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Budget Magic: $86 (11 tix) Narset's Amnesia (Standard, Magic Arena)


Kopisanangan, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! This week, we're heading back to War of the Spark Standard for a rarity on Budget Magic: a control deck. However, we're not playing just a boring old control deck. Instead, we're playing a control deck with a (janky?) combo: Narset, Parter of Veils and Induced Amnesia. If we can stick a Narset, Parter of Veils to keep our opponent from drawing more than one card each turn and then target our opponent with an Induced Amnesia, we can essentially make our opponent discard their entire hand (although they do get to draw one new card) for just three mana! Otherwise, our plan is to keep our opponent's board in check and eventually win the game with planeswalker value from cards like Ugin, the Ineffable and Jace, Wielder of Mysteries. Is Mind Twisting away our opponent's hand a legit budget plan in War of the Spark Standard? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Narset's Amnesia

The Deck

Narset's Amnesia is essentially a control deck but one built around a combo that can (almost) make our opponent discard their entire hand as early as Turn 4. The basic plan of the deck is to deal with any relevant spells our opponent manages to play, hopefully Mind Twist away the opponent's hand, and then finish things off with various planeswalkers.

The Combo

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The primary goal of our deck is to play Narset, Parter of Veils on Turn 3 and then Induced Amnesia (targeting our opponent) on Turn 4 to make our opponent discard their hand, leaving them with just a single random card off the top of their deck thanks to Narset, Parter of Veils' static ability. While Induced Amnesia isn't great outside of the combo itself, Narset, Parter of Veils is actually a very strong card in our current Standard metagame, especially against more controlling decks like Esper and Simic Nexus, where the static ability (even without Induced Amnesia) can win some games all by itself by preventing our opponent from drawing extra cards. The other sweet aspect of the combo is that Narset's 2 ability can dig through our deck to find Induced Amnesia. So even if we don't have both combo pieces in hand, there's a pretty good chance that we can find a copy of Induced Amnesia for Turn 4 if we play a Narset, Parter of Veils on Turn 3 and activate it twice (over the course of two turns). 

The downside of the combo is that it can be matchup dependent. Against slower midrange and control decks, a Turn 4 Induced Amnesia with a Narset on the battlefield often ends up being a five (or more) for two and essentially just wins us the game on the spot. On the other hand, against aggro decks, it's possible that our opponent will have already emptied their hand by the time we get the combo online, making Induced Amnesia more like a bad Mind Rot than a devastating Mind Twist. As such, it's important that we have a lot of early-game removal to deal with our opponent's creatures in matchups where our primary combo isn't great.

Winning the Game

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While we win some games from our opponent scooping to our Narset / Amnesia combo, if we have to actually kill our opponent, we have three planeswalkers to help get the job done. Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage works especially well with our combo to clear our opponent's hand since it immediately starts dealing two damage each turn and helps clear out any cards our opponent draws after the Induced Amnesia Mind Twist. Meanwhile, Jace, Wielder of Mysteries is mostly a card-advantage engine, but if we can keep our opponent's hand and board clear, we can eventually win with its Laboratory Maniac static ability. Finally, Ugin, the Ineffable is our most straightforward finisher. Apart from killing (just about) anything, if we can empty our opponent's hand with Narset, Parter of Veils and Induced Amnesia, we can simply +1 Ugin, the Ineffable every turn to eventually win the game with a bunch of 2/2s that draw us a card when they die.

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If our opponent manages to kill our planeswalkers, we have a plan for that too in Yawgmoth's Vile Offering, which not only kill our opponent's best creature or planeswalker but also allows us to reanimate a creature or planeswalker, making it a great deal for five mana. The issue is that since Yawgmoth's Vile Offering is a legendary sorcery, we need a legendary creature or planeswalker on the battlefield to even cast it, which means there is some risk that it will get stuck in hand. While having a bunch of planeswalkers helps, the secret to turning on legendary sorceries in War of the Spark Standard is Fblthp, the Lost. The two-drop is so innocent looking that opponents rarely kill it (especially if they don't know we have Yawgmoth's Vile Offering in our deck), making it the perfect way to keep a legend on the battlefield to cast our legendary sorceries. Apart from supporting Yawgmoth's Vile Offering Fblthp, the Lost is a fine chump blocker on Turn 2, helping to keep the loyalty of our planeswalkers high while we look to draw into more removal or set up our combo.

