Ultra Budget Brews — Neheb, the Worthy
Hello everyone, and welcome back to Ultra Budget Brews, the article series where we build an entire EDH deck where no card costs more than $1. Normally this ends up costing right around $30, so for the cost of around 30 McDoubles from McDonalds, you can have a functional deck that will last you UNTIL THE END OF TIME! Also, it comes without the crippling sense of shame that would inevitably accompany that many McDoubles.
If you have been paying attention to Magic things recently, you likely know that in a week, WotC is releasing 4 new EDH decks, all tribal focused. I felt inspired and wanted to get in on the tribal action. Unfortunately for the aims of this column, most tribal commanders are outside of our price range, so we had to dig a bit deeper than your average tribal deck. Here is how the voting went:
- Wort, the Raidmother - 22%
- Kangee, Aerie Keeper - 22%
- Horde of Notions - 22%
- Neheb, the Worthy - 24%
- Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer - 10%
In case anyone was wondering, I was planning on doing a Myr-tribal deck had Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer won. All of the others should have been pretty obvious. I was a bit shocked that Horde of Notions didn't win. Elementals are a pretty cool tribe and I thought that watching me squirm trying to build a functional 5 color mana base on a budget would have won the day. Kangee, Aerie Keeper was my next guess. Really, I never expected Neheb, the Worthy to come through, and yet, here we are.
- Cheap to cast
- Is a great minotaur 'lord', as first strike is a great ability to give and +2/+0 is awesome as well
- Discard effect disrupts your opponents and synergizes with your other ability
- Easily blocked and killed
- People hate discarding which makes your opponents liable to kill Neheb. Lots.
- Is a Minotaur. I mean, have you seen the minotaurs we have to work with?
My wife, God bless her, knows nothing about Magic. She knows that there is a lot of talk about something called 'mana', but that is the extent of her knowledge. To try to explain to her what EDH is, I have taken to comparing it to pick-up basketball; It's only as serious as you want it to be and there is nothing on the line outside of a little bit of pride. Now, allow me to extend this analogy a bit. If EDH is a game of pick up basketball, where do the different (in this case, tribal) decks fit in?
- Zombies, Goblins, Slivers and Elves all used to play college ball. That might only have walked on, but that doesn't matter; they are still going to dunk on everyone else out there.
- Vampires and Merfolk are pretty quiet, but are sneaky good and clearly know what they are about.
- Dragons and Angels are the guy who is 6 foot 5, and yet has never played basketball before. He's real big and as such is an asset, even if, objectively, he has no idea what he's doing.
- Allies and Elementals are continuously discussing how they are just as good as Slivers and they totally could have played college ball and probably been better than him, if only their Middle School coach didn't hate them and they didn't tear their meniscus that one time.
- So where do Minotaurs fit?
Does this mean we are doomed to play a terrible deck if we want to play tribal minotaurs? Thankfully, no. Neheb has another theme that we can play around with. He makes everyone discard, including you, allowing us to play around with the Madness mechanic.
Mad Cow Disease
Total Cost (Card Kingdom): $29.10
The one nice thing about playing minotaurs is it is crazy cheap. If you or any of your play group played much during Theros, or the more recent Amonkhet block, you probably have a ton of minotaurs sitting in a box at the bottom of your shelf, collecting dust in that special way that unplayable magic cards seem to. Only now, cards that were barely even saw limited play will now arise to do battle with actual playable cards. Ever wanted to cast a Flurry of Horns or a Kragma Butcher in a game of EDH and do so with a straight face? Well, now you can!
Minotaurs actually have a couple of decent lords. Kragma Warcaller, Ragemonger, Rageblood Shaman, and Neheb himself are all pretty solid when used in conjunction with lots of minotaurs. Reducing costs, giving trample, and giving haste are all very respectable. These are the cards that allow you to successfully pilot a minotaur tribal deck. Your other minotaurs have a single job, to get in for as much damage as possible. They are all pretty cheap, and their stats reflect it. None of them are going to be able to go toe-to-toe with the giant dragons, giants, and avatars that your opponents will likely be playing, so get in while the getting is good.
The madness package is surprisingly effective. Getting value from the discard you have to do with Neheb feels really good. and allows you to get a leg up on your opponent. Cards like Gibbering Descent and Asylum Visitor have more than carried their weight. Dark Withering is clutch against non-black decks. Some of the non-Neheb discard outlets we run have been pretty successful as well. Faithless Looting and Tormenting Voice are two of my favorites.
Red and black both have decent options for removal, and we run as many as our budget allows. Neither color is particularly adept at ramping, so we shore this part of our game up with artifact ramp. Our enchantments are all pretty powerful and either help us pick apart our opponent's hands or help us give us a bit of extra reach.
