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Budget Magic: Disturbed Spirits (Crimson Vow Standard)


Merhaba, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! Innistrad: Crimson Vow is here, which means it's time to start exploring our new Standard format on a budget. The disturb mechanic wasn't quite good enough last Standard, but with Crimson Vow, we get a powerful new twist on disturb: creatures that come back into play from the graveyard as auras, like Dorothea, Vengeful Victim and Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr. Most importantly, we also got an insane new payoff for filling our deck with Spirits, enchantments, and disturb cards (which happen to be all of them in one card) in Hallowed Haunting, which can quickly take over the game by making a massive board of Spirit tokens. Is it finally time to get down with the sickness in Standard? How good is the new Crimson Vow take on disturb?  Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Disturbed Spirits

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The Deck

Disturbed Spirits is a hard deck to define. It's partly tribal (Spirits); it's partly enchantress; it's partly a graveyard deck since all of our disturb Spirits can be cast from the graveyard; and it's even a little bit like Bogles, thanks to the aura theme hidden on the backside of our disturb cards. The main goal of the deck is to take advantage of the natural card advantage that the disturb mechanic offers—with each card essentially being two cards since we can cast the backside from our graveyard—to grind out value with our tribal and enchantment synergies.

The Payoff

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Hallowed Haunting is an interesting card. It isn't very good in most decks, but in the right deck, it is among the most powerful in all of Crimson Vow. In theory, at least, Disturbed Spirits is the perfect deck to harness its power since the front side of our disturb cards are Spirits (growing the Spirits that Hallowed Haunting makes), while the backside of our disturb cards are enchantments to trigger Hallowed Haunting. Ideally, we'll play some Spirits in the early game, stick a Hallowed Haunting on Turn 4, and then start making massive Spirits tokens the next turn to overwhelm our opponent and win the game quickly. Alongside our disturb cards, we also have a bunch of enchantment-based removal like Borrowed Time, which might not be great in most decks but is amazing in our deck since, in the late game, it comes along with a kicker of a potentially massive Spirit token. Basically, if we can untap with Hallowed Haunting and not be super far behind on board, it becomes really difficult to lose against any sort of fair deck since we get to make a ton of massive free creatures!

Disturbed Spirits

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All 20 of the creatures in our deck are the new disturb Spirits from Crimson Vow, where the front side offers a Spirit and the backside offers an aura with the front side's abilities. The two most exciting are Dorothea, Vengeful Victim and Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr. Dorothea, Vengeful Victim offers a very above the curve but temporary body on the front side, making it a good way to Ball Lightning in for some fast damage, if we are looking to get aggro or a Plumeveil-style flying blocker (great at stopping things like Goldspan Dragon if we are playing the long game). Once it dies, we can cast the backside—Dorothea's Retribution—from our graveyard, giving us an extremely aggressive aura that essentially allows any of our small Spirits to hit for four extra damage each turn in the air, which sometimes allows us to play this weird tempo game where we stick a Dorothea's Retribution early in the game, protect the enchanted creatures with counterspells like Geistlight Snare, and more or less pick up a free win. 

Meanwhile, Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr is insane in our deck. Much like Hallowed Haunting, it doesn't do much of anything in most decks, but it's pretty insane in a deck full of Spirits and enchantments, often coming down as a 3/3 or 4/4 flying lifelinker that easily grows to an 8/8 or 10/10 if the game goes long. This makes it a must-kill threat for our opponent, but if they kill it, we can cast the backside to turn any creature into Katilda, often allowing us to one- or two-shot our opponent if we can stick it on a decent-size threat.

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Brine Comber is the closest thing we've seen to a Lingering Souls in Standard since...well...Lingering Souls. It comes into play for three mana, makes two 1/1s, and then gets another 1/1 when we disturb it from the graveyard, all with the upside that we make a 1/1 Spirit token with flying when we target it with one of our other disturb auras. Outside of our two rares, Brine Comber is—by far—the most powerful disturb creature in our deck, allowing us to flood the board with Spirits to power up our Hallowed Haunting tokens and offering flying bodies that wear other disturb auras (especially [[Dorothea's Retribution] and Catlike Curiosity) well.

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Completing our disturb Spirit package are two curve-filler creatures. Lantern Bearer isn't great, but it does have flying, making it a reasonable target for our other auras while also giving us something to do on Turn 1. Meanwhile, Mischievous Catgeist has some snowball potential if we can keep getting in combat damage with it, but as a 1/1 ground creature, it isn't all that easy to attack with. That said, there are a couple of ways we can send it to the air, either by enchanting it with the backside of Lantern Bearer or by using Catlike Curiosity on a Brine Comber token or Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr, giving us a weird approximation of the old Curious Obsession Mono-Blue Tempo deck from Standard's past, especially after sideboarding, where we can back up its card-drawing power with a ton of counterspells.

