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Budget Magic: $97 (28 tix) Grixis Amulet (Standard)


今日拝なびら, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time again! This week, we're heading back to Ixalan Standard for a deck I've been wanting to play ever since spoiler season: Grixis Amulet! We're basically a Grixis spellslinger deck that's looking to make all of our spells cheaper with Primal Amulet to draw a bunch of cards, use sweepers like Hour of Devastation and Star of Extinction to control the board, and then finally close out the game by flipping Primal Amulet into Primal Wellspring and doubling up a huge Torment of Hailfire or Cut // Ribbons! Plus, we get to play one of my favorite cards in Standard as our backup plan: [Metallurgic Summonings]], which naturally fits decks that cast a ton of spells, giving us a bunch of Constructs along the way. Can Grixis Amulet keep up with Energy and the other powerful decks in Standard? 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.

Grixis Amulet (Deck Tech)

Budget Magic: Grixis Amulet vs. Sultai Energy (Match 1)

Budget Magic: Grixis Amulet vs. UW GPG (Match 2)

Budget Magic: Grixis Amulet vs. Jund Energy (Match 3)

Budget Magic: Grixis Amulet vs. Ramunap Red (Match 4)

Budget Magic: Grixis Amulet vs. UR Spells (Match 5)

The Deck

Grixis Amulet is actually pretty straightforward: we're basically a unique take on Grixis Control but with a combo-esque finish, thanks to our ability to double or triple up a huge X-spell like Torment of Hailfire or Cut // Ribbons with Primal Wellspring. In the early game, we are looking to control the board while churning through our deck to find our Primal Amulet, and then after we get things under control, our focus shifts to setting up the combo kill. 

Primal Amulet

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Primal Amulet is the centerpiece of our deck. In the early game, it allows us to cycle through our deck with our card-draw spells by reducing their cost; then in the late game, it enables our combo kill by flipping around into Primal Wellspring to double Torment of Hailfire or Cut // Ribbons. Ideally, if we can play Primal Amulet in the mid game, we should be able to untap and immediately flip it, which is a large part of our goal. As an artifact, Primal Wellspring is very vulnerable, but once we flip it into a land, it's much harder for most decks to kill, and even if we aren't ready to use Primal Wellspring to win the game right away, just doubling up our random card-draw spells usually puts things out of reach for our opponent in short order.

Finishers

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Cut // Ribbons and Torment of Hailfire are our primary ways of actually killing our opponent. Both cards are fairly powerful on their own, but usually a single copy of Torment of Hailfire or Ribbons comes up just a bit short of actually killing the opponent. However, two (and sometimes even more copies) of either of these cards—with the help of Primal Wellspring flipped into Primal Amulet—is almost always enough to close out the game. 

Cut // Ribbons is the less powerful of our two finishers, since we need 12 mana to 20 our opponent, even after doubling the spell with Primal Wellspring. The upside is that Cut // Ribbons is a fine removal spell on the front side, so it's very good in our deck anyway. Our deck would consider playing Cut even without the aftermath effect, so the fact that we can also use it to close the game thanks to Ribbons is mostly upside.

Torment of Hailfire is almost the opposite of Cut // Ribbons. The biggest problem with the sorcery is that it doesn't do anything until it wins us the game (it's really, really bad unless we cast it for a ton of mana and hopefully double it up with Primal Wellspring). On the other hand, it's pretty absurd with Primal Wellspring. If we can cast it for somewhere around eight or nine mana and double it up, it'll usually be enough to kill our opponent from any life total.

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Metallurgic Summonings is our backup plan for finishing the game. While Primal Amulet is great, it's also fragile, since most decks have access to artifact disruption, at least in the sideboard, if not in the main deck. On the other hand, very few decks have enchantment destruction, which means once we resolve a Metallurgic Summonings, it usually stays on the battlefield for the long haul. The other big upside of Metallurgic Summonings is that it doesn't require any work. Our deck already wants a ton of spells to power up Primal Amulet, so slotting in a copy of Metallurgic Summonings offers a ton of free value, as every spell we cast comes with a Construct kicker. This either allows us to win the game with Construct token beats or stay alive by creating an endless string of chump blockers as we draw through our deck to find the Primal Amulet / Torment of Hailfire / Cut // Ribbons kill.

