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Budget Commander #58 - Partnering with Brinelin and Gilanra!


Hello and welcome to the 58th in my Budget Commander series! What is this series about? Great question! I found a lot of "budget" Commander articles to have budgets that were in great excess of what I considered a proper budget. I have been unemployed and playing this game, as well as heading back to grad school where my budget needed to be tight! Therefore, I created this idea of a proper budget, with the first deck challenge clocking in here at CSI.com for $37.71 and every build since then has clocked in under that build (save for #3, which you can read about in my appendix below).

My most recent deck at #57 was $32.77! What does this count? Great question! I count the cheapest near mint version I can find here. If there is a cheaper version that's played, I do not count that although that is an option for you. I do not count basic lands as everyone has those, and you can easily get them from friends. Please note that the price of these can change from when I write them (about a week before publication) to when they are edited to when you read them. Prices are fluid after all. But the basic point of a mega-cheap build that won't bust the bank remains, even if the prices rise by a buck or three in the meantime.

Ready for my two partners from this build? I saw them months ago in the spoilers for Commander Legends and I knew that I wanted to create my next BC around them!

Let's look at them each in turn!

Brinelin, the Moon Kraken

We'll start with The Moon Kraken! Take a good look at this bad boy! As you can see, he costs a big fat 8 mana and gives you a big fat 6/8 body on a flip side. Note that as Brinelin enters the battlefield you can return any nonland permanent to its owner's hand. Pretty nifty. You could turn it on yourself if you want to recast it to get another enters-the-battlefield trigger. You can bring back a creature to reload it is counters like Spike Weaver or Triskelion. You could bounce a permanent of yours that was shut down by something like Darksteel Mutation or Faith's Fetters. You could bounce pretty much any threat or planeswalker your foes may have back so that they'll have to be recast. Also note that Brinelin will trigger each time you cast a spell with a casting cost of six or more! That's a cast trigger. Please note that that means that if you cast a big fatty that costs you 7 mana, even if the spell was countered, the trigger from The Moon Kraken will still happen and you'll still bounce away. And Brinelin costs just a quarter!

Who am I pairing Brinelin with?

Gilanra, Caller of Wirewood

Gilanra, Caller of Wirewood of course! Let's take a deep dive into the Caller of Wirewood. It's a little expensive for a Llanowar Elves, but if the mana you added was spent on something that cost six or more mana? Draw that card! You can tap Gilanra for mana for Brinelin and then net that card when you do so. The card advantage on Gilanra is real. It's also just a quarter for the build as well, so we only spent $0.50 on my two Commanders!

What am I looking to add to this build?

  • Big Stuff. Obviously this deck is going to really push cards with a casting cost of 6 mana or more. It'll trigger Brinelin's bounce and draw cards from Gilanra.
  • Big Stuff Matters. There are a few cards here and there like Gilanra that are going to care about bigger things. They are mostly on the Green half of Simic and we'll lean into them here for the cheap one.
  • Ramp. This deck is going to want to be able to cast its things and cannot rely on Gilanra alone as mana ramping. Please note that a lot of the common ramp spells and mana rocks are not in our budget, like Sol Ring or Kodama's Reach ($2.99). Cultivate was recently printed in Standard and has dropped to just $0.99.
  • Creatures Matter. My partners care about any card that cost six or more. But a lot of the big stuff matters support in Green is just creature-based, not big stuff, so we'll lean more into big creatures than big spells, although we'll have some here and there.
  • X Spells. A great cheap way to get some nice big 6+ cards is to run X spells that can be 6+ on 6 mana so you'll have a flexible spell that can be sculpted for the win.

The first thing I always do in a deck like this is mana. I make sure that I am running the right, cheap, non-basic lands that cost very little like Evolving Wilds ($0.15 for the cheapest), Terramorphic Expanse (ditto), Command Tower ($0.49), Simic Growth Chamber ($0.25), Thornwood Falls ($0.15), Temple of Mystery ($0.75), Blighted Woodland ($0.25), Simic Guildgate ($0.25), Myriad Landscape ($0.35), Woodland Stream, ($0.25). I did the same with cheap mana rocks.

And then I added in Dreamstone Hedron and Coveted Jewel. Each has a casting cost of six and will trigger the Moon Kraken for bouncing and Gilanra for cards if you tap her for their mana. Both can tap for 3 mana. The Hedron can be sacrificed for card flow after you have the mana in question or in response to removal. The Jewel is a way to draw three cards on arrival and then net another bounce/card from your leaders. It's a Gilded Lotus on the battlefield, but it encourages folks to swing and try to steal it for cards and mana as well. That keeps the game moving and the card flow going.

