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Budget Commander 24 — Nahiri’s Equipping Machine

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Hello, folks, and welcome back to all things budget, Commander, and Magic! We have a lot of decks out there that are too big for their britches—their financial britches that is. But a lot of players want to keep casual Magic on the cheaper side of life. Sounds great to me! We have a lot of expensive archetypes in Standard, Modern, and Legacy. Commander certainly has some as well, but the cards used are flexible, and the nature of the format allows for cheaper directions and routes to get your game on.

Daretti, Scrap Savant
I was looking at building a budget Commander deck around a new direction. Is there anything I haven’t built around yet in this budget series?

You want to know what has dropped in price a bit? The Commander-qualified Planeswalkers from Commander (2014 Edition) have. I could run one of them. The cheapest one over at CoolStuffInc.com right now is Daretti, Scrap Savant. I could build a fun deck around him! But that deck would look very similar to both Daretti’s Built from Scratch Commander deck (the singles from it are pretty cheap right now) as well as my own Bosh, Iron Golem Budget Commander deck from about eighteen months ago. So that’s not really in the cards.

Sorry, Daretti.

How about Nahiri, the Lithomancer? She’s a solid $4.99 entry. Could I build around her?

The problem is that any major mono-white Equipment deck is going to want cards that bust any budget. Sword of Fire and Ice? Batterskull? Umezawa's Jitte? Stoneforge Mystic? Shoot, even lesser cards that are built on the Equipment theme are $3 to $5 each and will quickly push me beyond my budget. These are cards like Stonehewer Giant, Steelshaper's Gift, Leonin Shikari, and Puresteel Paladin. Midrange Equipment like Lightning Greaves and Skullclamp are mostly too pricey as well, so where do you go?

And that makes her a perfect example of what I was talking about. You can hew a different direction with Nahiri. Why not hit Soldiers instead as our major support theme?

I like for each iteration of this series to clock in under the budget of the last one. The target price for this deck was just $33.91. And what did I get to? $33.85. Six cents!

Nahiri, the Lithomancer
Nice stuff!

Now, of course, the budget can shift a bit. Prices are not static, after all. But the deck remains a solid budgetary build for consideration.

So let’s take a look under the sword of Nahiri to see what I can unearth.

I think a good place to push this deck is into the (relatively) cheap tribal space of Soldiers. Most Soldier enablers out there are really good at helping your deck, and they aren’t that pricey either. Take a gander at a card like Daru Warchief or Captain of the Watch for examples. Shoot, after seeing a core-set reprint, even an explosive enabler like Preeminent Captain is downright budget.

Now there are a few exceptions. Field Marshal is nowhere near our budget. Because it was printed with the old language of helping all Soldiers and not just your own, I doubt that you’ll see it reprinted in a normal set again; thus, only places like a Commander deck are the last vestiges of hope for dropping its price. (Or maybe there will be a heavy Soldier theme in Modern Masters III).

There was a time when Mobilization was among the best white cards of all time for multiplayer. The ability to churn 3 mana to produce a Soldier token was a brilliant way to fight mass removal, to go wide with your creatures, to create a free chump-blocker, and more. Giving all Soldiers vigilance was even better. In our post-Planeswalker Magic, we certainly expect our cards to give us tokens regularly, but without any more mana investment. Our view (and usage) of the card subsequently dropped. Still, the card’s value is just as good today as it was back then, and with a reprinting recently, its value has dropped.

Mobilization
Soldiers were a major theme in two separate tribal blocks: Lorwyn/Morningtide and the Onslaught block. That give us a variety of cards to choose from, and there were places I didn’t go because of mana cost or weak abilities (like Aven Brigadier). But I managed to include cards like Daru Encampment, Catapult Master, and Cenn's Tactician.

Most players don’t realize that the first tribal set was Fallen Empires. It introduced a lot of very flavorful abilities and tribes, from Thallids and their Saproling tokens to fleshing out Goblins and Merfolk. Take a look at Icatian Lieutenant. I believe it’s the first pro-Soldier card in Magic. It’s another useful mana sink, and it slides in rather nicely alongside the many other Soldiers in here.

