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Budget Magic: $60 Mono-White Auras (Modern)


Бзиа збаша, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! This week, we are heading back to Modern for a deck that does one of my favorite things in Magic: it draws a ton of cards! Drawing cards often is associated with durdling around and not doing much of anything, but today's deck—Mono-White Auras—manages to be very aggressive while also outdrawing opponents. The deck's main goal is to stick a Sram, Senior Edificer or Kor Spiritdancer, cast a bunch of cheap auras on creatures like Gingerbrute to draw a ton of cards, and then finish off the game with just one or two attacks from a massive threat! More importantly, the deck is essentially ultra-budget, coming in at just $60! How many cards can we draw with Sram and Kor Spiritdancer? How good can a $60 deck be in Modern? 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 Aura is an aggro / combo deck. It's looking to kill the opponent quickly with combat damage, but the way it kills the opponent has a combo-esque feel, by drawing a ton of cards with Kor Spiritdancer and Sram, Senior Edificer while building a massive, evasive threat with the help of auras like All That Glitters, Ethereal Armor, and Gryff's Boon.

The Engine

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The most important cards in our deck are Kor Spiritdancer and Sram, Senior Edificer, both two-drops that draw us cards whenever we cast an aura. Considering our deck has a massive 24 auras that cost one or two mana, our deck can draw an absurd number of cards if we can get one or two of these engine pieces on the battlefield. Sram, Senior Edificer is pretty straightfoward—it's just a Grizzly Bears that draw us cards. While we can load it up with auras in a pinch, it's the worst beatdown creature in our deck. Meanwhile, Kor Spiritdancer is especially powerful since along with being a card-draw engine, it's also one of the best beaters in our deck, getting +2/+2 for each aura attached to it, which makes it incredibly easy to grow it to 10 or even 20 power early in the game. The other important aspect of Kor Spiritdancer is that, unlike Sram, it's not legendary, which means we can stack up multiples on the battlefield. Once we get two Kor Spiritdancers (or a Kor Spiritdancer and a Sram) on the battlefield and we start drawing two cards for each aura we cast, the card advantage we generate quickly becomes overwhelming.

Other Creatures

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Rounding out our creature base are Gingerbrute and Alseid of Life's Bounty. Gingerbrute is our best creature to load up with auras (outside of maybe Kor Spiritdancer) thanks to its super-evasion. For just one mana, we can make it so only creatures with haste can block Gingerbrute, which is straight-up unblockability in most matchups. This makes Gingerbrute a great way to close out the game (with the help of some power-boosting auras) once our opponent gets some creatures on the battlefield to play defense. Meanwhile, Alseid of Life's Bounty is a fine creature to enchant—especially against aggro, thanks to lifelink—although its primary purpose is to sacrifice itself to protect our more important creatures like Kor Spiritdancer or Gingerbrute from targeted removal. It's also important that Alseid of Life's Bounty itself is an enchantment since some of our most important and powerful auras grow creatures based on the number of enchantments we have on the battlefield. 

We also have Karametra's Blessing, which obviously isn't a creature. But thanks to its similarity to Alseid of Life's Bounty (and the fact that it's the last non-aura non-land card left in our main deck), we may as well talk about it here. Karametra's Blessing is simply the best way to protect our creatures from removal, thanks to its ability to give an enchanted or enchantment creature not only hexproof but also indestructible, which means along with fizzling targeted removal like Alseid of Life's Bounty, it also counters wraths against control decks. 

The Auras

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When it comes to killing our opponent, our two most important auras are Ethereal Armor and All That Glitters, which are very close to the same card in our deck, each growing the enchanted creature +1/+1 for each enchantment we control (while All That Glitters also cares about artifacts, this is only relevant if we have a Gingerbrute on the battlefield). Together, in conjunction with all of our other cheap auras, Ethereal Armor and All That Glitters quickly grow a creature into a massive game-ending threat that can kill the opponent in just one or two attacks.

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Next up, we have our evasion auras. These cards are less important if we are going all-in on Gingerbrute, although they are still cheap auras to draw us cards with Kor Spiritdancer and Sram, Senior Edificer and still grow our All That Glitters and Ethereal Armor. But evasion is essential if we are trying to build a big Kor Spiritdancer or Alseid of Life's Bounty. Without something like Gryff's Boon to send our attacker to the air or Spirit Mantle to give it protection from creatures (which prevents blocking altogether), our opponent would have the potential to just endlessly chump block our massive threat with random dorks or tokens from things like Young Pyromancer. Gryff's Boon and Spirit Mantle make sure that once we build a lethal threat, it actually gets to hit our opponent and end the game.

