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Budget Magic: $99 (18 tix) Modern Aura Swap

Jeeka, ma chi uula, Budget Magic lovers! It's that time again. This week, we are heading to Modern to play a deck I'm super excited about, a deck that's half Bogles and half Show and Tell—Aura Swap! Not only do we have the potential for some insane nut draws that essentially win us the game on Turn 3, but we are also extremely consistent thanks to eight cards that can tutor up not just combo pieces but a whole toolbox full of auras! By the way, Eldritch Moon finally releases on Magic Online on Friday, so next week, we'll get to start exploring the new Standard format, Budget Magic style!

Let's get to the videos; then, we'll break down Aura Swap. 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.

Aura Swap: Deck Tech

Aura Swap vs. Mono-Green Devotion

Aura Swap vs. Grixis Delver

Aura Swap vs. Tron

Aura Swap vs. Zoo

Aura Swap vs. Affinity

The Deck

Aura Swap is similar to Bogles, in that its goal is to play hexproof creatures and enchant them with auras. On the other hand, we aren't just playing a bunch of random, inexpensive, power-boosting auras; instead, we are looking to finish off the game in one or two big hits with Eldrazi Conscription, which makes the deck feel a little bit like Show and Tell, because we're looking to cheat one expensive permanent onto the battlefield. 

The Combo

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Eldrazi Conscription is an extremely powerful aura, and maybe the most powerful aura ever printed. It essentially turns a creature into a huge, trampling, annihilating Eldrazi, which will almost always be enough to close out the game, especially when we start attacking with it on Turn 3 or 4. The problem is that it costs eight mana, so it's not all that easy to get on the battlefield in the early game. Enter Arcanum Wings

Future Sight is a really strange Magic set, with tons of odd, never-seen-before mechanics. One of these mechanics is aura swap, which is found on exactly one card in all of Magic's history—Arcanum Wings. Once we get an Arcanum Wings on a creature, we can simply pay three mana and "swap" the Arcanum Wings for an aura in our hand. Most of the time, this is Eldrazi Conscription. The other nice thing about Arcanum Wings is that when we activate the aura swap ability, it bounces back to our hand, which means that on the next turn, we can cast it and activate it again to put another Eldrazi Conscription or a Celestial Mantle on the battlefield!

Eldrazi Conscription does have one problem—if we are very behind on board when we cast it, our opponent will take the ht, lose about half of their life total, sacrifice a couple of lands to annihilator, and then kill us on the backswing with their creatures. This is where Celestial Mantle comes in. About 90% of the time, we want Eldrazi Conscription, but in the other 10% (mostly in the situation I just described), we need a way to gain life to stay alive. In theory, Celestial Mantle is the best card for the job by doubling our life total every turn, which will (hopefully) be enough to keep us alive until we can start annihilating with Eldrazi Conscription.

The Creatures

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Slippery Bogle and Invisible Stalker are our best creatures to enchant with Arcanum Wings (and eventually Eldrazi Conscription), since being hexproof means it's very unlikely we get blown out by removal. Slippery Bogle is an important part of our nut draw—the most powerful thing our deck can do is play a Slippery Bogle on Turn 1, play an Arcanum Wings (enchanting the Slippery Bogle) on Turn 2, and then aura swap in an Eldrazi Conscription on Turn 3. This leaves us with an 11/11, trample, hexproof, annihilator 2 creature attacking on the third turn of the game, which means it's almost impossible to lose. Invisible Stalker, on the other hand, is slower than Slippery Bogle because it costs an extra mana, but it's better with all of our non-Eldrazi Conscription auras like Celestial Mantle and Curiosity, since its unblockability means we are guaranteed to get in combat damage every turn to trigger our enchantments. That said, the main reason both of these creatures are in the deck is because they allow us to play our auras and combo off without the fear of getting blown out by Lightning Bolt, Path to Exile, or Terminate.

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Academy Researchers is one of our backup plans; it literally allows us to Show and Tell an aura onto the battlefield attached to it when it enters the battlefield. In theory, this means we can just play an Academy Researchers on Turn 3, put an Eldrazi Conscription into play, and start attacking with a huge threat on Turn 4. The problem (and the reason we're only playing a single copy of Academy Researchers) is that this plan is quite fragile. Not only can our opponent kill the Academy Researchers with the "put an aura into play" trigger on the stack, but if they have hard removal like Maelstrom Pulse or Path to Exile, they can kill the Academy Researchers even after it's enchanted with Eldrazi Conscription. However, there are three situations when we are more than happy to slam an Academy Researchers and hope for the best: first, if our opponent is tapped out (especially if they are playing a deck that is unlikely to have "hard" removal); second, when we are in desperation mode and going to lose the game anyway; and third, and most importantly, when our opponent has a Spellskite on the battlefield. Just like other Bogle decks, Spellskite is one of the cards we want to see the least across the battlefield, since it can steal our Arcanum Wings and shut down our combo. Academy Researchers' ability, on the other hand, doesn't actually target, so there's nothing for Spellskite to steal!

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Wind Zendikon probably looks weird in the deck, and that makes sense, because it isn't a very good card. It can't protect itself like a Slippery Bogle, and it doesn't have a potentially game-winning ability like Academy Researchers. However, there is one thing Wind Zendikon has going for it—it's (basically) a creature that's also an aura, which means we have a bunch of ways of searching it out of our library. This helps fix the "Bogles problem" of having to mulligan a lot of hands that are lacking a creature.

