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Aether Revolt Budget Magic Updates

Aether Revolt is finally here, and the set looks amazing! I haven't been this excited for brewing in a long, long time, and while we'll have tons of new decks coming out over the next couple of weeks, today we are going to take some time to look back over old decks. When it comes to playing Magic on a budget, finding cheap and competitive decks is only part of the battle; another way to make the most of limited resources is to keep the decks you have as competitive possible for as long as possible. With this in mind, today we are going to go back over every Standard Budget Magic deck since rotation (when Kaladesh released)—eight decks in all—and see what we can add from Aether Revolt to keep the decks functioning optimally for our new Standard format! 

Of course, we are going to try to keep things budget friendly, so don't expect to see any Heart of Kirans or Walking Ballistas, but there are some inexpensive new cards that will make great additions to our old decks. So, here the plan: we'll go over each of the decks we've played over the past few months, add in some new Aether Revolt cards, talk a little bit about the reasons for the changes, and perhaps talk a bit about other possibilities that I didn't include in the list but may be worth testing, at the very least. Oh yeah, and as a bonus, at the end of the article, we'll have an update for Five-Color Panharmonicon as well, because I've gotten a ton of questions about how to make the deck work without Reflector Mage. We've got a lot to cover today, so let's get to it!

Temur Summonings

To read the original article or check out the game play videos, click here!

Major Additions: Baral, Chief of Compliance, Reverse Engineer, Shock.

Major Subtractions: Cultivator's Caravan

By the numbers, Temur Summonings is one the decks that changed least with the release of Aether Revolt, with only three new cards being added to the main deck; however, one of the additions it gets from Aether Revolt is massive and seems like it could hugely improve the deck: Baral, Chief of Compliance. The new blue rare is, more or less, a straight-up swap for Cultivator's Caravan, and if we look at what the cards do in the deck, it becomes clear just how powerful Baral, Chief of Compliance can be in Temur Summonings. 

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While it might not be apparent at first glance, both of these cards are actually fairly similar in our deck, essentially adding additional mana. Cultivator's Caravan literally taps to add one mana, which makes it better than Baral, Chief of Compliance in exactly one situation (when we use it to cast a Metallurgic Summonings on Turn 4). Meanwhile, Baral, Chief of Compliance has the huge advantage of adding multiple mana each turn by making our instants and sorceries cheaper. One of the things about Temur Summonings is that we end up with a lot of lands on the battlefield, and using Baral, Chief of Compliance to cast both a Nissa's Renewal and Part the Waterveil for only 10 mana is a pretty big deal (especially since resolving a Nissa's Renewal typically gets us to exactly 10 mana the following turn. 

The other big difference with Baral, Chief of Compliance is that it's a creature, which can be both a blessing and a curse. The good news is that it actually blocks a reasonable number of early game plays like Winding Constrictor, but the bad news is that it dies to removal, which makes it less likely to stick around on the battlefield than Cultivator's Caravan. When all of this is taken as a whole, Baral, Chief of Compliance seems amazing in the deck and should represent a huge upgrade over Cultivator's Caravan

Otherwise, the upgrades aren't too exciting. Shock is going to be added to pretty much every red deck because it immediately becomes the best one-mana removal in the format (beating out cards like Galvanic Bombardment), and Reverse Engineer gives us some additional card draw that works super well with Metallurgic Summonings. After we get a Metallurgic Summonings down, we make a ton of artifact tokens, so we can simply tap some of our smaller tokens and draw three for only two mana. 

Other Possibilities: Mechanized Production. As you probably noticed, I didn't add Mechanized Production to the deck, and here's why: Temur Summonings typically doesn't have trouble winning after we resolve a Metallurgic Summonings and make a bunch of tokens. That said, if you want to get the "win with Mechanized Production" merit badge, Temur Summonings is a good place to try to do it. Basically, Mechanized Production makes the deck a bit less competitive, but it can fit if you want to play it just for fun.

Poisonless Infect (GR Pummeler)

To read the original article or check out the game play videos, click here!

Major Additions: Aether Chaser, Invigorated Rampage, Aethersphere Harvester, Kari Zev's Expertise (SB). 

Major Subtractions: Longtusk Cub, Built to Smash.