Take Possession

I don't know why EDHREC.com's page for our pairing has spells like Beast Within or Reclamation Sage. I get the need for removal in any deck, but why run those when you can just steal it! There are several Confiscate effects out there and we are running every steal effect that costs six or more mana. Steal that tapped Nevinyrral's Disk, Consecrated Sphinx or Maze of Ith. You'll do better with it under your power. I love the split second of Take Possession here as it's basically unanswerable. It's worth the extra mana!

Lay Claim
In Bolas's Clutches

We have some other Confiscates out there as well! Like this set of Blue uncommons. The first gives you cycling in case you need a card or don't have the mana for the Aura. It also steals anything. Steal anything? So will the second card and it's just as good as Confiscate in Commander as the legendary part is meaningless here since you can't run more than one in your deck anyway.

Check out souped-up Control Magics Spirit Away and Yavimaya's Embrace. Each will grab a creature and then pump it +2/+2 and give it an evasive ability - flying or trample. They'll also trigger your leaders and that's pretty good, right? By adding evasion and pump these are game winners. Don't sleep on putting them on your stuff as well. If your leader Brinelin needs the +2 in order to finish off someone this turn with Commander damage, or needs the flying or trample to finish off a foe then use it on him! These are flexible!

Nissa's Renewal
Animist's Awakening

Let's move from mana rocks and removal to ramping. Nissa's Renewal is a triple Rampant Growth and you get seven life for your pleasure. There is nothing not to like here! The Awakening can dig down and send those lands to the battlefield from your library tapped (usually). If you cast this with X = or greater than five then you'll get your triggers and you can bounce and draw. Lands a go go! But these are nothing...

Nylea's Intervention

...compared to this one! You search your library for any lands, including nonbasics like Rogue's Passage and the ones listed above. Drop them over time and you'll get a lot of power from this! You can also use it to destroy a lot of flyers. We have very few flyers in this build naturally, but I did toss in Archetype of Imagination to fly over others so that's a non-combo with the Intervention, but you can just cast it for lands and triggers as you'll have removed the flying problem from your friends.

Let's look at another way we can add in lands: Krosan Tusker and Shefet Monitor! Each of these beaters can cycle for a card and a basic land, making this card advantage. Each can be cast if you don't need the cards and/or lands. And it triggers of your Caller of Wirewood and Moon Kraken respectively. They are essentials in this build. I also tossed in Elvish Aberration, is a six-mana tapper for three Green mana (which triggers your stuff) or a forestcycler dealer's choice.

Altered Ego

Alter that Ego! Its base cost for this Clone effect is four mana, so just two X will net those sweet triggers. I like the card a lot for this deck, as getting a Clone that triggers your stuff is hard to manage in Simic as most Clones are well under six mana. But this one doesn't have to be!

Draw those cards with Treasure Cruise and Mind Spring! The Cruise can draw three cards and it's pricey at eight. I have no cards in my deck that bring anything relevant back so if you need to delve to cast it, feel encouraged to do so as long as you remove sorceries, instants, planeswalkers, lands, artifacts and enchantments! When I thought of X spells, the card that came to my mind was the Spring of the Mind. Just four mana in your X bounces, draws from Gilanra and draws four cards from the sorcery. That's a lot of card drawing! Both are really cheap for the win!

Look at these X creatures! Gadwick, the Wizened is awesome here as he's basically a Mind Spring on legs for one more mana to start the card drawing shenanigans. I love him here! And you can net that cast trigger as you cast those Blue spells. And Genesis Hydra is awesome here as you can dig down into your library X cards and then drop a permanent for free from your library in addition to the Hydra proper. With Brinelin and Gilanra? Let's say you cast it with 5 mana as the X. You can potentially do this.

  1. Bounce a permanent
  2. Draw a card
  3. Make a 5/5 Plant Hydra
  4. Put a 5-drop or fewer from your library to the battlefield.

That's a lot of added value from Genesis Hydra! It's shocking that this isn't on the EDHREC.com page considering how good it is in this deck!


See why these three cards are here? Genesis is here to bring back creatures that were countered or killed. It's very powerful and awesome in here. Why are the other two Incarnations here? As I mentioned above, we don't have many flyers, so Wonder can elevate your team. Brawn can give some of your beaters trample and getting both is great here!

They are super secretly here for another reason though. Can you see it? Let me help you! Brinelin is a 6/8 Commander with no abilities at all. Give him flying and/or trample though and you turn him into a Commander damage tank that can kill rather quickly.

