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Budget Magic: $112 (17 tix) Leyline of Abundance Combo (Modern, Magic Online)


Sampurasun, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! Last week for Budget Magic, we played Hammer Time, a Core Set 2020–driven combo deck with the potential to kill opponents on Turn 2. Well, Colossus Hammer wasn't the only Turn 2 combo enabled by Core Set 2020. This week, we're checking out another budget-friendly Core Set 2020 combo that can potentially win on Turn 2: Leyline of Abundance Combo! The plan today is pretty simple: we try to get a Leyline of Abundance on the battlefield on Turn 0 and a mana dork like Birds of Paradise on Turn 1 and then stick a Freed from the Real on our mana dork, which in conjunction with Leyline of Abundance allows us to make infinite mana by tapping and untapping our mana dork. Then, we can finish off our opponent by either pumping our mana dork a bunch of times with Leyline of Abundance's second ability or, in a pinch, tutor up Blue Sun's Zenith and force our opponent to draw their entire deck! Can Leyline of Abundance open up a new Turn 2 combo kill in Modern on a budget? Let's find out! Then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Leyline of Abundance Combo

The Deck

Leyline of Abundance Combo—as its name suggests—is a combo deck. The primary goal is to use Leyline of Abundance along with a mana dork and Freed from the Real to make infinite mana, maybe as early as Turn 2, and then use that mana to win the game, either by pumping our creatures an infinite number of times or by using Blue Sun's Zenith to force our opponent to draw more cards than are in their deck to make them lose by drawing on an empty library. Probably the easiest way to break down the deck is by walking through the combo step by step.

Step One

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Leyline of Abundance is the most important card in our deck. While we can theoretically win by beating down with cards like Duskwatch Recruiter and Paradise Druid, in practice, we need Leyline of Abundance on the battlefield to win the game. The good news is that thanks to the London mulligan rule, if we are willing to mulligan aggressively to find a Leyline of Abundance, the odds are in favor of us having one in our opening hand each game.

Once we have a Leyline of Abundance, all of our mana creatures tap for two mana instead of just one, which is key to our infinite-mana combo. Even more importantly, Leyline of Abundance isn't just a support piece for our combo but also our primary finisher since once we make infinite mana, we can activate Leyline of Abundance's second ability an infinite number of times to make our creatures arbitrarily large, allowing us to swing in and kill our opponent in just a single attack!

Step Two: Mana Dorks

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The second piece of our combo puzzle is a mana dork, and we have three options, all with different strengths and weaknesses. The most important thing about all of our mana dorks is that they can tap for mana of any color. Since Leyline of Abundance only adds green mana and our combo involves using Freed from the Real untapping our mana dork an infinite number of times, for a mana dork to work with the our combo, it needs to be able to add blue mana to activate Freed from the Real. This means some other one-mana mana dorks (like Llanowar Elves, for example) don't actually work in our deck.

Birds of Paradise is the most explosive of our mana dorks, costing just a single mana, and it's the card that—when we have a good draw—allows us to win the game on Turn 2. But it comes with the downside of dying to every removal spell in the format, which increases our risk of being blown out by removal when we go to enchant it with Freed from the Real. Meanwhile, both Paradise Druid and Sylvan Caryatid come with protection in hexproof and pseudo-hexproof, which makes them safer targets to enchant with Freed from the Real, although since both cost two mana, it means we can't go infinite until Turn 3. Sylvan Caryatid comes with an additional drawback of having defender, which means we need extra help to win the game if we are going infinite with Sylvan Caryatid since we can't simply load it up with +1/+1 counters from Leyline of Abundance, attack, and win. 

Step Three: Freed from the Real

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The final piece of our combo puzzle is Freed from the Real. If we can get the aura on one of our mana dorks with a Leyline of Abundance on the battlefield, we will have the ability to make infinite green mana by tapping our mana dork for blue mana (and getting a green mana from Leyline of Abundance in the process), using the blue mana to untap the mana dork, and doing this over and over again. Ideally, the end result with be a 20-plus-power Birds of Paradise or Paradise Druid attacking for lethal after we activate Leyline of Abundance a bunch of times to put +1/+1 counters on all of our creatures, although we do have a backup plan for winning the game in a pinch. Meanwhile, Drift of Phantasms basically functions as additional copies of Freed from the Real since we can transmute it to tutor up the enchantment; however, it also offers some additional upside in tutoring up our backup plan for closing out the game...

