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Budget Commander #59 - Shaile and Embrose


Hello folks! I hope that you are having an awesome day today! Today is the eighth (and final) article I am doing around leaders from Strixhaven and Commander 2021. Sad, I know. We'll do something special, we'll combine my Budget Commander series with this one and load up both for everyone to follow.

What decks have I already done from the two releases?

  • First, I built my deck around the Elder Dragon Galazeth Prismari who founded the Prismari School! I added in a ton of artifacts as well as some big spells to cast more easily with his ability to tap any artifact for mana for instants and sorceries. I hope you enjoy it!
  • Second, I built a fun deck around Killian, Ink Duelist and fellow Strixhaven card Reflective Golem and the copying tandem they'll make! I then created a bunch of self-targeting instants and sorceries which felt much like an Orzhov version of a Feather, the Redeemed list. Do you like it?
  • Third, I built a deck around another Elder Dragon called Tanazir Quandrix. Around this Simic colored fun force I added in cards that went big with counters for him to double like Hydras, Fractals, and other friends, and then I went wide with support dorks to use his latter ability to change things into 4/4s. Want to check it out? It's here!
  • Fourthly, I built a deck around Extus, Oriq Overlord // Awaken the Blood Avatar. In this deck I created a graveyard based synergy to use Extus's magecraft trigger to Raise Dead a dork as well as enough sorceries and instants to trigger said Extus. It's pretty fun, as you can see here!
  • Fifthly, I built around the popular Osgir, the Reconstructor who has 1045 decks over at EDHREC.com and is the most popular leader from the mega-set. I built an artifacts matter deck around cards with awesome enters-the-battlefield triggers and artifacts loving things like Goblin Welder and Armillary Sphere and new cards from the Commander deck that features him. Enjoy it here!
  • Sixthly, I created a deck around Dina, Soul Steeper, an uncommon from Strixhaven and did one of each color at the school! I created a Pest-matters theme with lifegain triggers, sacrifice engines for my Pests, and recurring life gain effects like Essence Warden.
  • Seventh, I wrote a deck around Commander 2021 force of mono-Black nature Fain, the Broker, and I leaned heavily into Mono-Black Ramp with cards like Cabal Coffers and enough creatures, artifacts, and dorks with +1/+1 counters to sacrifice. It's a lot of mono-Black fun! You can see it here.

What is my Budget Commander series?

Great question! In this series I take budgets seriously. I've seen a lot of "Budget' Commander lists worth triple digits like 250, 200 or 150 or even 100. That? For a single deck? That's way out of the budget for most folks! My first deck in this set was south of $38 and every deck is worth less than a previous budget (save for once, which you can read below in an Appendix with the first 58 decks). Basic lands don't count in the queue as everyone has them or will give them away for free.

In my last deck, we came in at $32.73 so I have to come in under that amount! Please note that prices shift from when I wrote the article (often a week before publication) to when the article is edited to when the article is published to when it is read. Therefore, the prices may have shifted a bit, but the core idea of a cheap deck that won't set you back remains!

What cheap leader am I building around today?

Shaile, Dean of Radiance // Embrose, Dean of Shadow

Look at this modal pair. Shaile is a two-mana flying vigilance 1/1 which can be dropped early but will be hard to deal Commander damage with, but a reliable two-mana Commander that can come down multiple times via Commander tax is pretty good and flying is great evasion and vigilance is better on a flyer; it's also good on a creature that taps as you can swing and then tap. In this case, Shaile will tap to toss a +1/+1 counter on each creature that entered the battlefield this turn. It will work for opposing dorks, so someone can flash out a creature to get a counter as well, which I am fine with as I'd prefer more creatures netting counters to our Commander being killed. Attack, then tap in the second phase after you've brought others to the party.

Now look at Embrose. Four mana for a nice 4/4 beater is very on curve, but Embrose lacks evasion, unlike Shaile. You can tap Embrose which can toss a +1/+1 counter on another dork and then shoots said dork for two damage. This will kill an opposing creature with a X/1 body as they'll be 1+x/2 after the counter, which is pretty good. As your +1/+1 enhanced dorks die you'll draw cards, which is pretty good for the cause and will keep up the card flow nicely. You can shoot and kill one of your own X/1s with the tap ability and then draw a card, which is smooth. Note that neither tap ability costs mana or other prices, they are free to use and abuse. They are a bulk rare at $0.49 here at Coolstuffinc.com.

What directions do I want to mine?

