Ultra Budget Brews — Asmira, Holy Avenger
Welcome back to Ultra Budget Brews, the article series that builds entire EDH decks in which no card costs more than $1, commander included. Some of you may have noticed that it's been a month or so since I last put an article out. For this, I apologize. To use an analogy, life, work in particular, was Narset, Enlightened Master, casting Time Stretch, Relentless Assault, Expropriate, all the hits. Thankfully that's over and I'm getting to take a turn again.
Last time, I left you with a poll. You all voted as follows:
- Stangg - 22%
- Asmira, Holy Avenger - 27%
- Nebuchadnezzar - 22%
- Volrath the Fallen - 13%
- Mageta the Lion - 16%
This may have been the closest poll yet, though there were a few of you who weren't that excited about these choices.I thought it would be fun to explore some of Magic's past, but most of the old cards I wanted were far too expensive (looking at you Angus Mackenzie, so I was left with a number of, admittedly, underpowered options. I personally think that building around underpowered legends can be a bit of fun, but I want this column to be equal parts helpful and enjoyable for you the reader, so if you'd prefer that I stick with more recent cards, let me know in the comments.
Folks. It happened. We're building with what is easily my least favorite color combo. I have personally built at least one EDH deck, often times multiple decks, around literally every single two and three color combination that doesn't pair up white and green. I've come close a few times (Zacama, Primal Calamity looks absolutely insane), but have never been able to pull the trigger.
I've tried to quantify my dislike and discomfort with the colors, and I think it comes down to the fact that it typically wants to win through combat. Playing with creatures is fine, but when the only thing special about your creature is that they are a bit bigger than average, I'm just not interested.
Also, this guy exists. He is the antithesis of everything I want to do when I play magic. He is Selesnya colors, he's tacky, and I hate him.
I say all of that to tell you that this is a bit outside my comfort zone, but I'm excited (if a bit wary) to explore some new territory and strategies in deck-building.
- Naturally has evasion.
- Doesn't have the worst stats in the world.
- Easily grows throughout the course of the game.
- Can definitely win through commander damage.
- Rebecca Guay art.
- Desperately wants Flash.
- Desperately wants Black.
- Requires numerous other pieces to be effective.
- The kid in the art looks like Benjamin Button.
So, what we have is a commander that wants our own creatures to die, which is why I mentioned really wishing this had black (Blood Artist and Zulaport Cutthroat are sad about being left out of this party.) Thankfully, creatures dying is something that happens often in an average game of EDH. Unfortunately, once we have our commander out, people will be far less likely to willingly kill off our creatures for us. This means we will have to do the job ourselves.
The Asmira Cannon Fodder Club
Total Cost (Card Kingdom): $41.62
I should make a note here: prices on Card Kingdom, on any website really, fluctuate a bit. For example, I have Swords to Plowshares on here. When I was writing this article, it was listed at $0.99. Typically, its a bit above $1, though not by much. If it's under $1, I am almost certainly going to include it in every white deck. It's simply the best single target removal spell in the game, and my deck will certainly be better with it than without it.
There are a number of 'staple' cards that are like this. Cards like Brainstorm, Cultivate, Kodama's Reach, Return to Dust, and Viscera Seer are cards that you want in almost every deck that can legally run them. They all hover right around the $1 mark. If you have the means, and build multiple EDH decks as most players do, acquire 3 or 4 copies of each. They are relatively cheap, heavily played, and your decks will almost certainly be better with them.
Now that this moment of "Budget Finance with Andrew" is over, let's get back to our deck.
Our game plan is as follows:
- Play creatures (bonus points if they can sacrifice themselves)
- Play a sacrifice outlet
- Play our commander
- Sacrifice our creatures for fun and profit, growing our commander in the process
- Attack with impunity
Often cards like Asmira have a disclaimer about non token creatures. Thankfully, this is not the case. Tokens that die do, in fact, hit the graveyard, which counts as dying. After this, they cease to exist, but for our purposes, they've already done their job. Eldrazi spawn from Vile Redeemer and From Beyond are some of the best cards for this job. They can be sacrificed at will, and make mana to power out other spells. These are great cards for us.
We have a number of sacrifice outlets in the deck. We really prefer free, repeatable sacrifice outlets, like Fanatical Devotion, Martyr's Cause and Spawning Pit. This is probably the place that being budget hurts us most, as the very best free sacrifice outlets all cost more than $1. Obviously free, is best, but we have a couple powerful options that cost small amounts of mana. Evolutionary Leap and Perilous Forays consistently over perform in decks like this, even if they cost mana to activate.
Once we have some creatures to sacrifice and a way to sacrifice them, we have the option to play our commander. Finding the correct time to play her is important. Running her out as soon as possible will often be tactically incorrect. Boardwipes are an important part of EDH and there are very few games that will end before a boardwipe or three get cast. Obviously, you can't avoid it every time, but you can play strategically and wait for a couple boardwipes to get played, making it less likely that your commander will go up in a fiery blaze of disappointment. This is more art then science and will depend greatly on your play group, but is when you figure it out, it's a pretty sizable 'level-up' moment.