Card Draw

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Opt is hugely important to Grixis Amulet for a number of reasons. On Turn 1, it gives us a play and helps smooth out our draws. As the game progresses, it helps us dig for our answers to keep the battlefield under control, and then after we have a Primal Amulet on the battlefield, the fact that Opt only costs a single mana makes it one of our best ways to get the four charge counters we need on Primal Amulet to flip it into Primal Wellspring. The combination of efficient mana cost and filtering power makes it a great card in our spells-matter deck.

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Glimmer of Genius and Hieroglyphic Illumination are our two most powerful card-draw spells. The fact that they are both instant speed allows us to leave up removal spells during our opponent's turn and then draw some cards if we don't need to kill anything, which is a nice upside. Speaking of upside, apart from putting two new cards in our hand, both of our big card-draw spells have additional upside. Glimmer of Genius gives us some energy, and while we certainly aren't an energy deck, it does help power up our Aether Hubs and Harnessed Lightnings. Meanwhile, we can always cycle Hieroglyphic Illumination in the early game to smooth out our draws. Both are also great after we flip Primal Amulet into Primal Wellspring, drawing us a massive four cards for just four mana when we double them up, which is usually enough to find the removal we need to stabilize the game, or a finisher to kill our opponent outright.

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We might as well throw Supreme Will into the card-draw pile, even though we actually use both modes quite often. While we are a controlling deck, in many ways we are more of a tap-out control deck. Rather than leaving up counterspells, we are looking to sweep away our opponent's battlefield to keep our opponent's game plan in check. As such, Supreme Will is actually the only counterspell we have in our main deck. While we do use it to counter our opponent's stuff, we're just as likely to use it as an Impulse, digging to find our removal or Primal Amulet. Supreme Will is also one of our best cards for flipping Primal Amulet, since we can cast it for just two mana, and then we almost always find another cheap spell we can cast to get another charge counter. 

Removal

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While we do have some targeted removal for the early game, our most important removal is our sweepers. Star of Extinction is my favorite card in the entire deck. While seven mana is a lot, Primal Amulet allows it to come down a turn or two earlier, and the sorcery not only sweeps away all of our opponent's creatures and planeswalkers (while not hurting us, since we don't have any creatures or planeswalkers) but also lets us blow up a land as well. While blowing up a land might not sound like much, it's actually surprisingly powerful. For one thing, it allows us to deal with the powerful flip-into-land cards like Search for Azcanta and Legion's Landing, which are pretty popular in Standard, while also letting us punish greedy decks like Four-Color Energy by cutting them off of a color of mana. Things get even crazier after we flip Primal Amulet into Primal Wellspring, allowing us to blow up two lands with one Star of Extinction, which means if we can chain together enough copies, it's possible for our deck to get a flawless victory in Standard!

Otherwise, Sweltering Suns gives us a cheap sweeper for the early game, which is especially important against Ramunap Red, while also cycling away in matchups where it is bad. As for Hour of Devastation, it hits pretty much everything in the format and gives our deck a way to answer indestructible threats like Hazoret the Fervent along with sweeping away all of our opponent's planeswalkers, almost acting like a mini-version of Star of Extinction

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My current theory is that Standard is about passing two tests. One is the Hazoret the Fervent / The Scarab God test, which we attempt to answer with Hour of Devastation. The other is the Longtusk Cub test, which usually takes place on Turn 2. For this, we have Harnessed Lightning and Abrade. Basically, these cards make sure that we can kill all of the powerful early-game threats in the format, while Abrade also gives us a main-deck answer to annoying artifacts like God-Pharaoh's Gift and Heart of Kiran

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Wrapping up our removal package is a single Confiscation Coup, which is basically our budget-friendly version of The Scarab God or Hazoret the Fervent. Since we obviously can't play either of the powerful Gods, since they are far too expensive for our budget, we instead look to steal our opponent's copies! Basically, Confiscation Coup is just another answer to the Hazoret / Scarab God test, but with the upside of actually giving us those creatures to play with, rather than just killing the Gods.

