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Budget Commander 30: Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts

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Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts
For many folks, the Commander format is a great way to express themselves. Who are you? What do you value? Those things can come across in your Commander deck. Luckily, most cards and concepts out there are pretty cheap and tame. You can find and acquire cards on the cheaper side of life for Commander and friends.

Plus, many cheaper cards are also top quality. Sure, there’s a tax for older, powerful reserve list cards, or for the various crossovers that are good in both Commander and other formats. That happens. But there’s enough there to figure it out.

So, I have this series of articles which investigates all things budget and Commander, and each article has to come in under the budget of the previous one. This is the 30th entry in that series, and we are down to a cheap $33.58 for the deck. This price includes the cheapest near mint copy I can find at Coolstuffinc.com, and basic lands are not included. (Other lands are)

$33.58? That’s cheap, right?

So let’s do another!

Did you know I’ve done every two-color combination save for White and Black? Well, it’s about time to rectify that! I wanted to hone in on a cheap version of Orhov Trickery.

Now, our potential leaders is not a big list. Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts; Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim; Teysa, Orzhov Scion; Triad of Fates, Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter; Selenia, Dark Angel; Obzedat, Ghost Council; Karlov of the Ghost Council; Ghost Council of Orzhova; and Daxos the Returned. Oh and Athreos, God of Passage too. Don’t forget about your God.

I have built decks around a few of these in the past, either online for various challenges or in real life. There are a few on here that appeal to me. The topmost is Athreos, God of Passage, but our good God is very expensive. That’s not happening. Since Daxos was just done in Commander, anything I did would be redundant. I just built with Ayli and Selenia in projects elsewhere. I feel like Karlov would play like a poor man’s version of Oloro, Ageless Ascetic and the Councils aren’t really my style. I’m not in a flickering mood today.

So . . .  what does that leave?

One of the Teysas, Vish, or the Triad. Now the Triad is odd, wonky, and suits a flicker theme. Vish Kal is just a tad too pricey, as is the elder Teysa . . . 

So . . . 

Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts it is.

Which is great. Because secretly? I wanted to build around her all along!

33.56

Target - $33.58 – just two cents under!

Scytheclaw
To build our Tesya Project, I wanted to hit a note that’s normally out of my range. Normally when I build a deck, it’s got some underlying mechanic or support structure for our leader. Teysa can’t be blocked by anything due to the Protection from Creatures mechanic she’s sporting. When combined with her Vigilance, she can smash without risking your defense and leaving you open. That’s pretty good. So I did toss in a handful of cards I’d love to equip to Teysa: Mask of Memory, Scytheclaw, and Rogue's Gloves. Those will all work on her, but clearly, that’s not a whole lot. I even added Commander Eesha, Beloved Chaplain, and even Unquestioned Authority for more Protection buddies, but again, that’s not really the point of the deck.

This deck is really a control deck. The Envoy of Ghosts edition of Tesya spells control. She costs 7 mana, she prevent folks from attacking you with any evasive creatures for fear they will lose that creature post-damage, and she’s an unblockable body later in the game. She’s shouting “I am a control Commander!” I wanted to respect that. I also l wanted to demonstrate all of the cheap mass removal available.

Often people think of the expensive iteration of cards out there, which is totally understandable with almost-16000 unique cards in the game. But most of the time you don’t have to worry about the price of cards like Damnation, Wrath of God, and other Black and White variants. But a lot of cards were either printed a ton and are now cheap, or recently and can be found for bulk prices.

Take Planar Cleansing as a good example. It’s a solid Wrath of God variant that clears out other stuff in addition to creatures. If it’s not a land, the Cleansing takes it out. And the Cleansing is also a bulk rare, as it was printed in three recent Core Sets. Meanwhile, the once heavy, powerful, and potent similarly themed Akroma's Vengeance has dropped to record lows after countless reprints. In this build the Cleansing is better (The Cleansing takes out planeswalkers, which we have none of, skipped by the Vengeance).

And that’s not all. Plague Wind is one of the best, most powerful Wrath of God variants of all time since it destroys all of the pretty creatures that you don’t control. But while Plague Wind is at least a $2.50 investment despite numerous printings, the arguably better In Garruk's Wake is bulk city. (The only thing that might make the Plague Wind better is that your foes can regenerate from the Wake and not from the Wind, so if cards like Wrap in Vigor or regenerators are common, then the Wind is better, and that’s it. The Wake is almost always going to be the better choice).

In went cards like End Hostilities and Merciless Eviction. And with these various mass removal spells, you’ll notice that I’m hitting up enchantments, artifacts, and planeswalkers pretty regularly too.

You might not realize it at first, but you aren’t forced to run subpar targeted one-for-one removal due to budgetary concerns (cards you normally run might include Vindicate or Mortify). Return to Dust is a buck. Same with Utter End. So I devote my spell-based pinpoint removal instead on cards like Utter End and Silence the Believers. And while I’m not running a lot of that, I do think there is something to be said for some instant emergency exiling removal.

After building my early removal shell, and equipment for Teysa, I then begin to flex my creature base to add in more removal. Cards like Nekrataal, Bone Shredder, Gilt-Leaf Winnower and Kor Sanctifiers are all cheap and solid adjuncts to my removal suite, and are the first to head in.

