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Budget Magic: Boros Winota (Standard)


Ola, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! Ikoria is here, so today, we countinue our exploration of our new Standard format with a card that is quickly becoming one of my favorites from the set: Winota, Joiner of Forces! The main goal of our deck is simple: spend the first three turns flooding the board with non-Human tokens, then play Winota, Joiner of Forces on Turn 4 and attack with our team, potentially getting up to five Winota triggers, each digging six cards deep in our library to find Humans like Agent of Treachery, Charming Prince (to blink Agent of Treachery), and Haktos the Unscarred (to deal huge chunks of damage), potentially allowing us to steal all of our opponent's permanents and essentially win the game on Turn 4! How good is Winota, Joiner of Forces on a $100 budget? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Boros Winota

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The Deck

Boros Winota is a unique deck. Probably the best way to describe it is as an aggro, token-based combo deck. In the early game, we flood the board with non-Human tokens; then, we use Winota, Joiner of Forces to put a bunch of powerful and expensive Humans into play for free. One of the deck's upsides is that even though our most spectacular games involve Winota, we can also win fairly as a janky token deck.

The Payoff

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Winota, Joiner of Forces is an interesting card to build around. While its power-level is extremely high, it requires a strange mixture of Human and non-Human creatures to work, which is a fun deck-building challenge. Once Winota, Joiner of Forces hits the battlefield, it's great. A 4/4 for four is already a fine deal, and since Winota triggers whenever any non-Human creature attacks, it does something the turn it comes into play since we can cast Winota during our pre-combat main phase and immediately attack to trigger Winota. Most importantly, Winota, Joiner of Forces triggers whenever non-Human creature attacks, which means if we can attack with a bunch of non-Human creatures, we can get a bunch of Winota triggers and potentially put several Humans into play for free!

The Non-Humans

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When it comes to making non-Humans, out best cards put multiple non-Human creatures on the battlefield. Raise the Alarm and Sworn Companions both make two 1/1 Soldiers, while Hanged Executioner gives us two 1/1 flying Spirits. Together, these cards make it fairly easy to have at least four (and sometimes five) non-Humans ready to attack on Turn 4 by the time we play Winota, Joiner of Forces!

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We also have Alseid of Life's Bounty in our one-drop slot. While the Nymph technically adds another non-Human to the battlefield, its main purpose is to protect Winota, Joiner of Forces from targeted removal. While Winota, Joiner of Forces does generate value the turn when it comes into play, it doesn't do much of anything if our opponent can kill it before we get a chance to attack with all of our non-Humans. Alseid of Life's Bounty gives us a way to fizzle a targeted removal spell by giving Winota protection, while also supporting our nut draw. If we start with Alseid of Life's Bounty on Turn 1, then two of Sworn Companions, Raise the Alarm, or Hanged Executioner over the next two turns will give us a massive five Winota, Joiner of Forces triggers on Turn 4, which should be enough to win the game.

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Rounding out our non-Human package is Chandra, Acolyte of Flame, which is another card that can put two non-Human tokens onto the battlefield (with two hasty Elementals from the second 0 ability) while also offering another backup plan for closing out the game, in conjunction with Heartfire, with its 2. Being able to flashback an instant or sorcery that costs three or less is actually very strong in our deck in general, thanks to Raise the Alarm and Sworn Companions, but it can be especially devastating with Heartfire, which offers four damage for just two mana. While sacrificing a creature or planeswalker is a drawback, our deck tends to flood the board with underpowered creatures for Winota, Joiner of Forces anyway, so we usually have a random 1/1 that we don't mind sacrificing. In games where we don't just win on Turn 4 with Winota, Joiner of Forces, being able to chip in for damage with our motley crew of tokens and then Heartfire, flashback Heartfire with Chandra, Acolyte of Flame for eight direct damage is a solid way to quickly close out the game.

The Humans

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So far, we've mostly talked about the non-Humans we are using to get Winota, Joiner of Forces triggers. But for Winota to be powerful, we also need Humans to put into play for free with our Winota, Joiner of Forces triggers. Here, our main plan is the combination of Agent of Treachery and Charming Prince to blink Agent of Treachery. With the full four copies of Agent of Treachery in our deck, we have a 42% chance of hitting at least one with a single Winota, Joiner of Forces trigger. Since we can often have four (or even five) Winota triggers on Turn 4, we often end up with two or even three copies of Agent of Treachery, stealing our opponent's three best permanents (or if they don't have good permanents, three lands, which is equally devastating). Meanwhile, Charming Prince is a great hit off of our second Winota, Joinery of Forces trigger, assuming we get an Agent of Treachery with the first trigger, since Charming Prince can flicker Agent of Treachery, allowing us to double up on the permanent-stealing enters-the-battlefield trigger, increasing our odds of hitting (or essentially hitting) an Agent of Treachery with every Winota trigger. 

While very close to the same card when we hit them off of a Winota, Joiner of Forces trigger, when played fairly, Charming Prince and Agent of Treachery couldn't be more different. Since we're working with a $100 budget, we literally don't have any blue mana in our deck, so Agent of Treachery is a dead draw (if you decide to play the deck, make sure to keep this in mind while mulliganing—we can't ever hard cast Agent of Treachery). On the other hand, Charming Prince is a solid two-drop when played fairly, allowing us to scry two cards deep to dig for Winota, Joiner of Forces or whatever else we need.

