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Budget Magic: $94 (50 tix) Modern Mono-White Emeria Control

Sveiki Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again. After spending a few weeks in Standard playing some very sweet decks made possible by the release of Magic Origins, we are heading back to Modern to showcase a Budget Magic deck that I had a ton of success with this week: Mono-White Emeria Control. Featuring a ton of enter the battlefield abilities and some underplayed finishers, if you like grinding out your opponents with incremental value, this might be the deck for you. Let's get to the videos and then we'll talk a bit more about the deck. First a quick reminder — if you enjoy the Budget Magic series and the other video content here on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish Youtube Channel to keep up on all the latest and greatest.

Emeria Control Intro

Emeria Control vs Esper Mentor with Unintentional Special Guest Shaheen Soorani

Emeria Control vs Merfolk

Emeria Control vs Boros Burn

Emeria Control vs Mono-Green Aggro (x2)

Emeria Control vs UWR Control

While it might not look all that powerful on paper, this deck is just oozing synergy. As you can see in the videos, it's been performing quite well; I'm currently 7-1 in the 2-man queues. In a sneaky way, the deck also generates a ton of card advantage — almost all of our creatures draw a card (in one way or another) when they enter the battlefield, and some draw multiple cards. It's really amazing how low the playability bar is for a creature that has "draw a card" stapled to it. A 1/1 flier for three mana? Sure! A 0/4 with defender? Why not? While these cards don't give us a significant advantage on the battlefield, they do further our game plan and are actually quite strong since they don't cost us a card. 

While this is probably an oversimplification, at its heart, Magic: the Gathering revolves around the management of three resources: mana (tempo), cards in hand (card advantage) and life total. Most cards and decks are built in such a way where you spend your "cards in hand" resource to generate some type of meaningful advantage, typically on the board, but also by diminishing your opponents life total (i.e. a Lightning Bolt to the face); or you can an advantage by disrupting your opponent's plans (i.e. Thoughtseize or Counterspell). Since playing these cards diminish your resources (cards in hand), they need to have a reasonably large impact to be playable. Most of the creatures in our deck are "free" — not in mana cost, but in that they don't take away from our "cards in hand" resource because they either replace themselves (like Pilgrim's Eyeor actually generate card advantage (like Squadron Hawk). These type of cards can be much less efficient and effective on the battlefield because they are not eating away at our card in hand resource. In theory, even though our cards will almost always be worse (in a vacuum) than our opponent's, over the course of time we can overwhelm our opponent by generating more raw card advantage. 

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Emeria, the Sky Ruin, apart from being the namesake card, is basically a firm count-down timer. While we don't always get the seven Plains necessary to turn it on, it changes the way our opponents play the game because they know that once we get there, the advantage is likely insurmountable. Even just getting back a Pilgrim's Eye or a Lone Missionary every turn is usually enough to win the game, and when we are getting back Sun Titan or Flickerwisp things get even crazier. 

While it might seem odd to run the full four Sun Titans, the card is absolutely insane in our deck. Every other permanent costs three or less, so we have a toolbox of creatures to get back from the graveyard, plus the ability to get back Flickerwisp blinking the Sun Titan to get back something else is super strong, often ended with us having 10 or 11 power on board (and drawing a card or two) for six mana. Remember that Sun Titan can get back lands as well. In some control matchups, getting back a Ghost Quarter (which eventually is just a Strip Mine when our opponent runs out of basic lands) every turn can win the game all by itself.

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Flickerwisp is really the glue that holds the entire deck together. It provides a reasonable flying body while also allowing us to reuse whatever enters the battlefield trigger happens to be most important at the time. It also generates a ton of odd incidental value. For instance, Flickerwisp might be the best card in our entire deck against Merfolk because it allows us to flicker whatever land happens to be enchanted with Sea's Claim or Spreading Seas. It can also reset a creature that is equipped or enchanted and even temporarily eliminate a blocker allowing us to swing for lethal. While it's tempting to play something like Restoration Angel in this slot, coming it at 3cmc so that Sun Titan can get it back is the tiebreaker and makes Flickerwisp the better choice for our deck.

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The living weapon Mortarpod has thoroughly impressed me. It picks off a one-toughness creature by itself, can be combined with Flickerwisp to kill a two toughness creature, and maybe most importantly it allows us to put things into our graveyard to get back with Emeria, the Sky Ruin or Sun Titan. Remember the Sun Titan/Flickerwisp loop I was talking about a minute ago? Well, Mortorpod allows us to do this every single turn while dealing some incidental damage in-between, which is enough to get a concession from many opponents. 

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All of the others creatures draw a card in one way or another and allow us to grind out our opponents with raw card advantage. Lone Missionary is the worst of the bunch in most matchups, but is a powerhouse against various Burn decks that are still quite popular in the format. My initial thought was to play Kitchen Finks in this slot, but Lone Missionary is better for the curve while gaining the same amount of life as Kitchen Finks, but all at once which can be important against Burn.

Blade Splicer and Squadron Hawk draw us a card, but we know what that card will be before we even cast it. With Blade Splicer, it's a 3/3 Golem Token, while with Squadron Hawk, it's another 1/1 flier. Blade Splicer is mostly in the deck because it is quite good with Flickerwisp and Sun Titan, but I consider this to be a flex slot. If you want to test something else, by all means try it. Squadron Hawk, on the other hand, has a ton of synergy with Mistveil Plains (which, importantly, is an actual Plains so it counts towards Emeria, the Sky Ruin). Since we almost always have two white permanents, Mistveil Plains allows us to stick a dead Squadron Hawk on the bottom of our library, cast another one, and grab the Squadron Hawk from the bottom — basically infinite chump blockers. 

Wall of Omens and Pilgrim's Eye are probably the two best of this group. Wall of Omens blocks everything in the early game while not costing us a card, and Pilgrim's Eye is our best way of getting to the seven Plains necessary to turn on Emeria, the Sky Ruin

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The rest of the deck is typical control cards, which aren't especially exciting, but very necessary to the deck's success. Path to Exile is obviously one of the best removal spells in Modern and it is even better in our deck than most since we can use it like a Rampant Growth by targeting one of our own creatures to get our Plains count up to seven for Emeria, the Sky Ruin. I trimmed down the numbers to three for budgetary reasons, but if you have a playset sitting around, cut the Dismember from the main deck and run the full four copies of Path to Exile

While it might seem strange to run main deck Day of Judgment in a deck with 26 creatures, we really don't mind our creature dying since the plan is to get them back from the graveyard for value anyway. If you have them sitting around, you could run Wrath of God instead, but most of the time the cards play out similarly and Day of Judgment is significantly less expensive. 

Oblivion Ring is our catch-all removal spell and its main downside of dying to things like Abrupt Decay is minimized by the fact we can always get it back with Sun Titan later in the game. Banishing Light works almost as well, so if you have them sitting around from playing Standard, feel free to substitute.

Less-Budget Version


Anyway, that's all for today. Give the deck a try, I had a ton of fun playing it this week and it is always exciting to beat tier one decks with a bunch of draft-leftover commons and uncommons! As always, leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive. 

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