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Ultra Budget Brews — Amonkhet Edition
Hello and welcome to Ultra Budget Brews! Typically this article series builds entire EDH decks where no card costs more than $1, but this week I decided to do something a little different. As you all know, Amonkhet is now legal, meaning a ton of new cards were just released into the wild. This means two things: people are excited to add new shiny toys to their EDH decks, and that all of the cards are currently overpriced, making it difficult for me to write an article using new cards because of the budget restriction that I employ.
To get around this, I decided to look through all of the new cards and identify cards that are likely to be great in future budget decks. Even if they might not be budget just yet, they likely will be in a couple of weeks once more product has been opened. For a card to make this list, it cannot be a Mythic, it cannot be a likely constructed all-star, and it should (hopefully) be good in commander. So, no Nissa, Steward of Elements, As Foretold, Champion of Rhonas, or Bicycle lands here. Everyone who has played any amount of Commander knows these are great cards. We will dig a bit deeper with this article. Also, I should note that I don’t plan on writing about potential commanders in this article, as some of them will likely get their own full-length article in the future.
This card is perfect for your average casual player. It has a high enough casting cost to not be busted, has a cool build-around effect, allows for counter play, and contains the magic phrase, “You win the game”. Seems like something I would want in a variety of decks, though I am likely to prioritize non-aggro decks, specifically ones that can ramp well, or efficiently stall the game. It feels like winning with this card should be on any EDH bucket list, and is certeainly something that I personally plan to achieve soon.
This one isn’t overtly powerful, but it will likely pull its weight in decks that want it. Passive lifegain often seems trivial at first but can add up in a hurry. This can be brought back after a boardwipe, changing this from durdly draft chafe to solid roleplayer. If you are playing Anointed Procession or Soul Warden in a deck, give this card a look as well.
Let’s get this out of the way now: looking at the new Aftermath cards is a bit like making extended eye contact with that cousin you never see; awkward at best and downright uncomfortable at worst.
That being said, you are getting two (admittedly over-costed) effects for one card. These two synergize nicely as well, since you can tuck a problem card with Commit and then cast Memory to shuffle it in to the deck. You might be tempted to only throw this in a deck that wants wheel effects, and it certainly works there, but this has more applications than that, especially in decks that like spells.
Ah yes, the obligatory clone card of the set. The fact that they manage to continue to print clones that feel new is commendable. Clones are some of my favorite budget cards, because they allow the budget player to essentially play with all of the shiny expensive toys that you can’t afford being played against you. Having embalm gives you more bang for your buck, and also happens to benefit from any sort of zombie tribal things that might be happening.
EDHREC is great at helping you find cards that fit a specific theme, such as discard, and other synergistic cards. For example, I looked up the card Megrim since it deals with discard, and found a number or cards and commanders that fit well with Shadow of the Grave, some of which I never would have thought of (looking at you Greel, Mind Raker). This card can create tons of card advantage by breaking the symmetry that keeps mass discard “fair”. Everyone else has 1 card and you have a full grip? Seems good.
Tell that token player who likes making infinite tokens to go and suck rocks. It doesn’t actually say that, but it probably should. Even if they aren’t playing tokens, there is a good chance you’ll get some amount of value out of it. Also, we’re at 20 cards with the subtype “Curse”. Someday we will get a curse commander. Someday.
Pretty much every EDH deck plays some number of artifacts that range anywhere from fairly benign utility cards, like signets, to game-ending threats, like Paradox Engine. Every deck needs some way to deal with artifacts, and red is typically the best at it. By Force joins the ranks of cards such as Vandalblast, Shattering Spree, and Shatterstorm, and it certainly holds its own in comparison. It’s less mana intensive than Shattering Spree while costing one more mana to get started. It sacrifices the sheer power of Vandalblast and Shatterstorm for more control. All of that seems to add up to a card that will see quite a bit of play at commander tables.
Potential Commanders –Mizzix of the Izmagus, any commander that has access to red, really
Potential removal, burn, and a damage doubler all on one card. The value here is strong. Your best move here is probably to wait until you can cast both sides at once, I’m a bigger fan of burn and aggro in EDH than the average bear, but even given that admitted bias, I still think this is a pretty solid card.
This card is the surest slam dunk of this list, possibly of the entire set. This is a non-elf Reclamation Sage with additional upside. Care to guess how many decks on EDHREC play Reclamation Sage? 13,633. That’s a ton of play. Certainly losing the elf tribe matters a non-zero amount of times, but I’ll gladly trade those tribal synergies for having my opponent’s artifacts enter the battlefield tapped. Go buy one of these for every green deck you have, and then double your order because, guaranteed, you or a friend will need them in the future.
I am admittedly less sure about this card. It’s a ramp spell, but much different than your average run-of-the-mill Rampant Growth. It has a much lower floor and an incredibly high ceiling. Even in the proper deck, there will be times this card is basically dead in hand, but there will be other times where you are essentially getting to cast a Boundless Realms for 3 mana. Really, I just want to play this alongside some combination of Mycoloth, Cryptolith Rites, and Life and Limb.
Scene at the Local Durdler’s Anonymous meeting:
Me: “Hi, my name is Andrew, and am a ‘Durdler’.”
Crowd: “Hi, Andrew.”
Me: “When I saw Bounty of the Luxa spoiled, my brain told me it probably wasn’t good. It would give me mana when I wanted cards, cards when I wanted mana, and would end up with me on the street tapping Salvaging Station for value and convincing myself that Trading Post should be ubiquitous in EDH. Unfortunately, the heart wants what it wants and I am now playing this card in every deck that has the Simic color combination, convincing myself that this time, it’ll be different. I just can’t help myself.”
Crowd: “Nicol Bolas, grant me the serenity to
Accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference”
Perhaps you are noticing a trend at this point; I like removal. A lot. I believe that, generally, you can improve basically any deck by adding more removal (if you are the guy I met that runs the deck with 30 boardwipes, please disregard). Attach an Exsanguinate to the other half, and you’ve got yourself a nice commander card.
I’m probably higher on these than most people. Cheap colorless artifacts that reduce the cost of creatures AND give an additional bonus is a one way trip to value town. While the cost reduction only applies to creatures of the named color, most decks play tons of creatures, so you are likely to get some amount of value out of throwing these in. If your deck doesn’t want them, you likely know it. Obviously some of these are better than others so here is my completely arbitrary ranking
- Oketra’s Monument – synergies easily with go wide weenie strategies
- Hazoret’s Monument – card draw in red is always nice, even if you are having to discard first
- Bontu’s Monument – draining each opponent is pretty nice and adds up in a hurry
- Kefnet’s Monument – decent effect in decks looking to push through damage
- Rhonas’s Monument – I’d probably pass on this one, honestly. The stat boost isn’t much to write home about
Creatures die in EDH, so if you have a way to get some sort of advantage out of them dying, so much the better. There are a couple of different types of decks that might want this card. If your deck likes small amounts of life gain, if you sacrifice non-token creatures for profit, or if your deck wants to throw things in the graveyard, this card can probably find a place in the 99. Also, we don’t yet know what the God-Pharaoh’s Gift is yet, but here’s hoping it’s related to Bolas and is super sweet
That’s a wrap
Next time’ I’ll be back with a normal article, this time exploring an aggro commander. As for this week, what did you think of this style of article? Are set reviews with an eye towards budget decks something that are enjoyable and/or helpful? Are you annoyed by how generic the trailer for the Dark Tower is? Let me know below!