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Budget Magic: Throne of Eldraine Standard Updates


Throne of Eldraine was released last week, bringing rotation along with it, which means that most of the Standard Budget Magic decks we've played over the past year are no longer legal for Standard play. While some of these decks are basically dead in the water (it's hard to play Gateshift without the namesake Scapeshift, for example), others are salvageable with some updates. 

Playing Magic on a budget is partly about spending as little as possible on decks and cards themselves, but it's also about getting as much use out of those decks and cards as possible. As such, our goal for today is pretty simple: we're going to update some of the sweetest Standard Budget Magic lists from the past year and get them ready for Throne of Eldraine Standard! As I mentioned before, it's not really possible to update every list—some simply lost too many pieces (and didn't get enough replacements) to continue to exist. But a surprising number of decks can survive rotation, with the right upgrades.

One last thing before getting to the lists: while it isn't possible to hold to our normal $100 budget in every case (since card prices have changed a lot in the past year), our goal is to keep our updates as budget friendly as possible. So if you're wondering why deck X, Y, or Z doesn't have Oko, Thief of Crowns or Murderous Rider, even if it feels like a perfect fit for the deck, the answer is likely "it's too expensive." Also, I'm not sure how much value there is in my trying to to do a full written breakdown of each deck. Instead, we'll have the updated deck lists, a link to the original deck, and a list of the important additions and subtractions thanks to rotation along with some notes as needed. So if you have any questions about specifics, make sure to ask in the comments. Anyway, here are some ideas for keeping your Budget Magic lists fun and competitive for the next year of Throne of Eldraine Standard!

Izzet Drakes/Saheeli

You can see the original Izzet Drakes Budget Magic here and the similar Izzet Saheeli Budget Magic here!

Major Losses: Enigma Drake, Wizard's Lightning, Chart a Course

Major Additions: Irencrag Pyromancer, Thrill of Possibility, The Royal Scions, Improbable Alliance

Power Loss / Gain: Thanks to the "when you draw your second card" theme of Throne of Eldraine, Izzet Drake might be even better today than when we originally played the deck a year ago, despite the loss of Enigma Drake. Thrill of Possibility is a worthy replacement for Chart a Course, and while they function very differently, both Irencrag Pyromancer and Improbable Alliance are solid threats on their own, more than making up for the loss of Enigma Drake. Oddly, it seems like Izzet Drakes may have actually improved with rotation.

Golgari Reanimator

You can see the original Golgari Reanimator Budget Magic here.

Major Losses: Stitcher's Supplier, explore creatures, The Eldest Reborn, Journey to Eternity, Ravenous Chupacabra.

Major Additions: Cavalier of Thorns, Glowspore Shaman, Gorging Vulture, The Cauldron of Eternity, Blood for Bones.

Power Loss / Gain: The biggest problem with Golgari Reanimator is the loss of Stitcher's Supplier, which offers a very fast way of filling our graveyard. While Glowspore Shaman and Gorging Vulture work, they are more expensive, which slows down the process. The good news is that our reanimation has gotten even better, with The Cauldron of Eternity and Blood for Bones being way more powerful than The Eldest Reborn in a dedicated reanimation shell. All in all, I'd say the deck's power level is about even: we lose some speed but make up for it with raw power.

Note: While I said I wasn't going to write about the decks, with Golgari Reanimator, I did want to mention a new combo in the deck since it might not be obvious at first glance. One of the sweetest new ways to win the game with the deck is to stock our graveyard with creatures, get a Syr Konrad, the Grim on the battlefield, and then reanimate Loaming Shaman to shuffle all the creatures in our graveyard back into our library. Since Syr Konrad, the Grim deals a damage for each creature, if we have 20 or more creatures in our graveyard, we can win the game on the spot.

Blue-White Mill

You can see the original Blue-White Mill Budget Magic here!

Major Losses: Psychic Corrosion, Cleansing Nova, Seal Away, Chart a Course.

