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Budget Magic: $88 (74 tix) GG Panharmonicon (Standard)


Mir-dita, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time again! This week we are heading to Hour of Devastation Standard to play one of my all-time favorite cards: Panharmonicon! The story of Panharmonicon in Standard is interesting and full of ups and downs. We started playing the card as soon as it was printed (it was the first Against the Odds episode of Kaladesh), and over the course of the next few months, Panharmonicon developed into a real deck. Then, out of the blue, Reflector Mage was banned, and the deck pretty much died. I was hopeful that Amonkhet would bring with it some sweet new enters-the-battlefield creatures to revitalize the archetype, but it barely contained any enters-the-battlefield abilities at all. Just when I was ready to give up on Panharmonicon, Hour of Devastation dropped, and it was overloaded with good cards for the archetype. What I'm trying to say is that Panharmonicon is back, with a twist: God-Pharaoh's Gift! Can Panharmonicon rise again in Standard with the help of some sweet new additions? Let's get to the videos and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

First, 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.

GG Panharmonicon (Deck Tech)

GG Panharmonicon vs. GB Energy

GG Panharmonicon vs. WU Monument

GG Panharmonicon vs. Temur Monsters

GG Panharmonicon vs. Red Deck Wins

GG Panharmonicon vs. Four-Color Control

The Deck

First off, just so it's clear, the name "GG Panharmonicon" isn't (just) a snarky "when we cast a Panharmonicon, it's pretty much time to say good game" thing; instead, the "GG" refers to God-Pharaoh's Gift, which is the second key piece of the deck. With this out of the way, GG Panharmonicon has some similarities to past Panharmonicon decks. Our primary goal is to double up enters-the-battlefield triggers, and our deck generates an absurd amount of card advantage as the game goes along. The biggest difference between this deck and past decks, apart from some sweet new cards form Hour of Devastation, is that God-Pharaoh's Gift gives us an insane late-game engine that pushes us toward using our graveyard rather than just the battlefield.

GG / Panharmonicon

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We won't go too deep explaining Panharmonicon—if you've been following Budget Magic and Against the Odds for any length of time, you probably know what the artifact does and that it's one of my all-time favorite cards to play with. While there are technically some weird tricks you can do with Panharmonicon—since it doesn't just double enters-the-battlefield abilities but any triggered abilities that come from artifacts or creatures entering the battlefield—Panharmonicon is pretty straightforward in our deck. We're overloaded on creatures with enters-the-battlefield abilities, and with Panharmonicon on the battlefield, we get to use them twice instead of once. Doubling up all of our enters-the-battlefield triggers will eventually win us the game, either because we will outpace our opponent in cards and value or because we will draw into a combo that lets us win the game right away.

As for God-Pharaoh's Gift, it's basically our finisher and just happens to work well with Panharmonicon, since the tokens it makes are copies of our creatures, which means we get the creatures' enters-the-battlefield abilities. One of the interesting aspects of our deck is that a lot of our best Panharmonicon creatures just happen to help us stock our graveyard, which means by the time God-Pharaoh's Gift comes down in the late game, it immediately starts making hasty (and sometimes evasive) tokens that let us close out the game quickly.

ETB Creatures 

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Apart from God-Pharaoh's Gift itself, GG Panharmonicon gets three huge additions from Hour of Devastation. The first are our eternalize creatures, which are amazing in our deck. We have Champion of Wits, which is great at just about any point in the game. On Turn 3, we can use it to Careful Study through our deck to find Panharmonicon (or whatever else we happen to need); then, in the late game, we can eternalize Champion of Wits to get a Careful Consideration to help us refill our hand by digging four cards deep. If we have a Panharmonicon on the battlefield, one eternalized Champion of Wits is often enough to close out the game with a huge influx of card advantage as we draw eight and discard four. Plus, the discard part of Champion of Wits is often an upside, since it stocks our graveyard for God-Pharaoh's Gift

Meanwhile, Sunscourge Champion is one of our best ways to stay alive against aggressive decks (which is important, considering how popular Mono-Red Aggro is at the moment), gaining us two life when it enters the battlefield and then four more when we eternalize it for just four mana. More importantly, Sunscourge Champion is one of our best ways of catching back up in life after taking a turn off to play Panharmonicon—with just a single Panharmonicon on the battlefield, an eternalized Sunscourge Champion gains us eight life—and in the late game, we sometimes gain 16 or 20 life from just one Sunscourge Champion. It's also worth keeping in mind that Sunscourge Champion is a great card to discard to Champion of Wits. While the front side is fine, a 4/4 for four mana that gains us four life is pretty close to Obstinate Baloth, which sees play all the way back to Modern. 

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Glint-Nest Crane is a strange card in our deck. Since we only have a total of six artifacts (four Panharmonicon and two God-Pharaoh's Gift), our odds of hitting one with a single Glint-Nest Crane trigger are actually pretty small (roughly 40 percent). However, it gets better in the late game after we have a Panharmonicon on the battlefield, since we can use the double triggers to dig for God-Pharaoh's Gift (or even just more Panharmonicons). It's also a fine blocker on Turn 2, stonewalling pretty much all of the popular two-drops in the format, and is pretty scary when it comes back as a 4/4 flier in the late game with the help of God-Pharaoh's Gift.

