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Budget Commander #20 — Horde Time


Hello, folks, and welcome back to the Commander series that focuses on all things budget. Forget spiraling costs as key cards grow ever pricier! You can build a whole deck for less than the cost of one card in many decks.

Today, I’m going to build another deck in this ongoing series, and the goal is to build a Commander deck that comes in under the budget of the previous deck in the series. The goal is to come under $34.29.

In a previous article’s comments, Adam McWey suggested that I do a Five-Color budget deck. That idea resonated with me, so I decided to run it soon. And that day is today. Thanks, Adam!

Who do I want to lead my deck?

Most five-color legendary creatures are tied to specific tribes, like Slivers or Dragons. But odd tribes aren’t really what I'm looking for—although I could take Karona, False God for any random tribe that I want to assemble.

Karona, False God
Child of Alara

I'm not really feeling Child of Alara. But Cromat? Now there's something intriguing. If I just want a generic five-colored commander to lead my troops for any theme, Cromat is my guy.

Because it was reprinted in Modern Masters (2015 Edition), Horde of Notions is pretty cheap and easy to acquire right now. I could easily build a fun Elemental-themed deck around the Horde. Plus, many cards that work really well with the Horde, such as Ashes of the Fallen, aren't exactly bank-breaking.

What else intrigues me? Reaper King has always been fun, and while it's up for $4 for a near-mint card, many other Scarecrows not named Scarecrone are pretty cheap.

And that's basically it: the King, the Horde, and the Illusion. Two of these require certain tribes and will have certain feels, but Cromat opens me up to anything. I'm cutting the King—I'm not feeling it. Elementals or anything? Plus, the decks would look very different.

Let's do the Elemental deck.

And there we are! We clock in at $34.17, a full 12 cents under the earlier deck!

Let’s take a bit of a look under this Elemental-themed hood. Horde of Notions can bring your best dead Elemental back to play. So it has a bit of a graveyard-induced theme. I was hoping to get a bit more, but cards like Buried Alive are just out of the price range of this deck.

Because this is an Elemental deck, the first place I started to look were at the great, cheap, and valuable Elementals. Creatures like Mulldrifter, Shriekmaw, and Fertilid moved in. Some cheaper Elemental enablers followed, led by Smokebraider and Incandescent Soulstoke. Yay for Elementals!

After looking into that space, I wanted to explore some useful Elementals that also could wind up in your graveyard for Horde fun. Consider Cinder Elemental. You can spend some mana to sacrifice it and Blaze something for some damage and then pull it back out for another spin from the bin. That’s the sort of potential I wanted to unlock here. Its budget-friendly and a great synergy to unlock.

That’s why cards like Deepfire Elemental and Embodiment of Spring are here in the deck. They have solid value and a strong potential of card advantage by using them a few times. Meanwhile, Tornado Elemental can sweep folks, and the nasty Torrent Elemental gives you a nice route to victory by swinging and tapping down opposing blockers.

There are a few other cards to note, such as Grave Sifter. In any deck with a tribal theme, the Grave Sifter is pretty sexy-cool, and since it’s an Elemental, you can play it and return all of those graveyard-bound Elementals to your hand.

Brass Herald
I enjoyed that concept and dipped into a few cards that can help any tribe, such as Brass Herald, Obelisk of Urd, and Harsh Mercy.

I added in some cards that play well with what we are already doing. Soul of the Harvest is both on-theme as an Elemental and a way to draw cards as you bring out more and more creatures (especially from your graveyard). River Kelpie also provides cards every time you activate that Horde of Notions and recur a critter.

Of course, I was able to include Ashes of the Fallen, so you can recur any creature your graveyard, even if it ain’t an Elemental naturally. It works with Grave Sifter and a few other tricks, too. (You could add in Patriarch's Bidding as well, but that’s way out of my price range.)

I pushed my budget a few ways. The most expensive card in this deck is Feldon of the Third Path. I’m sure you can see why—being able to Kiki-Jiki your graveyard for a turn is just nasty, especially when he leaves the creature there for another go next round. I also pushed in Mirror Entity, which has tremendous potential to push the deck’s theme.

I felt it would prove useful to add in some Elemental token-making. Rakka Mar has always been a favorite of mine, and it’s a classically underplayed card by a lot of Magic players out there, so any chance I have to shine the light on Rakka I take. And you’ll see others, from old-school Riptide Replicator through Call the Skybreaker and Hoofprints of the Stag.

Finally, I rounded out the deck with some removal and flexible creatures. In leapt Utter End and Crib Swap along with fun cards like Acidic Slime, Ondu Giant, and Nekrataal.

Tortured Existence
One final note: Check out Tortured Existence. Any time you want, you can spend a black mana to swap a card in your hand for one from your graveyard. You can use this in a bunch of ways for this deck:

  • If you have a creature in your hand you want to pop into play via Horde of Notions, just activate it to make the swap.
  • Swap a creature that you can’t play because you don’t have the right mana yet for something that you can.
  • Swap a later-game creature for an early-game one early on.
  • Swap an early-game creature for a bigger one later on to keep up the pressure.
  • Since many of the creatures in this deck destroy something or to have a useful effect, use the Existence to recur the perfect card to keep churning out Mulldrifter or Ingot Chewer or whatever.

It’s a perfect fit for this deck. Take a look, and see whether there are other decks that this surprisingly common enchantment could fit.

There are a lot of other directions you could mine. Want to fix your mana? You could run stuff like Chromatic Lantern or Prismatic Boon. Take a look at Elementals like Fulminator Mage and Titania, Protector of Argoth, Master of Waves or Aura Shards, Shared Animosity or Cavern of Souls.

See also Flamekin Harbinger, Flamekin Village, Bane of Progress, Maelstrom Wanderer, Marath, Will of the Wild, and Adaptive Automaton.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed our little Five-Color tryst through the Elemental World out there! What did you think?


Now, the Elemental deck works. Yay! But, what would the Cromat deck have looked like? I wonder . . .

So let’s build it. As a super-special Entry 20b, I’m going to create the Cromat deck and do it with a whole new slate of cards (other than mana). Check it out next week!

Appendix of Budget Commander Fun Time!

Here are the first nineteen wallet-friendly decks for your perusal:

Zedruu the Greathearted

  1. Brion Stoutarm came in at $37.71.
  2. 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 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.
  4. Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius is the next in the list, rocking that $36.37 price tag.
  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 Edition) dorks in a $35.29 shell.
  7. Vhati il-Dal runs the table for just $35.17.
  8. With all of the expected draconic lovin’, Bladewing the Risen comes just a few cents fewer at $35.13.
  9. 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.
  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.
  11. Brago, King Eternal is featured with a different artifact theme and a $35.04 budget.
  12. 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. 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 have it in spades!
  16. Alesha, Who Smiles at Profit 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.

The Battle for Zendikar is coming. Order singles, booster packs and more at CoolStuffInc.com today!

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