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Budget Magic: $75 (41 tix) Standard Post-Rotation Pyromancer's Goggles

Hey there Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again. This week we're heading back to Standard with with not one, but two different takes on the same Budget Magic archetype — Pyromancer's Goggles. Over the past few weeks, there have been a bunch of requests for a Budget Magic deck that was not only fun, but also rotation-proof. Since managing your collection through rotation is an extremely important aspect of playing Magic on a budget, I figure the least I could do was oblige. Today we'll be looking a two versions of post-rotation Goggles. The first is Mardu, based around the power of Soulfire Grand Master and Crackling Doom, while the second is Jeskai, a build able to abuse the power of delve cards like Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time. Let's get to the videos, and then we'll talk more about the decks, 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.

Post-Rotation Goggles Intro

Mardu Goggles vs Mardu Dragons

Mardu Goggles vs Jeskai

Mardu Goggles vs GW Company

Mardu Goggles is fun and pretty sweet, but I'll let you in on a secret — every time I resolved a Magmatic Insight or Tormenting Voice I died a little inside. Not that these cards are bad; actually, they are quite good, especially combined with Pyromancer's Goggles. What was killing me was that I didn't have any delve cards to take advantage of all the cards I was putting in my graveyard. Plus I got some really awkward draws, either going through half my deck without seeing Pyromancer's Goggles, or ending up with three in my first ten cards (which is really painful, since it is legendary). 

As a result, I decided to tweak the build a bit. What if, instead of slashing black, we splashed blue, giving us access to not only Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time, but Jeskai Charm and Master the Way as well?

Jeskai Goggles vs Abzan

Jeskai Goggles vs Mono-Red Aggro

* Since Radiant Flames has yet to be released, Anger of the Gods was used in this slot for the videos. Having a sweeper is very important to the deck, and while the two cards are not identical — Anger of the Gods is better when you want to kill a Deathmist Raptor while Radiant Flames is better when you have x/3's against your opponent's board of x/2's — they are similar enough that I felt the substitution would work. Otherwise, the above list is identical to the list in the videos.

This is more like it! After playing both versions of the deck, I like the Jeskai build a lot more. Maybe because I have an affinity for blue (come to think of it, I've played about 15 heads-up Legacy Cube Sealed events on Magic Online over the past week and have built a non-blue deck exactly zero times), but even beyond my biases there are some positives and negatives for each build.

Positives of Mardu Goggles

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  • Crackling Doom is really powerful and being able to double it up with Pyromancer's Goggles is borderline unfair. Not only does your opponent take four damage (which can also be redirected to a planeswalker in a pinch), but they also sacrifice their two highest power creatures. 
  • Soulfire Grand Master is a great way of stalling out the game with a bunch of burn spells. Doubling up a Mardu Charm, killing two creatures, and gaining eight life is often enough to swing a game on its own. We play enough cheap instants and sorceries that using the buyback ability is more than just a pipe dream. 
  • Kolaghan's Command is a powerful card even if it doesn't synergize all that well with Pyromancer's Goggles; the copy automatically has the same two modes as the original. Given that Mardu Goggles is trying to win the game with a combination of burn and a very small number of creatures, being able to get back a Monastery Mentor in the late game can be the difference between winning and losing. 

Negatives of Mardu Goggles

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  • Has difficulty closing out games. While Monastery Mentor is great once it gets going, it takes a while to come online and a well-timed removal spell can end all the fun before it even begins. Otherwise, we are looking at Mob Rule (which is very matchup dependent) and doubling up Wild Slash or Crackling Doom to win the game. Unfortunately, even doubled, two damage isn't that much and this plan gives our opponents a long, long time to draw into an answer. 
  • No trump cards. Considering that the single most powerful thing our deck can do is play Magmatic Insight as a one-mana Divination, or turn Crackling Doom into a slightly better Barter in Blood, every match is a grind. We don't have one card that we can just slam and win the game on the spot. Instead we are trying to finish our opponent over the course of several turns with card advantage. While it didn't fit in our budget, I would definitely consider running a single Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and a Haven of the Spirit Dragon to have at least one card that strikes fear in the hearts of our opponents and can potentially give us some free wins. 
  • Mardu is horrible without Pyromancer's Goggles, but also horrible when it draws more than one Pyromancer's Goggles. This means a significant amount of the time, the deck doesn't function all that smoothly. I can't count the number of times I either had multiple Pyromancer's Goggles in hand when I only wanted one (or even none), or how many times I couldn't find a single copy no matter how many Magmatic Insights and Tormenting Voices I cast. Apart from my love of drawing cards, this maddening inconsistency was the reason I decide to build the Jeskai version of the deck. 

Positives of Jeskai Goggles

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  • Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time means we can usually find a copy of Pyromancer's Goggles (or whatever else we might need) when we need it. Plus we fuel our graveyard really well, so we can typically cast either of our big delve cards for one or two mana 
  • Along the same lines, we actually get to make use of all the cards we discard with Magmatic Insight and Tormenting Voice (the lack of delve cards was a major frustration and problem with the Mardu build). 
  • We get to close out the game faster. Pearl Lake Ancient is usually enough to get the job done all by itself in only a few turns and Master the Way combined with Pyromancer's Goggles often adds up to almost twenty damage by itself. Not to mention the fact that each Jeskai Charm represents 1/5 of our opponent's starting life total, even without the power of Pyromancer's Goggles

Negatives of Jeskai Goggles

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  • Jeskai have a Crackling Doom type card to deal with any big creatures, so things like Dragonlord Atarka and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger can be really hard to beat. Our only real out is putting them on top of our opponent's library, which is a temporary reprieve at best.
  • Jeskai doesn't get as much early interaction as Mardu. To make room for the delve cards, we are forced to play fewer copies of Wild Slash. This means we are less likely to be able to deal with our opponent's turn one or turn two play effectively.
  • Not enough room for Soulfire Grand Master or Monastery Mentor, both of which are very strong for their mana cost. Apart from the single Pearl Lake Ancient, Jeskai doesn't get any creatures at all, which means we are really leaning hard on Radiant Flames to keep us in the game and not get overrun during the early turns.

So What Goggles Deck Should You Play?

This is really a matter of preference and play style. While I do enjoy playing Jeskai more, I'm sure others would rather play the Mardu version of the deck. Both are powerful in their own ways and could be improved by adding things like Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and potentially some spicy new instants and sorceries from Battle for Zendikar (I'm looking at you Rolling Thunder). This choice really comes down to a handful of cards, so let's do a little test. I'm going to line up some card parings, and you simply write down "L" if you'd rather cast the card on the left, and "R" if you'd rather cast the card on the right. 

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$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Add up your score. If you have more L's than R's, you'll probably have the most fun playing Mardu Goggles. If not, then Jeskai is probably the way to go. Regardless of what option you choose, you will have a blast playing the deck. It works on a very different axis than most of the creature/midrange decks currently infiltrating Standard, and copying already powerful spells like Treasure Cruise and Crackling Doom feels like cheating. While I'm not sure either deck will be tier one this fall, they are definitely Friday Night Magic worthy, and with some tuning might even make a run at tier two status depending on how the post Battle for Zendikar metagame shakes out. 


Anyway, that's all for today. What do you think? Can Pyromancer's Goggles be a real player in Standard post-rotation? What can we do to improve the deck? Are you on #TeamMardu or #TeamJeskai? Have you seen anything else from Battle from Zendikar that could fit in the deck? Let me know in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive.

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