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Budget Magic: $47 (10 tix) Mono-White Ascend (Standard)

Ciao, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! This week we continue our journey through the mono-colored decks of Core Set 2019 Standard with a super aggressive white weenie deck: Mono-White Ascend. With the addition of Core Set 2019 to the Standard format we suddenly have a ton of two-powered, one mana white creatures, along with some sweet, incidental lifegain synergies. As such, the idea of our deck is pretty simple: we play a ton of aggressive white creatures, attack, attack, attack and then use some mass pumps pells like Pride of Conquerors and Trial of Solidarity to pump all of our random creatures and kill our opponent with one huge attack. Even better, the deck is less than $50 in paper and only 10 tix on Magic Online, making is ultra-budget! Can an ultra-budget white weenie deck work in Standard? 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 Ascend (Standard)

The Deck

Mono-White Ascend is pretty simple: we've overloaded with cheap, one or two mana creatures and then spells to pump our creatures, backed by just a slight touch of removal. The plan is to get our opponent to zero life as quickly as possible before they get a chance to take over the game with sweepers or more powerful creatures.


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Let's start things off with our two most unique one-drops: Legion's Landing and Cartouche of Solidarity. While both are technically enchantments, they play like creatures by making a 1/1 token when they enter the battlefield. Normally an aggro deck wouldn't be excited about a 1/1 for one, but Legion's Landing and Cartouche of Solidarity do one super important thing for our deck: they put two permanents onto the battlefield which helps us get the 10 permanents needed to ascend and get the city's blessing as quickly as possible.

Both cards also have some extra upside. Cartouche of Solidarity can pump a creature and help us attack through blockers thanks to first strike. Meanwhile, thanks to the fact that we have about a million one-drops our deck is very good at flipping Legion's Landing into land form as early as turn three, which is more important than it looks, in part because our deck only has 20 real lands, so getting an extra mana on the battlefield is helpful in allowing us to empty our hand as quickly as possible to overwhelm our opponent. Then in the late game Adanto, the First Fort gives us a steady stream of 1/1 tokens if the game happens to go long and we run out of cards.

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Dauntless Bodyguard and Skymarcher Aspirant are the bread and butter of our deck, giving us two powered attackers on turn one. Dauntless Bodyguard is mostly just a Savannah Lions. While in theory we can use it to save another creature, in practice this doesn't come up all that often (although it does occasionally). On the other hand, Skymarcher Aspirant is very important to our deck thanks to its ability to gain flying once we ascend. We have a lot of games where we deal a bunch of damage in the early game, but then our opponent manages to stabilize with big blockers on the ground. Skymarcher Aspirant is sort of like our mono-white burn spell, flying in for the last couple of points of damage to close out the game and kill the opponent.

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Finally, we have Snubhorn Sentry and Leonin Vanguard to wrap up our parade of one-drops (giving us a massive 24 in all). Snubnorn Sentry is our worst one-drop on turn one, essentially just being a 0/3 blocker, but after we ascend (which usually happens by turn four) it turns into a Wild Nacatl, being a 3/3 for just a single mana - a great deal. Meanwhile, Leonin Vanguard starts off as a 1/1, but is usually attacking as a 2/2 pretty early in the game since most of our game start with a one-drop on turn one and two more one-drops on turn two. Plus, while gaining one life a turn might not seem like much it's actually very helpful against other aggro decks, and than's not even considering it's synergy with one of our two-mana creatures...


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In the two-drop slot we have two creatures. The first is Ajani's Pridemate, which might seem like a strange choice, but is actually pretty amazing in the deck. While the most obvious combo is withLeonin Vanguard, which gains a life (and puts a counter on Ajani's Pridemate) just about every turn that both are on the battlefield we randomly gain life from our Legion's Landing Vampire token as well. Together this means that while Ajani's Pridemage doesn't get too crazy like it does in a deck like Modern Soul Sisters, it does grow regularly throughout the game and it's not uncommon it ends up being a 4/4 or 5/5 for just two mana, which is a fine deal. Meanwhile, Adanto Vanguard might look like a 1/1, but it consistently attacks for three, and thanks to its ability to become indestructible we can swing into creature that would normally force a trade.Together, our two-drops give us a couple of slightly bigger creatures at the top end of our curve that allow is to keep the pressure on our opponent and keep attacking.

