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Budget Magic: $81 (24 tix) Favorable Winds (Modern)


Xewani, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time again! As we wait for the sweet new Ixalan cards to hit Standard, we are heading to Modern this week to play a very different kind of blue deck. Generally, when I think of blue in Magic, the first things that come to mind are counterspells and card draw, but today's deck is the opposite. Rather than being slow and controlling, we're basically a blue burn deck overloaded on one-drops, ways to pump our creatures, and all of the blue burn spells legal in Modern! I spent a while trying to come up with the right name for the deck, at various times calling it Mono-Blue Flying Men and Blue Burn, before eventually deciding to name the brew after the key enchantment Favorable Winds. Is it really possible that mono-blue aggro can compete in Modern? Let's get to the videos and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck.

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Favorable Winds (Deck Tech)

Favorable Winds vs. Eldrazi Tron

Favorable Winds vs. Abzan Company

Favorable Winds vs. UB Mill

Favorable Winds vs. Ponza

Favorable Winds vs. GW Elves

The Deck

The basic idea of Favorable Winds is pretty simple: if Burn decided to dump all of its red cards and go mono-blue, it would probably end up pretty similar to today's deck. The plan is to play as many one-drops as possible, pump up all of our aggressive creatures to get in a ton of early damage, and then finish off our opponent with a bit of tricky reach.

Goblin Guides

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While our deck has a massive 16 one-drops, all with flying—which is super helpful when it comes to getting in damage—our two best one-drops are Mausoleum Wanderer and Judge's Familiar. While the primary purpose of these cards is to be Flying Men, coming down on Turn 1 and getting in early damage, they offer a lot of upside as Force Spikes on a stick. One of the challenges of playing a lot of small creatures is they make our deck really susceptible to sweepers like Pyroclasm and Anger of the Gods, but things get much easier when we can sacrifice just one of our creatures to stop a wrath. Plus, since we are looking to end the game quickly, we don't really need to keep our opponent from resolving a sweeper forever—just for a few turns until we can get their life total to zero. While Judge's Familiar is great, Mausoleum Wanderer is even better, since as the game goes along and we start playing our Favorable Winds and Grand Architects, it often turns into a hard counter for instants and sorceries, since the opponent has to pay mana equal to its ever-increasing power.

The other reason Judge's Familiar and Mausoleum Wanderer are amazing in our deck is because they actually give us a chance against combo decks like Storm and Ad Nauseam. Much like sweepers, since our clock is fast, we don't really need to keep our opponent from comboing off forever—just long enough to kill our opponent. When we have a Judge's Familiar or Mausoleum Wanderer on the battlefield, one of two things happens. Either our opponent is forced to play into our counters, or they have to play off curve thanks to our flying Force Spikes, which often buys us the extra turn we need to finish the game.

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Faerie Miscreant and Jace's Phantasm round out our parade of one-drops, and while neither is as powerful as Mausoleum Wanderer or Judge's Familiar, they help make sure we always have something to play on Turn 1 while still offering some sneaky upside. While it doesn't happen very often, we get a free card every once in a while by playing a second copy of Faerie Miscreant, which is a nice bonus when it happens. Meanwhile, Jace's Familiar randomly hoses decks like Dredge by turning into a huge flier, not to mention that because of fetch lands, there's a pretty realistic chance it ends up as a 5/5 if the game happens to go long. Basically, our deck wants as many one-mana fliers as possible, and after Mausoleum Wanderer and Judge's Familiar, these are the next best options. 

Anthems

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The namesake Favorable Winds is an incredibly powerful anthem in our deck, since nearly all of our creatures have flying. One of the drawbacks of our one-drops is they only have one power, which means even though they can easily get in for damage thanks to flying, it takes a while for their damage to add up to a win. Favorable Winds changes the math, making all of our 1/1s into 2/2s, which speeds up our clock considerably. 

