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Budget Commander — Kaseto, Orochi Archmage

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Hello, folks! Welcome back to the next iteration of Budget Commander. You can build a solid Commander deck for the same price as one card (for example, Sword of Light and Shadow from Modern Masters will run you $32.99 at CoolStuffInc.com right now). You may not believe it, but it’s totally true. Why?

Sagu Mauler
Well, there tend to be four major reasons you can find great Commander cards on the cheap:

  • The card has been printed recently in a Standard-legal set. The market has a ton of them out there. Examples are Sagu Mauler and Sunscorch Regent.
  • The card has a common (or sometimes uncommon) status that means there are a ton of them out there. Examples are Capsize and Avenging Druid.
  • The card has been forgotten to the winds of time and thus can be found really cheap. Examples are Chainer, Dementia Master and Crush of Wurms.
  • The card is good, but recent printings in Commander, Planeshift, the Duel Decks series, and more have dropped it to extremely low prices. Examples are Decree of Justice and a card below in today’s deck.

With a nice allotment of cards on the cheap rocking the block, you can easily build a cheap Commander deck, and I hope this series is the proof of that concept. Each deck must come in under the budget of the previous one over at www.CoolStuffInc.com. The last deck clocked in at $33.98. That’s pretty cheap! Can we beat it? (In any project like this, prices may fluctuate from the penning of the article through its publication through when you actually read it, but the point remains: a cheap deck for you!)

Now I already know whom I want to build around. There’s a certain Commander (2015 Edition) leader who is calling my name: Kaseto . . . 

Kaseto, Orochi Archmage is actually my favorite leader of the ten new options from Commander (2015 Edition). I like that the designer of this deck decided to have a Snake theme and then built a solid Snake subtheme into the deck. Snakes aren’t exactly the most common theme of G/U pairings, so it’s really fun for me to see a Snake theme in the deck, and it resonates. Plus, Kaseto works perfectly fine without requiring too many of said Snakes. You can spend some mana and then make a dork unblockable. There are a ton of cards that you want to keep unblockable all day long.

Total: $33.91

That price is pretty spot-on! I really like this deck for a lot of reasons.

Snakes Are Cool!

Kaseto, Orochi Archmage
Before now, your Snake deck needed you to be mono-green, and you’d build around one of the many legendary mono-green leaders from Kamigawa block, such as Seshiro the Anointed. But now you can open up another color with a 3-drop that plays very nicely with your Snakes. First of all, I wanted to include some Kamigawa Snake lovin’. The first place I mined were the trilogy of Snake enablers: Seshiro and his children Sosuke, Son of Seshiro and Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro. I also tossed in Kashi-Tribe Elite since you are able to give your leader and your trilogy of Snakes shroud.

After that initial injection of Snakehood, the next place I dug into were other Kamigawa Orochi options. The obvious Sakura-Tribe Elder joins the 1-drop Sakura-Tribe Scout that can tap and drop some good lands. A few others were added that were offering serious fun, such as Orochi Eggwatcher. Check out some other Snake token-making with Sosuke's Summons or Orochi Hatchery. I steered clear of too many of these because many of them just aren’t hot for Commander. I just don’t see cards like Kashi-Tribe Warriors or Matsu-Tribe Birdstalker as feasible in Commander.

But that’s okay because there are a lot of awesome Snakes from other places. Mystic Snake? Awesome! Coiling Oracle? Great! Patagia Viper? Ohran Viper? Ophidian? The more you look, the more you realize that Snakes are a real thing in blue and green. I even added in Broodbirth Viper, who is downright amazing with Kaseto (attack, make unblockable, which gives it 5/5, stack myriad, and you are drawing at least one card and dealing 5 damage, and you can make other tokens +2/+2 and draw cards and deal 5 damage as well. I ran out of my budget for Skullwinder. )

Hit Triggers Are Cool!

Giant Adephage
The next reason I like this deck is that I can run some fun hit triggers in my deck. Normally, these are on small and sneaky creatures in white, blue, and black—cards like Thieving Magpie, Ninja of the Deep Hours, Hypnotic Specter, Augury Adept, Precinct Captain, and such. I love adding green to the mix instead. While green has a few small-stuff triggers that I’m using, too (Avenging Druid, Caustic Wasps), I get to mine the big nasty side of green with cards like Spawnwrithe and Giant Adephage, and I wish I had the budget for Hydra Omnivore. Running smash effects like Giant Adephage just feels right.

