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Budget Magic: Vivien Combo Brawl (Three-Mythic/Nine-Rare)


Aw ni ce, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! Last week was a weird week for recording videos. Wizards announced bannings in Standard and Historic along with massive companion changes on Monday that impacted all formats, but the update didn't actually go into effect until Thursday. As a result, rather than playing a dead format, we're doing something different today: budget Brawl! Our deck today is built around Vivien, Monsters' Advocate, and along with being super cheap (three mythics and nine rares), it's also super spicy, featuring an infinite-mana combo that we can mostly tutor up with Vivien, Monsters' Advocate, and we can potentially play through our entire deck with Vivien's static ability, which allows us to play creatures from our library. How good is Vivien, Monsters' Advocate in Brawl? How does the combo work? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

Another quick reminder: 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: Vivien Combo

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The Deck

Brawl, like Commander, is a weird format to write about since, in some ways, it's more about self-expression and having fun than it is about winning at all costs with the most optimal build possible. As such, rather than going the spikey route and explaining why cards are good and bad, for our article today, we'll mostly focus on the deck's primary plan and the cool things the deck can do!

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Our deck is built to maximize the power of our commander: Vivien, Monsters' Advocate. While the +1 of making a token offers fine value, the most important abilities to our deck are the static ability, which allows us to play creatures from the top of our deck, and also the 2 ability, which we can use to tutor up our infinite-mana-combo creatures. Our deck's main goal is to make a lot (and potentially infinite) mana and then use Vivien, Monsters' Advocate's static ability to play through a huge chunk (or even all) of our deck in a single turn!

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As far as making mana, while we do have a bunch of normal ramp spells (especially creature-based ramp that works with Vivien, Monsters' Advocate's static ability), our big payoff is making infinite mana with the combination of Nyxbloom Ancient, Wakeroot Elemental, and a land that taps for two mana thanks to Gift of Paradise or New Horizons. Nyxbloom Ancient triples our mana production, so our Gift of Paradise / New Horizons land can tap for six mana, and then Wakeroot Elemental can untap that land for just five mana, giving us an extra green mana in the process. The end result is that we can make infinite green mana, with the idea being that we can cast a bunch of creatures from the top of our deck with Vivien, Monsters' Advocate's static ability, generate an overwhelming board state, and hopefully just kill our opponent immediately with a massive attack.

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Of course, this plan has a problem: Vivien, Monsters' Advocate's static ability ends up being fizzled when we have a non-creature spell on the top of our deck. Thankfully, we have a couple of plans to get around this and make sure that once we have infinite mana, we should be able to play through our entire deck in one turn. First, we have a bunch of cards that either draw us a card or scry when a creature is cast / enters the battlefield. Cards like Beast Whisperer, The Great Henge, and Guardian Project allow us to get through pockets of lands and other non-creature spells with brute-force card draw. Meanwhile, Season of Growth lets us scry unwanted lands to the bottom of our deck in search of more creatures to cast with Vivien.

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Plan B is to change the top card of our deck by shuffling our library. If we end up with an uncastable land or non-creature spell on the top of our deck, we can use something like Farfinder, District Guide, Circuitous Route, Migration Path, or Fertilid to tutor a land out of our deck and shuffle our deck in the process, which not only gives us another shot at finding a castable creature on the top of our deck but also slightly increases the odds of this happening by getting a land (or two) out of our deck. While deck-thinning is often a dubious pursuit, every little bit helps. Plus, if we happen to draw Nylea's Intervention, we can perform the ultimate deck-thinning by tutoring every single land out of our deck, which means we should be more or less guaranteed to play through our whole deck with Vivien, Monsters' Advocate's static ability since, outside of lands, our deck is mostly creatures.

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As we play through our deck, we'll eventually find End-Raze Forerunners and Return of the Wildspeaker. Ideally, we'll already have Crashing Drawbridge on the battlefield to give all of our creatures haste, and then we simply cast End-Raze Forerunners to give our team +2/+2 and trample and then Return of the Wildspeaker for an additional +3/+3, leaving us with a bunch of random dorks that all have +5/+5 and trample, which should be enough to kill our opponent with one attack!

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The last piece of the puzzle is removal. As a mono-green deck, we don't have a ton of great options, which means we make do with cards like Kogla, the Titan Ape, Meteor Golem, Voracious Hydra, and Charge of the Forever-Beast. Kenrith's Transformation is especially powerful, mostly because it gives us a way to answer opposing commanders permanently, Oko, Thief of Crowns style, by turning them into an Elk. In reality, Vivien Combo isn't a removal-heavy deck, but we do have a lot of creatures to gum up the board and play defense, which will allow us to keep opposing creatures in check, even though we don't have cards like Heartless Act, Banishing Light, Lava Coil, or other powerful targeted-removal spells like most other colors do.

Wrap-Up

All in all, we ended up going 4-1 in our five matches with Vivien Combo, while playing against Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy and Niv-Mizzet, Parun (two of the most popular Brawl commanders) twice along the way. While having fun is more important than winning in a format like Brawl, Vivien Combo did feel pretty competitive. We have a ton of card draw, a powerful planeswalker as our commander, and even a surprise infinite-mana finish (which no one expected to see in a format that only allows Standard cards) to steal wins out of nowhere.

Technically, we only actually pulled off the infinite-mana combo once, but thankfully, we didn't really need it to win most of the time. Even if we can't play through our entire deck with Vivien, even just playing a couple of extra creatures each turn is a huge deal and quickly pulls us ahead of our opponent. Add in all of our mana dorks and other ramp spells, and even when we aren't going truly infinite, our deck can do some really powerful things!

Of course, if you decide to try Vivien Combo, keep in mind that you can toss in basically any green cards that you enjoy playing with. Just keep in mind that we want to keep our creature count as high as possible to maximize Vivien, Monsters' Advocate's static ability. Adding in a bunch of non-creature spells will make Vivien a lot worse (and also make the deck a lot less fun since playing a bunch of extra creatures from our library each turn is a blast). If you're looking for something cheap and different to play in Brawl and like drawing lots of cards and the chance at an infinite combo, I'd definitely recommend Vivien Combo. The deck is good enough to keep up with the most popular Brawl decks in Magic Arena while also being a blast to play!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Hopefully, you enjoyed the special Brawl episode of Budget Magic, and don't worry: we'll be back to Standard, Modern, Pioneer, and our other normal formats starting next week, now that the banned list and companions changes have finally been put into effect. In the meantime, 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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