Hooded Hydra
Nimbus Swimmer
Stumpsquall Hydra

Hello X dorks! I liked Genesis Hydra enough to fetch some more for the deck. Nimbus Swimmer is a flying X Spell that can easily be six mana. I like it. The Hooded One can also scale to the need of your battlefield and mana, make triggers, and when it dies you can get a bunch of 1/1 Snake tokens equal to its power so it's the gift that keeps on giving. My favorite in this trinity is Stumpsquall Hydra, though. Check it out! You can put those counters on Brinelin and easily have a two-turn killer with Commander damage. Don't control Brinelin? Just make a big Hydra instead! It's pretty flexible here!

Check out the artifact creature Triskelion! Six mana? Check! Deals damage to stuff? Check! Can trigger your leaders? Check! Wants to be self-bounced to get more counters and damage from Brinelin? Check! It was also missing from the EDHREC.com page. Then I tossed in Keruga, the Macrosage and note that it will draw cards for any permanent with three or more mana, not just creatures. That includes Gilanra, your mana rocks, every enchantment you run even Omen of the Hunt, and most cards you have! Its card draw is massive, and again, is something you'll want to redrop again and again with Brinelin.

Draining Whelk

Want more removal that's six or more? Do I have a Shapeshifter with your name on it! On arrival to the battlefield, you'll exile the chosen target and then you'll copy its power, toughness and creature types. It's a powerful adjunct to your stealing removal as it'll answer indestructible creatures or remove something permanently. We have a counter dork as well! Its cost dropped dramatically after it was reprinted in Time Spiral Remastered - to just a buck. Nice right? I tossed it right on in as it perfectly fits the deck to counter stuff in creatures and 6+ form. Both will love being rebounced by Brinelin! If you have both you can bounce each other back and forth for a lot of card value!

Check out Krosan Drover! Fun, right? It'll make your Moon Kraken cost two less mana and all of your 6-drops two fewer as well! Its nasty in this build and I love it with my X creatures like Genesis Hydra as they'll basically be +2/+2 on arrival, right? Right!

Most of the "big stuff matters" cards were too pricey to add to my budget deck, but notKiora, Behemoth Beckoner! As your big stuff arrives, you'll trigger her. She has tons of loyalty and without using her -1, it can take a while to kill her off. It's mana ramp and can speed up a key card like Brinelin by a turn. It's great here! Mass Manipulation is a lot of Blue mana to get started and has XX, but for eight mana, the same as Brinelin, you can steal two planeswalkers and/or creatures. 10 mana? Three! 12 mana! Four! It scales pretty nicely here, and I like it I this build. A lot. It's also just under a buck, so it's budget friendly.

Nissa, Steward of Elements

Let's look at the other planeswalker in my build, Nissa, Steward of Elements! Its cheapest version is just $1.49 here! That's pretty budget-friendly. Four mana in the X gives you triggers for your partners. It can scry 2 for two loyalty, get a good land or cheaper dork from your library, and later in the game you can drop her and -6 for two 5/5s with flying and haste that can deal 10 damage out of nowhere. She's great here! Don't forget to drop her on turn three on a clear board and then just +2 her bunch of times, which is fine for the cause.

I wanted more counters than Draining Whelk, so I grabbed Counterlash and Overwhelming Intellect. The former can counter and let you cast for free a nonland that shares a card type. Counter a creature? Then drop the fattest dork from your hand for free! Counter a sorcery? Do the same! Counter an artifact? Drop that mana rock! You've got this! The latter card just counters dorks but will net you cards from doing so and both count as six-drops for the deck!

Stolen by the Fae
Curse of the Swine

Let's do one more deep dive and we'll call it! Check out this X spell pair! Stolen by the Fae will bounce something with that X cost and then net you some cool 1/1 flying Faeries. You can bounce any creature with a converted cost four or more (most of the ones you'd want to anyway) and then get a trigger for your Commanders and a bunch of game winning flyers.

And check out Curse of the Swine! This bad boy will exile a ton of stuff and leave them a likely much worse 2/2 Boar. Use this to really exile a lot of stuff at once in a multiplayer game and permanently answer them.

And there we have it!

Wanna see my build?

Budgeting with Brinelin and Gilanra | Commander | Abe Sargent

My target was to come in under $32.77. And I came in at... $32.73! Just four cents fewer!

Cards to consider adding include Alchemist's Refuge, Ancient Tomb, Winding Canyons, Yavimaya Hollow, Mana Reflection, Zendikar Resurgent, The Great Henge, Chord of Calling, Tooth and Nail, Finale of Devastation, Genesis Wave, Spelljack, Hydroid Krasis, Lifeblood Hydra, Karn Liberated, Steelbane Hydra.

What did you think of my deck? Anything you liked in here? Just let me know!


If you enjoyed today's deck, great! Here are the first 56 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. That's this article, you goof!

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