This Budget Standard MTG Deck is Unstoppable

Phyrexia: All Will Be One is loaded to the brim with goodies for players of all sorts. From the blatantly powerful auto-inclusions like Atraxa and Elesh Norn for the spike-types to the sick full art basics for those Vorthoses to some wild build-around cards for people who like to put their brew hats on, the set is an absolute home run on all counts. As one who considers themselves in the latter category, I really appreciate the depth of the pool of wild new cards to try out in all shorts of deck shells, new and old.

Combing through the set, there were some simple and straightforward cards to build with like the Dominus cycle, and while I’m sure we’ll work our way towards them eventually, there was one card in particular that caught my attention: Graaz, Unstoppable Juggernaut. This behemoth is just begging for the right shell, specifically to be cheated into play alongside an army of other artifact creatures. Today’s deck aims to do just that, so let’s take a look at an update on an older favorite in Brilliant Restoration.


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Budget Standard Brilliant Restoration by Darren Magnotti


The Deck

Brilliant Restoration is the latest in a long line of broken white spells that looks to take all of something and move them from your graveyard to the battlefield. From Faith’s Reward to Dance of the Manse, this effect has been a powerful inclusion into Standard for literal decades at this point. The goal of the Brilliant Restoration deck is simple: load up the graveyard with artifacts and enchantments, either by discarding them or via their own abilities, in order to bring them all back in one fell swoop and take over or downright win the game. The deck spends its first few turns filling the control role, staving off early aggression and slowly building up its graveyard, until it can eventually pivot into the big spell itself to close the game shortly after. It packs a surprising amount of removal that also works well into the finisher, on top of an efficient ramp package to help get that sdeven-mana sorcery going just a bit faster. While not necessarily conventional in its approach, this deck really embodies “combo/control” to its fullest.

The Setup

The first major step to this deck’s success is establishing itself, whether that be getting the train of cards headed to the graveyard going ASAP or answering the opponent’s quick start by putting some permanents of its own into play. Bitter Reunion and Scrapwork Mutt fulfill this first objective by allowing you to discard those game-ending threats and hopefully draw toward more lands or key removal spells in the early game. Goldhound works to get these cards moving just a bit faster, though The Restoration of Eiganjo is the real hero of the ramp element. Between fetching out more lands to ensure that you’re hitting your land drops and sneaking in additional lands via its second ability, Eiganjo is huge in making sure that Restoration can come down on time. That second ability on Eiganjo is also just insanely flexible on its own, being able to pitch a Graaz or Elder Dragon War to grab back either a land, a spent Goldhound,or even some removal that’s been answered with Ossification. 

The removal suite in this deck doesn’t look terribly run-of-the-mill, but is capable of shutting those creature decks down all the same. The headliner here is definitely Twinshot Sniper, who can disable key threats like Harbin or a flipped Fable. Being a channel ability, it also gets around things like the Thalia tax and counterspells, which has saved my bacon on more than one occasion. Brotherhood’s End and The Elder Dragon War help to sweep away those little armies from Soldiers or the toxic deck as well, which this deck might otherwise be easily overwhelmed by. Of course, we also can’t forget either mode of Touch the Spirit Realm, who can detain a singular threat forever or for a slightly cheaper cost remove the biggest attacker from combat for a turn, which may or may not provide all the necessary time to get the Restoration out. 

Being a deck that looks to take advantage of Sagas and other multimodal spells, there is an incredible amount of flexibility in the cards that we’ve listed so far. Part of what makes this deck a contender is that most of the cards wear more than one hat and can be difficult to analyze for opponent’s because they’re capable of providing benefits that match the situation. The Elder Dragon War can fill up the graveyard with a hand’s worth of permanents on the turn it comes down or just provide a 4/4 flying blocker if need be. Bitter Reunion enables the true combo finish by giving all of your creatures haste, letting them swing in the turn that they come back from the Restoration. Touch the Spirit Realm can also be used offensively, netting another use from the Sniper or changing Combat Thresher from a prototype into its full-fledged self. A wide variety of options to match any situation is one of the most important factors to consider when assembling a control deck, and this deck works incredibly well on that front.

