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Budget Commander #12 – Rebel Yell

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It’s budget time, baby!

For my increasingly prolific Budget Commander series, I want to incorporate the next entry that builds things on the cheap. Wouldn't you like to build an entire Commander deck for less than the cost of just one Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre—for around the same price as one Avacyn, Angel of Hope? What kind of deck could we make that would work with that sort of a budget?

My goal over the course of this series has been to have each entry clock in lower than the previous one. Well, budget deck number eleven, built around Brago, King Eternal, came in at just $35.06. What kind of deck pops to my mind?

I open up my "Article Ideas" document on my desktop, in which I've typed out all of the deck and article ideas I have. It's eight pages long in Word. I created a list of a few legendary creatures that I was inspired to use for my next articles. My last two decks were artifact-focused (albeit from different angles), so I want to come in from a different style of deck entirely. I saw my lady in white, waiting to be called up for a lovely little run in the sun.

Ready for the rebel in all of us to come out?

That’s $34.98 right over at CoolStuffInc.com. (Note that all prices are true as of the writing of this article, and they are subject to change later.)

I've been flirting with dropping below $35.00 for a while. It was time to finally drop below it.

Obelisk of Urd
Because we don't have a lot of Rebel enablers outside of Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero and the fetchers, I wanted to include some generic support. In leapt Brass Herald and Obelisk of Urd since neither costs a lot of pennies. While I would love to dip into something like Adaptive Automaton, it is too much for this deck. That's all right; I just went with generic pumping with Dictate of Heliod and Spear of Heliod—as well as with Honor of the Pure. Again, because of that lack of enablers, I dipped into a few Human enablers, too. A large majority of the Rebels I felt were good enough to play were also Humans, so I added the occasional Gallows at Willow Hill and Devout Chaplain.

Rebel Rules Note #1: It doesn't matter if your commander has shroud or hexproof, as Lin Sivvi can put Bound in Silence into play enchanting your enchantment-laden Bruna, Light of Alabaster, Uril, the Miststalker, or the like (or your Equipment-laden Brago, King Eternal or Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker). The Aura only targets when it is cast, not when it enters the battlefield from another place.

Rebel Rules Note #2: Crib Swap does work with Lin Sivvi's tuck ability to restock the library, but not with the Rebel-searching ability since that ability only finds Rebel permanents.

Task Force
When I build a Commander deck for y'all, I sometimes take a gander at what other decks are running so I can get a feel for how others play these guys. A ubiquitous Lin Sivvi trick is to run Task Force and Outrider en-Kor and then give the Task Force a huge butt. Then, sacrifice it for a major life-gain with something like Worthy Cause or Diamond Valley. Then, win with Test of Endurance or Felidar Sovereign. It's just another run of your typical Life combo deck from long ago that did the same trick with what I’ll admit are cheaper selections (such as Warrior en-Kor). I'm not pushing the combo that far for budget reasons, and, well, everyone else seems to be doing it—so no Test of Endurance and stuff. But I do like the start of that trick. The total cost of a Worthy Cause plus the Outrider plus Task Force is just $1.49 near mint. So I can include those three easily enough. I'll just keep things there. So it does have an infinite life engine if you want, but nothing more. (And since there are no tutors for the Worthy Cause, you have to draw it.)

Instead, I pushed a more aggressive creature theme with stuff that pumps the team. I knew the deck would be subject to the predations of mass removal, so I dipped into the fun, defensive stylings of die-hard, Abe-certified budget answers the likes of Rootborn Defenses and Prismatic Strands. I would have loved Faith's Reward, too, but it's just a hair over my budget, and I ran out of cash at the last moment. Remember that I can also just restock Rebels into the deck with Lin Sivvi and then pull them back out again. For that reason, a Lin Sivvi deck with a lot of Rebel tutors is particularly good against tucking your commander. A commonly-played, anti-commander tactic is to just send it into a library. But if someone rocks it into your library, you can just pull it out. If I had the budget, I would have pushed in Terminus and Hallowed Burial as mass-removal adjuncts for this very reason.

Lawbringer
So, let's look at the Rebels! This deck is all about the rebel in all of us. I wanted to push Rebels into a panoply of options for the deck. Many Lin Sivvi decks often have a small number of actual Rebels because they could always fetch up the same ten Rebels every game. I don't like that at all. First of all, that means you'll play the same game the same way each time. That's incredibly boring. Give that deck more flexibility! Plus, if your theme is Rebels, why limit yourself?

What do we have? We have exiling removal of Lawbringer and Lightbringer. While I will set aside the question of how, exactly, a rebel brings law, these guys can sacrifice to exile annoying stuff, and then Lin Sivvi can tuck them and pull them out for another go. It's a pretty strong engine of exiling death. We also have just about every Rebel searcher in the game. Rebels search up by casting costs, so a 1-drop can fetch a 2-drop, but it requires extra mana to do just that. In this way, a simple Ramosian Sergeant can turn into a horde of dorks at the table, but it requires a lot of extra mana to do so. You can just drop one fetcher after mass removal to make a new army.

