Non-Basically Speaking — Budget Five Color with Horde of Notions
Hello friends and thrifty Commander brewers and welcome back to EDHREC and our continuing bi-weekly column, Non-Basically Speaking, the series that strives to identify non-basic lands that should be considered valuable staples or hidden gems based on their visibility on EDHREC.
There's an unexplainable aura and feeling of pride when piloting a five-color commander deck. Having access to every color in the game allows us to bolster our builds with either the best of the best or fulfill dreams that can only happen by playing the entire spectrum. While it has not been officially confirmed, there is a rumor circulating around the internet for the past month or so that one of the Commander 2017 products this year will be a five-color dragon deck. Assuming this is true, I thought it would be interesting to share some thoughts and opinions on creating a five-color mana base.
Since it would be extremely efficient to simply say 10 fetch lands and 10 shock lands, let's take a look at building this WUBRG stack on a limited, but not extremely restrictive, budget. When and if we do see a five-color commander deck in August 2017, perhaps we will reference this article when we take an in-depth look at how the team at Wizards was able to get all five colors online in a preconstructed product.
Please keep in mind that the details of this article with regards to gettin' the mana fixins' in place are simply an opinion of this casual, janky deck-building author. There are countless avenues to travel for generating a five color mana base and today's recommendations will simply reflect one of the several approaches to building on a budget.
Sun's Out, Horde's Out
Today's discussion will lay out a floor plan for a five-color EDH deck that should be functional with just about any WUBRG commander, but for the purpose of this demonstration, let's choose one, in particular, to build around. At the time of this article, the most popular five-color commander, in accordance with EDHREC, is Scion of the Ur-Dragon who is closing in on almost 1,000 decks. In my personal stable of Commander decks, I have a five-color prism-jam with Sliver Queen in the top spot. However, I thought it might be best if we go down Budget Boulevard and select a commander that can be purchased for a few coins rather than a few Andrew Jacksons.
In the spirit of the upcoming Commander 2017 pre-constructed decks being a tribal theme, let's take a look at corralling a drove of Elementals with Horde of Notions at the helm. This WUBRG ground-poinding commander will pose a double threat as either a formidable 5/5 combatant or by exploiting its recursion ability designed to squeeze extra juice out of our creatures potential.
Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised to see a decent amount of Elemental creatures at our disposal as we stitch together our tribal horde. There are some EDH all-stars in this lineup that need little to no introduction. Our primary strategy, of course, is to flood the red zone, but we will also look to use our Elementals to provide utility in the form of card draw, ramp, removal, recursion, and tutoring. Sounds like the basic food groups of an EDH deck if you ask me!
Scanning the top EDHREC picks, I am definitely a fan of the abilities that trigger when a creature enters or leaves the battlefield. Creatures like Mulldrifter (62% of decks) and Shriekmaw (57% of decks) can be cast for the evoke cost just to be cycled back through with Horde of Notions's ability while Nevermaker (19% of decks) and Slithermuse (33% of decks) could possibly cause second thoughts before an opponent overloads that Cyclonic Rift. But I'm way ahead of myself. Before we can get our Elemental tribe zipping along we need to establish a five color mana base. Let's take a look at Horde of Notions, non-basically speaking!
Suns Out, Hordes Out
A Lot of Green, Without A Lot of Green
It is a well-known fact that green's portion of the color pie has an uncanny knack for providing a Commander deck with a surge in mana production and color fixing. In today's exercise, we will build our deck around green. In theory, if we always have access to green mana, we can use spells to search our library for other colors and put them into play. Sorcery ramp like Cultivate and Kodama's Reach help us find a basic land to put onto the battlefield and another basic land to put in our hand; essentially unlocking access to two more colors.
In addition to basic lands, green also has spells like Nature's Lore and Wood Elves that allow us to search our library for a land with the type Forest and put it into play. As most of you are already aware, there are a few dual lands that have two mana types, most of which are extremely expensive. Let's discuss!
Creating a Dual Identity
The best strategy for early game mana fixing is to use cards like Verdant Catacombs to fetch the lands we need in accordance with our current grip of different colored spells. Spilling a Bayou or Breeding Pool from our library onto the battlefield would get our five color deck running at optimal efficiency. Unfortunately, the monetary value of allied/enemy fetch lands, original ABUR duals, and shock lands are extremely high. It's best to work up to these iconic treasures through years of saving, collecting and trading up rather than melting our credit cards.
Thankfully, Wizards of the Coast® has recently added a few allied options for non-basic lands with two basic land types: the battle lands from Battle for Zendikar and the bicycle lands from Amonkhet. For our Horde of Notions deck, I opted to select all five of the "battle lands", like Canopy Vista, since they enter the battlefield untapped if we control two or more basic lands. More than likely, in a five-color budget deck, we should be able to meet that requirement. We will also include two of the Amonkhet dual lands, Sheltered Thicket and Scattered Groves simply because they have the Forest land type. Since most of our duals lands are either Forest/Plains or Forest/Mountain, we can move on with our deck building under the perception that White and Red will be our secondary colors.
Two are Not Always Better Than One
With green firmly cemented as the primary centerpiece of our five color mana base, we should have no issues casting spells like Bane of Progress and Greenwarden of Murasa with two green mana in their casting cost. Ideally, we should also be able to swing the double red or double white casting cost of creatures like Omnath, Locus of Rage and Flickerwisp.
