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Budget Magic: 15-Rare Mono-White Auras (Historic)


Bonjorn, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! It can be pretty expensive to build competitive decks on Magic Arena, especially in formats like Historic, but it is possible to play competitively without spending a ton of wildcards. Today, for Budget Magic, we have a deck that only costs 15 rares (and zero mythics) and seems like it just might be good enough to bring you all the way to mythic: Mono-White Auras! Thanks to Kaladesh Remastered, we now have Sram, Senior Edificer to go along with Kor Spiritdancer, which gives a deck full of auras a very consistent card-draw engine to snowball into a fast win. With the help of cards like Selfless Savior and Alseid of Life's Bounty to protect our engine pieces, things can get out of hand really fast. Plus, if things go wrong, we have Lurrus of the Dream-Den as our companion to get back our important payoffs from the graveyard in the late game! How good can a 15-rare deck be in Historic? How big of a deal is Sram, Senior Edificer's entry into the format? 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 Auras

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The Deck

Mono-White Auras is a Bogles-esque combo-aggro deck. The goal is to stick a Kor Spiritdancer and / or Sram, Senior Edificer, protect them, load them up with auras while also drawing a bunch of cards, and snowball our aura value into a fast win!

The Engine

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Mono-White Auras exists because of two cards: Kor Spiritdancer and Sram, Senior Edificer, both of which draw us a card whenever we cast an aura. While Kor Spiritdancer is the better of the two because it quickly grows into a massive creature thanks to it getting +2/+2 for each aura attached to it, Sram, Senior Edificer might be even more important to the deck. Before the release of Kaladesh Remastered (which brought Sram into the Historic format), aura-based decks were pretty inconsistent. The games where you had access to Kor Spiritdancer were great, but with just four copies in the deck, there were too many games where Kor Spiritdancer wouldn't show up, leaving our deck underpowered. Thanks to the addition of Sram, Senior Edificer, we now have access to seven two-drop engines that draw us a card whenever we can an aura, enough that we are likely to have at least one in hand every game, especially if we are willing to mulligan a bit to find one.

Protection

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While step one for our deck is finding one of our engine two-drops, the second step is just as important: protecting our Kor Spiritdancer and / or Sram, Senior Edificer. While both two-drops are incredibly powerful if we can get them to stick on the battlefield, they both start off as just two-toughness creatures, which means they die to basically any popular removal spell in the format. Thankfully, we have a bunch of ways to keep our engines safe. In many ways, Selfless Savior is the best of the bunch since we can play it on Turn 1, follow it up with Kor Spiritdancer or Sram, Senior Edificer on Turn 2, and, if our opponent has removal, simply sacrifice the Selfless Savior to keep our engine two-drop on the battlefield. Alseid of Life's Bounty works much the same by giving our Sram or Spiritdancer protection from a color of our choice. But it comes with the downside of needing a mana to activate its sacrifice ability, which means it can't protect a two-drop on Turn 2 like Selfless Savior can. On the other hand, Alseid of Life's Bounty has some additional upside against some deck: we can use the protection it grants to swing through blockers. Finally, Karametra's Blessing is our best late-game protection spell. While we do need to get an aura on our Sram, Senior Edificer or Kor Spiritdancer before Karametra's Blessing can protect it, once we do, the combination of hexproof (to fizzle targeted removal spells) and indestructitble (to fizzle wraths) makes it almost impossible (well, outside of Extinction Event, but we don't like to talk about Extinction Event...) for most decks to kill our card-draw engine.

The Auras

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Once we find our Kor Spiritdancer or Sram, Senior Edificer and (hopefully) a couple of ways to protect it, the last step is to load up a creature with a bunch of auras, while also drawing an absurd amount of cards thanks to our two-drop card-draw engines, which snowballs into more card draw, more auras, and more protection, quickly allowing us to close out the game with one or two massive threats. Our two most important auras are All That Glitters and Angelic Gift. All That Glitters often gives the creature it enchants +5/+5 or even more, making it our best way to build a massive creature that can kill in just one or two attacks, while Angelic Gift offers evasion so we can swing over ground-bound blockers for lethal. Meanwhile, Cartouche of Solidarity and Sentinel's Eyes are mostly in our deck to be cheap card-draw spells, although the token that Cartouche of Solidarity makes is a nice buffer in case we run into a Diabolic Edict–type card, and the vigilance from Sentinel's Eyes allows us to attack with our massive threat and still have it back on defense.

Other Stuff

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Rounding out our main deck are Heliod's Punishment and Hushbringer. Hushbringer offers another evasive creature that we can load up with auras in a pinch, and it does hate on a reasonable number of popular Historic cards by shutting down enters- and leaves-the-battlefield triggers. As for Heliod's Punishment, I'm normally skeptical of temporary removal spells, but it has the upside of being an aura, so it draws cards with Sram, Senior Edificer and Kor Spiritdancer. And our deck is fast enough that shutting down a creature for four turns is almost hard removal since we can typically kill our opponent before it runs out of counters and the creature becomes active again.

