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Budget Commander Cards I Lean On in Deckbuilding


Hello Awesome Budget MTG Fans! Today I have something special for you! I have a series that's my favorite where I do a true Budget Commander where each deck must come under the previous budget. The first one years ago started under $40 and the most recent was just $32.13 here a few weeks ago! As someone who was unemployed multiple times for months at a time, I know many things about an actual proper Budget that you need to stick to. I have seen budget Commander decks that come in at a few hundred or even just 100 dollars and that's way out of many people's budget. I've also seen people just toss in commons and think it's budget when many commons are more expensive than bulk rares.

Commander, fiscally, is in a weird space. Some cards that are big names in the format are more expensive than Standard or Modern heavy hitters. And if a card is great in many places, and Commander too? The sky is the limit for its price! All prices cited in this article are CoolStuffInc.com for the cheapest near/mint version and if they have 4 for ones for something like 50 cents, then I will divide by 4. I cite prices for the article since they change from when I write a week before to publication to when you read it to keep it for posterity for comparison in case something falls or rises.

For example, here are some Commander Classic prices:

See how a rare Commander Classic Sun Titan is massively cheaper than Farseek which is a common?

Today I'll be looking at bulk rares and cheap uncommons and commons that I lean into for my Budget Commander series you can look at.

Into the Core vs. Vandalblast, 20 cents vs 3.99

Into the Core

Many players like to run removal spells that can take out many things, like Hull Breach or Decimate. Enter this pair of uncommons! But while both used to be cheap, Vandalblast rose in value massively and is now 3.99 but Into the Core is just 20 cents. And there are times when you'd prefer it since it's an instant and it exiles artifacts to answer indestructible tricks and is always a two for one and is cheaper than the five-mana overload. In white, Crush Contraband is 0.49 and is usually two for one too, and Return to Dust is a cheaper quarter and then usually does so too if played right.

Rout vs. Farewell - Bulk rare at 0.49 vs an $8 card


This five-mana Wrath of God variant can be played at instant speed for two more, so it's a brilliant sweeper to respond to a game winning swing at you with something like a Craterhoof Behemoth. Now you can survive! The Farewell will sweep dorks and then if you want, artifacts, enchantments and graveyards too and then it's exiling so people cannot answer. But's it's a sweeper that is a feel bad since it exiles and then it's just sorcery so there are times when the Rout will save but not the Farewell. The Rout is worth running. Also note the the other six mana flexible sweeper Commander Classic Austere Commend is just 0.75 for the cheapest version too. Just run it with Rout instead of Farewell and you save cash and good feelings as well.

Draining Whelk vs. Swan Song or Cryptic Command - 0.99 vs 9.99 and 7.99

Draining Whelk
Swan Song
Cryptic Command

As a rule, I like to run better counters in multiplayer than cheaper ones like the Desertion at 5 mana versus the harder to cast Cryptic Command at four or the cheap but hard counter what you want Swan Song. I'd rather run Draining Whelk than those anyway, which is a win con counter that makes a beefy flyer that grows in size. If I want a limited two drop counter in a budget conscious brew, I'll just run Commander Classic Negate that's splashable but heavily printed in Standard legal format as a common so it's just a quarter here for the cheapest one. The cheapest Counterspell, by the by, is 1.49 for comparison.

Fact or Fiction vs. Ponder - 0.25 vs 2.99

Fact or Fiction

Let's turn to classic mono-Blue cards card draw stuff that are so iconic they were restricted in Vintage! This is another example of uncommon heavily printed vs heavily printed common will make you think that the uncommon is much more expensive, but not in this case where the uncommon is much cheaper. It's a four-cost instant that'll reveal top five, and then your foe splits and then you draw either the best two or the worst three from your library's top five. It digs five, at instant speed, draws you around three, and it was so good that when legal in Vintage in four it was broken. Ponder is a slower sorcery but a cheap first turn play with one mana. You dig three, and then you only draw one, so this is card neutrality, whereas FOF is card draw, and then the former is too powerful, but Ponder has never been on its power level.

Imprisoned in the Moon Vs Song of the Dryads - 0.99 vs. 3.99

Imprisoned in the Moon
Song of the Dryads

if you are looking for a permanent answer to a Commander that can be recast from the Command Zone, enter this classic duo that turn a few permanent types into lands! The first one printed in this type, Song of the Dryads, costs four times as much as Imprisoned in the Moon. Don't sleep on that price difference since they will usually answer what you want, although the green one can answer more permanents. Good pair to take a looksee at!

