Flower Power – Budget Pioneer Lotus Field – Deck Guide

Challenger decks make my job harder. The whole point of my being here is to offer up some reasonable methods to enter a format without breaking the bank that can then be expanded upon as a player “levels up” and grows their collection. I exist as a funnel to get more new people into a format. Then comes the Challenger deck series, which is a product put out by Wizards with the exact same goal, but they do it at half the budget. They jam them full of good cards and make them extremely accessible by selling them at Walmart, so whenever anyone wants to get into the format players, you can easily point to this $40 product and say “That’s the perfect thing for you, don’t do anything else.” How am I meant to compete with that? This started off as a bit but I’m actually kind of frustrated about it now. Anyway, today we’re improving one of the lists from last season’s round of Challenger decks. Let’s take a look at the Lotus Storm that WotC didn’t want you to know about.




Budget Pioneer Lotus Field by Darren Magnotti


Note: Each Pioneer deck covered in this series is built at the time of writing to a $100 budget. This is in attempt to keep things reasonable for those who are actually looking to buy into the format on the cheap while not skimping so much that the deck is completely without the power to keep up. Every deck showcased in this series has been personally tested and is being shown off for a reason, whether it’s the decks competitive aptitude, its ability to transition easily into a nonbudget version or its capacity to teach a newer player a vital skill required to keep up in today’s competitive metagame.


Lotus Field, Hidden Strings, Lotus Combo, Pioneer Storm, whatever you like to call it, is a deck whose main objective is to create one supermassive turn where it goes from seemingly innocuous to winning the game on the spot.

For those unfamiliar with storm-style combo decks, the deck wants to chain together a long series of spells in one turn by creating additional mana, drawing additional cards, and assembling together the pieces it needs to fire the cannon for the fantastic finish. This particular iteration uses its namesake, Lotus Field, as a source of mana, untapping it repeatedly to fuel the rest of the game plan. The deck commits the first couple of turns to setting up, then looks for the most optimal time to strike once it’s good to go. Lotus is generally one of those decks that wants to do its own thing and ignore what the opponent might have going on, which can make it a terrifying matchup for anyone underprepared. 


Header - The Mana

Lotus FieldArboreal GrazerSylvan Scrying (Timeshifted)Thespian's Stage

First and foremost when discussing a storm-style combo is to figure out how you’re gonna pay for it. As mentioned before, Lotus Field is the primary mana source for the deck. The cost of sacrificing two lands is reasonably minimal and once the ball gets rolling, they won’t even be missed. Arboreal Grazer helps to meet the requirements of the Field by getting that second land into play ahead of schedule. Sylvan Scrying similarly helps to set up hands that may otherwise be lacking in Lotus Fields, or works to fetch the deck’s utility lands when things aren’t particularly going according to plan. Thespian’s Stage acts as additional copies of Lotus Field in the deck, being able to ignore the sacrificial cost of the original when targeting Field with the Stage’s ability.

Hidden StringsVizier of Tumbling SandsPore Over the Pages

These two lands work in tandem with Hidden Strings, Vizier of Tumbling Sands and Pore Over the Pages to create immense amounts of mana in a single turn, especially when chained together in succession. Casting the spells is typically part of the combo turn, but to describe the typical play pattern of the set up turns:

  • Turn one – play a green source, play Grazer, put a second land into play.
  • Turn two – float mana and sacrifice those lands after playing Lotus Field. Cast Sylvan Scrying to find Thespian’s Stage.
  • Turn three – Play Stage and immediately copy Lotus Field.
  • Turn four – Cast spells to win game.

That’s missing the rest of the owl though, so lets keep moving through the list. 


Header - The Card Advantage

Shimmer of PossibilityLier, Disciple of the Drowned

In order to keep the storm train running, Lotus Field takes advantage of a couple of traditional, as well as some less than traditional, means of adding cards to hand. Shimmer of Possibility is included as a means to dig relatively deep into the deck to find the next required piece. This, along with the incidental draws attached to Vizier and Pore, helps keep the number of cards in hand high as the combo works itself out. Lier, Disciple of the Drowned allows you to recycle each spell played thus far as well, which should make for a relatively simple time setting up the end of the combo.

Mastermind's AcquisitionMarch of Swirling MistPath of PerilThought Distortion

As far as the non-traditional methods, the deck uses quite a few tutors to help things line up as they should as well, mainly Mastermind’s Acquisition and Fae of Wishes. Outside of their practicality in being able to establish the win condition (which will be covered in a moment), they can be used to search the sideboard for some utility cards whose main purpose is to buy a little extra time in the event of a fizzle – or a failure of the storm plan to continue fueling itself, where say it runs out of cards in hand or mana available. March of Swirling Mist, Ratchet Bomb and Path of Peril are all useful in their own specific instances to wipe away creatures and permanent-based hate of some shape or form. Thought Distortion can also be grabbed to ensure that the control opponent has nothing to say about a comboing off scheduled for the following turn.