Major Additions: Merfolk Secretkeeper, Vantress Gargoyle, Into the Story, Didn't Say Please, Thought Collapse, Overwhelmed Apprentice.

Power Loss / Gain: This is a tough one to evaluate since the decks are so different. I'll say that I think the current Mono-Blue Mill list is better than the Blue-White Mill list was back when we first played it, thanks to the mill theme of Throne of Eldraine. But in reality, the decks are different enough that we can't make a good direct comparison.

Note: While we probably could update Blue-White Mill, we just played a super-cheap Mono-Blue Mill deck on Budget Magic this week. So if you're looking to mill people out in Throne of Eldraine Standard, that's what I'd recommend. While the end goal of the two decks is the same (emptying the opponent's library), they actually play very differently, with the original Blue-White Mill deck being based around drawing as many cards as possible to trigger the now-rotated Psychic Corrosion, while Mono-Blue Mill is more about stalling out with milling creatures as we counter spells with Didn't Say Please and Thought Collapse

Draft Chaff White Weenie

You can see the original Draft Chaff White Weenie Budget Magic here!

Major Losses: Literally the entire deck except for Venerated Loxodon.

Major Additions: Faerie Guidemother, Venerable Knight, Heraldic Banner, and much, much more.

Power Loss / Gain: Back when we played Draft Chaff White Weenie, it was a legitimate, competitive Standard deck. While the Throne of Eldraine version has a reasonable amount of power, I'm not sure it lines up with the metagame as well as the original did. As such, it seems that Draft Chaff White Weenie took a reasonable-sized hit at rotation, not so much because the deck itself is bad but because the metagame is in a tough spot for White Weenie to shine.

Note: I'm not sure it's actually right to consider this an update. Basically every card (except for Venerated Loxodon) from the original Draft Chaff White Weenie deck rotated. That said, White Weenie decks tend to be super cheap, so even though you'll need to buy basically an entirely new deck, if White Weenie is your style, you can keep playing it in Throne of Eldraine Standard for around $50.

QuasidupliDrakes

You can find the original QuasidupliDrakes Budget Magic here!

Major Losses: Chart a Course, Tormenting Voice

Major Additions: Thrill of Possibility, The Royal Scions

Power Loss / Gain: Thrill of Possibility is a strict upgrade over Tormenting Voice, and The Royal Scions is more powerful than Chart a Course. While not a huge difference, the updated build of QuasidupliDrakes is probably slightly better than the original.

Gates

You can see the original Four-Color Gates Budget Magic here

Major Losses: None really.

Major Additions: Golos, Tireless Pilgrim, Field of the Dead

Power Loss / Gain: Thanks to the addition of Golos, Tireless Pilgrim and Field of the Dead—perhaps the more powerful two-card package in all of Throne of Eldraine Standard—the updated Gates list is significantly more powerful than the original.

Note: The original Four-Color Gates deck is essentially still legal in Standard. All you need to do is replace Banefire with something like Archway Angel and switch around a couple of sideboard cards, and you're good to go. On the other hand, if you want your best chance of winning with Gates in Throne of Eldraine Standard, upgrading into Golos, Tireless Pilgrim and Field of the Dead is the way to go. The package perfectly fits the deck's land theme and offers a great, grindy way to close out the game.

Rakdos Aristocrats

You can see the original Rakdos Aristocrats Budget Magic here and here!

Major Losses: Lightning Strike (and other burn spells), Goblin Instigator.

Major Additions: Cauldron Familiar, Witch's Oven, God-Eternal Bontu, Ayara, First of Locthwain.

Power Loss / Gain: If you had asked me this question a couple of weeks ago, I probably would have said that the updated list is roughly the same power level as the original. But after playing with Cauldron Familiar and Witch's Oven, I'm pretty sure that the updated list is way, way better. While it might not look like much on paper, the combo of Cauldron Familiar, Witch's Oven, and synergistic pieces like Midnight Reaper and Mayhem Devil is actually surprisingly difficult for a lot of decks to beat.

