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Budget Commander #15 — Tolsimir Wolfblood


Do you love playing Commander but often grimace at the thought of some of the prices of the cards? Do you wonder at how some cards became so expensive virtually unheralded? I was shocked to see how expensive cards like Greater Auramancy and Puppeteer Clique have become. But you can easily play a Commander deck without dual lands or Imperial Seal. You don't have to decide between eating this week and buying the cards for your Commander deck!

That's where this budget series comes in. It tries to sustain your Commander longings with another dose of food, but with budget-minded fare that keeps you fed and that doesn't break your wallet. Each article tries to come in under the price for the previous one. The last budget deck, a Surrak Dragonclaw deck, clocked in at $34.83. So the next deck needs to get in below that. Can I do it?

Of course I can!

Now for a quick little aside: All prices in this article are true as of its writing and editing. Prices change from when it is submitted to when it is published to when you’re reading it. But the basic point stands. This is a deck designed to be budget friendly from CoolStuffInc.com. Enjoy it!

So, without further footsie, let's take a look at our deck!

Tolsimir Wolfblood
It’s 34.73!

Tolsimir Wolfblood has always been among my favorite legendary creatures of all time. He has the flavor of an old-school guy from Legends, and yet, it is quite fun to run around with. So what does our good friend Wolfy bring to a project like this?

Mainly, he's big and bad—not necessarily in that order! He can pump your whole team and double-pump any creatures that are both green and white (so we'll emphasize gold guys when we can).

There are a lot of fun directions you can spin Tolsimir. Maybe we want a Wolf deck—or a Selesnya token-spewing deck. Or you could use him and his host to convoke or amp out the big beats of your colors. From Avacyn, Angel of Hope to Craterhoof Behemoth, you can angle off in a variety of ways. But I wanted to take this into budget-friendly territory with a more aggressive route. Our goal with this deck is to drop some cheap and efficient beats and then grow them in a manner consistent with green and white for a very long time.

The first place I looked was to add in the engines that would make our creatures bigger. That included Spear of Heliod, Collective Blessing, Kongming, "Sleeping Dragon", and Dictate of Heliod. Actually . . . hmm . . . We can throw in an Overrun, too, while I'm thinking about it—oh, and a Marshal's Anthem. All of those cards are a lot more budget-friendly that Gaea's Anthem and friends.

Akroma's Blessing
Actually, since this is a deck with—hopefully—a lot of creatures, that Anthem gives me an idea. I need to add in some protection. Let’s again build that into the deck right now, and I can construct the creature base around it. I always like Rootborn Defenses as a great trick. Akroma's Blessing is also strong, either to cycle if not needed or to give the team protection from a color. You can use that to prevent damage-based removal (such as red often runs) or to alpha-strike through a mono-colored defense or to block and survive some nasty stuff. If you want, you can even drop it to keep one of your vital creatures out to protect it from targeted removal or theft. It's very flexible. I can't afford stuff like Cauldron of Souls or Twilight Shepherd. But I can slide in Nim Deathmantle and Spirit Bonds. The Bonds is a great new card, as you can churn out tokens as you drop things, and you can sacrifice those tokens to give indestructible to a dork. That's a strong amount of double-duty for a deck like this. Ajani's Presence can be played as a combat trick for a creature or three, but also as an indestructible trick as well. That gives me a few ways to keep my stuff in play.

Now let's go for the fun! Creature time!

Since Tolsimir is best with both colors represented, let's begin there. Oh yeah, I forgot! I can add in Dauntless Escort to increase my survivability on the same theme as above. And Loxodon Hierarch can sac to regenerate the whole team as well. Plus, both are very serviceable beaters. Next, I add in Loxodon Smiter, the Selesnya Guildmage, Steward of Valeron, Fleetfoot Panther (one of my personal favorite cards), and Qasali Ambusher. I would have loved to have added the Ambusher's best Qasali friend the Qasali Pridemage, but it was not to be. At first, I thought Dryad Militant would be out of my budget since it's a strong playable card in older formats. I was surprised that it was just a quarter. In you go!

Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers
Hmm . . . There are a lot of other quality gold cards as well. I could run something like Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers. (I can't afford Wilt-Leaf Liege—sigh. That's the only expensive card that I miss in this deck.) Consider other cheap stuff like, say, Kitchen Finks. Again, that’s a bit too pricey. But we can add fun cards like Selvala, Explorer Returned and Saffi Eriksdotter. Actually, Centaur Healer's a fine body as well, and I’ve never run it in a Commander deck, so let's take this baby out for a test drive. Armada Wurm dropped in value a long time ago since it was never played much. Let's give it a fun run in the sun today. That's a good section of quality for the deck. You can add in more expensive bodies, such as Gaddock Teeg or Fleecemane Lion, later if that’s your style.