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Cloudblazer and Thraben Inspector are holdovers from past builds of Panharmonicon—they're just too good to pass up. Cloudblazer is the best five-drop to play the turn after we play our Panharmonicon, drawing us four cards and gaining us four life, which sets us up to take over the game starting the next turn. Meanwhile, Thraben Inspector is in the deck mostly because it's great before we have Panharmonicon. Our deck doesn't have much to do on Turn 1, so using our mana and getting a chump blocker and a clue is nice; plus, in the late game, we often end up with several clues for just one mana. Like most of the creatures in our deck, both Cloudblazer and Thraben Inspector get better with God-Pharaoh's Gift when they come back as 4/4s.

The Combo

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The other big addition from Hour of Devastation for Panharmonicon are the Deserts. While it probably sounds silly to be so excited for random uncommon lands, they are hugely important to our deck. Eldrazi Displacer is great for GG Panharmonicon, not just generating value by blinking our enters-the-battlefield creatures but also enabling a game-winning combo. The problem is that having enough colorless mana to activate Eldrazi Displacer generally means playing a horrible mana base consisting of stuff like Evolving Wilds to fetch out Wastes. With Hour of Devastation, this changes thanks to the Deserts, which are basically one-color pain lands (with upside). Thanks to Ipnu Rivulet and Shefet Dunes, we now have eight colorless sources that enter the battlefield untapped and still add colored mana when we need them to, which means Eldrazi Displacer goes from mana-base warping to a freeroll. 

As for the lands themselves, both offer a bit of upside. In the late game, we can mill ourselves with Ipnu Rivulet to get cards in our graveyard for God-Pharaoh's Gift. Meanwhile, Shefet Dunes can help us push through a few extra points of damage to close out the game with our creatures.

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As for the combo, we have single copies of Thought-Knot Seer and Drowner of Hope. While we aren't especially focused on putting together the combo, it's quite common that we draw our entire deck over the course of the game, so even though both pieces are one-ofs, we'll find them eventually. Drowner of Hope is the more important piece because with just a single Panharmonicon and an Eldrazi Displacer, we can make an infinite number of Eldrazi Scion tokens. In theory, this gives us infinite mana as well, but it's often enough to just make 50 tokens, tap down our opponent's creatures, and attack for lethal. If this plan won't work, we can add Thought-Knot Seer into the mix and use our infinite Eldrazi Scion mana to blink it an infinite number of times, which mills our opponent out of the game by forcing them to draw through their entire deck.

Removal

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Last but not least, we have a couple of removal spells. Cast Out can hit anything, and we can always cycle it away to dig for our more important pieces if we don't need it, while Declaration in Stone has some upside against Zombies, Emerge, and other decks where creatures keep coming back from the graveyard. Just a word of warning: we don't have many removal spells, and we are usually pretty good at overwhelming random creature-based decks with our lifegain and card draw, so if you play the deck, try to hold onto your removal for your opponent's most important creatures, instead of just firing them off at the first opportunity possible.

Wrap-Up

All in all, we finished our matches with a 5-0 record, which is great no matter what but even more impressive considering we played most of the tier decks in Standard, beating the Four-Color Control deck that won last weekend's SCG Open, WU Monument, Mono-Red Aggro, and GB Energy—all of which are among the top six decks in Standard.  Of course, this includes our match against Four-Color Control as a win—even though we technically lost due to time, we literally had a lethal attack declared when Magic Online gave the victory to our opponent. As such, I'm counting this as a win, even though we didn't get the play points to prove it. 

Generally speaking, the deck felt really good, although I wish we had another two-drop. While Glint-Nest Crane is fine, the curve is a bit top-heavy, and I imagine this will eventually come back to punish us. The good news is that Champion of Wits helps make up for some of these problems because we can always filter away expensive cards to dig for more lands or cheaper threats. 

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The other thing I was concerned about was Abrade, which gives a lot of decks a main-deck answer to Panharmonicon, but this didn't seem to be that big of a problem. Sure, sometimes our Panharmonicon or God-Pharaoh's Gift got blown up by Abrade, but we really only need either of our artifacts on the battlefield for a couple of turns to generate enough value that we take over the game. Plus, once we play Cloudblazer or Champion of Wits with a Panharmonicon on the battlefield, we usually draw into another Panharmonicon anyway, so getting the first copy blown up is less painful. 

Ultra-Budget GG Panharmonicon

To get GG Panharmonicon down into the $50 range, we mostly just trim. Since many of our most expensive cards (Champion of Wits, Panharmonicon, Eldrazi Displacer) are also our most important cards, we can't really cut them altogether, so instead, we go down a copy here and a copy there. Normally, this would be problematic because it makes the deck less consistent, but this is less of a problem for GG Panharmonicon than it would be for most decks, since we draw so many cards. Even with just two Eldrazi Displacers or three Champion of Wits, we'll still find them eventually, so we can cheat a bit on the numbers to get the price down. Otherwise, we cut the mana base and the sideboard down to the bare minimum. This gives us more tapped lands, which is annoying but hopefully not too big of a problem. All in all, this build will be a bit less consistent than the one from the videos, but it should play exactly the same—all of the same synergies and combos are in the deck.

Non-Budget GG Panharmonicon

No non-budget list this week. I've still been playing the deck, and the only change I've made so far is adding in one additional copy of Thought-Knot Seer over one God-Pharaoh's Gift (and I'm not even sure this is right or necessary). This just happens to be one of those times when the best build of a deck also happens to be in the budget range!

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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