Ultra Budget Brews — Borborygmos Enraged

Hello, and welcome to my article series “Ultra Budget Brews”! This is a series where we attempt to build fun, and relatively competitive decks in which no card, commander included, costs more than a single George Washington (that’s one U.S. dollar, for our non-American listeners). Before we continue, I should introduce myself. I’m Andrew, and I am one of those filthy casuals you sometimes hear about. I’ve been playing Magic since Avacyn Restored, but have only been playing Magic with something approaching competence since Theros block. I enjoy Magic in basically any form, but Commander is far and away my favorite, because, as alluded to before, I’m pretty casual. I suppose I’m some kind of a Johnny/Timmy hybrid. I want to create a Rube Goldberg machine that does something big and splashy. If I win, well, that’s great too.

As mentioned before, the goal behind this series is to build fun, relatively competitive decks in which no card, commander included, costs more than $1. For this, I will use TCG market price. Will it be difficult? At times, but restriction breeds creativity, and I have found that creativity leads to a much more personalized, fun experience. Also, it’s significantly cheaper.

Have you ever been killed by Avenger of Zendikar? Sanguine Bond combo? Narset taking all of the turns? If you are reading this, you probably have. It’s not that the aforementioned plays are bad or wrong, they’re just so…ordinary. Now, have you ever been killed by cards like Barrel Down Sokenzan? Trench Gorger? Omen Machine? Chances are, probably not, and if you have, you likely remember. Just because a card is cheap does not mean it’s not powerful. What it does often mean is that it is underused.

If I wanted to sum up the goal of this series, it would be this: I am not planning to play crappy, underpowered draft chafe, but rather, I am hoping to find cards that are powerful in specific situations and then create those situations as best I can, all for under $1. Let’s get to it!

Gruul Smash!

Our Commander: Borborygmos Enraged

The Pros

  • 7/6 is pretty beefy
  • Trample
  • Great combat trigger
  • Activated ability turns your excess lands into bolts. Spoiler alert: This is why we are here
  • Can definitely win via commander damage in a pinch

The Cons

  • 8 mana is a ton, even in green
  • Removal quickly makes him close to impossible cast
  • Dies to Eye Gouge (I’ve actually seen this happen. Why was this player playing Eye Gouge in commander? Doesn’t matter. It was hilarious)

The Deck

So, our decks plan is (more or less) as follows

Step 1: Ramp
Step 2: Ramp Harder
Step 3: Cast Bobo
Step 4: Bury our opponents in a flurry of basic lands

A bit like this, but (hopefully) far more effective

Total cost (Tcgplayer): $26.23

As commander decks go, $26 is tough to beat. Also, lots of the cards can probably be found in random bulk bins lying around your LGS or your buddies’ house. We’re talking nickels and dimes here. Your opponents are likely running cards that cost more than your entire deck. If you don’t find some satisfaction in beating people with super budget decks, I don’t know what to do for you, because frankly, it’s a great feeling.

A few notes:

  • We are admittedly ‘all in’ on our general and don’t have many alternative wincons.
  • We are playing a ton of lands. I mean, literally half of our deck is land. The reason for this is twofold. A) We can’t afford to ever miss a land drop, at least until we can cast our general and B) Lands are never a dead draw in the late game, as they are our win condition.
  • We prioritize spells that put lands in our hand, though we still need traditional ramp.
  • We don’t have a ton of ways to interact with our opponents’ board, so making nice with a few of your opponents can go a long way towards staying in the game long enough to get your feet under you.
  • The most difficult part of playing this deck is figuring out when it’s safe to play your general. Obviously, having some sort of protection is best, though it won’t always be possible. You’ll always to able to respond to removal by discarding a bunch of lands in retribution, which hopefully will make people think twice about blowing him up, but because Bobo costs so much, this is often a Pyrrhic Victory
  • Pro-tip: If you are looking for a psychological edge, play all mismatched basic lands. I’ve found a mixture of white and black border works best. It’ll drive the more OCD people in your playgroup batty. The fact that they are being killed by the aforementioned lands only serves to amplify this effect.

Notable inclusions

Barrel Down Sokenzan

There are few things better than finding crappy mechanics WotC hopes we’ve forgotten about and them using them in utterly busted ways. For 3 mana, return all of your mountains to your hand, destroy a critter, and then chuck those lands at your opponent, 3 damage at a time. For bonus style points, point the creature damage at a Stuffy Doll.

Creeping Renaissance

Frankly, there is nothing slow or creeping about this card. Get all of the lands you have thrown into your graveyard already back into your hand and dome your opponent for tons of damage. If they aren’t dead after that, use the flashback and do it again.

Storm Cauldron

This is a goofy artifact that messes with the flow of the game. Thankfully, you are likely able to take more advantage of this than your opponents. A word of warning: this can lead to more drawn out games, but when you finally decide to tap all of your lands, someone is in for a trip to Pound-town

Snake Umbra

This is notable for what is not on it. Normally with effects like this, there is a pesky word that proceeds damage: Combat. It’s not there, which means your lands become “lightning bolt, draw a card”. The totem armor is just delicious, wholesome gravy. Combo this with Scouting Trek and cackle maniacally.

Scythe of the Wretched

Sometimes, the opponent’s creatures are so good, that you just really want them. I mean, if Greek mythology taught us anything, it’s that Cyclops don’t like sharing. So, discard two lands, and steal that shiny Consecrated Sphinx or Master of Cruelties. They were up to no good anyway.

Grafted Exoskeleton

We have all experienced the commander game that just won’t die. It stopped being fun sometime around the second Armageddon effect and there is no end in sight. What these situations often need is a card that can end the game quickly. This card essentially makes Bobo read, discard 4 lands: target opponent loses the game. Sign me up!

Notable Exclusions

These are the cards that we had to cut because they were too expensive. If you are looking to lose the $1 restriction and upgrade the deck, these five cards are where I would start.

Keen Sense

A second copy of Snake Umbra, but discounted a few mana.

Praetor’s Consul

Reload your hand with all of the lands you’ve pitched at your opponents. Also gets you back any other cards that you might happen to want back.

Knollspine Dragon

If you are casting this card, you are almost certainly winning the game on the spot. If, you’ve discarded 5 lands, you are getting a dragon and drawing 15 cards. Seeing as how half the deck is land, you should be drawing into a ton of gas.

Abundance

This innocuous enchantment guarantees that you will draw land if you are wanting one. Combos incredibly well with Bobo.

Life from the Loam

Effectively reads pay 1G, deal 9 damage. That’s efficiency even a Spike can get behind.

Conclusion

Is this deck an efficient death machine? Probably not, but I can say that it’s a ton of fun to play with and will certainly win its share of games. What did you think? Any obvious inclusions I missed? Have any experience with this kind of restriction? Tell me about it below!

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Andrew is a life-long gamer and has been playing Magic since 2013. He works as an ASL interpreter, enjoys running, and sitting on his porch reading, while simultaneously silently judging his neighbors. He lives in Joplin, MO with his wife.