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Budget Magic: Temur Tatyova (Modern)


Bonjorn, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! This week, someone mentioned to me that they had made mythic on Magic Arena with our Budget Five-Color Plants deck for Standard. This got me thinking about the possibility of an all-basic land ramp deck in Modern. If there's one thing we've learned over the past couple of years, it's that ramping can be very powerful, and Modern offers some really sweet tricks when it comes to putting a lot of basic lands on the battlefield to win the game, with cards like Phylath, World Sculptor or Avenger of Zendikar—for example, Tatyova, Benthic Druid! Normally, Tatyova is resigned to Commander tables, but in the right shell, could the five-drop power a Modern deck, turning all of our ramp spells into card draw and lifegain? That's what we're going to find out today with Temur Tatyova, a deck that draws on our Standard Five-Color Plants list but with some sweet and powerful Modern-focused additions. How many cards can we draw with Tatyova, Benthic Druid? Can Phylath, World Sculptor finish games in Modern? Can a deck with just a single non-basic land work in the format? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Temur Tatyova

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The Deck

Temur Tatyova is a landfall-based ramp deck. The plan is to turn ramp spells like Rampant Growth, Sakura-Tribe Elder, and Migration Path into card draw with the help of Tatyova, Benthic Druid and Valakut Exploration as well as creature-pumping with our finishers Phylath, World Sculptor and Avenger of Zendikar. If you've ever seen a Tatyova deck in Commander, our deck is doing many of the same things but in Modern!

The Engine

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One of the problems with overloading your deck with cards like Rampant Growth, Search for Tomorrow, and Sakura-Tribe Elder is that they don't actually do much to progress the game other than putting an extra basic land on the battlefield, which can leave us in a position where we have a ton of mana but nothing to do with it. The idea of Temur Tatyova is to make these ramp spells as powerful as possible by turning them into not just ramp but also card draw, damage, and lifegain! 

Valakut Awakening and Tatyova, Benthic Druid are the engines that drive our deck, with each drawing us a card whenever a land enters the battlefield. Tatyova does this directly by drawing us a card and gaining us a life whenever a land comes into play, while Valakut Awakening offers card advantage for one turn only (and possibly some bonus damage if we don't play the card it exiles with its landfall trigger). Together, these cards make sure that rather than just putting a land onto the battlefield, all of our Rampant Growths are also card draw, keeping us churning through our deck to find more ramp, more card draw, and, eventually, our finishers to close out the game. The idea is that if we can stack up a couple of these effects on the battlefield, we can snowball the card advantage into an unbeatable board state and hopefully a win!

The Finishers

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When it comes to closing out the game, we are back to the Plant plan with both Phylath, World Sculptor and Avenger of Zendikar. Thanks to all of our ramp spells, we can be casting our finishers as early as Turn 4. And once they are on the battlefield, they pull a similar trick to Tatyova, Benthic Druid and Valakut Exploration: they power up our ramp spells by turning them into extra damage, by putting counters on the Plant tokens they produce with their landfall triggers. Thanks to all of the ramp spells in our deck, there's a pretty good chance that we can win the game on the turn after we resolve either one of these cards by making multiple land drops, growing a Plant (or a bunch of Plants) into a massive threat, and killing our opponent in a single attack. It's also worth mentioning that Phylath, World Sculptor and Avenger of Zendikar work really well together since they can pump any Plant with their landfall triggers. This means if our opponent can kill our first Phylath or Avenger, we can play a second copy, make a land drop, and use the new Phylath or Avenger to pump any of the Plants we have on the battlefield, including the ones made by the first Phylath, World Sculptor or Avenger of Zendikar

Which of our finishers is better is up for debate. The upside of Phylath, World Sculptor is that it only costs six mana, making it easier to get on the battlefield quickly. Since our deck is almost exclusively basic lands, it should make just as many tokens as Avenger of Zendikar (one for each land on the battlefield), so that's a wash. The biggest drawback of Phylath, World Sculptor is that its +1/+1 counter ability puts all of the counters on a single Plant token, which makes it easier for our opponent to blow us out with targeted removal. Meanwhile, Avenger of Zendikar costs a bit more but has a safer pumping ability, growing all of our Plants a little when a land comes into play, rather than growing one Plant a lot, which makes it harder for our opponent to answer our board with cards like Fatal Push or Path to Exile. That said, we don't really care which of our finishers we draw most of the time. In general, either Phylath or Avenger of Zendikar should win the game within a turn or two of hitting the battlefield unless our opponent has a sweeper.

