Ultra Budget Brews — Horobi, Death’s Wail

Hello, and welcome back for the 6th edition of Ultra Budget Brews, the column where we build EDH decks that only contain cards that cost less than $1. So far we have built decks that correspond with a number of different archetypes. We have built Aggro, Burn, Combo, and Mid-range. One kind of deck that we haven’t built yet is a control deck. This is not because I don’t enjoy control decks (I do), but rather because of the self imposed limitations of this column.

Control decks require lots of answers and lots of card advantage. Both of these things, typically, are not easily found for under $1. So, the question becomes, how do we build a cohesive control deck without using sub-optimal cards? The answer to this question has become a bit of a theme for this series: build around a general that loves cards no one else wants anything to do with.

Our Commander – Horobi, Death’s Wail

Pros

  • Great stats for a fairly cheap cost
  • Built in evasion
  • Effect turns pretty much everything into Murder
  • The effect is something many decks are ill-equipped to handle

Cons

  • Effect is symmetrical
  • Has a difficult time with Shroud, Hexproof, and Indestructible
  • Name sounds like a really, really bad Emo band (really bad Emo band is, admittedly, a bit redundant)

The Deck

Total Cost (at Card Kingdom): $30.55

At first glance, this deck is likely a collection of cards that you have never played against and had to look up. Helm of Chatzuk? Belbe’s Armor? Baton of Morale?

As you have probably guessed, Horobi is the secret sauce that brings this mess of cards together. Suddenly, giving your opponent’s Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite or Grave Titan Banding or changing their color blows them up. If that doesn’t sound like fun, I’m not sure what to do for you.

Control This!

As I mentioned before, this is supposed to be a control deck. We are looking to run our opponents out of resources and eventually take over the game with big evasive threats. This plan all hinges on Horobi and a plethora of cheap, repeatable targeting effects. Eventually, we will (hopefully) run our opponents out of creatures and grind out a victory. Our deck is incredibly strong against anything that relies on creatures. I would argue that the majority of EDH decks would fall into this category.

This is not to say that our plan is without weaknesses; every deck has some weaknesses. The decks we are weakest to typically fall into one of a couple categories

  • Decks that run lots of Hexproof, Shroud, or Indestructible creatures
  • Combo decks that don’t need their commander or other creatures
  • Non-creature artifact or enchantment heavy decks

To battle these decks, we run a few things to help shore up these weaknesses, namely sac effects and a few sweepers. Playing a strong political game can also help a ton. If you manage to convince someone else to do your dirty work for you, then you have effectively saved resources that you can use later.

The creatures we run either help to trigger Horobi’s ability or they provide a way to help close out the game. There will be games that Horobi will get blown up every time it shows its…face? (I truthfully have no idea what is happening with the art on this card. It kind of looks like a malevolent Japanese spirit decided to put on the Scream mask that every would-be edgy teenager used to wear for Halloween. Kamigawa was a strange plane). Having a cohesive plan for these games is important. Our plan involves big, black, flying demons beating our opponents into a nice, frothy pulp. This works more often than it should.

Performance Enhancing Thugs

We also run a ton of artifacts. There are a few mana rocks to help us ramp, but the majority of our artifacts target creatures, often tapping them down or effecting them in some other negative way. These are clearly here to trigger Horobi’s ability, but in a pinch, can be used to negate attacks against you. They can even be used to garner goodwill with the table by tapping down a problematic attacker or blocker that is gumming things up.

Our enchantments provide additional value by either draining our opponents or helping to recur our creatures that will inevitably be dying. Shadows of the Past is the one I am most excited about. It gives value when creatures die and provides a mana sink for the late game.

Notable Inclusions

 

Touch of Darkness

This is a card that you have likely never seen in a game or even heard of before. Part of this can certainly be attributed to the fact that it’s from Legends, but most of the reason is because this card is stone unplayable in basically every other deck imaginable. For 1 black mana you can change the color of any number of target creatures to black. Seems…bad. Real bad. Thankfully, we are playing Horobi and bad Magic cards become back-breaking. With Horobi in play, this is essentially In Garruk’s Wake, but for a single black mana and at instant speed.

