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Budget Commander 20b: Cromat


Last week, we built a budget deck around the five-color stylings of Horde of Notions. Afterward, I wondered what the deck would have looked like had I used Cromat as my leader. That has led to today’s deck.

Today, we have a Very Special Deck for you. Normally, each entry in this series has to come in under the budget of the previous entry. Since today’s deck is basically deck 20b, I’m not aiming to come under the Horde deck, but instead under the number-nineteen deck. I also have one further challenge:

No card, other than mana-making or smoothing, can be duplicated from the first deck to the second. The Cromat deck has to use a new slate of cards. Other than cards like Terramorphic Expanse or Darksteel Ingot, the decks are totally different. That’ll make things interesting.

With all of that caveating aside let’s take a look at the deck!

This deck clocks in at $34.20, just a little shy of the $34.29 rate set by Zedruu.

There are countless ways to build a Cromat deck because you can literally play any legal card in Commander—you don’t have to worry about the color-identity rule in any fashion. That means you are freed to unlock really good cards that aren’t played in Commander much.

Bringer of the Black Dawn
For example, I love the Bringers of the Dawn cycle from Fifth Dawn (such as Bringer of the Blue Dawn). All five cards in the cycle are perfectly in theme for their colors (from blue drawing cards to green making a creature tokens). But because they have an alternate cost that uses each color of mana, you technically can’t play Bringer of the Green Dawn in a green deck unless it’s all five colors. Here, we can unlock those cards.

There are multiple five-color cards that I like to run—we had a bit of a five-color theme in Modern Masters (2015 Edition) with cards like Etched Monstrosity in it. You can grab it, All Suns' Dawn, and Etched Oracle—cards that really shine in this sort of deck. I also found some space for Obelisk of Alara. But unfortunately, I wasn’t able to toss in every fun five-color card. Cards like Maelstrom Nexus, Maelstrom Archangel, and Fist of Suns are out of our price range. (Since it’s cheaper, Genju of the Realm was a nice fit.) Shoot, I couldn’t even run most of the Bringers!

I forced my budget to run Legacy Weapon—or else this isn’t a five-colored deck! Exiling anything that’s out? It’s just too good not to shove in!

I was thinking about playing the entire Honden cycle. That’d be fun! I could also run the Sanctuary cycle from Apocalypse, like Necra Sanctuary and Ceta Sanctuary. Controlling Cromat automatically meets the conditions for the entire cycle. But I felt that having two cycles of these enchantments was a bit too limiting, so I decided to stick with just the Hondens.

Ordered Migration
The domain mechanic was a great space to mine as well. Cards like Manaforce Mace are downright nasty in a five-colored deck. In headed Allied Strategies. I’ve often extolled the secret value of Ordered Migration, and making four or five flying tokens for 5 mana is an extremely good deal, and it breaks games open early and often. I’ve won many a game with a horde of flying Birds. (I just wish I could have fit Collective Restraint into this deck! Someone needs to reprint that thing to reset its price.)

None of the budget decks in my series, not even the previous five-colored deck, have paid as much attention to mana as this one. I sacrificed a huge amount of my budget for a Vivid land, the Panorama cycle, fetch lands, the cheap five-colored lands, and Fellwar Stone, Pilgrim's Eye, Peregrination, and I didn’t stop there! In leapt Alloy Myr and Kaleidostone, Armillary Sphere and Sylvok Explorer, and Urborg Elf and Skyshroud Elf. I have Farseek and Krosan Tusker. This deck really pushes mana and land-fetching.

And part of that reason is that I am able to unlock cheap beaters in a variety of colors. As a general rule, gold creatures are cheaper than mono-colored creatures, and thus, they slide into my deck quite easily. Take Sagu Mauler or Surrak Dragonclaw as great examples of powerful creatures that have very little market value. So my attention to mana has freed me to really grab these great creatures that are my winning conditions.

Who doesn’t want to pound face with a Sagu Mauler or a horde of Bird tokens? You can smash face with Spiritmonger or Pristine Skywise. Haven’t you ever wanted to blast an opponent with Zhur-Taa Ancient? Get ready!

We can also flex into the deck some useful multicolored spells that are also cheap. Cards such as Crackling Doom slide into this deck and bring with them a lot of power. Jund Charm can sweep the board of small fries, exile a graveyard, or pump a creature with +1/+1 tokens randomly. It’s pretty solid. And if you don’t like Jund Charm the most, you can toss in literally any other Charm, from Sultai Charm and Abzan Charm to Naya Charm and Dromar's Charm.

And you can find loads of other five-color cards like Chromanticore or Conflux.

There are a few fun cards in this deck that work really well with Cromat. Civic Saber gives Cromat +5/+0 for a cheap equip cost. And it also works really well with stuff like Surrak and Madrush Cyclops. It’s pretty sexy here. In a similar manner, Knight of New Alara amps up Cromat to a sick ten-out-of-ten level while also amping the other gold stuff.

Spirit of Resistance is just sweet. If I control a permanent of each color, I can’t be damaged by anything. It doesn’t even have to be a creature, so Genju of the Realm works just as well as Cromat. Shutting down all damage is a really interesting way to push our theme.

The last way to flesh out my deck was to add in some scry. I wanted to check out the top of my deck early or late to find the right land to give me Cromat or to push something I can’t play to the bottom of my deck. Crystal Ball was a great inclusion, and I also slid in Reaper of the Wilds, which is a pretty useful two-colored card of some size that’s cheap (thus playing well with Civic Saber and Knight). Attack with Prognostic Sphinx or drop Llanowar Empath.

Then, after that, I made sure to run the right removal. I used Acidic Slime last week, so Reclamation Sage was the body of choice this time around. We have Flametongue Kavu, Silumgar's Command, and Orim's Thunder. We’re okay here.

Ready // Willing
I wanted Ready // Willing because it’s arguably the most powerful combat trick of all time if you fuse it. And we don’t have to fuse it—we can just use it to untap my team and make them indestructible or to give them that powerful deathtouch-plus-lifelink combo. Imagine attacking me with your flying horde and seeing me drop Ready // Willing, untapping my flying Bird tokens, which now have deathtouch and lifelink and indestructible, and blocking and killing your horde. It’s just nasty fun.

And that’s pretty much a Cromat deck!

There’s a lot of space to mine. You could go for other gold beaters or midrange creatures, such as Iridescent Angel, Narset, Enlightened Master, and such. I love Wargate here. Don’t forget a land like Crystal Quarry, and I also think Citanul Flute would do great work. Don’t have the money for a Birds of Paradise or Sylvan Caryatid? Why not grab Utopia Tree or even Honored Hierarch? The suggestions list here is ultimately silly; any card in Magic is recommended!

I could run another budget five-colored deck for the next ten weeks and still have good decks with different themes. Next week, I could have some five-colored, pro-artifact build that runs the pro-artifact cards from every nongreen color (Goblin Welder, Master of Etherium, Disciple of the Vault, Cranial Plating, Sanctum Gargoyletc, etc.) and then green mana-fixing. You could run a five-colored control build, a five-color, pro-enchantment build, or a five-colored aggro build. Do whatever you want, and there are always some powerful, cheap options for your decks. So I hoped that you liked this two-set of decks for your budgetary needs!

Appendix of Budget Commander Fun Time!

Here are the first twenty budget-happy decks for your perusement:

Horde of Notions

  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.
  20. A. I have a notion that a five-colored 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. B. Five color doesn’t have to end with tribes. There are so many options that this five-colored Cromat deck with a bit of a smashy board presence is ready to introduce itself to the red zone—and to winning. It also is just $34.20.

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