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Budget Commander #39: Arjunning the Day Away


Heya folks! Welcome back to the November craziness of Magical fun times on the cheap. This is the next chapter of an ongoing budget-minded series that seeks to build Commander decks for the mega-cheap price.

The goal of each deck is to come under the price of the previous entry, and then that limitation continues as time passes. Right now, the price of this entire deck over at coolstuffinc.com clocks in less than a single copy of Volrath's Stronghold. That’s how cheap we are going to be.

Of course, a budget only goes as far as the cards you own. If you have a spare Eternal Witness sitting around unused in a deck, then adding it to your latest Commander deck doesn’t have any additional costs attached to it, and the six dollar price tag is relatively meaningless. However, for most players who are trying to load up their deck with a budget-sensitive acquisition of cards, the Eternal Witness is a major financial card who’s addition to the budget can tip a deck too far. When it costs that can of cash, it’s not “just an uncommon.”

And that’s sort of where Commander lies right now, between some seriously expensive cards that everyone wants and are just great for the format, and thus costly, and many more cards that cost very little at all.

Enter my budget series!

One card I’ve been looking for in a Budget Run is Arjun, the Shifting Flame. I have 9 Commanders that I have circled for future Budget articles as potential route to explore, and Arjun has been on that list for a while.

Why Arjun?

Take a look and let’s unpack the good Sphinx Wizard.

Arjun, the Shifting Flame

Whenever you cast a spell, you tuck your hand on the bottom of that library and then draw that many cards. Arjun will churn though your deck. He is the King of Library Digging. He’s basically Mindmoil on a stick. You can rack up cards, and dig to find the best card for any situation.

Target — $33.10

Arjunning the Day Away ? Commander | Abe Sargent

All right, and there we are! We came in at $33.04!

Key cards in here include:

Archmage Ascension

Archmage Ascension? Oh yes! Take a look at this card. You will always be drawing at least two cards a turn with Arjun out, so you can get to 6 counters easily. Note that it triggers at the end of anybody’s turn, not just your own! You can easily rack up those sexy quest counters. And what happens when you do? You can tutor rather than draw when you draw. So a single Arjun activation will basically allow you to tutor the entire hand, and set up a perfect hand with the best cards for the situation!

It’s awesome here.

But Archmage Ascension isn’t the only such card!

Psychosis Crawler
Jace's Erasure
Thought Reflection
Tomorrow, Azami's Familiar

One of the keys to this deck is card drawing triggers. I like them so much that I decided to put in Mindmoil as well to rack them up as abusably as possible. I also wanted to rack up some sick card drawing, so we could keep up the gas while racking up the triggers.

The best trigger in the deck is Psychosis Crawler and one of my Niv-Mizzets, as they have solid removal options tethered to the drawing of cards. They can kill players or creatures.

Diviner's Wand

Diviner's Wand is great as a way to make something very big, and could make Arjun big enough to kill in one hit. Here, let’s take a decent example:

You draw and have six cards in hand and Wand is equipped on Arjun. Arjun is already a 6/6 now.

If you cast two spells, you will draw 9 cards, and make Arjun a 15/15. That’s without having any additional card drawing options, like casting Electrolyze, activating Jori En, Ruin Diver, Thought Reflection, and more. You activate the Wand twice to make Arjun a 17/17, which taps you out. It’s not hard to get a little more with the right engine out, and that assumed you had 5 cards in hand at the beginning of your turn?

If you just have out on the battlefield Arjun equipped with the Wand, and started with a full grip of 7 cards in hand:

  1. Draw a card in your draw step — you have 8 cards in hand
  2. Cast a spell. Draw 7 cards to replace your now tucked hand
  3. Cast a spell. Draw 6 cards to replace your now tucked hand.

Arjun is a 19/19 with just two spells played, and a 24/24 with three spells played or 21/21 if you activate the Wand twice instead. And that’s the worst case assumption — no other synergy, and no spells cast that draw you cards or replace themselves.

The Wand is sick here!

And it’s not the only card here that has a lot of synergy either. Even Seer's Sundial is here to keep on the gas when you drop a land rather than a land drop shutting you down from card drawing.

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius

We also have the fun Niv-Mizzet Twins here. The Firemind is broken as an adjunct to card drawing fun times, and the Dracogenius is a solid body to use to deal damage or draw cards. Note they add removal and card drawing options to the deck in spades.

Here are two more amazing engines in this deck:

Aetherflux Reservoir
Swarm Intelligence

Boom! Copy spells and gain life and then have an outlet for life for smashing and (most likely) killing someone. Great stuff! And Swarm Intelligence is strong as a Copy Network for Free. It’s a fun card in a deck that churns and casts spells.

Jori En, Ruin Diver

I mentioned it briefly above, but don’t sleep on Jori En, Ruin Diver as a great card here! You should be playing a lot of second spells, and replacing each one is a key way to keep drawing and keep up the pressure! You don’t want to churn through your deck so quickly that you lose steam by playing all of the goods, right? Right!

Isochron Scepter

I originally wanted to run Isochron Scepter as a Counterspell target. Putting a Counter on the Stick is awesome. With us never having a reliable hand, I wanted to have some permanents that could counter a spell when we needed to stop something for the good of the table. Invariably, we’ll need a counter in a critical situation and a hand of jank to sit and do nothing. I tossed in the Scepter and some cool targets!

