Shadowspear, mostly to gain life in the aggro matchup. But as we talk about our creatures, you'll see that some care about being equipped with any equipment, making Shadowspear an appealing option since it only costs two to attach to a creature, making it—by far—our cheapest equipment to equip naturally. 

Cheating on Equip Costs

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Historic has relatively few options for cheating an equipment onto a creature without paying the equip cost. Resolute Strike is—by far—the best option at just one mana, although it only equips for free if we are targeting a Warrior, which is why our deck leans heavily into the Warrior-tribal subtheme. With our best draws, we can play a one-drop like Fireblade Charger or Grim Initiate on Turn 1, follow up with Colossus Hammer plus Resolute Strike on Turn 2, smash our opponent for 13, and have lethal the following turn if our opponent can't deal with our hammer-smashing threat. As a backup, we also have Nahiri, Heir of the Ancients, which can equip Colossus Hammer for free to the token it makes with its +1. While Nahiri can be a bit slow, it makes up for this with its card-advantage-generating –2, which can help us dig for Colossus Hammer or, in a pinch, a creature to put it on.

Warriors

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We start off our Warrior curve with two one-drops: Fireblade Charger and Grim Initiate. Warrior one-drops are essential for our fast Colossus Hammer kills since our best draw involves a one-drop into a Resolute Strike Colossus Hammer equip on Turn 2. Fireblade Charger is the better of the two, mostly because of its death trigger, which deals damage equal to its power. If we can equip Colossus Hammer on Turn 2 and get in one attack, Fireblade Charger puts our opponent in a nearly impossible position: they die if they take another hit from the 11/11 Fireblade Charger, but if they kill Fireblade Charger, they take 11 direct damage an die, which means our opponent needs a narrow answer like a bounce spell or exile-based removal to survive. Grim Initiate is a fine backup, and making a Zombie Army when it dies is a nice bonus that helps us fight through removal-heavy decks, although keep in mind that the token is not a Warrior, so we can't stick a Colossus Hammer on it with the help of Resolute Strike.

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In the two-drop slot is our most explosive Warrior: Kor Blademaster. Not only does Kor Blademaster have double strike (making it a one-shot kill threat with Colossus Hammer), but it also gives other equipped Warriors double strike, which means any Warrior in our deck can kill with just one Colossus Hammer attack if Kor Blademaster is on the battlefield. The drawback is that Kor Blademaster is a 1/1 for two, which makes it unexciting if we can't equip it, although with nine equipment in our deck, it usually isn't too hard to buff Kor Blademaster. While the one-shot-kill potential with Colossus Hammer gets all the headlines, don't underestimate how scary Kor Blademaster can be with Maul of the Skyclaves. With a Kor Blademaster on the battlefield, the combo of Seasoned Hallowblade wearing Maul of the Skyclaves can kill with just two evasive attacks!

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Speaking of Seasoned Hallowblade, it headlines our last group of Warriors: resilient Warriors that help us fight through our opponent's removal. While being able to kill on Turn 3 is exciting, being able to win a longer removal-filled game is also important. Seasoned Hallowblade protects itself by becoming indestructible, at the cost of discarding a card. Koll, the Forgemaster makes it so any equipped creature returns to our hand if it dies. Meanwhile, Akiri, Fearless Voyager can protect our creatures by allowing us to remove an equipment to make them indestructible until end of turn, while also drawing us cards as we attack with equipped creatures. More importantly, all of these creatures are Warriors, so they work with our Resolute Strike free-equip plan.

Other Stuff

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Last but not least, we have Showdown of the Skalds. The saga is a pretty absurd source of card advantage, essentially drawing us five cards, making it a solid way to dig for Colossus Hammer or a way to equip it. In a weird way, the saga is also a solid backup plan. If we don't find Colossus Hammer, we can Showdown of the Skalds, draw some cards, and then empty our hand over the next two turns to grow our small Warriors with +1/+1 counters, hopefully giving us enough power to close out the game.