Poisonless Infect (probably better known as GR Pummeler) was one of the harder decks to update because rather than being one of our Budget Magic brews, it's a real deck. As such, months of people optimizing the list means it's actually pretty tight and there aren't a ton of good upgrades to make. As a result, I'm not even sure most of the changes in the deck are necessary; instead, things like Aether Chaser and Aethersphere Harvester over Longtusk Cub are more ideas I'd like to test out than changes that need to be made. On the other hand, there are two cards I'm super excited to add to the deck. 

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Invigorated Rampage seems like a strict upgrade over Built to Smash and a couple of copies of Larger than Life—it basically combines the best of both of these cards, while also adding in some additional upside. The problem with the old cards is pretty apparent: Built to Smash only gives trample to artifacts, which means only one creature in the deck (Electrostatic Pummeler) benefits from its full power, while Larger than Life is sorcery speed, which makes it easy to get blown out. Meanwhile, Invigorated Rampage is instant speed and gives just the same +4 power as Larger than Life. As such, when it's targeting one creature, it's almost always better than the older options. As for the upside, it can target not just one but two creatures, which is great in situations where we have two copies of Bristling Hydra on the battlefield and are looking to close out the game through chump blockers. 

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Kari Zev's Expertise is only a sideboard card, but it's important enough that we should take a minute to talk about it. Here's the plan: we are looking to combo off and win, but our opponent has a blocker that is throwing a wrench in our plans. With Kari Zev's Expertise, we can steal our opponent's blocker and use the second ability to cast an Invigorated Rampage or Larger than Life, all for just three mana!

Other Possibilities: Maybe the biggest surprise of Aether Revolt is that aggressive energy decks really didn't get much help, even though both green and red got an energy mythic. Aetherwind Basker is simply too expensive. In a 24-land deck (counting Attune with Aether as lands), there's a 71% chance you won't have enough mana to cast an Aetherwind Basker on Turn 7 (and if GR Pummeler is still playing Magic on Turn 7, things have probably gone very wrong). Meanwhile, Lightning Runner is just too fragile. While taking another attack step on Turn 5 or 6 seems powerful, when you consider that Electrostatic Pummeler kills fairly consistently on Turn 4 or 5, it just isn't that good. 

Energy Fog

To read the original article or check out the game play videos, go here!

Major Additions: Trophy Mage

Major Subtractions: None. 

Energy Fog gets the award for deck least impacted by Aether Revolt, I almost didn't even update it at all. There are no new Fogs or Howling Mines, which means no super important additions for Energy Fog. However, there is one card that's awesome for the deck: Trophy Mage

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The big deal about Trophy Mage in Energy Fog is that it tutors up both of our energy cards. Dynavolt Tower and Deadlock Trap are two of the most important cards in our deck, and Trophy Mage works like additional copies of each. To make room, we simply trim back on the number of Deadlock Traps, which is mostly for matchups with planeswalkers now that Emrakul, the Promised End is out of the format.

Other Possibilities: Since we are playing with Trophy Mage, it makes sense to add in more three-converted-mana-cost artifacts to tutor up, but after looking over the list of options, it's hard to find anything that really fits the Energy Fog theme and play style. We don't have enough creatures to crew vehicles, so Aethersphere Harvester and friends are out; we don't have enough artifacts for Scrap Trawler or Inspiring Statuary; and equipment like Chitinous Cloak and Slayer's Plate do literally nothing. Probably the best options are Cultivator's Caravan for ramp or Filigree Familiar to gain some life, and while both are close, I'm not sure either is good enough to find a home in the deck (although I might play a Filigree Familiar or two in the sideboard for aggressive creature-based matchups). 

WB Fabricate

To see the original list or check out the game play videos, click here!

Major Additions: Yahenni, Undying Partisan, Vengeful Rebel, Fatal Push, Sram's Expertise

Major Subtractions: Bygone Bishop, trimming. 

WB Fabricate gets a bunch of new toys in Aether Revolt—the problem is figuring out how to make the new cards fit because most of the old ones were solid. As such, we end up mostly trimming, from four Thraben Inspectors down to three, from three Bygone Bishops down to one, and so forth. As such, in the case of WB Fabricate, it's not so much that we are directly upgrading cards (like we've seen with some other decks, such as Baral, Chief of Compliance over Cultivator's Caravan) but instead fitting in more cards that work well with our strategy. 

