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Budget Commander with Brion


Brion Stoutarm
Commander is fun, but many of the high-profile cards have hefty price tags attached. People see dual lands, Maze of Ith, Vindicate, and Pernicious Deed, among others. These cards and many more cost large sum of cash.

After writing a budget article for last week, I was still in the mood. Let’s do another article, this time highlighting a Commander deck using some good cards that are on the cheaper side of life. Remember, not all good cards for Commander are priced high. I felt a $40 budget would be good. After building the deck, it actually clocked in at $37.71. You can buy all of the cards near mint at CoolStuffInc.com (basic lands not included in the price of the deck). (Please note the price is accurate as of the writing of this article—prices change over time and could massage a little between now and publication. They could change between midnight of publication and twelve hours later by noon. That’s the nature of the business.)

After looking at some cheap legendary creatures, I decided to roll with Brion Stoutarm. He’s 4 mana for a pertinent 4/4 body, he naturally has lifelink, and he can sacrifice dudes for damage to stuff. It’s easy to build around him in red and white; and since he clocks in at half a buck, it leaves me a ton of space to flesh out the deck. Let’s look at the decklist first

I initially was hoping to keep my budget under $30, and if I pulled Inferno Titan, Temple of the False God, Devil's Play, Glory, and maybe another card or two, I could manage it.

This deck is basically divided into three sections. The first is built around the sacrificing of creatures. If you’ll recall, Brion likes to fling things at your head (and give you life for it!). I tossed in a similar Bloodshot Cyclops to give me a bit of redundancy and then moved to cards that help Brion out. Look at Stalking Vengeance and Flayer of the Hatebound. Whenever creatures fall, you can dole out extra hurt equal to the dying one’s power. Nim Deathmantle allows you to spend 4 mana when a creature dies to bring it right back out again, while Colfenor's Urn will build up big creatures that die until enough are under it that it pops and they all come back. These keep you going. When a critter dies, it puts counters on the Jar of Eyeballs, which you can turn into cards and digging.

Many other cards work with Brion, too. The Conquering Manticore will grab an opposing creature when the Manticore enters play, give its target haste, and force it to smash face, and then, Brion can sacrifice the stolen creature before it would return. Serra Avatar is sick with Brion. Archon of Justice will exile a permanent when it dies. I love the Petradon trick: You play it, exile two opposing lands, and while that ability is on the stack, sacrifice it to Brion to smash someone for 5 damage (and perhaps more if you fire-breathe it), and then when it dies, it triggers the return of the exiled lands. Since they haven’t gone yet, nothing happens, and when they are exiled, they leave the board permanently.

I added a lot of beef that can be good fodder for Brion. Avatar of Fury is dumb and big, as are Hamletback Goliath, Inferno Titan, Sunrise Sovereign, Ulamog's Crusher, Vengeful Archon, Borderland Behemoth, and many others.

The second section was an Equipment section. I tossed in Godo, Bandit Warlord, Hoarding Dragon, and Taj-Nar Swordsmith to grab good Equipment. (You play the H. Dragon, tutor the relic, sacrifice it to Brion, and then you have the Equipment; plus, the lizard can fetch other artifacts, too). In addition to Nim Deathmantle, I added Argentum Armor, Empyrial Plate, and Sunforger. All pump the power a lot, so they can be used to amp damage for Brion.

The Sunforger pushed me in my third task. I added a ton of really good instants that cost 4 or less mana. You can see the suite of instant stuff, and there’s a lot. For example, suppose you want to handle an artifact or enchantment—Into the Core, Orim's Thunder, or Return to Dust will work. You can Fork and Redirect a spell with Wild Ricochet. You can exile an attacker or prevent blocking with Order // Chaos. You can bounce an opposing creature or Shock a creature with Dead // Gone. You can give your entire team protection from a color (Akroma's Blessing), destroy a creature with power 4 or greater (Radiant's Judgment), steal a creature to sacrifice to Brion (Grab the Reins), Fog, counter something, or regenerate something else (Dawn Charm), force the sacrifice of attackers (Wing Shards), bring back all of the dead things (Faith's Reward), destroy a bunch of blocking and blocked creatures (Fight to the Death), or shuffle a permanent back into the library (Oblation). That is a nasty slate of abilities that I can pull out of my deck at instant speed with the Sunforger.

Once I had my three main themes set, the rest of the deck built around it. I needed mana, so in went Kor Cartographer and Pilgrim's Eye as creatures to find what I needed. They joined the virtually essential Armillary Sphere (in decks outside of green) along with Boros Signet and Dreamstone Hedron. I also was able to squeeze in a few lands for mana. Boros Garrison is an obvious choice, but I also included Temple of the False God and the two common fetch lands.

Warstorm Surge seemed to fit a deck that was rocking this many beaters. You might even want to add Electropotence or Where Ancients Tread. I needed some more creatures, so in went the powerful Glory to hit the ’yard and save my team. Batterhorn and Keldon Vandals both will destroy an artifact when they arrive and can be sacrificed for a large passel of damage. I even managed to squeeze in fun guy Kamahl, Pit Fighter.

Desolation Giant
After that, I added a handful of cards and called it. Seer's Sundial enables me to draw the cards I need to keep going. Keldon Necropolis will allow me to sacrifice a creature for two damage as a backup sacrifice source. Both Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion and Slayers' Stronghold are great here, and I adore them in this deck. Imagine giving double strike to a creature of the sizes you see rocking this deck! The last few cards in this deck were a handful of mass removal. The cheap Desolation Giant joined Phyrexian Rebirth and Kirtar's Wrath to give me a bit of game.

I decided to add the small Giant theme after I noticed more and more Giants just making the cut, such as Inferno Titan and Hamletback Goliath. We don’t have too many Giant tribal cards, and not all fit here, but the few we have look nice.

Cards good for this deck that I couldn’t afford but would otherwise consider include Twilight Shepherd, Adarkar Valkyrie, Cauldron of Souls, Skullclamp, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, Swords to Plowshares, Lightning Greaves, Angelic Chorus, Sun Titan, Sneak Attack, Lifeline, Stonehewer Giant, Sol Ring, Solemn Simulacrum, Honor the Fallen, Anger, High Market, good lands, and so forth.

I hope that you enjoyed today’s budget deck.

See you next week,

Abe Sargent

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