Surveil Package

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Another way our deck can grind out value and card advantage is with Disinformation Campaign, backed by some surveil spells, to return it to our hand and recast it. Discovery // Dispersal helps to set up our draws on Turn 2 and find our combo pieces; then, in the late game (when we often have our opponent empty-handed thanks to our Narset's Amnesia combo), it turns into a solid removal spell, making our opponent pick up their biggest thing and immediately discard it. Meanwhile, Sinister Sabotage gives us some main-deck countermagic that doubles as a way to pick up our Disinformation Campaign. It's also worth keeping in mind that thanks to Yawgmoth's Vile Offering, we can get some extra value from surveiling expensive planeswalkers like Ugin, the Ineffable into the graveyard early in the game, trusting that we can reanimate them later with our legendary sorcery. As for Thought Erasure, it's a great way to grab powerful threats from our opponent's hand while also surveiling to set up our draws. While it can be slow against very aggressive decks, against control and midrange, it offers a great, proactive way to deal with annoying threats like Wilderness Reclamation, which are otherwise quite difficult for our Dimir deck to get off the battlefield.

Removal

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As we talked about a few minutes ago, one of the challenges of building around the Narset, Parter of Veils / Induced Amnesia combo is that the combo can be too slow against aggressive creature decks. For these matchups, we have a bunch of cheap removal to help keep the board clean and our planeswalkers alive. Cast Down and Tyrant's Scorn kill creatures on Turn 2 (with Tyrant's Scorn having additional upside in bouncing more expensive creatures in the late game) to increase the odds of Narset, Parter of Veils coming down on an empty board to facilitate our combo. Meanwhile, Cry of the Carnarium gives us access to a main-deck sweeper as a hedge against decks like Mono-White and Mono-Red Aggro. We've got a bunch more in the sideboard for the aggro matchup, where we often have to sideboard out some of our combo pieces since they are simply too slow.

Wrap-Up

All in all, we finished 3-2 in our video matches but dropped another match to Gruul Midrange, which is a really rough matchup since our deck is lacking a consistent way to permanently deal with Rekindling Phoenix (we probably should have some number of Ob Nixilis's Cruelty since Vraska's Contempt is a bit expensive for the budget). We performed extremely well against slower, more controlling decks but struggled against aggro, which makes sense considering aggro matchups are—by far—the worst for our Narset, Parter of Veils / Induced Amnesia combo.

As far as improvements to make to the budget build of the deck, the biggest is fixing the Rekindling Phoenix problem by adding Ob Nixilis's Cruelty (or Vraska's Contempt for non-budget builds). Another card that probably should be in the deck is Enter the God-Eternals, which not only gives us lifegain against aggro but a 4/4 body to close out the game a bit quicker after we Mind Twist away the opponent's hand. For some reason, I was thinking that Enter the God-Eternals was more expensive than it actually is. At about $2.50 a copy, we could easily play an entire playset and still come in under budget. Other than customizing the removal, the deck seems pretty reasonable in its current form, especially considering the budget restriction. 

In the end, Narset's Amnesia is fun, takes advantage of a unique combo, and is really solid against some of the most popular decks in Standard, although it does struggle against aggro, which is a concern. Unfortunately, black doesn't have great wraths at the moment, which means to really solve the problem, we might have to splash into another color (like white). This would probably make the deck more competitive but comes with the cost of greatly increasing the budget (to make the mana work). 

Ultra-Budget / Arena Budget List

Getting Narset's Amnesia down near $50 is pretty easy, although it does require trading Drowned Catacomb for Submerged Boneyard, which makes the deck fairly tapped-land heavy. We also trim back slightly on the higher-end planeswalkers in Ugin, the Ineffable and Jace, Wielder of Mysteries but still get to keep one of each to help us close out the game. Otherwise, the deck is pretty much good to go as-is. Just be warned that the mana will cause some problems, especially against aggressive decks, where drawing a handful of tapped lands is quite punishing. It's also worth mentioning that the ultra-budget build is pretty cheap on Magic Arena as well, with just 14 rares and zero mythics.

Non-Budget Narset's Amnesia

For our non-budget build this week, we reach into white for an Esper version of Narset's Amnesia, which is basically a Esper Control deck but with the Narset / Induced Amnesia combo slotted in. Going into white is a huge boon for the deck (although it also increases the price to nearly $500, which is pretty insane for a Standard deck) by adding a real sweeper in Kaya's Wrath, lifegain in Absorb, and some powerful planeswalkers to help close out the game quickly in Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Liliana, Dreadhorde General. Mortify also offers some interesting possibilities since it can kill enchantments, which means we can theoretically Induced Amnesia ourselves to wheel away our hand and then get the cards back later by killing the enchantment with Mortify. We can do something similar with our copy of Teferi, Time Raveler bouncing Induced Amnesia back to our hand. This leaves us with a deck that can play the control game quite well but still pick up free wins by making our opponent discard their hand with Narset, Parter of Veils and Induced Amnesia. On the other hand, if you want a straight Dimir upgrade, I'd be looking at something like this:

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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