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Yahenni, Undying Partisan gives us a Nantuko Husk-like sacrifice outlet with upside that is also another indestructible threat like Syndicate Trafficker. The most important part of the Yahenni, Undying Partisan addition is that it gives us a total of eight sacrifice outlets. This is important not only because it triggers our Zulaport Cutthroat and Marionette Master to drain out our opponent but also allows our deck to play some sweet new revolt cards that further improve the deck!

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Fatal Push is an absolutely absurd removal spell, but it's relatively hard to abuse in Standard, since it isn't that easy to trigger revolt without really building a deck around the ability, but it just so happens that WB Fabricate is built to support revolt, even though revolt wasn't a thing when we built the deck! Between our eight sacrifice outlets, a handful of Clue token generators, and four Evolving Wilds, we should be able to trigger revolt just about whenever we want to, which means that in this build specifically, Fatal Push is good enough to push Grasp of Darkness out of the deck and become our primary removal spell. 

As for Vengeful Rebel, we've seen Wasteland Strangler be powerful and playable all the way back to Modern, and Vengeful Rebel is essentially the same card but requires much less work. It's basically a two-for-one on a stick, and if you look over the most played creatures in Standard, it kills a high percentage of them, all while leaving behind an (almost) on-curve body. 

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Our last main deck addition—Sram's Expertise—is more speculative. Our deck likes having a lot of artifact tokens around, and Sram's Expertise gives us three 1/1 Servos; plus, it allows us to cast pretty much any card in our deck for free. In the long run, we'll have to see whether this actually makes the card good in the deck (if it doesn't work, it's easy enough to add in some more copies of Bygone Bishop or more removal), but it seems like the white rare has enough potential that it is, at the very least, worth trying out. 

Other Possibilities: There were two other cards I almost included but ended up leaving out: Herald of Anguish and Battle at the Bridge. While I think that WB Fabricate has enough artifacts to support the improvise cards, I'm just not sure how to make them fit in the deck. Herald of Anguish specifically seems like it could be powerful, since it is a huge flier to finish off the game that is also a sacrifice outlet to trigger our revolt cards, Zulaport Cutthroat, and Marionette Master, and I might have thrown in a copy or two, except that it's also unreasonably expensive at the moment. Meanwhile, Battle at the Bridge might be worth considering in the sideboard as an additional removal spell, but that's likely the ceiling on the card, since it is a bit expensive, especially if we don't have a ton of artifacts on the battlefield. 

UB Key Control

To see the original list or check out the videos, click here!

Nothing really to report on this one. Aether Revolt is almost completely barren of cards that interact with the graveyard and also of discard outlets, so it really doesn't add anything to our UB Key Control deck. The only card I added was a single Yahenni's Expertise to the main deck as a sweeper and a couple more to the sideboard. Since we can get all of our creatures back from the graveyard with ease, it seems like a natural fit. If you have any ideas about other possible upgrades, make sure to let me know in the comments, but I couldn't find any.

Combustible Ramp

To see the original list or check out the game play videos, click here!

Major Additions: Druid of the Cowl, Rishkar's Expertise, Shock

Major Subtractions: Deathcap Cultivator, Bedlam Reveler

Combustible Ramp doesn't get that many new additions, but the couple that it does get seem very solid in the deck. Like all of our red decks, we add in some copies of Shock to fight against Saheeli Rai and to kill creatures on Turn 1, and we also upgrade our sideboard with Natural Obsolescence. However, the card I'm most excited about is another member of the expertise cycle... 

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Bedlam Reveler was in our deck as a way to draw some cards while also having a high converted mana cost to power up Combustible Gearhulk, but it really wasn't great in our deck, since we don't have many ways to trigger prowess and its body really isn't that great for its mana cost. Rishkar's Expertise fills the same card-drawing role but even better, since we don't need to discard our hand and we only give up two converted mana cost when it comes to Combustible Gearhulk damage. While we don't have any insane cards to play for free, even just a random ramp spell like Hedron Archive or a removal spell like Harnessed Lightning offers a decent amount of value while we are also drawing a bunch of cards. 

