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Budget Commander #65: Hurray Shirei!


Hello happy people! I hope your day is going incredibly well! Today we are taking another deep dive into my Budget Commander series! (Check out the Appendix below for the first 64 decks in this series!).

Here is how the Budget Commander series works! This series began when I saw "budget" Commander series that had triple digit costs like $250, $200 or even $100. As someone who has twice been unemployed, that's not budget. My first deck came in at $37.71 and every deck since then tries to come in under the previous one. The last one was $32.51 so we need to come in under that amount.

Who am I building around today? Great question!

Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker

It's this rarity downshift from Rare to Uncommon. We are between sets, and I wanted something that would be an homage to the new return to the Kamigawa plane. I was looking over the most played cards from the first Kamigawa block over at EDHREC.com for my Top Ten Cards from Kamigawa Block article which you can check out here. Shirei was, by far, the most played Commander from its set (Betrayers of Kamigawa) with 1,316 decks. And the prices of the cards show up in various sites and his CoolStuffInc.com cheapest cost is just $0.49 quarter. That means a cheap deck built around him should be pretty easy to do from a budget perspective even if many of the dorks that you'd want to add are pricier.

Shirei is a 2/2 for an admittedly high 5 mana. When a dork with a power 0 or 1 dies, and you control Shirei, then then can toss it back onto the battlefield for free, without paying any mana or costs like life, just by waiting until the end of the turn. But they only come back at the end of the end step, so just once per turn. Note that they will come back on your end turn and your foe's end turn too. This makes something like a 1/1 deathtouch really strong on defense as they are less likely to swing at you and trade down for a free dork you'll just recur. Hint...hint...


Shirei was clearly a new version of the powerful artifact from Urza's Saga. With the same cost to play, but working on every dork including your foes, Shirei required you to jump through some hoops, but you alone got your stuff returned, so it was worth it. The original is also a pricey $30ish dollars on the Reserve List, so it's worth it financially as well as mechanically.

Now there are a few ways to build a Shirei deck. The first is around a certain Shadowborn Apostle. You sacrifice six Apostles, and then bring them back over and over again. The problem with this in a budget like this is that the Apostles have a big price on the secondary market at...and I am not making this up...for $5.99 per common! That's just nasty rough in a budget brew like this one. We will not be blazing this trail.

Blood Artist
Zulaport Cutthroat

Another way to build is around Aristocrats with a ton of triggers that will kill someone and then bring back the sacrificed card with this. Will that fill the budget? Let's look at see! Nope! The Artist is $4.99 for its cheapest version although the Cutthroat is just $0.75 so you might see a smattering of that in here in a few places

Instead, I expect this to feel more like a midrange brew with ETB triggers from 1 powered stuff, cheap reanimation options, and enough sacrifices and triggers here and there to get you through the season. That's my key goal. Make sense?

Note that prices sited in this article are when I do research for this article as I write it and could shift over time from my writing to editing to publication to when you are reading them. But the core idea of a mega cheap deck should stand, even if some cards rise in price to make it around $35.00 or down to $30.00. Please note that we do not price basics in this as you'll likely have them already and if not, friends will.

Ready to take a deep dive into my budget-matters mono-black Shirei deck? Let's do it to it!

Viscera Seer

Wow! I was surprised to find this classic Commander card at just $0.35. This is an awesome addition to the deck! It's a classic sacrifice engine for decks that want to go Aristocrats since it's a 1-drop 1/1 Vampire Wizard that will let you sacrifice a dork mana free to scry 1. Mana free sacrifice engines don't come this cheap and a useful scry 1 is actually pretty solid here. Getting a Shirei-able sacrifice engine is pretty sexy. It's also in 57,774 decks over at EDHREC.com and that's pretty heavily played!

Archetype of Finality

The uncommon Archetype is one of only three cards that cost more than a buck in my brew, in this case just $1.25. It's a powerful deathtouch giving Archetype that can give your entire team deathtouch. With a field of recursive deathtouchers that's pretty good at playing keep away from folks attacking and it will keep them from blocking and trading down with a recursive threat. I also tossed in two 1-drop 1/1s with deathtouch to play into the same genre as well as the two drop 1/2 deathtouching Orzhov Enforcer.

