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Budget Magic: $103 (29 tix) Mono-White Persist Combo (Modern, Magic Online)


Dumêlang, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! We've got an interesting one this week: Mono-White Persist Combo! While a mono-white combo deck is sort of weird since white is the worst color at drawing cards and pretty bad at tutoring up specific combo pieces as well, it's possible thanks to Modern Horizons. Mono-White Persist Combo is essentially a three-piece combo deck but with an absurd amount of redundancy, with each of our three combo pieces having either eight or even 12 copies in our deck. This means that even though we can't really draw extra cards or tutor our combo pieces, the odds are in favor of us finding our combo in most games by brute force. To win the game, we need three groups of cards: a persist creature, a way to make the persist creature infinite when it dies (by negating the 1/1 counter it gets when it enters the battlefield from the graveyard), and a game-winning sacrifice outlet. How consistently can we find our combo, and how quickly can we win the game with Mono-White Persist? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Mono-White Persist Combo

 

The Deck

Mono-White Persist Combo is actually a super-easy deck to break down since many of our cards fill the same roles. We need to get three pieces on the battlefield, and then we win the game with some combination of infinite mill or infinite damage, with the potential of infinite life thrown in for good measure. To understand the deck, we simply need to walk through our combo pieces one by one, and then we'll talk about the handful of support cards in the deck.

Step 1: Persist Creature

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The first piece to our game-winning puzzle is a persist creature. Here, we have three options. Safehold Elite is just a 2/2 for two with persist. Lesser Masticore is the same but with the downside of forcing us to discard a card to cast it (and the upside of maybe dealing some damage if the game goes long). Meanwhile, Kitchen Finks is a bit more expensive but comes with the upside of gaining us some life when it enters the battlefield. While each of these cards has different drawbacks and benefits, they all work exactly the same when it comes to our combo, so any single one on the battlefield will do. It's also worth mentioning that if we can't combo kill for some reason, we can steal a game or two simply by playing our random persist creatures and beating down.

Step 2: Making Our Persist Creature Infinite

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The way persist works is that when the creature dies, it returns to the battlefield with a 1/1 counter, but only if it doesn't already have a 1/1 counter. For our combo to work, we need to be able to sacrifice a persist creature repeatedly, which means finding a way to negate the 1/1 counter when it returns to the battlefield after dying. Solemnity is option one, and it's pretty straightforward, keeping all artifacts, creatures, enchantments, and lands from having any counters. Apart from making our persist creatures infinite, it's also a surprisingly good hate card against certain decks, like Hardened Scales and even Humans. Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit basically works the same as Solemnity but in a slightly more complicated way. When a creature enters the battlefield, Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit puts a +1/+1 counter on our creature with the lowest toughness. Since all of our persist creatures have only one toughness when they enter the battlefield, they will get the counter. Since a creature can't have both a +1/+1 counter and a 1/1 counter, the end result is a persist creature with no counters at all, which means that when it dies, it will return to the battlefield again thanks to persist. Basically, with either Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit or Solemnity on the battlefield, we can sacrifice any one of our persist creatures an infinite number of times, which leads us to the last piece of our combo...

Step 3: Game-Winning Sacrifice Outlet

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The last piece of our combo puzzle is a sacrifice outlet that can win us the game. Here, we have two options: first, a new Modern Horizons addition in Altar of Dementia, and second, Blasting Station. Altar of Dementia allows us to sacrifice a creature to mill a player equal to its toughness, which means with a persist creature and Anafenza or Solemnity on the battlefield, we can simply sacrifice the persist creature an infinite number of times and mill our opponent's entire deck. Meanwhile, Blasting Station is a bit more expensive but kills our opponent with damage, which means if our opponent has something like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn in their deck to defeat our infinite mill plan, we still have a combo-y way to win the game. The combo itself is basically the same regardless of which artifact we have on the battlefield—we sacrifice our persist creature over and over again, with Solemnity or Anafenza negating the 1/1 counter and either mill our opponent out with Altar of Dementia or ping them 20 times with Blasting Station (which untaps itself whenever our persist creature enters the battlefield so we can keep dealing damage).

Other Stuff

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Since our deck is so overflowing with combo pieces, we don't actually have all that much room for utility cards, but we do squeeze a few into the deck. Thraben Inspector gives us a Turn 1 play that can eventually draw us another card thanks to the Clue token it produces. While not especially impactful, it is a fine chump blocker to help keep our life total high while we are setting up our combo.

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Faith's Shield helps to protect our combo pieces from our opponent's removal. The biggest upside here is that it can target any permanent we control, which means along with saving one of our creatures from something like Path to Exile or Lightning Bolt, it can save Altar of Dementia, [[Blasting Station],] and even Solemnity from targeted removal like Assassin's Trophy, Abrupt Decay, or Nature's Claim as well.

