Ultra Budget Brews — Sek'Kuar Deathkeeper
Welcome back to Ultra Budget Brews, the article that desperately wants to be named Dollar General, but can’t, serving as a grim reminder that I have nice things. This article series builds EDH decks that only contain cards that cost less than $1, hopefully saving you money so that you can have nice things, like food and clothing, and still play this game that we enjoy.
Last time, we covered budget options from Hour of Devastation (Spoiler Alert: lots of the set is already budget while also being great for EDH). At the end of the article, there was a poll listing off a number of 3 color generals and you all voted on which you wanted to see. The voting went as follows:
- Rubinia Soulsinger - 12%
- Mayael the Anima – 14%
- Zedruu the Greathearted – 17%
- Surrak Dragonclaw – 20%
- Sek’kuar Deathkeeper – 37%
Honestly, I was a bit surprised. I figured Rubinia would win simply because she had the fewest decks on EDHREC. After that, I thought Mayael might win simply because I have a fairly fierce aversion to G/W decks. Needless to say I was pretty ok with Sek’kuar winning, though a bit surprised that he was as popular as he was.
- Makes 3/1 tokens that have haste
- Jund is a solid color combination
- Stats are passable
- Has an awesome Coldsnap printing
- Isn’t Prossh, Skyraider of Kher
- Isn’t Prossh, Skyraider of Kher
- 5 mana is a bit more than I want to pay
- Is an Orc Shaman. Alliance 4 lyfe (If you don’t understand what I am referring to, congratulations, you didn’t waste a portion of your life playing WoW)
Sek’kuar is actually a deck that I had put together a few years ago. It was pretty fun, but wasn’t anything approaching a budget deck, which made this article significantly more difficult than I originally thought it would be. Once you have something built a specific way, it can be difficult to deviate from. I had built a fairly typical Sek’kuar deck. It focused on grinding out value by abusing the graveyard with cards like Living Death and Nether Traitor and free sac outlets like Ashnod's Altar and Viscera Seer.
Know what is equal parts powerful and popular in EDH? Free sac outlets and graveyard shenanigans. As a result most of these cards are outside of our price range.
So what are we to do? We could build a bad budget version of the typical value-centric deck, or we could go in a slightly different direction.
Sek’kuar’s Pile of Tokens
Total Cost (Card Kingdom): $36.65
If the name of the deck didn’t tip you off, were going for a token build here. Token decks typically have both Green and White. Obviously, we only have one of these, but the fact that our commander is a token producer helps tremendously. Since we have a plan in place, lets break the deck down into sections and see what it's trying to do.
We are very creature heavy as our commander more or less requires us to be so. Without creatures dying, our commander does stone cold nothing. The creatures split into a few groups.
- Token producers, cards like Sifter of Skulls and Mogg War Marshal that not only produce tokens, but come with a body attached. This last point is very relevant as Sek’kuar’s ability specifically works with non-token creatures.
- Sacrifice outlets. Cards like Voldaren Pariah and Smothering Abomination. These allow us to get rid of creatures we no longer need, make tokens with Sek'kuar, and typically get some sort of other effect like drawing cards or making your opponents sacrifice creatures. Included in this section are cards that sacrifice themselves, perhaps most notably, all of our echo and evoke creatures.
- Cards that support our token theme, like Hellrider and Butcher of Malakir. These cards work fine without tokens, sure, but they get turned all the way up to 11 with masses of little critters running around.
- General utility cards. These are a bit boring, but are necessary if you want to be able to compete at an average level table. Cards like Reclamation Sage and Acidic Slime are not sexy and exciting, but you'll rarely have a game where you weren't glad to have them. They are staples for a reason.
Our deck wants lots of creatures, so any non-creature spell has to pull its weight. Thankfully, we have a lot of powerful, synergistic options.
- Token producers such as Lightning Coils and Golgari Germination work well with what we are already wanting to do. These types of cards provide slow, steady value and advantage. They aren't overly flashy, but given enough time, they can win you the game.
- Win conditions. Cards like Overwhelming Stampede and Burn at the Stake are great in this sort of deck. They give your deck the reach needed to compete with the other decks at your table. Also, casting a Second Harvest with a bunch of hasty 3/1 tokens on the board is a lot more fun, and game ending, than you might think.
