Shadow Brute on a Budget

by Drew Cordell 27th May 2021 6 : 54

Budget Blitz: A Great Place to Start

As I anxiously await my case of Monarch Unlimited and Crucible of War, I wanted to get a jump start on Levia without buying any of the cards I would likely crack in some of my boxes that will be shipping in the next couple of weeks. That led me to design a super-budget friendly Levia list using only cards up to Super Rare rarity to drive down the cost. As an aside, because it is available in the preconstructed version of Levia’s deck, a single copy of the Majestic rarity brute mentor, Lady Barthimont, is included in this list.

As Michael Clair noted in our article on Day 1 Blitz Decks, Levia feels like a more-refined Brute. Levia is intrinsically more powerful and relentless with her attacks, but they come at the cost of requiring the player to maintain and use their graveyard as a resource to avoid paying an ever-growing blood debt. Thankfully, we have a couple of safety valves in the deck that can help prevent losing to our own blood debt in the unfortunate case that we must block out a turn with our entire hand, or just don’t have any way to banish a 6+ power card.

As Levia, you are very much the aggressor, relatively regardless of who you are playing against. You will be burning through the deck a lot faster than many other decks, and in Blitz that means we need to be aggressive, pushing as much damage as possible. The first couple turns are spent meeting the minimal requirements to ramp up Levia, getting to a place where we can sustain our blood debt tax exemption while piling all the pressure on our opponent. Hit hard, hit often, and use offense as a means of defense. Usually, that means 4-5 total cards in the graveyard with at least three being 6+ power before you want to light this deck’s fuse.

If you’re new, grabbing the preconstructed Levia Blitz deck is a wonderful starting point for this list. From there, we just tune the deck with a few cards at or below $2.

Card Choices

With a total of 12 non-attack cards in the deck, (14 total including attack cards below 6 power) 65% of the deck composition directly enables Levia and many other effects in the deck.

I break the deck down into the following categories:

Graveyard Enablers

Many cards in our deck serve to dump more cards into the graveyard toward the start of the game, and help us sustain the graveyard to pay costs and continually banish a 6+ power card once the blood debt engine is rolling.

Pulping, Rally the Rearguard, Deadwood Rumbler, Barraging Big Horn, Reckless Swing, Wrecker Romp, and Ravenous Meataxe all serve as great ways to fill the graveyard in the early game. If you are playing second, block and dump your hand aggressively so that you can rapidly ramp up going into your turn.

Go Again Beaters

Hooves of the Shadowbeast, Pulping, Barraging Big Horn, and Dread Screamers in blue and red all serve as means to give us more than one attack in the same turn. It is extremely powerful and effective to hit with something big, banish a 6+ power card (activating Hooves) then coming in with a Graveling Growl. Because many of our cards are relatively cheap, we can usually follow up one of these go again attacks with a second hit, or at least a swing from the Meataxe. Go again is essential in this deck as we don’t have a lot of defensive capabilities. The harder we can hit our opponent, the more damage they will take or the less cards they will have in hand going into their turn.

Finishers

Pulping, Convulsions from the Bellows of Hell, and every attack in the deck can serve as a means to close out the game. Use Convulsions to dominate a big attack, or go wide with the go again beaters and simply present more damage than your opponent can block out. Constant aggression and the efficient use of your graveyard as a resource is key for piloting Levia. As long as you have the graveyard to sustain your powerful cards that require you to banish from the graveyard.

Utility & Defense

Our hard-hitting, cost-effective cards like Pulping and Deadwood Rumbler can’t defend. That means we need to rely on a little bit of extra defense in this list than Levia would typically require. We do that through the form of Bone Head Barrier and Reckless Swing.

Bonehead Barrier is a great card to help us get around dominate as it can be played as a pseudo defense reaction that ignores dominate—instants are not defending cards. It can also help us defend against big bursts of arcane damage when it is coming from a single source. Pitch cards like Pulping or Deadwood Rumbler that can’t defend anyway to pay the cost and hope for the best on the d6 roll.