Now don’t forget the fun small stuff there. Hitting with Centaur Omenreader is great land-fetching. Forget Solemn Simulacrum or Pilgrim's Eye. This guy fits the theme of your deck, can net you multiple lands into play, and deals damage at the same time. The Omenreader is a great fit. And guys like Avenging Druid are well cast in the support role as well. And sure, we can hit stuff like Trygon Predator and Caustic freakin’ Wasps.

Old Cards Are Cool!

Snake Basket
I love unearthing some older cards that fit the latest creature. Whenever I get to do that, I’m usually in favor of a deck. There’s one card from this deck that’s in the way-back machine all the way from Visions (and a later core set): Snake Basket. You can dump as much mana as you have into it to sacrifice and summon some serious Snakes. You’ll notice that this deck as a bit of ramp to it with mana rocks, lands, and effects like Peregrination and Blighted Woodland that find you two lands, along with Omenreader, Druid, Sakura-Tribe Scout, and so on. The Basket is a great mana sink, a way to refurnish the table post-board-wipe, or just a fun way to make some Snakes.

Snake Basket isn’t the only way-back card in here. Stroke of Genius has been reprinted so frequently that it’s now a budget spell. It’s a card often thought of as one of the worst of all time—it was heralded, along with fellow Urza’s Saga thugs like Tolarian Academy, Gaea's Cradle, Windfall, and Time Spiral as one from among the worst times in tournament history, the era of the combo. And now you can grab Stroke for mega-cheap on the wallet.

Check out Somnophore, a great card to make unblockable, so you can hit and tap something (and keep it tapped until your ’Phore dies). Unearthing these cards and giving them another day in the sun is awesome!

There are some great cards that you don’t see much, like One with Nature and Sigil of Sleep that work quite well. Tossing them into a shell like this works.

New Cards Are Cool, Too!

One other thing I like doing is recasting great Commander cards or newer cards with different uses. A perfect example of this here is Edric, Spymaster of Trest. Edric works, and we all know it. He’s a great tool for Commander. Due to your Snake tokens and ability to make stuff unblockable, he plays a different role here, with a virtual Coastal Piracy on legs, and you can draw cards from him even under a board stall. He’s different here. Another is Chameleon Colossus. Always a good card, one activation of Kaseto makes him a 6/6 unblockable, and that gives you a higher place to be for starting to double his power.

Flavor Is Cool!

Snake Umbra
I love it when I have some space left over in my decks for good ol’ flavor. I like some flavor, and I really enjoy it when I can have a card that fits the flavor and the mechanical theme, like Snake Umbra. It’s a Snake-themed card, so it works, and you smash someone for a card, so it fits the deck as well. It plays both roles here. Cobra Trap? Snake Pit? Those work well! Now I didn’t want to push into flavor that’s off theme, like Venomous Fangs. I don’t want my Snakes to fight people, I want them slithering around and hitting folks from unblockable angles. The same is true of something like Serpent Skin: the potential for card disadvantage for little gain. But Molting Skin? Sure, it works! Protect something, and help the team at the same time!


And then, we finally are able to wrap it all up with typical support, such as mana lands, countermagic, removal, and more. Card-draw? Hunter's Insight works well here. Sprout Swarm and Wurmcalling were added for mana sinks. And pretty soon, we have ourselves a really fun budget deck.

There are other cards you could mine as well. You could totally toss in Lotus Cobra. Want some regenerating cheap pressure? Mire Boa and Marsh Boa work. For flavor, you could go with Patron of the Orochi. What about Pygmy Hippo? Hunting Cheetah? You could also justify a blue Kamigawa Planeswalker like, say, Tamiyo, the Moon Sage.

The whole Commander world is your Snake egg. What did you think of our budget Kaseto? Was there anything in here that you like? Something you’d recommend? And don’t forget—you don’t have to break your budget to build a fun deck. You just need to look around you!

APPENDIX—

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

Daxos of Meletis

  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.

  23. With a budget of just $33.98, this Daxos of Meletis deck is pretty cool without being too expensive. Check it out!


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