Meanwhile, Grand Architect is basically a bad version of Favorable Winds, costing an extra mana and also being a creature, so it dies to a lot of removal. This being said, many of our most powerful draws involve more than one anthem effect on the battlefield (it's really hard to lose when all of our 1/1 fliers are 3/3 fliers), and these draws don't happen often enough with just Favorable Winds. The other upside of Grand Architect is that we can tap it to cast the only artifact in our deck: Smuggler's Copter

The Looter Scooter

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While all of our one-drops are the foundation of our deck and our anthems are important in making our one-drops good, Smuggler's Copter is likely the most important card in our deck. Not only is it a fast, evasive clock, but the looting ability is great in helping is get through useless lands and find more action. Even though we are a blue deck, we aren't playing any card draw or filtering, so even just looting away a couple of extra lands can be the different between losing the game and finding just enough action to squeak out a win. 

While Smuggler's Copter is good all of the time, it's even better in conjunction with our anthems. Favorable Winds makes it into a 4/4, not just speeding up the clock but also helping the looter scooter dodge red removal like Lightning Bolt and Lightning Helix, while Grand Architect can also help grow Smuggler's Copter and also make mana to cast it. Basically, much like when Smuggler's Copter was in Standard, when we have a copy of the vehicle on the battlefield on Turn 2, our odds of winning the game increase significantly in just about any matchup. While we can certainly win games without it, it's the card we want to see most in our opening hand.

Removal

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Mana Leak is mostly a hedge for unfair decks, giving us an additional answer for when we run into Storm, Ad Nauseam, and friends. While it isn't an exciting card in our deck, most of our creatures are one mana, so it's pretty easy to stick a threat or two and then sit on a Mana Leak to make sure that nothing goes wrong. As for Vapor Snag, it's not true removal in the sense that it kill our opponent's creatures, but that's not a problem most of the time. Favorable Winds is aggressive enough that we typically don't need to deal with a creature permanently (actually, bouncing it and having our opponent spend their mana to recast it is sometimes better than killing the creature outright). Plus, while it might not seem like much, the one life it drains from our opponent is actually very relevant. If there's one thing I learned while playing this deck, it's that there are a ton of close games, and I was actually surprised how often I was hoping to top deck a Vapor Snag, not because we needed to bounce a creature but because it would give us the last point of damage we needed to kill our opponent. 

The Finishers

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While Psionic Blast is literally the blue version of Char, the card it reminds me of most is Mana Tithe. Modern players simply don't expect a burn spell from a mono-blue deck, which leads to a ton of awesome moments where our opponent thinks they are safe (or is even about to kill us) only to die to a weird color-shifted card that they had no reason to play around. Apart from the surprise troll factor, Psionic Blast isn't just a blue burn spell but  a good blue burn spell. Four damage for three mana is surprisingly on curve for burn spells, with cards like Exquisite Firecraft and Flames of the Blood Hand occasionally showing up in red Burn lists. Most importantly, having access to Psionic Blast means we don't have to deal the full 20 points of damage to our opponent with our creatures, which means even if our opponent eventually manages to find a sweeper, if we can get in 12 or 15 points of damage in the early game, we can trust that some combination of Psionic Blasts and Vapor Snags can finish the job. 

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Speaking of janky finishers no one expects, Contested War Zone is amazing in our deck. Over the course of our matches, there were a few games that we very likely wouldn't have won without the extra damage it helped force through. Plus, just like Psionic Blast, no one plays around Contested War Zone, which means we can often hold it in hand until we are ready to go for the alpha strike, play and activate it in the same turn, and kill our opponent out of nowhere. The downside is there can be some clunkiness, and we don't usually want to play Contested War Zone as a normal land because it's pretty easy for the opponent to steal by getting in combat damage, but most of these problems can be avoided if we play Contested War Zone like a spell (by holding it in hand until we are ready to us it) in matchups where our opponent is playing a lot of creatures. Since we are playing so many cheap, evasive creatures, Contested War Zone ends up being something like four or five damage for two mana most of the time, which is a pretty great rate, especially from a land. 

