Ultra Budget Brews - Odric, Lunarch Marshal
(Odric, Lunarch Marshal | Art by Chase Stone)
Mono-White to the Rescue
Hello, and welcome back to a special edition of Ultra Budget Brews, the article series that builds entire EDH decks containing no card that costs more than $1 (commander excluded). Currently, we are in a series within a series, or a series-ception if you prefer the technical term. If you remember my Talrand, Torbran, Rankle, or Ghalta articles, you can skip down a bit as you will already know the goals of this article.
One thing that I’ve noticed on social media is that I’m not the only person who’s found themselves with some extra free time. Being stuck at home for long periods of time can definitely lead to bouts of boredom, and one way to battle this is to teach Magic to the people you’re stuck with. Between running an after-school club for the last 3 years and teaching a bunch of my family and random friends, I have taught dozens of people to play Magic, and I have almost exclusively used EDH to do so.
If you’re reading this, you’re either very experienced with EDH or very excited to learn; people don’t often read articles about EDH if they aren’t one of the two. If you’re the former, it can be difficult to realize how much you know and take for granted. Magic is a huge game with a lot to keep track of, and EDH only amplifies this by giving you twice as much to track. In short, it can be difficult to teach.
My goal is to build a few decks that would be useful to those who might be interested in getting someone into EDH or in having a deck that’s at an appropriate level of power and complexity to play against someone who’s just getting into the format and is new-ish to Magic. The goal of these will be to have something that is fairly intuitive for someone to pick up and play, or, if playing against it, to be able to look across the table and easily understand what is happening. EDH actually goes a long way to help us with this by providing a commander, which often serves as a great signpost, giving a lot of information about the goal of the deck.
We want our deck to do something that’s easy to explain and understand. If you can’t explain the goal of the deck in a sentence or two, it’s likely a bit too complex. I don’t mean, “The deck’s goal is to win the game, hue hue hue.” Obviously we’re trying to do that. For example, one of my go-to decks to teach people to play is a Gisa and Geralf Zombie tribal deck. When I tell people what the deck is trying to do, I tell them they are filling up the graveyard with Zombies, eventually attempting to overwhelm their opponents with a horde of them. This gives them a goal of getting a bunch of Zombies in to play. If they’re able to accomplish this, they’ll likely feel that they’ve been successful even if they eventually lose.
With all of this being said, we still want the deck to be able to compete. Just because we’re building a cheap, simple deck doesn’t mean that we don’t want it to be able to win. Giving someone a deck that is so underpowered that it doesn’t stand a chance will not encourage someone to want to play again.
In conclusion we want our deck to be:
- Led by a commander with a clear gameplan
- Able to compete
The White Stuff
Attentive readers will likely have caught on to the fact that we've done 4 mono-color decks recently, leaving a single option left to us: white. If I'm being entirely honest, I saved this for last because I was able to find an interesting commander and build an appropriate deck for all of the other colors relatively quickly. It's not so much that I had a bunch of false starts while brainstorming for this deck. I simply couldn't get started at all. If you look at the options in white, you'll find three fairly distinct camps. The first camp is cards that are powerful and splashy, but are too expensive (Avacyn, Angel of Hope, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, and God-Eternal Oketra champion this group); cards that are cheap and interesting, but are too complex for our purposes (Eight-and-a-half Tails, Kytheon, Hero of Akros, and Evra, Halcyon Witness spring to mind); and cards that are best used as sedatives (Crovax, Ascendant Hero, Lena Selfless Champion, Kongming, "Sleeping Dragon", etc). I narrowed it down to two options: Darien, King of Kjeldor and Odric, Lunarch Marshal.
I almost went with Darien, partly because he's a unique card, but mostly because one of the lessons that takes new players the longest to learn is that their life total is a resource to be used, and he hammers that point home with ruthless efficiency. Instead, I chose Odric, because every player remembers the first time they saw Baneslayer Angel, Vampire Nighthawk, or even a Questing Beast and marveled at how many keywords they had. I wanted to recreate that experience here.
- Triggers during EACH combat
- Two relevant keywords
- Only costs 4 mana
- Could lead an Ocean's Eleven theme deck
- 3/3 isn't very threatening
- Doesn't have any keywords himself
- Needs a fairly full board to be most effective
This deck is perfect for a new player because the first time they see an Aerial Responder, the gameplan will click. Odric looks overwhelming, but he is incredibly intuitive. For all of his text, being able to sum it up with "If one creature has it, they all have it," is a good sign.
Clearly, our gameplan is going to revolve around getting a handful of keyworded creatures on to the board, play Odric, and get our aggro on. With that gameplan in mind, let's check out our deck.
Odric, Keyword Marshall
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer
Total cost: $29.19
You'll notice that our deck leans hard on two basic types of cards: creatures and artifacts. Obviously, given our commander, creatures are a must, but artifacts might be a bit more surprising. Odric doesn't care how your creature got the keyword, just that they have it at the beginning of combat, so Equipment seemed like a great inclusion. Most of the Equipment that we're running is a bit more unique than you see in a usual game of EDH. Equipment like the Swords of X and Y (Sword of Feast and Famine, Sword of Sinew and Steel, etc), Lightning Greaves, and Swiftfoot Boots are some of the most-played cards in the entire format. This popularity, combined with their power, leads to them all being far outside of our budget. Instead, we get EDH All-Stars like Chariot of Victory and Haunted Cloak. Who needs Sword of Body and Mind when I can make my entire team into a bunch of baby Baneslayer Angels? We lose out on some of the efficiency and raw power of the aforementioned Equipment, but it's a trade we're okay making in this deck.