Check out the bulk rare Aura Gift of Doom. This is meant for Shirei. You can also cast it morphed and then flip it by sacrificing a dork and flip it over. When you do you can enchant a targeted Shirei with the protection to save it from a removal spell or effect. You can also give a blocked dork about to engage with a major threat that blocked it deathtouch to end that enemy's life, such as a Terror of the Peaks. So don't sleep on that either here.

Open the Graves
Butcher of Malakir

Check out these bulk rares that cost $0.49 each! The former bulk rare is just one of three enchantments in this build. A 2/2 Black Zombie token is a nice upgrade for your dying Typhoid Rats that just traded up or got sacrificed to your Viscera Seer. It's really strong here!

Then we have the latter bulk rare. It's the only pricey 7-mana dork in the deck with a smaller 5/4 flying body, but when your critters die your foes will each sacrifice a dork to keep up. That's pretty good at playing keep away especially when combined with trading down. With the sacrifices and deaths here that's a pretty nice effect, and it's bascially a Grave Pact on legs. It's dropped in play value since it's much more expensive at 7 mana and it's on a more easily answered dork. It's still run in 24,622 decks, so it still has a presence. It's also a death that won't be recurred with Shirei so you may need to protect it if you are getting value from it with the above Gift of Doom as one place to find that key protection.

Demonmail Hauberk

Check out this fun uncommon piece of equipment which is our only one in the brew. It's pretty cheap as well since it's four for $0.80 here (I count that as $0.20 for my budget). It gives a sizeable +4/+2 boost to my guys like Shirei which can swing through a Rogue's Passage ($0.35 for the cheapest version here) and kill in four hits of a 6/4. It's here to be a recursive sacrifice engine over and over again for no mana down.

Now let's move to some useful one-powered dorks.

Big Game Hunter
Bone Shredder

Check out this pair of creature removal on skates. The first is a cheap quarter that can destroy, without regeneration, a bigger 4-powered dork. Sure, a lot of key stuff will pass that by. I get it. But key things like Sun Titan and Consecrated Sphinx will bite it. The second one is also a quarter. Sure, it won't hit everything out there, but that will kill key things like Fury and Cloudblazer that are pretty heavily played. Note that these can be recurred over and over again with Shirei and a sacrifice engine like Viscera Seer. Good pair of creature-based removal!

Marsh Flitter

Check out this token maker on legs! This Faerie Rogue is just a quarter uncommon as well, and in this case, gives you a 1/1 flyer for an admittedly high 4 mana but it brings some Goblin tokens with it to the party. You can sacrifice any Goblin for free to make this a 3/3 for the turn, which might be useful here and there, but they key value here is to flood the table with Goblins by recurring it over and over again.

Pilgrim's Eye
Cadaver Imp

Check out these 1/1 flyers! The Thopter is a way to fetch your library of a key basic land that rhymes with "Mamp" and put it into your hand. I also tossed in the other two basic land fetchers as well to this brew. The Imp is a great Gravedigger on legs that flies, costs one fewer, and is a is a 1/1 for the game. With the amount of sacrifices here happening, you should be able to net a Raise Dead trigger each time this arrives to the battlefield. Also note that the flying here is key as you can block flyers and then when you lose the chump blocker, you'll get it back that turn with Shirei. For mad value, sacrifice the chump blocker to an engine.

Burglar Rat
Yarok's Fenlurker

I also added in creatures with "everyone else" discards when they enter the battlefield. Each of these 2-mana 1/1s will force your foes to each discard no matter how many you have! The first will send those cards to the graveyard, and the second will exile discard them as well as serve as a useful mana sink with its pumping in the latter game. Both are nifty to drifty!

Obviously, Pilgrim's Eye and its friends will net you a basic land each time they arrive to the battlefield, which could be a few times with Shirei and a sacrifice outlet. But Wild-Field Scarecrow? This is a sacrifice outlet on its own! You just need to sacrifice this when you control Shirei with two spare mana and you'll net two cool lands and a reloaded Scarecrow at the end of the turn for more play. Enjoy it!

