Alright… so you liked my previous article and you were actually interested in starting to play commander. The only problem was… OMG, it will be a hugeee investment!! What if I tell you that you can build some pretty cool commander decks for little investment and if you actually have a decent collection from modern or old standard formats chances are, that you already own a good chunk of the expensive cards that will take your deck to the next level.
Before I start let me tell you some of the criteria that I used to come up with these 5. But remember, there are thousands of legendary creatures in Magic, so there are probably some commanders that would make more sense in this list, but as long as you take some ideas to assemble your first deck, I’m happy with it!
The commander itself is on the expensive end of what I consider accessible, but if you play magic for a while, there is a good chance that you still own it from past standard formats. The 2 damage effect is for all the players and the indestructible ability is very annoying. What I like about this deck is that it has so many replaceable cards that you can pretty much make it functional just by adding all the goblin making spells such as…etc.
There are 3 cards that I consider super fun that I totally recommend you use in this deck.
There are also 3 combos that you can play in this deck.
The mage is pretty good by itself and I like that you can win out of nowhere without any set up.
Then just fill your deck with some mana rocks and some goblin lords and you are good to go.
Since you are a mono-colored deck you can get away with pretty much all mountains and just some utility lands that make tokens such as
Remember the old Standard deck? This is pretty much it, except that you will ALWAYS have 《Feather, the Redeemed》 in play on 3.
I think you can split this deck in 3 important parts.
a) Other Synergy Creatures
Despite having 《Feather, the Redeemed》 always you 3, you are also playing against more opponents. Having more value for each spell you cast is very important.
b) Value Spells
These are the spells that allow you to abuse of 《Feather, the Redeemed》’s ability. If it targets a creature you control, costs between 1 and 2 and you draw a card in the process it should probably be in your deck. For example:
c) Pump Spells
Here I consider spells that you play only for the sake of killing your opponents faster. Sure cards like 《Defiant Strike》 also pump your guys, but cards like the following will do it much more efficiently:
Remember that 21 of commander damage is enough to eliminate a player from the game!
Regarding the combos, there are not any Boros Combo that I am aware, but the red combos I’ve told you about also work well here:
Regarding the manabase. Fetch into shocklands is ideal, but since you don’t really have one drops you are allowed to play a bunch of guildgate-like lands to fix your mana. I don’t like the idea of playing mana rocks in this deck, unless of course you have the possibility to play with the moxes (《Chrome Mox》, 《Mox Amber》, 《Mox Diamond》).
Lastly, I like having 《Wrath of God》 effects on this deck, because there are a bunch of spells that also give indestructible to your creatures, saving them from the AOE effect. But I would like to highlight 《Solar Blaze》 due to its effectiveness with our commander.
Urza, Urza… this commander will make everybody look at you sideways, so make sure your playgroup is fine with playing against it because it can be pretty powerful!
I admit that I might be a little bit biased on this, because not only I own the early modern versions of it, which includes expensive and dedicated cards such as 《Mox Opal》 and 《Urza, Lord High Artificer》 Himself, but I also happen to own a bunch of random one-ofs in my collection that happened to be some of the expensive dedicated cards for this deck, such as 《Tezzeret the Seeker》, 《Cyclonic Rift》, 《Rhystic Study》, 《Static Orb》, 《Back to Basics》, 《Sapphire Medallion》 and 《Memnarch》.
The truth is that yes, those cards are good and if you own them or have access to them, great. But if not you can make a very, very functional Urza deck without spending that much.
《Urza, Lord High Artificer》 has a very powerful combo in 《Dramatic Reversal》 + 《Isochron Scepter》 + 《Urza, Lord High Artificer》. So I think you should not only play it, but also play cards that will allow you to do it consistently. There are plenty of budget options for you to do it, such as:
Due to Urza’s abilities, an artifact matter theme fits like a glove. Cards like the following are very budget-friendly and will allow you to build a super fun Urza deck.