The Ramp

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The rest of our main deck is essentially all ramp spells, which, remember, aren't just putting lands on the battlefield but also drawing us cards, gaining us life, and growing our Plant tokens. Temur Tatyova has a 2-4-6 ramp plan, with our goal being to use Search for Tomorrow, Sakura-Tribe Elder, or Rampant Growth to get us up to four mana by Turn 3...

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This gets us to our four-mana ramp spells. If we can cast a Migration Path or Mwonvuli Acid-Moss on Turn 3, we'll be up to six or even seven mana by Turn 4, which is enough that we can play Tatyova, Benthic Druid and immediately make a land drop to draw a card or cast a finisher like Phylath, World Sculptor or Avenger of Zendikar to build a massive board and help us close out the game quickly. While our early-game ramp is pretty simple and just puts an extra basic land on the battlefield, our four-mana ramp spells each come with some upside. Migration Path can be cycled away if we have a bunch of ramp but no card draw or finisher, to help us find something like Tatyova, Benthic Druid or Phylath, World Sculptor. Meanwhile, Mwonvuli Acid-Moss blows up one of our opponent's lands while also ramping us, making it a solid main-deck answer to decks like Tron if we can resolve it fast enough. 

Other Stuff

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Otherwise, we have Lightning Bolt for some early-game removal to oppose creatures that can also go at our opponent's face to close out the game in a pinch.

The Mana

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One of the most interesting aspects of Temur Tatyova is that our mana base is almost exclusively basic lands. In fact, we have a single copy of one dual land in our deck: a Ketria Triome that we can tutor up with Mwonvuli Acid-Moss. Otherwise, we have 14 Forests, seven Mountains, and two Islands. This mana base does a few things for our deck. First, because Phylath, World Sculptor cares specifically about the number of basic lands on the battlefield, it helps power up one of our finishers. It also supports our Rampant Growths, which can only find basic lands. Finally, it helps to keep the price of the deck in check, which frees up some room in the budget for powerful sideboard cards...

The Sideboard

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While most of the sideboard is pretty obvious—counterspells for control and combo, sweepers and removal for aggro—there's one specific card I'm excited about: Blood Moon! Thanks to a bunch of reprintings bringing down the price and our deck having a unique (almost) all-basic mana base that keeps the price in check, we can actually play a full playset of one of my all-time favorite cards and still come in under our $100 budget! Of course, we're not playing Blood Moon just because we can. It's actually insane in our deck because it doesn't really hurt us at all, since our mana base is (almost) all basics anyway. This allows us to bring in Blood Moon at will, not just against decks like Tron but also against anything with a greedy mana base.

Playing the Deck

The first thing to point out about Temur Tatyova is that this isn't a 2020 ramp deck. We don't have cards like Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath or even Growth Spiral. Instead, we're essentially trying to turn all of our Rampant Growths into Uros and Growth Spirals by getting Tatyova, Benthic Druid or Valakut Exploration on the battlefield. This means we do occasionally have weird ramp draws where we have a lot of finishers but no ramp or a lot of ramp but no finishers. In general, I'm okay with keeping a hand that is all ramp but no finishers, trusting that with six big Plant-based finishers, four Tatyova, Benthic Druids, and four Valakut Explorations, we'll draw into a way to close out the game. On the other hand, keeping a hand that is all expensive finishers and no ramp is risky, and it's usually better to go to six than to keep a hand that is all five, six, and seven drops with no ramp.

