Strixhaven Standard Set Review with Ali Aintrazi
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Budget Commander 22 — Daxos the First


Hello, folks! Looking for a budget-based challenge?

What are some color combinations I still haven’t used? I still haven’t hit up Jund, Esper, Naya, or Sultai. We’ve also skipped past Orzhov, Gruul, and Simic.

I begin to take a tour of interesting multicolored legends that are on the cheaper side of life. Does anything jump out at me as inspiration for my next project?

I found my guy!

Daxos of Meletis

Daxos of Meletis
After all, with Daxos the Returned out there now, it just makes sense to visit his first self. I’ve never built a deck around him, so let’s hit him up!

While it’s true that I’ve done a W/U build before, it was a Brago blink deck with a strong artifact element to it. It’s a very specific build, and Daxos will be different and require some different cards to flesh him out.

Now I did some checking, and the color identity of the format turns mana of other colors into colorless mana while in your mana pool. But it does not restrict what you can do with color of mana. Traditionally, you can spend 1 white mana for just white or colorless costs. But Daxos enables my white mana to also pay the costs of other cards if it reveals something. So if Daxos hits you and exiles Cultivate, I can still play that Cultivate with white, blue, or colorless mana. That makes Daxos pretty intriguing to me.

Total: $33.98

Sword of the Animist
The first place I wanted to dig into was for a spot of ramp. The more mana we had available for when Daxos smashes, the more likely we are to be able to play whatever is exiled. Even though it was virtually ten percent of my budget, I knew I had to include Sword of the Animist. It’s just a perfect fit for this deck—toss it on something that can swing free, and then gain a land after land. I like it so much that I tossed in Explorer's Scope as well. Meanwhile, we’ve also tossed in elements like Pilgrim's Eye, Burnished Hart, and Armillary Sphere. Being able to play the stuff Daxos finds is the way to start to break him.

The next way to break him a bit is to ensure that he hits. Just being unblockable by big guys is not enough because I want sheer unblockability. So cards that ensure a precious hit are also highly useful here. We’ll start with obvious cards like Whispersilk Cloak or Steel of the Godhead. Those have huge value because they give other bonuses, too (shroud and lifelink and size pumps respectively). But I don’t want to stop there. I want to ensure that we can smash with Daxos.

Take a look at Writ of Passage. If Daxos has not been pumped by anything, this makes him unblockable and costs just 1 mana. Plus, you can forecast it to make something else that’s small unblockable while keeping it in your hand. We also have something like Unquestioned Authority that gives you protection from creatures. And since only creatures can block, that makes it difficult for anyone to prevent Daxos from slipping on over and smashing some face. Plus, you can activate stuff like Coralhelm Guide or Rogue's Passage.

Medomai the Ageless
And since we’re tossing in these various ways to ensure a hit, we may as well toss in some bodies that gain various benefits when they smash face as well, right? The absolute first place I went was to Medomai the Ageless. Use one of the various unblockable tools to get in a hit with it, and then, all of a sudden, you are taking an extra turn—and another smash-card by Daxos. In addition to being Theros buddies from the same set and colors, they support each other as well.

You can find a variety of interesting cards in here of various sorts. We’ll call these cards like Daxos and Medomai “hit triggers,” from a small hit trigger on a creature like Commander (2015 Edition) entry Broodbirth Viper to draw you a card to something big like that Master of Predicaments (which can join Daxos as a way to play cards using alternate paths). Meanwhile, Thada Adel, Acquisitor can steal artifacts (if there’s nothing else good, just grab a mana rock to help play bigger stuff with Daxos’s hit trigger) while you can hit that renown trigger on Relic Seeker to fetch up one of the eight Equipment cards in the deck.

