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Budget Magic: $94 (32 tix) UR Prowess (Modern)

Kopisanangan, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time again! This week, we're heading to Modern to get aggressive with a deck powered by the instant-speed cantrip Opt: UR Prowess. UR Prowess is a deck that's been close to being in the budget range for a while, but the expense of Serum Visions and Sleight of Hand was simple too much to handle Things are different today. Serum Visions is now pretty cheap thanks to reprintings, and Sleight of Hand is unnecessary, since Opt is a better option for the deck. The basic plan of UR Prowess is simple: we play a bunch of aggressive, cheap creatures that care about us casting spells and then look to chain together cantrips, free spells, and burn spells to kill our opponent quickly by making our cheap creatures into huge threats! If you liked the Temur Miracle Grow deck we played in Standard a few weeks ago, this might be the Modern budget deck for you! Anyway, let's get to the videos so you can see how UR Prowess plays; then, we'll talk more about the deck.

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UR Prowess (Deck Tech)

UR Prowess vs. Jeskai Control (Match 1)

UR Prowess vs. Infect (Match 2)

UR Prowess vs. Polyfacts (Match 3)

UR Prowess vs. Jeskai Aggro (Match 4)

UR Prowess vs. Eldrazi & Taxes (Match 5)

The Deck

UR Prowess is pretty simple. It's basically a very aggressive blue-red deck that's looking to deal a ton of surprise damage by playing spells to pump its creatures. We don't have any cards that cost more than two mana, which combined with a low land count (and a bunch of cantrips) means we should draw a steady stream of action in the early game and hopefully be able to close out the game quickly. Things get a bit difficult once we get to the late game, since our creatures aren't very big, so our main focus is on getting in as much damage as possible over the early turns of the game to get our opponent low enough on life that we can finish things off with burn spells (or pump spells). 

The Creatures

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Thanks to Soul-Scar Mage, we now have eight one-drop prowess creatures, which means the odds are in favor of us having at least one of these creatures in our opening hand. Monastery Swiftspear is the better of the two thanks to haste, which is actually more important in the late game than on Turn 1. While chipping in for a damage on Turn 1 is great, the real power of the haste mechanic on Monastery Swiftspear is when we draw it off the top on the mid-game and surprise our opponent for a ton of damage by casting it along with a bunch of spells. Soul-Scar Mage is basically Monastery Swiftspears five through eight. While losing haste makes it less explosive, the ability to deal wither damage with our spells is sometimes important, allowing us to make a big blocker like Tarmogoyf smaller before combat damage is dealt to avoid losing one of our creatures. 

Abilities aside, the reason both Monastery Swiftspear and Soul-Scar Mage are in the deck is to make sure we get off to a fast start and always have at least one prowess creature on the battlefield, so all of our cantrips and random spells come with a weird Giant Growth-like kicker of pumping our creatures.

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Stormchaser Mage is basically a Monastery Swiftspear that costs an extra mana but gains flying as a result. Having flying means it's even more likely than our one-drops to get in damage, since most Modern decks are fighting on the ground rather than in the air, while haste gives it the same explosive off-the-top-of-the-deck potential as Monastery Swiftspear. Having a third point of toughness is also strangely relevant, since it means we only need to cast a single spell (and get a single prowess trigger) to get Stormchaser Mage's toughness high enough that it doesn't die to a Lightning Bolt. More importantly, Stormchaser Mage gives us some really aggressive starts. While it doesn't happen all that often, it's possible that we cast a Monastery Swiftspear on Turn 1, cast a Stormchaser Mage on Turn 2, and kill our opponent on Turn 3 by casting a bunch of spells. 

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Our last creature is Young Pyromancer, which is a bit weird in our deck. All the rest of our creatures look to go tall and get in huge chunks of damage by themselves thanks to prowess, but Young Pyromancer is much better at going wide by making a 1/1 Elemental token whenever we cast a spell. While we sometimes use these tokens to get aggressive, more often than not, we use them as chump blockers. One of the hallmarks of a prowess deck is they make it really difficult for the opponent to block, since our opponents never know when we'll cast a bunch of spells to boost our creatures' power and make a seemingly good block go bad. As a result, most games end up with us attacking our opponent and our opponent attacking us. Having a steady stream of 1/1 chump blockers makes it easy to attack every turn with our aggressive prowess creatures without worrying about dying to our opponent's creatures on the back swing. 


