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Budget Magic: If You Tap Out, You Lose! (Historic)

Hey there, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! This week, we're sending our Magic Arena opponents a simple message: if you tap out, you lose! What deck has this awesome power—to end the game if our opponent chooses to tap out? Budget Storm Herald combo! The deck's plan is surprisingly simple: stock the graveyard with massive auras, with the help of self-mill and rummaging, and wait until our opponent makes the fatal mistake of tapping out. Then, we play our Storm Herald; reanimate all of our auras; build something like a 50-power hasty, trampling creature; and one-shot our opponent! Oh yeah, and this can happen as early as Turn 3! How good is Storm Herald on a budget in Historic? Let's get to the video and find out. But first, a quick reminder that if you enjoy Budget Magic and the other content on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube channel to keep up on all the latest and greatest.

Budget Magic: Storm Herald Combo

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The Deck

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Today's deck is super simple: we are all-in on the power of the unheralded Theros: Beyond Death rare Storm Herald. The three-drop has a unique ability: when it enters the battlefield, it reanimates any number of auras for one turn only. Combined with Storm Herald naturally having haste, this means we can build our deck in a way where Storm Herald is lethal on the turn it hits the battlefield (potentially as early as Turn 3). The main problem with the plan is instant-speed removal: a timely removal spell can ruin our day. This is why we typically try to set up a lethal graveyard and then wait for our opponent to tap out (so they can't cast a removal spell) before giving out the ultimate punishment!

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As far as our auras, they focus on two things: adding as much power to the battlefield as possible and giving our Storm Herald trample to make sure that it's lethal even through a board full of chump blockers. Prodigious Growth and Epic Proportions are our two biggest enchantments, giving a huge power boost and trample. While they typically don't see much play because they cost too much mana, they are perfect for our deck because their mana cost doesn't matter to us at all since we're cheating them into play with Storm Herald. Audacity is our cheapest enchantment, but giving +2 power and trample more than makes it worth a slot. Finally, we have Ancestral Mask, which doesn't do anything by itself but typically ends up giving something like +8/+8 or +10/+10 thanks to all of the enchantments our deck spews onto the battlefield with Storm Herald's reanimate ability.

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Of course, for our plan to work, we need to be able to fill our graveyard with our massive auras as quickly as possible. For this, we turn to a bunch of self-mill cards. Circle of the Land Druid and Satyr Wayfinder are very similar. Each of them mills four cards when they enter the battlefield and eventually (hopefully) gives us an extra land in hand. Oh yeah, one quick rant. For some reason, Circle of the Land Druid has been rebalanced on Magic Arena to gain a single extra power, which is exactly the kind of rebalancing I detest. I understand powering down The One Ring or Orcish Bowmasters (even though personally, I'd rather just see cards like those banned and wildcards refunded rather than them being rebalanced), but what is the point of adding one power to a random common that no one plays anyway? Is it really worth the cost of increased complexity? What is the actual benefit here? Regardless, the extra power of Circle of the Land Druid doesn't really matter at all to our deck. We're not really planning on beating down with it—we just use it to fill the graveyard—so for our purposes, the Arena version plays almost exactly the same as the paper printing.

Meanwhile, Seasoned Pyromancer does something different: it lets us put cards from our hand into our graveyard. When I initially built the deck, I left Seasoned Pyromancer out and quickly realized it was a mistake because I kept drawing uncastable auras like Prodigious Growth that I really wanted in the graveyard for Storm Herald to reanimate. This led to me adding the three-drop to the deck, and it has been awesome!

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The last piece of the puzzle is making sure that we can actually find Storm Herald when the time is right. We do a lot of work and spend a lot of mana and cards to set up a game state where Storm Herald is lethal, which means making sure we have a copy to punish our opponent for tapping out is essential. For this, we have a few options. Grapple with the Past is another self-mill card, but it has a bit of Eternal Witness built in, returning a creature or land from our graveyard to our hand along with milling three cards. This, combined with Bala Ged Recovery, means that we can simply mill a copy of Storm Herald and then return it to our hand for the combo kill, essentially making our graveyard a second hand. We can also just use Eldritch Evolution to tutor up Storm Herald directly by sacrificing any of the other creatures in our deck. Thanks to these cards, it's almost like we are playing 13 copies of Storm Herald in our deck, even though we technically only have four.


First off, on the budget, my goal was to build a 15-rare deck. But then I added Seasoned Pyromancer and forgot that this would up the rare count, so we actually ended up at a total of 18 rares and mythics, which is still pretty cheap but not quite as cheap as I was shooting for. (Remember, Game Trail is an uncommon on Arena, so the decklist rare count is actually slightly off since it counts it as a rare because of all of its paper printings).

Record-wise, we played a massive 25 matches with the deck and finished with a 52% match-win percentage, which is actually pretty solid for a rather large sample size. The deck is really, really good at punishing opponents for tapping out and gets an absurd number of free wins, although matches against control decks that refuse to tap out can be tough. It's also possible that we lose to aggro decks like Wizards or Elves, especially if they are on the play.

You probably noticed we were playing best-of-one this week. That's because you really, really shouldn't play this deck in best-of-three. The deck is great in best-of-one—super consistent and powerful, and great at sneaking in free wins with one big attack. But it's horrible in best-of-three because of graveyard hate. A single Rest in Peace, Leyline of the Void, Tormod's Crypt, or Soul-Guide Lantern shuts down our entire deck, and any self-respecting best-of-three player will have some graveyard hate in their sideboard. As such, in best-of-three, we typically win game one and then hope to get lucky (by our opponent not finding their hate cards) in games two or three. In best of one, the deck is great because it's like we're always playing in game one and our odds of facing graveyard hate are low!

So, should you play Storm Herald Combo in Historic? I think the answer is yes! While the deck is a bit on the pricey side of the budget spectrum, it's also powerful, consistent, and pretty funny! If you like the idea of one-shotting your opponent by surprise because they made the huge mistake of tapping out, Storm Herald Combo seems like a solid budget-ish option for Historic!

Speaking of the budget, a lot of the rares can't be dropped—we need Storm Herald, Eldritch Evolution, and the big auras for the deck to work. But the one place you can save a bit is Seasoned Pyromancer. While Pyro is the best option for the slot, a bunch of other creatures can loot or rummage when they enter the battlefield. Something like Scrapwork Mutt would be almost as good as Seasoned Pyromancer but only cost a common wildcard rather than a mythic. So, if you want to build the deck on the cheap, this is the place to cut.


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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