Reckless Swing can often be enough to push the last couple of points of damage through, or fully block out our opponent’s attack and punch them back with some chip damage that can’t be defended through all but a few specific circumstances.

The singleton copy of Blood Tribute acts as a safety valve for preventing blood debt—or as an enabler for Graveling Growl on turns where we can’t generate go again.

Equipment Choices

We use Ravenous Meataxe for our weapon. Swinging in early and often with this card is a powerful way to fill the graveyard, and often present 5 damage that our opponent has to block. Plus, it only takes a single yellow pitch to come in with the axe, making it a very cost-effective weapon for its damage class.

Ebon Fold serves as a combo enabler and a safety valve to prevent us from taking blood debt damage in the case that we cannot banish a 6+ power card otherwise during one of our turns. It’s nice to have, and can be used both defensively or offensively for some combos that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

Goliath Gauntlet is pure aggression. Use it to power up a dominated hit and push even more damage through, or save it until the end when you need to score those last couple points of health. Either way, it’s a fantastic addition to the deck and one that we can use to fuel the graveyard and keep it topped off for another turn.

Barkbone Strapping/Heartened Cross Strap serves as the chest armor for the deck. I usually prefer Barkbone Strapping as it can block for one point of damage then pitched for some potential resources. The RNG can bite you on this one, so look to use Barkbone more to build on a turn rather than relying on it completely for something. Don’t bank on expecting anything more than 1 resource from this (being cautiously pessimistic) and you’ll get a lot of mileage here. Heartened Cross Strap can more consistently provide resources for our attacks, but it also can’t be used to swing with Meataxe.

Hooves of the Shadowbeast provides some defense and one very powerful turn a game. Use this to give a powerful card like Endless Maw or Boneyard Marauder go again, and swing 2-3 times in the turn for big damage. Pair it with Goliath Gauntlet for even more devastating effect.

Mentorship Opportunities

So far, Lady Barthimont has avoided the axe as it relates to trimming and tweaking the deck. It feels pretty terrible to discard her to one of the innumerable random discard effects we leverage in the deck, but she is invaluable when she is in play. I suspect she will really earn her keep in the non-budget version of this deck. Of course, her strength is improved even more with a single copy of Doomsday that we can tutor with her effect. Banishing extra cards if we do manage to land her in the Arsenal zone means we’re that much closer to playing Doomsday and sustaining ourselves in the endgame with better efficiency and tempo.

Upgrades

When you’re ready to upgrade to this deck’s full potential, it will look something like this. Note, I am still in the early stages of testing and refining this list, and it is very much subject to change drastically over the coming weeks as I gather more data. Here are some of the Majestics that make a big difference in this deck.

Shadow Puppetry - Gives our next attack +1 and go again for zero resources and gives an outlet to banish a card on hit. Fantastic addition to this deck as it enables more consistency in attacking 2+ times on our turn. Just make sure to have Ebon Fold or Blood Tribute up to banish a card if you Mark of the Beast gives a way to generate a banish for Levia, even on turns where we don’t want to deplete our graveyard.don’t want to take damage from your blood debt. It’s also a yellow pitch block three (note it will banish if you use it to block, and this won’t trigger Levia.)

Deep Rooted Evil gives us a ‘floating’ 6+ attack card from hand, we just need another way to banish a card for Levia prior to playing it. It also pitches for two and blocks for three, not bad for this deck.

Tear Limb from Limb fills the graveyard and gives us a good shot at massively boosting the damage of our next attack. You don’t usually need dominate to push some damage through when you’re swinging for 12+ with a single attack. Because this card draws then discards, it’s a great addition to the kit and what we’re trying to do with the deck.

Drew Cordell

Drew Cordell has been casually competing at high levels of Magic: the Gathering for over a decade before discovering Flesh and Blood and playing obsessively. Drew is also an Amazon-Bestselling science fiction and LitRPG author and maintains a top 10 writer status in Games & Gaming on Medium.