Without Weakness
Supernatural Stamina
Professor's Warning

With a handful of key creatures (read Shirei and friends like the Butcher) we have some key dorks to protect so I added in a handful of ways to do so like this trio. The first will indestructible up something nice at a cost of two mana but you can cycle it if it's unneeded. The second will bring a dead dork back tapped and that will reload another key trigger. The third will indestructible up something for a single mana or it can be used as a combat trick here and there to protect something. Also note that if you are trying a Commander kill with a 6/4 Shirei then this will kill one turn earlier since a 7/5 Shirei will deal lethal damage in three hits not four.

Can you see why Renegade's Getaway is here despite that three mana? It's here to protect any permanent from lands to enchantments to key artifacts. To your Commander! And then it also can make a 1/1 Servo token to block with or to sacrifice to your stuff for another go around the bend.

Malakir Rebirth // Malakir Mire

At $2.49, this is the most expensive card in my deck, but it's worth it since we have the money. Most of my stuff are cheap commons, uncommons, and massive bulk rares. The Rebirth can also be a land when needed, making this a Commander essential and there are 32,819 in deck over at EDHREC.com. It has the same synergy with the bringing back a dying dork to get another trigger and may want to fire at Shirei.


Both reanimation spells made the cut into my brew! The first is cheap one mana to recur any 3-drop or lower, which is pretty good for the mana, as most of your stuff will be eligible. You can cycle it if it's not needed. The second sorcery will recur two dorks of any size to your battlefield tapped but instead requires a sacrifice, which can come back with Shirei. As you can see, this is a great card in a midrange build like this where you net two triggers like card drawing, destruction, and fetching basics. Love it a lot here!

Apprentice Necromancer

Check out this 1/1 Zombie Wizard for two mana, which fits into the Shirei recursive engine. As you can see, this can tap and sacrifice to reload a dork from your graveyard to play for a turn with haste. You'll love popping it and bringing it back as well as what you recurred! Good stuff!

Hell's Caretaker

For $1.49 for the cheapest version, this is one of the most expensive cards in the deck! It's the second most expensive card and one of only three with a cost of a dollar or more. As you can see, this can tap to sacrifice a dork in your upkeep to bring back any dork. It's a cheap 1/1 Horror for your reanimation and if you sacrifice a 1-power dork? Fun times commence!

Vampiric Rites

Check out this sacrificing powerhouse! This is our third and final enchantment in this brew. You can sacrifice a dork (might I suggest a 1 power one?) to draw a card and gain a life! Nasty stuff, right? Right! This is worth the 2-mana activation cost all day long.

Necromantic Selection
Deadly Tempest

I added a few mass sweepers as well. We need answers to things, even when this brew asks questions. The first sweeper is a 7-cost spell that will destroy everything and then recur something that died. Might I suggest killing Shirei and then bringing it back? You could also do this with a key card like Butcher of Malakir or something killed by this sweeper. The second Damnation is a 6-drop mass sweeper that can destroy every creatures although it's a bit heavy in the life loss for your brew. These are each $0.49 and very bulk rare for the price of admission. Good sweepers!

And now let's turn to some lands! Even though High Market is a heavily played land at the kitchen table with 41,310 played over at EDHREC.com, it's pretty cheap. It's just $0.99 here at CoolStuffInc.com. That might surprise you since it doesn't arrive tapped, it taps to sacrifice a dork without needing mana, and it fits into any color of deck. Good land for the masses!

Mortuary Mire
Witch's Cottage

Check out this pair of fun commons. Each taps for a Black mana. The first always arrives to the battlefield tapped but gives you a free reloading of a dork onto your deck from your graveyard. Nice! The second is a Swamp and it arrives untapped if you control three other Swamps, which is possible, and if so, you also get a free reloading as well. Pretty and each is a cheap land you won't miss.

