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Budget Magic: Ultimate Memekin | 0M / 12R | Historic


Moghrey mie, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! If you've been following Magic for a while, you might remember a weird, fringe deck from Standard a couple of years ago called Memekin. The idea was to use Runaway Steam-Kin as a mana engine to churn through our deck by casting one-mana card-draw and burn spells while pinging our opponent to death with cards like Electrostatic Field and Thermo-Alchemist to burn the opponent out of the game with a weird, pseudo-Storm-style kill. Not only do all of the pieces exist to bring Memekin to Historic, but thanks to Historic Anthologies, we also get 100% more memes with the inclusion of Hidetsugu's Second Rite. Since our deck is overloaded with cards that deal one damage, we have a lot of control over our opponent's life total, so rather than burning our opponent all the way down to zero, we can simply use cards like Spear Spewer, Electrostatic Field, and Thermo-Alchemist to get our opponent to exactly 10 life and then use Hidetsugu's Second Rite as a four-mana 10-damage burn spell to close out the game! The best part? The deck costs just 12 rares to build! Can Memekin work in Historic? Is Hidetsugu's Second Rite actually playable in the format? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Ultimate Memekin

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The Deck

Ultimate Memekin is essentially a burn combo deck. The game plan is to stick a Runaway Steam-Kin to make a bunch of mana; cast a bunch of spells; and either kill our opponent by pinging them to death with Electrostatic Field, Thermo-Alchemist, and random burn spells like Shock and Skewer the Critics or get our opponent to exactly 10 life so we can meme our opponent out with Hidetsugu's Second Rite.

The Engine

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Our namesake Runaway Steam-Kin is the engine that drives our deck. While we don't need the Elemental to win, the two-drop allows for some incredibly explosive turns. In a strange way, Runaway Steam-Kin turns one-mana red spells into free spells. If we can three of them, we'll build up three counters on Runaway Steam-Kin, which we can then remove to make three mana (which will hopefully allow us to cast three more one-mana red spells to keep the combo going). While we do occasionally get in damage by beating down with Runaway Steam-Kin, we are more than happy just having it sit out on the battlefield as a strange mana engine.

The Finish

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While making a bunch of mana and casting a bunch of spells with the help of Runaway Steam-Kin is fun, it doesn't actually win the game by itself. For this, we turn to two more two-drops that deal a damage to our opponent whenever we cast an instant or sorcery in Electrostatic Field and Thermo-Alchemist. In a weird way, these cards are basically Grapeshots that sit out on the battlefield. If we can cast enough spells, we can burn our opponent out of the game without ever attacking at all. The other upside of Electrostatic Field and Thermo-Alchemist is that they are actually solid blockers against aggro, buying us a few turns to get our combo set up to win the game.

The Spells

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The rest of our deck (outside of one card, which we'll get to in a bit) is all one-mana spells to support the Runaway Steam-Kin combo. Crash Through, Warlord's Fury, and Light Up the Stage give us one-mana (or free with Runaway Steam-Kin) card draw to keep us churning through our deck while also triggering Electrostatic Field and Thermo-Alchemist to burn our opponent out of the game.

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We also have a bunch of one-mana burn spells, which, much like our card-draw, become free if we have Runaway Steam-Kin going. Spear Spewer is the strangest of the bunch since it doesn't deal any damage right away, although it does work very well with both our spectacle cards (offering a free way to deal a damage to our opponent once it is un–summoning sick) and with Hidetsugu's Second Rite as another way to manipulate our opponent's life total down to 10. Meanwhile, Spikefield Hazard is sort of a freeroll since it counts as a land, allowing us to cut back to just 16 "real" lands, while Shock and Skewer the Critics give us additional damage to throw at our opponent's face or, when necessary, take down opposing creatures.

The Meme

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Hidetsugu's Second Rite might be the strangest burn spell in all of Magic. It does literally nothing 95% of the time, when our opponent's life total is one, two, three, nine, 11, 15, 19, 20, or any other number outside of 10 (well, almost nothing—technically, it does trigger Thermo-Alchemist and Electrostatic Field since it's an instant). However, if our opponent is at exactly 10 life, Hidetsugu's Second Rite does everything, dealing 10 damage and killing our opponent on the spot and instant speed for just four mana! In general Hidetsugu's Second Rite isn't playable in burn style decks because getting an opponent exactly to 10 life is tricky with Lightning Bolts, but it's a surprisingly perfect fit for Ultimate Memekin since Spear Spewer, Electrostatic Field, and Thermo-Alchemist all deal damage in increments of one, which makes it fairly easy to get our opponent to 10. 

The other upside of Hidetsugu's Second Rite is because no one plays it, none of our opponents will expect it. No Historic player is afraid of being at 10 life. Why should they be? This allows us to catch our opponent by surprise while at a relatively high life total and win the game out of the blue! The downside is that if we happen to get our opponent down below 10 life, then all of the copies of Hidetsugu's Second Rite that we draw for the rest of the game do nothing, although since our deck is pretty good at dealing damage, if our opponent is under 10 life, we can probably burn them our with Runaway Steam-Kin and friends fairly easily. 

