One thing you should know as you sit down to read this article: This isn’t an original idea. I’m not breaking new ground, nor am I attempting to pass it off as such. My intention is to help those who are either new to magic or unfamiliar with some of its past greats create reasonably budgeted decks that can still play competitively thanks to the heritage of the deck concepts.
T2 magic is always changing, always urging people to make new decks around different releases, challenge the new mechanics, and most importantly spend a lot of money on buying new cards. How can you stay competitive on a budget? Well that’s easy, you go back to the ‘classics’.
The ‘Sligh’ deck is a true classic use of unconventional cards in the competitive format. Some might even call it the precursor to red deck wins, which is a prominent figure in many T2 meta-games today. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the sligh deck, perhaps a little history is in order. Long ago back in 1996 a guy (some might say a mtg legend) named Paul Sligh went to the pro tour qualifier in Atlanta where he came in second, literally baffling people on how he could have progressed with the deck so far in the tournament. Sligh shouldn’t get all the credit though, as the deck was originally designed by Jay Schneider whose unusual decks have made him something of a legend himself - though the sligh deck was by far his most successful. The premise of the deck was pretty simple: maximize mana you put on the table each turn. The original break down looked something like this:
1 mana slot: 9-13
2 mana slot: 6-8
3 mana slot: 3-5
4 mana slot: 1-3
X spell: 2-3
There are a couple of things that people don’t talk about though that helps to make the deck so effective.
The first thing that helped to make the deck competitive was its resilience to one of its own strengths: removal. The large amount of creatures that the sligh deck has helps it against mass and spot removal. It’s pretty simple. When playing sligh, you don’t need any specific creature abilities, per se. All the creatures are efficient and helpful, but none so important that the deck can’t live without them, nor would anyone want to take them through mind control effects. Sure we could talk about the efficiency of each creature, the important abilities that could be incorporated into the simple deck, or even how best to play those creatures, but that I’m afraid is another article all together.
Second we need to consider the raw power of removal. Most games are won by creatures. An extreme example might be the Baneslayer Angel
, a single creature that can turn the tables of a lot of games. The Baneslayer Angel
is an amazingly efficient and powerful creature that dies to Doom Blade
. Now there are exceptions to the rule, but more often than not creatures will win you the game because of their constant and efficient damage. If your opponent doesn’t have creatures, you will have the advantage.
Lastly and perhaps the most overlooked is simplicity. The sligh deck is a mono colored deck that doesn’t use enchants or combos, meaning you don’t have to hope to draw into that one must-have card and you don’t draw into cards you can’t use. The fact that it’s mono-colored eliminates losses due to mana screw as well as reducing the cost of the deck. When you set out to make a sligh deck you really have to remember the strength in simplicity, it’s often overlooked.
The act of constructing a sligh deck is easy enough; you just fill in the mana slots with the correct cards. Remember to keep your card choices simple, make sure those cards are efficient (1 mana cost creatures with 2 power for example), and make sure your removal choices are the most effective available for your deck.
Now, if you haven’t stopped reading let’s talk deck lists. Staying with what is T2 at the time of writing this, as well as keeping the idea of budget building in mind I’ve put together my sligh decks that use only common and uncommon cards. One is in red to keep with the original color of the deck and one is in black to show how the idea of the deck can transcend the original deck itself. Why two deck lists? Because I like to go that extra step. I’ll explain my card choices as we go, as well as including a sideboard of less budget-friendly cards that can shore up the power of each deck.