One of the sweetest, brewiest cards in Kaladesh is without a doubt Aetherflux Reservoir. The card just screams to be broken. What’s the best way to break it without spending a whole ton of hard earned cash? That’s my goal with the 2 decks I’ll present to you today!
Budget doesn’t mean free. These decks will often be built around a rare or mythic, though it won’t be a chase rare. This means you won’t see the most expensive cards in Standard in these deck lists, and though they’ll vary in price, I’ll always keep them under 75 tix on Magic Online at the time of writing the article.
Mana bases can be more expensive and that’s okay. Having a working mana base lets you play Magic and cast your spells, which is the easiest difference between winning and losing. Sometimes there will be a direct budget replacement such as Foul Orchard instead of Hissing Quagmire. If I’m not running both, I’ll leave it up to you which one you want in your final version.
I want these decks to be as competitive as possible, but they’re much more suited to do well at FNM than a GP (though we might find hidden gems along the way!).
The goal of this deck is to get 2 copies of either Herald of Kozilek or Foundry Inspector into play, which reduces all your 2-mana artifacts to 0 mana and plays enough in the same turn to combo off with Aetherflux Reservoir. Since Metalspinner’s Puzzleknot and Prophetic Prism both cantrip, you can chain them together easily enough with some other card drawing via Jori En and Glint-Nest Crane to keep the spells flowing. Unfortunately, Standard is just a tad short of ways to really churn through your entire deck reliably, so sometimes you’ll need to gain a bunch of life over 2 consecutive turns, but untapping on turn 5 and winning is also common.
Watch out with your sequencing on Herald of Kozilek and Foundry Inspector, since Herald reduces Inspector but not the other way around. It’s technically possible to turn-3 Herald into turn-4 Inspector, play a Reservoir, and then cast 6 more spells for free and 33 life to win on the spot. It won’t be easy, but it can come up.
You might wonder why there’s no Paradoxical Outcome here. The main reason is that it goes against the combo engine you work hard to set up and only bounces artifacts to continue combo’ing. The problem with that plan is that if you’ve drawn a bunch of artifacts to combo off with, then you really don’t need Outcome. It’s much better in a less all-in deck (keep reading!) where your engine doesn’t first require playing mana-intensive set-up creatures.
Besides the main components, there’s also Jori En and Bone Saw at the ready to keep fueling up. Jori isn’t your main plan, but helps draw extra cards for your big combo turn when you don’t have the natural curve of cost reducers. Bone Saw plays double-duty here, replacing itself the turn you play Jori or being another free artifact on your combo turns. Past that, it has the non-ideal application of suiting up your Glint-Nest Cranes to pressure planeswalkers or block slightly better.
All-in-all, if you’re looking for a sweet all-in way to deal 50 damage out of nowhere, this is the deck for you!
But what if you want more? What if you want multiple angles of attack, giant creatures, and completely crazy combo turns? I’ve offered you a nice burger already but what if you want that giant juicy steak? Here’s a slightly less budget-friendly deck, though still affordable if you want some more oompf:
Reservoir Crush Combo
Now this is a Paradoxical Outcome list! Your setup in this deck is entirely different than the previous deck because now all your artifacts naturally cost 0. This means if you draw 3 of them and a Paradoxical Outcome, you already have 7 spells to combo with even without all the new cards you draw. Jori En is even better here and a strong engine on his own because playing a Bone Saw to cantrip digs deeper to your Outcomes, which sets up your key turn. But even better than all this combo’ing is the fact that this deck gets to utilize Crush of Tentacles to its fullest. You can easily set up a turn-5 Crush and then rebuild with a Reservoir on turn 6 to set up a lethal turn 7. That’s discounting the games where you just slam turn-4 Reservoir into a turn-5 kill, which is very possible here.
There will be frustrating situations where your hand is full of useless Bone Saws and Cathar’s Shields, but it is absolutely imperative that you have a critical mass of them on your combo turn as they are the best cards with both Aetherflux Reservoir and Paradoxical Outcome, and also turn on the cheapest Crush of Tentacles. Just because they’re bad draft commons (or 5.0s if you’re LSV) doesn’t mean they don’t pull their weight here.
A couple other concerns with the deck are that Oath has relatively few hits, but it still will cycle frequently enough to be worth it, and it combines so fantastically with both Paradoxical Outcome and Crush that I think it’s worth missing every once in a while. The same goes for Glint-Nest Crane, but the deck really wants to find Reservoir, and I already mentioned how the zero-mana artifacts get better and better the more you have since you can combo off that much easier.
I’d certainly recommend this second list over the first one if you have access to all the cards since I think it is just more objectively powerful. Crush of Tentacles gives the deck an entirely new dimension and helps fight back against the Vehicles-filled Standard we’ve encountered at the very beginning of the format. Paradoxical Outcome draws enough cards to help find your finishers all the while setting those finishers back up. Storm away, my friends!