The Sideboard

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Most of the sideboard is pretty self explanatory, with more removal for aggro matchups and Duress and Negate to fight control and midrange, but I did want to take a minute to talk about our creatures. Our main deck is creature-free, which means most opponents are going to take out removal and bring in Negate and Duress to fight our spells. This gives us a window to sideboard in Kefnet the Mindful and Whirler Virtuoso and jank out some wins against opponents who simply don't have answers. Both cards can win the game on their own in only a few turns, especially against opponents without removal spells. So, as you go to sideboard with the deck, make sure to think about what your opponent is going to bring in—if you expect a lot of spell hate, consider bringing in Kefnet the Mindful and Whirler Virtuoso to punish the opponent for their sideboard plan.

Wrap-Up

All in all, we finished 3-2 in our video matches and 3-3 overall, dropping a match against Grixis Tezzeret that I couldn't use because I had some video issues. Most of our matches were extremely close and competitive, so with slightly tighter play and a handful of small changes, we probably could have put up an even better record (I still feel like we probably could have won the match against UW GPG, even though I can't point to one specific thing we did wrong). Most importantly, the deck was a blast to play. We came pretty close to picking up a flawless victory with Star of Extinction, which was a surprise all-star in the deck, and it felt like we had a pretty good mixture of answers to keep up with most decks in the format. 

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As far as changes I'd make to the budget build of the deck after playing some matches, the biggest one is finding a way to sneak in Lightning Strike. For our cheap removal, we went with Harnessed Lightning (to kill bigger creatures) and Abrade (to hedge against Mardu Vehicles and God-Pharaoh's Gift decks, which have picked up popularity since the Pro Tour), and while these spells are more powerful than Lightning Strike, we missed the ability to throw a cheap burn spell directly at our opponent's face in some games. While it seems strange, doubling up Lightning Strike with Primal Wellspring actually could be a legitimate way to win some games. The other possibility would be to play a more counterspell-heavy version of the deck. The build we played for the videos was mostly focused on letting opponents play their creatures and then sweeping them away with Hour of Devastation and Star of Extinction, and while the plan worked well in general, it does make our Metallurgic Summonings worse (since we are blowing up all of our tokens). Metallurgic Summonings was powerful enough when we had it on the battlefield that adding another copy could be worthwhile, but that would probably require trimming down on some of the sweepers and playing more counterspells like Essence Scatter and maybe Disallow

Overall, the deck felt pretty competitive, although be warned: the matches are really slow and grindy, so don't expect to pick up many fast free wins with the deck. This being said, if you enjoy slow, controlling decks (or you're a spellslinger player in Commander), Grixis Amulet just  might be the Standard deck for you!

Getting Grixis Amulet into the ultra-budget range is hard, since the non-land cards aren't very expensive, although most of them are not quite bulk. This leaves the deck in a weird spot of relying on a ton of utility cards that are somewhere between $4 and $8 a playset, so cutting them doesn't actually save a significant amount of money. Because of this, the only way to get the deck down to around $50 is by cutting the mana as much as possible, so we drop Drowned Catacomb and Dragonskull Summit and add in Evolving Wilds, Cinder Barrens, and Submerged Boneyard. Otherwise, we cut Abrade, which isn't insanely expensive but is a bit too much for the ultra-budget price range at over $2, and replace it with Lightning Strike. This change makes the deck weaker in a couple of specific matchups (God-Pharaoh's Gift and Mardu Vehicles) but better at closing out the game, since we can double or triple up Lightning Strike to throw a bunch of damage at our opponent's face. Basically, the ultra-budget build should play just like the one in the videos but lose to itself a bit more often, thanks to the massive influx of lands that enter the battlefield tapped, which means it's probably fine to play for fun, but I'd want to have some better dual lands before taking it to an FNM.

For the non-budget build this week, we'll use Zac Elsik's build from the first week of Ixalan Standard. As you can see, the basic plan of the deck is the same, but there are a couple of huge upgrades. First is Search for Azcanta, which is the card I missed most while playing the budget build. The enchantment is perfect for the deck, not just digging for our powerful spells but also working like a blue Rampant Growth to power up our Torment of Hailfire and Cut // Ribbons finish. Otherwise, the big changes are to the mana (with the addition of Spirebluff Canal) and the sideboard (featuring The Scarab God, which replaces Whirler Virtuoso as the "gotcha" card for when opponents sideboard out all of their removal). Otherwise, the game plan is pretty much the same: disrupt the opponent in the early game, eventually flip a Primal Amulet, and then finish the game by doubling up one big X-spell!

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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