Once our commander is out and ready to party, start sacrificing creatures to grow her. The counters are not added immediately, so don't attack and sacrifice thinking that you'll win combat with +1/+1 counters, because you'll end up very sad at the outcome. Also, notice that the +1/+1 counters are added at the end of every turn, not just yours. This means you can wait until right before your turn to grow her.
Perhaps the easiest way to win with this deck will be commander damage. If you are able to create enough tokens, you can grow Asmira to breathtaking proportions very quickly. Flying will help you get the damage in. If you are unable to get through blockers or Asmira ends up being a removal magnet, You can easily win by going wide with tokens and playing cards like Collective Blessing.
This is a pet card of mine. As previously mentioned, boardwipes are pretty common in EDH. Often, you'll have a pretty good idea when someone is going to drop one. In this situation, casting this card can put you very far ahead. Also, using this after sacrificing a bunch of your creatures for value, bringing them all back and doing it again is great fun. If you've never experienced this before, I recommend it.
I love the series 'Planet Earth'. It's beautiful, interesting, and is perfect for those days when you are feeling miserable, stuck in the house, avoiding everyone because you caught some plague. One of the scenes that I found really interesting was one about locust. I remember growing up, going to Sunday School, learning about the plague of locust that Moses sets upon Egypt. I always thought it was pretty tame compared to some of the other stuff, like fire falling from the sky and all of the water turning to blood. Turns out, it's actually pretty bad.
This card reminds me of that. Out of nowhere, you create a swarm of token beasts that then devour everyones creatures. Will it kill everything? Not necessarily, but it doesn't need to in order to be utterly devastating. Also, you get to keep those tokens that do survive.
This card is the sort of thing that screams EDH. It's a durdly do-nothing enchantment that does very powerful things if you do the thing it asks you to do. Thankfully, the hoops this is asking you to jump through is what you are already planning on doing. This can help grow your Asmira really, really quickly. I'm always a bit surprised it doesn't see more play than it does.
I had never heard of this card before. Why haven't I heard of this card? It seems incredibly fun. Yes, it costs 8 mana, which is Craterhoof Behemoth and Terestadon territory, but what this lacks in sheer power it makes up for in style points. Yet another card that makes me wish Cathar's Crusade was under $1.
Yet another card that I feel is criminally underplayed. It's a 5 mana boardwipe with some very specific upside. It doesn't destroy everything, leaving each player one card of each nonland permanent type, which works perfectly with what we are trying to do. Now the crazy part is that you get to choose what everyone keeps. Sure! You can keep your germ token. Shame that everything else died. Oh, your Kozilek, Butcher of Truth has indestructible? That's sad that it forces you to sacrifice it. Your stuff has hexproof or shroud? Good thing I'm not targeting anything! Yes, it is less effective when your opponents only have one of each thing to choose, voltron commanders immediately come to mind, but this card can be an absolute blowout and is one I am rarely sad to see in my hand.
As always, these are cards that would be in the deck if not for our budget limit. If you have extra copies of these cards lying around, or are looking to up the power level of your deck, these would be some of my first additions.
Earlier, I discussed how effective and powerful free, repeatable sacrifice outlets are. This is the card I first think of when I say this. It might seem a bit innocuous, but in practice, it's anything but. Turning creatures in to mana is busted. Turning them in to multiple mana is simply silly. The fact that it's colorless makes it less good, but that's a bit like saying burritos without potatoes are a bit worse. You are technically right, but who cares? It's still a delicious, delightful meal.
This is the first card I would add to the deck, no question.
I have a love-hate relationship with this card. On the love end, it's a really unique, interesting ability. It's not a card you see everywhere. It can lead to fun interactions. On the hate end? I've been crushed one too many times by someone playing solitaire with this, Reveillark, Karmic Guide, and Viscera Seer.
Speaking of Reveillark, it's real good here. Get back Reclamation Sage, Acidic Slime, Burnished Hart, Sakura-Tribe Elder and more. It also sacrifices itself with it's evoke cost. This is an incredibly easy inclusion.
Providing your creatures with Persist is pretty powerful. Perchance you play a plethora of potent persons...I give up. It's really good and brings back your creatures, allowing them to die for your cause a second time, or to just trigger any enter the battlefield effects a second time. Even if your creatures come back with 0 toughness, your deck is ok with it, since it wants them to die. The fact that this is repeatable pushes it over the top.
If sacrificing creatures to tutor up bigger creatures directly on to the battlefield seems powerful, I assure you it is. The fact that you don't even have to pay the full cost of the activation if you are willing to pay a little life is nuts. There is a good reason this is $9 and is still in more than 12,000 decks on EDHREC. As a warning, if you do add this in, you'd want to make sure you have a number of creatures at each converted mana cost so that you are able to work your way up the chain.
That's all I've got for you this week. What do you think of the deck? Overall, it seems like it can do some powerful things and be competitive. It seems like the sort of deck I could actually enjoy, and hopefully you feel similarly. I don't have a poll for next week, because I am planning on talking about some new budget cards from Rivals of Ixalan. I haven't decided what the options will be for next week's poll, so what would you like to see on the poll? Let me know below! Until next time!