Ultra Budget Brews — Dominaria Set Review
Hello, and welcome back to another addition of Ultra Budget Brews, the article series that (typically) builds entire EDH decks in which no card costs more than $1. If you are an astute reader, you'll probably see the word 'typically' and assume that today is a bit different than normal. Or, you know, you may have just read the title of the article. Either way, today is a set review day!
While it's true that this set has been dissected all over the Internet by all kinds of different authors, including by a variety of people on this very website, I wouldn't do this if I didn't think I had something to add to the conversation. I aim to look at this set through the eyes of a budget player. Gallons of Internet ink have been spilled singing the praises of cards like Muldrotha, the Gravetide, Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain, and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, and for good reason. The aforementioned cards are incredible and will see play in this format we love until the inevitable heat death of our universe. While these splashier (and often much more expensive cards) get a lot of press, in every set there are a number of cheap cards that slot in to a plethora of decks.
Obviously, Dominaria released a few weeks ago, but I typically wait a month or so to do mine for two reasons. First, and most pragmatically, this gives time for cards to drop a bit in price. 95% of the cards in a set will drop in price when compared to their pre-order price. This gives me more cards to work with and gives us time to see what will really end up being 'budget'. Second, it gives time to gain some experience with the cards. There are a ton of cards that look fantastic when theorycrafting and brewing (looking at you, Deadbridge Chant), but end up underperforming or rotting in your hand during games.
I will attempt to mostly pick cards that cost under $1 (at Card Kingdom), but will give myself a bit of leeway on this as prices are still fluctuating a bit.
This is one of my favorite card styles. EDH is, first and foremost, about hanging out with friends, both new and old, and nothing brings together groups of people quite like stories, especially shared stories, and this is the kind of card that helps creates them. The ability is entirely unique and is the very definition of high risk, high reward. Every time you go to activate it, you are living life on the edge, hoping the new guy isn't randomly playing EDH all-stars like Befuddle or Blinding Spray to K.O. you out of nowhere. Even something like Unsummon is pretty back-breaking against you. When you manage to connect, you create a huge life total swing in your favor and likely become archenemy for the remainder of the game. This is definitely one of the more interesting cards in the set. If you are looking for something more in-depth about this card, check out this article by EDHREC's own Mason Brantley (http://articles.edhrec.com/underdogs-corner-evra-halcyon-witness/)
In the right deck, this is essentially a white In Garruk's Wake that only costs 5 mana. This oversimplification comes with a number of caveats, as oversimplifications often do. First, you need to have a legendary creature or planeswalker in play to cast it. This is a very real set up cost, but thankfully, were talking about EDH. You have access to a legendary creature literally every turn. Second, to get the most bang for your buck, you want to be running mostly legendary spells in your deck. Third, you can't play much in the way of enchantment removal (cards like Oblivion Ring, Journey to Nowhere, and Banishing Light) as you'll blow them up. I only mention the last part because this is a budget article, and cards like those are often staples in budget decks.
Every couple of sets we get cards that encourage us to cast all of the spells. Recent examples of this would be Swarm Intelligence and Sunbird's Invocation. These cards almost always end up being a ton of fun. Nothing says EDH quite like recurring spells and then doubling all of your spells. Obviously, this card requires some thought before using it. You aren't going to want to to ramp in to this and windmill slam it on turn 4.
I mean, you can, it's just unlikely to be very effective. The main downside of this spell is that it telegraphs your huge turn, but the possible upside is worth it.
This card seems like it could be incredibly frustrating to play against, but very fair at the same time. I mean, you are giving the beatdown with a bunch of 1 power (or toughness) creatures. If you win, you've definitely earned it. Create a bunch of weenies with cards like Chasm Skulker or Master of Waves, and go to town. This is one that definitely wants its own deck, but can fit in a few other places as well.
This is exactly the kind of spot removal I want to be playing. Every deck needs spot removal to take care of problematic creatures. The issue is that you don't want to run too many of those kinds of spells in a multiplayer game as trading one card for one card is typically a losing proposition. This changes the math drastically in your favor. You get to reanimate something from any graveyard and then blow something up. It is sorcery speed, and it requires that you either control a legendary creature or planeswalker, but the first time you reanimate your buddies Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite or Consecrated Sphinx, those hoops will feel worth jumping through.
Any black deck that needs another removal spell, with bonus points for decks that like reanimating creatures
This card is not flashy. It's not a card that will win you games on the spot. Your opponents won't groan when you cast it. That's ok. In the decks that want the effect, it's fantastic. You essentially get to draw three and put one of them into the graveyard. If you want cards in your graveyard, this card will put in work. If it was sorcery speed, I wouldn't be all that interested. At instant speed though? Sign me up.
