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By: magma728, Jake Beardsley
Jul 23 2015 11:00am
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Modern has increasingly become an expensive format. The prohibitive cost of the format has left lots of aspiring players out to dry because none of them want to pay hundreds of dollars just to have a chance to do well. Well no more! As a player with limited money to spend, I'm always looking at cheap decks that can also be competitive. As such, I'm always trying to find cards that are both inexpensive and enable powerful things to be done. One such card is Gifts Ungiven. It's been the cornerstone of many decks since the card was released, and the card is so powerful that it's been restricted in Magic's most broken format, Vintage. Conveniently, Modern Masters 2015 has caused two other key pieces of the deck to drop in price: Iona, Shield of Emeria and Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. Let's take a look at the deck.

This version of Gifts Control is a control/combo deck similar to Solar Flare decks of the past. The goal is to stall and control the game until you can cast Gifts Ungiven on your opponent's end step. From here, there are a lot of different lines of play, making the deck difficult to pilot, but extremely rewarding and fun to learn to play correctly. 

The main line with Gifts is going to be searching for Unburial Rites and either Iona, Shield of Emeria or Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. But wait, Gift has you search for FOUR cards, right? WRONG! While yes, it says search for four cards, you are allowed to "fail to find" whenever you search. You can search for Iona and Rites, then fail to find. Then your opponent is forced to send them both to the graveyard, and on your next turn, you can flashback Rites to bring back Iona. Neat, huh?

Thanks to Gift's ability to search for ANY card, you can do a lot of different tricks with it. For example, if you really need a board wipe, you can Gifts for Damnation, Wrath of God, Day of Judgment, and Supreme Verdict. This guarantees that against creature decks you can have not just one, but two board wipes. If your opponent has just one problematic creature, search up Dismember, Tribute to Hunger, Go for the Throat, and Doom Blade. And voila! No more creatures.

Card Choices

Given the toolbox nature of the deck thanks to Gifts, the deck has a lot of one and two ofs. It allows you to be able to worm your way out of almost any situation, if you know the deck well enough.

Gifts Ungiven
The reason this deck exists in any capacity. Allows for an easy combo finish as well as being two tutors in one card.

Inkwell LeviathanIona, Shield of EmeriaElesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Your reanimation targets. Iona is good against anything running one or two colors, Norn is for creature decks, and Inkwell is for decks with lots of removal and few board wipes.

Unburial Rites
The best reanimation spell for this deck as it works when both in your hand or in your graveyard, making it far better to find with Gifts

Supreme VerdictDamnationWrath of GodDay of Judgment
Your set of board wipes. Running four different ones allows you to search for all of them with Gifts.

DismemberGo for the ThroatTribute to HungerDoom Blade
Much like your sweepers, you run four different removal spells so that you can two if you need them.

Countermagic suite. Same concept as previous two.

Orzhov SignetAzorius SignetDimir Signet
The signets give you both fixing and acceleration, allowing to cast Gifts on your opponent's third turn into a turn four Rites.

Thirst for Knowledge
Thirst is a really cool card in this deck. It lets you to dig into your deck as well as discard any fatties you happen to draw, allowing you to reanimate a guy without needing Gifts to tutor.

Sideboarding Guide

Splinter Twin

In: Angel's GraceAngel's GraceDispelDispel
Out: Supreme VerdictAzorius SignetDay of JudgmentDamnation

This matchup is going to be odd because both of you will be stuck playing around the other's combo. Hold up countermagic unless they tap out. That's when you should Gifts for Rites and Iona naming Blue. That should be enough. Dispel disrupts some of their instant speed interaction, and Angel's Grace allows you to buy a turn if they are able to combo.

BGx Midrange (Jund/Abzan)

In: Tormod's CryptTormod's Crypt
Out: DispelThirst for Knowledge

The BGx matchup is already fairly favorable, which means we don't need to sideboard too much. Crypt comes in to shut off opposing Tarmogoyfs.

RG/U Tron

In: Ghost QuarterGhost QuarterStony SilenceStony Silence
Out: Go for the ThroatAzorius SignetDimir SignetOrzhov Signet

Tron is a rough matchup Game 1 because turn three Karn Liberated is really killer. Try to hold up countermagic for any bombs they might play, and when the time is rite (pun intended), go for the Gifts. Ghost Quarter comes in to disrupt their mana base, and Stony Silence shuts off Chromatic Star, Chromatic Sphere, and Mindslaver.


In: Supreme VerdictSupreme VerdictStony SilenceStony Silence
Out: RemandRemandAzorius SignetOrzhov Signet

This is the premier aggro deck of Modern, so sweepers need to be at an all-time high. Silence is great here, as it shuts of Equipment, Arcbound Ravager, and Steel Overseer.

Grixis Control

In: DispelDispelDispel
Out: Supreme VerdictDay of JudgmentDamnation

This matchup  is similar to Twin, only they won't have a combo. The way you tell between Grixis Twin and Grixis Control is if they play cards like Creeping Tar Pit, it means that they are on the control plan. Dispel is good here to stop any countermagic they have for your combo.


In: Angel's GraceAngel's Grace
Out: DismemberDissolve

This matchup is, like any of Burn's matchups, a race. You want to have a signet and a Gifts in your opening hand so that you can shut them out of red on the fourth turn. Angel's Grace helps as it can buy you a turn until you combo.

Non Budget Upgrades

The cool thing about budget decks is that there are always things you can do to make the deck more competitive if you have more money. It always feels rewarding to win some cash or store credit with your budget deck, and use the money to improve said deck. Here are a few upgrades for the deck if you have the cards or the cash.

Marsh FlatsFlooded StrandPolluted DeltaWatery GraveHallowed FountainGodless Shrine
The fetchlands and shockland make the manabase a lot more consistent, which really helps in a three color deck. Be careful of Blood Moon effects though.

Path to Exile
Path is by far the best removal spell in Modern, and that's why it's so expensive. It would really help the deck as it is less mana intensive than any of your other removal spells.

Liliana of the Veil
Modern's most popular planeswalker is really good in this kind of deck. Her +1 both disrupts your opponent and lets you throw a fatty into the graveyard. Her -2 gives you more removal, and her ultimate is almost a win on its own, as it shuts off their mana so that you can cast Gifts unhindered.

Here's what the deck looks like when you aren't on a budget:



That's all for now! Thanks for taking the time to check out Budget Gifts, and I'd love to see what you guys think of the deck and what budget deck's you would like to see next.