Brew For Your Buck - Budget Human +1/+1 Counters

Kyler, Sigardian Emissary | Art by Dmitry Burmak

It's Not a Graveyard Deck, I Swear.

Hello fellow brewer and welcome back to Brew For Your Buck, where we swap out the top 10 most expensive cards in a deck with 10 budget cards that add a unique twist. I was looking back at my BFYB data spreadsheet, and realized I might have a graveyard problem (and a Spellify problem, but that's for another time). Of all of this year's decks so far, only one of them (Vilis) hasn't been a graveyard deck in some form. So this time we're going to avoid the graveyard entirely, as an acknowledgment of my problem and to give you fine readers some more variety!

Selesnya (green-white) struck me as a good color combination to start, being the enemy colors of black which is the most graveyard-centric color and the best color in Magic. One commander struck my eye, especially since we haven't done a typal list in a while:

Kyler is sort of like a legendary Thalia's Lieutenant, but can quickly turn your band of little Humans into huge beaters. He enables a go-wide strategy by going tall; a very intriguing play pattern and one that might allow the inclusion of some sweet budget cards. His average list on EDHREC comes in at $213.77, with these cards at the top of the price list:

            1. The Ozolith ($35.31)
            2. Esper Sentinel ($31.25)
            3. Roaming Throne ($26.02)
            4. Akroma's Will ($19.43)
            5. Court of Garenbrig ($17.48)
            6. Cathars' Crusade ($10.84)
            7. Tribute to the World Tree ($10.65)
            8. Adeline, Resplendent Cathar ($8.70)
            9. Heroic Intervention ($6.43)
            10. Augur of Autumn ($2.84)

Total Value of Cuts: $168.95

Only two of the lands (Overgrown Farmland and Lush Portico) will get replaced with basics leading to an additional $3.88 in savings, for a total of $177.20.

After removing all those, the only graveyard-centric cards we have in the list are Angel of Glory's Rise, Moorland Rescuer, and a few flashback spells, hardly enough to call this a graveyard deck. I solemnly swear our budget package doesn't include any more. Kyler is a key win condition for the deck, so we'll look at a budget package that manipulates counters to help buff our team and close out the game.


Oh the Humanity

First up, cards that pull double duty by being Humans and messing around with counters. I'm always happy to talk about The Lord of the Rings cards, and Gilraen, Dúnedain Protector ($0.23) seems like a good addition here. Aragorn's mom can get some additional value from ETB triggers, and offer protection for Kyler which this deck is sorely lacking (more on that in a bit). Blinking Kyler in response to removal and having him return at the end of the turn with two keyword counters seems especially strong. Luminarch Aspirant ($0.28) does a great job of handing out counters for a low mana investment and is a real beating on turn two especially. With Kyler out, it means you're giving the whole team +1/+1 right at the start of combat.

I'm surprised Hopeful Initiate ($1.64) wasn't already in this list. A repeatable Disenchant in a counters-matter deck that is also the right creature type seems too good to pass up. I also expect the price to go down on this one soon after it rotates out of Standard, making it even a better budget option in the future. Scholar of New Horizons ($1.52) is another Human that cares about counters, and also has the opportunity to ramp us. You can even get nonbasic Plains like Canopy Vista with the Scholar, so adding more typed duals seems great as well.

I Am Your Shield...

I mentioned protection for Kyler before. Aside from our newly added Gilraen, there is only one card in the list that actually protects Kyler (or anything else). Introduced in Streets of New Capenna, shield counters are a great way to give our creatures some more protection while also pushing our game plan forward. Boon of Safety ($0.05) is simple, but protects Kyler for only one mana at instant speed and adds yet another buff to the rest of your Humans. Contractual Safeguard ($0.18) can do the same, but if you cast it in your main phase you can give any type of counter (shield, hexproof, lifelink, vigilance, +1/+1) to all of your creatures. Finally, Diamond City ($1.14) offers us a "free" shield counter at a low opportunity cost, since we should have no problem meeting its requirement of two creatures entering. The land even enters untapped so we don't need to worry too much about throwing off our curve.


More Counters Shenanigans

I want to add one more protection spell with Snakeskin Veil ($0.16), just because Kyler can be a lightning rod for removal. Putting counters on him isn't the only tech we can use for Kyler though. Together Forever ($0.13) is super strong in any counters-matter deck, distributing two of them and more importantly, offering some recursion for anything that was suited up with one for the low cost of one mana each. This is especially potent in response to a board wipe or to recur Kyler without needing to pay the commander tax. To end our budget package we'll have a card that can end the game. Solidarity of Heroes ($0.92) can double Kyler's counters out of nowhere, thus doubling the power and toughness of your entire board. Your opponents better block correctly.


Wrap Up & Savings

Let's see what we saved:

Out  Price  In  Price 
The Ozolith  $ 35.31 Gilraen, Dúnedain Protector  $ 0.23
Esper Sentinel  $ 31.25 Luminarch Aspirant  $ 0.28
Roaming Throne  $ 26.02 Hopeful Initiate  $ 1.64
Akroma's Will  $ 19.43 Scholar of New Horizons  $ 1.52
Court of Garenbrig  $ 17.48 Boon of Safety  $ 0.05
Cathars' Crusade  $ 10.84 Contractual Safeguard  $ 0.19
Tribute to the World Tree  $ 10.65 Diamond City  $ 1.14
Adeline, Resplendent Cathar  $ 8.70 Snakeskin Veil  $ 0.16
Heroic Intervention  $ 6.43 Together Forever  $ 0.13
Augur of Autumn  $ 2.84 Solidarity of Heroes  $ 0.87
Total  $ 168.95 Total  $ 6.21
Total (Lands)  $ 8.25
Original Deck Price  $ 213.77
    New Price  $ 42.78
    Total Savings  $ 170.99
    Savings 80%



80% savings is pretty nuts. This deck doesn't even touch the $50 mark, making it a great deck if you're looking to build a typal list on a budget. Humans are the most popular creature type in the game, so more and more will be coming with every set, giving the deck a future full of upgrade potential as well.

I'm not going to lie to you, this was a difficult article for me to write. This type of deck is definitely outside my comfort zone, otherwise known as the graveyard, so if you think I missed anything or have other tech to suggest, let me know in the comments. We'll get into Outlaws of Thunder Junction soon, so stay tuned and I'll see you next time when we brew for your buck!

Kyler Counters

View on Archidekt

Commander (1)
Creatures (35)
Instants (11)
Artifacts (6)
Sorceries (8)
Enchantments (5)
Lands (34)

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Please note: card prices listed in this article are accurate at the time of writing, but prices can vary over time and between locations.

Read more:

Outlaws of Thunder Junction - Gonti, Canny Acquisitor Deck Tech

Brew For Your Buck - Budget Naya Token Deck

Brian played Magic intermittently between 2003 and 2017 when he fully embraced his love for Commander. Finding ways to maximize the value of each piece of cardboard in the deck is one of his favorite things to explore, especially if it involves putting lands in the graveyard! Outside of Magic, Brian works as a consultant in the marine industry, turning his passion for boats and ships into a career.

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