I’ve got an awesome deck I want to show you that is mostly built of non-rotating cards, so you can still enjoy this deck in the coming months. Before I show you the excitement though I want to cover our usual ground rules:
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!).
With that out of the way, I’ve got a deck that gets to cast Ancestral Recall in standard. Sometimes it even draws more than 3 cards for one mana. What?? Feast your eyes on this:
That’s cute and all, but drawing cards is only good if you can convert them into a board advantage. Can I interest you in +21/+21 to your attackers?
This combo deck is super sweet and super cheap! Here’s the list:
The Mirrorwing Dream
Mirrorwing Dragon/Zada, Hedron Grinder
These cards are your combo engines. Sure, they’re weak to Reflector Mage, but you can hold them until you have an extra mana then fire off an Expedite to boost your whole team. Draw tons of cards, turn a bunch of creatures sideways, and answer pesky planeswalkers—or even better yet, just kill your opponent. Without these creatures you’d just have an underpowered RG deck.
If that’s true, then why are there only 5 copies of them in the deck? They happen to be pretty weak in multiples because they’re so expensive and they don’t make more spell copies by having more of them on the battlefield. I started with a 2/3 split when I first built the deck, but found that Zada is just a much weaker card than Mirrorwing Dragon, and if you ever draw 2 copies you’ll be incredibly sad you drew multiples of an overcosted legend. Still, Zada works wonders when you combo off and is worth the inclusion.
Mirrorwing Dragon is also great if your opponent is playing a bunch of targeted removal, though sadly Dromoka’s Command has multiple targets so it’s not very good against that or permanents like Sorin and Oath of Liliana. Don’t forget that opposing Murders will wipe out all your enemy’s creatures as bonus text! It’s also nice you won’t have to worry too much about opposing pump spells since they’re not good enough to run in a random Standard deck.
Expedite/Confront the Unknown
These are your combo pieces, and even combo well together in the sense that you get a ton of extra haste damage. This will usually be lethal, but be careful about the order you stack all your copied triggers. Your Zada or Dragon will get the biggest bonus off Confront because that copy will resolve last. It’s nice you can control where the rest of the pumps go so that you can win many combats if you have a big creature fight and can assign the Confronts accordingly. For example, if you have 4 creatures in play including a Mirrorwing Dragon, it’ll get +4/+4 and the others will get +3/+3, +2/+2, and +1/+1 and you choose which is which (the +1/+1 is the first copy that’ll resolve, which is important since your opponent can respond at different points in the very complicated stack if they want to). Note that they can’t fizzle the copy ability by killing your original Zada/Dragon even though that will counter the original spell due to state-based effects. Some weird rules interactions, but it’s good to know all the nuances.
If you have one or two extra Clues before you copy a bunch of Confronts you’ll deal a surprising amount of extra damage. For instance, if you have 5 creatures and copy Confront with no prior Clues that will be 15 extra damage, but if you already had two Clues it will be 25 instead. Tireless Tracker also gives the deck extra game against slow decks looking to grind you out. Originally, I tried Thopter Engineer in the Tracker’s place for the go-wide plan, but ultimately felt it was too weak of an individual card and Outnumber still performed fine when I swapped these two.
Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Unlike Thopter Engineer, this parent duo provides enough bonus to your game plan while being a strong enough card on its own to warrant inclusion. It’ll be the main loss to the deck post-rotation, but hopefully there will be a halfway decent replacement we can work with. Often you can have a lone Mirrorwing Dragon in play on turn 5 then set up the turn-6 combo of Pia and Kiran plus Expedite as a big surprise.
Playing the Deck
This deck can function like a normal RG midrange creature deck, but many of its individual cards are weaker compared to other Standard decks. Because of this, you’ll often need to look for ways to set up a combo kill, and that means holding onto your combo spells longer than normal when you might just want to cycle them. Of course if you’re going to win a good combat off casting Confront normally you should still do that, but balancing that with waiting is one of the hardest parts of the deck.
Make sure that as the game goes you try to avoid trading. Luckily cards like Noose Constrictor naturally just sit around since players won’t want to interact with it with medium-sized 2/3 creatures. Dragon Fodder tokens just aren’t big enough to trade anyway, and so many elements of the deck are actually designed in ways to expand the board so that you get the maximum effect out of your combos and Outnumbers. Other than that, many of the games are pretty straightforward, and any time you get to combo you’ll feel like a million bucks without spending a million bucks. If you combo and don’t feel anything, check your pulse to make sure you’re still alive.
Sylvan Advocate would be a great card to replace Dragon Fodder. That’s the weakest card in the deck, and the Advocate still plays well to the plan of avoiding trades. If you do end up making that change, I’d change 2 Outnumber to 2 Incendiary Flow because your go-wide plan is mitigated. In addition, there’s a lot of flexibility in sideboard options. I’m a big fan of Goblin Dark-Dwellers and it is a compelling option out of the board. It combines well with Expedite since you can cast it early without feeling bad and then later flashback it on the Dwellers for some nice haste damage and a card.
Go forth and combo to your heart’s content!