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Budget Commander 37: Grenzo, Dungeon Warden

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Stone Calendar
Hello folks and welcome to another edition of the Commander series that looks at all things budget and cheap. Commander finance has just taken an odd step. Huge buyouts for cards on the Reserve List are hitting, and cards that really are best in the casual world are spiking. This includes stuff like Stone Calendar, Singing Tree, and other cards that spiked a while ago and kept it. Cards like Tawnos's Coffin and Power Artifact are worth tons of cash, and it’s easy to see how picking up just a single one of those cards, much else a dual land or something, would be rough post-price spike. Luckily, most of Commander can be had cheaply, especially with another release of Commander decks, including some cool reprints in Commander 2017.

Price spikes are something we’ve had to learn to deal with, as the supply of cards cannot be reprinted ever again. It’s like Magic is two things. The cards on the Reserve List are like a game that has been permanently discontinued for more than 20 years. The other cards are still being played in a supported game today. Two separate games, but with interchangeable game pieces. (Take The Dark as a good example. Cards that are good, and have never been reprinted, but on the Reserve List, like Amnesia, are good. Compare them to cards that are either equal or lesser play value, but Reserved, that have $10+ prices and you’ll see what is happening. Two games.)

The old stuff cannot ever be replaced or reprinted. Now, for the most part, the buyouts have appeared to be financially motivated, so you can likely pick up more copies post-buyout, just at higher prices. The motivation is to find cards you think are too low and the market can sustain a higher piece, and then artificially readjust the market permanently.

Stone Calendar is a good, and funny, example. Back in May, I called it a surprisingly cheap casual card for just $3 near mint. I picked up a playset the next month, and now they have since spiked to $20 for a copy. Even if that price fades somewhat, it’s never going to be in single digits again, right?

Stone Calendar is a card with a limited stockpile of cards.

But what if the buyout wasn’t motivated by finances? What if I just wanted to have a large collection of cards? I once had a Hornet Cannon collection of roughly 150 Hornet Cannons. I’m not the only, nor the first, to do that. Why not buy a bunch of Stone Calendars to collect, with the intention of never returning them to the market?

Or even more. What if I went out and bought up all of the copies of a particular card like Stone Calendar that was once cheap, and then burned them on YouTube? There is nothing that could be done. Nothing stops me from buying every copy ever sold or will be sold, and removing most of the copies of that card from the game, just for fun or spite. And even the mild collection is an issue too, especially for casual cards, where the many extra copies can sit in kitchen table decks with no intent to remove them. I mean if you offered me $100 for a Reserve List card in Abe’s Deck of Happiness and Joy, I’m not likely motivated to ever sell.

But while the price of the buyouts may loom over Commander finance in some quarters, let’s not forget that we can get our Commander on all day and night quite cheaply and ably.

And that is where the Budget Commander series steps in. Each iteration of this series must be cheaper than the previous one as of the writing and publication of the article.

I wanted to dig deep into Grenzo, Dungeon Warden territory and I found myself really enjoying the synergy and combo possibilities on the cheap here. So, take a look at the rest, and then we’ll consider the deck choices proper.

Grenzo, Dungeon Warden

The goal is to come under $33.15. How did I do?

Warden of the Deep Combo ? Commander | Abe Sargent


And there we are — $33.12!

And that’s not too shabby!

Junktroller
The deck intentionally is running some useful synergies with Grenzo, Dungeon Warden. For example, you are going to be putting a lot of cards into your graveyard, so you’ll likely want to restock your library at times. Cards like Junktroller are going to really help restock the good stuff back, including putting a creature back for reanimation fun times with Grenzo again.

Another set of synergy is scry. Any scry effect will put cards on the bottom of your library, should you have something to Grenzo out, so any scry that was any good at all I tossed in here. Magma Jet? Read the Bones? Viscera Seer? Seer's Lantern? You get the idea.

You will tend to want some smaller stuff in order to ensure that even an early-game Grenzo can hit something to bring back. Take Bone Shredder as a good example. A 2/2 Grenzo can activate and bring it into play, killing something outright. Oh, and then let it die to echo, and restock it with Junktroller to keep on going. The same is true of cards like Stingscourger and Ghitu Slinger.