Blackblade Reforged vs. Whispersilk Cloak - 0.75 vs. 2.49

Blackblade Reforged
Whispersilk Cloak

For one printed as a common first? Now let's turn to artifact win cons and their colorless state makes them heavy plays. The rare is game winner that drops for two, equips for three to legendary stuff like your Commander, and gives it size boosts equal to your land count! The Cloak drops turn three, equips for two, gives unblockable for your Commander to kill quickly and then targeted removal protection with shroud so it wins and protects in one card.

Despite the commonality difference, the Reforged is much cheaper. Also, despite the fact that many decks run Swiftfoot Boots instead of Lightning Greaves or together the Boots cost just 1.25 here for the cheapest version and the Greaves are a pricey 5.99 for the cheapest again, that's a big number difference. Also, Loxodon Warhammer is 75 cents. You might think that the best colorless way to give double strike Fireshrieker would cost a lot, but it's just 0.49 too!

Commander's Sphere and Stonespeaker Crystal - 0.25 each

Commander's Sphere
Stonespeaker Crystal

Now let's turn from colorless equipment to mana rocks! As you probably know, most mana rocks are pretty cheap on the secondary market like the heavily reprinted Sol Ring here for 1.99 and the heavily played and reprinted too Arcane Signet. Since ramp spells are preferred in Green decks, many decks don't even run mana rocks. But there are a few that I love that I run in many decks that are cheap in bother Budget and non-Budget like this sacrificing for card flow duo. The common was heavily played in decks prior to the printing of Arcane Signet, and now many have replaced it, but I generally prefer this unless I have a four drop Commander to drop third off a second-turn Arcane Signet. I prefer this since you can sac this for a card no tapping or mana needed unlike things like Mind Stone. The uncommon costs four, to tap for two, and taps with two to sac for drawing one card and then exiling everyone else's graveyard at instant speed! There's nothing like running graveyard abuse hate in your mana rocks you can activate and draw a card at instant speed without hurting your own graveyard.

Peregrination and Krosan Tusker - 25 cents and 15 cents

Krosan Tusker

Now let's turn from cheap mana rocks to cheap ramp. Peregrination is a classic budget card that both me and Mark's deck use in our decks since it's a four-mana Cultivate or Kodama's Reach with a scry attached. Depending on how long the last one of those was printed, the prices on those will fluctuate and right now are 0.75 and 0.99 respectively. Pretty cheap. The four-cost ramp spell is usually the double land getter Explosive Vegetation and others of that ilk, and that's just 99 cents too, not that bad. The Tusker is a common dork that cycles at instant speed for three mana to draw and tutor a basic into your hand. That cannot be easily countered since it's an ability. Then if you draw it later or while top decking, you can drop it as a beater for smashing. It's rare that a land search spell can also win the game. Love this rampy pair loads!

Llanowar Elves and Other Mana Elves and Quirion Elves - 0.35 for the first, 0.25 for the latter

Llanowar Elves
Quirion Elves

Now let's turn from Mana Ramp in Green to Mana Dorks! The one-drop mana elves that only tap for one color of mana tend to be pretty cheap. The first is 35 cents, and then some like Elvish Mystic printed less is 0.49, and then ditto Avacyn's Pilgrim. None of the one drop or two drop "Tap for any color of mana" things are cheap like Birds of Paradise or even things like Noble Hierarch that taps for three are cheap either. But Quirion Elves is very cheap for a two drop that taps for both of your colors in a two-color brew! Love it loads!

Inspired Tinkering vs. Jeska's Will - 30 cents vs. 19.99

Inspired Tinkering
Jeska's Will

Let's turn to Red's classic impulsive card flow where you exile stuff from your library for a limited window of time to play them. Many of the best of these are very pricey for decks with a casual budget like the Commander Classic Jeska's Will that exiles three for the turn only for a cheap three mana or you can make a bunch of mana equal to your foe's hand count or both if you control your Commander! You'll make that mana to cast your three cards, nice!

