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Roon of the Budget Realm

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Hello, and welcome back to the sixth segment of an ongoing series in which I build a budget under a decreasing amount of money each time. Each deck should clock in at under the previous deck’s budget. Since deck number five, built around Princess Lucrezia, struck a cool $35.68, I knew that I needed to hit lower.

This series began when I noticed a decided lack of true budget decks among fellow articles. Many budget decks were pushing $100, and that’s not my idea of “budget.” That’s way too expensive for my wallet. Budget-friendly deck-building means more than that. Therefore, I began writing this series, and I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of stretching my dollar and having each deck beat the cost of the previous one.

Today, I want to build a deck around one of the latest sexy legendary creatures from Commander (2013 Edition). Roon of the Hidden Realm seemed to be a great budget option since the cards that suggest themselves are not necessarily expensive. Let’s get our Roon on!

(My typical caveat applies: The costs in this article are true as of the writing of it, and those prices could ebb and flow from now until publication in a few days, and from then until you read the article. Prices fluctuate.)

Total cost: $35.29

The goal of this deck is to use a cheap variety of creatures with enters-the-battlefield triggers of various sorts. That should flame the heart of many a Commander players, as they love their ETB creatures!

Conjurer's Closet
Due to the cost of some very popular creatures, I was unable to include them all, and bodies such as Eternal Witness and Karmic Guide are not to be seen. But no matter—we still have a lot of options. Because of the use of Roon to Flicker something, I pushed my normal creature count and added a lot of guys that have powerful utilities.

But first: engines. I wanted to push the various engine possibilities with our deck. One option was Conjurer's Closet, which will flicker one creature for free at the end of all of your turns. That’s a decent addition to the deck. Next, we are running Cathars' Crusade. Each time a creature hits the battlefield, every dork we control will grow by a +1/+1 counter. With the flickering madness of Roon, that is a passel of Crusade triggers, all amping the power of our army considerably. Deadeye Navigator is a third option since you can use soulbond to pair it with any creature and then flicker out one or the other as needed. Take a gander at Harvester of Souls, drawing you a card each time a creature hits any battlefield. (See also: Suture Priest.)

With those engines in the deck, I moved to build the mana base. I don’t want to run out of budget at the end of the project with a weak mana base. So, I grabbed mana rocks: Darksteel Ingot, Obelisk of Bant, Dreamstone Hedron, Everflowing Chalice, and Vessel of Endless Rest. To that, I added one of each Guildgate, two fetch lands, and a land that can tap for all three colors with the Transguild Promenade.

Faith's Reward
Also, before I headed into the creature count, I knew I would have a large number of creatures. The larger your creature count, the more vulnerable you become to mass removal. So, I ordered up some tricks. Faith's Reward is amazing—everything that dies will return, and you’ll enjoy a brand new mass of triggers. Nim Deathmantle is here for slower protection—not against sweeping removal, but as a creature dies here and there, it can fight it. Rootborn Defenses will save the team as well.

Then, it was time for the creatures. At first, I wanted removal. Luckily, some key removal creatures, such as Acidic Slime, are pretty cheap. The Slime joins fellow 5-mana uncommon green body Indrik Stomphowler in blowing up some key cards. I wanted to destroy stuff when I could. In went Luminate Primordial to handle annoying creatures by exiling them.

I then rocked some additional large bodies: Sylvan Primordial joined its Luminate brother, and Terastodon also dropped down from on high. Triskelion can remove some counters to shoot stuff (or players) and then be flickered for more counters. I didn’t have the budget for Woodfall Primus, but you can get a lot done with these removal options.

My next needs were mana-based. In went Civic Wayfinder, Farhaven Elf, and Borderland Ranger. I didn’t have the money for a Solemn Simulacrum or the desire for something like Pilgrim's Eye. These were fine choices for Roon’s ability—you acquire land. Everyone wants more land. After I had thrown in these initial ETB abilities, I then moved to creatures that would tap for mana. While I would have loved Birds of Paradise, Noble Hierarch, and Sylvan Caryatid, instead I went with cheaper options—Quirion Elves and Somberwald Sage come to mind.

Mulldrifter
Next up was card-draw. Mulldrifter costs around $0.50, so I can usually find room for it in my budget decks. It was a perfect addition to my Roon deck. I also grabbed Jungle Barrier and Carven Caryatid as walls that can play defense as well as suit as drawing cards. Again, prices of options such as Wall of Omens and Wall of Blossoms kept me from using cheaper bodies, but these suffice. Masked Admirers, because it can recur, swing, and draw a card, was included, too. Don’t forget the Fact or Fiction madness of Sphinx of Uthuun either.

