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Budget Commander: Minn, Wily Illusionist | Killing Them With Card Draw | $34

Hey friends, welcome back to Budget Commander! This week we're going to turn my love of card draw into an actual win condition: check out Minn, Wily Illusionist!

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An Illusion! What Are You Hiding?

Minn, Wily Illusionist is a deceptively powerful commander: a lot of folks dismiss Minn at first glance as some janky Illusions deck that makes weak illusions like Phantasmal Bear a little more playable, but the truth is that Minn is an absurdly efficient ramp engine that obscures her value with this janky illusion wording. Whenever an illusion creature dies, Minn lets you cheat out a permanent, which at minimum is going to be a land but scales up to haymakers like Nezahal, Primal Tide! Just feed our commander card draw -- something we want to be doing anyway -- and Minn provides you all the creatures and ramp you could desire!

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Our goal with this deck is to get Minn, Wily Illusionist out on the battlefield early, which is easy since she's just a 3-drop. Then we need to start drawing cards to make Illusions. It's very easy to trigger Minn's ability on our own turn since we just need to draw a single card on top of our guaranteed draw step: highlights include my personal favorite Mordenkainen since he triggers Minn reliably or makes Illusion creatures that synergize with our deck, along with plenty of other options like Curse of Verbosity (can also draw on opposing turns), All-Seeing Arbiter which also nerfs potential attackers, Defiler of Dreams which doubles as ramp - the list keeps going!

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Minn, Wily Illusionist's ability can also trigger on opposing turns, which is more difficult but certainly doable: looters like Cephalid Broker can do it for zero mana and there's a bunch of permanents that can be sac'd to draw 2 cards like Courier's Capsule, Font of Fortunes, Mnemonic Sphere, and Ior Ruin Expedition. Top-end cards like Arcanis the Omnipotent, Ormos, Archive Keeper, and Atemsis, All-Seeing can efficiently trigger Minn too. Azami, Lady of Scrolls is another all-star since there's a few other wizards in the deck most notably Minn herself.

Because Minn cheats permanents into play, I try to limit the instants and sorceries I run to only the ones that can provide a unique utility that permanents cannot: so for example I cut Thirst for Discovery even though it's a 3 mana instant draw 2, but I kept in You Find the Villains' Lair because it can also trigger Minn but doubles as essential countermagic in a pinch.

Finally I'm running ETB draw 2's that can trigger Minn if one of our illusions die, so cards like Champion of Wits can be cheated into play by Minn and then trigger Minn to make a new illusion.

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As for win conditions, we have a few very good ones: obviously we can just beat down with our illusion army, but cards like Psychosis Crawler and Ominous Seas definitely speed up the process! Wizard Class is another favorite of mine since each stage of the enchantment is incredibly useful, providing us no maximum hand size, triggering Minn, and finally turning into a win condition.

We also have alternate win conditions like Triskaidekaphile and Atemsis, All-Seeing to leverage our huge amount of card draw into easy wins!

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Since our deck relies so heavily on Minn, Wily Illusionist, the last and most important part of the deck worth mentioning here is protection. We need to protect our commander at all costs, so we're running a variety of ways to make sure she sticks around: we've got flexible countermagic like You Find the Villains' Lair and Soul Read but also Foil is super easy to cast for zero mana in this deck. We can protect her from targeted removal with Swiftfoot Boots and Winged Boots, and we can protect her from everything with Change of Plans and Vanishing.

Vanishing is particularly powerful tech in this deck because it's incredibly difficult to get around: as long as you have mana to activate it, your opponents really can't deal with Minn! And keep in mind that Minn ramps like crazy, so odds are that you'll have enough mana to activate Vanishing once or twice per turn no problem!

$34 List

The first list is currently $34, with only a handful of cards over $1. The deck wants to play Minn, protect her, and then relax drawing cards and letting our commander handle the rest!

A quick guide to tutor targets:

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$150 List

The biggest upgrade in this higher budget version has to be Consecrated Sphinx, which will trigger Minn on each opponents' draw phase. I've also cut down on redundant worse cards with better version and flexible tutors to find them: Swiftfoot Boots and Winged Boots are cut for the superior Lightning Greaves and new artifact tutors like Tezzeret the Seeker. Speaking of artifacts, I've added Maskwood Nexus which makes all of our creatures illusions to double down on Minn triggers! And speaking of doubling down: Spark Double. Since our entire deck is based on our commander why not have two of them?

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Further Upgrades

There's still a lot of upgrades left to add for this deck:

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Next Week: Team-Ups!

We're either doing Thalia and The Gitrog Monster Abzan Landfall or Yargle and Multani "High Power" memes. Which do you prefer?

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