Other Stuff

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If we can't win the game by growing and attacking with our creatures, our plan for winning the game is to make a bunch of mana and target our opponent with a huge Blue Sun's Zenith to make them draw more cards than are in their deck. While this plan can sometimes take an extra turn because we can get pinched on blue mana (since our combo only produces infinite green mana), Blue Sun's Zenith makes up for this downside by also being a powerful card-draw spell. We have some games where we have a Leyline of Abundance and some mana dorks but no Freed from the Real, and casting a fairly big Blue Sun's Zenith targeting ourselves is a good way to find our missing combo piece. Plus, since Blue Sun's Zenith shuffles back into our deck once it resolves, we can always find it again to target our opponent later in the game. 

As for Duskwatch Recruiter, it gives us a way to use our infinite green mana (by activating it over and over again) to find Drift of Phantasms, which in turn finds our Blue Sun's Zenith to kill our opponent. It can also just draw us all of the creatures in our deck, which we can then cast and grow into massive threats with the help of infinite mana and Leyline of Abundance. While not as quite or exciting as the Turn 2 "Birds of Paradise attack you for 20" kill, Duskwatch Recruiter offers a solid backup plan for finishing the game over the course of a couple of turns.

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To protect our combo, we have a handful of counters in Spell Pierce, Mana Leak, and Voidslime. There really isn't much to say about any of these cards—they give us cheap ways to keep our opponent from fizzling our combo by killing our Leyline of Abundance or our mana dork enchanted by Freed from the Real. Voidslime is a bit of a weird choice, but the idea is to have a three-mana counterspell that we can tutor up with Drift of the Phantasms if we already have our combo in place and don't need Drift of Phantasms to find a Freed from the Real

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Vapor Snag and Echoing Truth help us slow down our opponent by bouncing one of their creatures. Thanks to our combo, our deck is pretty good at winning the game on Turn 3 or 4 (or Turn 2 if we are lucky), so we don't really need permanent answers to our opponent's threats. Instead, just returning a Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis or Death's Shadow to our opponent's hand often buys us the extra turn we need to combo off and win the game. Echoing Truth comes with some additional utility of dealing with cards like Pithing Needle or Ensnaring Bridge, which can disrupt our combo, while also bouncing an entire board full of Young Pyromancer or Lingering Souls tokens for just two mana.

The Mana

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In general, the mana base of Leyline of Abundance combo is pretty simple, although somewhat clunky. Lumbering Falls is the most interesting of our lands since it can turn into a combo piece in the late game. As a creature, it does tap for two mana if we have Leyline of Abundance, and hexproof means that it's a fairly safe Freed from the Real target. While the Lumbering Falls plan is slow, it is nice to have an extra combo piece hidden in our land slot. 

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Discounting [[Lumbering Falls], the mana is one of the more problematic aspects of the deck. We need green mana on Turn 1 to play Birds of Paradise and then blue mana on Turn 2 for Freed from the Real. We also really need most of our dual lands to come into play untapped, which greatly limits the budget-friendly options in the Modern format. We had a couple of games where we did the hard work of assembling our combo but, thanks to our clunky mana base, ended up needing to wait an extra turn to combo off, which can lead to disaster (like a Thoughtseize or Kitesail Freebooter taking Freed from the Real from our hand). If you're looking to upgrade the deck without going full-on non-budget mode, consider adding Breeding Pool, Botanical Sanctum, or basically any untapped Simic dual lands you own to the mana base over some of the basic lands. Extra untapped duals would go a long way toward eliminating the frustrating games where we manage to find our combo but our budget lands keep us from finishing the job. 

Wrap-Up

All in all, we played five matches with Leyline of Abundance Combo and ended up going 3-2, which is a fine (if unexciting) record for a budget deck. However, in both of our losses (against Tron and Humans), we lost games with the combo in hand due to mana issues, which suggests that the deck would be even better with even some small upgrades to the mana base.