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Next up, we have Cartouche of Solidarity and Hyena Umbra, which are our protection auras. Cartouche of Solidarity allows us to get around edict effects like Liliana of the Veil by giving us a 1/1 token that we can sacrifice instead of our main threat. Meanwhile, Hyena Umbra fizzles a removal spell or sweeper with its totem armor ability, causing us to lose the aura itself rather than the creature if the creature would be destroyed. 

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Lastly, we have one copy of Spirit Link and three On Thin Ice. Spirit Link, which we have several more of in the sideboard, is mostly in our deck to fight aggro. Decks like Burn can potentially race our auras plan, but it becomes almost impossible to lose to aggro if we can make it so our massive threat also gains us life since we end up gaining five or 10 life each turn. It's also important to point out that while Spirit Link might look like it gives lifelink, it's technically a triggered ability that gains us life when the enchanted creature deals damage. This means that if we put Spirit Link on Alseid of Life's Bounty, we actually gain double the life when we gain damage since lifelink and Spirit Link will both happen separately. As for On Thin Ice, it's basically a sorcery-speed Path to Exile that also happens to be an aura to trigger our Kor Spiritdancer and Sram while also growing our Ethereal Armors and All That Glitters

Playing the Deck

My biggest advice for playing the deck is to know the matchup that you're playing and to play the deck carefully in matchups where the opponent is likely to have removal. Against interaction-light combo decks, our best plan is often to just try to build a massive creature as quickly as possible and try to race our opponent's combo, trusting that our opponent is unlikely to have a way to kill our threat. On the other hand, the opposite is true against removal-heavy midrange and control. In these matchups, it's usually best to try to leave up protection like Alseid of Life's Bounty or Karametra's Blessing to protect our primary threat, rather than just dumping our hand and hoping our opponent doesn't have an answer. 

However, there is an exception to this rule: if we happen to have a Kor Spiritdancer or Sram, Senior Edificer (and especially if we have two of them), it's often best just to play as many auras as possible, even if our opponent might have removal, since the cards we draw from Kor Spiritdancer and Sram should allow us to rebuild if our opponent does have an answer. And if our opponent doesn't have an answer, we're likely to just win the game.

Also, don't keep hands without a creature. With 15 creatures in our deck, we usually have one in our opening hand, but keeping a hand that is all auras and has nothing to put the auras on is super risky and a good way to lose the game. Also, put high value on Kor Spiritdancer and Sram. While we don't have to mulligan until we find an engine piece, these are the cards that make the deck powerful, so a medium hand without a Sram or Spiritdancer is often worth mulliganing, especially with London mulligans making it hard to have a truly unplayable six-card hand, in the hopes of finding a Kor Spiritdancer or Sram, Senior Edificer.

Wrap-Up

Mono-White Auras felt great! We beat Dredge twice and Bant Spirits and UW Control once, while only losing to Eldrazi Tron is a really close three-game match, giving us a 4-1 record overall, which is very solid for a $60 deck. In general, I'm not a big fan of aggro decks, which often just lose the game to a single sweeper or a handful of targeted removal, but Mono-White Auras is different. Thanks to the endless card draw and powerful protection spells, the deck is actually very good at competing with removal-heavy control and midrange decks, while the Dredge matchups showed that it can also race some of the faster combo decks in the Modern format. If you like drawing cards or just building massive Voltron threats, give the deck a shot! I think that Mono-White Auras is very likely one of the best ultra-budget decks you can play in the Modern format and more than good enough to 5-0 a league or compete in something like an FNM.

Ultra-Budget Mono-White Auras

No ultra-budget build this week. The build we played in the videos is already in the ultra-budget price range, and there isn't really a way to make it much cheaper since most of the cards are already cheap.

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For our non-budget build this week, we have GW Bogles, a legitimate (and at some points in time, top-tier) Modern deck. If you want to upgrade Mono-White Auras directly, there isn't really much to change in the main deck (Daybreak Coronet was the one aura that I left out for budget purposes and is likely better than Spirit Link in the deck), although playing Rest in Peace over Tormod's Crypt in the sideboard makes sense, and it could be worth considering Leyline of Sanctity in the sideboard as well to slow down discard spells. 

On the other hand, as you can see from the above list, Mono-White Auras upgrades nicely into GW Bogles. We play many of the auras in the budget build of the deck, and we even have Kor Spiritdancer as one of our main payoffs. On the other hand, getting the mana necessary to make GW Bogles work is a pretty major expense since the deck can't afford to have lands coming into play tapped. This means you need cards like Windswept Heath, Razorverge Thicket, and Horizon Canopy, which make up almost all of the cost of the upgrade. 

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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