Birds!

Written by James Heslip on . Posted in Casual Magic

Birds!

James Heslip

James is a budget Magic connoisseur who values silly strategies and rogue decks. He has been playing Magic since 1998, and competing in Legacy events since 2010. When he is not teaching high school English, he can be found brewing Casual and Legacy decks to play with his students and peers. Always appreciative of feedback, he loves it when people send suggestions and share crazy decks with him!
Since the infamous Caw Blade deck of Standard eight years ago, players have learned to respect the power of Squadron Hawk. A 1/1 with Flying for two mana is fairly unassuming, but any creature that automatically brings friends with it is a threat to be respected. So, what other birds travel in flocks?
The Core

The two hawks, Squadron and Welkin, are our key players. They help keep the board covered in beaks and talons. While Squadron finds his friends when you cast him, Welkin calls for help every time a copy of him dies. (Because of this, Welkin has a few tricks up his sleeve. We can save those for later on).

Stormscape Familiar is also very important, as is Warden of Evos Isle, to a lesser extent. With the Warden or Familiar in play, all of our hawks will only cost one white mana to cast. This makes it much easier to fill the board. Playing a full four of the Familiar is a must, but we only need around two copies of Warden.

 
The Backup

Judge’s Familiar is our only one-drop creature; it’s just too good to pass up. He allows us to interact with our opponents in ways that don’t involve combat, and we don’t care which colored mana we start with when playing him on turn one.

Defiant Falcon is our final swarm enabler. It’s much more mana intensive to fill the board using him, but that doesn’t make him bad. Sometimes you have extra mana and nothing else to use it on. Falcon- as well as our other swarm birds- also works well with Keeper of the Nine Gales, who is our answer to annoying enchantments, artifacts, and creatures too big to peck to death. If nothing else, you can use him to start bouncing lands, which can keep your opponent from advancing their board state.

Favorable Winds makes our feathered friends more fearsome, and Airborne Aid often feels broken. Its ludicrous draw power has us discarding cards at the end of our turn with frequency, thanks to the maximum hand size rule.

Reito Lantern might look strange in the deck at first, but it’s actually right at home here. Because so many of your birds search your deck for other birds, you can use Lantern to ensure you always have a target. Squadron, Welkin, and Falcon, all pair well with the artifact.

Playing the Deck
  The name of the game is swarm. We want to fill the board with birds as quickly as possible, so getting an early Stormscape Familiar or Warden of Evos Isle into play is our first priority. With them, we can ensure plenty of Hawks will be hitting the battlefield.

Speaking of hawks, note that Squadron Hawk does not require us to grab all three other copies at once. When we initially cast him, we can choose to grab only one or two other copies. This prevents our hand size from getting too large, forcing us to discard cards. If we need more copies afterwords, they can be called in on the second or third casting.

Once we get our swarm engine online, we want to play Soulcatcher if we have him. The earlier we get him onto the battlefield, the larger potential he has. He also works well with Seaside Haven. If we can get some combination of Lantern, Haven, and Hawk, then we will have a respectable card advantage engine that Soulcatcher benefits from.

Keeper of the Nine Gales can target your own permanents as well. This is useful for saving key cards like Lantern or Haven from removal. You can also use him to gain additional searches from your Squadron Hawks.

Mistveil Plains is more expensive card than Lantern monetarily, but the activation cost is much less. If you happen to get some Ultimate Masters copies, then throw them in. Reinforcements and Not Forgotten serve similar roles, and can replace Lantern if you prefer.

Healer’s Hawk is the only other respectable one-drop bird. Cloudreach Cavalry is an interesting non-bird beater that the deck could benefit from. Another is Pride of the Clouds, which can also make birds for us every turn if we have the extra mana.

Aven Mindcensor, Cloudchaser Kestrel, and Nimble Obstructionist are all birds that can put a wrench in your opponent’s plans. If your casual play group uses sideboards, they are all strong options.

Skymark Roc, Wingmate Roc, Aven Brigadier, and Crookclaw Elder have their merits, but are likely too expensive when it comes to casting cost. This is true, even with the amount of cost reduction we play. I would only consider them if you are really keen on making your list spicy.

Conclusion

Going into this one, I didn’t think I would be able to find as many cool bird related interactions and strategies as I did. Hitchcock’s got nothing on these furious feathered fowls! What do you think? Let me know on my facebook page. Do you have an idea for an inexpensive and fun deck you want me to see? Send me an email at Spooky386@gmail.com. Wondering how my decks have changed since I last wrote about them? Check out all of my updated deck lists here!

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