Brew For Your Buck - The Legend Persists

(Cauldron of Souls | Art by Ron Brown)

A New Method for Budget Brews

Hello, fellow brewer! Welcome to the first in a series of articles designed to help you save money. My name is Brian, and I started playing Magic way back in 2003, around the release of Mirrodin. I left and came back to the game a few times since then, but I’ve been hooked on Commander ever since I opened a Grenzo, Dungeon Warden in a Conspiracy booster. I loved cooking up ways to exploit the rarely explored design space sitting at the bottom of my library. Grenzo opened the Commander floodgates for me, and now it's the only format I play outside of the occasional Arena draft.

With the entirety of the internet at our disposal, it’s easy to find budget brews for any deck, but that often comes at the price of functionality and power. Plus, you might end up spending more over time, buying expensive cards to make incremental upgrades. Say you buy a $100 version of a deck, then spend another $200 updating it over the course of the next year, when you could have spent $150 on most of the cards you needed and only a few budget substitutes. You’d have $50 more in your pocket and a comparably powerful deck right away.

Here’s how it works: I’ll pick a commander and start with the average decklist from its page on EDHREC. Then, we’ll remove the ten most expensive cards in the deck and substitute in our budget package, so we save the most amount money while sacrificing the least amount of function, power, and efficiency. The new cards won’t just save you money, they'll also give the deck unique flavor and play patterns compared to its more expensive, “stock” list. And if you need to save more, simply go further than the top ten most expensive cards.

Set-Up and Subtractions

Now that the stage is set, let’s dive in. One of the coolest commanders to be released recently is Ratadrabik of Urborg. The twist on classic aristocrats with the legendary theme is really fun, and there are interesting ways to abuse his ability. More on that in a minute.

EDHREC’s average deck list costs $526.94 at time of writing, so let’s see how we can cut that down.

First, let’s remove our top ten most expensive cards. Most of these make a ton of sense as inclusions in the 99, but removing them will save us nearly half the cost of the entire deck!

Now for the fun part: deciding on our budget package. As I alluded to before, Ratadrabik’s ability doesn’t exile the original card that it copies, unlike most similar effects. While the list has many ways to abuse this, the best ones are Luminous Broodmoth and Mikaeus, the Unhallowed. Having our legends return to the battlefield immediately to stack their effects on top of the token copy is incredibly powerful, but wouldn’t it be great if we could remove the counters to re-use those effects repeatedly? Sounds like an infinite combo to me!


In addition to Mothra and Mikaeus, let’s add some cards that grant our creatures Persist. Cauldron of Souls ($3.52) is repeatable, and Cauldron Haze ($0.72) can make a board wipe (even our own) one-sided for just two mana. Antler Skulkin ($0.19) can target sixteen of our creatures after the rest of our additions. Note that all of these can target our opponents’ creatures as well. Bonus points if you use them politically!

Next, let’s add cards that let us remove those pesky counters that will stop our sweet mechanics from triggering. We pretty much have to add Persist’s best friend, Vizier of Remedies ($0.21), which enables some pretty crazy turns with Persist and a sacrifice outlet. Fain, the Broker ($0.18) and Scholar of New Horizons ($0.41) can ramp us when we remove counters. Sanctuary Warden ($1.17) is a nigh-indestructible flying beat stick with card draw and sacrifice fodder built in. Finally, Nesting Grounds ($1.04) gives us a counter-moving ability in our mana base.

Finally, our last two cards will give us some extra benefits from being repeatedly reanimated. Triarch Praetorian ($0.85) and Canoptek Tomb Sentinel ($1.93) are two sweet new cards from the Warhammer 40K Necron deck that are just begging to be bouncing in and out of the graveyard. Not only will they work with our Persist package, but they’ll synergize well with the rest of the reanimation effects in our deck.

Wrap-Up and Savings

Let’s look at our savings after we swap in our budget package:

With just swapping out the top ten most expensive cards, we saved $261.38, got most of the cards we wanted anyway, and gave the deck a unique synergistic twist. Not bad at all! One note I will say about the original and new lists is that both are low on lands in my opinion, so removing some of the other expensive cards and replacing them with basic lands is an easy way to save more.

Commander (1)
Creatures (35)
Instants (9)
Enchantments (3)
Artifacts (11)
Sorceries (7)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (33)

Buy this decklist from Card Kingdom
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer

What do you think? Is there anything for the Persist package that I missed? Would you take the budget package in a different direction? Be sure to let me know in the comments, and tune in next week as we Brew for Your Buck!

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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