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Budget Magic: $93 (5 tix) Dimir Winds (Standard, Magic Online)


Fâla, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! This week, we're heading back to Guilds of Ravnica Standard to play one of my favorite enchantments in the format: Favorable Winds! We played a Mono-Blue Favorable Winds deck over a year ago, when Ixalan first game out. But today's deck is a lot different, not only splashing into black but also taking advantage of some really powerful new cards from Guilds of Ravnica itself. The basic idea of the deck is to play a bunch of cheap, aggressive, disruptive fliers; make them into even bigger threats with the help of our namesake enchantment; and hopefully win by beating our opponent down in the air. Plus, thanks to Guilds of Ravnica, we have Thief of Sanity as a three-mana flier that can win the game all by itself if left unchecked! Can a budget build of blue-black Favorable Winds pick up some wins in Standard? Let's get to the videos and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Dimir Winds (Standard)

The Deck

Dimir Winds is basically a tempo-y aggro deck. The plan is to stick a bunch of cheap flying creatures, buff them with Favorable Winds, and pick up some quick wins before our opponent manages to find a way to disrupt our board. Thankfully, a lot of our fliers come with additional upsides that can help protect our board and disrupt our opponent. Probably the easiest way to break down the deck is to work our way up the curve, more or less.

The Winds

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Favorable Winds is an extremely powerful anthem, coming down for just two mana and, assuming we're willing to play all fliers in our deck, giving our entire team +1/+1. In some ways, it's even more powerful than other similar anthem effects, since it naturally incentivizes us to play a bunch of evasive creatures, which means in a lot of matches, we're essentially buffing a board full of unblockable threats. Being just two mana is key, allowing us to get our anthem on the battlefield without a significant loss of tempo and pumping whatever flying creatures we happened to play on Turn 1 to start getting in damage as quickly as possible.

One-Drops

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In the the one-drop slot, we get two Flying Men with upsides: Pilfering Imp and Siren Stormtamer. While the main reason both of these creatures are in our deck is that they are fliers that can come down on Turn 1 and start attacking for two on the second turn if we have a Favorable Winds, both offer some extra value. Pilfering Imp can also be an expensive Thoughtseize, stripping a card of our choice from our opponent's hand if we sac it and pay two mana. While we'd rather leave it on the battlefield as a creature in many matchups, occasionally being able to force our opponent to discard a powerful late-game play like Niv-Mizzet, Parun or Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is a game-swinging line. Meanwhile, Siren Stormtamer offer a good way of protecting our bigger, more powerful creatures from targeted removal and occasionally manages to save us from a potentially lethal burn spell to the face.

Two-Drops

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Combined with Pilfering Imp, Kitesail Freebooter gives us a ton of ways to pressure our opponent's hand, giving our deck a reasonable chance of beating sweepers like Deafening Clarion, Cleansing Nova, and Settle the Wreckage, which are often devastating against creature-based aggro decks. While the drawback of Kitesail Freebooter is that it can only hit noncreature spells, compared to Pilfering Imp, it also has a huge upside: it stays on the battlefield even after it works as a Duress. In the end, this make Kitesail Freebooter the perfect two-drop for our tempo plan. While our opponent will manage to kill it and get back their card sooner or later, ideally we'll be able to beat our opponent down in the air before they find the answer.

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Rounding out the two-drop slot are two copies of Nightveil Sprite and one Storm Fleet Aerialist. Nightveil Sprite offers some card filtering in the form of surveil, which makes it a good way to avoid flooding out and helps to ensure we draw a steady stream of action. Meanwhile, Storm Fleet Aerialist is mostly just big. Thanks to our eight one-mana fliers, there's a pretty good chance we'll be able to raid it into play as a 2/3 flier on Turn 2, and with a copy of Favorable Winds on the battlefield, it will grow large enough to dodge removal like Lightning Strike and Wizard's Lightning. More importantly, Storm Fleet Aerialist is a Pirate, and while we are far from Pirate tribal, having a Pirate on the battlefield is important for turning Lookout's Dispersal into an upgraded Mana Leak

The Finishers

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Thief of Sanity is by far the best card in our deck. It's the rare three-drop creature that can win the game all by itself if it manages to survive on the battlefield for a few turns, thanks to the absurd amount of card advantage it can generate. The problem with Thief of Sanity is that it only has two toughness, so it tends to die quickly, often before getting in a single attack. Thankfully, our deck is really good at protecting the Specter. Even discounting our spells, which well talk about in a minute, both Pilfering Imp and Kitesail Freebooter offer ways to strip removal spells from our opponent's hand, and Siren Stormtamer allows us to counter a removal spell that would otherwise kill Thief of Sanity. As such, our deck is really good at keeping Thief of Sanity on the battlefield, potentially allowing it to take over the game all by itself with a few turns of stealing our opponent's cards.

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Finally, we have Nightveil Predator, our more expensive and hardest-to-interact-with flier. The combination of deathtouch and hexproof makes Nightveil Predator solid on both defense and offense. With the help of Favorable Winds, Nightveil Predator offers a pretty fast clock in the air that is naturally resistant to most of the removal in the format. Meanwhile, on defense, Nightveil Predator is one of our best answers to annoying threats like Carnage Tyrant that naturally dodge our removal. 

