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Budget Magic: $98 (49 tix) GW Interlude (Modern)


Mhoroi, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! Next week, we'll start exploring sweet new Dominaria cards, which will probably mean several Standard decks in a row, but for this week, we are heading back to Modern for a deck that's looking to grind out a ton of value by looping enters-the-battlefield creatures multiple times each turn cycle with Eerie Interlude and Eternal Witness: it's GW Interlude time! The basic idea of the deck is simple: we're overloaded with value-centric creatures with enters-the-battlefield triggers that draw us cards, search for lands, or make our opponent miserable; we stay alive by blocking with our endless creatures; and then we eventually start exiling and returning to the battlefield all of our creatures once or twice each turn, which creates an overwhelming amount of value. In the end we win by draining away our opponent's life total or simply by blowing up all of their lands so they can't play Magic. Can the plan work in Modern? Let's get to the video 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.

Budget Magic: GW Interlude (Modern)

The Deck

GW Interlude is basically a midrange combo deck. In the early game, we play like a strange GW midrange deck that's overflowing with value creatures, and then in the late game, we have an almost unbeatable loop when we start casting Eerie Interlude twice each turn cycle! Let's start by breaking down the combo and then discuss the value creatures we are looping.

The Combo

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The primary plan of our deck is to get the game into a position where we can cast Eerie Interlude (or our one Ghostway, which is essentially a fifth copy of Eerie Interlude) twice each turn cycle—once during our turn and once during our opponent's turn—ideally with a bunch of creatures on the battlefield. To make this happen, we need at least one of Eerie Interlude and Ghostway along with Eternal Witness to keep getting back our Eerie Interlude from the graveyard. Then, we simply cast Eerie Interlude, exiling all of our creatures (including Eternal Witness), and when all of our creatures return during the next end step, we use Eternal Witness to get back the Eerie Interlude so we can repeat the process again (and again and again).

Thankfully, all of our combo pieces can be good even when we aren't ready to loop off and win the game. If we have a bunch of random creatures on the battlefield, even just reusing all of their enters-the-battlefield triggers a single time with Eerie Interlude is a lot of value, and since many of our enters-the-battlefield triggers draw us a card, we're digging toward our Eternal Witness to do it again. Meanwhile, Eternal Witness can always just get back a random creature while we are looking to find our Eerie Interlude and set up the loop.

The Value

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Wall of Omens and Elvish Visionary are key to our plan. In the early game, they come down and draw us a card to dig toward our combo pieces while also blocking our opponent's early-game creatures to keep us alive while we are looking for our loop pieces. Then, in the late game, they make sure that our Eerie Interlude is devastating. With just two "draw a card" creatures on the battlefield, Eerie Interlude turns into Divination, which draws us more cards (and more "draw a card" creatures) so our future Eerie Interludes get even better. 

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Wood Elves and Llanowar Elves help us ramp into our loop. Our deck is at its best when we have a several creatures on the battlefield along with Eerie Interlude, Eternal Witness, and at least six mana. With six mana, we can cast Eerie Interlude once on our turn to reuse all of our enters-the-battlefield triggers when all of our creatures return on our end step and then again on our opponent's turn to get all of the triggers again on our opponent's end step. Llanowar Elves and Wood Elves help make sure we have enough mana to get this loop going. 

While Llanowar Elves doesn't actually work with Eerie Interlude since it doesn't have an enters-the-battlefield trigger, it does give us something to do on Turn 1 and helps us ramp into our more explosive plays. Meanwhile, Wood Elves is great with Eerie Interlude, not just putting another land on the battlefield but slowly thinning our deck so our Wall of Omens and Elvish Visionaries are drawing us more action cards and fewer useless lands. 

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Trostani, Selesnya's Voice probably looks weird in our deck because we don't have any tokens to populate, but it's a great one-of thanks to the absurd amount of life it gains us in conjunction with the Eerie Interlude loops. If we have a Trostani, Selesnya's Voice when all of our creatures return to the battlefield, we often gain 10 or even 20 life, and we gain this life once or twice each turn cycle. The end result is that it becomes really difficult for our opponent to kill us with damage, since it's pretty easy for our life total to go from down near zero to up over 100 within a few turns. 

