Mikey Mouse Club #16: Budget Deck 1- Jerkules!

The big Lorcana Challenge events as well as local official tournaments are firing up and…I couldn’t care less. I’m on vacation when the Challenge event rolls through Atlanta and the whole thing sold out in like a minute anyway. I’m not a competitive player and in fact I’ve settled into a decidedly more casual approach to the game. It’s a lot more fun when you aren’t teching just to be able to have a chance against Ruby Amethyst aggro. That said, my tried-and-true discard deck certainly got nastier with some Into the Inklands additions so when I do want to go hard, I go hard.

But lately I’ve been enjoying cooking up some budget decks that are just fun to play. They aren’t likely to finish top five unless you are a super skilled pilot and also lucky but I’ve had good results with my sub-$100 decks that are using a lot of cards that aren’t very widely played amongst the meta chasers. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll detail a couple of these decks with some tips and of course how much they’ll set you back. First up is a deck I like to call “Jerkules.”

My daughter and I recently watched Hercules and even though I kind of shrugged at it back in the nineties, it’s grown to become one of my favorite Disney animated films. The art style is a compelling mix of Gerald Scarfe character design and classical Greek pottery illustration, the cast is fun, the jokes are funny, and the gospel-influenced songs are inspired. Hades is a terrific villain, and I think it’s somewhat underrated overall (as are most of the late nineties/early 2000s post-Disney Renaissance pictures). So I decided to make a Hercules- themed deck after noticing that all the Titans are now in the set along with a Hades that can really drive them. This is what it looks like.


Of course the main character here is Hercules, and there are three solid cards featuring the hero. The basic Hero In Training is a standard two-drop with a little Willpower boost, making him less susceptible to two damage removal options. True Hero brings a decent Bodyguard to the deck, which can be deployed to protect the Titans or Hades to makes sure they stay on the board when Maui and Madam Mim come a-callin’. Divine Hero shifts on 4 and is a mighty card indeed, with Resist +2, 6 Strength and quests for two. He’s a capable bruiser but also can quest when you need him. Hercules’ dad Zeus is here to lend his crushing 4/4 Rush as a surprise attack- uninkable, but worth it, and able to quest for two when you need it.

But really, the Titans are doing the lifting in this deck. Ice Titan Hydros is a strong play at three with two Lore and Blizzard, which taps to exert a target character- making turtling harder, especially when you have burly characters spoiling for a fight. Lythos, the Rock Titan, is a little more situational- with only one willpower, he’s super fragile, but his Stone Skin ability gives a characer Resist+2- pretty much making that Divine Hero invincible in most challenges. Stratos’s Cylcone effect lets you tap the Tornado Titan to gain lore equal to the number of Titans you have in play- and since you are running 16 titans in this deck, it’s not too hard to leverage this card for at least 3-4 Lore per exertion. Lava Titan Pyros readies a chosen character when he banishes another character- it shouldn’t be too hard to see the combos here-  tip Stratos, get some Lore. Crush something with Pyros, trigger his Eruption effect. Untap Stratos, get more Lore.


Enter Hades, Hotheaded Ruler. He’s expensive at six ink, but this is a great card specifically for a Titan-focused build. 5/5, two Lore. But Call The Titans is the moneymaker here- exert to ready all of your Titan characters. Note too that this readying action, unlike others, does not prohibit questing. So you can smash the entire board- including unexerted characters by using Hydros, use Lythos to make your characters more durable and use Pyros for more untapping. All while Stratos untaps a couple of times, hopefully to really make the most of the Cyclone effect.

There are two “supporting” characters. One is Cerebus, three copies. He’s a 5/5/6/1 character that makes for a big body in a pinch or an easy ink choice, but he doesn’t benefit from any of the synergies that the Titans or Hercules enjoy. Simba, Fighting Prince has nothing to do with Hercules…or does he? Note the Nemean Lion-styled helmet on True Hero. Hmm? This is a seven-ink card that has as when played/when you banish another character choice of either drawing two cards and discarding two or dealing two damage. I like having a little flexibility late game, but here again he’s also an easy choice to ink so you don’t have to throw away a Titan.

The action suite is focused on removal but only going two each on them since this deck really has a lot of firepower on the board. Olympus Would Be That Way is a simple tech against locations, Rise of the Titans hits Locations or Items (or another easy ink choice, which I think is kind of important), and Smash is the classic three damage character eraser. Marshmallow also has nothing to do with Hercules, but hey, maybe he and Hydros would hit it off. Besides, I ran out of Steel/Amethyst Hercules cards- Megara’s in Emerald, Phil’s in Sapphire, and there are a couple of others scattered out in other colors. Really wish “one movie” decks were legal!


But hey, Meg is kind of a Friend on the Other Side, and honestly that’s a card no Amethyst deck- including this one- should be without. Other songs that I’m finding work well are And Then Along Came Zeus which is a brutal removal at five damage and singable, A Whole New World which I cannot connect to Hercules at all but I feel is, like Friends, an absolutely essential card in Steel builds, and Grab Your Sword for the spread damage if the opponent gets too wide. And there is plenty of sword grabbing in Hercules.

One item, with three copies, rounds out the deck. Weight Set isn’t a super great card, but I’ve found that the combination of strong characters with this card pays off more often than not. Most of the characters in this deck have 4 or more strength, so it’s not hard to activate, spending an ink to get a card. I like to play this early to maximize its value.


What I really like about this deck- aside from the fact that it’s under $60 and has a very strong theme- is that it is very consistent, easy to play, and enjoyable. The combos are difficult to pull off and don’t require much setup. The characters are durable so you don’t have to worry about a weak link. There’s flexibility built in, so you can run the deck as aggro or control. The big characters and powerful effects are intimidating for the other player, I’ve played several games where the opponent felt like they couldn’t quest because I’d just bulldoze them on the next turn.

As for weaknesses, the stupid effing Ruby Amethyst deck virtually all of the TCGbros and power players play will eat it up unless you get lucky and get ahead quickly. Discard decks will dismantle it too, but there is plenty of card draw to recover with. Playing against other aggro or control decks I’ve felt like it was a pretty even match up. The late game can be difficult if you are card-poor or top-decking, as there are mostly expensive characters in the deck necessary to make it work. The best strategy I can offer on how to play it is to play it brash, burly, and bold- like you’d expect a Hercules/Titans/Hades deck to play.  I tend to challenge a lot early on, and shift to harvesting Lore with Stratos or the other two Lore characters.

Next time: Might solve a mystery!

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