Commander 2018 Budget Upgrades

Cameron Franklin
August 02, 2018
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What is this? A bunch of new challengers are approaching? This year’s Commander product has been fully spoiled and will enter the ring on August 10, 2018 for a MSRP of $40. Let’s take some time to dive into initial upgrade you may want to grab at your LGS to power up the deck! We are setting a budget of an additional $50 (using TCG Mid) to keep things from getting too out of hand.

There are obviously different ways to build commander decks so I will be trying to define the game plan that I am looking at but some cards may be listed simply because they are cool. For the sake of ease, we are going to keep the Planeswalker Commanders, since they are what Wizards designed the decks around, and we aren’t going to be focusing on the mana base too much (even for the “lands matter” deck). We will also not necessarily be looking at what cards to take out to add these cards in. While I don’t personally tend to play infinite combos in my decks there are relatively budget combos for three of the four Commanders. You can find the original decklists for the decks here

Exquisite Invention- Saheeli, the Gifted- Game Play: “Play artifacts and cast big spells”.

Saheeli is my favorite Planewalker introduced in the recent blocks and while it is strange to see her back in this way I am excited to see her helming the artifact deck. Let’s take a look at our list of upgrades then talk about them.

 

Bane of Bala Ged - $0.75

Blue Sun's Zenith - $0.30

Daretti, Scrap Savant - $5

Deepglow Skate - $7.00

Dominate - $0.25

Entrancing Melody - $0.40

Ghirapur Aether Grid - $0.25

Hangarback Walker - $4.75

Illuminate - $0.20

Indomitable Creativity - $0.75

Jaya's Immolating Inferno - $0.50

Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain - $2.00

Master of Etherium - $4.50

Metalwork Colossus - $0.50

Mycosynth Lattice - $7.50

Sai, Master of Thopterist - $1.80

Tezzeret the Seeker - $12.00

Whir of Invention - $2.00

Total Cost: $50.70

You may have noticed from my game plan that I think Saheeli’s strong point is here +1 which reduced the cost of our next spell. The Eldrazi Titans are great with this reduction but unfortunately, they are out of our price range. One of my favorite Eldrazi though happens to be bulk so Bane of Bala Ged gets to hold down the Eldrazi banner… tentacle?... mask? Regardless Bane is a ton of fun to play. Other big creatures are Hangarback Walker and Metalwork Colossus.    

We have a handful of X spells that further take advantage of Saheeli’s cost reduction. In the long run many of these may not make a final cut of the deck but they are interesting. I specifically like Jaya’s Immolating Inferno and Blue Sun’s Zenith because of their ability to knock opponents out of the game.

Lastly artifacts are great because they help us keep our plan going and Sai, Jhoira, and Ghirapur Aether Grid all give us added bonuses as we cast them. We do get to go infinite in this deck with Saheeli, Deepglow Skate, and Mycosynth Lattice which is why that combo takes about a third of our budget.  

 

Subjective Reality- Aminatou, the Fatesticher- Game Plan: “Blink the things and manipulate the deck”

Aminatou is a strange commander. She has a powered down “Brainstorm” as her +1 then a blink as her -1 but then there is probably one of the strangest ultimates ever printed on a Walker. One thing that I like about Aminatou’s -1 specifically is that it blinks things our opponents control but we own and then returns them to our control so if we can trade things we can get them back which is pretty solid but I am not sure how viable that will be on a budget. Anyway, let’s sort through the cards to add to this Esper deck!

 

Altar of the Brood - $12.00

Augury Adept - $0.40

Baneful Omen - $0.40

Brago, King Eternal - $1.35

Cataclysmic Gearhulk - $0.85

Charmed Pendant - $0.35

Demonic Pact - $1.10

Felidar Guardian - $0.25

Future Sight - $0.60

Gonti, Lord of Luxury - $0.50

Gray Merchant of Asphodel - $0.45

Jalira, Master Polymorphist - $0.20

Mystical Tutor - $5.00

Mastery of the Unseen - $.25

Mystical Tutor - $5.00

Narset Transcendent - $9.30

Perplexing Chimera - $0.40

Reality Acid - $0.20

Reveillark - $2.90

Rune-Scarred Demon - $3.25

Sorin, Grim Nemesis - $5.80

Total Cost: $47.70

So “Enters the Battlefield” might be my favorite phrase in Magic and Aminatou may be one of the best blink commanders on the market. You can blink 3 times without needing to recast her and she is cheap enough to recast a few times without any huge cost to you. Brago and Reveillark also help with the Enters the Battlefield theme and Brago specifically does great with the Manifest cards in the deck. Cataclysmic Gearhulk, Rune-Scarred, Gonti, Gray Merchant, and Reality Acid are fantastic blink targets.