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Stonehorn Dignitary is basically our version of Ensnaring Bridge, except we can still attack and it doesn't care about the number of cards we have in hand. Against any sort of creature deck, Stonehorn Dignitary is the best card in our deck, working like a preemptive Fog on Turn 4 by making our opponent skip their next combat phase, and then once we get the loop set up, we can lock our opponent out of attacking with creatures for the rest of the game by flickering Stonehorn Dignitary every turn. It's also worth keeping in mind that Stonehorn Dignitary's trigger stacks, which means when get to the point where we are casting Eerie Interlude during our turn and then again during our opponent's turn, we are actually making our opponent skip their next two combat steps—if we can flicker Stonehorn Dignitary enough times, we can build up a buffer of several turns so that even if our opponent manages to kill our Stonehorn Dignitary, we're still safe from combat damage for a while. Of course, the downside of Stonehorn Dignitary is that it's one of our worst creatures if we run into a deck that is looking to kill with spells (like Ad Nauseam, Eggs, or Storm) rather than creatures, which makes the Rhino a two-of in the main deck, along with two more copies in the sideboard for creature-based decks.

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Restoration Angel is sort of a mini-Eerie Interlude, allowing us to reuse one enters-the-battlefield trigger of our choice. This makes it good in the mid-game when we are looking to find our Eerie Interlude, since we can cast it and blink a Wall of Omens to get another card or a Wood Elves to get another land out of our deck. Once we start looping our creatures with Eerie Interlude, Restoration Angel is great as well. When all of our creatures return from exile during the end step, we can immediately blink one with Restoration Angel, which means we are drawing two cards with a single Wall of Omens or making our opponent skip their next two combat steps with Stonehorn Dignitary every time we resolve an Eerie Interlude or Ghostway. The other upside of Restoration Angel is that it's actually a pretty good way to close out the game. A 3/4 flier is a pretty reasonable clock, allowing us to chip in for some damage before we exile everything with Eerie Interlude. All around, this makes Restoration Angel one of the best cards in our deck, both with and without the combo.

Winning the Game

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When it comes to actually killing our opponent, apart from just drawing a ton of cards and beating down with random creatures, we have two plans. First, we can win by taking away our opponent's ability to play Magic, with Acidic Slime and Brutalizer Exarch blowing up all of our opponent's lands. Once we get our Eerie Interlude loops going, with just a single copy of Acidic Slime or Brutalizer Exarch, our opponent is losing two lands each turn cycle, which means it doesn't take too many turns until our opponent runs out of resources. Brutalizer Exarch is especially good in our deck because we can use it to tutor up Eternal Witness to start our loop, and then when it enters the battlefield in the future, we can use it to put our opponent's lands on the bottom of their library. Hitting any non-creature is also a nice bonus, giving us a way to deal with our opponent's planeswalkers. When you combine zero lands thanks to Brutalizer Exarch and Acidic Slime with no combat steps from Stonehorn Dignitary, it becomes really difficult for the opponent to win the game.

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If our opponent actually forces us to kill them rather than just scooping to our endless value, Inquisitor Exarch gives us a way to drain the opponent out of the game without attacking. In the early game, we typically choose to gain two life when it enters the battlefield to help us stay alive while we are setting up our loop, and then once we start comboing, we simply drain our opponent out of the game, two life at a time. While it might not seem like much, two life lost twice each turn cycle adds up quickly, and it gets even faster if we have Restoration Angel (to double blink Inquisitor Exarch each Eerie Interlude) or multiple copies of Inquisitor Exarch

Other Stuff

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For removal, we don't have much—just two copies of Declaration in Stone. Ideally, the combination of life gain from Trostani, Selesnya's Voice and Inquisitor Exarch, plenty of blockers for the early game (like Wall of Omens), and Stonehorn Dignitary for the mid- and late game means that we can keep our opponent's creatures under control without spending too many slots on real removal spells. If budget isn't a concern, you should definitely play Path to Exile in this slot, but Declaration in Stone does have the upside of getting rid of a bunch of Lingering Souls tokens, which can be annoying for our deck to deal with, since most of our blockers are on the ground. 

