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Budget Commander #50: Let's Do Something Crazy

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Hello folks! I hope you are having a great day.

Sigh. It's sad but true.

Cavern of Souls
Wheel of Fortune

There are Commander cards out there that can cost an entire day's pay to purchase. In some of these cases, like Cavern of Souls, it's because they are good in other formats as well. The Cavern is a staple in many tournament formats as well as kitchen table tribal play. Even just making your leader un-counterable outside of a tribal theme is strong in many Commander builds. It's even good in Mono-colored builds. Meanwhile, some cards are really just EDH staples, but they are such high staples that they have a big ol' price tag attached to them. Wheel of Fortune is a good example of that latter type of card. It's presence on the Reserve List precludes more from being made, and it's hard to replace for that cost and power in another form.

And this is where my Budget Commander series steps in. There are many EDH players out there who don't have that much cash for a single card for a single deck. I get that. But there are at least ten cheap options for most pricier staples.

The goal of my Budget Commander series is to challenge myself to come under the budget of the previous build. As I was closing on the 50th edition of my series, I wanted to finish out, and I did three articles in subsequent weeks, so we can knock them out, and get to fifty articles in the series.

My current target from #49 is $32.51. I need to come in under that.

Now, my typical EDH budget build will run some variant of this:

Ertai, the Corrupted
Grenzo, Dungeon Warden

1. Step One - Choose a cheap Commander on the secondary market that I can build around. Examples of these include Ertai, the Corrupted and Grenzo, Dungeon Warden. Both of these have easy ways to build them that suggest themselves. My goal is to grab a cheap enough leader, so I will have a maximum amount of space in my budget for key cards.

Golgari Signet
Terramorphic Expanse

2. Step Two - Flesh out the mana. The next thing I always do is to make sure my mana works. I learned this after my first few budget options ran out of money before I had really invested some space on mana needs. Now I'll grab cheap lands instead, such as Terramorphic Expanse at a quarter or each of the Guildgates. Cheap mana rocks follow, and based on my build, some cheap land fetchers or dorks like Wild-Field Scarecrow (and the used-to-be-cheap Burnished Hart).

Sakura-Tribe Elder
Skullclamp

3. Step Three - Add in the essentials. Every deck has a core concept that I want to unlock. That's where I dig next. What has to be in my deck? For example, in my Kaseto, Orochi Archmage budget build, the deck was built around the Snake tribal theme. I had to have Sakura-Tribe Elder in my build. It was a Snake in my colors that's also useful. It's a utility card that's risen in price, but it's still an essential in a Kaseto deck. Similarly, my Nahiri, the Lithomancer's budget equipment build had to have a Skullclamp in it, so I invested part of my budget therein. Sometimes my essentials wind up being pretty cheap, and thus my budget after this step can be different.

Deathsprout
Peregrination

4. Step Four - Finally, flesh my deck out with cheap utility cards like removal and creatures. I use the rest of my budget for utility and helpers to make my deck work. This is where I dip into removal spells, counters, card drawing, early creatures that keep the cards flowing and more. Some cards are much cheaper on the secondary market than other options, and I lean into them more. These include Peregrination which is just one more mana than Cultivate or Kodama's Reach, but gives you scry. (It's 4 for $0.80 here at CSI, so I count it as twenty cents in my builds). I also love to dig into recently released sets that have cheap essentials that you can really use, like Deathsprout in last week's budget build. (For $0.25)

That' my normal four step process. Identify a cheap and build-able leader, create a mana base for it, then add in essentials, and flesh out with utility cards, all with an eye toward my budget.

But now....

Let's do something crazy; let's shake this bad boy up!

What if, instead of digging into a cheap leader and maximizing my budget, what if I instead chose an expensive rare?

How would that change my build? How would I be able to maximize it while clocking in under $32.51?

Let's find out!

I reviewed every legendary creature at Coolstuffinc.com that cost between $7.50 and $10.00. That way I could see and be inspired by some more expensive options.

Here are the ten that leapt out at me:

Phelddagrif - Fun, old school, and a classic. What's not to love?

Rienne, Angel of Rebirth - I've wanted to do a Rienne deck for a while now. Is this the right time?

Najeela, the Blade-Blossom - Warriors unite for the cause! The mana base may be wonky though when that much money is spent in the main feature piece.

Gaddock Teeg - Interesting and fun.

Geist of Saint Traft - Who would ever have thought that Geist of Saint Traft would be in the conversation as a leader for my budget build?

God-Eternal Kefnet - How much fun would that be?

Dragonlord Atarka - My 2nd favorite Dragonlord by far!

Kess, Dissident Mage - What would a budget take on this popular leader look like?

Maelstrom Wanderer - Ditto

The Gitrog Monster - Ditto x2

All of those have fun value at the top of the budget, with fun build-around-me options.