Bane plays with Touch of Darkness, too.

Staff of Nin

This card sees play in over 7000 deck on EDHREC, so it is admittedly a known quantity, but in this deck, instead of acting as a pinger that draws you cards, it straight up Murders a creature every turn and draws you cards.

Phylactery Lich

We are running a ton of artifacts in this deck, 21 to be exact, so we will likely never be lacking for targets. This is huge as far as 3 mana creatures go, and Indestructible is a very powerful keyword to have. Horobi allows your creatures to be easily killed as well, so having something that can shrug it off is a great thing to have access to.

Hex Parasite

For the small cost of either one black mana or two life, you can kill any creature when Horobi is in play. This is also great tech against that guy in your playgroup who is obsessed with playing Atraxa Super Friends or other related counter shenanigans.

Oasis

This card is terrible. I can’t think of another deck that I would play this in besides some sort of Desert theme deck. It doesn’t even tap of mana. If you are a card like Maze of Ith or Glacial Chasm, you get a pass on that front, but unless the effect is very powerful, lands need to tap for mana, full stop. This prevents one damage to any target creature, which is decidedly not powerful, except for the fact that with Horobi out, you tap this and blow up a dude. This also gets bonus points for being a land. For some reason lands are seen as being sacrosanct. People are averse to destroying them and often don’t bring much land hate, meaning your Oasis is likely safe. Also, if you do force someone to use a Ghost Quarter on it, they just wasted resources to destroy an Oasis.

 

Notable Exclusions

These are cards that fit perfectly with what the deck is trying to do, but are left off because they cost more than $1. If you have any of these or want to upgrade the deck in anyway, these are some of the first places I would look.

It should be noted that I am trying to steer clear of “staples.” Yes, Solemn Simulacrum and Sol Ring are a great add to literally every deck. Yes, Every Mono-Black deck can, and probably should, run Cabal Coffers and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. If you are reading this, you likely know that already. I want to keep this list moderately interesting and avoiding obvious staples seems like a good way to do so.

Cauldron of Souls

Tap to destroy every creature on the board that you don’t control. You aren’t able to give your creatures Persist with Horobi out, but there will be games that Horobi gets hated out and you’ll have to try and get there with a few black demons. You’ll be glad to have this in those situations.

Rise of the Dark Realms

We are destroying tons of creatures, why not have some way to reuse all of them? For bonus points reanimate a Mogis’s Marauder at the same time and give your newly acquired zombie horde Haste and Intimidate.

 

Arcane Lighthouse

The thing this deck struggles with the most is creatures that have Hexproof, Shroud, and/or Indestructible. This covers 2 of the 3 quite nicely. Really, though, this is one of those utility lands that you can throw in basically any deck and be better off for it, it’s just particularly important in this specific deck.

 

Yahenni, Undying Partisan

Gives a payoff for all of the creatures that are likely dying. The fact that you can sacrifice creatures to give it indestructible is actually incredibly powerful as free sac outlets tend to be. Also, it has haste, which isn’t nothing.

Grave Betrayal

I can’t decide if this or Arcane Lighthouse would be my first add to the deck. This is one of those cards that I have always loved and will continue to do so, even though seven mana is a huge ask. If you ever happen to stick this with an active Horobi, your opponents are likely not long for this world. Also, have I mentioned how fun this card is? Cause it’s a ton of fun.

 

End Step

That’s all I have for this week. As always, if there is anything that you think I completely missed the boat on, let me know below. Personally, I had more fun building this deck than any of the others up to this point. It has also been a blast to play online and wins its fair share of games. If you are looking for a controlling deck that is both unique and easy on the wallet, I’d strongly recommend giving this deck a look. Also, I am looking at a few different commanders for my next article. Let me know below which of these you would be most interested in seeing get built.

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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.