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Posted April 6, 2016 by Scott Gerhardt in Card Games

Mardu Lifegain Allies – A 100 ticket Modern deck

For starters, those of you unfamiliar with this event should check it out here.  Now those of you who keep up with me as a Magic player know that most of my “brewing” is kept to 40 cards, so generally when an event comes around that needs 75, if I am smart, I just pick up a deck and jockey it.  Well, pretty much knowing I wasn’t going to test, I went through, found a reasonable mono-red deck, tweaked a bit to get it under budget and then I was done.  I figured the field would mostly be cheap creature aggro decks, so if I could get on par I could just try to outplay people.   Then it happened……

I was just browsing through MTGO and I came across the idea of Allies.  I wasn’t actively playing during original Zendikar block, so I did some research and my ears got really piqued up.  I like goofy deck, and if I though that small creature aggro would be the meta, then small creature lifegain aggro should generally beat that.  Plus, instead of taking a “real” deck and making it cheaper, I just started brewing from the beginning.  I mean, these allies aren’t exactly expensive dollar-wise, so I should be able to put together something unexpected.  And hell, it would be a fun story if I actually did something with it.

I started by putting everything in I wanted, clicking them over from MTGO to my deck until I was done and I had just over 60 cards…..before I added lands.   Well, cuts must be made.  Summarizing what was a kinda long and arduous process, I ended up with a BW Allies deck that was focused on lifegain.  I also heard rumblings of a budget affinity and living end deck, so I wanted to make sure those were covered.  The Scrappers seemed like basically the perfect thing to bring in, with there being almost nothing else, so we now shifted to Mardu.  This allowed me to drop in the single Munda and Chasm Guide.  Munda is just a solid guy to cleanse your draws moving forward, and the Chasm Guide could give me a chance to March or Rally straight to victory.  I liked the idea of the Bala Ged Thiefs to help shut down any form of control and the Diabolists would give me a quick way to burn down another deck that was just stalling me out without an alternate win condition.

Despite not being an Ally, I felt the Eldrazi Displacer was once of the best friends I could have.  I would allow me to blink my own guys with CIP effects to repeat them, stop my opponent’s creatures from attacking, and even have a really solid 3/3 for 3 body when needed.  This was certainly not a deck prone towards removal, but you have to have some, so the 2 Path’s in the main deck would hopefully suffice when my opponent dropped something down that was nearly impossible for me to deal with.

The mana was just a matter of me trying to insure I got some fetches for the Retreat – a way of activating some of the abilities at instant speed, and then making it all work while still giving me a chance to have the colorless needed for the Displacer to work.  This is where the budget got real funny because I had to make some decisions I didn’t really want to just so I could keep under budget:

In the end, we got a deck that doesn’t necessarily need to attack, or even necessarily block to both win and not lose:

GamersDome Decklist


GamersDome Sideboard

So, after playing the deck for 3 weeks and really getting to look at it I came to some really harsh realities:

#1 – I didn’t have enough land.  Just, period, I was often stuck down a land, so it really needed one more in it.
#2 – I couldn’t do a thing in the world about any enchantment, which was just a horrid oversight on my part when building the deck
#3 – Some of the sideboard options I had were just bad and needed to be looked at again.

All of that said, I went and said, “Well, I wonder if I can make this deck any better if I were to start over again today?”  I mostly decided that I liked the main deck.  With a few small changes, I thought it was great and did exactly what I wanted it to from a spell perspective.  The lands needed to be swapped up.  A lot of the changes needed to happen in the board where certain tweaks were needed to insure I could cover my bases more cleanly.  After a big of tinkering (and in fairness, no further testing), I now have the 2.0 version of the deck – the version I would submit if I had to do it over again.  Note:  SOI was not released when this challenge started, so SOI cards were not considered.


I feel this version does a better job of shoring up some of the holes the deck had, and with the one Tazri maindeck, a small tutor aspect to be able to find what is needed after board.  Value of this deck as of this article:  98.96 tix

So this was just a quick primer on what I was thinking, and what I would do if we had to do it all over again.

Thanks for the read and keep playing everyone!

Scott Gerhardt

Scott has....thoughts. They can be about this, that, or just about anything. Seldom at a loss for words, you can find his thoughts chronicled here