Hello, and welcome back to Ultra Budget Brews, the series that builds entire EDH decks with no card over $1, commander included. Last time, we were visited by the true spirit of Christmas, John McClane, who showed us how to lay waste to our enemies and anyone else who would dare threaten the Nakatomi plaza.
As a short aside, I got to go to GP Oklahoma City last week. I’d never gone to anything like that before and had no idea what to expect. In short, it was a blast. I didn’t do anything at all with the main event, because I didn’t feel like spending $70 to go and scrub out, and because jamming a bunch of side events, random games of EDH, and haggling with vendors and binder grinders is a really fun way to spend a weekend. If you ever have the opportunity, get a bunch of buddies together and go.
Back to building decks.
Being red and green, Gruul is unquestionably the most Christmas-y of the guilds, and as such all of your options were Gruul colored. Nothing says Christmas cheer quite like “Crush them!” and “We eat!”
Here were the results of the poll
This commander really wants X spells. All of the X spells. Typically, X spells are great at closing out the game with the trade off of typically being bad early. Rosheen Meanderer helps this a bit by getting us out of the early game fast. 4 mana is a ton of mana to make. I can’t think of many cards that can repeatedly make 4 mana, turn after turn. Obviously this power comes with a catch, in this case the requirement that it only be used with a very specific kind of spell. Knowing all of this, let’s see what we can come up with.
We are playing green, and green already likes to ramp. We are supplementing the average green ramp package (Cultivate, Farseek, Nissa’s Pilgrimage, etc) with a bunch of artifact ramp. We don’t get to play the most powerful mana rocks because of our budget restriction, but we will still make a large amount of mana quickly and fairly efficiently.
Once we have our mana set up, we transition from early game ramp into casting haymaker after haymaker. This is much more effective with Rosheen on the field as most of our high impact cards are X spells. Some of the best X spells in red and green happen to be hydras. In fact, one of the more popular ways of building Rosheen is hydra tribal. This can be pretty effective, but I decided against going down that path. I made this decision for a number of reasons. Many of the hydras we would want to play are outside our budget, it seems like I’ve built a fair amount of tribal decks recently, and if I wanted to go straight hydra tribal, I’d likely want to build Sasaya, Orochi Archmage instead.
This doesn’t mean we aren’t playing any hydras; they are too good not to. Cards like Savageborn Hydra and Hydra Broodmaster are cards that simply end games if left unchecked. It should be noted here that Rosheen’s ability works with abilities like Hydra Broodmaster’s because it can be used to pay any cost with an X in it, not just casting costs. Lifeblood Hydra is another highly effective hydra that we get to use. It can rumble, sure, but you really want it to die, so that you can draw cards and gain life. It’s like the Magic version of the sequel to ‘Green Lantern’.
Most of our other X spells are burn spells. We hope to pump a ton of mana in to cards like Comet Storm, Fall of the Titans, and Fireball. We have a ton of these effects, each a little different than the others. Some have Flashback (Devil’s Play), some can be cast at instant speed (Volcanic Geyser), and some work as removal as well (Rolling Thunder). We even have some that are green (Squall Line), because killing your opponents with a green burn spell is just plain fun.
You may have noticed that we are running an above average amount of lands, 40 all told. Because of the amount of X spells we are running, we never want to miss a land drop. In most decks, additional lands allow you to cast multiple spells in a turn, which is admittedly powerful, but in our deck, every land makes our individual spells more powerful, allowing us to squeeze every bit of value out of them. It may be tempting to cut the number of lands to add a few cards, but I would urge you to try it with 40 for a few games and see how it feels.
We have a number of cards that aren’t X spells that do powerful things. We have mana doublers, notably Dictate of Karametra and Keeper of Progenitus. These give us extra mana to pump into our (hopefully) game ending X spells. Two of my favorite cards in the deck are Reverberate and Howl of the Horde. Trying to kill all of your opponents with direct burn damage is notoriously difficult in EDH. You are typically playing against three other players who all start with 40 life, which means you have your work cut out for you. Being able to double your spells goes a long way towards helping overcome this difficulty and allows you to do a plethora of powerful things.
Perhaps my favorite part of the entire deck is the untap theme. We have a number of cards whose sole purpose is to allow you to untap Rosheen in order to use her ability more than once a turn. Sword of the Paruns and Seeker of Skybreak allow you to generate loads of mana for, say, a giant Animist’s Awakening.