You know who would be awesome in this deck? Overseer of the Damned would be. That is a perfect fit. It’s a big beater for later, kills a creature on arrival, and makes a Zombie token each time one of my foes creatures bites it. And when slain by mass removal, it makes a token for each opposing (nontoken) creature that died to the removal. Since those creatures all hit the graveyard at the same time. The Overseer has to be in the deck.

After that, I needed to push my creature concept some more. I need more win-cons. My major ones are Teysa, Scytheclaw, Overseer, and a few other bigger or evasive dorks. That’s not a whole lot, and there are tons of useful large bulk-bodies in these colors. What works here?

Sepulchral Primordial
Actually, you know what? The first cards I want are the Primordials. They are all bulk these days, even Sylvan Primordial in its post-Commander ban world. Sepulchral Primordial plays nicely into the deck by animating creatures you killed with all of those mass removal spells. Drop Phyrexian Rebirth on one turn, and then Sepulchral Primordial the next, make an instant army. This deck wants some powerful late game moments, and this certainly counts. (Plus the 5-power Intimidate body is a nice evasive touch as well) Meanwhile, the Luminate Primordial adds to the various removal effects this deck is already running, so it slides right in. And getting the big beaters off these investments helps as well (even the 4/7 body of the Luminate after you’ve made use of its ability).

I’m sure you can see beat-down roles for creatures like Divinity of Pride and Magister of Worth as well.

I wanted to layer in some protection for my team and my stuff. Typically, folks will run cards like Lightning Greaves to give Shroud or Darksteel Plate to give indestructibility. There’s nothing wrong with that, although those are prohibitively pricey in a deck with this tight of a budget. So I’m gunning for cheap but powerful tricks instead.

Consider Make a Stand. It’s a cheap instant you can drop to keep your team alive. Not only can you use it when someone uses targeted removal on one of your creatures, or as a combat trick to manipulate combat math, but you can also drop it when you cast a mass removal spell to keep your team alive. And if you play the removal spell and the Stand in your first main phase, your team is now bigger for the swing into the naked board about to follow. And it’s a great counter against opposing mass removal as well. It’s a great fit here.

I fear someone will attack, and then will wait to see what happens, before sending in instant removal for Teysa so their stuff won’t be slain. You can rely on Shelter (which also replaces itself) to give Teysa protection from whatever color spell is coming her way. So unless it’s Scour from Existence, you should have a nice answer.

I also tossed in Darksteel Sentinel, another great, flash-able blocker on the ground that survives most mass removal while also poking in at the occasional empty board while remaining ever vigilant. I also layered in stuff like Black Cat and High Priest of Penance for blocking.

Anyways, I wanted to give the deck some bleeding effects since it’s behind some serious defensive creatures. It’s hard for folks to swing against cards like Commander Eesha and Darksteel Sentinel. Plus Teysa’s effect can keep them home. And you know what happens when they don’t swing? They have their creatures ready for blocking. So I felt a few bleeding effects here and there would prove pretty useful.

Treasury Thrull
This seems like a good place for a few extort effects. I went with Thrull Parasite as the cheapest one, so you can drop it and extort a bit. Speaking of Thrulls, I’ve always been pleased with how well Treasury Thrull plays. It plays a lot better than it looks. Also heading in is Pontiff of Blight. (Feel free to toss in Blind Obedience if you like)

In addition to extort, cards like Subversion’s many friends, Agent of Masks, Palace Siege, and Drana's Emissary, are here as well. Subversion is surprisingly a bit on the pricey side these days, but Palace Siege is awesome, cheap, and can flex into either recursion support or killing people.

Speaking of which, I should toss in some other recursion as well. Cards like Obzedat's Aid are bulk rares, and I went with Unburial Rites over Immortal Servitude due to the increase reliability. But if you want the mass-potential, but you could certainly swap that over. Since we are killing our own stuff a lot, it only seems right to have more reanimation. So Fated Return, with the indestructible potential, is a nice touch here as well.

We also need to be cognizant of the fact that our mass removal could be feeding reanimation fun times for our opponents out there. So I want to have a few ways to take out graveyards. Nihil Spellbomb is one way, and Necromancer's Covenant is a massive undertaking that can make an army instantly. I’ve played it in my Commander Cube ever since we started and it’s still there, and has gotten a lot of play. It’s very swingy.

And you know what? That’s pretty much a deck folks! I mean I tossed in obvious support like Syphon Mind and Underworld Connections for card drawing and Congregate and Exsanguinate. I knew this deck would be a mana hog, so I tossed in cards like Armillary Sphere, Burnished Hart, and Wild-Field Scarecrow that grab two lands instead of the normal one you would see with Pilgrim's Eye and similar effects.

There is your cheap, money-light control deck all ready to rock!

So a few cards that almost made the cut included these, with their current prince, in case you are interested.

Unmake — $1.00

Crib Swap — $0.75

Blood Baron of Vizkopa — $3.00

Mass Calcify — $0.50

False Cure — $2.00

Magus of the Disk — $1.50

Obviously, prices can change from when I write this, to publication, to the second you’re reading it. But the point stands. I also like showing you actual prices here, so you can see, in case you need some inspiration.

I hope you enjoyed the deck! Was there anything in there that resonated with you or inspired you? I hope so!

Get your budget on!

APPENDIX

Here are the first 29 (ish) Happy Time Budget Decks for your budget needs:

  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.


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