Next, I looked to shore up some needs. Mist Raven was a spot of bounce. I thought about other bouncers (I would have loved Sun Ce, Young Conquerer), but I skipped them by. I was unable to fit much into the deck. My bodies were already getting tight.

Phyrexian Ingester can resemble Duplicant (good because of the price of the artifact) in all of the right ways, including exiling a creature. It helps my removal suite. I also added Fiend Hunter because you can play Roon tricks by stacking the ETB ability and then flickering the Hunter out with Roon. If you do it right, the targeted creature is permanently exiled.

I also added more resilience to the deck. Loxodon Hierarch is a perfect fit—it has a strong ETB trigger to gain life, so it can be used with Roon, and it can be sacrificed to regenerate the whole team, keeping them alive through a Nevinyrral's Disk or Day of Judgment effect. Also, Dauntless Escort can sacrifice, for no mana, to indestructibilize the squad as well. More utility is incorporated into the deck.

Ancestor's Chosen
Ancestor's Chosen can abuse a stocked graveyard, Pelakka Wurm will gain life while providing a juicy body to swing, Trostani's Summoner and Cloudgoat Ranger are solid methods of making tokens, Hunting Moa can give counters when it arrives, Deadwood Treefolk will bring back dead creatures both when it arrives and when it leaves play, and finally, Fierce Empath can be abused as a mega-tutor.

I even managed to squeeze in my Prophet of Kruphix. Giving all of these ETB critters flash is downright insane. Giving the deck the mana to use it every turn (and untapping Roon to give him a go every turn) is even insaner. I thought about Seedborn Muse and Vedalken Orrery as well, but this was all that would fit budgetwise.

I then began to flesh out the deck here and there. Behemoth Sledge was a fine Equipment for smashing in hits with the smaller utility creatures this deck tends to have. Meanwhile, Collective Blessing will instantly make the team an army of significant size—for about the casting cost of an Overrun.

I also wanted some instant removal just in case. See Crib Swap, Wing Shards, Treva's Charm, Seed Spark, and Dismantling Blow. Divine Deflection is both protection and removal as needed.

After that, I needed some countermagic. This is a deck that might normally run cards like Mystic Snake and Draining Whelk, but the flicker on Roon is a slow one, and the creature won’t return immediately. Therefore, you can’t flicker out a Mystic Snake and bring it right back into play to counter a spell on the stack or anything like that. Timing-based flickers won’t work off Roon. So, instead, I pushed my counter zone. In went Dissipate (to exile very nasty stuff), Plasm Capture (stealing mana is awesome!), Mystic Genesis (as is making a creature with your counter), Controvert (let’s see if we can bring it back), and Rewind (to help keep mana available for other needs). That’s not a bad slot, and it doesn’t even look like it is missing stalwarts, such as Desertion.

Ghostly Flicker
Just a handful of cards finished things. Ghostly Flicker is obviously valuable here. Recurring Insight draws a ton of cards and gives another way to draw cards in case the Roon options have been cut off. Yavimaya's Embrace will steal a creature while angering it (I considered Spirit Away, but I liked the trample instead).

Finally, I adore Darksteel Mutation as a handy way to deal with nasty commanders. Instead of putting one back into the command zone with removal or tucking it (but risking a tutor or being drawn again), just Mutate it into a 0/1 creature with no abilities and that is indestructible. That way, it stay out on the battlefield, ready to suck. Sorry, my good commander, but you seem to have been turned into a metal bug of some sort.

Other good cards include Aura Shards, Kitchen Finks, Eternal Witness, Wargate, Karmic Guide, Cauldron of Souls, Prime Speaker Zegana, Reveillark, and Venser, the Sojourner.

Well, that brings us to the close of another budget Commander article. Did you find something in here? What did you think of my attempt to budget-build around one of the newest legendary creatures from Commander (2013 Edition)? What would you like to see next in this series?

See you next week,

Abe Sargent

P.S. Hello, Connecticut! This week, I have started my new job and life in Fairfield, Connecticut, working for Fairfield University. If you are in the area, and you like to get your casual Magic on, just holler and let me know. My e-mail is euplatious at Hotmail dot com.