By Carlos

I’ll be honest, guys: I was terrified that B/G was going to win the color vote and that–no matter what won– the deck was going to be boring to build.  I mean, really, Glissa, Savra, and Nath are the best generals in that color combination by a lot, and they all spell out their themes in no uncertain terms.

Lyzolda, on the other hand…

Well, she’s still actually pretty straightforward, but the budgetary restrictions make our thematic choices a little more difficult.  Most decks that revolve around sacrificing things rely on staples like Solemn Simulacrum and Grave Pact, and run 65-80ish of the same 99 cards, which is pretty lame.

But the interesting thing about Lyzolda is that she’s got the sacrifice outlet built in, so you don’t need much redundancy there; you just need to generate fodder to pitch to her and find some coincidental ways to abuse the sacrifices–like Vicious Shadows–rather than intentional ways–like Phyrexian Altar.

I’m going to try something a little different this week with this budget challenge.  Rather than composing a decklist and then writing up the article, I’m going to do a stream of consciousness sort of thing, cranking out a decklist as I’m coming up with it and hopefully outlining some of my thought processes, making changes as I go.

Let’s get started with the easy stuff, including the general and the obvious abusers:

Lyzolda, the Blood Witch (0.49)

Reassembling Skeleton (0.25)
Nether Traitor  (1.49)
Darkest Hour (0.99)
Buried Alive (2.99)
Black Market (2.99)

Total: $9.21, 5 cards

Well, that went poorly.  I’m five cards in and at a quarter of my budget.  Who knew Black Markets went for $3?  Either way, what these are trying to accomplish is fairly obvious.  Reassembling Skeleton and Nether Traitor are a sort of engine with Lyzolda, and Buried Alive sets it up.  Black Market makes your life a little easier once you get your engine going.  Unfortunately, Buried Alive and Black Market are going to have to go, but let’s see what we can do to replace them.

-Buried Alive
-Black Market

Carnival of Souls (0.49)
Corpse Connoisseur (0.25)

Abyssal Gatekeeper (0.25)
Goblin Marshal (0.89)
Nim Deathmantle (0.99)
Gorgon Flail (0.25)
Quietus Spike (0.99)
Godo, Bandit Warlord (0.89)
Furnace Celebration (0.25

Total: 8.48, 12 cards

Why can’t I ever spell Connoisseur without checking, even when I just checked?  Whatever, unimportant.  What’s important is that he’s a VERY slow Buried Alive that also draws you some cards.  Carnival of Souls is similar, in that it helps ease the mana-hungriness of keeping Lyzolda active, but is probably just worse than Black Market nine times out of ten.

Abyssal Gatekeeper seems like a strict upgrade on Fleshbag Marauder with Lyzolda as the general, and likewise Goblin Marshal is an upgrade on Siege-Gang Commander, which I can’t afford anyway.

The equipment package eats up a pretty reasonable portion of my budget, but I think it’s worth it.  Lyzolda plus deathtouch seems really good, as does Lyzolda plus Nim Deathmantle.  Ideally, there will be a few more ways to abuse the deathtouch without Lyzolda to reduce dependence on your general, and hopefully some more stuff that triggers on things that are leaving play to make more of an engine.

Deathbringer Thoctar (0.49)
Hoarding Dragon (0.49)
Homura, Human Ascendant (0.59)
Bloodchief Ascension (1.49)
Mogg War Marshal (0.19)
Molten Firebird (0.49)
Murderous Redcap (0.79)
Goblin Matron (1.25)

Rockslide Elemental (0.25)
Scavenger Drake (0.25)
Rukh Egg (0.49)
Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker (1.99)

Total: 17.24, 24 cards.

So, I’m at almost half of my budget, but I’m at about 2/5 of the number of cards I want in the deck.  Huh.  Well, there are some cuts that can be made if it comes down to it, but I think most of these contribute pretty positively to the deck, relative to their monetary cost.

Most of these came just from looking for cards that have effects when they hit the graveyard.  Deathbringer Thoctar, Scavenger Drake, and Rockslide Elemental are all awesome with all of the creatures you want to kill, and give you a legitimate board presence sometimes.

Hoarding Dragon is like another copy of Godo, and Mogg War Marshal is a miniature Goblin marshal.  Murderous Redcap will be a 2 for 1 at worst, and a 4 for 1 at best, all while drawing cards.  Once you’re running that many Goblins, Goblin Matron seems logical, and Homura seems like a sweet way to pump those tokens.

Molten Firebird is interesting.  You’re going to be drawing cards off of your black creatures, so you don’t care about skipping your draw step an inordinate number of times, but dealing two damage from a potentially death-touchy Lyzolda seems really good.

There are a number of well-known cards that interact with Shirei already, I wonder if we can’t find some more cool ones.  I mean, Rukh Egg is awesome, obviously, but Mogg War Marshal and Abyssal Gatekeeper are almost deceptively powerful.  I think this is the next thing I want to work in as a major-ish theme, and having multiple themes means finding tutors that will fit into the deck/budget.

Diabolic Tutor (0.75)
Beseech the Queen (0.79)
Brainspoil (0.15)
Dimir House Guard (0.25)
Shred Memory (0.25)

Dawn of the Dead (0.49)
Apprentice Necromancer (0.99)

Total: $21.64, 34 cards

So obviously the tutors are going to be really powerful when you’ve got a set of engines that you want to get running.  The transmute tutors are especially good because they can’t be countered and have additional utility as spells.  Brainspoil, while inefficient, is still removal, and Shred Memory is graveyard hate.  Dimir House Guard is a reasonable sacrifice outlet, and can be easily recurred because it’s a creature.