Other Lands

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Normally, we don't spend too much time walking about the mana, but it's worth mentioning briefly that Faerie Conclave is a great creature land for our deck. While entering the battlefield tapped is something annoying, the fact that it gets pumped by both Favorable Winds and Grand Architect means it's often hitting for four or five damage in the air. It also provides some wrath protection and occasionally works like Scrapheap Scrounger does in Standard by offering a hard-to-deal-with body to crew Smuggler's Copter when we really need to loot away some dead cards. Otherwise, Ghost Quarter is mostly for Tron but also helps against opposing creature lands. 

Wrap Up

All in all, we finished 4-1 with the deck, which is great. Actually, we came super close to going 5-0, having our Elves opponent dead on board only to lose to a surprise Westvale Abbey, which isn't commonly played in the Elves deck. On the other hand, most of our games were super close, so with a little less luck, it's possible we would have posted a worse record. Regardless, one thing that our matches made clear is that Favorable Winds has the power to compete with many of the big decks in Modern. The combination of just a bit of disruption, a fast clock, and a surprise burn spell seems to be enough to win a lot of matches. 

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As far as changes I'd make now that we've played some matches with the deck, the main one would be cutting Aethersphere Harvester from the sideboard. The idea was that it would be our Kitchen Finks and gain us some life against other very aggressive decks, but we never actually sideboarded it in. While we would probably bring it in eventually when we run into Burn, those two sideboard slots are probably better spent elsewhere. Otherwise, I'm not 100% sure on the number of lands. Favorable Winds feel like a 20-land deck, but Contested War Zone throws off the math a bit, since we don't really want to play it as a land in some matchups. As such, we landed on 19 real lands and the two Contested War Zones as half-lands. It might still be worth cutting one land, since there is a real risk of flooding out if we don't have Smuggler's Copter

In sum, Favorable Winds is one of those decks that doesn't look like much on paper but actually plays really well. The Force Spike fliers are surprisingly good in Modern, being relevant against a lot of decks while also winning some games on their own. Having a clock that isn't just fast but also evasive is really strong in the Modern format. Apart from Lingering Souls or a random flipped Delver of Secrets, there's just aren't many fliers in the format, which means our entire team is unblockable against a huge percentage of decks, making all of our 1/1s just fast enough to kill people before they kill us. 

Apart from reworking the sideboard a bit, the main cut to the ultra-budget version of Favorable Winds is Grand Architect. In the place of the lord, we get one Hall of Triumph and three copies of Signal Pest. While Signal Pest is even more aggressive than Grand Architect, the problem is it doesn't pump toughness, which means our deck will struggle if our opponent has Lingering Souls (and we don't have a Favorable Winds). All in all, the main game plan is the same—stick a bunch of aggressive creatures, get in early damage, and finish our opponent with reach—and while the ultra-budget version should work just as well in many matchups, it does give up some points to decks with fliers specifically. That being said, this is a fine option if you're looking for a super-cheap place to start.

If you want to directly upgrade the deck from the videos, the easiest thing to do is just replace Mana Leak with Remand and then add some copies of Hurkyl's Recall to the sideboard to fight Affinity and Ensnaring Bridge decks. On the other hand, if you want a more expensive upgrade, the best option is probably the Mono-U Architect deck, which is floating around the fringes of Modern. It plays a lot of the same cards, but rather than focusing exclusively on being aggro, it looks to maximize the power of Grand Architect (and other artifact-cost reducers) to play things like Wurmcoil Engine and Lodestone Golem on the cheap, while still keeping many of the one-drop fliers. Basically, it's a somewhat slower version of the deck we played in the videos that makes up for the reduction in speed by occasionally slamming Wurmcoil Engine as early as Turn 3!

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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