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Budget Magic: $98 (57 tix) Thunderous Wizards (Modern)


Kaixo, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! Lately, we've been playing a lot of Standard thanks to the release of Dominaria, and while today's deck is still Dominaria-influenced, rather than Standard, we're heading to Modern! One of the most interesting Modern tribes supported in Dominaria is Wizards, and while there are a bunch of different ways to build around the tribe, ranging from aggro to control and even combo, today's deck is certainly on the aggressive side of the scale. Not only do we have Adeliz, the Cinder Wind as a pseudo-lord, but we also back it up with a bunch of powerful early-game Wizards, eight copies of Lightning Bolt, and a certain miracle that offers five damage for just a single mana! The end result is a sort of Wizards Prowess deck that can win the game out of nowhere as early as Turn 4 with hasty threats and thunderous burn spells! Can Wizards work in Modern on a budget? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck! 

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Budget Magic: Thunderous Wizards (Modern)

The Deck

Thunderous Wizards is really simple: we play a bunch of super-aggressive Wizards, often with haste and prowess; use Adeliz, the Cinder Wind as a lord; overload on cantrips to trigger prowess and burn spells to close out the game with direct damage; and look to kill our opponent as quickly as possible!

Wizards

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Adeliz, the Cinder Wind is the most powerful Wizard in our deck and our best way to finish the game out of the blue. While a 2/2 flying, haste with prowess for three mana is already reasonable, Adeliz, the Cinder Wind doesn't just have prowess itself but essentially gives all of our Wizards prowess. When we can curve out with Wizards from Turn 1 to Turn 3, with our three-drop being Adeliz, it's really easy to untap on Turn 4 and win the game by casting a few cheap spells to pump our team. The end result is that Adeliz, the Cinder Wind isn't just a hasty threat but also plays almost like a lord by pumping the rest of our team into immense threats!

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Stormchaser Mage is best friends with Adeliz, the Cinder Wind, giving us another hasty, flying, prowess threat that just happens to come down the turn before our pseudo-lord. While Stormchaser Mage is a fine threat on its own, often hitting for two or three evasive damage as we cast our spells, it gets really insane with Adeliz, since it essentially has double prowess, so each spell we cast gives our two-drop +2/+2. This means that something as simple as Turn 2 Stormchaser Mage, Turn 3 Adeliz, the Cinder Wind, Turn 4 double-Lightning Bolt (which happens more often than you'd think, since we have eight Bolts) ends up being 19 damage all by itself, which means if our opponent cracks a fetch land, we happen to get in an incidental point of damage, or we have another spell to trigger prowess, we have an evasive Turn 4 kill!

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Soul-Scar Mage is basically a one-drop ground version of Stormchaser Mage without the haste. While this makes it less powerful, it's still a reasonable threat, especially when Adeliz gives it double prowess. One of the biggest upsides of prowess creatures in general is that they are extremely difficult to block because our opponent never knows if we'll have a spell or two to pump our creatures and make the blocks bad, which often allows us to sneak in for extra damage that we wouldn't get with non-prowess creatures. For example, if we play a Soul-Scar Mage on Turn 1 and our opponent plays a Grim Flayer, we can almost always attack, even if we don't have a spell, since our opponent has to respect the possibility that we do have an instant to blow them out with prowess.

The other big upside of Soul-Scar Mage is that its ability to turn non-creature damage into 1/1 counters helps us deal with bigger creatures that would otherwise be problematic. Let's say our opponent plays a Tarmogoyf, Thought-Knot Seer, or Gurmag Angler. Our Lightning Bolts can't directly kill any of these creatures because they don't offer enough damage, but if we have a Soul-Scar Mage on the battlefield, we can simply make Thought-Knot Seer into a 1/1 or Gurmag Angler into a 2/2 by putting some counters on it with a Lightning Bolt or Wizard's Lightning. Not only is a 2/2 Gurmag Angler much less threatening than a 5/5 Gurmag Angler, but it also means that we can finish it off when we draw another Bolt later in the game, even if our opponent kills the Soul-Scar Mage in the meantime.

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Ghitu Lavarunner is a lot better than it looks. While it isn't a Goblin Guide on Turn 1, it's pretty easy for our deck to have two spells in the graveyard by Turn 2 or 3, turning future copies into hasty 2/2s for the rest of the game. Plus, as a Wizard, it benefits from Adeliz, the Cinder Wind and becomes a pretty reasonable threat in the mid-game, often attacking as a 3/3 or 4/4. Basically, our deck really wanted another budget-friendly Wizard one-drop, and Ghitu Lavarunner—while perhaps the least powerful creature in the deck—fits the bill. 

Meanwhile, Sage of Epityr looks pretty strange, being much less aggressive than the rest of the Wizards in our deck, but it does have one very specific purpose: allowing us to stack the top four cards of our deck in any order we choose. Why would we want to stack the top of our deck? To answer this question, we need to look at our burn spells.