So Soldiers are the first direction I took my Equipment deck. Every deck like that needs bodies to equip, right? Right!

After that, I moved to Equipment enablers. Take a look at the latest entry, Stone Haven Outfitter.

Stone Haven Outfitter is a great, cheap card from Oath of the Gatewatch right now. The ability to draw cards as equipped stuff dies is a lot better than when Equipment comes into play (cough . . . Puresteel Paladin . . . cough). You can gain multiple draws form your stuff as your Soldiers, tokens, and friends all die.

I kept my Soldiers cheap in cost to keep my options open, but I still wasn’t able to jam in Stonehewer Giant. Ah well. You certainly can toss in Relic Seeker and Taj-Nar Swordsmith and give your deck a few options to fetch up some quality Equipment for your Soldier’s army. You can certainly lead a Quest for the Holy Relic. Sure, I’d like some more fetching or free-playing cards, but them’s the breaks. We just have to get out of bed and eat breakfast.

Skullclamp
Now it’s time for Equipment!

Seeing what my budget can afford, I begn by tossing in Skullclamp. This deck must have Skullclamp; it’s an essential addition. White is not good with the card-draw, despite how sexy Stone Haven Outfitter may be at it. This deck doesn’t have a lot of really expensive and big creatures rocking the block either. Getting the cheap sexy goodness of Skullclamp going with your smaller dorks is important to keep the cards flowing—and to give you a way to fight against the big creatures others might have on the battlefield.

After Skullclamp, what was next? Well we can dip into elements that fight against problems with the deck. Nim Deathmantle pumps a creature, sure, but it can only be used to bring back a creature that was about to die. Soldier, your time has not yet passed! Draw cards with Diviner's Wand or Mask of Memory! Destroy stuff when you swing with Argentum Armor!

You can also just use your Equipment to pump up an attacker. From Loxodon Warhammer to Veteran's Armaments, grow a creature into a major force. Or you can make your own flying army with Moonsilver Spear, give haste with Swiftfoot Boots and Strider Harness, and so forth. Yay Equipment!

I wanted to add in some mass pumpage for the deck as well. We have the smaller fry, so a few ways to even the odds seemed appropriate. Paragon of New Dawns is precisely what I am looking for. It’s cheap, it’s a Soldier, and it pumps the whole team (mostly). Marshal's Anthem is a great Glorious Anthem with the potential to blow open the game by bringing back some of your best dead friends.

Leonin Sun Standard
But what this deck really needed was Leonin Sun Standard. You invest some mana to pump the whole team, and it’s a pretty cheap 2 mana for a +1/+1 to everything. Do it again and again. If you swing before you play anything, and you have 8 or 9 mana available, your opponent must assume that you’ll activate it four times and thus block accordingly. It’s great to see the card impact the board even when not used a lot.

This also led me to another path. My deck has a lot of artifacts in it already. White has a pro-artifact theme. Doesn’t it make sense for me to layer in some of these pro-artifact themes? When I drop Sanctum Gargoyle, sure, I can return that great Equipment that died. But I can also bring back the Sun Standard. I began to flesh out the deck with artifacts here and there, such as Dispeller's Capsule, Metallurgeon, Gold Myr, Steel Hellkite, Burnished Hart, and Armillary Sphere.

The final place I wanted to mine was with a handful of effects to keep my army out there. Again, my creatures are likely to be owned by other creatures due to smaller size. So when an opponent goes to wipe the board with some effect, it’d be great to drop Rootborn Defenses to keep my team alive. Check out Prismatic Strands and Sivvi's Ruse as well.

And that’s pretty much a deck! I had enough budget left over for some solid token-making spells like Decree of Justice and Nomads' Assembly. Get ready to swing for the win at people all day long!