The Tutors

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Heliod's Pilgrim and Open the Armory are two of the most important cards in the deck. They give us a ton of consistency in putting together our Arcanum Wings / Eldrazi Conscription combo, since either can tutor an aura out of our deck. Heliod's Pilgrim has the additional upside of being a creature, which means we can try to enchant it with Arcanum Wings, although we usually try to avoid this if possible because it's really easy for our opponent to kill our 1/2. The other benefit of playing eight aura tutors is that, apart from our combo pieces, we get to play an aura toolbox to help us deal with other situations. 

The Aura Toolbox

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Pacifism and Temporal Isolation are pretty much the same card, even though they are worded much differently. Both keep a creature from attacking or blocking (although Temporal Isolation has the additional upside of preventing non-combat damage as well, which is relevant against something like Grim Lavamancer). While neither is all that good by the standards of removal in Modern, they have a place in the deck, since they are removal spells that we can tutor up with Open the Armory and Heliod's Pilgrim

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Hyena Umbra and Ethereal Armor serve two purposes in the deck. First, they protect our hexproof creatures from Pyroclasm, Anger of the Gods, and (in the case of Hyena Umbra) Supreme Verdict. Second, these cards give us a backup plan for winning when we don't have Eldrazi Conscription by loading up an Invisible Stalker with inexpensive enchantments and attacking for a few unblockable damage each turn. 

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Spirit Link helps us stay alive while we are looking to set up our combo by gaining us some life. Curiosity combos with Invisible Stalker to draw us an extra card every turn, which helps us find our combo pieces or tutors. Meanwhile, Aqueous Form makes our Slippery Bogle unblockable, which is important when we are on the Celestial Mantle "double our life" plan; plus, the scry ability, while not as good as drawing a card, still helps us filter through our deck and find more action. 

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Last but not least, we have two main deck copies of Spreading Seas, which gives us a tutor target to deal with Tron lands and creaturelands, while potentially color-screwing an opponent in some situations. It also draws us a card and pumps up our Ethereal Armor, so the opportunity cost of running a couple of copies is incredibly low. 

The Sideboard

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Like usual, I'm not going to discuss every sideboard card individually, because the purpose of most of them is fairly self-explanatory; however, there are three cards I wanted to talk about briefly. Holy Day lets us attack with our Eldrazi Conscriptioned creature in board states where we'd normally just die on the backswing, since we can fizzle our opponent's attack for just one mana, so it's really helpful in aggro or midrange creature-based matchups. Burrenton Forge-Tender is another answer to Pyroclasm and Anger of the Gods; plus, if we run into a deck that's running only red removal, we can use it like another Slippery Bogle. Finally, Domestication is a tutorable answer to Spellskite to clear the way for our Arcanum Wings win. 

Ultra-Budget Aura Swap

There's one huge problem with building an ultra-budget version of Aura Swap; Eldrazi Conscription, one of the most important cards in the deck, makes up more than half of the cost of the deck. As such, to get into ultra-budget range, we have to cut Eldrazi Conscription. Our replacement? After looking over all of the powerful auras in Modern, probably the best option is Epic Proportions. The problem is that killing an opponent with Epic Proportions is going to take three or four turns. Killing an opponent with Eldrazi Conscription only takes one or two, and Eldrazi Conscription immediately starts destroying our opponent's resources, thanks to annihilate. As such, I wouldn't want to play the ultra-budget build of Aura Swap any place outside of the kitchen table, since Epic Proportions just isn't a good enough payoff card for all the work we do setting up the aura swap. One more note: there's almost no reason to play the ultra-budget build in Magic Online, because Eldrazi Conscription is already super cheap in digital form. 

Non-Budget Aura Swap

The non-budget build of Aura Swap gets two huge upgrades. First, we get to splash green for Gladecover Scout, which gives us another one-drop hexproof creature to increase our odds of getting the Turn 3 Eldrazi Conscription nut draw. Secondly, our mana (even though we are splashing a third color) is hugely improved over the budget build, thanks to fetchlands and shocklands. Otherwise, we get a bunch of clean answers to Spellskite in main deck Path to Exiles and sideboard Threads of Disloyalty (which we can tutor up with Open the Armory and Heliod's Pilgrim). All in all, these upgrades are significant, mostly because they shore up the problems of Spellskite and semi-rough mana, but I'm not really sure they justify the price tag. If you do decide to upgrade, consider leaving out the Horizon Canopy and Misty Rainforest. While I think these cards are correct if we are trying to build the most optimal version of Aura Swap possible, you wouldn't lose all that much by playing Razorverge Thicket / Seachrome Coast; plus, you'll save nearly $500. 


Anyway, that's all for today. Overall, we went 3-2 in games, including a heartbreaking loss to Grixis Delver where we fought through a ton of removal and counters to come up just short of the win. The deck is extremely consistent at putting together the combo, and I'm not sure we ever lost once we got an Eldrazi Conscription on the battlefield. Most importantly, Aura Swap is a blast to play. I think this one is definitely FNM worthy, and could be even more competitive with some upgrades!

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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