The biggest upside of Leyline of Abundance Combo is that the deck can be extremely fast. We had some Turn 2 kills, and Turn 3 kills were fairly common. It's also hard for most opponents to interact with, especially if we are using one of our hexproof mana dorks as our main combo piece. On the other hand, the biggest drawback to the deck was inconsistency. Since we are so reliant on Leyline of Abundance, we had some games where we ended up mulliganing to four or five in search of Leyline of Abundance, which left us in a position where if our opponent had a single Thoughtseize or removal spell, we'd basically lose the game on the spot. One potential solution to the problem is to make the deck less reliant on the combo (playing more big things we can ramp into naturally with our mana dorks) to allow us to keep more hands without Leyline of Abundance

As far as changes to make to the budget build of the deck, it might be worth dropping Blue Sun's Zenith altogether or at least trimming it back to a one-of. We never really needed our backup finisher, with all of our wins coming by growing our creatures with Leyline of Abundance, and triple blue mana is asking a lot for our deck. Next time I take Leyline Combo out for a spin, I'm going to try something like Frost Titan as a backup win condition that we can use even if we don't have access to Leyline of Abundance.

In the end, Leyline of Abundance Combo felt incredibly powerful, and when things go well, it can win super quick. While inconsistency can be an issue, we still won more than we lost. I could certainly see Leyline Combo doing well at an FNM, especially with some not-too-expensive upgrades to the mana base. On the other hand, be warned that the combo takes a lot of clicks on Magic Online. Thankfully, most opponents scoop when they realize they are dead, but if our opponent makes us play through the entire combo, it takes somewhere around 400 clicks to make a 20-power Birds of Paradise, and even a single misclick can leave us without the blue mana we need to untap our mana dork and fizzle our combo. So if you aren't comfortable with click-intensive combos, you might be better off playing the deck in paper (where you can execute the entire combo in about 5 seconds rather than 15 minutes). Still, any time you can kill people on Turn 2 rather consistently and on a $100 budget, you have the makings of a really sweet and potentially powerful budget deck!

The bad news this week is that there really isn't any way to make Leyline of Abundance Combo ultra-budget. Just playsets of Birds of Paradise, Sylvan Caryatid, and Leyline of Abundance—all by themselves—add up to more than $50. Instead, we have a mid-budget upgrade list in our ultra-budget slot today. The idea here is to upgrade the deck in a way that will greatly improve its power and consistency but without going full-force non-budget (which would probably drive the deck up near $1,000 based on the fetch-lands / shock-land mana base). The end result is a $250 build of Leyline of Abundance Combo.

What do we get for the extra $150? First and foremost, a much more consistent mana base thanks to Botanical Sanctum and Breeding Pool, which should mean that the games where we draw our combo but don't have the mana to deploy it should be mostly eliminated. We also get a much better backup plan for winning the game, with a copy of Genesis Wave (which we can tutor with Drift of Phantasms) and one Craterhoof Behemoth joining the mix. Here, the biggest upside is that both Genesis Wave and Craterhoof Behemoth cost green mana, so we no longer have to worry about making triple blue mana for our Blue Sun's Zenith backup plan. If we need another way to kill our opponent, we can simply use Duskwatch Recruiter to draw all of our creatures, play them, and then Craterhoof Behemoth for lethal, or use Drift of Phantasms to find Genesis Wave and put our entire deck (including the hasty Craterhoof Behemoth) into play!

If you're looking for a fully non-budget version of Leyline of Abundance Combo, the Devoted Abundance deck that Jon Stern played at the Mythic Championship a couple of weeks ago seems like a good option. The plan is similar, except the deck has Karn, the Great Creator and Finale of Devastation as finishers, with Karn, the Great Creator being especially powerful since we can easily cast it without Leyline of Abundance (and then use it to tutor up the Mycosynth Lattice lock), which means we won't have to mulligan for Leyline as aggressively. The other big upgrade is Noble Hierarch, which gives us an additional Birds of Paradise to execute our Turn 2 combo kill. While adding all of this power comes with a cost (the deck is over $1,100), it seems to be a good starting point if you're looking to try to win a Grand Prix with Leyline of Abundance.

Conclusionm

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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