From the Brim to the Trim - Splitting Budgets and Overwhelming Opponents Alike

(Delina, Wild Mage | Illustrated by Wisnu Tan)

Delina Delves Into Delightful Delicacies

Greeting and salutations from a place obsessed with some kind of oval ball at the moment! I'm Arnaud, and I’m thrilled to take you on a journey of uncanny brews, budget cards, and usage of EDHREC’s filtering features.

Last time, I wanted to stick to the red zone. Therefore I gave you the choice between three mono-red commanders. And once more, the results set a clear winner for this week's column. Apparently, you people decided you didn't want to delve into the wonders of Burny McBurn, as Solphim, Mayhem Dominus earned less than 28% of the votes.

The well established Zada, Hedron Grinder, a classic in the realm of budget builds, did slightly better, with close to 33%.

The winner, no questions asked, is our Lady of the wild shenanigans Delina, Wild Mage, with almost 40% of the votes. So what is it about her that got your hearts racing?

Say what you may, I grew to love the D&D sets, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms and Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate. Yes, Baldur's Gate never should have been called Commander Legends, but aside from that, both expansions gave us some really fun commanders to build around.

In terms of stats, Delina is none too exciting. A 3/2 for 4 mana that has to dive into the fray is a scary prospect. The payoffs however can be juicy.

She will always make at least one copy of our best creature on the field, and if you're lucky, she will make more, many more.

Without further ado, let's dive into what you wonderful builders consider the best cards for this fancy commander.

First Trim - The Cardboard Chainsaw Massacre

Let's get rid of the most expensive fluff, shall we? As usual, no card above $1 may remain. And my, are there a lot of those.

From the original 258 cards, 117 are above our set threshold, sometimes by a couple of cents. Looks like this is going to be a quick one!

You're now used to it, here's my selection of cards between $1 and $2 that you could consider adding to the list to spice it up.

  • Big Score and Unexpected Windfall: Draw two and make two treasures, what's not to love? These have become some of my favourite draw spells in red.
  • Curse of Opulence: Once an all-star, I feel like this neat enchantment has fallen a bit out of favour. It nonetheless remains a very decent source for additional mana.
  • Bolt Bend: The cheap Deflecting Swat. Granted, you'll need a creature alongside your commander to make it cost a puny one, but that's still a solid protection spell.
  • The Deck of Many Things: Is it a spinning wheel? Yes. Is it chaotic? Sure. Is it fun? Absolutely.
  • Hammer of Purphoros: Forget about the second ability, giving haste to your commander can be crucial.
  • Harmonic Prodigy: Probably this deck's best friend. Grab one if you can.
  • Torbran, Thane of Red Fell: Wouldn't it be fun to make, say three copies of Torbran, and have every red source deal an additional 8 damage?
  • Seize the Spotlight: This is a fun sorcery to begin with, and guaranteed to draw you a few cards. With Delina on the field, who would want to part with their best creature?
  • Vexing Puzzlebox: This is a fun trinket. Reaching 100 with your commander shouldn't be too hard, and getting a free artifact on the battlefield is no fluke.

So, now that we've covered all of the bling, let's see. Down to 141 cards. I'm hoping we can get low enough to sneak in some hidden gems. Let's move on!

Second Trim - Cardward Scissorhands

Let's take a look at our usual distribution.

Draw: 19
Ramp: 24
Removal: 10
Wipes: 2

Looks like we're in the average numbers. Too many cards in the first three categories, and doing fine in the last one.

Without hesitation, let's try and bring these figures to more manageable numbers, keeping only the best.

Draw Ramp Removal

Ignite the Future Battle Hymn Abrade
Faithless Looting Burnished Hart Lightning Bolt
March of Reckless Joy Commander's Sphere You Find Some Prisoners
Outpost Siege Fellwar Stone Red Sun's Twilight
Reckless Handling Glittering Stockpile Thunderwave
Everflowing Chalice
Liquimetal Torque
Prismatic Lens
Thought Vessel

You know what ? For once, these choices were not that difficult to make. Either I'm getting better at this (doubtful), or you people are making my choices easier (more likely).

At any rate, after trimming down the mana base and adding a healthy number of Mountains, we're now down to 141 cards, and it's time to enter the fray and start with the difficult choices.

Third Trim - Cutting Off The Rough Edges

So, what are we here to do?

The plan, in essence, is fairly simple. Play Delina and an impactful creature, swing in with Delina, hope to make a few more copies of said creature, bash heads. However, there are a few things we must really pay attention to.