There are two recently printed common two cost sorceries in this genre that exile two for the next turn for cheap enough to play they are pretty pricey too (Wrenn's Resolve is sold out here and as high as 2 bucks on other sides, Reckless Impulse is also sold out here and tends to be closer to 2.50 on other sites) The only cheap is the uncommon from a limited Commander only set, Inspired Tinkering, also sold out but a cheaper 30 cents on other sites. It's exiles three like the Will for two more mana, then your window is to the next turn not this one and then you'll make mana to cast it, this time in the form of Treasures instead of red mana this turn only. There are times when the Tinkering is better like when you don't control your Commander or cannot cast them this turn.

Magus of the Wheel vs Reforge the Soul - 0.49 vs 6.49

Magus of the Wheel
Reforge the Soul

Now let's turn from red's impulsive card flow to the first stuff ever made in Wheel of Fortune! The miracling Reforge the Soul was heavily played and very cheap on the market after printing, but with just one reprinting since then it's slowly risen in value over time, and now the Commander deck bulk rare that was never printed in a Standard legal set is massively cheaper by a whole 6 bucks. It's so cheap that it made my Budget Commander cut a few weeks ago. It's a three-drop 3/3 to swing and block, and then you can sacrifice it for two and a tap to Wheel of Fortune, an ability so powerful and iconic that an entire Top Ten Commander archetype is named after it!

Timeless Witness AND Regrowth - 0.49

Timeless Witness

Now let's turn to the iconic mechanic called recursion! Ever since the debut set, White gave Resurrection, Black Raise Dead and Animate Dead and Green Regrowth. Green was the only color to bring back anything to your hand, not just dorks, and this two-cost spell was so powerful that it was restricted in Vintage and many Vintage decks ran Green for this card! And they'd often toss in Sylvan Library too. Then Eternal Witness came in and was heavily played in Standard. Both of the above cards are more pricier for uncommons at bulk rare rate but they are so flexible that they are worth the price. Nasty! Recursion is often pretty pricey since it's so popular at the kitchen table. This pair is beloved!

Victimize, Beacon of Unrest, AND Doomed Necromancer - 0.50

Beacon of Unrest
Doomed Necromancer

But can I find cheap Black recursion like Animate Dead that will put a dork directly into play? Let's see! Obviously Reanimate and Animate Dead are too pricey, and Necromancy too!

But not this mono-Black trio around a bulk rare each! Victimize costs three, sacrifices one to return two tapped, so it's mana efficient and therefore beloved. You love sacrificing Silver Myr or Birds of Paradise for two beaters late game or two ETB triggers to do again like Mulldrifter and Flametongue Kavu mid-game. The Beacon costs five, recurs a dork or artifact to the battlefield. The creature can be tapped and sacked to recur at instant speed a dork from your graveyard. Nasty sacrificial body to block and then tap and use his ability and stop an attack at the same time. Love this trio loads! See also Obzedat's Aid, a bulk rare I love tossing into my Budget Commander decks with that color identity since it'll bring back anything.

Acidic Slime and Reclamation Sage and Mulldrifter - 0.25 and 0.49

Acidic Slime
Reclamation Sage

These three classic ETB ability card-advantage dorks beloved 2/2 or 2/1 dorks are next! The first uncommon has deathtouch, and then when it ETBs you can destroy three things including lands. Then since it has deathtouch people often won't swing or block so they don't trade down, and when you do trade that's a two-for-one. The common has flying to swing over foes or block them, and then when it ETbs, you draw two. You can evoke it out early for three mana, key for finding land drops if you need them. This pair are Commander Classics, but many run Reclamation Sage for the Slime, which costs a quarter too, so it's fine to run them in your decks and I like often to run them together.

Burglar Rat and Liliana's Specter - 0.35 and 0.25

Burglar Rat
Liliana's Specter

In multiplayer formats like Commander, single target discard like Mind Rot and Ravenous Rats wasn't hot. What we wanted was something that would hit all foes at once! The first of these was the expensive common Cackling Fiend which costs four mana for a 2/1 but it still got play since it was the only one. Then we got Liliana's Specter and everything changed since it was cheaper and flying body. It was everywhere! Then you have the ability start to take off, enter the two-drop Burglar Rat. I run them in Budget Brews and regular decks all the time. See also Elderfang Disciple that's 35 cents, and Nezumi Informant and Virus Beetle.

And there we go! So, what did you think of my look at budget Commander stuff? I hope that you enjoyed it!

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