Isochron Scepter Targets:

Note that we have a bit of a combo here for infinite mana:

Dramatic Reversal

Put Dramatic Reversal on Isochron Scepter. Run mana rocks like Everflowing Chalice, and if you can tap for three mana from your mana rocks, you’ll make untold mana. If you just have two mana from your rocks, then you can keep tapping and untapping you stuff and do things like kill with Gelectrode or cast enough spells with the Stick to win with Aetherflux Reservoir, smash with Guttersnipe, make an untold number of 2/2 flying Drakes with Talrand, Sky Summoner, and so forth.

Note that Stick spells are still cast, so you get that cast instant trigger for your stuff.

Don’t sleep on the Copying of Increasing Vengeance or the power of Counterspell or even the burn and scry of Magma Jet. These are all strong options.

Kaho, Minamo Historian

Another trick to cast some stuff is Kaho, Minamo Historian. Search that library for three key instants, and then use them as needed! Again, this is a cast trigger, and we can lean on folks hard.

Now, we have a pair of cheap artifacts that are vital to the deck’s survival — Library of Leng and Elixir of Immortality. The Library is my only cheap “You don’t have to discard” effect. If I had an unlimited budget, we would have also run Reliquary Tower, Venser's Journal, and Thought Vessel. All of those are pricey, and just those three cards combined is $12.00, and none is cheaper than $3.50. So, we can’t run them with my budget.

But Library of Leng may be better, as we can put some discarded cards on top instead of in the graveyard, which could be useful against some foes.

The Elixir of Immortality is a powerful tool to keep the game going while acting as a powerful brake to keep yourself from decking. Both of these are cheap, so I tossed in . . . 

Trinket Mage

 . . . Trinket Mage to fetch one. Everflowing Chalice can also be tutored with it. Trinket Mage is a great option for finding the best of those at any time. You can always get the Elixir if the other two are out, as it will shuffle itself when used, so it will never be a Swing and Miss later if you have the key three cards. (You can cast the Trinket Mage, and then use the Elixir while it’s on the stack, shuffle everything, gain 5 life, and then when the Mage arrives, you can search your library for the Elixir and put it into your hand.)

I would recommend constantly using the Elixir in this deck. You can shuffle to help draw cards that were Arjunned to the bottom of your library, the extra life can be used for Aetherflux Reservoir, and you can get a second cast spell to trigger Jori En, Ruin Diver, and so forth. Keep churning the deck.

Civilized Scholar
Dakra Mystic

I don’t want to have too many lands mugging up my grip, so there are a few fun cards here and there, like Civilized Scholar. You can Dakra Mystic a meaningless land to the graveyard instead of your hand. You’ll find a few of these cards here and there in the deck, fleshing things out.

And that’s pretty much a deck! We have a lot of fun tricks and treats here to flesh things out nicely. Good job team!

I ran out of cash before I could toss in some of these cards, and if you are looking to up your game and options, check these out:

I wanted the Archmage and Ertai to increase my on-the-battlefield options for countering things. The Archive is another Thought Reflection option that can break the game open your way quickly. But it’s more than $10 for a near mint copy, so it’s too pricey for this deck. Desolate Lighthouse adds another way to get rid of extra lands, and Chasm Skulker can be another useful card drawing trigger for you. The trio of Gods listed all have synergy with the deck. I listed them in the order I’d like to acquire and add them. Then Sphinx's Tutelage, which is surprisingly pricey for an uncommon, would be another great card draw trigger can also push card drawing and sorting for the deck. Finally, I finish with some cool adjuncts I’d love to see added like Urza's Rage and Chaos Warp. You could argue for Sol Ring, Chromatic Lantern, and a few other cards like that. Fun cards ensue!

I hope that you enjoyed my Arjun Budget creation! Anything I got wrong? Something I missed? Thanks!

See you next time for the 40th edition of this series, where I go four colors . . . 


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. [card]Bosh, Iron Golem" href="/p/Magic+The+Gathering/Bosh, Iron Golem" href="/p/Magic%3A+The+Gathering/%5Bcard%5DBosh%2C+Iron+Golem">[card]Bosh, Iron Golem">Bosh, Iron Golem" href="/p/Magic%3A+The+Gathering/%5Bcard%5DBosh%2C+Iron+Golem">[card]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" href="/p/Magic+The+Gathering/Tolsimir Wolfblood" href="/p/Magic%3A+The+Gathering/%5Bcard%5DTolsimir+Wolfblood">[card]Tolsimir Wolfblood">Tolsimir Wolfblood" href="/p/Magic%3A+The+Gathering/%5Bcard%5DTolsimir+Wolfblood">[card]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 [card]Yeva, Nature's Herald" href="/p/Magic+The+Gathering/Yeva, Nature's Herald" href="/p/Magic%3A+The+Gathering/%5Bcard%5DYeva%2C+Nature%27s+Herald">[card]Yeva, Nature's Herald">Yeva, Nature's Herald" href="/p/Magic%3A+The+Gathering/%5Bcard%5DYeva%2C+Nature%27s+Herald">[card]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. [card]Karametra, God of Harvests" href="/p/Magic+The+Gathering/Karametra, God of Harvests" href="/p/Magic%3A+The+Gathering/%5Bcard%5DKarametra%2C+God+of+Harvests">[card]Karametra, God of Harvests">Karametra, God of Harvests" href="/p/Magic%3A+The+Gathering/%5Bcard%5DKarametra%2C+God+of+Harvests">[card]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.

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