The Mana

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The mana base is where it becomes obvious we're playing a budget deck. While our mana is functional, we only have a single dual land in Sacred Foundry. Because curving out is so important to Historic Hammer Time, we can't really afford to play any tapped dual land. Nothing is worse than having a free Colossus Hammer equip set up for Turn 2 and not being able to do it because we have to skip our turn to play a tapped dual land. As such, we're filling out our mana base with basics. This occasionally adds some inconsistency issues (where we draw only one color of mana), but dealing with color screw some small percentage of the time is better than dealing with tapped dual lands a much higher percentage of the time. In an ideal world, the deck would be playing three playsets of untapped dual lands, so if you have Inspiring Vantage or Needleverge Pathway in your collection, you should throw them in over some of the basics. (Clifftop Retreat is fine too!) Just don't start adding duals that come into play tapped—they are too slow for Hammer Time.

The Sideboard

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You probably noticed that we're not really playing any removal in the main deck but instead relying on player removal (aka killing our opponent so quickly that removal isn't necessary) in game one. We do have a bunch in the sideboard though in Abrade, Baffling End, Soul Sear, and Fry. The rest of our sideboard is dedicated to protecting our creatures from removal. Mono-Black has been on the rise recently in Historic, making Apostle of Purifying Light a great sideboard option, as a mostly unkillable creature against black-based decks that can also do a bad Scavenging Ooze impression as graveyard hate, while Selfless Savior and Gods Willing offer additional options for fighting through decks with a lot of removal and sweepers.

Wrap-Up

All in all, we went 3-1 with Historic Hammer Time, with our one loss coming to Izzet Phoenix, which felt like a pretty rough matchup due to the combination of a fast clock and a ton of cheap removal. On the other hand, we took down a Mardu Doom Foretold deck, Orzhov Control, and Rakdos Death's Shadow, giving us a pretty good mix of aggro and control.

As far as changes to make to the budget build of Hammer Time, I'm not really sure there's much to do without increasing the budget. In general, I really like the main deck (outside of the mana base). And even if budget weren't a concern, not much would change. The easiest way to improve the deck would be adding more untapped dual lands to the mana base to increase consistency, along with some small sideboard updates.

So, should you play Historic Hammer Time? I think the answer is yes. The deck felt good enough to rank up on Arena, especially at the lower ranks. It's worth checking out if you like equipment decks and fast combo kills or are a fan of Modern Hammer Time and looking for a new Historic deck, especially considering how cheap it is to put the deck together!

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While 15 rares / mythics is already a decent price compared to a typical Historic deck, is it possible to make the deck even cheaper on Magic Arena? The answer is sort of. Five of our rares are equipment, which are the foundation of our deck and can't be cut. Four are Sacred Foundry, and while I guess you could try to play a limited-style all-basic mana base, I wouldn't recommend it. Our two mythics are Nahiri, Heir of the Ancients, which we need to equip Colossus Hammer for free, which leaves just Showdown of the Skalds and Akiri, Fearless Voyager as potential cuts. We can replace them with Kargan Warleader, which doesn't specifically support our equipment plan, but a Warrior lord is solid with our backup Warrior-beatdown plan. This gets the deck down to a total of nine rares and two mythics.

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Finally, the non-budget build of Hammer Time stays mostly the same, with some upgrades to the mana base (more dual lands and a few of the mythic MDFC lands) and the sideboard, where Chandra, Torch of Defiance helps to generate card advantage against control, Sword of Body and Mind allows us to customize our equipment package against decks where protection from blue and green is helpful, and Grafdigger's Cage helps to shut down graveyard decks. These changes jump the total rare and mythic cost up to 33, more than double the budget build, although a big chunk of this is the mana base. If you already have a tier-ish mana base for Historic, you should be able to throw together the non-budget build of Historic Hammer Time on the cheap!

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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