I am not doing popular leaders in my BC50, so no to the last three. Let's also slide by Phelddagrif for the same reason. I will do Rienne later, but I want her price to stabilize. GaddockTeeg is the least appealing to me.

That leaves Najeela, Geist, Kefnet, and Atarka.

I've done original Kefnet, and Mono-Blue many times, so let's pull out the next version. I've done budget oriented Gruul ramp and Dragons, and Atarka may just play into that. Geist? Feels too been-there-done-that too me.

It's time to embrace my inner Warrior.

Najeela, the Blade-Blossom

It's Najeela. One of the reasons I like Najeela is that she's on the low side of this budget range at $7.99. I also like the mana challenge that goes with her, and many of the Warriors that work with her will be fine.

Let's slow roll my deck. What I normally do is take about some key cards, and then give you the list and total budget. But for today's deck, let's go step by step, and focus on the prices instead, so you can see the deck assemble at the

The Mana Infrastructure

The first thing I need is the ability to reliably cast Najeela and activate her ability, as well. Mana matters a lot in a build like this.

These cards are each a quarter:

These cards are $0.20:

These are listed for 4 for $0.50, so I always count them as a round $0.15 each in my budget when I use one.

Because Najeela is a Red based card, I wanted to add in the Red Guildgates. For that reason, I also added in some of the cheaper three-mana lands from Shards of Alara and Khans ofTarkir.

Now, with these various dorks, land fetching, mana rocks and lands, we are down $4.85. Which brings my budget for mana and Najeela to $12.84 thus far.

Mana challenge? Finished!

The Warriors

Now, the parts of Najeela that you care about. It's a Warrior deck, so I need my Warriors!

The first place I dip into are those that are the most important. These are my Warrior "lords" that care about Warriors. They will give my team some vital internal Warrior synergies.

This is a key leader for $1.49:

$0.99 for this one too:

These lords are bulk rares and are $0.49 each

A random $0.35

These Lords are a quarter each:

These are $0.20 each:

This is just $0.15 each.

Now these cards include ways of drawing cards, exiling stuff from graveyards, giving your team haste and such. The total for this section is $7.06.

Right now, my deck's cost is $19.90. And that's not bad!

But now? Let's add in other Warriors that my deck really wants.

Bulk rare, $0.49:

$0.35:

Quarters:

Twenty cents:

Fifteen cents:

I'm sure you can see why many of the Warriors were added! Some of them have cool abilities like destroying something on arrival, or grabbing a land. Others give the deck a stronger battlefield presence, and cards like Garna, the Bloodflame. We also added in a number of ways to increase the resiliency of my creatures with stuff like Alesha and Timely Hordemate that can be used to bring back something that found an untimely death. I also included a few Warrior token making spells as well.

$9.37 was the total invested here. Which brings me to $29.27, and we have 55 cards, so we are getting close. We have $3.24 left

What next?

Key Utilities

Now that my Warrior loving is over, what's left?

0.75 cents:

Bulk Rare:

Quarters:

20 cents:

15 Cents:

These cards include some fun attack triggers, removal, and two other Relentless Assault triggers as well. I also like the Kaleidostone and Golem as other ways to activate my Najeela for another punch when my army has grow powerfully powerful.

These cards cost $3.33 cents which puts me at $32.60 cents. That's ten cents too many. This happens regularly, and I have to go back and change something or pull something. I am 10 ten cents over $32.50, which is what I need to hit to come under last week's budget Now I could just say that $32.60 is close enough and call it a deck. No one is going to doubt my deck's serious commitment to budgets. But that is not what this deck series is about, is it? Nope!

The best way for me to manage a 10 cent over-budget deck, is to either pull a 15 cent card, which drops me to $32.45 or I could swap a quarter card for a 15 cent one and that'd drop me to one cent fewer too.

But instead I'll just pull Aurora Champion. That leaves me with 44 dorks and 64 non-lands.

$32.45!

Here's my deck for you:

Warriors of the World, Unite! | Commander | Abe Sargent


And there you go!

You may want to run things like God-Eternal Oketra, Secure the Wastes, Bramblewood Paragon, Combat Celebrant, Waves of Aggression, Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs, Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist, Neheb, the Eternal, Sedris, the Traitor King, Aggravated Assault, Surrak Dragonclaw, Shared Animosity, Coastal Piracy, Herald's Horn, Path of Ancestry, as well as cheaper options like Tahngarth, Talruum Hero and Den Protector is a buck; Jazal Goldmane is 75 cents as is Ruric Thar, the Unbowed and Samut, Voice of Dissent.

What did you think of my 50th build? Inspired by anything here? Did I miss something? Just let me know and have a great day!

Appendix

If you enjoyed today's Five Color Warrior Madness deck, great! Here are the first 49 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. That's this article dummy. It's not here yet!