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Budget Commander #9 – Lu Xun for the Win

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If you love Commander as many enthusiasts do, you probably already have a few decks lying around. Hold on; let me grab my deck box. I have eight decks built right now. If you have a few decks, what happens when you go to build another? Are you running out of expensive deck stock and typical Commander fare such as Sol Ring, Lightning Greaves, Swords to Plowshares, Eternal Witness, Solemn Simulacrum, or Sword of Fire and Ice?

Bladewing the Risen
That’s where this budget series steps in. If you are looking for a way to build your next Commander deck on the cheap for whatever reason, this is a great place to check out some cheap ideas. I really want to push the budget concept, so instead of the typical budget articles that may clock in well over $75 or $100, each article in this series must clock in under the budget of the previous one. The last article saw a solid budget Dragon deck built around Bladewing the Risen clock in at $35.13. So this project has to do that better.

I was looking over some fun options for this project, and I spied Lu Xun, Scholar General, who is a guy I’ve always liked. Shoot, I’ve owned an original version of him in Abe’s Deck of Happiness and Joy since before Portal cards were made legal in Vintage. I have played with him for more than a decade in my signature deck, so I know him very well.

That’s one of the reasons I really enjoyed the reprinting of him in the recent Commander (2013 Edition) product. Now, everyone can get a black-bordered version that’s a lot of fun. In honor of Lu Xun, I felt that he would make an interesting choice for my ninth Budget Commander challenge. Let’s take a look!

After building the deck, it came at $35.07. (Note that all budget prices are for near-mint versions of cards at CoolStuffInc.com and are good as of the writing of this article. Prices often shift a bit from the writing of this to its publication—and from then until you read it. It might be more or less.)

Quietus Spike
The goal of this deck was to run hard-to-block creatures that would combine with fun triggers. What’s the best? It’s probably Quietus Spike, which, when equipped to Lu Xun or Triton Shorestalker, will quickly cut down opposing life totals.

You can see stuff like Bident of Thassa (and its original, Coastal Piracy) to draw a ton of cards (along with Lu Xun’s draw trigger). I also dipped into a few cipher cards such as Last Thoughts and Stolen Identity to trigger again and again off Lu Xun (or someone else) hammering face.

After the Spike, I looked at some other fun Equipment-based triggers. Specter's Shroud will be suitable for discarding. The Mask of Memory pushes card-draw even further. I also figured that Fireshrieker would be a clever little boy in here, generating double the triggers with Lu Xun and friends.

Some of the hard-to-block stuff was downright unblockable. We have Latch Seeker, Aetherling, and Triton Shorestalker, among others. I also dipped into shadow for useful abilities (Looter il-Kor and Thalakos Seer) or just downright beating (Infiltrator il-Kor). But the biggest slash of the cash was for Sun Quan, Lord of Wu, who clocks in at $5 (for the promo version). I’ve never forced in a card that expensive before into my budget decks, but he is an absolute powerhouse. See also: Deepchannel Mentor.

Scroll Thief
I also tossed in some dorks that have abilities to trigger when they smash, just like Lu Xu. The first were for cards, so in went a ton of variants of Thieving Magpie and Scroll Thief. After that, I looked at stuff such as ninjutsu, tempo, exiling, and stealing. Ninjustu, in particular, appeared to play really well with this deck—we have a lot of cheap, hard-to-block creatures that can be bounced easily for smashing with a Ninja. I wish I had the money for Sakashima's Student!

I felt that the deck wanted a tempo element. I thought about some of the tempo cipher stuff, but I instead looked at things like Sleep and Inundate to help force through nasty attacks later on, as our creatures become out-powered. I think Scourge of Fleets should do an admirable job as a recent entry from Journey into Nyx at bouncing a lot of stuff to someone’s hand while being pertinent in the red zone.

My Lu Xun deck has a ton of card-draw in it, but I ran out of money for a Reliquary Tower or perhaps a Venser's Journal. However, I was still sensitive to the need for ways to restock the deck, so I included Reminisce and Thran Foundry to shuffle my graveyard right back into the deck. They can also be used to fight against graveyard abuse if needed. But that’s not my preference.

Ring of Evos Isle
Another key is Nim Deathmantle—it can fight against removal. A deck that is overly reliant on creatures, such as this one, is sensitive to removal, hence the Deathmantle. We can protect our guys with the Ring of Evos Isle and Whispersilk Cloak. Key guys, like Lu Xun, will shrug off targeted removal, and you can imagine the growth over a few turns that Lu Xun will love from the Ring.

After that, I added in a few basic and fun ways of dealing with stuff that you don’t like. That includes counters, card-stealing, and a bit more tempo (Sigil of Sleep). Because of split second, Take Possession is among the true powers of card-stealing in multiplayer, and it’s cheap since it was reprinted as an uncommon in Modern Masters. You can marry it to Cultural Exchange, Hypnotic Siren, and the like.

The best thing about this deck is that you can easily marry it to a variety of other cards you own. For example, although they were out of my budget, in could swing unblockable beaters like Deep-Sea Kraken or Tidal Kraken or even smaller stuff like Invisible Stalker. You could add in other horsemanship guys or shadow guys (like Thalakos Seer or Thalakos Deceiver).

You could also include a bunch of Equipment that will trigger when it smashes face—I’m thinking the Swords of X and Y cycle, such as Sword of Feast and Famine or Sword of Light and Shadow. I also think a fun card to consider would be Spellbinder; how would that deck look different?

Cyclonic Rift
You could easily add in cards such as Lightning Greaves, Sol Ring, Reliquary Tower, Terrain Generator, and Solemn Simulacrum. I think Cyclonic Rift has an obvious home here, too, as does Vedalken Shackles.

Upgrade counters to Cryptic Command or Desertion or find other creatures like Somnophore that push the tempo-based elements. I think Equilibrium would be an interesting consideration, especially if you added in things like Escape Artist.

As you can see, the world is your oyster with Lu Xun as your commander. From Charisma to Curiosity and from Umezawa's Jitte to Duplicant, you can go in a lot of fun ways. Enjoy it!

See you next week,

Abe Sargent

Appendix

Brion Stoutarm
Here are the first eight budget decks:


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