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Our last Human is Haktos the Unscarred (although keep in mind that since Winota, Joiner of Forces puts the creatures its trigger finds into play tapped and attacking, and makes them indestructible for the turn, it's sometimes worth getting a second Winota, Joiner of Forces with the trigger, even though one will end up in the graveyard thanks to the legend rule, since we can keep the attacking copy to force through more damage). Haktos the Unscarred offers a huge chunk of damage as a 6/1 and is sometimes unblockable, depending on the board state and how well we roll with the random protection ability. Apart from upping our Human count for Winota, Joiner of Forces (with 10 Humans in the deck, we're 68% to hit at least one with a Winota trigger, and if we count the extra copies of Winota as "hits," the percentage increases to 78%), Haktos the Unscarred can sometimes just win the game by itself when cast naturally. In some games, Haktos the Unscarred is the worst creature in our deck, trading with a cheap one-powered creature, while in others, our opponent won't have the right converted mana cost to interact with it and it will end up killing them in just two or three big attacks!

The Mana

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By far the biggest weakness of our deck is the mana. While it is functional enough for a budget mana base, we do have eight tapped lands, which can occasionally be annoying for a deck that is looking to be aggressive, by forcing us to play off-curve (there's nothing worse than having several non-Humans on the battlefield and a Winota in hand and drawing Wind-Scarred Crag or Temple of Triumph as our fourth land). Furthermore, as we discussed a moment ago, we don't actually have any blue mana, which means we can never hard-cast Agent of Treachery. In general, this isn't a huge deal—we don't have any ramp and only play 24 lands, so we probably wouldn't hard-cast Agent of Treachery very often anyway, even with non-budget mana. But every once in a while, you'll have a game where you have an Agent of Treachery or two in hand along with seven lands and find yourself wishing for a copy of Steam Vents or Hallowed Fountain

Wrap-Up

Record-wise, Boros Winota was great! We ended up 4-1 in our five matches, with our one loss coming to Gyruda Combo (which is a pretty tough matchup, although we did manage to avenge the loss later). Meanwhile, apart from winning the Gyruda rematch, we also took down Jeskai Control, Temur Elements, and Temur Fires—a solid list of powerful decks. Apparently, most decks in Ikoria Standard struggle when hit with multiple Agent of Treachery triggers on Turn 4.

As far as changes to make to the budget build of the deck, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. As we talked about before, the mana could use an upgrade, both to minimize the number of tapped lands and to allow us to cast Agent of Treachery, but there really isn't a way to do this while staying budget-friendly. If I were going to do another run with the budget build of Boros Winota, I'd run it back as-is. The deck felt really solid, and—more importantly—it's absurdly fun to play and does spectacular things!

In the end, I think some sort of Winota deck similar to this has a chance to be very strong in Standard. If you enjoy being aggressive but also like stealing your opponent's best things and sometimes randomly winning the game on Turn 4 as your opponents get salty about how lucky you are to control all of their permanents, give Boros Winota a shot!

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For our ultra-budget list, we have a deck build based on the Arena economy, designed to minimize the number of rares and mythics (the same build will help you cut prices in paper, but sadly, there isn't a way to get Boros Winota down to $50 because just a playset each of Winota, Joiner of Forces and Agent of Treachery cost almost $60). With a bit of work, we can get the deck down to 14 total rares and mythics. Winota, Joiner of Forces, Agent of Treachery, and Charming Princes are uncuttable because they are they primary combo pieces in the deck, and then we're stuck with two copies of Hanged Executioner just because there isn't a lower-rarity card that costs less than four mana and puts two non-Humans into play. 

On the other hand, we can drop Chandra, Acolyte of Flame for Goblin Gathering, turn two copies of Hanged Executioner into more Sworn Companions, play Flight of Equenauts as our backup Human payoff over Haktos the Unscarred, and cut all of the rares from the mana base and sideboard. The end result is a deck that should be almost as good as the one we played in the videos at having crazy Winota-driven combo turns but that loses some of its backup plans, which will make the games when we don't get free Winota wins more difficult. Still, you should be able to pick up some wins with the deck, especially in casual play or at lower ranks on Arena.

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Finally, for our non-budget build, we have Jeskai Winota. While the deck looks much like the one we played in the videos, there are three major upgrades. First, we have actual blue mana, so that we can not only hard-cast Agent of Treachery if we need to but also play some blue cards. Second, we get Teferi, Time Raveler over Alseid of Life's Bounty as Winota, Joiner of Forces' protection. While being able to sacrifice Alseid of Life's Bounty to save Winota, Joiner of Forces from removal is nice, it does mean we need one extra mana available, sometimes making us wait until Turn 5 to play Winota. Teferi, Time Raveler comes down before Winota, Joiner of Forces and not only saves it (at least for a turn) from removal, by making it so our opponent can't cast spells during our turn, but from counterspells as well, which is something that Alseid of Life's Bounty couldn't do. Finally, we get some upgrades in the sideboard, with Aether Gust and Mystical Dispute joining our interaction suite. 

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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