Felhide Petrifier is secretly one of the best cards in this deck. Deathtouch is a deceptively strong ability. Giving little 1/1's the ability to erase a far larger creature in combat is simply great. Most of the time, you are happy to exchange your small, cheap critters for their big, scary monsters. Pairing deathtouch with first strike is an entire different ballgame. There is a reason you don't often see the two paired together. Neheb just so happens to give all of your minotaurs First Strike. So, unless your opponent has indestructible creatures or lots of expendable creatures, they are unlikely to be overly interested in blocking the oncoming horde of angry bovine.
This card does it all in this deck. It is a free, repeatable discard outlet. It gives a great effect. It even draws you cards. One of the weaknesses of this deck can be getting Neheb in for damage, since that's what often kicks off the discarding. Yes, there is typically going to be at least one player that has no blockers and is completely open, but Key to the City makes a way for you to get in even if everyone is turtled up. Heck, you can even use this politically, offering to help someone at the table take down the player that's about to beat everyone by making one of their creatures unblockable.
If there is a card that people hate seeing, its this one. For the cost of 3 mana, you can make the table collectively discard 12 cards (assuming a 4 player game). That is an absolutely ludicrous rate. This allows you to nuke everyone else's hands and cast your madness cards. There are two things to be wary of with this. First off, this will likely draw a ton of aggro. People really don't like discarding. It feels bad and makes people think they aren't actually getting to play. This is especially true in less competitive playgroups. The second thing to be wary of is reanimation. If you are playing against a Karador, Ghost Chieftain or a Meren of Clan Nel Toth deck, you are likely helping them more than you are hurting, and those decks rarely need any help. At all.
Underrating this card would be a grave error. Everyone at the table is likely discarding lots of cards. Eventually, someone is liable to throw something big and scary into the graveyard. When they do, try not to cackle maniacally as you're liable to give yourself away. Reanimation is always fun, and it's even more fun when it's someone else's cards. Admittedly, this card costs 6 mana, which is quite a bit. Two things help alleviate the pain from that. It gives the creature haste, which means you don't have to worry about waiting an entire turn cycle to get the pain train going. Also, it has basic landcycling. If you ever are playing against decks that seem unlikely to have big creatures, use this card to get a land instead. If you are stuck on land, this will bail you out. Flexibility is sometimes more attractive than raw power, and this has lots of it.
Most of your minotaurs have some amount of red in their casting costs, so this is going to make flooding the board lots easier. The amount of mana this card will save you over the long haul is substantial. The fact that you get to loot whenever you play any color of spell is fantastic in this sort of deck. Looting often is looked at as a crappy version of drawing, and typically it is. This deck is the exception that prove the rule. You want to get empty handed to buff all of your minotaurs and this helps you do so, while also giving you card selection and helping you not get mana flooded or screwed.
This card fits in literally no where else. You'll never get to play this in any other deck, and being able to play your minotaurs from hand at instant speed is very powerful, especially if they are lords. It's like a bad, tribal Aether Vial. Side note: I once lived with a guy in college who had an actual didgeridoo that he kept in his closet. I got to play it one time. It was pretty difficult, summoned exactly zero minotaurs, and made me think I was at an Outback Steakhouse. The more you know.
I recently went to my LGS to buy this card. Apparently, I have developed a bit of a reputation there because he simply said, "You're not going to buy it. It costs way more than a $1." Well, he was right. It cost more than $1, and I definitely didn't buy it. I did manage to trade for one though, and it is bonkers in this deck. Every mode is great, it only costs 2 mana, and isn't a card that actively harms your opponents, making it less likely to be removed by less savvy players. If you have access to this card, it would probably be my first addition.
All I can think of when I read this card is playing the original Starcraft game for hours. If you didn't like zerg, it's ok, admitting you are wrong is the first step to recovery. This card has a very cheap Madness cost, is a creature, and is removal. The only thing more we could ask for is that it would be a minotaur, but that's probably greedy.
This card is one of the ones that I am most excited for from the new Commander decks. Goad is a very powerful ability. It causes your opponents to all attack each other, hopefully causing all sorts of carnage and leaving a clear path for your team of unwashed savage to get in to the red zone relatively unchallenged.
This is the sort of punisher card I can get behind. Aptly named, your opponents all get to play the game still, they just have to make some very difficult, and often painful, decisions along the way. The only two kinds of decks that this card is bad against are lifegain decks (as the 5 life will likely be trivial) or reanimator decks (as previously noted). This card draws typically draws a ton of hate, and is very difficult to play around. The 5 life adds up real quick, as paying it just once is 1/8 of a player's starting life total.
What did you think of this look at tribal minotaurs? Would you have gone a different direction or did you enjoy the madness and discard sub-theme? I would love to hear your thoughts below!
Next time, I'm planning on taking a look at one of the new decks. I'm not sure yet which, because that is entirely up to you. Let me know which you are most excited to play with and I'll give it an Ultra Budget Brew makeover!
Until next time!