Depending on the matchup, it can be better to wait an extra turn to play Tatyova, Benthic Druid so we can play it and immediately make a land drop to draw a card. If our opponent is playing a lot of removals we need to focus on getting whatever value out of Tatyova we can. Spending five mana and getting no value because Tatyova dies to a Lightning Bolt is a disaster. While spending five mana and drawing one card with Tatyova before it dies isn't great, this does soften the blow of losing our namesake card to some extent and gets us one card closer to drawing another copy that might stick around.

Don't underestimate how much damage our Plant finishers can deal in one turn! We had a game where we played Phylath, World Sculptor and untapped the next turn to put 16 +1/+1 counters on our Plants by making a land drop and casting multiple ramp spells, which allowed us to 20 our opponent right away with a single attack. Also, keep in mind that both Phylath and Avenger of Zendikar are really good at gumming up the ground by making a bunch of chump-blocking Plants. Even if we are significantly behind on board, there is a decent chance that a single Phylath, World Sculptor or Avenger of Zendikar can catch us back up.

Wrap Up

All in all, we went 4-2 with Temur Tatyova, counting our final match against Tron where we beat our opponent in game one and they scooped the match rather than face the wrath of our Plants a second time. We managed to take down Ponza, 8 Rack, WB Midrange or Tokens, and Tron while losing to Infect (in what is close to an unwinnable matchup because we don't have that much removal, and our chump-blocking plan doesn't really work since most infect threats are evasive) and to Copy Cat Combo (partly because we got greedy and decided to ramp and hope our opponent didn't have Felidar Guardian rather than leaving up Lightning Bolt as combo protection). 

As far as changes to make to the budget build of the deck, I'm pretty happy with where it landed. It might be worth adding some Aether Gusts to the sideboard, but in general, I'd run the deck back as-is.

So, should you play Temur Tatyova in Modern? In general, the deck felt pretty solid, especially for a budget build. The combination of ramp, card draw, and finishers gave us a chance to compete in most matchups, although fast combo is a tough matchup, as we saw against Infect. The other big upside of the deck is that it shares some similarities with the Five-Color Plant deck we played in Standard a few months ago, which might mean you already have some of the pieces to put together Temur Tatyova. Apart from a playset of Blood Moon, the deck can be built super cheaply, both in paper and on Magic Online. If you like ramping, are a Tatyova player in Commander, or were a fan of Five-Color Plants in Standard, Temur Tatyova might just be the perfect budget Modern deck for you!

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Getting Temur Tatyova down near $50 is pretty easy, although it does require dropping Blood Moon from the sideboard for Damping Sphere, which gives us less of a chance to jank people out of the game but does improve our combo matchup, to some extent. Along with cutting Blood Moon, we can drop the Ketria Triome from the mana base, which is nice to have but not necessary, and make some other small sideboard changes, and we're good to go without cutting any important main-deck cards!

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Building non-budget Temur Tatyova is tricky. Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath is probably just too good to pass up, but playing Uro also means playing fetch lands to get more cards in the graveyard to escape Uro. And once we have fetch lands, we may as well have a few shock lands too. While we need to keep enough basic lands to power up Phylath, World Sculptor, going down to nine total basics should be fine as long as we focus on tutoring them up with our fetch lands when possible. The other big upside of fetch lands is that they work extremely well with our landfall cards, double-triggering Tatyova, Benthic Druid, Phylath, World Sculptor, and Valakut Awakening. Since having a fetch land each turn to double-trigger our payoffs is so powerful, we also get a couple of Wrenn and Sixes to return fetch lands from our graveyard to our hand, to make sure we always have a land-drop to make each turn. The downside of these changes is that they make the deck way, way more expensive, jumping the total cost of the deck from $100 to $865. This leads to another issue: if you're going to spend almost $900, it's probably just better to buy the Omnath Uro Pile deck that is currently at the top of the Modern meta. My advice would be to just play the budget build of Temur Tatyova. It's a solid budget option, and upgrading it is so costly that it's probably not worth it to upgrade the deck directly, especially when you can be basically any top-tier Modern deck you want for the same price (or less) as the fully upgraded version of Temur Tatyova. 

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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