Budget brewing is about finding new and exciting ways to utilize underrepresented cards. This usually means looking at new cards that don’t have a home and discovering ways to incorporate their synergies that haven’t been explored yet. Another way is to rediscover old decks that become good again, and are cheap because they’re no longer being played. That method is how I got to today’s deck, and without further ado, I present an updated version of U/R Prowess Burn from last Standard season:
U/R Prowess Burn (26 tix)
If you followed the development of this deck before, then you’ll know it was largely in response to the development of G/B Delirium. Fevered Visions single-handedly crushes that deck because it can’t ever get under the 4-card threshold. In addition, G/B used to sideboard cards like Noose Constrictor or Call the Bloodline as ways to dump its hand to help combat Fevered Visions, but thankfully those cards have fallen out of favor with this deck’s departure. As you’ll see from the U/R sideboard, there really isn’t much in the way of help post-board to try and fight G/B, but that’s because you’re already pre-boarded. You can just swap out Galvanic Bombardment for the Unsubstantiates and Negates, and depending on how your opponent is boarding you can decide whether or not to bring in the Glimmers.
Another main consideration was that this deck couldn’t really beat Dromoka’s Command out of Bant Company and ended up just getting ground out, much like every other deck in old Standard. Now Bant has rotated, but there are some new kids on the block.
I’ve written before how this card is absolutely critical to the deck, but here it only shows up as a 3-of. That’s because this Standard format puts a huge amount of pressure on you to spend your mana every turn, and this card is expensive. On top of that, it’s a sorcery that can’t kill Smuggler’s Copter and many of the cards it wants to hit are flash creatures like Avacyn. Selfless Spirit is another problem because it helps protect the big threat you want to hit, and decks like R/B just thrive on mana efficient plays. Spending a bunch of mana to kill a 2-drop is simply not where you want to be.
Despite all these concerns, this card is still very powerful and a good clean answer to some of the more problematic cards like Kalitas. If the metagame shifts to more of these slower power creatures, going up to 4 Collective Defiance will be a good call, but if the format goes even lower to the ground I would shave another copy.
This card is terribly overrated, but at 1 mana you can’t do much better. The issue is that the first copy is quite bad. 2 damage just doesn’t hit enough of the important cards from Vehicles or U/W Flash, and it only ever kills an early Grim Flayer from G/B. Given those circumstances, I wanted to cut the card, but it’s just too important as a way to quickly fill up the graveyard for Bedlam Reveler and trigger your prowess creatures. Post-board it does improve in Copter matchups when you bring in Weaver of Lightnings.
Key to the City
This is the only nonland addition from Kaladesh to make it into the main deck, but it’s an important one. 23 lands isn’t a lot, but because you draw so many cards, you’ll often find yourself having more than you know what to do with. Looting with Key is very good in these spots, and it also is a good way to madness your Fiery Tempers or 1-of Just the Wind. On top of all that, Bedlam Reveler is a big body but can often get stopped by clogged boards due to Ishkanah, flashed in Avacyns, Metalwork Colossus, etc. and Key is a good way to just attack past all that nonsense and deal the final points of damage.
Stormchaser Mage vs. Thing in the Ice
This was the big debate from last season on which card to play and is still a worthy point of contention. I went with Stormchaser here because it hits harder earlier on, but also plays better in a Copter-filled world. Thing’s flip timing when Vehicles are in play is just awkward since all those creatures come right back down and crew Vehicles immediately. On top of that, it doesn’t ever do any damage if it doesn’t flip and decks are currently filled with an abundance of removal spells to combat fast beatdown decks and Spell Queller. This means that Thing is poorly positioned thanks to fast decks being so good. If the format becomes more midrange when Aether Revolt comes out, make the switch back to Thing in the Ice.
While Fevered Visions shines versus G/B, it is much more of a liability against the faster decks. It ends up fueling opposing Prized Amalgam decks or low-to-the-ground 1-drop decks, and I’m not afraid to board out even though it’s the deck’s namesake card. Play/draw also influences that decision a lot, and I’ll keep it in on the play against all but the most aggressive opponents.
The games themselves are all about landing a creature and using it to deal damage while also burning your opponent’s face or their creatures. In matchups like G/B, you mostly have to ignore what your opponent is doing and hope you can just deal enough damage before their superior late game takes over. In matchups like R/B, you just want to control the game until Bedlam Reveler can take over the board and then focus on burning your opponent out. Both U/W and Vehicles take the middle ground and whether you are the control or aggro depends a lot on the way the games play out.
I started with the true budget version, but wanted to include a more expensive version I’d recommend if you want to upgrade the initial list:
U/R Prowess Burn (72 tix)
The lands go a long way to increasing the cost of the deck. A playset of Wandering Fumarole alone costs more than the first list I posted. But Fumarole does get activated in the deck a decent amount and combines well with Key to the City for the last few points of damage. The other big change with the more expensive version is in the sideboard. Blue-based control decks have been around ever since the PT, and a bigger version of U/R post-board can be more powerful than just trying to go way under the control decks. That’s because this deck won’t naturally go low to the ground consistently enough to adapt your angle of attack.
Enter Jace, Unraveler of Secrets. If you can stick Jace, all you have to worry about is Torrential Gearhulk, and if you can avoid that terrible fate for a few turns it will be lights out. The Jace plan pairs well with your Dispels and will let you focus more on sticking a key threat than trying to go for a less effective fast burn plan. Ultimately, finding and resolving Fevered Visions will be the best path to victory, but you don’t always draw one of your 4 copies, so Jace helps here. The extra Island is there just to have the chance of getting to +1 mana for your key threats to also counter back with Dispel, not to mention the addition of a bunch of blue cards post-board. In some matchups like G/B, you’ll board out Bombardments for a few blue cards, at which point you can always swap a main deck Mountain for the sideboarded Island.
Overall I think U/R has real staying power in the metagame. It’s a cheap, powerful entry point into the format that has a lot of flexibility. The new becomes old and the old becomes new, and it’s important to know when to dig up past treasures and put them to use.