I also tossed in Precinct Captain to hit-trigger and put a Soldier token onto the battlefield. Did you notice that Daxos is not a Rogue? I guess I sort of expected that a sneaky little W/U guy like him would be, but he’s a Soldier. Wanting to add a little depth to the deck and play with the Precinct Captain some, I began to toss in some more Soldiers. It’s not a large section of the deck at all, but we added in cards like Rhox Pikemaster, Daru Warchief, and Veteran Swordsmith to pump up the little guys. In leapt a Captain of the Watch to make some little guys as well. And you could live the dream and drop a Relic Seeker or Precinct Captain with that Preeminent Captain and generate their triggers from nowhere. Don’t forget that you can bounce the Relic Seeker with the ninjutsu fun of Ninja of the Deep Hours to drop it and swing for another hit trigger and Equipment fetch.

Did you know that Decree of Justice has dropped to bulk-rare value after being printed in Commander (2014 Edition) last year? That’s just crazy, so I tossed it into the deck as well.

I also wanted to include some useful tempo stuff as another way to get through a few attacks. Sleep was the first card that came to mind. In a multiplayer table, Sleep keeps someone from blocking for two full rounds of attacks by everyone seated around. You often don’t want to swing into one simple tap effect because then that player will untap and hit you. But if you Sleep the player first, you can swing, hit and smash the player, and then untap and stay back the second turn to keep him or her from attacking you back if the situation calls. Or you can generate more triggers with stuff like Daxos and Medomai.

There’s a bit of bounce in here, too. Equilibrium is great here. You cast a creature and then spend 1 colorless mana and bounce any creature in play. Bounce that blocker that would keep your creatures from getting in a crucial hit trigger or to replay something like Pilgrim's Eye or Relic Seeker. But I suspect you’ll normally turn it toward your foe.

We have a smaller army, so making sure to get through is a valuable way to win the game. The free cards from Daxos are one way to get that win. The unblockable stuff is another. Going wide with stuff like Soldier tokens of Decree of Justice, Captain of the Watch, Precinct Captain, or Repel Intruders is another tool as well. I added some hit triggers for everyone—both Bident of Thassa and its predecessor Coastal Piracy are here. Drawing a lot of cards can bring you over the hump.

And we can certainly continue that theme by adding some threats to pump your team. It’s not just Spear of Heliod. Check out the flash, cheap, and permanent Dictate of Heliod as well. It brings another nice way to change combat math at a quick speed.

I selected Equipment that works with the theme of getting in an attack on the sly. Moonsilver Spear is great here because you can give it to Daxos (or anyone else for that matter) who’s found that Rogue's Passage through the defense and can make a 4/4 Angel. Meanwhile, Fireshrieker gives the creature two hit triggers every time it deals combat damage. That’s two Daxos triggers, two extra turns with Medomai, or the like. Nasty, right? I tossed in the Grappling Hook for the same reason. From getting cards off Bident of Thassa to scrying twice from Windrider Patrol, it’s pretty saucy.

With a bit of utility tossed in as well, that’s a pretty synergetic deck at the end of our budget. I included a few support cards that work with your theme. Roil Spout bounces a permanent to the top of someone’s library, which works for when Daxos smashes. You can also counter with Memory Lapse to put a valuable card on top for you to steal and play later. You’ll find interesting cards like Sigil of Sleep, Supplant Form, and Thassa's Emissary that are all on theme in here.

And you could certainly add a lot more as well. From Celestial Mantle to Cyclonic Rift, there are a few ways you could dig. What about Venser, the Sojourner? What about Sun Quan, Lord of Wu? The various Swords of X and Y also fit the deck, in particular Sword of Light and Shadow. You could toss in the cipher spells, like Voidwalk, or more Ninjas, such as Mistblade Shinobi. Quietus Spike? Sure! Scytheclaw? Double sure! You could also mine more Soldiers and their territory. You could find room for Hinder or Time Warp. Even Tragic Arrogance would be really good. (Play it, keep your Medomai or Daxos, and leave your foe with a creature he or she can’t block with; then, start hitting for triggers.) You can find the goods to make Daxos even better and to suit your card stock and metagame.

So get your budget-minded beats on with Daxos and co.!


Here are the first twenty-one (-ish) budget-happy decks for your budget-happy days:

Nekusar, the Mindrazer

  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-Color 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.
  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.

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

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