As for strategy, the largest learning curve with this kind of deck is knowing how to make yourself appear non-threatening while still building your board. This requires a bit of practice and politicking. It requires that you know which cards you need to play and which cards are just overkill. The larger your board, the more likely you are to get your face smashed in by a bunch of critters. You are at a natural advantage here because you don’t run a ton of creatures, so your board will often look unthreatening to your average player, but if you look like too much of an easy target, you’re likely to get targeted because you can’t effectively defend yourself. Like I said, it takes some practice to figure it out, but it’s a good skill to have and will make you a better magic player in the long run.
If you’ve never stared down one of these before, this might seem a bit innocuous, but as someone who has gotten curb stomped by this card more times than I care to remember, don’t sleep on it. If you untap with this and have a decent amount of mana, most of your opponents creatures are going to disappear, and you are going to be left with a huge hydra for your troubles. World Eater, indeed. In related news, I keep throwing this guy on to the polls because I want an excuse to attempt to build a mono green control deck around him, but alas. Perhaps a different time.
First off, I’m not sure why I love the art on this as much as I do. I guess I just like nature? I don’t know. Every time I cast it, I feel like I’m getting ready to go for a hike.
Every EDH deck needs some recursion. Red and green both do this fairly well, but we are missing out on some of the best ones, like Past in Flames, but Wildest Dreams fits perfectly in to our deck. It lets us get the spells that we have already gotten use out of and give them another go. This card and cards like it have grown on me recently. Sure it exiles itself, but in this deck, that’s not a huge drawback.
You likely didn’t know this card existed. I mean, why would you? I certainly didn’t. It’s just a weird green aura that has been outclassed by cards like Thousand-Year Elixir and Magewright’s Stone. That comparison isn’t completely fair, but it’s close. This essentially gives whatever creature you put this on haste, which isn’t completely irrelevant, but what we are really interested in is the free untap this gives us every turn. Instead of making 4 mana a turn with Rosheen, we are making 8. That’s definitely worth a single green mana.
This card is pretty important for the deck. We only have a few ways to copy spells, and most of them are one time use. This allows us to copy spells again and again, so long as we can pay the 3 mana. Sure, this is a do nothing artifact that costs 5 mana, but when you do stick it, you are going to get a ton of value out of it.
This card is essentially Hydra Broodmaster without any set up cost. Also, it can be copied. This is pretty terrible early, but once you get a decent amount of mana, this gets out of hand. 11 mana gives you 5 5/5’s. 21 mana gives you 10 10/10’s. In this deck, those numbers are totally achievable. This is an army in a can that can take you from totally unable to win, to “on my next attack step, I win the game”, real fast.
As always, these are cards I would add if I had the budget or if I had the card laying around in my trade binder.
This is the card I first thought of when I thought of X spells. If you’ve never had an opportunity to resolve one of these, I highly recommend it. Granted, this isn’t necessarily the best deck for this card as it’s a bit of a nonbo with your other X spells, but hitting lands and artifacts is good enough to warrant an inclusion in the deck.
Remember how I said hydra tribal wasn’t something I was interested in on a budget? Cards like this are the reason why. This guy is an absolute monster. Rosheen makes it huge, fast. It grows itself. It gives itself trample. It does everything you could possibly want, except cost $1 or less. C’est la vie.
This card is one I am guilty of putting in too many decks. I love red decks and I love repeatedly doubling red spells. This turns your fireballs in to truly frightening game ending cards. It costs 5, but the effect is worth it. Pair this up with an Emerald Charm or a Mana Geyser and, well…
Know what really grinds my gears? Casting a Comet Storm for 30 mana and getting it countered by a Swan Song. Or someone playing Dawn Charm. Or a flashed in Selfless Squire. Totally ruins my day. Banefire stops all that nonsense from happening. Use this to establish dominance when other players are getting a bit too big for their britches.
This card is the very definition of overkill. We are already making a metric ton of mana, but why not push it to levels that are truly obscene? This card will get you there. There are some cards that are inexplicably expensive, but this isn’t one of them.
What do you think of the deck? Are X spells something you enjoy in commander, or would you have preferred going a different direction? Curious to hear your opinions below! For next week’s poll, we’re going old school. Let me know which of these old bordered generals you most want to see.
Until next time!