And more cheap cards with powerful effects when they stack up joined the table. Dualcaster Mage? Liliana's Specter? Zealous Conscripts? Phyrexian Rager? Murderous Redcap? Priest of the Blood Rite? I’m sure you can see the obvious synergies here too.

With such a stocked graveyard, I wanted to push cards like flashback, reanimation, and even effects like Crypt of Agadeem that care about a stocked graveyard. Consider the threshold enabled Gloomdrifter as a simple example:

Gloomdrifter

Assuming you have threshold, you can drop this and shrink all non-Black stuff by -2/-2 for the turn, which can be quite a surprise. And your stuff either survives (as it is Black), or is okay dying and coming back again after another Grenzo activation.

I loaded this deck with synergies all over. Want to get something to the graveyard? How about Vampiric Rites or Carnage Altar or even Ashnod's Altar? But those are not the only clever additions to the deck . . . 

How about:

Impact Tremors
Shadows of the Past

Both Shadows of the Past and Impact Tremors play into the same space of your disposable stuff. You can load up on Grenzo activations. One sacrifice to an Ashnod's Altar is enough mana for another Grenzo activation. You get some scrying, you get some damage to everyone, and you are ensuring you can activate Shadows for serious damage.

But that’s not my favorite synergy:

Flameshadow Conjuring

That is! Take another look. Flameshadow Conjuring works when Grenzo does. Anytime you animate something with Grenzo, you can spend a simple r to make a 2nd copy with haste that is exiled at the beginning of the next end step. That means you get another Ghitu Slinger trigger, another Impact Tremors trigger, another Hammerheim Deadeye and so forth. And then you get another body to swing with or sacrifice for an effect. The power here is intense.

Now did you notice I also built an infinite combo into the deck?

Let’s take a look!

Consider the following.

Have at the bottom of your library either Priest of Gix or Priest of Urabrask.

Activate your leader, and put in into your graveyard. It will always count as a small enough creature, so send it to the battlefield and make three mana on its arrival.

Sacrifice it to Viscera Seer to scry 1.

Activate your Epitaph Golem (or similar effect elsewhere) and send it back to the bottom of your library.

You have spent 4 generic mana to make 3 black or red mana, and to scry 1. But that is without any additional support.

But, what if you add Heartstone to the combo? Now the activations of Grenzo and the Epitaph Golem are just 1, so now you make a mana each time.

But what if you sacrifice to Ashnod's Altar instead? Now you have 5 mana from an investment of 4, so you are making 1 mana each iteration.

But what if you have out Flameshadow Conjuring instead of those two? You spend 5 mana for 6.

But what if you get Workhorse instead of the Priest? And no other of the four above synergies (like Altar, Heartstone or Conjuring). You can pull off all four counters for four mana, instead of a sacrifice engine, and then turn 4 mana into 4 mana, and thus getting an endless loop for another trigger, such as Impact Tremors.

And so forth. You could layer in other cards and triggers as well.

You have an admittedly clunky, but fun, way of making limitless mana in this deck you can spend with your leader to fuel out a huge army, and the combo pieces are each pretty cheap as commons or uncommons.

And that’s the decks core concept. Sure, there are a lot of paths here to consider, and I loaded us up with synergies like Drownyard Temple, Cellar Door, and Goblin Charbelcher (You can put the cards on the bottom of your library in any order, thus preparing for a big ol’ Grenzo activation.)

You’ve got this!

And there are a ton of other cards you could run as well.

I thought about cards like . . . 

What about Blood Artist and Zulaport Cutthroat? Skinrender? Keening Banshee? Spike Cannibal? Anathemancer? Skeletal Vampire? Smoldering Werewolf?

Canal Dredger? Soldevi Digger? Mindmoil was recently massively raised in price, but would have been perfect for our budget build. Later cards might include Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, Grim Lavamancer, Goblin Sharpshooter, Purphoros, God of the Forge, Volrath's Stronghold, Living Death, or Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker.

This is a great deck, and even on the cheap, it’s a solid synergetic deck with loads of long game potential. I hope that you enjoyed it! What would you add in? Did you see anything that sparked your own deck?

APPENDIX

Here are the first 30+Discount Commander Options for your wallet-friendly 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. [card]Tolsimir Wolfblood[/card]? $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 [card]Yeva, Nature's Herald[/card] 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. [card]Karametra, God of Harvests[/card] 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.


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