Orzhov Blink

You can see the original Orzhov Blink Budget Magic here!

Major Losses: Ravenous Chupacabra, The Eldest Reborn, Dusk Legion Zealot, Seekers' Squire, Knight of Grace.

Major Additions: Blood for Bones, Cavalier of Night, Harmonious Archon, Charming Prince, Forbidding Spirit

Power Loss / Gain: The biggest issue with the updated build of Orzhov Blink is the loss of card advantage and removal. While we can still grind out a lot of value with our blink synergies and Blood for Bones is a huge addition to the deck, I'm a bit worried that we'll run out of action too quickly without cards like Dusk Legion Zealot and Seekers' Squire to draw extra cards. Losing Ravenous Chupacabra hurts as well since there isn't really a clean replacement (although we'll make do with Cavalier of Night). I think that Orzhov Blink took a meaningful but not massive step back with its rotational losses.

Note: Blood for Bones is an amazing addition to this deck—way better than The Eldest Reborn, which filled the role before rotation. Keep in mind that with Blood for Bones, you can sacrifice a Lumbering Battlement to get back all of the creatures exiled beneath it and reuse their enters-the-battlefield triggers and then immediately reanimate the Lumbering Battlement to exile everything again. Charming Prince is also amazing as another way to reuse Lumbering Battlement

Goblin Calamity

You can see the original Goblin Calamity Budget Magic here!

Major Losses: Fanatical Firebrand, Goblin Instigator, Siege-Gang Commander, The Flame of Keld, Skirk Prospector.

Major Additions: Tin Street Dodger, Torch Courier, Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin, Torbran, Thane of Red Fell, Weaselback Redcap.

Power Loss / Gain: Goblin Calamity got crushed at rotation. Out of all of the updated lists we'll talk about today, this is the one that lost the most power. Personally, I wouldn't want to play it. I don't think it has a high enough power level to compete, especially with other, better Cavalcade of Calamity options available.

Note: While it is technically possible to keep playing Goblin Calamity, it's hard to recommend for two reasons. First, the deck lost a lot of powerful cards at rotation. Second, the non-Goblin version of Cavalcade of Calamity is really strong and still quite cheap. If you're going to update a Calamity deck, I'd go with the normal mono-red version over the Goblin tribal version. Without Siege-Gang Commander and Skirk Prospector, there's basically no upside (and a lot of downside) to limiting ourselves to just Goblins.

Mono-Red Cavalcade

You can see the original Rotation-Proof Mono-Red Cavalcade Budget Magic here!

Major Losses: None (the deck was designed to be rotation-proof).

Major Additions: Torbran, Thane of Red Fell, Fervent Champion, Castle Embereth

Power Loss / Gain: Mono-Red Cavalcade was already very solid before rotation. It's even better now thanks to the addition of Torbran, Thane of Red Fell. If you're looking for the most competitive budget deck on our list, this is likely it.

Simic Arkbow

You can see the original Simic Arkbow Budget Magic here!

Major Losses: Llanowar Elves, Merfolk Trickster, Exclusion mage, Tempest Caller, Pelakka Wurm.

Major Additions: Wildborn Preserver, Paradise Druid, Dungeon Geists, Agent of Treachery, Frost Lynx.

Power Loss / Gain: While Simic Arkbow did lose quite a few cards at rotation, most have reasonable replacements available. Most importantly, Agent of Treachery (which wasn't a card when we built the original version) is absurd in the deck. While losing cards like Llanowar Elves, Merfolk Trickster and Exclusion Mage and replacing them with slightly worse options like Paradise Druid and Frost Lynx makes the deck worse, Agent of Treachery is so good that I think the deck's overall power level has increased.

Note: Breeding Pool makes this deck look a lot more expensive than it needs to be. If you don't have a playset, you can play Simic Guildgate or Thornwood Falls in that slot. Eight tapped lands isn't ideal, but it can work in a pinch.