The Burn

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Thunderous Wrath is among the most powerful burn spells ever printed, if you can cast it for the miracle cost. Five damage to any target for just a single mana is just an absurd rate, making Lightning Bolt look like draft filler. Of course, if we aren't miracling it, Thunderous Wrath costs a massive six mana, which is a lot for Modern in general and even more for a 19-land deck. Sage of Epityr is key to making sure that we can not just miracle Thunderous Wrath consistently but that we can miracle it on the best turn possible, preferably when we have a bunch of prowess Wizards on the battlefield. Apart from being powerful in general and triggering prowess, Thunderous Wrath is an amazing way to jank out games. Modern players often try to stay above three life to not die to Lightning Bolt, but nobody plays around five damage to the face from Thunderous Wrath!

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Apart from Adeliz, the Cinder Wind, the biggest reason to restrict our deck to the Wizard tribe is Wizard's Lightning. Lightning Bolt is already the best burn spell ever printed, and by playing a bunch of Wizards, we give ourselves eight copies of Lightning Bolt thanks to Wizard's Lightning, which almost feels like cheating. Not only does having eight Bolts allow us to clear annoying blockers and threats out of the way, but when combined with Thunderous Wrath, it gives us a ton of direct-damage burn spells that allow us to close out the game after our opponent stabilizes the board. With eight Bolts and four Thunderous Wraths, we don't really need to deal 20 damage with our Wizards; instead, we need to try to get in 10 to 15 damage with our creatures, and then we simply trust that our burn spells will allow us to close out the game (although winning with Wizard beats is fun too!). Oh yeah, and don't forget that because most of our creatures have prowess, Lightning Bolt and Wizard's Lightning actually represent more than three damage on most board states, since along with dealing three damage directly, they are also pumping our creatures!

Cantrips

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Rounding out our deck are a bunch of cantrips, which both help us find our Wizards and burn spells and allow us to trigger prowess to pump our creatures. Opt is likely the best cantrip in our deck, since it allows us to trigger prowess at instant speed while also letting us draw a card during our opponent's turn to miracle Thunderous Wrath, if it happens to be the top card of our deck. Serum Visions is good for setting up Thunderous Wrath with the scry two, while Chart a Course generates real card advantage if we can cast it post-combat after attacking (although there is some weird tension here, since we often want to trigger prowess before we attack to get in more damage). Together, this group of cards gives us a massive 10 cantrips to keep us churning through our deck, finding our important pieces, and triggering prowess.

Wrap-Up

All in all, Thunderous Wizards was pretty amazing. We finished our video matches 4-1 and went 4-2 overall with the deck. We won a ton of games on Turn 4 or 5, but the most impressive aspect of the deck was its ability to close out games when things went poorly. We won multiple games by simply hard casting Thunderous Wrath for six mana, and thanks to prowess, it's very possible to win over a few turns with just a single Stormchaser Mage or Adeliz, the Cinder Wind

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As far as changes to make to the budget build, I'm pretty happy with the main deck. This being said, we probably should have some artifact destruction in the sideboard because Chalice of the Void and Ensnaring Bridge are brutal (although we learned that Wizard's Lightning actually makes our deck a lot better against Chalice of the Void). Probably the easiest change is to cut some counters for a couple of Smash to Smithereens

All in all, Thunderous Wizards felt very strong. Not only is it competitive in budget form, but it has some really sweet upgrade possibilities that can make it even more powerful. I could certainly see having a lot of success with it on Magic Online or at the FNM level, and with some upgrades, it wouldn't be a big surprise to see an aggressive, prowess-focused Wizards deck develop into a real deck in Modern!

The ultra-budget build of Thunderous Wizards is pretty simple: we cut the expensive dual lands, replace them with basic lands, and run the deck exactly the same. Cutting a bunch of dual lands isn't ideal, since it makes the deck less consistent, but considering that Sulfur Falls and Spirebluff Canal are the only truly expensive cards in the deck, we don't have any other choice. Adding in some budget tapped duals is another option, but this really takes away from the explosiveness of the deck. Dealing with the clunky but untapped mana is probably better for a deck like Thunderous Wizards that really values curving out. The end result is a build of the deck that is fine for the kitchen table but will lose to itself a bit too often for competitive tournament play.

The non-budget build of Thunderous Wizards is less thunderous but even more powerful. The biggest addition to the deck, apart from the typical fetch-land-for-shock-land mana base, is Snapcaster Mage. Snapcaster Mage is one of the best cards in Modern, and it's even more insane in a deck with eight copies of Lightning Bolt. Otherwise, we get a few interesting Wizard options in Grim Lavamancer (which doesn't really work in the budget build thanks to the lack of fetch lands to fill the graveyard) and a copy of Vendilion Clique. The sideboard gets some upgrades as well, mostly in the form of Blood Moon, which is just too good to pass up with the fetch-land mana base to support it. The end result is a deck that has more raw power than the build we played for the videos but with a much greater cost, coming in at nearly $1,000 thanks mostly to Snapcaster Mage and Scalding Tarn being extremely expensive. If you're trying to split the difference, you can get by with Flooded Strand over Scalding Tarn without much trouble, but there isn't really a good replacement for Snapcaster Mage. If you don't have Snapcaster Mage, you might as well just stick with the Sage of Epityr / Thunderous Wrath package while upgrading the mana base and sideboard. 

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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