A new store has opened up near my house. This is great news, because it means that there’s now a store not only within an hour’s drive, but within ten minutes drive! This means I have much more of a chance to play FNM on a regular basis again.
With this in mind, I decided to start up an article series I’ve wanted to do for a while now: Budget FNM. Every few weeks, I’ll put together a new deck for standard, and show you prices and possible upgrades. I’ll aim to keep decks in one of three categories: $50 or less, $75 or less, and $100 or less. Today, we’re going to start with a really cool one: Aetherborn Tribal.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time over the last week thinking about this idea. I think the card that secretly drives this archetype is Syndicate Trafficker, and the best way to build an Aetherborn deck is to start by building around this card. This means that we want to have three themes: aetherborn creatures, +1/+1 counters, and artifacts. Going this route gives the deck a bunch of play, and keeps it pretty competitive for a single colour deck.
[Note: There’s probably a cool combo deck hiding in BW with Sram’s Expertise, Servo Exhibition, Zulaport Cutthroat, and Puzzleknot style artifacts (plus all those 0 drops artifacts). The biggest problem with going the combo route with Trafficker is that it can very easily just die to a Fatal Push with the right timing. Indestructible is fine in response, but I’m still not the biggest fan of going all in.]
Syndicate Trafficker works amazingly with artifacts, so that’s something we really want to exploit. Weaponcraft Enthusiast helps us to pump out some servos and happens to be an Aetherborn, so it slots right on in. Servo Schematic also works really well with Trafficker and is actually kind of a secret tech card. For two mana, you get to create two artifacts for Trafficker or Yahenni, Undying Partisan, and then another one when you sacrifice the Schematic. That translates to a lot of activations for relatively cheap.
Next, we want to find some artifacts that will fit into the deck and do some good work. The first one is super obvious: Metallic Mimic. This comes down, you name Aetherborn, and the rest of your deck thanks you with extra power. In addition to this, we can run with Animation Module which allows up to pump out even more servos which means more +1/+1 counters which means more servos etc until you run out of mana. Nice synergy with what we’re trying to do AND between these two cards (name Servo with Metallic Mimic and start tapping all your mana).
We want to fill out the rest of our creature slots. We’ll start with Gifted Aetherborn, since it’s just a really solid two drop. A 2/3 with deathtouch and lifelink for two mana is great value, and since we’re mono black, we won’t really have a problem casting the card, so the double black cost means nothing. In the three-drop slot, I really like Vengeful Rebel. We’re going to be sacrificing things quite a bit, so it’s almost always going to be able to trigger revolt. Finally, we’ll run Midnight Entourage. A tribal deck just isn’t complete without a lord, and the fact that this one can also draw you some cards is a nice bonus.
Next up is removal. We have the best removal spell right now in our colour in Fatal Push. We’re also going to be able to trigger revolt pretty often, so the card gets even better in this deck. Grasp of Darkness is also right up there with the best of the best of creature removal, and in an aggro heavy meta it’s really good.
Finally, aside from Swamps, we’re also going to run some Westvale Abbey. We create a bunch of servos (Westvale Abbey loves it some Animation Modules), so Ormendahl becomes another win condition for us. It’s super powerful, and it gives us a bit more of a long game.
There’s a few cards that I considered for this deck which I ultimately decided against. Here’s that list of cards, and the reasons I haven’t included them:
Yahenni’s Expertise: This is a great card, which unfortunately does all the things we DON’T want in this deck. We’ve got a bunch of indestructible creatures in this deck, but that keyword does absolutely nothing when the card gives all our creatures -3/-3. If one of our creatures has less than 4 toughness and we cast this card, it’s going to die, indestructible or not. Plus, it’s a bit of a flavour fail. The card can cast Yahenni for free (and Yahenni will not die due to the fact that Expertise gives all creatures -3/-3 and THEN lets us cast a card for free), which is cool, but the card’s called Yahenni’s EXPERTISE – you’d expect him to already be around for his expertise to be of any use to us.
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet: Mostly because of cost. This is actually a really great card, despite the fact that it isn’t an Aetherborn, and if you can afford to put it in the deck then I suggest you try to find the space.
Hope of Ghirapur: This card just doesn’t quite fit into the current aggro meta. If you’ve got a lot of control around, then it might be worth trying to fit this in. However, be aware that in a deck like ours where we want to sacrifice artifacts to our other creatures and not to themselves, the choices that a card like this can pose only complicate things.
Bone Splinters, Altar’s Reap: These cards can be useful, but we want to sacrifice things to our creatures for +1/+1 counters and indestructible triggers a little bit more, and these take away from that.
Murder: A little bit too expensive I think. We want to keep our curve down, and Fatal Push and Grasp of Darkness work better in aggro town.
Liliana, the Last Hope: Another cost reason. This card is great, and if you have some already, try to fit a few in.
Gonti, Lord of Luxury: It doesn’t quite fit the theme of the deck. This was actually in the deck for quite a while. I slowly cut it down on numbers for curve reasons (and because I found Servo Schematic), and in the end decided to take it out. It’s really powerful, though, and I could not fault you for wanting to play it.
With all that said, here’s my version of the deck:
Mono Black Aetherborn
I haven’t priced the sideboard because that will really depend on what your local meta looks like. This will be the standard for how I write these articles. I’ll try to include a “catch all” sideboard for unknown metas to give you an idea of how you can attack, but it will really need tuning. This is a decent catch all setup, but Collective Brutality puts the deck over budget, so it’s really up to you.