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The other addition is a bit more subtle, but in a world of Shock, Druid of the Cowl is far better than Deathcap Cultivator, especially considering that our deck doesn't care about having black mana and isn't very good at turning on delirium. Plus, Druid of the Cowl can actually block a reasonable number of early-game threats, which should help us stay alive long enough to start dropping our huge haymakers. 

Other Possibilities: While I didn't add any Walking Ballistas into any of our upgrades because they are a bit expensive for the budget, if you have copies, they will work amazingly in the deck. Not only do the help keep us alive against the Copy Cat combo, but since we make a ton of mana, we can regularly cast it for x = 3 or 4; plus, we can use the "add a counter" ability as a mana sink if we are flooding out. As far as merit badges, if there were ever a deck that could (maybe) make Aetherwind Basker semi-playable, it might be this one. Even though I think the Lizard is pretty bad, it is seven mana, which in the worst case adds up to a lot of damage with Combustible Gearhulk, so if you are looking to check "win with Aetherwind Basker" off your bucket list, feel free to give it a try, but I'm pretty sure the deck is less competitive with the green mythic. 

Reckless Panharmonicon

To see the original list or check out the game play videos, click here!

Major Additions: Whirler Virtuoso, Gonti's Aether Heart, Whir of Invention, Reverse Engineer

Major Subtractions: Pia Nalaar, Filigree Familiar

Reckless Panharmonicon is one of the decks that gets the most upgrades from Aether Revolt—so many upgrades, in fact, that it goes from mono-red to blue / red. One of the combos I'm excited for in Aether Revolt is Whirler Virtuoso with Gonti's Aether Heart and Panharmonicon, which gives us the ability to go infinite with Thopter tokens (each one we make with Whirler Virtuoso generates four energy with Gonti's Aether Heart, which gives us enough to make another one and even have some energy left over), and Reckless Panharmonicon seems like a natural home for the synergy. My one big concern is that our mana base is a bit rough because UR duals are expensive, so if you have some copies of Spirebluff Canal or Wandering Fumarole sitting around, toss them in—they will make the deck a lot better.

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The other thing I like about adding Whirler Virtuoso and Gonti's Aether Heart into Reckless Panharmonicon is that both cards work well even when we aren't combing off. Whirler Virtuoso triggers our Reckless Fireweaver and Quicksmith Genius whenever we make a Thopter token (which happen to be artifacts), taking an extra turn with Gonti's Aether Heart can buy us time to continue comboing off, and we should naturally make enough energy to trigger it at will. 

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Last but not least, we have Whir of Invention, which takes advantage of all of our random artifacts and allows us to tutor up a copy of Panharmonicon or Gonti's Aether Heart to help us combo off and win. While it strains our budget mana base, the upside is immense because having a Panharmonicon is so important to our deck. After we have a Panharmonicon, it helps make sure we don't fizzle because it turns into a card that says "UUU: Search out a card-draw artifact and trigger all of your 'artifact matters' cards twice!"

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While it didn't make it into the main deck, I'm also excited for Efficient Construction, so we have three in our sideboard. While it can be slow in some matchups, if our opponent is playing a midrange or control deck, it offers a way to generate a ton of value by making 1/1 Thopters, and since the Thopters are artifacts, it gives us a way to repeatedly trigger Reckless Fireweaver and Quicksmith Genius. Depending on what the format looks like, I could imagine moving it to the main deck—I'm not sure how a control deck beats Efficient Construction once it resolves. 

Other Possibilities: While there is not much else I considered for Reckless Panharmonicon itself, if you are looking for something along the same lines (while also being unique), make sure to check out the Pia's Eggs deck from the "Comboing and Brewing with Aether Revolt" article!

Gearhulk Stompy

To see the original list or check out the game play videos, go here!

Major Additions: Greenwheel Liberator, Hidden Herbalists, Unbridled Growth, Renegade Map

Major Subtractions: Loam Dryad, Noose Constrictor, Servant of the Conduit, Woodland Wanderer

As I'm sure you noticed, Gearhulk Stompy isn't really a budget deck anymore, but that's not because of the updates. Instead, it's because Verdurous Gearhulk, Tireless Tracker, and Nissa, Voice of Zendikar have all doubled in price since we made the videos (mostly because of the bannings and the return of GW Tokens to near the top of the Standard format). The good news is that if you already have these cards, you're pretty much set, because the upgrades don't really add too much cost. 