The first is, sadly, that Delina will draw attention. At best after the first attack, at worst as soon as it hits the battlefield. It's unlikely your opponents will let her live for a whole rotation, especially with a decent threat on the board, and it's therefore paramount that we try and protect her as much as we can. To that end, we'll try to make her hasty as much as possible, to maximize her impact. Sadly, red is not really known for being a protector at heart, so hexproof and shroud shenanigans will be far and between.

The second is that we need to be able to win even without Delina. While on principle we'd love to keep her around to make several ephemeral armies of tokens, the sad reality is that she will probably end up costing too much to be worth the cost. Thus, we need a solid package of creatures that can hold their own in combat to finish the job.

Third is probabilities. Without any way to reroll dice or keep the best out of two, there's a 30% chance to make two tokens, 9% to make three, and 0.8% to make four. Not impossible odds, but growing less likely the more we roll.

Fourth is Threaten effects. There are a few in the deck, and while I like the idea of stealing someone's monster to make some disgusting value out of it, they have to go. I'm not a fan of them being on a creature, as the one we steal with the copies made by Delina won't be able to attack. Sure, you could have a sacrifice outlet, but that's a bit too Magical-Christmas-Landy to be truly worth it. And aside from Mob Rule, which I'm keeping, I'm unconvinced by the potential of the rest.

With that in mind, let's get rid of the less interesting cards and keep the very best.

Impactful Creatures Meaningful Enchantments Other stuff

Ardent Elementalist Flameshadow Conjuring Act of Treason
Arni Metalbrow Mechanized Warfare Berserker's Frenzy
Brazen Dwarf Sticky Fingers Chef's Kiss
Dire Fleet Daredevil Valakut Exploration Coercive Recruiter
Earth-Cult Elemental Critical Hit
Fanatic of Mogis Furnace Reins
Hoarding Ogre Hazardous Blast
Obsidian Charmaw Kazuul's Fury
Mindclaw Shaman Koth, Fire of Resistance
Patron of the Arts Reverberate
Siege-Gang Commander Song-Mad Treachery
Swarming Goblins Treasure Chest
Wildfire Devils Wyll's Reversal
Wild Ricochet
Zealous Conscripts


"I'm getting better at this!", he said. "It's getting easier!", he said. Well now I say it's not. Not easy at all. I want to play all these cards. And then some. But can you blame me? I'm only a wild mage, cut me some slack!

At any rate, here we are, with the last 10 cards to cut. And as I'm writing these files, I'm really not looking forward to this last part. I repeat: can you blame me?

Final Trim: Heart-Wrenching Choices

We're almost there, only ten cards before the promised land. Ten cards that are trying their best not to be the one chosen in the end.

This is by now a given, but I still want to point out that none of these choices are inherently bad. If anything in here strikes your eye (or in the cuts above for that matter), by all means, play them and prove me wrong!

On to our final 10.

  • Guild Artisan: I promise I'm not buffering on ramp or draw to make my life easier. But with that said, we still have 14 and 14 in both categories, and I feel like a couple can go. Guild Artisan is a bit too situational for my taste, and while Delina will most likely attack whenever possible, I remain a bit circumspect over the actual usefulness of this enchantment.
  • Fire Diamond: Same reasoning, I think we can cut a rock.
  • Priority Boarding: While the card 100% hits the mark in terms of flavour, I fear it's slightly too situational to be entirely reliable.
  • Wild Guess: One more spell had to go in the draw section, care to guess which one?
  • Demanding Dragon: On paper, it looks really sexy. However, experience has proven that opponents rarely choose the mode you'd like them to.
  • Impact Tremors: Trust me when I say this is a sad one. I absolutely love this card. But I feel like we're not pumping out enough tokens to make it worthwhile in the final list.
  • Witty Roastmaster: For the same reason as mentioned above.
  • Wand of Wonder: Yes, it rolls dice. Yes, it's fun as hell. But I get the feeling that we'd rather put our mana to other uses, like playing a beater, instead of gambling on opponents' decks.
  • Expedite: Giving your commander haste is fundamental, but I prefer sticking an equipment on her rather than playing a one-shot effect.
  • Crash Through: A nice cantrip. Just not quite nice enough to make to the finishing line.

And there we have it. Ladies and gents, I give you Delina.

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You know what? This is one deck I might actually end up building for real. And I feel relief now that this task is out of the way. Except... wait, there's one last thing that's missing. Our beloved poll.

As always, thanks a lot for taking the time to read through this piece. I'm looking forward to your comments and suggestions on how to improve the deck while staying on budget!

Arnaud Gompertz has been playing Magic since 4th Edition, back in 1995. He's been an assiduous EDH enthusiast since 2012, with a soft spot for unusual and casual Commanders. He'll always favour spectacular plays against a boring path to victory. Aside from mistreating cardboard, he's a dedicated board games player, loves a challenging video game and occasionally tries to sing with his choir.

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