The next category I want to explore is creatures that do vital things. Look, if I need to, I can find a cheaper beater almost always—a ton of great beat sticks were printed at common and uncommon (and bulk rare) through the ages. I want to ensure that I invest my budget into vital creatures that are needed for our infrastructure. Examples of these sorts of things are utility creatures such as Acidic Slime and Reclamation Sage. They kill stuff. Soul of the Harvest just sits around and enables me to draw cards. Whitemane Lion is a fun way to protect my guys as well. Since I have the Fleetfoot Panther, I might as well double-dip into "teh kitty lovin'"! War Priest of Thune is on curve and kills an enchantment if needed. Similarly, Samurai of the Pale Curtain provides a quick beater and a way to attack graveyards beyond the Dryad Militant.

Umm, we should also add in some mana-making, too, other than the Steward. I can't afford something like Birds of Paradise or Sylvan Caryatid (not sure I'd run the Caryatid anyway since it can't attack). Instead, I just run Avacyn's Pilgrim, to turn my green drop into a white mana-maker, and Quirion Elves, which has been a perfect 2-drop "mana Elf" for two-color decks since 1997. Sakura-Tribe Elder is slightly out of reach of my price, but Dawntreader Elk, bigger and fatter in size, is certainly not. The Elk is a fine substitute, and in many ways, it’s actually an improvement in this specific deck since it's bigger in the red zone for battles and beats.

There are always some utility cards that are priced out of a project like this (Mother of Runes, Eternal Witness, etc.), but the stuff we have works fine!

Now let's head back to the beater base, already in progress!

Shamanic Revelation
Actually, hold on. The Soul of the Harvest reminded me that these are not high-quality card-draw colors. Harmonize is a little too expensive for my tastes. So I toss in Staff of Nin, Diviner's Wand, and Life's Legacy while I'm thinking about it. Shamanic Revelation leaps in as the sole inclusion from Fate Reforged. I also toss in the most expensive card for the deck, clocking in at $1.99 near mint over at CSI. But it works so well. It’s Ohran Viper. That gives us some additional card-draw, though, while I'm thinking about it. (While I'm at it, I also toss in mana rocks to make sure the budget has enough flexibility in there)

We're running out of space, but I can force in a few more strong cards, such as the Commander (2014 Edition) fun card Jazal Goldmane. He checks a lot of boxes: He’s on curve, he’s strong, and he has an ability to pump the team. What about something like Fabled Hero, with double strike and the occasional ability to beef up? Double strike obliviously works well with pump folks like Tolsimir and Kongming. A few more creatures make the cut, and then I move on to other needs.

With mana rocks and mana creatures, I only run Peregrination for ramping. I know, I know—it's a green deck, so what am I doing? But this deck doesn't need that much mana-ramp—it's creatures are cheaper. Plus, I like the scry of the Peregrination here, too, since we don't have a lot of card-draw. Seed Spark and Sundering Growth can kill an artifact or enchantment while potentially adding creatures to the fray. That's really valuable. I wanted another card in their vein, so the cantripping Slice in Twain was included. I couldn't afford a bunch of exiling removal, but Oblation gives me an emergency one-stop-tuck-shop for all our removal needs. Radiant's Judgment is mega-cheap on the pocketbook, and it gives the deck some creature-killing ability. You at least have to pretend that you are able to kill something, right?

A limited budget remained, so I added some beater adjuncts. Despite a recent reprinting, Rancor has leapt past my budgetary expectations. But Behemoth Sledge is wonderful here, as is Loxodon Warhammer. The recent Commander (2014 Edition) printing of the Warhammer has dropped its price again. I would have loved to have seen Shield of the Oversoul here, but that common has just bounced in value. Instead, we can run Sigil of the Nayan Gods, which can be cycled if needed, but which also provides a big Aura for making a dork nasty.

Then, I tossed in a few nonbasic lands to finish my budget, and that's it! We clocked in at a wonderful $34.73.

Ohran Viper

One of the keys to successfully funding any budget deck is to find extremely valuable cards that are a quarter or less. These great cards add value all over the place. This is a deck that really uses stuff like Akroma's Blessing and Quirion Elves and Sundering Growth and Dawntreader Elk. Running these cheap cards enables me to include more cards in the dollar-to-two-dollar range. Sure, this is a deck that could have benefited from expensive stuff like Serra Ascendant and Reveillark, and a lot of Planeswalkers want to rock a deck like this (particularly some Ajanis), but this deck can fit those more expensive cards like Ohran Viper, Selvala, and Dauntless Escort.

Whether it's a perfect bulk rare (Spirit Bonds) or a great support spell (Overrun), you can find cheap stuff quite easily in today's often-overprinted market for rares, commons, and uncommons alike.

Enjoy it!

I hope that you enjoyed our trek through all things Selesnya today! You don't have to pay a week's salary for your next Commander deck!

See you next week,

Abe Sargent

Appendix of Budgetary Joy

Surrak Dragonclaw
Here are the first fourteen budget decks for your enjoyment:

  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. Who likes Surrak Dragonclaw? Who likes making a face-smashing deck for just $34.83? This guy!

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