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Serum Visions and Opt are two of the most important cards in our deck, filtering through our deck to find our important cards while pumping our prowess creatures along the way. Opt specifically is great because it gives us another instant-speed spell, which makes it difficult for our opponent to block our creatures, since there's always the risk that we will cast a couple of Opts and blow them out. Apart from simply chaining together our cantrips to generate a bunch of prowess creatures, having Opt and Serum Visions in the late game makes sure we can find our burn or pump spells to push over the last few points of damage and close out the game. Speaking of burn spells...

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Beyond our cantrips, our burn spells are the most important spells in our deck. In the early game, they get opposing blockers out of the way to make sure we can keep getting in damage with our creatures while also pumping our creatures thanks to prowess. Then, in the late game, they gives us a way to push across the last few points of damage we need to close out the game once our opponent stabilizes the board with bigger creatures.

Lightning Bolt is the best of the bunch, and in our deck, it's often representing four or five damage for just a single mana (thanks to the prowess triggers it generates), which is an insane deal for the mana cost. Rift Bolt gives us the same rate, but with a turn delay thanks to suspend. However, there are some cases where waiting a turn is actually a benefit, since we can use the suspended turn to set up our prowess creatures and pump spells to get in a lethal attack. Plus, we can also just bite the bullet and cast Rift Bolt for three mana if we need to. As for Gut Shot, the one damage is nice for killing Birds of Paradise, Infect creatures, and Affinity creaturelands, but the real power of the card is that it's a zero-mana way to trigger prowess on all of our creatures. While the extra combat damage this provides is nice, just our opponent knowing we have free spells like Gut Shot in our deck means they have to think twice about blocking our prowess creatures even if we are completely tapped out, which is also very helpful. Speaking of free spells...

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Mutagenic Growth is amazing in our deck. Even with just a single prowess creature on the battlefield, it gives a creature +3/+3 for the low, low cost of two life. It's even scarier when we have several prowess creatures on the battlefield, often giving a total of +4 or +5 prowess for free! Even beyond getting in damage, Mutagenic Growth is one of our best ways to protect our creatures from damage-based removal spells like Lightning Bolt and Lightning Helix

The best part of Mutagenic Growth, however, is that it gives us a legitimate nut draw along with Temur Battle Rage. Picture this draw: on Turn 1, we play Monastery Swiftspear and hit our opponent for one. On Turn 2, we play Stormchaser Mage and hit our opponent for two (down to 17). On Turn 3, we attack, play Lightning Bolt (hitting our opponent to 14 and making both of our creatures 2/3s) plus a Mutagenic Growth (making Stormchaser Mage a 5/6 and Monastery Swiftspear a 3/4), and then cast a Temur Battle Rage (making Stormchaser Mage a 6/7 double strike and Monastery Swiftspear a 4/5). This equals a dead opponent on Turn 3! 

Even beyond the Turn 3 win, the combination of Mutagenic Growth and Temur Battle Rage means our opponent can never feel safe. In the mid-game, even if we don't have any threats on the battlefield, there's always a chance that our opponent will tap out and then just die when we draw a Monastery Swiftspear or Stormchaser Mage off the top of our deck, throw a bunch of pump spells at it, and finish things off by giving it trample and double strike with Temur Battle Rage!

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Last but not least, we have a couple of copies of Remand, which are helpful against control and combo decks by giving us a way to interact with non-creature spells. Since our clock is fast, we don't really need to stop our opponent from comboing off forever. Instead, just buying a turn with Remand is usually enough that we can untap and win the game with our prowess creatures, pump spells, and burn spells. It's also worth mentioning that we can use Remand on our own spells to generate prowess. Say, for example, that we have some prowess creatures, but our hand is just Mutagenic Growth and Remand. We can cast the Mutagenic Growth to trigger prowess, Remand the Mutagenic Growth (to trigger prowess and draw another card), and then recast the Mutagenic Growth to trigger prowess once again. While we are using Remand to disrupt our opponent most of the time, it is important to keep in mind that sometimes we can use it offensively to generate even more prowess triggers and potentially kill our opponent!

