Budget Commander 2016 Deck Upgrade For Beginners, by Morgan Mcgowan
With the release of Commander 2016 edition in November 2016 we see plenty of new cards for Commander released and many of them look to be interesting. Most noticeable are the new four colour generals, the first four colour legendary creatures to be seen ever in Magic: the Gathering.
Just like the previously Commander sets Commander 2015 and Commander 2014, you will receive a 100 card pre-constructed (or “pre-con”) deck with each deck featuring one of the new four-coloured Commanders. Like with any deck you may want to put your own spin on the deck and sometimes you may not want to spend very much on upgrading initially until you have decided that the deck you chose is the right one for you.
This article will cover some budget upgrades for each of these pre-con Commander 2016 decks and the suggested additions will not be above $5 at the time in which this article is written.
Lets start off with Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice, one of the popular Commanders in the new set.
At a glance Atraxa seems like a strong Commander. Proliferate is a strong ability and doing it at every one of your end steps can be beneficial to you. With proliferate being one of the keywords within the second Mirrodin block containing the sets Scars of Mirrodin, Mirrodin Besieged and New Phyrexia it is seen on a few cards such as Inexorable Tide and Contagion Clasp, both are a good choice for a deck where Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice is the Commander and they both fall under $5 so great for being a quick yet effective upgrade to the pre-con.
Other cards that are quite effective in an deck commanded by Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice are cards that put +1/+1 counters on creatures such as Ezuri, Claw of Progress from the previous Commander set and the new card from Aether Revolt Oath of Ajani which can put +1/+1 counters on all your creatures and can reduce the cost of planeswalkers if you wish to go the “superfriends” route. The planeswalkers for this archetype are often not budget but cards like Call the Gatewatch and Deploy the Gatewatch do fall within a the budget of $5 maximum per card.
Finally for this particular Commander you often see cards that double the amount of counters you put on creatures or yourself such as experience counters but these are usually above the $5 mark however another card from the new Aether Revolt set that would work well for this deck would be Winding Constrictor though you have to be careful with it as it also affects what counters your opponents can give you or your creatures but in the right place at the right time this could be a hugely beneficial card for any Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice deck but especially the budget ones.
Next up we have Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder, another popular Commander with another strong ability. Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder enables cascade to occur on all spells you cast for the rest of the turn as long as Yidris himself has done combat damage to a player this turn, this ability opens up a lot of different options for deck choice in which you can use the cascade ability to its fullest.
The pre-con deck comes with a few spells known as “Wheels”. These are cards that make players discard their current hand and draw a new amount, cards such as Windfall were included in this deck so you could continue going on that path by adding other ‘Wheel’ spells such as Reforge the Soul and Dark Deal and combine them with cards that deal damage to your opponents when they draw cards for maximum efficiency.
Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder isn’t the only card with the ability to use cascade, there are other options not featured in the initial pre-con deck such as Bloodbraid Elf and Shardless Agent and being able to cascade with cards other than Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder means you aren’t just relying on your Commander to cascade. Other spells that allow you to cast one spell off another is also a great option. Bring to Light and the new “expertise” cards from Aether Revolt such as Rishkar’s Expertise and Baral’s Expertise are examples.
Overall Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder is a great Commander who allows you to be quite open with you deck building choices.
Breya, Etherium Shaper is up next for the budget upgrades for the Commander 2016 pre-con decks and she is usually great with an artifact based deck and since artifacts have been around since the first sets of Magic you have a lot to choose from but there will be some great budget choices for any Breya, Etherium Shaper deck.
Artifacts are key to any deck with this particular Commander and being able to search your library (or “tutor”) for them is always good. Cards like Fabricate and Whir of Invention are great cheap choices to be able to tutor up an artifact you want and good cheap artifacts to tutor for include Baleful Strix, Sharding Sphinx and Kuldotha Forgemaster.
There are also some great non-artifact cards that work well in an artifact based deck such as Disciple of the Vault which is great especially if you combine it with Breya, Etherium Shaper which means you get her effect and drain the life from a target opponent and Dispatch is another great card for an artifact deck, in the right deck it turns from a mere tap a creature down spell to a fantastic piece of creature removal as long as you have Metalcraft.
Since you maybe sacrificing your artifacts to activate the effects of Breya, Etherium Shaper you may want to include some artifact recursion such as Scrap Mastery which can also double as a mass artifact removal spell for your opponent so its a great spell for any artifact deck.
Overall this Commander has a lot of potential and with the multitude of artifacts within Magic she can be easily improved, even when on a budget.
Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis are up next and they are a “group hug” Commander, designed to help all players in the game. There are plenty of additions that can be made to this type of deck and there are quite a few budget options for a group hug deck, especially in these colours. There are options that help all players early in the game to benefit and ramp up which is important in any Commander game, cards like Eladamri’s Vineyard, Dictate of Karametra and Ghirapur Orrery are all great choices for any group hug deck to get that great early start and make yourself helpful to all player.
Drawing cards is also important and cards like Dictate of Kruphix and Kami of the Crescent Moon and when you have drawn sufficient cards, cards like Hypergenesis are fantastic to play and can turn the game around and give it an interesting twist.
Group hugs decks like this are very open with how they win, whether you make everyone draw from an empty library, win by cards such as Felidar Sovreign or Aetherflux Reservoir or win by unique alternate cards like Helix Pinnacle you can be sure this deck will allow you to explore all options to get a win in another way other than damage or Commander damage.
Last but not least we have Saskia the Unyielding and this is probably one of the most underrated Commanders of this set in my experience but I found her to be unique and interesting in her own way.
Like Yidris, Saskia the Unyielding is very open ended with how you decide to build her and what cards you put in. If you wish to build around her ability then going a creature based deck is a good choice to go and being able to hit opponents with those creatures is important so having creatures that can create more creatures like Avenger of Zendikar, creatures that can influence combat such as Odric, Master Tactician or big creatures like Hydra Omnivore. These are good examples of creatures which will be effective in this plan, sometimes you may want to be more controlling and creatures like Ruric Thar, The Unbowed are great for doing this or maybe you just want to go aggro in which cards like Fires of Yavimaya and Ogre Battledriver give your creatures haste to get that damage in quick to gain the upper hand.
High damage at once is also key so Beserkers Onslaught,Dictate of the Twin Gods, Gratuitous Violence and Gisela, Blade of Goldnight are great options for this and since you will attacking plenty cards like Whip of Erebos will give you that life gain that can and will keep you alive and open up more options to victory and it also has creature recursion which is important to get your key creatures back after a wrath or removal spell, Torrent of Souls is another good piece of creature recursion which makes any creature based Commander have someway to rebuild after removal occurs.
Overall the Commanders in this set are unique and interesting and can provide a unique new playstyle with many options to go in any direction you choose.
Let us know what you think of the recommended cards and what other cards you would recommend for each of the Commanders.
Thank you for reading.