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One of the biggest impacts of Modern Horizons on budget deck-building is the reprinting of snow-covered basic lands and some interesting snow payoffs. Path to Exile is a necessity for white-based Modern decks, but at over $40 a playset, it's really difficult to fit into a $100 budget. On Thin Ice is the best budget-friendly Path to Exile replacement in the format as long as you have enough snow-covered lands to enchant. Since our mana base is two Ghost Quarters and 20 Snow-Covered Plains, On Thin Ice is always active from the first turn of the game, making it a somewhat risky sorcery-speed Path to Exile with the upside of not giving our opponent a free land. Even though the Snow-Covered Plains technically add a bit to the deck's cost, when you consider that 20 are about $10 and On Thin Ice is less than $3 for a playset, it's still a massive savings over Path to Exile at its current price.

The Sideboard

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Phyrexian Unlife gives us a backup combo. Combined with Solemnity, it makes it so we can't lose the game to damage since we can't get counters and all damage to us is dealt in infect counters. The plan is especially helpful against aggro decks, decks like Burn (where just gaining 10-ish life from Phyrexian Unlife is great even without Solemnity), and creature decks without enchantment removal.

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Oblivion Ring and Disenchant help protect our combo. One of the easiest ways for our opponent to ruin our day is graveyard hate like Rest in Peace, Tormod's Crypt, or Leyline of the Void, along with Stony Silence to lock down Blasting Station and Altar of Dementia. Disenchant and Oblivion Ring give us answers for the answers our opponent might have in their sideboard for our combo.

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Pithing Needle hits a bunch of different things, ranging from planeswalkers to Altar of Dementia from the Hogaak deck—just be warned that naming Altar of Dementia also cuts us off from using one of our main combo pieces. Meanwhile, Tormod's Crypt gives us cheap graveyard hate to deal with Hogaak, Dredge, Arclight Phoenix, and Thopter Sword decks, among others.

Wrap-Up

Apparently, Mono-White Persist Combo is actually pretty good. We played five matches and went 4-1, with our only loss being against a UB Narset deck where we easily won game one and then got brutally mana-screwed in games two and three. So even in our one loss, it felt more like we lost to the Magic gods than to our opponent. On the other hand, we managed to take down Humans twice, plus Slivers and GR Ponza. While the plan of playing almost exclusively combo pieces looks weird on paper, in practice, we were consistently goldfishing to wins on Turn 4, which, combined with a bunch of random persist creatures and Thraben Inspector for blocking, is actually fast enough to beat a lot of decks in Modern.

As far as changes to make to the budget build of the deck, I'm pretty happy with where it ended up in general, although having some more answers to fast combo in our sideboard (stuff like Damping Sphere) might be worthwhile. Goldfishing into a Turn 4 kill is solid, until we run into a deck like Storm that can goldfish into a kill on Turn 3. Otherwise, since so much of the deck is devoted to the combo pieces, there really aren't many changes to make. Faith's Shield and Thraben Inspector are the flex slots, but I'm not sure there are better budget-friendly options available in the format.

All in all, Mono-White Persist felt like a solid budget option. While we might have gotten a bit lucky to dodge graveyard hate in our matches, the combo is consistent and fast enough to compete with a lot of top-tier Modern decks. Thanks to all of the redundant combo pieces, we can even naturally fight through some amount of removal, since if our opponent manages to kill something like one of our persist creatures, another will likely be coming off of the top of our deck soon, just because we have so many copies in our deck. If you like janky combos and don't want to break the bank, Mono-White Persist seems like a funny and surprisingly competitive option for Modern!

Sadly, Mono-White Persist isn't a deck that's possible to get down under $50. Because we don't really have card draw or tutors, we need to have as many combo pieces as possible, and Altar of Dementia and Blasting Station (which don't really have a replacement in the format) are the two most expensive cards in our deck, coming in at over $40 all by themselves. The most stripped down but still (hopefully) functional build is about $65 and involves cutting the sideboard and lands to the bone, and dropping Kitchen Finks for more copies of Faith's Reward and more removal in Declaration in Stone. While losing Kitchen Finks isn't ideal, even without the three-drop, we still have eight persist creatures. So while this change does make the deck slightly less consistent, with eight copies floating around in our deck, odds are still in favor of us having one in our opening hand every game.

For our non-budget build this week, we move from mono-white to black-white. While there are potentially some fringe upgrades that could be made to the mono-white build, we need a second color to really up the power of Persist Combo. Black offers a bit of card draw (in Night's Whisper) along with plenty of discard, which not only helps to shore up our hardest matchups (faster combo decks) but also replaces Faith's Reward as combo protection since we can strip a removal spell from our opponent's hand on Turn 1 before playing our combo pieces. Going into black also gives us a one-mana sacrifice outlet in Viscera Seer. While Viscera Seer doesn't win the game as immediately as Altar of Dementia or Blasting Station in general, it does give us the potential for a Turn 3 win if we play Viscera Seer on Turn 1, Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit on Turn 2, and Kitchen Finks on Turn 3 (which allows us to make infinite life). And in the worst case, we can use Viscera Seer's scry ability to stack something like Altar of Dementia or Blasting Station onto the top of our deck so we can win the next turn. Otherwise, we get some sideboard upgrades, and we're good to go!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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