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Budget Magic: $83 (52 tix) Standard UG Emerge

Wai palya, Budget Magic lovers! It's that time again. The long wait is finally over. Eldritch Moon is on Magic Online, which means we finally get to start exploring the new Standard format, Budget Magic style! I spent quite a while this week trying to figure out the perfect deck for the first week of Eldritch Moon Standard before eventually landing on a sweet UG Emerge deck, and I have to say that I'm pretty happy with where we ended up! While the deck might look like a straightforward creature deck, it has a bit of a Turbo Turns-esque combo finish lurking beneath the surface, waiting for the right time to emerge spring forth. 

Let's get to the videos; then, we'll break down UG Emerge. 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.

UG Emerge: Deck Tech

UG Emerge vs. UR Eldrazi Control

UG Emerge vs. Grixis Pact

UG Emerge vs. Bedlam Tutelage

UG Emerge vs. Wr Humans

UG Emerge vs. Four-Color Dragons

The Deck

One of the things I really like about UG Emerge is that the deck is extremely redundant. Every single non-land card in the main deck is a creature, which can be broken down into four groups (although some cards overlap between two groups): mana dorks, card advantage, token generators / sacrifice fodder, and emerge finishers. Probably the most logical way to break down the deck is to take it one group at a time. 

Mana Dorks

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Since we're playing Standard, we don't get one-mana mana dorks like Birds of Paradise or Llanowar Elves, so we have to make do with starting our ramp on Turn 2 with the help of Deathcap Cultivator and Leaf Gilder. The upside of both of our mana dorks is that they are real creatures that can attack and block; however, the one and only reason they are in the deck is to help us play our other other creatures a turn faster. Our most explosive draws involve a mana dork on Turn 2, a four-drop on Turn 3, and then a huge emerge threat on Turn 4. When this happens, we are a huge favorite to win against most decks in the format. 

Card Advantage

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Considering UG Emerge plays 36 creatures in the main deck, Duskwatch Recruiter is almost guaranteed to hit something with every activation. It also provides a great mana sink when games go long, and we can use our Deathcap Cultivator and Leaf Gilder mana to activate it multiple times a turn. Basically, the entire idea of the deck is that we flood the board with creatures as quickly as possible, and then cast huge emerge threats several turns in a row to finish off the game. Duskwatch Recruiter is essential in helping us find creatures to flood the battlefield early in the game and then our emerge creatures later in the game. 

Foul Emissary is one of the cards that walks the line between groups. On one hand, its enters-the-battlefield trigger is pretty much a one-shot Duskwatch Recruiter activation (that digs one deeper), so we can use it to keep churning through our deck. On the other hand, it's also a great creature to sacrifice to pay emerge costs (it pretty much says as much directly on the card), not only giving us a three-mana discount on our emerge creature but also leaving behind a 3/2 token. 

Token Generators / Sacrifice Fodder

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These are the cards that we are looking to play on Turn 3 using our Leaf Gilder and Deathcap Cultivator mana, and they serve two important purposes in our deck. First, each of these creatures generates one or more tokens, so even if the creature itself dies, it leaves behind something of value on the battlefield. Second, and more importantly, these cards allow us to start chaining together huge emerge finishers on turn four. When we sacrifice a Whirler Rogue or an Eyeless Watcher, our Elder Deep-Fiend only costs three mana and our Decimator of the Provinces only costs five. 

The other great thing about Eldrazi Skyspawner, Eyeless Watcher, and Whirler Rogue is that they give us a Plan B when we aren't winning with our emerge creatures. Sometimes, just going wide with a bunch of little creatures is enough to win the game. They are also super helpful against aggressive decks because they make multiple blockers. Typically, we can go over the top of aggressive decks once we get our emerge plan online, and having cards that make two or three chump blockers is often enough to buy us an extra turn to start playing Decimator of the Provinces and Elder Deep-Fiend

Emerge Finishers

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This is where things start to get fun. When it comes to the emerge-finisher part of the deck, we actually have two separate plans, which are loosely related. Decimator of the Provinces is a hugely powerful card. Its "when cast" ability is basically a miniature version of Craterhoof Behemoth, and even when we don't have a boar(d) full of creatures to pump up, it's a massive threat on its own. As such, we sometimes just win on Turn 4 or 5 by emerging a Decimator of the Provinces and giving all of our random tokens and mana dorks +2/+2 and trample, while also getting a 7/7 trampling, hasty Decimator of the Provinces, which often allows us to hit our opponent for 10 or 15 damage. Sometimes, this is enough to kill our opponent outright, and when it's not quite enough, it still leaves our opponent in a position where they need to deal with not only a bunch of small (sometimes evasive) creatures but also a huge Decimator of the Provinces as well, or risk dying the next turn. So, Plan A is simple: we flood the board with creatures, emerge a Decimator of the Provinces, and win!

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Heading into the matches, I figured that we'd win the game with Decimator of the Provinces most of the time, but after playing a bunch of matches with the deck, it's clear that Elder Deep-Fiend is even more important. This is where the Turbo Turns-esque combo finish comes into play. Thanks to Duskwatch Recruiter, Foul Emissary, and Sanctum of Ugin, our deck does a really good job of finding copies of Elder Deep-Fiend, so the most common way we win the game involves casting Elder Deep-Fiends two, three, or even four turns in a row, starting on Turn 4. 

