Strixhaven Limited Set Review with MTG Nerd Girl
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Budget Bladewing (Budget Commander #8)


Glimpse the Unthinkable
Magic finance is in an odd place right now. It seems that some marquee cards in tournaments, such as fetch lands, Liliana of the Veil, Dark Confidant, and Snapcaster Mage, are jumping in value heads over heels. We have some very expensive tournament cards right now. Even stuff like Mana Confluence is heavily priced before its release. It appears that we have more highly priced “essentials” than holes in Swiss cheese.

And that’s not all! We have zounds of Commander and other casual favorites with heftier price tags, too, such as Doubling Season, Glimpse the Unthinkable, Kor Haven, Kaalia of the Vast, and Volrath's Stronghold. Between the high-priced tournament all-stars and the casual heavies, things can feel a little cramped.

But outside of these massive price increases, other cards have very little value. You can unearth a metric ton of amazing cards for your next casual deck without spending a heart-wrenching amount of cash.

That’s where my Budget Commander series steps in. Each time I hit this thing up, my goal is to come in under the budget of the previous entry. Right now, we’re in the mid-30s, cash-wise. So you could build this deck today for just $35-ish over on CoolStuffInc.com

Brimaz, King of Oreskos
The great flipside of all of these financial upticks on some cards is that others drop massively. When you think about it, it just makes financial sense. Not every card in Born of the Gods can be worth Brimaz, King of Oreskos money or else people would spend a lot more than the price of admission to pick up packs. If even every mythic were at least $20, people would crack the numbers, run the one-in-eight shot of opening a mythic, and buy packs en masse and sell the cards for profit.

So, for some cards to be worth a lot, many aren’t. That’s the nature of the game right now, and that introduces the opportunity for really cheap decks and collections that have a lot of heft to them.

Today, I decided to build a quick deck around Bladewing the Risen. I thought it would be fun to challenge the budget with Dragons! Some great Dragon enablers are just a bit too pricey for a project like this (such as Dragonspeaker Shaman or Crucible of Fire).

Plus, a good Bladewing deck will feel a little different than your typical draconic love fest. It will probably have some reanimation, some Dragon lovin’ and some sacrifice/death/token creature stuff (for the devouring of many Dragons and friends). So the deck may end up looking different than your prototypical Dragon deck both because of budget and because of need.

So let’s get started!

The previous article, with my Vhati il-Dal deck, came in at $35.17. As long as this deck is cheaper, it worked. Guess what. It’s $35.13, making it just $0.04 cheaper! (Quick aside: These prices are true as of the writing of this article. Prices regularly change, and they might shift from the writing to the publication to when you might read it.)

Kilnmouth Dragon
Again, we have several major themes in our Rakdos-colored deck, but being all Dragony is the most important, so let’s look at it first. Some of the oldest Dragon-enabling cards are actually quite cheap. Consider Imperial Hellkite. It’s just $0.50 near mint, and you can play it morphed and unmorph it to tutor for a Dragon. The Legions copy of Kilnmouth Dragon is a full fifty cents cheaper than the others and gives the deck needed amplify and removal. Zirilan of the Claw is awesome (and a surprisingly cheap $1.49 near mint—I figured it would be a lot more since the older legendary creatures that can make useful commanders fetch higher price tags). We have Dragonstorm! Draconic love is engaged.

Which is great because we also have a lot of Dragons. The great thing about Dragons in a Bladewing the Risen deck is that they fill two purposes. First, they have all of the cool tribal lovin’. Second, they are the big, expensive stuff that we can reanimate.

What Dragons made the cut in our budget-friendly version of a Dragon deck? Flameblast Dragon is great because it can Blaze someone (or something if you want the card advantage of shooting stuff up like a boss). Both Steel Hellkite and Hoard-Smelter Dragon will aid the team by destroying things that we don’t like. Even Mordant Dragon can play that role if needed. We have some added removal options, which suits us fine.

Next, we have a load of fun devour Dragons (and Tar Fiend). We can make creatures big! And that leads me into a minor token-making theme. Creatures such as Pawn of Ulamog, Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder, and Siege-Gang Commander will make dorks for us. Then, we can sacrifice guys for the devour costs and make a huge Tar Fiend or Predator Dragon. Smashing face ensues!

