A Scout Is Thrifty
As a former member of the Boy Scouts, and an Eagle Scout to boot, I still retain a bunch of the basic tenants and precepts of the organization. One of those is that a scout is thrifty. Thrifty is an old-fashioned word that’s not used a lot anymore, but the basic concept is easy enough. Don’t waste. Use resources, including money, wisely. Be thrifty.
Setting aside the core meta question of whether Magic could ever really be called “thrifty,” there certainly is an element of strong un-thriftiness to it. We all get it. Take a Plateau. It’s an expensive red- and white-producing land. The difference in play value between a Plateau and a Stone Quarry is pretty minor, particularly at the kitchen table. Unless you have a serious need for a comes-into-play untapped land or a land that synergizes with the basic land types of Plains and Mountain, it’s not that much different in play. And yet, a near-mint Plateau from Revised Edition is worth, roughly, around two hundred eighty near-mint Stone Quarries. Unless it’s two hundred eighty times as good, that cash usually isn’t worth it.
That’s where the Budget Commander series pops in. It finds thrifty cards and options that work, cheaply and effectively, to build a strong deck. The goal of each deck is to come in under the budget of the previous one, comparing near mint cards over at CoolStuffInc.com. This is an interesting exercise on budgets, price, and thriftiness.
I was looking for unique people to build a Budget Commander deck around, and one struck me as pretty cool, so let’s take a look at your favorite Giant Shaman.
Meandering for Your Love ? Commander | Abe Sargent
- Commander (0)
- Creatures (31)
- 1 Birchlore Rangers
- 1 Cinder Elemental
- 1 Citanul Hierophants
- 1 Civic Wayfinder
- 1 Elvish Archdruid
- 1 Farhaven Elf
- 1 Flameblast Dragon
- 1 Frontier Guide
- 1 Genesis Hydra
- 1 Gorilla Shaman
- 1 Hydra Broodmaster
- 1 Krosan Tusker
- 1 Lifeblood Hydra
- 1 Llanowar Elves
- 1 Nullmage Shepherd
- 1 Quirion Elves
- 1 Quirion Ranger
- 1 Realm Seekers
- 1 Reclamation Sage
- 1 Seeker of Skybreak
- 1 Silklash Spider
- 1 Sylvan Ranger
- 1 Timberwatch Elf
- 1 Wellwisher
- 1 Wirewood Herald
- 1 Palladium Myr
- 1 Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen
- 1 Jiwari, the Earth Aflame
- 1 Mina and Denn, Wildborn
- 1 Polukranos, World Eater
- 1 Radha, Heir to Keld
- Spells (30)
- 1 Comet Storm
- 1 Commune with Lava
- 1 Dissension in the Ranks
- 1 Starstorm
- 1 Street Spasm
- 1 Vitalize
- 1 Clan Defiance
- 1 Creeping Renaissance
- 1 Decimate
- 1 Enshrined Memories
- 1 Fanning the Flames
- 1 Far Wanderings
- 1 Hull Breach
- 1 Peregrination
- 1 Red Sun's Zenith
- 1 Restock
- 1 Rolling Thunder
- 1 Savage Twister
- 1 See the Unwritten
- 1 Shamanic Revelation
- 1 Elvish Guidance
- 1 Fires of Yavimaya
- 1 Astral Cornucopia
- 1 Everflowing Chalice
- 1 Gruul Signet
- 1 Magewright's Stone
- 1 Riptide Replicator
- 1 Skeleton Key
- 1 Ventifact Bottle
- 1 Mirari
Our target was $33.69, so anything lower than that works. What did we hit? $33.63!
So what am I doing here?
The goal with Rosheen Meanderer is to run enough cards with X in their costs or abilities that Rosheen becomes a powerful mana accelerant. I felt I could go in a lot of directions. You could run Hydra.dec, for example, and just toss in a bunch of Hydras and other creatures with X in their costs. In these decks, Rosheen is used to give a permanent +4/+4 bonus to each new Hydra as it’s played, which is not an insignificant bonus. That sort of bonus can let your Hydras or Endless One become a lot bigger than normal, smashing through defenders with greater ease. And amping up your Hydras seems to be a very Gruul thing to do, so it’s certainly on theme.