Spells

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Chart a Course keeps us churning through our deck to find more threats and answers. Thanks to the endless fliers in our deck, it's pretty easy to attack with something in the air on any given turn and turn Chart a Course into a two-mana Divination, making it one of the best card-draw spells in Standard. While it doesn't have any specific synergy with our deck, drawing some extra cards is especially helpful against grindy midrange and control decks, ensuring we have enough random fliers to keep attacking through our opponent's removal.

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Cast Down and Blink of an Eye give us some removal to deal with our opponent's early-game threats, hopefully buying us enough to time win with our fliers. Blink of an Eye comes with some additional upside, giving us a way to deal with things like planeswalkers or annoying artifacts like The Immortal Sun (at least temporarily), while also drawing us a card along the way.

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Last but not least, we have a touch of countermagic. Lookout's Dispersal is one of the best counterspells in Standard when it can be cast for two mana consistently, and even though Dimir Winds isn't a Pirate tribal deck, it just so happens that many of the best cheap fliers in Standard happen to have the creature type. Thanks to Siren Stormtamer, Kitesail Freebooter, and Storm Fleet Aerialist, the odds of us having at least one Pirate in our opening hand are pretty high. Even if we don't have a Pirate, Lookout's Dispersal isn't that bad at full price, making it an easy choice for our deck. Meanwhile, Spell Pierce is just a one-of, but it gives us another inexpensive way to protect our team from sweepers or to protect our most important threats (like Thief of Sanity) from targeted removal.

Wrap Up

All in all, we technically finished 3-2, although we did benefit from a couple of shame scoops along the way. Maybe the biggest takeaway from our matches was that our deck was really solid, except for when it came to dealing with one card: Niv-Mizzet, Parun. Both of our losses came to Niv-Mizzet decks (Grixis Control and Jeskai Control), and even within those matches, it felt like our deck was keeping pace (or even winning) before Niv-Mizzet, Parun hit the battlefield. Otherwise, we were able to take down the Golgari menace along with Mono-Blue Tempo and Mono-Red Aggro.

As far as changes to make to the deck, better answers to Niv-Mizzet, Parun are the main improvement to be made. It might just be that Walk the Plank is a better option for the deck than Cast Down, even though being sorcery speed is a bit clunky. The sideboard could probably be improved as well. It's very focused on being good against control, but outside of Niv-Mizzet, Parun, the control matchup already feels pretty decent. It might be better to cut the one Arguel's Blood Fast and some of the counters for more early-game removal like additional copies of Moment of Craving.

All in all, even though our matchups were a bit odd, Dimir Winds felt pretty solid, and we didn't do a very good job of drawing our namesake Favorable Winds during our matches, which means it might even be a bit better than it looked. If we can fix the Niv-Mizzet, Parun problem (which would be easy enough if we change around our removal), the deck could be a pretty competitive budget option. Some of the best decks in Standard struggle with fliers, and not only does Dimir Winds offers a bunch of aggressive fliers, but also the deck is surprisingly disruptive, making it a little bit like Spirits or even Faeries in Modern. If you like beating down in the air and disrupting the opponent with small, tricky creatures, give it a shot!

Getting Dimir Winds down into the ultra-budget range is pretty easy: we cut the rare dual lands for Dimir Guildgate and Submerged Boneyard, and we're good to go. Just dropping the seven rare lands drops the deck's price from over $90 to close to $40! While this change does hurt the deck quite a bit—playing a bunch of enters-the-battlefield-tapped lands is especially painful for an aggressive tempo deck like Dimir Winds, which really wants to curve out—there really isn't another option, since discounting the lands, the next most expensive card in the deck is Siren Stormtamer, at less than $3 per copy. 

It's also worth mentioning that these changes make Dimir Winds incredibly cheap on Magic Arena as well. The build we played in the video only had 13 rares and zero mythics, and if we cut the rare lands, it drops to just five rares (and one of these is the Arguel's Blood Fast in the sideboard, which you don't need if you're playing best-of-one matches in Arena mode). As such, Dimir Winds seems like a reasonable option if you're looking for something super cheap and new to try to grind rank and rewards on Arena.

As for the non-budget build of Dimir Winds, apart from a slight upgrade to the mana (adding the fourth copy of Watery Grave), we get a couple of powerful new fliers on the top end of our curve, with three copies of Doom Whisperer and one Dream Eater. Oddly, Favorable Winds works really well with Dream Eater specifically, shoring up one of its biggest weaknesses (only having three toughness). Meanwhile, Doom Whisperer is massive, giving us a flier that can stonewall Niv-Mizzet, Parun in the air, and the ability to repeatedly surveil is a great way to make sure we are drawing all action and not useless lands in the mid- and late game. Together, these cards allow us to close out the game quickly, even in games where we don't draw a Favorable Winds, which helps to minimize the number of turns our opponent gets to draw something to ruin our plan. 

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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