Serrated Scorpion
Novice Occultist

Let's look at some Standard legal cards for this brew. The Scoprion is a 1-drop 1/2 with a death trigger to drain your foes of two damage which is very repeatable when you control a Shirei. The latter has a death trigger to trade a life for a card, pretty nice with all of the deathery that is happening at the table. Each is a 1/2 that can easily recue if they die when you control your leader! Nice right? I think so as well!

Morbid Opportunist
Smothering Abomination
Grim Haruspex

Check out this trio inspired by the Midnight Hunt Rogue. As you can see, this affordable uncommon is a 1/3 (nice power check) with a three mana cost, a bit high, but you'll draw a sweet card each each time one of your dorks dies, to a max of once per turn. In a four-way game where you sacrifice something to a Viscera Seer or something similar each turn and recur it with Shirei, that's four cards drawn. Given this deck wants to separate it's sacrifice and recursion over multiple turns, it's restrction is hardly noticeable.

Then we have the next two cards inspired by it. The Eldrazi is a cheap $0.75 here at CoolStuffInc.com. It eats a dork in your upkeep as a free trigger. It's a 4/3 flyer for four mana, nice on curve, but not with synergy with a lower powered dork would have, so you'll have to work to protect it. As you sacrifice stuff, you draw a card, and this is limitless on the turn in question. Nice! And then the Wizard has morph to give you another morph in the deck to hide with. It's also the wrong power for this brew, but as non-tokens you control die, you'll draw those sexy cards, no limit. It's also under a buck as well.

Skullport Merchant
Soldevi Adnate

I also wanted to add two more sacrifice engines. The Merchant is a 1/4 that plays into the love of one-powered stuff. It arrives with a Treasure for ramping, or you can sacrifice it for two mana to draw a card. You can also Vampiric Rites another dork for the same card drawing flow. We also have the 1/2 Adnate for two mana that taps to sacrifice a black or artifact dork for an amount of mana equal to its mana cost. Nice ramp for the turn! This can help you notch a few actions of something like Vampiric Rites when the battlefield is being swept or get your 7 drop Butcher of Malakir online early.

And there we go! Want to see my deck?

I got you!

And there we go! This build came in at a cool $32.46, five cents fewer than the $32.51 of the previous deck! Enjoy the budget loving fun times!

Cards to include could be Cabal Coffers, Cabal Stronghold, Volrath's Stronghold, Jet Medallion, Bojuka Bog, Westvale Abbey, Phyrexian Tower, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, War Room, Meekstone, Nyx Lotus, Wake the Dead, maybe Lifeline itself, or Blood Artist.

Also don't sleep on the planeswalkers Liliana, Dreadhorde General and Lolth, Spider Queen. Expensive but key sweepers like Hellfire or Blood on the Snow and Snow-Covered Swamps (the Blood on the Snow is just $0.75, but the cheapest Snow-Covered Swamp is 1.49 each, and that wouldn't feel budget to me). Don't forget key equipment like the indestructible granting Darksteel Plate or Kaldra Compleat, or the mass card drawing fun times of Skullclamp. Enjoy!


If you enjoyed today's Mono-Blue toughness-matters budget brew, great! Here are the first 61 Budget Commander Options for your wallet-friendly happiness and joy:

  1. We kicked things off with Brion Stoutarm came in at $37.71
  2. Next up was 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 this project due to the nature of the challenge, and it's the only entry in the series where the cost is increased rather than decreased.
  4. Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius is the next for our list rocking that $36.37 pricetag.
  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 dorks in a $35.29 shell.
  7. Vhati il-Dal runs the table for just $35.17. It's also one of the more unique entries in this project.
  8. With all of the latest draconic lovin', Bladewing the Risen comes just a few cents less at $35.13. http://www.gatheringmagic.com/abesargent-042114-budget-commander-8-budget-bladewing/
  9. Lu Xun, Scholar General may not be a powerhouse, but there's enough utility under here to spark a very interesting EDH 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 will be next.
  11. Brago, King Eternal is featured with a different artifact theme and a $35.04 budget.
  12. Let's finally get below that $35 mark with Lin Sivvi and her rebel horde! $34.98 for the witness.
  13. Wedges are cool. So is Teneb, the Harvester! $34.94 gets us a deck that wins and has fun.
  14. Who likes Surrak Dragonclaw? Who likes making a face-smashing deck for just $34.83? This guy!
  15. Tolsimir Wolfblood? $34.73? Selesnya aggro? We've got it in spades!
  16. Alesha, Who Smiles at Death is ready to bring some serious recursion, beats, and a modest budget to boot at $34.62.
  17. Want to Dragon up your deck? Why not roll with Dragonlord Kolaghan for $34.47.
  18. Who's thumping those mono-green beats with the Yeva, Nature's Herald stylings? Who clocks in at just $34.39? This article!
  19. 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.
  20. I have a notion that a Five Color 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!
  21. 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 smash-y board presence is ready to introduce itself to the red zone, and to winning. It also is just $34.20.
  22. 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
  23. With a budget of just $33.98, this Daxos of Meletis deck is pretty cool without being too expensive. Check it out!
  24. We have a Snake flavored Kaseto, Orochi Archmage deck with a lot of fun, Snakes, and budget goodness at $33.91.
  25. Nahiri, the Lithomancer is calling for an equipment and Solider focused mono-white build that's just $33.85.
  26. Who's Born to be Wild? Mina and Denn are! Check out this Gruul Smash deck with lands and fun for just $33.75.
  27. Gods are cool, especially when they make you berries, fruits, and tasty veggies. Karametra, God of Harvests might fetch you a lot of lands and good times, but she won't set back your wallet. Check out her budget build, clocking in at $33.74
  28. She beats with auras and fun, sailing over her foes. It's Bruna, Light of Alabaster! She's bringing a strong game at a cheap $33.69.
  29. Rosheen Meanderer at $33.63 clocks in with a bunch of X spells and activations with a different take on the classic Elf-Ball deck.
  30. We take a look at a very old school sort of guy, Boris Devilboon, from the original Legends set, and then build a $33.58 deck around our good demonic friends.
  31. It's time for a bit of an Orzhov Control loving, built around Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts and featuring a ton of removal, control, and more, all for the low, low price of $33.56.
  32. Captain Sisay leads a fun, legendary infused deck that has a lot of great cards and synergy, but a light price, checking in at $33.46.
  33. Ertai, the Corrupted sacrifices creatures and enchantments to counter spells. For $33.35, we have a great control-esque deck with some groovy sacrificing love.
  34. With a modest budget of $33.32, Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis have a fun event and morph focused theme, without running a bunch of cards from their Commander 2016 Appearance. Check them out!
  35. Built around the Old-School combo of Prodigal Sorcerer and Fungusaur, this Commander deck features a number of cards that deal damage to your own creatures so they get better. It clocks in at a humble $33.26.
  36. With a Golgari Toughness-Matters theme, this Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper deck won't hurt your budget, but will do some damage for $33.15.
  37. Grenzo, Dungeon Warden goes all crazy with graveyard and deck restocking shenanigans for a cheap $33.12. We even have an infinite combo in here!
  38. Commander 2017 brings some powerful new options for Commander players everywhere. I put together a multiplayer-friendly control deck around Mathas, Fiend Seeker for just $33.10.
  39. Don't you love the Izzet madness of Arjun, the Shifting Flame? No deck has more card drawing, or card drawing triggers, than this one! It clocks in at $33.04.