The Pump

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While we sometimes win just by playing one-drops and attacking, most of the time it's one of our mass pump spells that close out the game. While Pride of Conquerors and Trial of Solidarity are similar - with each giving our creatures +2 power until end of turn, which is usually enough to kill our opponent in conjunction with all of our Savannah Lions], Pride of Conquerors is generally a bit better because it's cheaper and instant speed which allows us to attack, see how our opponent blocks and potentially blow them out by pumping our team to make their blocks bad (or just kill our opponent with damage if they didn't block aggressively enough). This said, the vigilance from Trial of Solidarity is a nice upside, allowing us to get in a big attack and if we can't quite kill our opponent outright we'll still have back creature on defense, plus we can occasionally pick it up and replay it with the help of Cartouche of Solidarity.

Despite the small differences, the math on Pride of Conquerors (assuming we have the city's blessing) and Trial of Solidarity is the same. With just three creature they represent six extra damage, while with five creatures it ends up being +10 power until end of turn. Unless our opponent has a ton of blockers or an instant speed sweeper like Settle the Wreckage, we typically win the turn we resolve either of our pump spells.

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Shefet Dunes is essentially a free-roll in our deck since it's a land and it give us a backup way to pump our creatures in a pinch. While it doesn't come up very often since we only have 20 actual lands in our deck (which means it's pretty rare we get to five lands on the battlefield to activate Shefet Dunes), the opportunity cost is so low since the land enters untapped and makes white mana that it's hard to not play it, even knowing we won't activate it all that often.


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Mono-White Ascend doesn't have much removal, mostly because every removal spell we play is one less slot we have for a creature that could be attacking our opponent, but we do have a couple of copies of Baffling End to clear blockers out of the way. Normally Seal Away is the go-to removal spell for white decks, but in an ultra-aggressive deck Baffling End is better. With Seal Away we need our opponent to attack (and tap the creature) to be able to exile it, but since we are so aggressive our opponents often leave back their creatures on defense. Baffling End can exile away a blocker and allow us to keep attacking with all of our cheap, aggressive, creatures.

Wrap Up

All in all we finished 3-2 with Mono-White Ascend, losing to Vampires (which seems close to unwinnable since just about all of their creatures incidentally have lifelink) and to Reservoir Storm in an extremely close match. Otherwise, we managed to dominate UW Control, swing past Mono-Green Stompy, and steal a victory against Mono-Black Aggro. Overall, the deck felt competitive. It's extremely fast, although if we don't manage to kill our opponent quickly we struggle when the game goes long.

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The biggest surprise of the deck was Ajani's Pridemage. Even though we aren't built around maximizing it's power it was still pretty easy to grow the Cat into the biggest threat on the battlefield. It was good enough that it might be worth exploring some sort of lifegain focused build, especially in non-budget form so we can take advantage of Resplendent Angel and Crested Sunmare.

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As for changes I'd make to the budget build of the deck, the only real problem was the removal. In hindsight we should probably have slightly more (maybe four total removal spells) and Baffling End can be a bit limited. Something like Thopter Arrest might just be better, although that would add another card to the deck that will be leaving at rotation in just a couple of months (speaking of rotation, the deck mostly survives, but we'll talk about that in a minute).

In sum, Mono-White Ascend felt powerful and fast, although it's very much all-in on winning in the early game. If our opponent manages to stabilize the board we'll have a hard time pulling out many wins in the late game, although this is mostly to be expect of a white weenie strategy. This said, the deck is certainly good enough to win a lot of game, so if you like getting aggressive with Savannah Lions and using mass pump spell to make your small creature into game ending threat, give Mono-White Ascend a shot, it might be the ultra-budget Standard deck for you!

Ultra-Budget Mono-White Ascend

No ultra-budget list this week, the deck we played in the videos is already under $50!

Looking ahead to rotation, Mono-White Ascend doesn't really lose much at all. All of the creature in the deck survive rotation, which means we're mostly looking to replace the Cartouche of Solidarity / Trial of Solidarity package, along with Shefet Dunes in the manabase. Shefet Dunes is easy - we simply play more Plains. While it's nice to have a land that can pump our team, as we talked about before it actually doesn't come up all that often since we've only got 20 lands in the deck, which means we rarely get the five mana needed to activate Shefet Dunes anyway. Meanwhile, there isn't a direct replacement for Cartouche of Solidary and Trial of Solidarity, so we make due with Benalish Marshal and Make a Stand as backup mass-pump spells. The good news is that spells that pump all of your creature until end of turn are printed in most sets, so it's very possible we get a replacement in Guilds of Ravnica. Plus, Benalish Marshal is a good card in its own right, and Make a Stand does offer some upside as wrath protection by giving our team indestructible along with a small power boost. Regardless, Mono-White Ascend should easily survive rotation with very minimal change, so you should be able to keep attacking with Savannah Lions for the next year, not just for the next couple of months.


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

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