Playing the Deck

By far the biggest decision point of the deck is figuring out when we are trying to kill our opponent with Hidetsugu's Second Rite and when we are trying to win the game naturally by getting our opponent's life total down to zero. Let's say we have our opponent at 10 life and have a Thermo-Alchemist and four lands on the battlefield. Do we tap the Thermo-Alchemist and put our opponent down to nine, or do we wait in the hopes of drawing Hidetsugu's Second Rite for the immediate win? There isn't a right answer, and it mostly depends on the matchup and situation. But it is important to keep track of the amount of damage we are dealing, even when our opponent's life total is high, because if we deal too much damage, we can lose the opportunity to get the Hidetsugu's Second Rite kill.

Speaking of Hidetsugu's Second Rite, it interacts strangely with some of our creatures. If we have our opponent at 10 life and cast Hidetsugu's Second Rite but have Electrostatic Field on the battlefield, the Electrostatic Field will trigger and damage our opponent before Hidetsugu's Second Rite resolves, putting our opponent to nine life and essentially fizzling our Hidetsugu's Second Rite kill. On the other hand, if our opponent is at 11 life, we can cast the Hidetsugu's Second Rite knowing that Electrostatic Field will deal the last point of damage to get our opponent to 10 and pick up the win. Thermo-Alchemist is easier since we can choose when we activate it. If our opponent is at 11, we can ping our opponent, cast Hidetsugu's Second Rite, and win. If our opponent is at 10, we can choose not to tap Thermo-Alchemist, cast Hidetsugu's Second Rite, and win. 

One last note on Hidetsugu's Second Rite: pay attention to ways the opponent could have to gain or lose life. Thankfully, fetch lands and pain lands (outside of random oddballs like Ramunap Ruins) don't exist in Historic, which makes it much, much easier to pick up the Hidetsugu's Second Rite win than it is in Modern, where most decks can easily lose life at instant speed if they need to. However, there are random food tokens that can gain life at instant speed, and many decks have burn spells like Bonecrusher Giant. Plus, most decks have shock lands, which our opponent can play untapped to lose life. Being aware of what cards our opponent could have to change their life total in response to a Hidetsugu's Second Rite is important. If possible, it's often best to try to wait until the opponent taps down or out before going for the kill, especially if our opponent is playing a red deck that has access to burn spells they can target themselves with.

Wrap-Up

We finished 3-2 in our video matches and 3-3 overall with Ultimate Memekin after dropping a duplicate matchup, which is fairly reasonable for a deck with just 12 rares in a format like Historic. While we didn't go off with Runaway Steam-Kin all that often (it tends to die a lot), we did get a bunch of really sweet Hidetsugu's Second Rite kills. No one expects Hidetsugu's Second Rite.

As far as changes to make to the budget build of the deck, I'm pretty happy with where it landed. There are some potential upgrades, but most of those would require adding more rares and / or mythics (like playing Rampaging Ferocidon over Tibalt, Rakish Instigator in the sideboard. 

So, should you play Ultimate Memekin in Historic? While i don't think the deck is breaking the format or anything like that, it is good enough to win a reasonable amount of games and does so in a really hilarious, funny way. The only drawback is that the deck will get worse if a bunch of people pick up Ultimate Memekin since the biggest reason why Hidetsugu's Second Rite works is that opponents don't expect it. You can see small examples of this in some of our matches where we got the Hidetsugu's Second Rite kill in game one, only to have our opponents become much more aware of being at or near 10 life in games two or three. That said, you can't beat the 12-rare price tag, and even if Hidetsugu's Second Rite becomes bad, the deck could easily adapt and play something like Chandra's Incinerator or Chandra's Spitfire in that slot and focus more on winning with creatures and burn spells.

Ultra-Budget Ultimate Memekin

The build of Ultimate Memekin we played for the video costs just $31 in paper and $14 on Magic Online, which, combined with having just 12 rares (and zero mythics), make the deck ultra-budget everywhere. Is it possible to make the deck even cheaper? Not really. Runaway Steam-Kin and Hidetsugu's Second Rite are eight of our 12 rares and can't be cut because they are the heart of the deck. The last rare is a playset of Grafdigger's Cage in the sideboard, and while you probably could cut it if you are super desperate, I'm not sure that we'd consistently beat Goblins or Uro decks without having the artifact. Considering how popular Goblins and Uro decks are in the format, it's worth splurging on Grafdigger's Cage (especially considering that you'll play it in a ton of different Historic decks) rather than trying to get by with something like Tormod's Crypt as graveyard hate.

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The non-budget build of Ultimate Memekin doesn't get a ton of changes. In fact, the main deck stays exactly the same, except for the addition of Jegantha, the Wellspring as our companion. Otherwise, we get Rampaging Ferocidon in place of Tibalt as lifegain hate in the sideboard, Experimental Frenzy for card advantage against control, and Goblin Chainwhirler as a pseudo-sweeper against go-wide aggro decks with a bunch of X/1s. Do these changes make the deck better? Probably a bit, but the difference is small enough that I wouldn't worry about rushing out to spend more wildcards. The build we played in the video was already good enough to pick up a lot of wins in a hilarious way.

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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