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Budget Magic: $99 (43 tix) Eminent Domain (Modern)


Tere, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! This week, as we wait for Guilds of Ravnica to be released and shake up Standard, we're trying something different. Rather than playing a brand new deck, we're jumping into the history books and playing an updated version of the one of the very first Budget Magic decks: Eminent Domain! You might remember this deck if you've been around since the beginning of the series, but it will probably feel new for most of you, since the first time we played it was way back in 2015. The idea of Eminent Domain is simple—our goal is to use Annex and Dream Leash to steal our opponent's lands, which is similar to destroying lands but better, since we actually end up with an additional land on the battlefield. Then, we use Wildfire to clear away whatever lands our opponent might have left while also sweeping our opponent's board, and then Frost Titan comes down to close out the game. How will Eminent Domain fit into the current meta? Can it compete in 2018 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: Eminent Domain (Modern)

The Deck

Probably the easiest way to think about Eminent Domain is as a weird Ponza deck, except that our Stone Rains are more expensive and come with the upside of giving us control of our opponent's lands, rather than blowing them up. Still, the idea is the same: we keep our opponent low on resources and then eventually finish the game with a Titan, except in Eminent Domain, the Titan of choice is Frost Titan rather than Inferno Titan. The other way to view the deck is as sort of a budget blue-red control deck, with Annex and Dream Leash taking the place of our other midrange threats and Frost Titan as the finisher. Perhaps the easiest way to break down the deck is to simply walk step-by-step through what the deck is trying to accomplish.

Ramp

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One of the challenges of our deck is that our payoffs are all four, five, and six mana, which means we need to speed things up a bit to keep pace with all of the fast decks in Modern. Izzet Signet and Mind Stone come down on Turn 2 and ramp us into our big plays a turn earlier. Since we have a massive eight mana rocks (and are looking to steal our opponent's lands), Izzet Signet and Mind Stone also allow us to cut back on lands, playing only 22, which in turn improves our top decks in the late game and helps to ensure we are drawing action rather than useless lands. While Izzet Signet is just a ramp spell, Mind Stone also comes with some "desperation draw" upside—if we run out of action or really need to find a specific card, we can always cash it in for a new cards for just a single mana in the hopes of finding what we need. So, step one of our deck is to ramp on turn two, but what are we ramping into?

Land Stealing

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Assuming we have a mana rock on Turn 2, we can start stealing lands with Annex on Turn 3 and then follow this up on Turn 4 by stealing another land with Dream Leash. The upside of stealing lands rather than blowing them up is that we actually get to take advantage of the mana. In some sense, this makes Annex the blue version of Mwonvuli Acid-Moss and Dream Leash a more expensive Mwonvuli Acid-Moss that can occasionally steal something else like a tapped creature. The combined effect of putting our opponent down a land and us up a land is that we get to ramp into our big finishers while our opponent has a difficult time defending themselves from our finishers, since they don't have mana lands. After stealing as many of our opponent's lands as possible, we have a card that can come down and clean up the leftovers.

Finishers

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Wildfire works incredibly well in our deck thanks to Annex and Dream Leash. When it comes to playing a symmetrical effect like Wildfire, the way to break the card is to break the symmetry. Our land-stealing effects do this naturally. If we can steal a couple of lands before we cast Wildfire, we end up down less resources post-Wildfire, since we can sacrifice the lands we stole from our opponent. Meanwhile, our opponent ends up down even more resources (often with no lands at all) since they have fewer lands to sacrifice to Wildfire. Combine this with the fact that we have mana rocks to produce mana even after sacrificing lands, and Eminent Domain is the perfect shell for Wildfire.

The other important aspect of Wildfire is that it sweeps away all (or at least, most) of the creatures on our opponent's side of the battlefield. The only creature in our deck is Frost Titan, which survives Wildfire thanks to its six toughness, so along with being a mostly one-sided Armageddon, Wildfire is often a Plague Wind as well. While six mana is a lot, thanks to all of our ramp, it's possible that we can cast Wildfire on Turn 4, which is often just fast enough to stabilize against the aggressive creature decks of Modern.

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While blowing up all of our opponent's creatures and stealing all of their lands is great, we still need to kill our opponent eventually, so we turn to Frost Titan. Frost Titan is the perfect finisher for our deck because its ability to tap down a land works as another land-destruction spell, keeping our opponent low on resources while adding a huge body to the battlefield. More importantly, the fact that our opponent has to pay two extra mana to target Frost Titan with a removal spell means that it's often unkillable. While being a 6/6 means that Frost Titan naturally dodges some removal, even if our opponent has an answer like Path to Exile, it's unlikely that our opponent will be able to use it to kill our Frost Titan, since the combination of Annex, Wildfire, and Frost Titan tapping down lands means that our opponent shouldn't have enough mana to cast it on our Frost Titan without it being countered. Then, Frost Titan cleans things up in just a few attacks, tapping down more lands (and any potential blockers our opponent finds) along the way.