Hydra Stompy

You can see the original Hydra Stompy Budget Magic here!

Major Losses: Llanowar Elves.

Major Additions: Incubation Druid.

Power Loss / Gain: Technically, Llanowar Elves is better than Incubation Druid, but in a deck with several tapped dual lands and a few colorless utility lands, the difference is less than you'd think. Hydra Stompy should be roughly the same power as when we played it a few months ago.

UW Spirits/Fliers

You can see the original Spirits Budget Magic here!

Major Losses: Supreme Phantom, Remorseful Cleric, Favorable Winds.

Major Additions: Brazen Borrower, Faerie Guidemother, Sephara, Sky's Blade, Rally of Wings.

Power Gain / Loss: Since the original and updated builds are basically two different decks (Spirits tribal vs. blue-white fliers), it isn't really fair to compare. That said, Brazen Borrower and Sephara, Sky's Blade are extremely strong cards in the archetype, so I'm going to say the deck is slightly better now than it was when we first played it.

Note: This is a weird one. Technically, we're no longer Spirits but blue-white fliers, but the deck is similar enough to the original Spirits Budget Magic that we're counting it as an update. Basically, all of the Spirit payoffs (primarily Supreme Phantom) rotated, along with some of the good support Spirits. So rather than trying to remain on-tribe, the updated list is more of a Sephara, Sky's Blade deck. Brazen Borrower is a huge addition since it gives us a bounce spell that is also an on-curve flier, allowing us to drop Unsummon for another threat. Just be warned: the mana base is very clunky for an aggro deck. Hallowed Fountain over one of the tapped dual lands would offer a bit boost of power, if you have copies in your collection.

Dead Decks

Dead decks are decks that didn't survive rotation thanks to the loss of key cards and / or the lack of good replacements. As such, they didn't get an update, but I figured I should list them somewhere. If you have some ideas about updating these decks (or questions about certain cards / options), make sure to let me know in the comments, and I'll try to help you out.

  • Elfball. The loss of Vanquisher's Banner, Marwyn, the Nurturer, Elvish Clancaller, and Llanowar Elves is simply too much for Elves to overcome.
  • Overflowing Omniscience. When your deck loses a namesake card at rotation, it's usually unlikely that it will survive. In this case, the combo doesn't work without Omniscience, leaving the deck unplayable.
  • Bant Climb. While I'm sure there's a budget Bant deck floating out there somewhere for Throne of Eldraine Standard, the plan of loading up on creatures with +1/+1 counters to flip Hadana's Climb is no longer on the table thanks to the rotation of Hadana's Climb itself.
  • Dimir Winds.While Blue-White Winds can (sort of) survive even without Favorable Winds, the Dimir Winds deck has no such luck thanks to the loss of Kitesail Freebooter and Siren Stormtamer along with the namesake enchantment.
  • Simic Merfolk. Simic Merfolk was basically an Ixalan Block Constructed deck, which means with the rotation of Ixalan (and the lack of support for the tribe in sets currently in Standard), Standard Merfolk no longer exists.
  • Gateshift. While Guildgates are still a good budget option (see the Gates list further up in the article), Gateshift can't really work without the namesake Scapeshift.
  • Banefire Elves. Banefire Elves gets the double whammy at rotation, with not just Banefire but many of the best Elves rotating.
  • Narset's Amnesia. The loss of Induced Amnesia means Narset's Amnesia no longer works. You can try something similar with Emergency Powers replacing Induced Amnesia if you're interested, although the deck would be so different it wouldn't really be an update.
  • Creeping Zombies. Much like Elves and Merfolk, all of the reasons to play Zombie tribal (Death Baron, Liliana, Untouched by Death) left the format at rotation. While there are still some random Zombies hanging around, there aren't really enough to make a cohesive tribal deck for Throne of Eldraine Standard.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. If you have any questions about the decks we talked about today (or any other upgrade ideas), make sure to let me know in the comments! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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