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Budget Magic: Good in Soul Sisters? (Crimson Vow Standard)

Hallå, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! As you might know, every time Crim and I do a set review, it seems like there's at least one card that I think will be good in Soul Sisters. Usually, the card doesn't end up being good enough for Soul Sisters, but this doesn't stop me from trying again the next set. Well, it took a couple of years and a bunch of sets, but in Crimson Vow, we finally, really, truly got a new card that is good in Soul Sisters: Voice of the Blessed! So today, we're going to take a budget build of Standard Soul Sisters out for a spin and see if we finally did get a card that is good for the deck! How good is Soul Sisters in Standard? How strong is Voice of the Blessed? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Soul Sisters

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The Deck

Soul Sisters is a lifegain-based aggro deck. The goal is to play Soul Sisters (creatures that gain us life when a creature enters the battlefield, with the name going back to the original pair of Soul Warden and Soul's Attendant) and then creatures that benefit from us gaining life, like Voice of the Blessed and Trelasarra, Moon Dancer, which quickly grow into massive threats that hopefully can win us the game by beating our opponent down!

The Soul Sisters

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I guess we're technically playing soul brothers rather than soul sisters, but the important thing is that Prosperous Innkeeper and Lunarch Veteran work just like Soul Warden and Soul's Attendant do, gaining us life whenever a creature enters the battlefield under our control. While neither card is all that powerful on its own, they are incredibly important to our deck. Without them, our Voice of the Blessed and Trelasarra, Moon Dancers are just lowly Grizzly Bears. With our soul sisters on the battlefield, our two-drops quickly grow into massive threats that are easily able to win the game on their own.

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In the three-drop slot is Righteous Valkyrie, which walks the line between being an additional soul sister, thanks to its ability to gain us life whenever an Angel or Cleric enters the battlefield, and a payoff for lifegain since it gives all of our creatures +2/+2 if we can get to 27 life. Oddly, even though we aren't Cleric or Angel tribal, outside of Brutal Cathar (which is in one of our removal slots), all of our creatures just happen to be Clerics or Angels, which makes the lifegain from Righteous Valkyrie surprisingly consistent. The other big upside of Righteous Valkyrie is that it has flying, which gives our deck a way to block things like Elite Spellbinder and, if we can get to 27 life, Dragons like Goldspan Dragon, which are pretty popular in Standard. 

The Payoffs

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The two most important creatures in our deck are Voice of the Blessed and Trelasarra, Moon Dancer—the two best Ajani's Pridemates of all time. The two cards are very similar. They both start as 2/2s but grow whenever we gain life, which means if we can get a Lunarch Veteran, Prosperous Innkeeper, and / or Righteous Valkyrie or two on the battlefield, they will grow with every creature we play, which means they quickly turn into 5/5s and 10/10s that dominate the battlefield. Apart from quickly becoming huge, both Voice of the Blessed and Trelasarra have some additional upside. Voice of the Blessed gains flying, vigilance, and eventually indestructible as it grows. Meanwhile, Trelasarra, Moon Dancer allows us to scry when it grows, which allows us to snowball our advantage by scrying extra lands out of the way to find more creatures, which we can play to gain more life, further grow our two-drops, and scry again with Trelasarra. Both Voice of the Blessed and Trelasarra, Moon Dancer are incredibly powerful, but they do have one major problem: they die to most of the popular removal in Standard. Considering that the rest of our creatures are mostly small synergy pieces, we really need our payoffs to stick on the battlefield, which means a big chunk of our deck is dedicated to protecting Voice and Trelasarra.


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As far as protection, we have a few options. Ollenbock Escort is great at fizzling removal and wraths, assuming we can get a +1/+1 counter on the creature we are trying to protect. Thankfully, Voice of the Blessed and Trelasarra, Moon Dancer naturally gain counters, making Escort a great source of protection (although it is annoying that cards like The Meathook Massacre and Shadow's Verdict get around indestructible). Valorous Stance offers a removal spell that can kill most Dragons and mono-green creatures while also giving us another way to make a Voice or Trelasarra indestructible. Meanwhile, Snakeskin Veil fizzles a targeted removal spell with hexproof while also offering a +1/+1 counter that has some sneaky synergy in our deck, allowing us to protect the creature it targets again in the future with Ollenbock Escort or grow Voice of the Blessed toward flying, vigilance, and indestructible. 

Other Stuff

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Luminarch Aspirant is in our deck partly because it's a solid standalone card, but it also helps support our +1/+1 counter plan, rushing Voice of the Blessed toward its final (almost impossible to beat) form and putting counters on things like Righteous Valkyrie to turn on Ollenbock Escort's protection. Meanwhile, Cleric Class is just a one-of because it's pretty slow, but if we can get it leveled up, the Heliod, Sun-Crowned–esque ability to add a +1/+1 counter to any creature whenever we gain life is very powerful, as is reanimating a creature with its last level, especially against control.


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Last but not least, we have a bit of removal. Brutal Cathar is important to the deck since it's a removal spell that is also a creature, to trigger our soul sisters and add counters to our Voice of the Blessed and Trelasarra, Moon Dancers. Plus, it's even better in our deck than most because we have a bunch of ways to protect it and keep it on the battlefield. Finally, Kabira Takedown is a bit of a freeroll since we can always play it as a land if needed, but our deck usually manages to go wide enough that it can kill many of the most popular threats in Standard by the time the mid-game rolls around.