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At its heart, Gearhulk Stompy is a mono-green aggro deck, and with Aether Revolt comes some of the best aggressive green cards we've seen in a long, long time in Greenwheel Liberator and Hidden Herbalists. The problem is we need to make sure we can trigger revolt on Turn 2, but this actually isn't that hard with the help of Unbridled Growth and Renegade Map, both of which only cost one mana (so we can get them on the battlefield on Turn 1) and don't cost us a card because they get replaced by their abilities. 

With this combo, we can potentially dump a ton of power on the battlefield starting on Turn 2, since we can play any number of Hidden Herbalists for free (much like Burning-Tree Emissary) and then follow up with a 4/3 Greenwheel Liberator. While it won't happen often, this can potentially give us up to 12 power on the battlefield on Turn 2; then, we can back it up by playing a Nissa, Voice of Zendikar on Turn 3 and eventually a Verdurous Gearhulk to close out the game!

Even better, we don't have to cut anything super important to make this plan work. The main reason we wanted Noose Constrictor in the deck was to block Smuggler's Copter, but that's not a concern anymore, now than the looter scooter is banned. Woodland Wanderer, while potentially big, came at a real cost of having to play the underpowered Loam Dryad and some clunky lands. The only "good" card we had to cut was Servant of the Conduit, but this is less important because the upgrades lower the curve of the deck enough that a mana dork isn't really essential to our plan. 

Other Possibilities: The only other card I'm interested in is Rishkar, Peema Renegade, but the popularity of Winding Constrictor decks is pushing up the price on the legend to such an extent that I don't really think it works in our budget build. I guess the other argument is that the deck is already over budget thanks to the post-banning price increases, so you might as well splurge. If this is you, I'd probably just cut Maulfist Revolutionary and a couple of Tireless Trackers for three copies of Rishkar, Peema Renegade, for even more aggressive starts. 

Bonus: Five-Color Panharmonicon Update!!!!

To see the original list and check out the game play videos, go here!

Major Additions: Felidar Guardian, Rogue Refiner, Whirler Virtuoso, Gonti's Aether Heart

Major Subtractions: Reflector Mage, random Gearhulks. 

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The biggest question about Five-Color Panharmonicon is what the deck could do to replace Reflector Mage, and my answer is to just overload the deck with value and infinite combos. Felidar Guardian is absurd in the deck, not only blinking creatures for value but also letting us go infinite with cards and mana if we get two copies on the battlefield along with a Panharmonicon, by using one trigger to blink the other Felidar Guardian and the other to blink something that draw us a card (like Rogue Refiner, Cloudblazer, or Prophetic Prism) or a land. 

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We also get the Whirler Virtuoso / Gonti's Aether Heart combo that we talked about while discussing the Reckless Panharmonicon upgrades—a combo that gives us an infinite number of 1/1 flying Thopter tokens, assuming we get the cards on the battlefield alongside a Panharmonicon

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Otherwise, Rogue Refiner gives us a solid three-drop to replace Reflector Mage. While it isn't as good on defense, it does help us keep cycling through our deck to find our infinite combos, and it generates some additional energy, which helps power up our Whirler Virtuoso or even Servant of the Conduit!

As for cuts, apart from the banned Reflector Mage, we mostly just streamline the deck a bit, cutting back on some of the worst Gearhulks and trimming the number of Filigree Familiars. All in all, I'm super exited for this build of Five-Color Panharmonicon. While Reflector Mage is a major loss, in some ways, this build is even better than the old build. One of the problems with the original build is that it wasn't that good at closing out the game; now, we have multiple ways to slam the door shut in a single turn with an infinite combo, which means no more long drawn-out matches where we sometimes even deck ourselves if our opponent has a lot of removal and sweepers. 


Anyway, that's all for today. Make sure to let me know in the comments what cards you are planning on adding to our Budget Magic decks. While these are my ideas, I'm sure there are some sweet cards, combos, and synergies I missed that could make the decks even better! As always, you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at!

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