Another obvious direction it to mine the X damage direction, with cards like Comet Storm and Rolling Thunder being used to rain additional thunder and lightning on your foes from above. Rosheen adds 4 damage to each Blaze or Fireball you point at people. And that’s certainly a fun and interesting thing for Gruul to do as well.
I decided to hew closer to that theme.
Are you familiar with the old Fire Elves or Elf-Ball decks? They were a competitive archetype of R/G deck that ran mana powerhouses like Priest of Titania and Gaea's Cradle alongside X removal spells such as Fireball or Kaervek's Torch. With mana Elves, and X burn, it’s a fun archetype that led to numerous other concepts of a similar nature down through the years.
I feel that Rosheen Meanderer is a great leader for a Fire Elves concept. So as I was building my deck, I realized I could slide over to the Elf-Ball theme. I had originally had support cards in here like Sakura-Tribe Elder and Acidic Slime, and I replaced them with Elf versions such as Farhaven Elf and Reclamation Sage. And pretty soon, I had a strong Elf theme in the deck.
Every budget deck of mine has a place to push the budget in ways that work for that deck. Most support cards for a deck cost less than a buck. A card like Far Wanderings, Peregrination, or Rolling Thunder costs little cash. So with a $30-plus budget, I often push in key cards that take up a lot of my budget. Some cards I’ve used in the past include a key Planeswalker or card like Skullclamp.
This time, I chose to focus on stuff with Elf loving. The perfect card is Elvish Archdruid. Yes, it’s $2.50 near mint over at CoolStuffInc.com. But it’s vital to this deck. And it’s cheaper than Priest of Titania by $0.50. Since it pumps Elves as well as producing mana from them, it does double-duty here. And again, we have cards like Wellwisher, Timberwatch Elf, and Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen that help the whole tribe.
One card that really does a lot here is Riptide Replicator. When you play it, use Rosheen to help you reach as high of an X effect to it as possible. Name Elf and whatever color strikes your fancy. Then, start churning out those big Elves for 4 simple mana a tap.
I made sure most of my mana creatures were all Elves of various sorts so I could increase our Elf count. Cards like Whisperer of the Wilds were disinvited in lieu of cards like Quirion Elves or the classic Llanowar Elves. Check out Elvish Guidance!
After delving into the obligatory slate of burn with a few Hydras as well, I slid into some other X territory.
From Gorilla Shaman breaking your artificial toys to Flameblast Dragon swinging and Blaze-ing away at something, we have a lot of solid usages of Xs that flesh out our good Giant Shaman leader. She will tap her way to infusing your Cinder Elemental when it sacrifices itself or to fuel up the monstrous on Polukranos.
There’s one cool toy I’d like to peer into: Jiwari, the Earth Aflame. I think there might be a third way to make a Rosheen deck—now that I look at the cards available—that might be interesting. Make her invulnerable to damage, and then use her to fuel giant removal effects like Earthquake, Magmaquake, Hurricane, Savage Twister, and Starstorm. Then, win with Helix Pinnacle. That’d be awesome! So I toss in Jiwari as a great channel force or to tap and Blaze a ground creature. Silklash Spider does good work with the same concepts, and you could toss in cards like Arashi, the Sky Asunder if you like this.
Let’s take a look at a card from the past called Ventifact Bottle. I can remember a lot of folks using this card to tap and store some serious mana in order to devastate an X spell the next turn. You tap and put a bunch of mana into the Bottle at the end of Steve’s turn, and then untap, gain that mana for free on your main phase, and have a bunch of mana waiting for you. There’s basically that 1-mana tax for the effect, and otherwise, you can store your leftover mana. So you can tap Rosheen for the X in the Bottle’s cost and layer in any extra mana you have sitting over as well. And the mana on the far end doesn’t have the restriction of only being X-able. And you can fuel a big effect like Rolling Thunder or Lifeblood Hydra. (If you like the idea of saving Rosheen’s mana and using it in another form, check out Ice Cauldron.) (Yes, that Ice Cauldron. And now I’ve reached my quota for “Random X Card from the Past” for this article!)
