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Budget Magic: $58 (19 tix) Standard UR Prowess


Talofa Budget Magic lovers! It's that time again. This week we are heading back to Oath of the Gatewatch Standard to play a deck that feels a bit like Delver decks of yesteryear, UR Prowess. Of course, since we are building on a budget we don't get some of the cards the tier one version of the deck plays (most notably Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and Abbot of Keral Keep), but even without these cards the plan of playing efficient creatures with prowess backed up by cheap spells and cantrips seems pretty powerful thanks to the addition of Stormchaser Mage. Plus we still have access to Treasure Cruise and Temur Battle Rage, which are really good ways to close out a game.

Let's get to the videos, then I'll talk more about UR Prowess. A quick reminder. If you enjoy the Budget Magic series and the other video content on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish Youtube Channel to keep up on all the latest and greatest.

UR Prowess Intro

UR Prowess vs Mono-Green Eldrazi Ramp

UR Prowess vs Mardu Green

UR Prowess vs Landfall Ramp

UR Prowess vs Jeskai

UR Prowess vs Abzan Blue

 

The Deck

First off, I think this deck is a little bit better than its record in the videos (two wins and three losses). We ended up one damage or card short of winning two of the matches we lost, and I bet that a better aggro player than myself might have pulled out a win in at least one of those games. Otherwise, the deck feels a lot like Delver to me, looking to play powerful early game threats backed up by support spells. We hope to close the game quickly, before our opponents can start playing huge threats which trump our one and two drops.

Creatures

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Monastery Swiftspear and Stormchaster Mage are the reasons to play this deck. Both are extremely powerful and efficient threats thanks to the combination of haste and prowess. Monastery Swiftspear allows for our best nut draws; when we play two or three copies in the first two turns it is really, really hard to lose. Stormchaser Mage does the same, but trades in a bit of speed for evasion and an extra point of toughness, making the Human Wizard surprisingly hard to kill. While he does get hit by Silkwrap, neither Fiery Impulse or Wild Slash can take him down without help, and he's the only creature in our deck that survives Flaying Tendrils or Kozilek's Return without the help of a spell. Basically, we want as many copies of these cards in our opening hand as possible; they are essential to our plan.

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This is where we have to get a little bit creative. In the non-budget version of this deck, we'd be playing Abbot of Keral Keep and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, but both of these cards are too expensive for our budget, so we have to make some substitutions. Mage-Ring Bully is better than it seems, thanks to his two power, which means he can hit for eight damage out of nowhere with the help of Expedite and Temur Battle-Rage. Plus the "attacks each turn" drawback isn't really a drawback in our deck. We want to be turning creatures sideways every turn. While clearly not as powerful as Abbot of Keral Keep, in every other way Mage-Ring Bully does a fairly good approximation and even has the bonus of an additional point of toughness. 

Meanwhile, Jeskai Elder is pretty much a Jace, Vryn's Prodigy that never becomes a planeswalker. She makes up for this by having prowess and being able to attack. While overall she isn't a great card, she does have some synergy in our deck by filling our graveyard for Treasure Cruise. We get in damage more often than you'd think just because it is really easy to bluff attack with prowess creatures. No one wants to block a creature with prowess, only to be blown out by janky spells like Expedite and end up looking foolish. So instead of taking this risk, a lot of opponents just let us attack and loot. When Jeskai Elder can continually get in combat damage, she becomes a mostly better Looter Il-Kor, one of the best looters ever printed. 

Burn

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Between Fiery Impulse and Wild Slash we have six one damage removal/burn spells. We are playing more copies of Fiery Impulse, mostly because our deck can activate spell mastery very consistently, but after playing the matches, I'm wondering if having more Wild Slash would help take care of our "ending up one point of damage short" problem. Mostly we just use these spells to clear our opponent's blockers and trigger prowess on our creatures to get in as much damage as possible. They can also be used defensively in a pinch to get rid of a Siege Rhino or Wingmate Roc with the help of a blocker. 

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Temur Battle Rage is our finisher, and it is great in this deck. Not only does it trigger prowess at instant speed, it often lets us get in for eight damage with a one-powered creature with the help of a couple cantripping spells. More importantly, we can do this after blockers are declared, so we just swing with the team and target whatever happens to go unblocked with Temur Battle Rage to get in for lethal. 

Card Draw/Cantrips

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While it might not look like much, Expedite is one of the key card in the deck. As I mentioned earlier, giving a Mage-Ring Bully or Jeskai Elder haste can be very powerful. But more importantly it offers a one-mana way to trigger prowess and doesn't cost us a card. Once we get a few prowess creatures on the battlefield, all we want to do is chain together spells to pump up our creature. Expedite is a key piece of this plan.

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On level one, both of these cards are in the deck because they are cheap ways to trigger prowess. Initially I started off with more copies of Anticipate since it is instant speed and can lead to some blowouts after blocks. I quickly realized Tormenting Voice was just too good at filling the graveyard for Treasure Cruise. In the future I could imagine playing a build of UR Prowess that plays like the old Sphinx's Tutelage decks with both Tormenting Voice and Magmatic Insight, along with Alhammarret's Archive! The problem is, to make this work, you need to play a lot of lands, which seems to work against our aggro plan. Anyway, these cards help us cycle through our deck for action, trigger prowess on all our creatures, and fill the graveyard for Treasure Cruise

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Treasure Cruise might not deal damage, kill a creature, or help us dominate a board position, but it is the second finisher in our deck. It feels really hard to lose a game after resolving a Treasure Cruise. We have a low enough land count that we should always draw more action off our Treasure Cruise. While it's not as powerful in Standard as it was in eternal formats, our deck is pretty much built to abuse Treasure Cruise. When we can consistently cast it on the early turns of the game for one mana, it is the best spell in Standard. 

The only way to reduce the budget of UR Prowess is to cut Shivan Reef and Wandering Fumarole for more basic lands and Evolving Wilds. While this change hurts a little bit — especially Wandering Fumerole which offers a hedge against flooding and a way to recover after a Radiant Flames — I think the deck is still playable without as many dual lands. The other change I made was the addition of Slip Through Space, trimming a couple copies of Mage-Ring Bully, and a Fiery Impulse. It's very possible I should have found room for Slip Through Space in the original build, but I think it is even more important for the ultra-budget build. If we are going to give up some amount of consistency (thanks to the weaker mana base), we want to be explosive as possible, and making a creature unblockable does add quite a bit of explosiveness to the deck by allowing us to get in damage on a cluttered board. 

As you can see from the above list, the main differences between our build and the non-budget build are Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, Abbot of Keral Keep, and fetch lands. As far as spells, Titan's Strength seems to take the place of Temur Battle Rage, but I'm not convinced of the change. While Titan's Strength offers more damage by itself, once you cast a Treasure Cruise, Wild Slash, or Expedite, Temur Battle Rage feels like the more powerful option. Plus it is possible to get a creature up to four power and activate the ferocious ability for trample. While some of the spells are flexible, pretty much every non-budget UR Prowess deck I've seen starts with four copies of Monastery Swiftspear, Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, Abbot of Keral Keep, and Stormchaster Mage. If you decide to upgrade this suite is where I would begin.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. I think UR Prowess is definitely FNM worthy. With some upgrades it can clearly compete with the best decks in the format. One of the things I really like about the deck is that some version of it is likely to survive rotation. All the good cantrips remain in the format, and while losing Monastery Swiftspear and Treasure Cruise will hurt, Stormchaser Mage is just a very powerful Magic card. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, options, and suggestions in the comments. You can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive. 


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