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Budget Magic: $89 (35 tix) Marvelous Paradox (Standard)

નમસ્તે, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time again! This week, we are heading once more to Aether Revolt Standard, and I have to admit that I haven't been this excited about a Budget Magic deck in a long, long time. The story of the deck is actually sort of funny. I was drafting Aether Revolt, and someone passed me an Aetherworks Marvel, which got me thinking about the card. While activating once a turn or even every other turn is powerful, I started wondering what would happen if we built a deck that was designed to activate the artifact as many times as possible in the same turn and then had some way of winning the game without letting the opponent untap. While it took a bit of work and tuning, the end result—a deck I'm calling Marvelous Paradox—is awesome! I don't want to spoil too much, so go watch the videos, and then we'll talk more about the deck!

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Marvelous Paradox: Deck Tech

Marvelous Paradox vs. GW Gearhulk

Marvelous Paradox vs. Mono-White Servos

Marvelous Paradox vs. RB Artifacts

Marvelous Paradox vs. GB Delirium

Marvelous Paradox vs. Jeskai Control

The Deck

The basic idea of Marvelous Paradox is simple—we get an Aetherworks Marvel and a Paradox Engine on the battlefield; then, we activate Aetherworks Marvel as many times as possible, with the end result being that we win the game without giving our opponent a change to untap!

The Combo

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The main combo of the deck is Aetherworks Marvel with Paradox Engine. When we get both of these cards on the battlefield at the same time (and we can even use the first Aetherworks Marvel activation to find a Paradox Engine), every time we activate Aetherworks Marvel and cast one of the top six cards of our library for free, we also untap Aetherworks Marvel thanks to Paradox Engine. This means that, as long as we have enough energy, we can just keep activating Aetherworks Marvel over and over again until we eventually amass a massive board and win the game on the spot. 

The rest of the deck is dedicated to making energy, with some cards to help make energy in the early game to make sure we have enough energy to activate Aetherworks Marvel the first time, and others that we are looking to hit off of our Aetherworks Marvel activations to give us enough energy to keep going with our combo. Let's talk about the Marvel "hits" first.

Marvel "Hits"

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So, we get our Aetherworks Marvel on the battlefield, we use it to find a Paradox Engine, and we decide to start comboing off. The first card we are looking to hit off of Aetherworks Marvel is Aethertide Whale, which is our easiest and cleanest way to get another Aetherworks Marvel activation. We get a 6/4 flier, which is great, but more importantly, we get back six energy, which is exactly what it costs to activate Aetherworks Marvel again after it untaps with Paradox Engine

Basically, Aethertide Whale is a free roll with Aetherworks Marvel. It doesn't gain us additional energy, but it doesn't lose us energy either, since we recoup the energy we invested into Aetherworks Marvel. It also helps support some of the other cards we are looking to hit off of Aetherworks Marvel.

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Once we have an Aethertide Whale on the battlefield, Peema Aether-Seer is another free roll with Aetherworks Marvel. We get a 3/2 body left behind on the battlefield, and since Aethertide Whale has six power, we gain back six energy with Peema Aether-Seer's enters-the-battlefield ability. The best part of Peema Aether-Seer is that it sometimes actually nets us energy.

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Aetherwind Basker can be high variance. If we play it off Aetherworks Marvel onto an empty board, we only get a single energy, which can lead to us fizzling mid-combo, but after we get a few creatures on the battlefield, it usually is energy neutral, and near the end of our combo, we often have enough creatures where Aetherwind Basker actually gains us energy. Speaking of gaining energy, one of the easiest ways to gain a ton of energy is the combo of Peema Aether-Seer and Aetherwind Basker

Let's say we have an Aetherwind Basker on the battlefield and we cast a Peema Aether-Seer (either from our hand or with the help of Aetherworks Marvel). With the Peema Aether-Seer on the stack, we dump any extra energy we have into pumping Aetherwind Basker. When the Peema Aether-Seer resolves, we not only get back all of the energy we spent but we also have a much larger Aetherwind Basker on the battlefield, so the next Peema Aether-Seer we hit will gain us even more energy!

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Saheeli's Artistry was a late addition to the deck, and I'm a little embarrassed it took me so long to figure it out because it is the card that makes our combo work. The earliest builds of the deck were hoping to get by with just "free" hits off Aetherworks Marvel (for example, spend six energy on Aetherworks Marvel, get back six energy from Aethertide Whale), and while this worked in some cases, we would fizzle too often. What we really needed was a card that gained us a bunch of energy, so that when we have a bad Aetherworks Marvel activation (one that doesn't get us back six energy, such as hitting a Servant of the Conduit), we'd still have enough energy to activate Aetherworks Marvel again. Saheeli's Artistry is that card.