However, since our mana base leans towards Naya, we should probably steer clear of cards that require two mana of our tertiary or "splash" colors of blue and black. Powerful creature cards like Roil Elemental (32% of Decks) and Baleful Force (25% of Decks) are purposely left out of our deck simply for the fact that casting these spells would be too cumbersome on our mana resources. With that said, the inclusion of Slithermuse (33% of decks) can be explained by finding a sneaky way to "cheat" around its double blue mana cost. We can cast Slithermuse by paying its evoke cost of three colorless and a single blue and then bring it back from the graveyard with our commander later on in the game.
While the Zendikar and Onslaught fetch lands might be out of our financial reach, we can still include a handful of budget options fully capable of getting the mana juices flowing. If it is basic lands we seek, Evolving Wilds (40% of Decks) and Terramorphic Expanse (34% of Decks) are savvy veterans in EDH budget fetching.
There are also three options that are not currently recommended on the Horde of Notions EDHREC page. Warped Landscape has become a personal favorite in my recent deck builds allowing us to use it for one colorless mana the turn it comes into play or pay two to fetch a basic later down the line. Krosan Verge allows us to search out two of our dual lands. With our current set up, this double fetch land could potentially load the chamber with four of our decks five colors. Finally, I have included a "slow fetch land" from Mirage. Mountain Valley enters the battlefield tapped but will be able to seek out a dual land with the land type Mountain or Forest on our next turn.
Five Finger Discount
Lands that can produce any color of mana can easily be the cornerstones of our budget mana base. While Command Tower is relatively inexpensive at a couple of bucks, we will splurge a few dollars for City of Brass and Mana Confluence. Their flexibility is well worth the point of life and the small hit in our pocket books.
One of the cool things that Wizards has done in the past, and I would like to see continue in the future, is to create tribal-based utility lands. Dragons, Slivers, and Allies are perfect examples of having non-basic lands tailor-made to their tribe. Haven of the Spirit Dragon, Sliver Hive and Ally Encampment will only tap to produce a colorless mana unless casting a spell of that particular tribe. Lucky for us, our Elemental deck has access to Primal Beyond. In addition to producing a mana of any color for an elemental spell, Primal Beyond will also assist with abilities. A solid contribution when you look at our commander's prismatic cost for recurring fallen elementals.
Rounding out our multi-mana producing non-basic lands is the super filter from Amonkhet, Cascading Cataracts and the multiplayer gem Exotic Orchard. Vivid Grove and Rupture Spire are budget fill-ins that get the job done but could easily be ousted for a different land of your choice.
Utility Players on the Bench
With the intensity of stocking the shelves in preparation of gathering all five colors of mana, do we have any room left for utility lands? In my opinion, not unless absolutely necessary. Still, however, playgroups and metas may dictate the necessity to include cards like Strip Mine to keep Cabal Coffers from blasting a hole in the mana-sphere. If forced to pick a couple of utility lands to plug into our lineup, I would feel safe adding Bojuka Bog in place of a swamp. Graveyard strategies can get out of control and the Bojuka Bog is definitely worth coming into play tapped for its effect. In our Horde of Notions deck, I would probably jam High Market so we could abuse the abilities of our Elementals entering or leaving the battlefield and use our commander to bring them back into play. Sure, Phyrexian Tower would probably be a better choice, but egads, have you seen the price tag on that card lately? Let's just say that it's 35 times more expensive than High Market as of the time of this article.
Upgrading to First Class
Immediate upgrades for consideration are Breeding Pool at about $14 and Overgrown Tomb at $12. If you notice, our budget-friendly duals from Amonkhet and Return to Zendikar are available in allied flavors only. While one can only hope that Wizards of the Coast® decides to finish the ten set cycle of "battle" and "bicycle" lands by printing the enemy versions, it may be some time, if ever, before that happens. Therefore, upgrading to the Forest-based enemy shock lands would broaden our options when searching our deck with spells like Nature's Lore. A Reflecting Pool would also be nice to have, seeing that it can pump out any color of mana with a Command Tower or Cascading Cataracts on the battlefield. For all intents and purposes, acquiring an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth for this deck would be a worthy investment over a basic swamp.
Before any upgrades, our entire lot of 38 lands for this budget build is about $40. Looking at Card Kingdom, the overall financial investment of adding Urborg, Breeding Pool, Overgrown Tomb and Reflecting Pool is an extra 55 hard earned U.S. dollars. A final mention for upgrading would be Prismatic Omen. According to EDHREC, this enchantment is played in 22% of Horde of Notions lists. However, with a current day price tag of $16 I felt it was better to choose between it and Chromatic Lantern.
That's All Folks!
It is interesting to evaluate the land section on Horde of Notions EDHREC page. It seems that the majority of recommendations are the tricolor shard and wedge lands (that enter the battlefield tapped) or the shock lands. While we did not include those in today's tribal brew, it is a definite indicator of the endless possibilities for gluing together a five color mana base.
That's all I have for you today my EDHREC friends! What do you think of my fairly budget five color mana base? Do you have a five color Commander deck? What works the best for you to get the correct colors in place? Do you think Commander 2017 will make five color decks more affordable? What is your favorite WUBRG commander or tribe? Let's discuss in the comments below!
On to the next!