Hammer of Purphoros
I sprinkled a few of these hither and thither. I particularly enjoy Hammer of Purphoros making a Golem when needed in addition to just giving us its best Fervor impression. Since we had a lot of death, I also included a few sacrifice and death triggers as well (such as the aforementioned Pawn of Ulamog), Falkenrath Noble, Dark Prophecy, and Butcher of Malakir.

I mentioned earlier that a deck like this wants some reanimation as well. I included several ways to help that. First of all, we have Fated Return and Profane Command running around. Dread Return seems really strong because you can sacrifice a few dorks to bring back the big bad Dragon. Note that Bladewing's Thrall does not need you to control Bladewing to work, but it makes a fun sacrifice option for things like devour or Dread Return.

Outside of cards that will bring back the dead, consider things like Buried Alive and Corpse Connoisseur. Both will bring our best Dragon to the graveyard for Bladewing and company to recur. However, a card like Tortured Existence is just downright naughty here. It’ll drop a Dragon down just before playing Bladewing or a Thrall into the ’yard to bring back something else. You can trade a creature drawn for the best dead one for the situation. So, if you draw Steel Wall later on, just turn it into Nekrataal or Endrek Sahr.

I love the two Dragon Auras. In addition to being massively in-flavor for this deck, they lurk in the graveyard, ready to come out at a moment’s notice. They will enhance your Dragons with no commitment to mana. If the Dragon dies, no worries—you can always pull these Auras out again later. You want to know who wants fear? Who wants haste? Bladewing the Risen does! Get in some extra hits with commander damage (plus a cheaper Firebreathing activation and/or +1/+0 with the Dragon Shadow—you could easily smash face out of nowhere with 10 damage from Bladewing with both in the graveyard—if you also brought back a nasty Dragon and the Thrall. That was a great turn).

Vampiric Dragon
Take a look, and you’ll find a lot of synergetic hooks in here. Only a handful of times did I include the cheap option rather than the best option: Expunge, Jayemdae Tome, Brass Herald, Phyrexian Gargantua. I’d love for there to instead be Rune-Scarred Demon and Utvara Hellkite, among others.

I’d love to fix the mana base and add in better lands, but that’s usually the only major sacrifice I make for my budget projects.

This deck has a lot of built in resiliency against mass removal. But it truly hates graveyard elimination. You might want to consider a way to tuck cards back into your library, such as Thran Foundry or Junktroller. Other potential cards to consider include Crucible of Fire, Scourge of Valkas, Dragonspeaker Shaman, Vampiric Dragon, Preyseizer Dragon, Victimize, Taurean Mauler, or Sarkhan the Mad. Perhaps also Dragon Roost! Maybe additional death triggers would work, such as those of Blood Artist or Vicious Shadows.

Anyway, that’s my budget take on Dragons in general and Bladewing specifically. What did you think? Should I have considered other cards? Is there something you’d like to hear more about that I didn’t really mention?

As always, thanks for reading!

See you next week,

Abe Sargent


Here are the first seven budget decks:

  1. Brion Stoutarm came in at $37.71 – http://www.gatheringmagic.com/commander-deck-tech-brion-stoutarmabesargent-112212-budget-commander-with-brion/
  2. Ghave, Guru of Spores, with a budget of $36.48, is a lot of fun! http://www.gatheringmagic.com/abe-sargent-edh-commander-06122013-ghave-budget-of-spores/
  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. http://www.gatheringmagic.com/abe-sargent-08072013-the-talrand-challenge/
  4. Niv-Mizzet, Dracogeniushttp://www.gatheringmagic.com/abe-sargent-edh-decklist-10092013-budget-commander-with-niv-mizzet/—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. http://www.gatheringmagic.com/abe-sargent-11132013-budget-commander-with-princess-lucrezia-and-her-riven/
  6. Roon of the Hidden Realm demonstrates one of the Commander (2013 Edition) dorks in a $35.29 shell. http://www.gatheringmagic.com/abesargent-112713-roon-of-the-budget-realm/
  7. Vhati il-Dal runs the table for just $35, 17. http://www.gatheringmagic.com/abesargent-030314-budget-commander-7-very-very-vhati/

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