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Budget Magic: $73 (23 tix) Modern Heartless Summoning

ᎣᏏᏲ Budget Magic lovers, it's that time again. This week we are heading back to Modern to showcase one of the most exciting Budget Magic decks we've had in a while: Heartless Summoning combo. It doesn't take much to realize that Heartless Summoning has the potential to be a broken card — making all your creature cost two less is a pretty epic ability, so we just need to figure out a work-around for that pesky "all your creatures get -1/-1" ability. Or, better yet, maybe we can somehow use this "downside" to our advantage? Anyway, let's get to the videos and then we'll talk more about the deck in a few minutes, but first a quick reminder — if you enjoy the Budget Magic series and the other video content here on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish Youtube Channel to keep up on all the latest and greatest.

Heartless Summoning Deck

Heartless Summoning vs Twin

Heartless Summoning vs Mono-U Tron

Heartless Summoning vs UR Prowess

Heartless Summoning vs Affinity

While there are other builds of Heartless Summoning that look to power out big creatures like Wurmcoil Engine on the cheap, our build is purely a combo deck. In theory we can win the game with our infinite-mill combo as early as turn two with the god hand of Altar of the Brood, Heartless Summoning, two lands, two Myr Retrievers and anything else; in practice it typically takes a few turns to put everything together. However, one of the most surprising things about the deck is just how consistent it is at putting together the combo. While we need more pieces than Splinter Twin, we have way more cards to help find what we need so we actually combo off a reasonable amount of the time. 

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As you probably figured out by watching the videos, this deck is built around the four-card combo of Heartless Summoning, Altar of the Brood and two Myr Retrievers. Here's how it works: First, we need to get an Altar of the Brood on the battlefield, which allows us to mill our opponent whenever a permanent enters the battlefield under our control (thankfully this isn't a targeted ability, so the combo works through Leyline of Sanctity). Then we find and play a Heartless Summoning which not only allows us to cast our Myr Retrievers for free, but thanks to the "creatures you control get -1/-1" ability, causes them to die as soon as they hit the battlefield. With two copies of Myr Retriever this creates a loop where we cast a Myr Retriever and instantly dies getting the second Myr Retriever back from the graveyard, which we cast, getting back the first Myr Retriever and so forth. Meanwhile, every time we go through the loop we mill one card from our opponent's library. So after 40 (or so) loops, we end up milling our opponent's entire deck and they die on their draw step to drawing a card an empty library. 

As I mentioned a moment ago, this can happen as soon as turn two, but most often we are using the rest of the deck to assemble the combo and it doesn't happen until turn four (or later). Thankfully most of our combo pieces have additional synergies in our deck. Myr Retriever, for example, is a really good chump blocker and we can use it as such at any time because when know that when we find a second copy we'll be getting the first one back. This helps us stall out the game until we can put together the infinite mill kill. While I've never actually milled someone to death without the combo (although I've come pretty close), it is possible to just play a bunch of Altar of the Broods and mill our opponents out by playing lands and other random cards. Meanwhile, Heartless Summoning gives us an excuse to play Mulldrifter

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Mulldrifter is fine on its own, although if we were always evoking it for three or casting it for five, we'd probably playing something else in the slot (possibly Thirst for Knowledge or Serum Visions). With a Heartless Summoning on the battlefield, Mulldrifter is far better than any of the other options being a draw two for a single blue mana. This is often important in the midgame when we are looking to put together the final pieces of the combo. We can cast a Heartless Summoning, cast a Mulldrifter for one mana, and, at least in theory, still have mana left over the play the cards we draw and potentially combo off. 

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Trinket Mage has the same synergy as Mulldrifter with Heartless Summoning. We can play it for one mana, search up an Altar of the Brood (the only Trinket Mage target in the deck) and cast the Altar of the Brood all for just two mana. It also survives -1/-1 ability from Heartless Summoning which means it can potentially chump and buy us an extra turn to put together our combo. The other option for this slot was Selhoff Occultist which is basically an Altar of the Brood with a body, but I like the resiliency that Trinket Mage plus Altar of the Brood has to offer. Not only is an artifact less likely to get destroyed in the first place, but we can use Myr Retriever to get back Altar of the Brood. For these reasons I think it is worth paying one extra mana for Trinket Mage instead of playing Selhoff Occultist

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Muddle the Mixture and Jarad's Orders are super important to our deck because both offer ways for us to find our combo pieces. Thanks to Muddle the Mixture's transmute ability, we can use it to search up either a Heartless Summoning or a copy of Myr Retriever. It also has the additional benefit of protecting our combo when we don't need to use it as a tutor. Jarad's Orders, on the other hand, is in the deck for one reason: it allows us to double-tutor for Myr Retriever since we don't mind that one is going to the graveyard. In many cases Jarad's Orders is the card we want to draw most in the late game; since we expend our other resources and tutors (Trinket Mage, Fabricate and Muddle the Mixture) to put together the Heartless Summoning/Altar of the Brood half of our combo, most often we are missing one (or both) copies of Myr Retriever, so Jarad's Orders wins us the game on resolution. 

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On the other hand, I haven't been all that impressed with Fabricate. The idea was that we could use it to search up either an Altar of the Brood or a Myr Retriever, but after playing with it, if feels clunky and expensive. If we we're not on a budget, I'd probably replace it with a copy of Spellskite. We could cast for free off Heartless Summoning and it offers protection against things like Abrupt Decay and Kolaghan's Command

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The main purposes of Gigadrowse is to beat counterspell decks by tapping down all their mana on their end of turn allowing us free reign to combo off after we untap. However, it can also be used to tap down creatures (sort of like Cryptic Command) buying us an extra turn to put all of our pieces together. 

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Dismember is included in the deck for one major reason: a single copy of Scavenging Ooze sitting on the battlefield destroys our combo. While it can obviously kill other things too, if it wasn't for the threat of Scavenging Ooze (and to a lesser extent, the Splinter Twin combo) I'd be tempted to play the deck without any main deck removal at all. 

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The rest of the deck is filled with cards designed to help us force the combo through disruption. Duress is proactive protection against not only the artifact and enchantment removal that can ruin our day, but also various counterspells. If we we not on a budget, Thoughtseize would be be in this slot. Remand helps us cycle through our deck while also offering just enough protection to buy an additional turn to combo off. Swan Song is the cheapest was to protect our combo against not only instants, but sorceries as well, which is why it's in the main deck over Dispel

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Finally, we have four copies of Surgical Extraction in the sideboard simply because the "shuffle your graveyard into your library" effect from various Eldrazi is basically unbeatable without it. While we give up game one against decks like GR Tron, Surgical Extraction at least gives us some shot after sideboarding. The other option in this slot would be Leyline of the Void and I honestly don't know which one is better. Feel free to test either, but just make sure you have some number of sideboard slots dedicated to beating Eldrazi. 


Anyway, that's all for today. I had a ton of success playing the deck this week and a ton of fun doing it. While it might look wacky on paper, the deck actually plays really well; since we have so many tutors to help us put together our combo, it is far more consistent than it might appear at first glance. So what do you think? How can we improve this build? Does Heartless Summoning have potential to be a real contender in our current Modern metagame? Leave your thoughts and idea in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive.

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