Wrap-Up

All in all, we played five matches and won three, which is fairly solid for a budget deck. The good news is that, discounting graveyard hate, our late game is close to unbeatable. Eerie Interlude and Ghostway mean that we don't scoop to wraths and sweepers like a lot of creature decks, and once things get set up, our loop is really difficult to stop. Plus, with the amount of value we generate from one Eerie Interlude, even if our opponent eventually finds a counter or another answer, it doesn't take too many loops to put us very far ahead. On the other hand, the biggest drawback of the deck is that we can get run over by aggressive decks. While our loop is powerful, most of our creatures aren't all that strong on their own, which means we don't really ever win in the early game. This leaves us with a lot of games where we either get run over by aggro or we manage to stabilize and win in the late, late game. 

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As for changes to make to the budget build of the deck, Eldritch Evolution seems worth testing. We have a lot of creatures that are relatively dispensable, plus we can always return the creature we sac to our hand with Eternal Witness, although this really doesn't do much to help us solve our aggro problem. Another possibility is including Lone Missionary, which is much better at gaining life than Inquisitor Exarch, although it doesn't offer the upside of killing our opponent with drain. Otherwise, the deck feels pretty solid as it is. 

All in all, GW Interlude offers a ton of power. While it will struggle with aggro and graveyard hate on occasion, and fast combo can be especially problematic, it's great against any sort of midrange creature or control deck, since we can simply out-value pretty much any deck in the format. Plus, some of the problems with the budget build, especially against combo, can be improved with some non-budget sideboard options like Leyline of Sanctity and Stony Silence. Give GW Interlude a shot if you love value, killing all of your opponent's lands, and eventually winning the game somehow!

Getting GW Interlude down into the ultra-budget price range is actually pretty tricky, mostly because Eternal Witness is pretty expensive but also key to our combo loop. In the end, we have to cut one copy of the similar but more expensive Greenwarden of Murasa but manage to keep three Eternal Witnesses in the deck. Keeping three Eternal Witnesses means we need to make big cuts elsewhere, so we trim the mana to the bare bones, cut the one copy of Ghostway and one Trostani, Selesnya's Voice, and also change up the sideboard a bit to make it as cheap as possible. To replace these cards, we end up adding another Inquisitor Exarch and throw in a couple of copies of Lone Missionary to help fight aggro. The end result is that the combo loop from the build we played in video remains mostly untouched, but the deck as a whole will be a bit less consistent thanks to the worse mana and slightly fewer combo pieces. This being said, if you're just looking to generate value on the kitchen table, the ultra-budget build should be more than good enough to have some fun with.

While we haven't seen Eerie Interlude or Ghostway in a while, a Naya build was slightly popular a few years ago, so if you are looking to upgrade, keep adding another color (and possibly the Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker combo) to the deck. However, for our non-budget deck, we stick to the straight GW plan. The addition of Kitchen Finks and Path to Exile helps against aggro, while Knight of the Reliquary (and Gavony Township to tutor up) give us a way to close out the game a little bit faster. We also upgrade the mana with fetch lands, shock lands, and Horizon Canopy to draw even more cards and minimize the chances of flooding out. Otherwise, most of the biggest upgrades happen in the sideboard, where Wheel of Sun and Moon fights our opponent's graveyard, Leyline of Sanctity protects us against combo decks, Settle the Wreckage gives us a surprise sweeper for aggro, and Stony Silence helps against Tron and Affinity. In theory, these changes help to shore up some of our worst matchups, although in most matchups, the deck will play almost exactly the same as the build in the video.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Make sure to tune in next week when we start exploring Dominaria Standard! 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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