The Companion

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Last but not least, we have Lurrus of the Dream-Den as our companion, partly because its a freeroll—because all of the permanents we want to play in our deck naturally cost two or less—and partly because it's very strong in the late game. The easiest way for our deck to lose is if our opponent can Thoughtseize or kill our Sram, Senior Edificer and / or Kor Spiritdancer. If that happens, Lurrus gives us a way to rebuild in the late game by recasting our engine pieces (and any random auras) from our graveyard, making it especially good against grindy midrange and control decks.

Playing the Deck

The most important thing to keep in mind while playing Mono-White Auras is that you shouldn't be afraid to mulligan fairly aggressively for a Sram, Senior Edificer or Kor Spiritdancer. They are the cards that make the deck work, and our deck is fairly underpowered without at least one of them on the battlefield. The good news is that both Sram and Spiritdancer are worth several to many cards if they stick on the battlefield, which more than makes up for the cards we lose if we mulligan to six or even five to find a copy. While there are some hands that we can keep without a Sram or Spiritdancer, in general, it's best to throw back almost every seven-card hand that doesn't have one, in the hopes of finding an engine piece.

Second, protecting Sram, Senior Edificer and Kor Spiritdancer is super important. If we don't have a Selfless Savior on Turn 1, it can often be better to wait an extra turn before casting our two-drop to leave up Alseid of Life's Bounty or Karametra's Blessing before casting our engine piece. Of course, this depends on the matchup and our hand. Against removal-light decks, just running out a Sram or Spiritdancer naked on Turn 2 is often right. And if we have a hand with multiple Srams, casting one early and just hoping it lives is usually fine since it is legendary and we can't have two copies on the battlefield anyway.

Finally, figuring our where to put our auras can be tricky. In a perfect world where we have a bunch of protection spells, the ideal plan is to grow a huge Kor Spiritdancer, but if we are light on removal, it can be best to split up our auras and make two fairly big creatures rather than one massive creature. Oh yeah, don't underestimate how much damage Kor Spiritdancer can deal. Thanks to its self-pumping ability, a lot of times, we'll start off a turn with a fairly small Kor Spiritdancer and, as we cast auras, draw cards, and cast more auras, end up with a lethal Kor Spiritdancer almost by accident!

Wrap-Up

All in all, we cruised to a pretty convincing 5-0 with Mono-White Auras at high platinum on Magic Arena. More importantly, we played some of our toughest matchups (control decks with Thoughtseize, Fatal Push, and sweepers like Extinction Event, which get around all of our protection spells) and were still able to grind them out! I really think that Mono-White Auras is the rare Historic budget deck that actually has the power to take someone all the way to mythic, and this doesn't even include a couple of not-that-expensive upgrade paths that can make the deck even better!

Ultra-Budget Mono-White Auras

Is it possible to make Mono-White Auras even cheaper on Magic Arena? Not very much. Sram, Senior Edificer and Kor Spiritdancer are uncuttable. Lurrus of the Dream-Den is too good to let go and only costs one rare wildcard anyway. The sideboard Grafdigger's Cages are essential to having a chance against fast combo decks like Goblins and Aetherworks Marvel. This leaves Hushbringer as the only potentially cuttable rare. While the deck can function without it, it is really good in certain matchups. If you are trying to build the deck for as cheap as possible, you can probably cut Hushbringer for more copies of Karametra's Blessing and Heliod's Punishment in the main deck, but I wouldn't recommend it unless absolutely necessary. 

Non-Budget Auras

When it comes to non-budget auras decks, there are basically two main options: Blue-White Auras and White-Black Auras. Both decks are pretty similar to what we played, although splashing into a second color adds quite a few rare wildcards because you'll need two or three playsets of rare dual lands in the mana base to make the deck function.

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The biggest upside to splashing into blue is probably sideboard counterspells, although Cartouche of Knowledge is a slight upgrade over Angelic Gift (since it gives +1/+1 along with flying and drawing a card), and Curious Obsession is a fine, cheap aura for more card draw.

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Splashing into black is actually pretty similar: the biggest upgrade is cards like Thoughtseize and Duress in the sideboard, which do basically the same thing as the blue counterspells do by offering more ways to protect our important creatures. The main difference is that discard does this proactively by taking a removal spell from our opponent's hand, while counterspells do so reactively on the stack. The other upgrade is Kaya's Ghostform as an additional way of protecting our creatures and Hateful Eidolon as another cheap, enchantable threat that offers additional card draw.

Which of these upgrade paths is best? I'm honestly not sure, and I'm not even sure that you gain all that much by splashing into a second color at all. The improved sideboard options are nice, but when it comes to protecting creatures from removal, Thoughtseize and Spell Pierce aren't significantly better than something like Valorous Stance, which we already have in our budget build (although Thoughtseize and Spell Pierce probably do offer more flexibility). While splashing into either blue or black probably improves Mono-White Auras slightly, is it enough to justify spending up to twice as many wildcards? I'm not convinced. I think that the build we played today is good enough to grind up to mythic as is, so spending a bunch more wildcards for marginal upgrades might not be worth the cost.

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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