Due to your tutor effects for your combo, you can also play some hate artifacts, such as
Just fill the deck with a bunch of mana rocks and some interaction and you are good to go. Remember that you can’t choose Signets or Talismans due to the commander identity being only blue, but there are still a lot of viable options.
Lastly and one of the reasons why I decided to have Urza in this list is because some of the most not so budget friendly cards that this deck can be upgraded with are slam dunk commander (and not only) staples, such as the fast mana rocks (《Mana Vault》, 《Mana Crypt》, 《Mox Amber》, 《Chrome Mox》, 《Mox Opal》, 《Mox Diamond》, 《Jeweled Lotus》) Forces (《Force of Will》, 《Force of Negation》), 《Mana Drain》, 《Fierce Guardianship》, 《Cryptic Command》, 《Archmage’s Charm》 are all cards that despite being expensive will absolutely play in any other blue commander deck you decide to build in the future.
Unless you already play commander, you probably don’t own Yuriko. But look at her price! So cheap!! What I really, really like about this commander is that all you need to make it functional is between 15-20 evasive one drops that are super budget-friendly. These are the ones that I play:
One thing to consider here is what mana base you have access to. If you have access to a fetch into shock mana base, this means that you probably have a consistent T1 U and T2 UB, therefore you should not play 2 mana enablers. Whenever you think about playing a 2 drop, play another 1 drop instead.
On the other hand, if you have to play guildgate-like lands in order to have a consistent mana base, then you may consider playing value enablers such as 《Baleful Strix》, 《Thalakos Seer》 and 《Sage Owl》. If you want to build a 《Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow》 deck and you don’t have a fetch into shock mana base, this is where you should, in my opinion invest first.
Then you must play the Ninja package:
《Sakashima’s Student》 is on the expensive end of a 《Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow》 dedicated card, but I think it worths the money. 《Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni》, 《Moonblade Shinobi》 and 《Okiba-Gang Shinobi》 I am not really a fan of, but I certainly won’t blame you if you wanted to go full ninja and play those as well.
Play expensive but cheap cards such as
In order to have some big hits, while being able to play those cards as well.
Play a more combo-focused deck that uses the ninjas as a draw engine.
《Demonic Consultation》 + 《Thassa’s Oracle》. You can use 《Tainted Pact》 and 《Jace, Wielder of Mysteries》 here as well in order to make your combo more redundant, but remember that 《Tainted Pact》 will make you play only one basic land of each.
There are some lands that will allow you to work around that such as Snow lands, 《Minamo, School at Water’s Edge》, 《Oboro, Palace in the Clouds》, 《Cephalid Coliseum》, artifact lands, you get the idea.
Additionally you can play 《Doomsday》 and 《Thassa’s Oracle》. While that is not a combo, per say you can set up a 《Doomsday》 to win with the 《Thassa’s Oracle》, very easily. 《Street Wraith》 into 《Thought Scour》 into 《Thassa’s Oracle》, for example.
My favorite is to play with cards such as (pick between 2 to 5 of those)
Me personally, I like having a few of each except the combos. My deck is already very optimized with Forces and a few Moxes. I make everybody sure that I will win just by attacking, but I will do it very efficiently!
Finally, the deck that checks all the boxes!
Remember that the combo requires you to draw a card, this means that your opponent’s life total should be less than the remaining cards in your deck. You play 99 cards deck, but your opponents also start with 40 life each. For this reason, you should jam one or two extra winning conditions in there, like everybodys favorite (or not) 《Thassa’s Oracle》!
You can go artifact matter cards like in Urza, you can go spell matter cards, you can go full control with sweepers and counterspells. Lot’s of card draw options, Lot’s of interaction options.
This is in my opinion the best commander deck you can start with at a very budget price tag while being very functional right off the bat. Improving it can be done by adding only Commander staples as expensive cards which you can later use in other decks making your investment very worthy.
I hope you enjoyed the article and that it makes you want to dip your toes into commander.
See you next time!
Goncalo Pinto (Twitter)