These other cards just seemed like powerful inclusions.  Apprentice Necromancer interacts well with sacrifice outlets and with Shirei; Dawn of the Dead is a more expensive copy of the same effect, but it isn’t dependent on an interaction between other cards.  Hostility seems absurdly good.  Sacrifice a red creature; make some more red creatures; sacrifice those to make even more red creatures.  Alpha strike, win the game?

Myr Retriever (1.49)
Wayfarer’s Bauble (0.25)
Nihil Spellbomb (0.25)
Crystal Ball (0.39)
Pilgrim’s Eye (0.15)
Ashen-Skin Zubera (0.25)
Ember-Fist Zubera (0.25)

Total: $24.67, 41 cards

And here are some more creatures for abuse with Shirei.  Pilgrim’s Eye is clearly awesome at helping hit land drops, Myr Retriever is great for recycling your trinkets and equipment if you get hit by removal.  You don’t have too many shuffle effects, so I’m pretty sure that Crystal Ball is better than Sensei’s Divining Top here, even if we could afford to run the Top.

And, of course, I have to add Zuberas whenever I can find an excuse.  They seem good with Shirei, especially if you’ve also got Shirei/Necromancer shenanigans going.  It might not be really good, but everyone’s got those cards they want to run just because.  These are mine.  Deal with it.

Mindslicer (0.49)
Ingot Chewer (0.19)
Spitebellows (0.49)

Act of Treason (0.15)
Threaten (0.25)
Conquering Manticore (0.49)

Din of the Fireherd (0.49)
Syphon Mind (0.25)
Torrent of Souls (0.25)

Total: $27.72, 50 cards

Now these are a few more utility and powerhouse cards that’ll do the deck some good.  Mindslicer is kind of absurd when you sacrifice it to Lyzolda, because you draw the card after the trigger resolves.  Seems good, especially when you’ve got ways to recur the mindslicer repeatedly.

Evoke creatures seem really quite good with Lyzolda, unfortunately there’s only a few reasonable ones in this color combination.  Spitebellows is in over Shriekmaw because of its color and because it’s half the price!  Shriekmaw is probably reasonable too though; it’s better most of the time.

The Threaten-style effects seem really good with Lyzolda, almost good enough for me to want to recur them with something like Anarchist, but probably not quite that good.  Steal your Primeval Titan, bash you, fling it at you?  Seems good.  Manticore is also recurrable via Nim Deathmantle and such because it’s a creature, which is awesome.  I’d consider running Helm of Posession, but I don’t think it’s within the budget for this particular build, as awesome as it’d be.

Last, we’ve got some acceleration and some solid cards to round the deck out:

Rakdos Signet (0.25)
Talisman of Dominance (0.25)
Fire Diamond (0.39)
Charcoal Diamond (0.39)
Mind Stone (0.89)

Vicious Shadows (0.49)
Repercussion (2.99)
Krovikan Horror (0.49)
Tortured Existence (0.25)
Undead Gladiator (0.89)
Golgari Thug (0.89)
Black Market (2.99)

Total: $38.88, 62 cards
So, some artifact ramp is important in this color combination since you don’t have any other ways to ramp up, especially on such a tight budget.  Would this deck love to have Coffers/Urborg?  Sure it would, but I just don’t see it happening on this budget.

The last couple of cards give some more redundancy, resiliency, and power to the deck.  Excitingly enough, I managed to fit it both of the expensive cards I wanted, Black Market and Repercussion.  These are both clearly awesome here; Black Market is like a super Dark Ritual, and Repercussion lets you play control and beatdown with your Lyzolda flings.

Vicious Shadows is another game-closer.  Suddenly each creature you sacrifice deals 5-7 damage instead of just two, which puts the table on a pretty fast clock.  Krovikan Horror is there to be a backup sacrifice outlet for when Lyzolda gets wrecked.  It also interacts well with both Tortured Existence and Undead Gladiator as a recursion/draw engine.  Golgari Thug lets you dig for those awesome creatures that you’re running, and helps you buy them back too.  Thug plus Lyzolda is a dredge engine unto itself, which is kind of cool.

Last, let’s take a look at the mana base.  I think it’s safe to assume that you’ve got the basics, so we’ll start with the non-basics:

Terramorphic Expanse (0.25)
Molten Slagheap (0.49)
Akoum Refuge (0.39)
18 Swamp
16 Mountain

Total: $40.01, 99 cards

Alright, so I went a cent over budget.  Pick your least favorite card and cut it.  The mana base is a little more stable, but could definitely use a little bit of work.  There are a few solid lands that could certainly make the cut, the obvious ones are Thawing Glaciers for consistency, deserted temple to ramp with thawing glaciers or “combo” with your Molten Slagheap, and other B/R dual lands.  You could start adding things like Scrying Sheets, Mouth of Ronom and various Tectonic Edge variants; Spinerock Knoll and Vesuva, but I don’t think that those are necessary to the initial function of the deck.

And lastly, I want to take a look at a few choices for the slightly less budget-minded, some of the cards that I really wanted but couldn’t quite fit into the budget.  Most of these spells are just more of the same kinds of things the deck is already doing, but added consistency is never a bad thing.  But really, they’re just additional or more efficient copies of cards that are already in the deck.

Basilisk Collar
Demonic Tutor
Tectonic Edge
Buried Alive
Phyrexian Arena
Oversold Cemetery
Siege-Gang Commander

And there’s my take on Lyzolda for about $40; I hope you guys aren’t going to begrudge me that extra cent.  As always, if you’ve got criticism and comments, or just want to talk shop about decklists or ideas, I’m more than happy to do it.  You can reach me in the comments, by email and now on Twitter!

@cag5383 on Twitter