In addition to the fun, fetching madness, the deck rolls some other useful targets. I like the shadow flank being hit once by Zealot il-Vec. The Zealot can smash and shoot dorks if you prefer. Rebels play great defense, and in heads Cho-Manno, Revolutionary and Rappelling Scouts to do good jobs blocking dorks. Defiant Vanguard can block and trade with an attacker. You can search up a tapper with Whipcorder and Errant Doomsayers. Because of these bodies in your deck, people have to respect an untapped Rebel fetcher with mana. Lin Sivvi can grab a Defiant Vanguard or Rappelling Scouts or Aven Riftwatcher to block opponents’ threats. Then, if we have the mana and the Rebel died, Lin Sivvi can just restock it for another go.

Shield Dancer
Don't forget surprises like Ballista Squad, Sword Dancer, Shield Dancer, and the Changelings. You can easily pull out something nasty against anyone who thinks you have an exposed weakness.

As you can already see, this is a mana-hungry deck in a color without a lot of mana acceleration. I added stuff like Everflowing Chalice, Dreamstone Hedron, Mind Stone, Kor Cartographer, and Armillary Sphere. Each of these can assist the long game's mana needs.

Rebel Rules Note #3: You can fetch up the Changeling Hero and champion a creature that would otherwise have been killed, such as Lin Sivvi or another vital creature. This is great in response to mass removal because the Hero will die and return your guy to play. (We don't have a lot of creatures with enters-the-battlefield triggers, but for those that do, you can fetch up the Hero, champion one of them, and then, when the Hero dies to the removal, you gain a second trigger, and that’s a useful way to reuse Kor Cartographer or Quarry Colossus.)

Speaking of the Colossus, this deck has a lot of Plains in it. So I tossed in a few cards to take advantage of that, such as the Colossus and Strata Scythe. Armored Ascension can blow someone out of the water, and both it and the Scythe have the potential to commander kill with your lil’ Lin Sivvi later on. Have some money? Pick up an Emeria, the Sky Ruin for a similar-sized beating.

Thousand-Year Elixir
Don't forget that awesome Thousand-Year Elixir that gives hasty tapping to all of the fun tappers in the deck!

Because this is a deck in which restocking the library works well, I'm running Thran Foundry to reload our deck with dead goodies (it can be used in an emergency to fight the graveyard elsewhere, so that's why it's here rather than something like Elixir of Immortality). I would have loved to have forced in Mistveil Plains, but we didn't have the cash.

Here are some other ideas worth considering. Adaptive Automaton, Kongming, Sleeping Dragon, and Heliod, God of the Sun are all great. Torpor Orb and Hushwing Gryff are interesting, too, because they hose commonly-played cards that we aren't. Because Lin Sivvi is a tutoring commander, stuff like Sensei's Divining Top and Scroll Rack also slide in easily enough. Take a close look at Crackdown. Temple of the False God, Sol Ring, and other mana-speeding elements would fit wonderfully here.

Anyway, I hope that you enjoyed our little look at the power of Lin Sivvi. You can unleash her onto your next Magic night with very little money down. That sounds pretty sexy.

See you next week

Abe Sargent

Question of the Week

Blightspeaker
Why does white have Rebels at all? Wouldn't they be another color? Isn't white the color of order and rule? I don't know the backstory for Mercadia, but it seems odd to me. To my mind, Mercenaries (the black mechanic) conceptually seem more white-aligned than Rebels (the white mechanic). Don't let the flavor of Mercadia get in the way of that conceptual question. Flavor could come up with a way of putting Mercenaries or Rebels into any color. For example, how about a plane where mercenaries are blue because they fight for whichever lord can reveal the secrets of the hidden lore of the realm?

So, the fact that Masques block has nasty-looking Mercenaries and nice-looking Rebels shouldn't alter our concept of what these two are at the base. History is rife with many high-quality, honor-bound mercenary troops. The fact that someone is fighting for money—rather than for the banner—doesn't mean that someone is automatically scum. How many of us would continue to do our job without a salary? In real life, we've had many military groups that are mercenaries but that would probably be white.

Meanwhile, I don't think we would tend to identify Rebel ideas with the forces of law and order. There are exceptions, when a really evil state is in play, for example, but not normally. I think green, red, or black would tend to hit Rebels better. These are just some quick thoughts for you. Honesty, I think this was the era of good-guys-go-in-white, and no one really questioned how, conceptually, this worked. It's the same as Pirates in blue. Pirates are just bandits on the ocean. Bandits are red, and they’re sometimes black. They have no philosophy that is blue-based. But because they raid on the ocean—instead of on land—these bandits wind up in the wrong color, philosophically, and then someone has to jump through hoops to make it sound good.

Appendix

Here are the first eleven budget decks for your enjoyment:

Brago, King Eternal


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