Other Stuff

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Rounding out our main deck is a bit of interaction. In general, cards like Borrowed Time and Circle of Confinement are worse than other removal options like Fateful Absence and Fading Hope in Standard but are great in our deck since some of our best cards (Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr and Hallowed Haunting specifically) care about enchantments. Meanwhile, Geistlight Snare is an absurdly powerful counterspell in a deck that's full of Spirits and Auras. It's usually a Mana Leak by Turn 2 or, at worse, 3, and later in the game, we usually have both an enchantment and a Spirit, making it a one-mana version of Mana Leak. Not only does it offer an answer to Alrund's Epiphany and other hard-to-interact-with threats, but it's also a great way to protect our most important Spirits from removal.

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Speaking of protecting our most important creatures, the last non-land card in our main deck is Cradle of Safety, which does two things in our deck. Most obviously, it protects a big Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr or a creature wearing a bunch of auras from targeted removal by giving it hexproof. Second, as an enchantment with flash, it allows us to make a Hallowed Haunting token at instant speed, which can offer some big blowouts during combat as we can grow our other Hallowed Haunting token and / or make a big surprise blocker.

The Mana

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The mana of Disturbed Spirits is fine for a budget deck. although we only have a total of seven dual lands to help keep the cost of the deck down. In a perfect world, we'd have Hengegate Pathway as another dual land and probably Faceless Haven (along with snow-covered basics) as a creatureland, which is perfect for our deck since it's technically a Spirit to support our tribal synergies. If you have either of those cards in your collection, toss them in. 

Wrap-Up

All in all, we went 4-1, with Disturbed Spirits taking down several of the best decks in Standard (Izzet Epiphany and Mono-Green Aggro) along the way, with our one loss coming in a tough three-game match to Sultai Ramp, where we ran really poorly, drawing nine lands out of 11 cards in game two and then getting stuck on three lands with multiple Hallowed Hauntings in hand in game three. The deck felt surprisingly competitive, not just for a budget deck but in general. It has the ability to pick up fast aggro wins with cards like Katilda and Dorothea but also can play a much longer, grindier game thanks to Hallowed Haunting and the fact that all of our creatures are technically two cards in one since we can cast them from our graveyard, offering a ton of incidental card advantage.

As far as changes to make to the budget build of the deck, there are two I've been thinking of. First, we've got too many counterspells in the sideboard. Even though there are matchups where we want a ton of counters (like Izzet Epiphany and against various control decks), with nine counters in our sideboard, we couldn't find the room to bring them all in, even in the matchups where they are great. I'd cut the Saw It Comings and play six total counters (four Negate and two Disdainful Strokes), while filling the rest of the slots with removal for the creature matchups. Second, Faithful Mending could be an interesting addition to the deck as a way to get our disturb creatures into the graveyard without first casting them as creatures. There are times when we'd like to get the backside of Dorothea, Vengeful Victim on the battlefield without waiting two turns to cast and attack with it, and the same is true of Mischievous Catgeist. While I'm not sure what to cut to make room, the Azorius Faithless Looting does seem worth testing, at a minimum.

So, should you play Disturbed Spirits in Crimson Vow Standard? I think the answer is clearly yes. I was shocked by how well the deck played and how competitive it felt against some of the best decks in Standard. It seems great for a budget deck and possibly good enough to be a real tier option in our new Standard format, depending on how the meta shakes out!

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Getting Disturbed Spirits down near $50 is pretty easy: we cut Deserted Beach for Evolving Wilds. As far as Magic Arena goes, there isn't really a way to get the deck cheaper than eight rares and four mythics since Dorothea, Vengeful Victim, Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr, and Hallowed Haunting are the foundations of the deck, although turning a rare dual land into Evolving Wilds does help with the cost a bit there as well.

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For our non-budget build, we don't get any huge changes. The biggest upgrade comes in the mana base, where Hengegate Pathway gives us an extra dual land and Faceless Haven offers a creatureland. Otherwise, we squeeze in three copies of Faithful Mending by trimming Lantern Bearer, Borrowed Time, and Cradle of Safety, while also adding a couple of copies of Paladin Class to the sideboard as a cheap enchantment that offers some value against both control (taxing counters) and creature decks (growing our team).

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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