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Sanctum of Ugin makes the combo finish possible, because as long as we have one on the battlefield, whenever we cast an Elder Deep-Fiend (or Decimator of the Provinces), we can search up another copy. So, here's how we typically win the game. On Turn 2, we play a mana dork; on Turn 3, we ideally play an Eyeless Watcher or Whirler Rogue (although Eldrazi Skyspawner or Foul Emissary work as well). Then, we pass our fourth turn, and on our opponent's upkeep, we cast an Elder Deep-Fiend, tap down all of our opponent's lands (basically a Time Walk), and sacrifice a Sanctum of Ugin to find another Elder Deep-Fiend (assuming we don't already have one in our hand). 

The next turn, we can attack with our stuff, get in some damage, and even start adding more creatures to the battlefield. Then, on our opponent's next upkeep, we cast another Elder Deep-Fiend (for only two mana, since we can sacrifice the first Elder Deep-Fiend to pay the emerge cost), tap our opponent out again, and search up a Decimator of the Provinces. This leaves us with a board full of random creatures, a tapped-out opponent, and a Decimator of the Provinces in hand. Then, we just untap, sacrifice the Elder Deep-Fiend to emerge the Decimator of the Provinces, and trample over for the win. 

Of course, this is a nut-draw example, where we have two copies of Sanctum of Ugin and can combo off on Turn 4, but this progression of Elder Deep-Fiend to make our opponent skip their turn into Elder Deep-Fiend to make our opponent skip their turn into Decimator of Provinces (if necessary; sometimes, we don't even need Decimator of the Provinces, or we just go with another Elder-Deep Fiend to keep Time Walking our opponent) is the most common way we win the game. The longer we wait, the more time we have to set up and either get multiple copies of our emerge cards in hand (with Foul Emissary and Duskwatch Recruiter) or draw into multiple Sanctum of Ugins to keep the chain going, so exactly when we go off depends mostly on the matchup and how much pressure we are under. Basically, while one Elder Deep-Fiend is great, the true power of the card is in multiples, which allow us to lock our opponent out of the game for two or three turns before cleaning things up with Decimator of the Provinces!

The Sideboard

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Mockery of Nature and Lashweed Lurker are ways to deal with non-creature permanents. While they might look odd and expensive in our deck, they are actually quite good because we can find them with Duskwatch Recruiter, Foul Emissary, and (most importantly) Sanctum of Ugin. They also trigger Sanctum of Ugin, so when we cast a Mockery of Nature or Lashweed Lurker, we can tutor up an Elder Deep-Fiend or Decimator of the Provinces and then use the Mockery of Nature or Lashweed Lurker to emerge them onto the battlefield on the cheap. 

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Thanks to Imprisoned in the Moon, our blue-green deck gets to play Oblivion Ring, which is awesome. Having a card that can answer not only any creature but also any planeswalker as well is a huge boon for a color combination that rarely gets real removal. 

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The one thing UG Emerge fears most is sweepers like Kozilek's Return, Radiant Flames, and Languish, which is why we have the full four copies of Negate in the sideboard. Meanwhile, Summary Dismissal is expensive but gives us some way to deal with the "when cast" triggers from cards like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and Emrakul, the Promised End. It can also counter a Chandra, Flamecaller −X activation as well. 

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Finally, we have Evolutionary Leap, which comes in against decks that are looking to one-for-one us to death with removal spells. In these matchups, Evolutionary Leap is almost unbeatable, since we can just sacrifice our creatures in response to the removal spells to get another creature. Plus, even though our deck has a ton of creatures, there is a lot of redundancy, which helps break the random element of Evolutionary Leap.

Ultra-Budget UG Emerge

For UG Emerge, cutting too much from the budget is difficult because Elder Deep-Fiend, Decimator of the Provinces, and Sanctum of Ugin make up almost half of the cost of the deck. To get the deck down under $50, we had to trim back on Decimator of the Provinces (making it more of a tutor target of Sanctum of Ugin), change up the sideboard a bit, cut back on the mana base, and trim down to two copies of Duskwatch Recruiter. All in all, I think this build is fine, and cutting down on some number of Decimator of the Provinces might actually be a good thing, but downgrading Duskwatch Recruiter to Elvish Visionary hurts, and the lack of dual lands in the mana base scares me, since we want double blue on Turn 4 for Elder Deep-Fiend into triple green on Turn 5 for Decimator of the Provinces. All in all, this version is probably fine for the kitchen table, but I'd want more dual lands before I take it to an FNM. 

Non-Budget UG Emerge

There are two big changes to the non-budget version of UG Emerge. First, we cut the mana dorks and instead run Sylvan Advocate and Oath of Nissa. While this potentially slows down the deck a little bit, having access to a good blocker like Sylvan Advocate means we can afford to be a little bit slower and still live long enough to combo off. Second, we add some different tutor targets for Sanctum of Ugin, like a single Drowner of Hope (which we can use to tap down all of our opponent's creatures, with the help of tokens from Eyeless Watcher, and swing for lethal), World Breaker (to deal with non-creature permanents), and Matter Reshaper and Thought-Knot Seer in the sideboard. Otherwise, we get Nissa, Vastwood Seer as another good value three-drop that helps to make sure we hit our land drops and can also be sacrificed to pay emerge costs, and Oath of Nissa, so we can actually do something productive on the first turn of the game. 


Anyway, that's all for today. Overall, we went 4-1 in our matches (while playing against some really interesting decks; apparently, everyone is testing out the new cards from Eldritch Moon), and in the one match we lost, we had some severe mana problems in game two. Regardless, the deck was super fun to play. Elder Deep-Fiend was everything I hoped for (we even had several opponents comment on how insane it was when we started chaining them together), and it felt quite competitive! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive, or at

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