The Mana

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Blue-red is the single hardest two-color pair to build on a budget in Modern because typically the blue-red dual land is the most expensive in the cycle, which means many of the best options are off-limits to budget decks. Building blue-red aggro is even harder, since aggro decks really need their lands to come into play untapped. While a random Izzet control deck could get by with some tapped lands, our UR Prowess deck would really struggle if it had to play even a single tapped land. As a result, we had to go pretty deep to make the mana work in UR Prowess. Shivan Reef is a solid budget option, but for our second dual, we had to go with City of Brass, which isn't ideal but is significantly cheaper than the other options. This being said, if you have Steam Vents, Spirebluff Canal, or Scalding Tarn in your collection, don't go out and buy City of Brass for this deck. Any untapped UR dual land is fine in this slot (and probably even better than City of Brass, which can be pretty painful, although damaging ourselves isn't that big of a deal in most matchups, since we are the aggressor). 


We finished our video match 3-2, while dropping an additional match to Blistering Rage, bringing our overall record to 3-3. All in all, the deck felt solid and does a great job of playing the role of the aggressor and getting in tons of early damage. Oddly, the biggest problem with the deck was that we occasionally flooded out, even though we only have 19 lands and have eight one-mana cantrips. It's possible that even 19 lands is too many and we should be playing 18 or even 17.

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As far as changes I'd make to the budget build after playing some matches with the deck, the biggest would be dropping Young Pyromancer. While the two-drop is powerful in the deck, the fact that it doesn't especially support our go-tall theme makes it awkward in some situations. Maybe the best replacement would be Delver of Secrets. With 25 spells in our deck combined with four Serum Visions, we'd have a pretty reasonable shot of flipping it on Turn 2 or 3, and a 3/2 flier is a great way to get in a ton of damage. Another option would be Abbot of Keral Keep, which fits the prowess theme and gives us another source of card advantage. 

All around, the deck was pretty fun to play and extremely explosive. While it does struggle when the game goes long or when we draw too many lands, it makes up for this by picking up a lot of free wins in the early game thanks to the combination of prowess making combat difficult on our opponent and the ability to chain together spells. If you liked the Temur Miracle Grow deck we played for Standard, this is likely the perfect Modern budget deck for you!

The ultra-budget build of UR Prowess has one major problem: tapped lands. There simply isn't any way to get the deck down into the $50 range and still play City of Brass and Shivan Reef, which means instead we have Swiftwater Cliffs and Evolving Wilds. This means clunky draws and playing off curve, which is especially problematic for a deck looking to win on Turn 3 or 4. Otherwise, we change Soul-Scar Mage (which is sort of expensive based on Standard play) to Delver of Secrets and Young Pyromancer to Abbot of Keral Keep to save a few more dollars while dumping the two copies of Remand for a Spell Pierce and another Temur Battle Rage to give the ultra-budget build another way to pick up some free wins and hopefully overcome the clunky mana problem. All around, the deck should play mostly like the one in the videos, but I wouldn't want to take it to an FNM without improving the mana. The good news is that any UR dual lands that enter the battlefield untapped will do the job, so if you have Spirebluff Canal from Standard or Steam Vents sitting around from Modern, toss them in over the Evolving Wilds and Swiftwater Cliffs, and you'll be good to go!

The non-budget build of UR Prowess gives us a ton of major upgrades. Most importantly, the mana base is greatly improved, with fetch lands, shock lands and Spirebluff Canal, which not only help us cast our spells but also give us some fringe deck-thinning benefits, making it ever so slightly less likely that we flood out, since we have fewer lands in our deck to draw. We also drop Young Pyromancer for Snapcaster Mage, which doesn't directly help with our go-tall plan but, along with the addition of Lava Spike, makes it pretty easy for us to kill our opponent from six or nine life by casting and flashing back Lightning Bolts. Otherwise, we rework the sideboard, adding in Blood Moon as another free-win spell along with better graveyard hate and removal. All around, the deck should play like the one in the videos but with significantly more power, thanks to the handful of upgrades.


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

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