When it comes to manipulating the top of your library I really like Sorin, Grim Nemesis and Baneful Omen to beat down our opponents. It may just be cute but I like using the +1 on Narset Transcendent to get back the card we put on our library with Aminatou’s +1. Charmed Pendant is a cool card I hadn’t heard of prior to this which may have a place in an Aminatou deck focused on reanimation. Jalira, Future Sight, and Mystical Tutor give us some fun things to do with the top of our deck.

Just like Saheeli, Aminatou also goes infinite with 2 other cards this time Altar of the Brood and the infamous Felidar Guardian. Even without Altar you have infinite enters and leaves the battlefield triggers with just Felidar and Aminatou which have plenty of way to be exploited (like infinite life with a Soul Sister).

Nature’s Vengeance- Lord Windgrace- “Added Value off Land Drops”

This deck has become a bit of a meme because of the lack of meaningful “Lands Matters” in this deck especially in the non-Planeswalker Commanders. As we look for some new cards we are going to be try to Remedy that to get some actual land synergies in the lands deck. BUT FIRST Lord Windgrace is a pretty cool value Planeswalker: +2 to turn a land into two cards is pretty sweet as is the ability to get those lands back with the -3. Windgrace’s Ultimate of -11 destroy six nonlands and create six 2/2 cats with forestwalk is by solid as well though not nearly as game winning as many other Planeswalker ultimates.

 

Farseek - $0.65

Ghost Quarter - $1.80

Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar - $1.49

Nissa, Vastwood Seer - $6.75

Nissa, Vital Force - $4.50

Ob Nixilis, the Fallen - $3.45

Omnath, Locus of Rage - $1.95

Ramunap Excavator - $3.70

Realms Uncharted - $2.00

Splendid Reclamation - $0.95

Stone-Seeder Hierophant - $0.20

Tectonic Edge - $1.85

The Gitrog Monster - $10.00

Titania, Protector of Argoth - $7.05

Wood Elves - $0.35

Zendikar's Roil - $0.25

Total Cost: $47.20

Omnath, Locus of Rage is a really fun Commander and is a great card in any deck that is putting lands into play. Lord Windgrace’s -3 both ramps and gives us two 5/5’s if you have the Kool Aid Man in play which is pretty nice! I know I am not the first person to point out that The Gitrog Monster and Titania also slot into this deck nicely but here we are! OG Ob Nixilis is also a sweet landfall card while Nissa, Vital Force has an easy to achieve emblem that keeps the card flow coming. Splendid Reclamation, Farseek, and Wood Elves flush out our ramp package while Ghost Quarter and Tectonic Edge give us cheap lands to keep getting back.  

Despite all the flack that the deck is getting from the Magic community, some of which is founded, I do think it is important to look at Lord Windgrace and evaluate without the hate. Windgrace is a solid role player and efficient engine for churning through the deck. While the three-card combo isn’t fiscally cheap enough to put on this list (and isn’t an instant win in Commander) it is really cool that the -3 works with the Dark Depths combo.

Adaptive Enchantments- Estrid, the Masked- Game Plan “Enchantment Value Town”

Last but not least we have Estrid, the Masked piloting the Bant Enchantress deck. I really like the ability to use Estrid’s -1 to enchant something then using her +2 to untap it. I do with that Estrid’s +2 untapped “enchantment permanents” as well so that it would synergize better with the enchantment creatures from Theros block but oh well. Let’s take our last look at the cards:

 

Argothian Enchantress - $8.75

Bident of Thassa - $0.40

Eidolon of Countless Battles - $0.70

Heliod, God of the Sun - $4.30

Hero of Iroas - $0.65

Luminarch Ascension - $2.20

Mesa Enchantress - $0.35

Satyr Enchanter - $0.25

Sphere of Safety - $1.90

Sram, Senior Edificer - $1.70

The Chain Veil - $22.85

Utopia Sprawl - $2.80

Verduran Enchantress - $0.75

Total Cost: $47.60

 

Overall Estrid has some straight forward upgrades. Argothian Enchantress, Mesa Enchantress, Satyr Enchanter, and Verduran Enchantress all draw when we cast any enchantment and Sram draws whenever we cast an Aura. These radically increase the decks ability to keep going through cards so we can get to our big spells.

Next, we have some cards that synergize with our overall plan. Eidolon of Countless Battles is a resilient threat, Heliod lets us spend mana to make blockers, and Sphere of Safety helps us to protect ourselves as well as Estrid.

The Chain Veil is an expensive upgrade but it is really easy to go infinite with using Estrid’s -1 to enchant it then +2 to untap it. Like the combos for Saheeli and Aminatou you don’t have to run this in the deck but it is something that people will expect you to have.

Closing Thoughts

Overall the Planeswalkers have grown on my more and more as I have thought more through the decks. There are some fun places to take the decks and I like the return of Walkers as Commanders.

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