- Ramp and color fixing. Building a three color mana base on a budget can be tough...if you aren't playing green. We are, so we get to cheat. Thanks Harrow and Farseek!
- Removal. We focus more on targeted removal with cards like Terminate and Bone Splinters. You might notice a lack of wrath effects. The reason for this is two-fold. First off, the really good ones that we would want to play are outside of our budget. The second reason is that we are playing tokens and as such, we really don't want the board getting wrathed very often. Unless we have a Falkenrath Noble on the board. Then, by all means.
- Card draw is important in every deck. We aren't playing blue, but green has a surprising amount of decent draw effects. Cards like Shamanic Revelation and Harmonize are cards you are almost always happy to see.
I've always really liked the Lieutenant keyword. I like playing decks that revolve around my general, so playing cards that reward me for doing the thing I want to be doing anyways makes a lot of sense. Thunderfoot Baloth is essentially a static Overrun. It makes even your smallest tokens respectable. Trample is nothing to sneeze out either.
Betrothed of Fire
This is actually the card that made me decide to go the token route. Sacrifice outlet? Yep Boosts power? Indubitably. Encourages going wide with critters? Definitely. It's exactly the kind of card I like playing in my decks. It does a fairly powerful, specific thing, and is likely a card no one has heard of or played against before. Winning is great, but winning in memorable ways is even better.
This card is simply silly in any sort of token deck. It gives all your creatures haste and a power boost whenever they hit the table. Haste is an underrated ability, and the power boost turns creatures that would otherwise do next to nothing into threats. One of my favorite cards to cast in this deck.
This is a card I haven't played with yet, but seems incredible. It doesn't care if the creatures you are sacrificing are tokens or not, it'll turn them into 3/2 spaghetti monsters. This, sadly, doesn't work with Eldrazi Scions, but we aren't running a ton of them anyways. Pair this with a Sek'kuar or a Ogre Battledriver and you are off to the races.
This card is practically made for Sek'kuar. Everytime one of his tokens enters the battlefield, you draw a card. I'd probably run it if that was the only card it worked with, but it actually works with lots of your deck, especially the aforementioned Emrakul's Evangel. This has been one of my favorite cards to play with and typically draws me a fistful of cards.
For this section, I tried to pick cards that would be good whether or not you stayed as a token build. If you decide to go more of the typical graveyard value route, these cards would all work perfectly.
We already have its little brother Bloodsoaked Champion in the deck. being able to bring small creatures back from the graveyard is a great effect, especially when you can bring it back multiple times in a turn like you can with Nether Traitor. Some of the best sacrifice fodder out there.
Doubling up on all of the tokens you make is great with Sek'kuar, even if you aren't entirely focused on tokens. Sacrificing a single creature and getting two hasty 3/1's is a way to win games. The dream would be to have this in play with a Warstorm Surge or a Mycoloth.
Purphoros, God of the Forge
If you've played much EDH, you've likely played against a Purphoros. It's, quite simply, a silly card. Put it in a deck that makes lots of tokens?
This was one of the cards I was most disappointed to be unable to play. It's a free sacrifice outlet that costs very little mana, does damage, and wants you to have lots of creatures. It won't win you the game all on its own, but with enough tokens, it's a legit win condition. In this deck, it's more likely to be a role player than a win condition, but you'd be surprised at how often this will provide you with the last few points of damage you needed. Pairing this with Falkenrath Noble and Zulaport Cutthroat is beautiful.
Dictate of Erebos
If there is a more frustrating card to get locked under, I'm not sure what it is. Flash gives this card tons of blowout potential, and unless your opponents are playing piles of creatures like you are, they are unlikely to be able to keep much of a board presence. It won't do much against dedicated artifact, enchantment, or non-creature combo decks, but the majority of decks you will play against will be using creatures to some degree. As a bonus, it wrecks that smug voltron player who one shots people every game.
What did you think of the token theme? Would you have gone in a different direction or did it work for you? Any cards I left out that definitely should be in here? Let me know below. Also, here are the next 5 generals for your voting pleasure. C17 is releasing soon and as such, the tribal craze will soon be upon us. In celebration of this, all of the options are tribal based. Let me know which you would like to see next time!