The Sideboard

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I wanted to mention the sideboard for one very specific reason: it's really bad against control. If you look through the cards in our sideboard, it's basically a bunch of removal and a few more protection spells. While Snakeskin Veil and Valorous Stance can be somewhat helpful against control decks by fizzling some removal spells, in a perfect world, our sideboard would be much more balanced, with fewer removal spells for aggro (which is already a good matchup) and more good cards to fight control (our hardest matchup). The problem is that all the cards we want to fight control—Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Guardian of Faith, Elite Spellbinder, and Reidane, God of the Worthy—are rares. Since so much Standard is played on Magic Arena these days, when I do a Standard Budget Magic deck, one of my goals is to keep the total number of rares and mythics to 15 or less, and Soul Sisters is already at the max. In paper, cards like [[Guardian of Faith], Elite Spellbinder, and Reidane, God of the Worthy are pretty cheap. You could easily drop some of the removal spells and play some more control hate while keeping the deck under $100, which I would recommend. It's much trickier on Arena. There just aren't many good common or uncommon green and / or white cards that are good against control, so the choice is either spend some more wildcards for control-hosing sideboard cards or just accept that it's a tough matchup.

Playing the Deck

Playing Soul Sisters is pretty straightforward: we want a mixture of stuff that gains us life, payoffs for gaining life, and protection. Be skeptical of hands without a payoff. It's often worth mulliganning if we don't have a Voice of the Blessed, Trelasarra, Moon Dancer, or Righteous Valkyrie. Hands without a payoff sometimes end with us playing a bunch of 1/1s, gaining a few life, and getting run over by the opponent.

The other thing to keep in mind is our protection spells. In removal-heavy matchups, it's often worth waiting an extra turn to play our Voice of the Blessed or Trelasarra, Moon Dancer so we can leave up a Snakeskin Veil or Valorous Stance, rather than just running out our payoff into its likely demise. While it does depend on the situation (if our hand if full of payoffs, running one out and hoping for the best is fine), for our deck to do its thing, we really need one of our two-drops to survive, and it's worth playing a little slower than we'd prefer to keep them alive because if they stick around, they should be able to win us the game.

Finally, the control matchup problem. Soul Sisters is great against decks like Mono-Green and Mono-White, although the budget build has a much harder time against decks like Dimir and Orzhov Control that are just piles of removal and sweepers. We talked about some of the sideboard upgrades that can help solve this problem, but the upgrades cost a lot of rare wildcards. So, how do you handle the control matchup with the current build? I think the best plan is to bring in all of the protection spells we can from the sideboard and mulligan for a hand that can be super aggressive. Against control, we don't really have the ability to win the long game as we do against aggro and midrange, so our hope is that we can quickly build a big threat, dodge cards like The Meathook Massacre and Shadow's Verdict, and hopefully win before our opponent draws too much removal and sweepers. Against control, don't keep good but slow hands; mulligan aggressively for the fastest hand possible.


Record-wise, we went 5-1 with Soul Sisters, beating Mono-Green three times along the way. (I didn't include the third matchup. It played out basically the same: our creatures just end up bigger than theirs. It's a laughably easy matchup for our deck. Our one loss came to Orzhov Control, which is a deck I don't think we can ever beat (although we did manage to sneak in a game win). The deck felt super powerful for a budget deck and has a really easy time beating the popular aggro and midrange decks of the format. Control is tough, but as we talked about before, there are sideboard upgrades that can improve the matchup. 

As far as changes to make to the budget build of the deck, I'm super happy with how the main deck turned out. I wish there were a way to improve the sideboard against control without adding more rares / mythics, but I haven't been able to figure out a way to make it happen. If you have some ideas, make sure to let me know in the comments!

So, should you play Soul Sisters in Standard? I think the answer is clearly yes. In general, Soul Sisters felt like the most competitive Budget Magic deck we've played so far in Crimson Vow Standard. Voice of the Blessed is even better than I had hoped. It took a while, but we finally got a card that is good in Soul Sisters, and we might even have a good Soul Sisters deck in Standard as a result!

Ultra-Budget Soul Sisters

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Our Soul Sisters deck has four different rares, with Luminarch Aspirant and Righteous Valkyrie being the most expensive in paper. Voice of the Blessed is the heart of the deck. It can't be cut. Righteous Valkyrie is also very powerful and supports our theme perfectly. It needs to stay. This leaves Luminarch Aspirant and Brutal Cathar. While I wouldn't want to cut either of them, the deck could function without them if necessary. Brutal Cathar could be replaced by another removal spell (like Borrowed Time). Finally, Luminarch Aspirant doesn't have a direct replacement, and losing its ability to put counters on things so we can protect them with Ollenbock Escort would hurt. We could fill the slot with some combination of Celestial Unicorn and Kor Celebrant, giving us more lifegain and payoffs, even if neither is especially strong, at three mana. Altogether, that leaves us with something like this eight-rare / $54 version of Soul Sisters:

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Non-Budget Soul Sisters

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Finally, our non-budget build of Soul Sisters looks much like the budget build, except with an upgraded mana base and the sideboard changes we discussed to improve the control matchup. While these changes add a lot to the budget on Magic Arena (where the deck climbs to 36 rares), it's still fairly cheap in paper, coming in at $130.


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

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