Other Stuff

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Since our ramp starts on Turn 2, Serum Visions fits perfectly on-curve, coming down on Turn 1 to set things up in the future. Then, in the late game, we can sue Serum Visions to dig for more land-stealing enchantments, Wildfire, and Frost Titan to close out the game. Speaking of cards that are perfect for Eminent Domain, Remand is insane in the deck. Thanks to our ability to steal and destroy all of our opponent's lands, it often ends up being a hard counter, since our opponent won't have the lands to recast whatever we return to their hand. Plus, it draws us a card along the way, keeping us churning through our deck to find our more important pieces.

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Finally, Lightning Bolt and Anger of the Gods give us some removal for the early game. While Eminent Domain is extremely powerful once it gets going, it can be a bit slow, with our most impactful cards being four or more mana. Lightning Bolt and Anger of the Gods helps us stay alive against aggressive creature-based decks while we are looking to get our late game online. Plus, in a pinch, we can always throw Lightning Bolt at our opponent's face to help close out the game a bit faster alongside Frost Titan.

Wrap-Up

All in all, we played five matches with Eminent Domain and won three, which is a fine record for a budget deck. More importantly, we were able to win some matchups that seemed really difficult on paper, like against Hardened Scales Affinity and Mardu Pyromancer. On the other hand, we did lose to Burn and RB Vengevine, although even in our losses, those matches felt fairly close and like Eminent Domain actually had a chance if things had gone just a tiny bit differently. Basically, Eminent Domain felt a lot more competitive than I thought it would, considering how fast and powerful the Modern metagame is in 2018.

More importantly, Eminent Domain is amazingly fun. Stealing and destroying all of the opponent's resources is one of the best ways to win a game in Modern, and Eminent Domain does that as well as any deck in Modern. While being competitive is great, I'm mostly happy that we decided to play Eminent Domain again because it was one of the most fun decks I'd played in a long time.

As far as changes I'd make to the budget build of the deck now that we've played some games, the biggest would be Dragon's Claw in the sideboard to help against Burn. We nearly beat Burn without it, but having more sideboard hate for red-based aggro could be helpful. The other upgrades to the deck, like Blood Moon or planeswalkers, are probably a bit too expensive for the budget but offer a lot of potential in a non-budget build. 

All in all, Eminent Domain was great. It was competitive enough to win, even in difficult matchups, and a ton of fun to play, and it has plenty of upgrade possibilities. If you like decks like Ponza, you'll love Eminent Domain!

Eminent Domain is a pretty easy deck to get down below $50. All we need to do is trade Remand for Mana Leak and drop Sulfur Falls for Evolving Wilds. While both of these changes hurt a bit, losing Remand for Mana Leak is the most annoying, since Remand is so good in the deck. Otherwise, we add some Dragon's Claws to the sideboard to help against aggro and burn. All in all, the ultra-budget build is worse than the one we played in the videos, but in all honesty, it isn't that much worse. It should be more than good enough for the kitchen table and might be fine for some less competitive FNMs, although I'd try to change Mana Leak into Remand as quickly as possible.

As for the non-budget build, there really aren't a ton of changes to the main deck other than upgrading to the traditional fetch land / shock land mana base. Apart from the land upgrades, the only change is cutting two copies of Izzet Signet for a couple of copies of Jace, the Mind Sculptor, which is a near perfect fit for the deck, working as a backup finisher and also Brainstorming through our deck to find our land-stealing enchantments and removal. I considered putting Blood Moon in the main deck but decided to leave it in the sideboard, mostly because I wasn't sure what to cut. While the enchantment seems solid in Eminent Domain, we already do a pretty good job of attacking our opponent's mana base, so it might be excessive. The sideboard gets general improvements as well, with Relic of Progenitus replacing Tormod's Crypt, Engineered Explosives to deal with small creatures, and Dragon's Claw for that annoying Burn matchup. This leaves us with a deck that has a meaningful increase in power and consistency, especially after sideboarding, although Scalding Tarn is so expensive I'm not sure it's worth upgrading until the fetch lands get reprinted and drive down the price (otherwise, you can replace Scalding Tarn with Polluted Delta, which isn't optimal but shouldn't be too problematic).

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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