  • Creatures with +1/+1 Counters on Them. The first place I want to lean into are dorks that already have +1/+1 counters on them that we can net card draw from their death by Embrose and pump them with Shaile.
  • +1/+1 Counters Matter. One of the Khans of Tarkir sets had a clan (Abzan) with a +1/+1 counters matter theme and it was Black, White, and Green. I'll use the Black and White two thirds of that clan to power out my deck.
  • Tokens. Shaile is best when going wide since it will make a bunch of counters in one tap. Going wide works with a token making shell, which Orzhov already has partners for so I will lean into that space.
  • Creatures Matter. Because we want to load up our creatures with counters and see them die for cards, I will lean into creatures for my removal and card flow where possible.
  • Support. Mana-making, removal, and card draw will be added to my list as well.
  • Sacrifices. I'd also want to add in a handful of sacrifice engines to trigger Embrose.
  • Proliferate. If it's cheap and it proliferates and it's not Green, Blue or Red, then it's likely to head right on in!

Ready? Let's get started!

Abzan Battle Priest
Abzan Falconer

These are among the two cards I had in mind when talking about +1/+1 counter support in the three colors. I like them both and they have outlast, so you can give them a counter from something other than Shaile's tapping. I prefer the Falconer as it gives flying to the team to the Battle Priest but don't sleep on the heavy life gained from lifelink either. That can matter!

Mer-Ek Nightblade
Hagra Constrictor

Nightblade is the best outlast creature in the build as deathtouch is amazing in this sort of build. When you are going wide you cannot compete with ramp decks that go up with a big nasty dork with something like trample or flying or both. If all your en-countered dorks have deathtouch then you can trade a small token or dork like a Pilgrim's Eye with a counter on it for that nasty beater that your foe has. Also, if Embrose has a counter on him and deathtouch, then his tap ability will kill any dork he can target. There are some non-outlast lords in these colors as well, like the Constrictor. It arrives to the party with counters and gives our creatures menace, which is yet another evasive option that you can use to swing away. Control it at the same time as Abzan Falconer! Nasty!

Nikara, Lair Scavenger
Alharu, Solemn Ritualist

Too bad this legendary partnering duo cannot partner with each other, am I right? You could build the deck around them rather than Shaile and Embrose. I love them here!

Nikara is a 2/2 for 3 mana with menace, so he's basically a Wind Drake. Then as dorks leave the battlefield as they are exiled, killed, tucked or bounced, you'll draw that card and lose that life if they had a counter on them. Which we'll want to do pretty regularly. I love how he'll work even when the common exiling works as an answer to death triggers.

Alharu is a fun uncommon from Commander Legends which costs 5 mana for a 3/3 and brings +1/+1 counters on up to two other dorks on arrival to the battlefield so five total power and toughness for 5 mana. As non-tokens dies if they had a +1/+1 counter on them then you make a flying 1/1 Spirit which is pretty good in this deck that wants counters and going wide to put them on! Welcome to the deck you two!

Tenured Inkcaster

Did you see the Inkcaster in the Strixhaven spoilers? Have you played with it in Limited or other formats? Let's look at this goth-looking Warlock of the Vampire variety. 5 mana for a 2/2 is a bit high for even the casual of Commander cards, but it brings with it and it brings a counter for a uncountered dork and doesn't say "other" so you can self-load. As your countered dorks swing (which is hopefully a lot in this going wide brew), then you drain a life from your foes. That's a lot of draining! He's basically a +1/+1 swinging lord that is a new take on the game winning combos of cards like Zulaport Cutthroat and Blood Artist. Welcome to the deck Inkcaster!

Orzhov Advokist

We're building an Orzhov deck, right? (Well, I guess you might want to consider it a Silverquill deck but that will never replace the Orzhov term for me). We might as well add in some Orzhov-themed cards. How about this one? At your upkeep, each player (including you) can load up a dork with a pair of +1/+1 counters! Most will want to do so for their Commander at least. You certainly will! Those who do? They won't be able to attack you or your stuff. It's a reliable clock of counterage to spread the love around.

Skyclave Shadowcat
Carrion Feeder
Novice Dissector

When it came time to add in some backup sacrifice effects to trigger Embrose I wanted to have these three that will turn sacrifices into counters. My favorite is the Shadowcat. You can spend 2 mana and sacrifice a dork to put a counter on it which you can do instantly as a combat trick. You sacrifice a soon-to-be-exiled dork to the graveyard instead by sacrificing it and netting a death trigger like Embrose...and Skyclave Shadowcat as well! If a key dork is about to die and you cannot save it then why not get at least one card from it? Good stuff!

The Feeder is a classic one-drop that can hit the battlefield early and turn sacrifices into counters for itself. The Dissector is another sacrifice into counters, and you can put them on other dorks, which is pretty good for the fun times. But you can only do it as a sorcery, so there are not any abilities to respond to things like the Shadowcat one. Good triad!

And look at Bloodcrazed Paladin! It has flash, which is pretty nifty. It costs just 2 mana for a 1/1 body and when it arrives you can load it up with a bunch of +1/+1 counters equal to the amount of creatures that died this turn. Block an attacker. Make a giant dork to swing. Use it on your turn after you sacrifice a few dorks for cards from Embrose and his Cat. Good card, right?