  40. It doesn't have to be Halloween for you to enjoy the Monster Mash. Here we have a Grusilda, Monster Mash deck that enjoys mashing your dorks together, but not mashing your budget. It clocks in at $32.98
  41. Don't Shatter your Budget with this build of the Shattergang Brothers, who's sacrificial ways won't sacrifice wallet, and just cost $32.94.
  42. I saw Muldrotha, the Gravetide and I just fell in love with that face. Who wouldn't? Here's a graveyard abuse deck that won't break your bank, just your battlefield. And maybe some friendships. It was $32.89.
  43. Who likes some Saprolings and having Fungal Fun? I do! Slimefoot, the Stowaway leads this cheap, flavorful deck that clocks in at $32.80. Every addition to the deck has to support the flavor of the Fungal concepts!
  44. Who wants to untap and en-creature Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle? Who wants a fun budget build that's just $32.77? ME!
  45. Next up is a budget build of Emmara, Soul of the Accord which is cheap and clocks in at $32.77. Check out it's token majesty!
  46. I randomly selected Kefnet the Mindful for a random Commander challenge, and was inspired to combine my two series and build a Budget Commander deck around card-drawing and fun times with Kefnet! Check it out and it's $32.73 glory.
  47. Let's build a fun graveyard and Mono-Green build around my second Portal: Three Kingdoms leader - Hua Tuo, Honored Physician. I really like this build, and for just $32.65, I hope you will too!
  48. I built a fun budget Burn and Life gain deck around Firesong and Sunspeaker for a price tag of only $32.57! Want to check it out?
  49. I built a fun deck around the partners Gorm the Great and Virtus the Veiled. This deck ran some cool cards, including the old school Basilisk and Lure combos. But it only cost $32.51. Don't you wanna check it out? Of course ya do!
  50. For my 50th Budget Commander article, I decide to do something crazy! Let's build a Warrior themed deck around a very expensive Najeela, the Blade-Blossom, rather than my normal way of a budget leader. We come in at $42.45. You know you want to read it...
  51. Want a Naya Gold deck? Literally? Built around the multicolored loving Rienne, Angel of Rebirth. It clocks it at $32.39. I know you want to find out how I ever could do that! Check it out!
  52. I built a fun +1/+1 counter and enchantment-matters build around Eutropia the Twice-Favored for $32.33. Don't you wanna check it out?
  53. I took the Skirmish deck I designed, Defy Death, and turned it into a Commander deck featuring Tariel, Reckoner of Souls for $32.28. Take a look and see what you think!
  54. I created a fun token creature deck around Akim, the Soaring Wind from Commander 2020. It came in at $32.27! Enjoy it here!
  55. I built a Mono-Blue scry and flying matters deck around the partners Eligeth, Crossroads Augur and Siani, Eye of the Storm, that came in under $32.23. It was fun! You can find it here!
  56. I love a good crazy Commander to build around, like Hans Eriksson. My version of him ran cards like enrage led Dinosaurs, and mid-range cards you'd want to drop onto the battlefield with aplomb. The deck came in at $32.29. Want to check it out?
  57. For my Selensya fans I built this crazy life gain and going wide build around Lathiel, the Bounteous Dawn! It came in at $32.27 just two cents fewer than #56! Enjoy it here!
  58. I built a big spells matter and ramp Simic deck around partners from Commander Legends Brinelin, the Moon Kraken and Gilanra, Caller of Wirewood. It features X spells like Hydras and big spells a go go! The budget? Just $32.73! Check it out here.
  59. If you want to check out a cheap Orzhov +1/+1 Counters Matter brew, great! I've got you covered! I built around Shaile, Dean of Radiance and Embrose, Dean of Shadow. The total for this awesome build is $32.68. You can view it here.
  60. This deck came in at $32.65 and it's a Peasant version Axelrod Gunnsaron from the first set that introduced legendary stuff. This one lets you use the version from Legends instead of Chronicles and it's a powerful Rakdos deck that uses ways to trigger Axelrod's ability like giving him ping effects like Fire Whip, deathtouch ones like Bladebrand, and I built the rest of the deck around deathtouchers and pingers. You can check it out here.
  61. Coming in at $32.60 was this mono-Black Jerren, Corrupted Bishop deck that cared about the Human tribe and going aggro. You can find it here!
  62. I was excited to write a mono-Blue toughness-matters brew around Geralf, Visionary Stitcher. It came in at $32.56.
  63. Then I created a deck around the incredibly popular Zaxara, the Exemplary and built and budget view of this powerful leader that came in at $32.54. Find it here!
  64. I built a Sphinx matters mono-Blue build around Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign that came in at $32.51! You can check out this bad boy here.
  65. That's this article you silly goof!

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