Header - How Does It Win?

We’ve covered the basics of how the engine works, but what’s the payoff? Most current iterations of the Lotus Field deck take advantage of the card Emergent Ultimatum to secure their wins. This card can search up three different monocolored cards and let you cast two of them for free. While there are several packages to know about, the main choices are to grab Omniscience, Behold the Beyond and Peer into the Abyss. These are the three objectively most powerful cards in the deck, but should only be found with additional mana floating or available. What happens when these three cards are picked?

  • They put back Behold: you draw half your deck and don’t have to pay mana costs. Winning should be trivial, as you will just cast Mastermind’s Acquisition for Approach of the Second Sun, cast it twice and win.
  • They put back Peer: you discard your hand, search for three cards, and don’t have to pay mana costs. Search for Mastermind’s Acquisition, Fae of Wishes and Dryad’s Revival (to play around counterspells). Mastermind for Approach, win the game.
  • They put back Omniscience: objectively the correct play on their part as this option has a fizzle rate. You draw half your deck, then search for three more cards. You should ideally still be able to pull out a win by using any remaining Hidden Strings and Pore Over the Pages to generate the mana necessary to Mastermind for Approach. Lier helps a lot here as well, so make sure to inspect the cards drawn off of peer to see which pieces are missing and need to be grabbed with Behold.

Other packages include Omniscience, Peer and Pore Over the Pages if there isn’t any remaining mana left after casting the Ultimatum, as Pore can add mana and find additional cards depending on the context of the game state. It’s pretty atypical to assemble a pile that includes something outside of these four cards, but that’s where deck familiarity comes in in combination with a keen eye for judging the demands of the current board state. That skill will come with practice, though.


Header - How Does It Play?

Lotus Field is best suited when people are playing decks that aren’t equipped to attack the stack, or don’t have fast enough a clock to win the game before the combo can finish them off. The deck feels very similar to assembling a puzzle, even after multiple repetitions putting everything together it can still be fun and exciting to see the pieces fit together in new ways to adapt to their current situation.

With Human’s relative popularity at the moment, along with the ever present boogiemen of Phoenix and Rakdos, Lotus has some rather polarizing matchup spreads where an event can either be an absolute slog or a true cake walk. In a field dominated by the likes of Mono-Green Karn, UW Control and the myriad of less-good-than-Rakdos Midrange brews that people come up with, Lotus will have the time of its life.

At the moment, it’s one of those decks that tends to spike tournaments sometimes rather than one that puts up consistent numbers on a regular basis. While piloting the deck in a bad matchup can feel like a chore, the list is very cohesive and well tuned, and feels great to sit behind when things are going well. It’s also one of those decks that you can learn by goldfishing relatively easily, as it typically tries to avoid interaction in general.

On the whole I think that Lotus is a solid deck that’s good to keep on the shelf at all times, bringing it down when the format is just at the peak of vulnerability. I wouldn’t try to force this deck every week at my FNM 100 percent of the time, as the deck can be severely crippled by a lot of different hate pieces, but on the occasions when it’s suited for its environment the deck can surely thrive. 


Header - Upgrades


Pioneer Lotus Field by Raest


Moving out of Budgetland, the deck picks up a couple of notable pieces. Bala Ged Recovery is one of the first and most highly recommended replacements as the land side does so much work to help smooth out draws and prevent mulligans. Dark Petition can replace some number of Mastermind’s Acquisition as the added black mana is excellent in situations where mana is on the lighter side, though the deck will need to be constructed to suit.

In the mana base, Boseiju, Who Endures is an incredibly important addition, as being able to fetch it out with a Sylvan Scrying could mean the difference between a win and a loss in the face of a Deafening Silence. Finally, Leyline of Sanctity out of the sideboard helps shore up the Rakdos matchups and make them much more winnable, avoiding those Thoughtseizes and Go Blanks

That’s all for this one. Lotus is a very contentious deck in the format as many players disagree that a combo deck such as this should even be legal in the first place, but I think that it’s a healthy metagame force that helps to keep other strategies in check to some degree. While I’m not a huge fan of having Lotus as an opponent, I appreciate its existence and what it offers to both the format and the players of. I hope that you’ve all enjoyed and as always, stay safe, play smart and thanks for reading. 


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