Commander Eesha
If you like Nahiri’s budget-based Equipment, Soldier, artifact deck, there are a bunch of directions you could explore. Other options might include Militia's Pride, Field Marshal, and Elspeth, Sun's Champion. Don’t sleep on Odric, Master Tactician. How about Commander Eesha or maybe Indomitable Archangel, Godsend, or Kemba, Kha Regent? You could look at First Response or Enlistment Officer. What about Make a Stand? Consider Deploy to the Front or Auriok Windwalker. How about Brimaz, King of Oreskos? See Heliod, God of the Sun or his Dictate of Heliod and his Spear of Heliod?

I hope you enjoyed the deck! Challenges that often look pricey from one angle are often surmountable without too much effort. After all, there are almost fifteen thousand distinct Magic cards in existence. Only a handful of them are pricey, and cheaper cards dominate the mass.

So it’s time to say goodbye to another budget-based build. What did you think of this one? Did you like seeing one of the Commander (2014 Edition) Planeswalkers here? Would you have made the deck differently? Is there something in here that sparks your own deck-building juices?

Get your budget on!

Appendix

Here are the first twenty-three (sorta) budget-happy decks for your budget-happy days:

Daxos of Meletis

  1. Brion Stoutarm came in at $37.71.
  2. Ghave, Guru of Spores, with a budget of $36.48, is a lot of fun!
  3. Talrand, Sky Summoner: $49.37. I increased the budget for it due to the nature of the challenge, and it’s the only entry in the series for which the cost is increased rather than decreased.
  4. Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius is the next in the list, rocking that $36.37 price tag.
  5. Princess Lucrezia and Riven Turnbull feature in this fun, throwback, Commander deck that is just $35.68.
  6. Roon of the Hidden Realm demonstrates one of the Commander (2013 Edition) dorks in a $35.29 shell.
  7. Vhati il-Dal runs the table for just $35.17.
  8. With all of the expected draconic lovin’, Bladewing the Risen comes just a few cents fewer at $35.13.
  9. Lu Xun, Scholar General may not be a powerhouse, but there’s enough utility under here to spark a very interesting Commander deck for just $35.07.
  10. Bosh, Iron Golem was a fun, mono-red, artifact-centric deck that hits $35.06. That’s right: one cent cheaper! It’s a fun and different take on artifacts than good ol’ Brago.
  11. Brago, King Eternal is featured with a different artifact theme and a $35.04 budget.
  12. Let’s finally drop below that $35 mark with Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero and her Rebel horde! It’s $34.98 for the witness.
  13. 13). Wedges are cool. So is Teneb, the Harvester! $34.94 gets us a deck that wins and has fun.
  14. Kaseto, Orochi Archmage
  15. Who likes Surrak Dragonclaw? Who likes making a face-smashing deck for just $34.83? This guy!
  16. Tolsimir Wolfblood? $34.73? Selesnya aggro? We have it in spades!
  17. Alesha, Who Smiles at Profit is ready to bring some serious recursion, beats, and a modest budget to boot at $34.62.
  18. Want to Dragon up your deck? Why not roll with Dragonlord Kolaghan for $34.47.
  19. Who’s thumping those mono-green beats with the Yeva, Nature's Herald stylings? Who clocks in at just $34.39? This article!
  20. Want to Donate some stuff, play some politics, and draw a ton of cards? Then check out this Zedruu the Greathearted deck that came in at $34.29.
  21. A. I have a notion that a five-colored deck would be a fun budget challenge. Horde of Notions is a blast of Elemental fun that clocks in at $34.17. Check it out!
  22. B. Five color doesn’t have to end with tribes. There are so many options that this Five-Color Cromat deck with a bit of a smashy board presence is ready to introduce itself to the red zone—and to winning. It also is just $34.20.
  23. Sometimes, it’s really nice to see how far we can push a popular commander with a cheaper budget. That’s where this Nekusar, the Mindrazer deck comes in, clocking in at $34.03.

  24. With a budget of just $33.98, this Daxos of Meletis deck is pretty cool without being too expensive. Check it out!
  25. We have a Snake-flavored Kaseto, Orochi Archmage deck with a lot of fun, Snakes, and budget goodness at $33.91.


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