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Budget Commander #7 – Very, Very Vhati

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Honestly, how much money do you really have for a spare Commander deck? If you want to build another deck, can you really afford another slate of cards such as Swords to Plowshares, Sol Ring, great mana lands, and power cards such as Sensei's Divining Top and Sword of Fire and Ice that have high price tags?

Vhati il-Dal
If you don’t have the highest budget in the world and you have limited card stock, a budget-oriented deck is the path for you. Today, I want to show a deck that has a budget of roughly $35, and yet, it works quite well. You can pick it up and play it right now.

I was looking for inspiration for a legendary creature to be my commander. On top of a stack of gold legendary creatures was Vhati il-Dal. Well, there he is. Let’s build around him!

For years I’ve extolled the virtues of Vhati, so why not build a deck around him for this article?

This is the seventh iteration of my increasingly-long series on budget Commander builds. My goal for each deck is to come under the budget for the previous deck, making each version a little tighter on the money. Below, in the post-script section,1 I’ll link you to the first six budget Commander articles, if you are interested in browsing them.

Must come in under $35.29

With this deck, get ready to do a lot of apologizing! “I’m sorry, Suzy, did I just blow up your pretty Akroma, Angel of Wrath?” “Was I the one who destroyed your shiny Sphinx of Uthuun? Sorry, Bob!” I’d recommend practicing in a mirror until you get it right. “Please accept my most abject apologies.”

Sylvan Primordial
Our total budget was $35.17: a full twelve cents fewer than the previous model. Unfortunately, I built this deck about two days before Sylvan Primordial was banned. That sucks! It was a great card here (just like everywhere, hence the banning).

I wanted to yank it for Mimic Vat, but that was $0.50 more. Ditto Contagion Engine. Bow of Nylea is another buck. Woodfall Primus is massively more expensive. As is Eternal Witness. Hmm . . . Did you know that Vulturous Zombie and Sylvan Primordial have the same price? Well, that’s a nice choice then. Say “hello” to the Plant Zombie! (It becomes confused when it plays Plants vs. Zombies).

The goal of the deck is to include a variety of effects that can kill off a creature that has been dropped to 1 toughness. Sometimes, these effects are -1/-1 counters, but other burn-related effects round things off nicely.

I spent a large amount of my budget on key cards that Vhati can really benefit from. Thousand-Year Elixir enables Vhati to tap the turn you play him, and you can untap him to do it again! Double the tap is double the love! Magewright's Stone will do the same thing, untapping Vhati for another go. See also: Puppet Strings, which can either untap Vhati or tap down an annoying opposing creature. Another essential was Staff of Nin. It draws cards, which is necessary, and it taps to shoot a creature, killing something that Vhati shrunk.

And this is the sort of synergy that I tried to stuff into the Vhati deck. The rest of the artifacts are just as useful. Viridian Longbow shoots stuff, Swiftfoot Boots protects Vhati and hastens him. The Thornbite Staff is nasty—equipped on Vhati, each time you tap and drop someone to 1 toughness and then kill that creature off, Vhati will untap. Note that the Staff will also enable a creature to shoot a weakened creature, too, so it’s a perfect fit in the deck.

Night of Souls' Betrayal
We have a few nasty enchantments, too. Take a look at Night of Souls' Betrayal. It turns Vhati into a cheaper Visara the Dreadful. Imagine the Thornbite Staff on Vhati—you can literally tap to kill every single creature in the battlefield in one turn (other than your own, of course!). And guess what? These fun pieces are all cheap on the budget. (Check out Ascendant Evincar as well.)

Also cheap are some amazing creatures. Triskelion is an obvious friend of Vhati, and it slides right in alongside Grim Poppet. Both grant solid bodies and powerful uses of counters. And it doesn’t stop there! Pestilence Demon and Thrashing Wumpus both do their best Pestilence impressions. That’s pretty useful here.

And that’s not all! Check out creatures like Masticore, Trophy Hunter, and Matsu-Tribe Sniper. I’m particularly fond of Trophy Hunter. There’s a smorgasbord of flyers in Commander, and it helps to shoot them down while amping its own power. It’s a threat alongside its leader Vhati. (See also: Arashi, the Sky Asunder.)

In the -1/-1 category, consider stalwarts such as Skinrender, Consumptive Goo, and Carnifex Demon. Each does it in a different way. I also included a few proliferate cards to build on these ideas. Contagion Clasp will dole out a -1/-1 counter for Vhati, but it will also enhance those already out there. We have enough creatures to serve as fodder for Plaguemaw Beast to do the same. Spread the Sickness and Grim Affliction also join the team.

Both Golgari Charm and Wail of the Nim can regenerate all of your creatures, so they can serve as mass creature protection from many removal effects (including your own). Wail of the Nim entwines into a 1-damage Pestilence effect while the Charm can also shrink folks down and Demystify. These sorts of cards give the deck an enhanced theme as flexibility as well.

Fated Return
We have some other utility cards. Typical entrants such as Acidic Slime are here alongside Expunge, Indrik Stomphowler, Diabolic Tutor, and Darkblast. We can draw cards with Phyrexian Gargantua, Promise of Power, Bloodgift Demon, Graveborn Muse, and other effects here and there. From Armillary Sphere to recent addition Peregrination, we can fetch lands, too.

I think this a good place to try out Fated Return. Since you are killing bunches of stuff when the Vhati machine works, you have fodder to grab a nice beater (with indestructible) when needed. It should prove really useful in this engine.

Gaze of Granite is another important card since it has mass-removal capabilities. This deck has little in the way of mass removal, and this is basically it other than things like Pestilence Demon. It’s a solid adjunct.

We fight graveyard abuse with Nihil Spellbomb, Suffer the Past, and Necrogenesis. I just couldn’t fit Bojuka Bog into the deck, but it’s the next card I would have included.

Finally, there are a few fun tricks here and there. The wither of Cinderbones will probably keep away creatures from attacking on the ground once players realize how Vhati works. You might even get in a few hits with it! We also have decent defense, with Sedge Scorpion and the Darksteel twins here. Stuffy Doll is a great defensive card; plus, it works well with all of the damage-dealing stuff in the deck. Imagine it later in the game with Masticore out. It’s time to begin apologizing some more! Sorry, Dave, did I just shoot that Doll with Masticore again? Man, what are the odds!

Vulturous Zombie
The last addition of Vulturous Zombie grows as things hit graveyards. It flies, and since this deck clears out flyers easily (with Silklash Spider, Arashi, Trophy Hunter), and since other flyers can be tapped down with Matsu-Tribe Sniper and Puppet Strings, you can sail over other teams for a lot of damage.

Some others cards I considered include Contagion Engine, Lightning Greaves, Bow of Nylea, Gaea's Anthem, Mimic Vat, Exsanguinate, Sorin Markov, and Pernicious Deed.




Budgets are cool. We all have them. Nobody can afford every single card in Magic twenty times each in order to have enough deck stock for every possible deck. And if you do, my e-mail is euplatious at hotmail. Let me know how much you enjoyed this article with the gift of coin.

Let me know what you thought of the Vhati deck in the comments! As always, thanks you very much for reading my article.

See you next week,

Abe Sargent




1 P.S. Here are the first six budget decks:

P.P.S. Until I wrote this P.P.S., this article had exactly 1,666 words in it!


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