Let's get this out of the way now. Yes, this card combos with Food Chain. If you are into that kind of Magic, you probably already knew that. I'm more interested in this as a value card. Bringing it back again and again, sacrificing it, chumping with it, Sort of like Doctor Strange at the end of...er... Doctor Strange. Stick your opponents in a time loop.
Also, he is a goblin which can matter in some decks.
The fact that this card made the list shows that red didn't do great this set. That's ok, they can't all be homeruns.
This card isn't necessarily good, but it is fun. It's unfortunate that you're unable to select enchantments with this as red struggles to deal with those, but you can select lands, which is pretty awesome. Some people love the randomness and chaos that comes with rolling dice, and this card is for them. If you want a way to make this more playable, find a way to blink the enchantment. Cards like Flickerwisp, Felidar Guardian, and Sudden Disappearance would do the trick.
- Coin flip tribal,
- Enchantress decks with both Red and White
This card is part Cryptolith Rites and part Overrun and rewards you nicely for having lots of creatures. The first two parts allow you to grow your board even larger by having access to tons of mana. The last part permanently grows your team and makes them tough in combat for a single turn. Just like with The Mirari Conjecture, you aren't typically going to want to play this on curve. You are going to want to patiently pick your spot, hopefully after a few boardwipes have happened. If you manage to do this, the payoff is impressive.
- Ghave, Guru of Spores,
- Ezuri, Renegade Leader,
- Rhys, the Redeemed,
- any deck that want Craterhoof Behemoth
Another roleplayer, Broken Bond is unlikely to be the most impactful card in your deck. That being said, EDH games are often won or loss based on your ability to deal with the permanents your opponents are playing. If your opponents are playing cards like Paradox Engine, Humility, or Mycosynth Lattice, you need to have a way to interact or you are likely in for a bad time. Broken Bond deals with all of these, and even helps you ramp if you have extra land in your hand. I'm personally hoping to blow up a friends turn 1 Sol Ring with this, putting my third land on to the field. Yes, it is sorcery speed and it's not great without extra lands to play, but there are plenty of decks that this will work great in.
Every once in a while, the comes a card that looks fantastic, but you can't quite figure how to best use it. This card is firmly in that category. It *feels* busted and it reads like a rare. You give other creatures haste, basically making it a cheaper, less scaly version of Dragonlord Kolaghan. It also has flash, which is an awesome ability to have. If this card only had those two abilities, it would be fine and it would see some small amount of EDH play. Now, the fun part.
It also returns all creature cards that were put into the graveyard from anywhere to your hand. That means if they died, were discarded, or were milled, you get them back. That's a ton of complexity for an uncommon and a powerful ability to boot. Maybe you can make some sort of Red/Black self-mill, reanimator deck? I'm really not sure. I do know you probably want to play it with cards like Ashnod's Altar, Thermopod, and Zulaport Cutthroat. I'm very curious what you all are doing with this card. Let me know in the comments!
Knight Tribal!!! Create knights, attack for lots, blow up your opponents' creatures, rinse and repeat. This gives a fun tribe a needed commander, which is always exciting. The fact that it acts as its own engine makes it much better than it would be otherwise. Also, vigilance is great here, as it allows you to attack and then use the tap abilities at end step. Bonus point for riding a black panther.
- Much better as the commander than part of the 99
I'm not entirely sure why the art on this makes me so uncomfortable. Perhaps I was attacked by a bird with unnaturally large eyes as a child? Seems likely.
What's also is likely is that this will get played in artifact and superfriends decks forever. Cards that help reduce the costs are fantastic. They allow you to play multiple spells in a turn which is typically how you win the game. It's also an artifact itself which matters a non-zero amount of the time. Making your commander cheaper on top of all of that is gravy.
The obvious comparison for this card is Sword of Vengeance. The mana costs and the equip costs are the same, but Sword gives first strike and haste while this card has a cool ability that allows you to attach it to another creature you control if the equipped creature bites it. It also gives one more power. Sword of Vengeance wants to be in more of a voltron deck while this card wants to be in a deck with multiple creatures, hopefully one where equipment matters. That being said, if you are building a voltron deck on a budget, this would likely make the cut.
What do you all think of Dominaria? Personally, this has been my favorite set since...Khans, I suppose. It's full of powerful, fun cards and has been great for EDH. What are some of your favorite cards from the set? Did I miss any stand out budget cards? Let me know below! No poll this week as I have something a bit different planned. Until next time!