The Finishers

We’ve covered that the deck wants to throw cards away in order to restore them back into play, but what are we looking to actually bring back? As mentioned above, Graaz, Unstoppable Juggernaut was the main culprit being considered in this deck’s assembly, packing heft in its own right while also promoting every Goldhound, Scrapwork Mutt and Twinshot Archer into a 5/3 threat as well. There were some other considerations to pair with Graaz like Platoon Dispenser and Artificer’s Dragon, but honestly a small army of 5/3s is enough to end a game on its own. Combat Thresher is the other big beefcake in the deck, coming in as a 3/3 double strike that can play offense or defense extremely well. While not individually world-ending, the little trick available between Thresher and Touch the Spirit Realm is quite cute and some decks just won’t be equipped to beat it. 

Aside from these four cards, who are included primarily to end the game when they come down, the deck also has access to a small range of midrange-sized finishers as well that it can either use for chip damage or to push across lethal once the corner has been turned. The backside of The Restoration of Eiganjo, Architect of Restoration, is a difficult threat with its four toughness and small army that it inevitably brings. The Dragon token from The Elder Dragon War is also a sizable threat to most decks out there, and shouldn’t be forgotten about when it comes down to it as the Saga can be read ahead to jam the Dragon out into any board state. Going back to that point of each card being multiuse, that holds true when it comes to closing out the game as well, which is a huge perk of playing a deck where all of the noncreatures are also creatures and all of the creatures are also spells. 

How Does It Play?

So combo/control decks are a bit of a different beast when it comes to familiarity and crossover knowledge because they’re generally so different from how other decks play. What that means is basically decks like this require a lot of practice and deck know-how in order to get the most out of them and find success, but can be incredibly rewarding when played properly. I didn’t get as much time to test this build as I usually like to this week, but in the games that I did play, I found the deck to be extremely flexible with what it was capable of throughout all phases of the game. While being flexible isn’t necessarily enough to win every game, it does mean that the deck can keep its head above water in a lot of situations that it honestly shouldn’t, and can also pull out of many of these rough circumstances to eventually take them over for the win. The ability to just end a game upon a single spell’s resolution is huge in terms of tempo, so frequently you will find yourself working to secure just one more turn when it looks like you’re on the ropes. 

Being a deck that’s made entirely of artifacts and enchantments that also likes to play around with its graveyard, it’s worth pointing out that post-sideboard games can be a lot more challenging as many decks will have access to grave hate and more specific removal for your permanents. I didn’t find this to be a huge problem, but playing this deck week after week at like an FNM environment could lead to a less-than-stellar time as the deck is relatively simple to prepare for. On the whole though, this deck is a lot of fun, and can provide many hours of thought provoking and interesting discussion as you work through the many many lines available. 


Standard Five-Color Brilliant Restoration by Darren Magnotti


So there are a couple of ways that you could approach upgrading this list, the first of which is to go completely wild and turn it into a five-color pile. Leyline Binding does great work at keeping you alive in the early turns while The Kami War is a much better finisher than Graaz. With Elesh Norn copying up a good number of the abilities present in the deck as well, it should be fairly effortless to turn that corner and close out the game.

Standard Boros Restoration by Darren Magnotti


If you’re a more sensible or reasonable person, the only major upgrades are going to be Fables, Elesh Norn and a reasonable mana base. Fable is another card that plays excellently with the overall strategy, providing ramp, discard and the copying of creatures once the later turns come. It should come as no surprise to anyone that the card is good, but when every mode on the card is extremely relevant, it’s difficult to pass up. Surprisingly, I did find in my testing that the mana base isn’t actually that big a deal in the budgeted version either though, so even that aspect isn’t hugely necessary. The Restoration of Eiganjo pulls some heavy duty in straightening out the mana, and with the addition of Fable in the mix, I actually wouldn’t suspect that the mana base absolutely needs any changes, but it’s always better to address than not. 

That’s all for this one! Standard is really shaping up to be an awesome format right now, with plenty of room for innovation and a ton of cards old and new to explore. I’m looking forward to seeing what the RC brings us in terms of hot new tech, and will certainly be keeping tabs on things as they develop. Until next time, stay safe, play smart and thanks for reading. 

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