Am I running any planeswalkers in this budget build?

Basri Ket
Basri, Devoted Paladin

How about two 'walkers! Both Basris are $2.49 and are mutually the biggest cards in my budget. Take a look at Ket. As you can see, he's a cheap 3 mana 'walker, which is good for impacting the board early. You can +1 to load up a dork with a counter and net it indestructible for the turn. Great + ability on curve here. Then you can -2 him to go wide with the 1/1 Soldier making and then help go wide even more! Great for this build too, right?

Now check out the Devoted Paladin. This is the card in his Planeswalker Deck. It's more expensive on the curve as a result, being 6 mana. You can also +1 him to load up a dork with a counter and this time that creature gets vigilance for the turn. Then you can -1 him to load up counters on all your attackers which can be done four times with his initial loyalty and that's pretty good for the party. The Devoted Paladin is better than the Ket iteration, but a worse cost, but hey, budgetary players cannot be overly choosey, right?

Basri's Aegis
Basri's Lieutenant
Basri's Solidarity

So, where does this take me? How about another card from the Basri Planeswalker Deck? You can cast this sorcery and load up a pair of creatures you control with a +1/+1 counter each. Then you can tutor your library (or graveyard if he's there) for Basri, Devoted Paladin and cast it later to get your best planeswalker down and out.

While searching for Basri cards I also found the fun duo of the Lieutenant and Solidarity. Both slide right on in! I love the Human Knight as it's a solid 3/4 for 4 mana with vigilance and a decent evasive ability that can self-counter itself or another on arrival to the party. As stuff with +1/+1 counters dies, you make a 2/2 Knight (note that it includes tokens that die). Nice death trigger for those that are encountered. The sorcery is a Shaile tap that loads up all your dorks at once. Nice right? Good job Basri!

Blot Out the Sky and Martial Coup are your emergency token makers and removal options. They are both pretty keen for this build as a tap from Shaile after their arrival can really make them punch above their weight! I like them a lot a lot. They are clearly related! Blot Out the Sky is pretty cheap for a recent mythic, and you can get them for just a little money here at coolstuffinc.com and Martial Coup has been reprinted so often it's a bulk rare.

Cauldron Haze
Kithkin Spellduster
Cauldron of Souls

Have you forgotten that persist is a thing as well? Check out this trio of cards! How does it work here? Simple! You have a dork with persist. When it dies it comes back with a -1/-1 counter on it. Then you use Shaile or another card to put a counter on it and they'll kill each other. Now when it dies, you'll get it back again. The Haze is a useful answer to removal or a great way to reload a team and keep on keeping on. The Spellduster can be used to sacrifice for enchantment removal repeatedly. The Cauldron can be tapped for bringing back everything!

Animation Module
Retribution of the Ancients

I have a fun pair of one-drops for your consideration. The Module will turn your counter giving from Shaile and Friends into a 1/1 that rhymes with Mervo the Servo. You have to spend mana and I think that's fine. You also can give another loyalty counter to Basri or +1/+1 counter to someone with it. Check out the Retribution! You can turn your big counter making into creature removal. It's repeatable and a nasty combat trick.

Now let's look at some lands.

High Market
Crawling Barrens
Opal Palace

Check out these non-basics! The first one is a backup sacrifice engine that can net you those sweet sweet cards or other death triggers. Despite how prolific it is in Commander (it's in 24,003 decks over at EDHREC.com), its cheapest version is just 99 cents, which is pretty cheap for a high profile rare staple. The middle card is a great mana sink and a fun way to make a man land that can add in some cool counters of the +1/+1 persuasion. If someone targets the land for removal, turn it into a creature to get that Embrose trigger. The third card is awesome as will add counters to your Commander that will help death triggers or give it effects like lifelink and menace and deathtouch with the right friends out.

Let's turn to one more card!

Felidar Retreat

$1.99. Pretty good price for such a flexible card here! As you drop those sweet lands you get either a 2/2 dork or a counter on everything you control. Go wide! Go tall! Go West, Young Man! Go East!

And there we are! Want to see the decklist?

Shaile and Embrose | Commander | Abe Sargent

What other cards appear to my mind? Skullclamp? Karn's Bastion? Liliana, Dreadhorde General? Sorin, Lord of Innistrad? Sword of Truth and Justice? Contagion Engine? Illusionist's Bracers? Lots of other stuff!

Target? $32.73

Result? $32.68 - 5 cents less!

Awesome! What did you think of my budget build? Did I miss anything or grab something that resonates with you? Just let me know!


If you enjoyed today's deck, great! Here are the first 57 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. I built a big spells matter and ramp Simic deck around partners from Commander Legends Brinelin, the Moon Kraken and Gilanra, Caller of Wirewood. It features X spells like Hydras and big spells a go go! The budget? Just $32.73! Check it out here.
  59. That's this article you silly goof!

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