We’re a little low on pure card-draw, so where I could, I tossed in a few card-draw engines. I chose Lifeblood Hydra over others due of its ability to draw you cards post-death. You can also draw cards with Shamanic Revelation or Enshrined Memories, and you can gain card advantage with Restock, Creeping Renaissance, and Genesis Hydra.
Since a good number of our creatures are cheaper mana Elves and utility stuff, I liked tossing in Skeleton Key so you can gain the occasional hit with skulk slipping past most defenses. The looting ability that follows may not be card advantage per se, but it’s still valuable card quality.
I felt this was a solid shell for a few bigger Elves, like Realm Seekers and Mina and Denn, Wildborn. Since I didn’t have a lot of Hydras, I also liked effects like See the Unwritten for the deck, and you could explore this space mightily with cards like Summoning Trap, Defense of the Heart, Tooth and Nail, and such.
There were a few cards I didn’t value as highly as my Elves, so I wasn’t able to find financial space for them. Kessig Wolf Run is $2 and just outside my budget. Shoot, Thousand-Year Elixir has become a tad too pricey these days. I love beaters like Apocalypse Hydra among others. Cards like Steel Hellktie or Verdeloth the Ancient might play very well in a Rosheen shell. If you are running the burn route hard, Wort, the Raidmother would give you more Fork powers without using any additional mana, unlike the Mirari already in the deck.
From mana-making like New Frontiers, Cryptolith Rite, and Animist's Awakening to burn like Avacyn's Judgment and Bonfire of the Damned, we have a lot of options. Xenagos, the Reveler seems to be a great ’Walker for this deck, and Domri Rade wouldn’t be out of place.
There’re just so many angles to mine wit this deck!
I hope you enjoyed our look at all thing Rosheen. Do you have a Rosheen deck? How does it play? Are there any ideas in here that spark your own deck ideas?
Here are the first twenty-six (twenty-seven, actually) budget-happy decks for your budget-happy days:
- Brion Stoutarm came in at $37.71.
- Ghave, Guru of Spores, with a budget of $36.48, is a lot of fun!
- 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.
- Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius is the next in the list, rocking that $36.37 price tag.
- Princess Lucrezia and Riven Turnbull feature in this fun, throwback, Commander deck that is just $35.68.
- Roon of the Hidden Realm demonstrates one of the Commander (2013 Edition) dorks in a $35.29 shell.
- Vhati il-Dal runs the table for just $35.17.
- With all of the expected draconic lovin’, Bladewing the Risen comes just a few cents fewer at $35.13.
- 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.
- 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.
- Brago, King Eternal is featured with a different artifact theme and a $35.04 budget.
- 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). Wedges are cool. So is Teneb, the Harvester! $34.94 gets us a deck that wins and has fun.
- Who likes Surrak Dragonclaw? Who likes making a face-smashing deck for just $34.83? This guy!
- Tolsimir Wolfblood? $34.73? Selesnya aggro? We have it in spades!
- Alesha, Who Smiles at Profit is ready to bring some serious recursion, beats, and a modest budget to boot at $34.62.
- Want to Dragon up your deck? Why not roll with Dragonlord Kolaghan for $34.47.
- Who’s thumping those mono-green beats with the Yeva, Nature's Herald stylings? Who clocks in at just $34.39? This article!
- 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.
- A. I have a notion that a five-colored 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!
- B. 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 smashy board presence is ready to introduce itself to the red zone—and to winning. It also is just $34.20.
- 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.
- With a budget of just $33.98, this Daxos of Meletis deck is pretty cool without being too expensive. Check it out!
- We have a Snake-flavored Kaseto, Orochi Archmage deck with a lot of fun, Snakes, and budget goodness at $33.91.
- Nahiri, the Lithomancer is calling for an Equipment- and Solider-focused mono-white build that’s just $33.85.
- Who’s Born to be Wild? Mina and Denn are! Check out this Gruul smash deck with lands and fun for just $33.75.
- 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
- 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.