Many of our creatures are a bit on the small side, so we added ways to grow them with card like Loxodon Warhammer, Benalish Marshal, and Collective Effort. If there is something I'm nervous about with this deck, it's that our creatures won't be big enough to be impactful, no matter the amount of keywords we manage to give them, but I'm fairly confident that growing your creatures even a small amount will go a long way.
The power of Odric grows the more creatures we have for him to grant keywords to, so we added a number of token creators into the deck. Increasing Devotion, Precinct Captain, and Kemba, Kha Regent are all great examples of this.
A great deal of digital ink has been spilled over white's deficiencies when it comes to ramp and card draw. I have nothing to add to that particular conversation, but it's still something our deck needs. For card draw, we have Rogue's Gloves, Infiltration Lens, and cycling lands, which while technically not card advantage, do a good enough impression. We have mana rocks like Prismatic Lens, Gold Myr, and Palladium Myr to help us accelerate, though if you are looking for the quickest way to help this deck out, this is the place I'd look.
Thankfully, white does a great job removing threats which we see with Hour of Revelation, Phyrexian Rebirth, and Crush Contraband. You can leverage this in powerful ways when you manage to give your entire team Indestructible with Darksteel Myr or Zetalpa, Primal Dawn. This allows you to build your own Avacyn, Angel of Hope and do gross, unfair things like sitting back while making the rest of the world explode.
I thought it would be interesting to break down how many instances of each ability appear in the deck, so you will know what to expect.
- First Strike: 10
- Double Strike: 10
- Trample: 6
- Haste: 3
- Hexproof: 0
- Skulk: 1
- Indestructible: 4
- Flying: 17
- Deathtouch: 0
- Lifelink: 7
- Menace: 0
- Reach: 0
- Vigilance: 12
Split Second is underrated as a mechanic, mostly because it's old and is only seen on 16 cards. The ability to anthem your entire team without your opponents having an opportunity to interact is very powerful. This is one I could see being replaced if you thought it was too much complexity for the people you would be teaching.
Monk is a card that I used to see very often, but seems to have been slowly cut from decks, a victim of lower mana curves and a focus on efficiency. Thankfully we can play it here, because it's great in this deck. It gives you two tokens which helps us go wide, all while giving two solid keywords.
The vigilance on this is nice, but really this is included in the deck because, with Odric, your team gets psuedo-indestructible. This makes combat a nightmare for your opponents to navigate, which is exactly what our whole deck is designed to do.
I recently started playing Arena, and as I have no interest in Standard outside of memeing my opponents to death with Thousand-Year Storm and Captive Audience, I've decided to meme my opponents to death with Thousand-Year Storm and Captive Audience in Brawl instead. Despite my anti-white proclivity, sometimes I get bored and mess around with the worst color in Magic. I've got to admit, every time I've cast Brought Back, I've felt like the cleverest Magician to ever Magic. Brought Back is wonderful and should get a second look in white decks.
An anthem effect that can serve as reanimation in the late game is a great fit for our deck. This is rough at 4 mana, though there are times where you will certainly cast it early, but it truly shines if you can manage to wait until the late game to fire this off.
As always, these are the cards I'd look to add if I were looking to up the power of the deck, weren't interested in a strict budget limitation, or simply had easy access to a copy.
This little used, fairly unknown card is a perfect fit with this deck. Odric is a Human and as a result, he gives indestructible and hexproof to your entire team, which happen to be two of the more valuable/difficult-to-acquire keywords.
Bruna, the Fading Light
As mentioned above, white struggles with card draw, but one of its more overlooked strengths is reanimation. While it's not card draw in a strict sense, it is certainly card advantage, and an incredibly powerful version of it at that. If you are adding Bruna, you should certainly add Gisela, the Broken Blade because Brisela, Voice of Nightmares is exactly the sort of card I play EDH for.
Angel of Invention
I'm sensing a bit of an angelic theme here. This pumps our team, can make tokens, and gives a bevy of keywords. If I had to pick a card to add first, this would likely be my pick.
This uncommon from a relatively recent set is $2. Sometimes I think I understand card prices, but then I look at the list of cards from Amonkhet and find that this uncommon is more expensive than half of the rares and 4 of the Mythics. I suppose cost reduction, token making, and a 3 generic casting cost all combine to make a popular, powerful card and are the exact reasons we would love to have it in this deck.
Sword of Vengeance
This was the second card I looked up to add to this deck (Zetalpa, Primal Dawn was first). It grants 4 keywords and is fairly cheap to cast/Equip. If there were a "how glad am I to draw this card?" metric, this would rank high on that list.
That metric should absolutely exist. Accepting name suggestions in the comments.
What do you think of the deck? Is this the kind of deck you'd feel comfortable giving to someone new to the game, or would you have picked another commander? Let me know in the comments below! No poll this time, but it'll return in October. If you are looking for more budget EDH content, follow me on Twitter, @brewsmtg. Until next time!