Brew For Your Buck - Fish Flash
(Leyline of Anticipation | Art by Charles Urbach)
Whatcha Doing in My Waters?
Hello, fellow brewer, and welcome back to Brew for your Buck, where we swap out the top 10 most expensive cards in a deck with 10 budget cards that add a unique twist. Last time, we played around in Orzhov, so this week we're going to get our feet wet (pun very intended) in Simic.
A little about me: I love the ocean, so much that I based my education and career on it, in addition to three different Commander decks I've built over the years. Our commander today slid right into the 99 of one of them, my sea creature deck, though I'm seriously considering swapping her into the command zone. Anything that has "Kraken, Leviathan, Octopus, or Serpent" in its card text catches my eye for that deck, and Kenessos, Priest of Thassa is no different.
Looking at the average list on EDHREC, the deck clocks in at $277.42. Not an awful price tag, but we can do better. As usual, we'll start by removing the most expensive cards in the deck, then take a look at our budget package, noting that all prices listed below were current at time of writing.
Stompy decks like this tend to have a common weakness: you drop a huge monster, making you an immediate threat, but without something granting haste we can't pressure any of our opponents until our following turn, giving them ample time to sink (more maritime puns!) our plans.
Enter our budget package. Operating at instant speed is not exactly a new thing for Simic, as anyone who played Arena in 2019 will know. Applying that playstyle to sea monsters offers them pseudo-protection, surprises our opponents, and makes playing these powerful creatures that much more... well... flashy. With a mana sink like Kenessos in the command zone, we can hold up mana for our counters and other instant-speed tricks, then, if we didn't need to use those, just activate Kenessos and put a prehistoric terror into play.
Instant Speed Enablers
First, let's throw in some enablers. Before you ask, we will not be including the literal flash fish, Tidal Barracuda, since we're greedy and don't want to share our instant speed shenanigans extending to everyone else. We will, however, include the banned-in-Pioneer Wilderness Reclamation ($1.50), since in this deck it can quadruple the frequency we can activate Kenessos. Partnered with Leyline of Anticipation ($2.79) or Vivien, Champion of the Wilds ($0.38), it puts the deck's ability to turbo out our deep-dwelling friends into overdrive, even if Kenessos isn't on the battlefield. Vivien even allows our monsters to beat down our opponents and remain available to block on the crack back, assuming someone is brave enough to swing back into our 6/6s.
Even before we make our swaps, there is only one Counterspell (yes, that one) in the whole deck. Adding some more will help us protect our critical pieces and allow us to answer threats before they hit the battlefield. The best part is that if we don't use them, we just dump the mana into Kenessos. Stubborn Denial ($1.33) will almost always be a one-mana Negate in this deck. Voracious Greatshark ($0.21) and Thassa's Intervention ($0.17) both fit our oceanic flavor and are almost always 2-for-1s when cast, so they seem like obvious inclusions as well. Our opponents will be scrambling for a bigger boat indeed.
Next, we can increase the number of ways to manipulate the top card of our library. My favorite suggestion for this pushes the the boundaries of a budget card, but Cream of the Crop ($5.86) is too cool not to include. Imagine having it out and chaining together multiple Kenessos activations. You'll dig so deep into your deck, it's basically guaranteed that your next activation will hit a huge creature, triggering this again and further increasing the absurdity. You can even use this to dig to Mariana Trench depths for an answer just before a draw, assuming a mythical sea beast is somehow not the right answer.
A less expensive but obvious addition is Omen of the Sea ($0.13), adding more to the flavor but also offering two instances of scry 2, which will likely be scry 3, at instant speed. While not particularly exciting, Crystal Ball ($0.28) gives us a repeatable scry ability for only one mana, again freeing up the rest of our mana for Kenessos. Thinking a bit outside of the box, Reclaim ($0.11) gives us a much-needed way to recur key sea monsters, essentially making that Kenessos activation an instant-speed Zombify effect.
Wrap Up and Savings
Let's take a look at where we ended up:
Wow! We almost cracked the $100 mark and cut out more than half the cost of the deck AND you get to keep 90 cards from the original build, saving you all that money you would have spent on upgrades. Like my previous article, I think the list still has too few lands, so I'll again recommend swapping some of the other expensive cards with a few basics to get the deck under $100 if that is your goal.
Fish FlashView on Archidekt
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer
So what do you think? Does the flash package seem like a good idea or are you, like me, traumatized by Simic Flash from Arena? Do you want more nautical puns? Let me know in the comments and I'll see you next time when we brew for your buck!