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Budget Commander #17 — Cheaplord Kolaghan


I figured it was time to build a budget deck around a commander from Dragons of Tarkir. You might think the terms budget and recently-released set are mutually exclusive. After all, this tends to be when prices are at their highest. So this is a great time to build a budget deck and show it off.

Of the legendary creatures from Dragons of Tarkir, which are the cheapest right now?

I think it will be really interesting to build a budget deck that’s hamstrung by the price of the commander—not something I’ve yet done. The previous budget commander, Alesha, Who Smiles at Death from two weeks ago, was $34.62. What happens if I use a commander that costs a pretty penny?

Here’s the thing: I really want to build around a Dragonlord. But Dragonlord Ojutai is too expensive to do even with this challenge, and I’ve done a Dragonlord Silumgar deck already. Meanwhile, I created a budget Selesnya deck just two articles ago and a budget Surrak Dragonclaw deck three decks ago. If I built a Dragonlord Dromoka or Dragonlord Atarka deck, they will look a lot like the others.

That leaves one place left. Say hello to Dragonlord Kolaghan, a $4.99 card right now. That means the rest of my deck has to clock in at $28.62 or less. How can we do that?

By being smart with our money. Let’s take a looksee.

So I had to beat $34.62 over at CoolStuffInc.com. Did I do it? I did! It’s $34.47.

Dragonlord Kolaghan
There are a few wonky things we need to consider in a Dragonlord Kolaghan shell. First of all, the ability to punish someone by shooting him or her for 10 damage when he or she plays a creature or Planeswalker spell with the same name as a card in his or her graveyard is virtually impossible in a singleton format. You might as well ignore that ability.

While your good Elder Dragon has flying and haste, you also give haste to everything else. That means your deck can become rather pacey. That’s the way that I built this deck—it’s all about the red zone and getting off some decently quick beats.

At first, I decided to grab some fun midrange cards that would do some damage when attacking. Fellow Dragons of Tarkir entrants Swift Warkite and Boltwing Marauder leapt into this project. I even tossed in the early Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury. With these sorts of creatures heading in, my deck began to take form in my mind. I wanted these to be the top end of the curve with smaller stuff underneath.

If you read my Top 10 Cards from Dragons of Tarkir article, you might recall that I was so impressed with Boltwing Marauder that it made my honorable mentions, hitting at what was essentially twelfth place. This is a great chance to shake it off. Since everything has haste when our good commander is in play, pumping things on arrival just seemed to be an obvious place to begin to spread this deck.

In fact, I decided to delve into that metric more fully in a variety of ways. In leapt Ogre Battledriver, In the Web of War, and Ambuscade Shaman. Until I looked through the spoiler a fourth time, I never even noticed Ambuscade Shaman that much, but it works perfectly with Dragonlord Kolaghan and his always-hasted team!

Purphoros, God of the Forge
Other similar cards began to come to mind, such as Orc Sureshot. In fact, as I began to see this deck clearly in my mind, I felt that Purphoros, God of the Forge would be a perfect choice! But there’s no way that a budget deck like this could afford his price tag right? Right?


I just tossed it in (and then I moved to add in lands and essentials early to make sure I had enough budget for them) and then slid back to the cheap support. Many of the great cards that fit this deck so nicely are really cheap.

Some are bulk-value rares, such as Warstorm Surge. The Surge is obviously good here, right?

And we have cheap Equipment such as Ronin Warclub and Sai of the Shinobi that equip for free on arrival and pump your newly minted creature for its haste-driven attack via Dragonlord Kolaghan’s haste. Even the Demonspine Whip works extremely well for very little cost.

Creatures that perfectly fit, such as Batterhorn, are extremely budget-friendly. You can toss in Beetleback Chief or Inner-Flame Acolyte for pennies on the dollar.

How does this deck come back from a mass-removal spell? Well, I do like unearth for it since we’ll gain more triggers from Purphoros and friends. A card like Shambling Remains can be a strong contender when swinging. I really enjoy Scourge Devil. Not only can it unearth for another attack, but it pumps the power of everything on arrival. It’s a perfect support card for the deck. Another is Torrent of Souls. Yes, we want some reanimation as another tool against mass removal. We check that box. But if you spend 1 red mana when you play your Torrent, everything gains haste and +2/+0 for the turn. Again, that just suits the deck perfectly. And these sorts of cards fit our niche without forcing us to spend much money.

Palace Siege
From Palace Siege giving you a dead creature back every turn to Fearsome Awakening or Rescue from the Underworld, we have some fun ways to fight back against that invariable removal. And since we are in Rakdos colors, we can find a lot of ways to kill stuff for cheap. A red-zone deck like this one will enjoy bodies like Flametongue Kavu and Nekrataal. Beyond that, we can dig up a lot of nice ways to deal with annoying creatures. Barter in Blood is a nice way to force a double-sacrifice since your creatures are probably smaller or easier to lose. You can toss out X spells like Rolling Thunder to kill multiple creatures or Fanning the Flames with buyback. From Fissure to Wrecking Ball, these colors can combine to kill a lot of fun stuff.

With such an attack-oriented theme, you can see the value of Berserkers' Onslaught. Double strike for the win! In fact, Prophetic Flamespeaker should be serious money here. The double strike and trample should prove to be great friends with the hasting and pumping the deck loves to do!

Don’t forget other ways to do fun things. Onslaught will tap a creature each time you cast one of your own. It’s awesome to play a creature, tap someone’s blocker, and then swing into that player with the creature you just played due to haste! See also: Impact Tremors.

Since the casting costs of cards in this deck didn’t spiral up and out of control, I didn’t need to worry about too many mana accelerants. I added a few mana rocks, along with Burnished Hart and Armillary Sphere.

Swift Warkite
And it continues. You can accelerate something fun with Generator Servant (and recur it via Swift Warkite, Palace Siege, and friends).

One fun card I want to highlight is Bladewing's Thrall. The deck has five Dragons in it, so there’s a good chance you have a 3/3 flyer (especially since your commander is one of them!). Plus, after it invariably dies, it’ll come back each time you drop Dragonlord Kolaghan again! That’s a pretty good deal I’d think. Shoot, you might like that little trick enough to use Corpse Connoisseur to pull it out.

And there are a lot of other ways to look. You could add in Nantuko Shade or Mardu Strike Leader, Hellhole Rats or Siege-Gang Commander. You can find a spot for Commune with Lava or Rakdos's Return. Have some money? Why not toss in Ashenmoor Liege and Fulminator Mage?

I hope you enjoyed this budget build, with two high-priced cards that made the deck, but a lot of really nice cheaper options to offset those. Your Elder Dragon lord awaits!

See you next week,

Abe Sargent

Appendix of Budget Commander Fun!

Here are the first bajillion (or sixteen) budget decks for your enjoyment:

Alesha, Who Smiles at Death

  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!
  15. Tolsimir Wolfblood? $34.73? Selesnya aggro? We have it in spades!
  16. Alesha, Who Smiles at Profit is ready to bring some serious recursion, beats, and a modest budget to boot at $34.62.

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