Of course, we need something on the battlefield to copy, but usually this isn't a problem. The basic idea of Saheeli's Artistry is that the first time we hit a copy while comboing, we copy an Aethertide Whale and a random Puzzleknot (which means we gain back eight or nine energy from our six-energy investment), and while this is fine, it is the second copy of Saheeli's Artistry that makes our combo nearly fizzle-proof. The trick is that Saheeli's Artistry makes an artifact token copy of whatever creature it targets, so after the first Saheeli's Artistry, we have an artifact Aethertide Whale on the battlefield, which means that with the second Saheeli's Artistry, we get to copy two Aethertide Whales (one with the "copy a creature" part of Saheeli's Artistry and one with the "copy an artifact" part). This gains us 12 energy for our six-energy investment, which is enough to make up for one "whiff" from Aetherworks Marvel

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The end result of our combo is that we get to activate Aetherworks Marvel an infinite number of times. Eventually, we'll be gaining 30 or 40 energy every time we resolve a Peema Aether-Seer and 50+ energy every time we hit a Saheeli's Artistry (thanks to copying Peema Aether-Seer with a huge Aetherwind Basker on the battlefield). This means that we can literally play every card in our deck in the same turn, thanks to Aetherworks Marvel and Paradox Engine. Once we have a board of 10 Aethertide Whales, all of our Aetherwind Baskers, a bunch of small creatures, and a ton of energy floating, we simply Aetherworks Marvel until we find Spontaneous Artist, spend some of our extra energy to give all of our huge creatures haste, and attack for lethal! Thanks to the fact that Aethertide Whale has flying and Aetherwind Basker is not only massive but also trampling, we can win by beating down with creatures, no matter what our opponent has on the battlefield. 

Other Stuff

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Servant of the Conduit and Rogue Refiner give us creatures that generate energy in the early game while also providing additional value. Servant of the Conduit helps us ramp into our Aetherworks Marvel on Turn 3 and Paradox Engine on Turn 4, while Rogue Refiner offers an on-curve creature that can block while we are setting up our combo that also draws us a card. 

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Woodweaver's Puzzleknot is super important to our deck. If we play and sacrifice it, it gives us enough energy to activate an Aetherworks Marvel, so it is occasionally another "free roll" when we are comboing off (assuming we have lands untapped). More importantly, it gains us a bit of life. Our deck is very good at winning on Turn 5, which is fine against most decks, but some of the most aggressive decks in the format can kill on Turn 4. Gaining three (or six) life is often enough to buy us one more turn to win the game with our combo. 

Meanwhile, Glassblower's Puzzleknot is mostly just a worse Woodweaver's Puzzleknot, but it is an extra artifact, which helps improvise our Whir of Invention to find either an Aetherworks Marvel or a Paradox Engine.

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Last but not least, we have lands that produce energy. Having four copies of Attune with Aether allows us to go all the way down to 20 lands, which helps to strengthen our combo because lands are "whiffs" when we hit them off Aetherworks Marvel, and Aether Hub helps fix our mana while also giving us a free, low-opportunity-cost source of energy. 

The Sideboard

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Shock is specifically to deal with the Copy Cat combo, which can occasionally be a bit faster than we are if they have their nut draw. Aether Meltdown is a great way to slow down Heart of Kiran and other cards from Mardu Vehicles. The rest of the sideboard is filled with general answers. Negate and Dispel are to protect our combo from artifact hate and also force our Aetherworks Marvel through counterspells, while Appetite for the Unnatural gives us an answer to whatever artifacts our opponent might have in their deck. 

I should say that building a real ultra-budget build of Marvelous Paradox is pretty much impossible. The only expensive cards in the decks are Aetherworks Marvel and Paradox Engine and those are the two namesake cards that make the entire deck function, so they are essentially uncuttable. As such, this version is exactly the same as the one in the videos, except with a more budget-friendly mana base. While this helps cut down the price a little bit, it comes at the price of having a bunch more enters-the-battlefield-tapped lands, which slows down the deck a bit and makes it less consistent. As such, the ultra-budget build is a fine starting point, but I'd splurge on the better lands if you can, because they will make the deck function much better. 

The non-budget build is basically the opposite of the ultra-budget build. As a combo deck, all of the cards in the build we played on video have a very specific purpose, and as weird as it sounds, they actually are the best at what they do, so there really aren't a lot of changes to be made. Basically, rather than being a deck that is less than optimal to be budget, Marvelous Paradox just happens to be a deck that falls into the budget price range. That said, we do get to upgrade the mana base with Spirebluff Canal and add some copies of Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger into the sideboard, which give us another line of attack with Aetherworks Marvel. I'm not sure Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is 100% needed, but I do believe it's worth testing out, and while the upgrade isn't huge, you might as well throw in Spirebluff Canal if you have some copies sitting around (although I'm not sure I'd run out and buy them if you don't already have some in your binder).


Anyway, that's all for today. All in all, we went 4-1 with the deck, losing only to GB Delirium, and we had a shot in that match but whiffed hard on our first Aetherworks Marvel activation (which doesn't happen often but does happen every once and a while). The deck is amazingly fun to play, quite fast, fairly consistent, and surprisingly competitive. Plus, it has the best turns out of any deck in Standard. While gaining a bunch of life and winning with Aetherflux Reservoir is sweet, it doesn't compare to having a board full of Aethertide Whales and attacking with a 50-power Aetherwind Basker! Give it a shot—you won't be disappointed! 

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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