Commander can be an expensive format to get into but today’s article will highlight some budget Commander hidden gems that I believe provide an incredible amount of “bang” for under a buck. If you already have an optimized, foiled-out Commander deck, this probably isn’t the article for you. But, if you’re a new or returning player looking to put together a cardboard Commander deck on a budget, then today’s article will run down a list of cards I consider among the crème de la crème of value in terms of utility and value.
I’ll be discussing cards that can be cheaply acquired to upgrade Commander precons or even bolster a budget brew. In most cases, I view the cards on today’s lists as cards I’d consider playing with, even if price wasn’t a factor. They’re simply terrific Commander staples that happen to be quite affordable at the moment.
All cards here are under a dollar according to ChannelFireball.com, so if any prices have changed since publication, my apologies!
Today’s picks are geared toward multiplayer play (not 1v1 Commander).
Playing in a game where a player has multiple opponents changes how you should think about evaluating cards. For instance, in 1v1 games, if your opponent plays a big monster and you Murder it, it’s a great trade. If there are four players at the table, my opponent with the monster and I are both down a card compared to the other players at the table.
Generally speaking, Commander threats are best when they do one of the following things:
- Facilitate a combo
- Generate mana
- Generate board or card advantage
It’s extremely difficult to bulldoze two or more other players without a combo. More often than not, the victor of a Commander match is either the player who “went off” or the player who “weathered the storm” long enough to be the last person alive.
So, today’s picks fall into these categories that “tend” to be good in Commander.
You could do a lot worse than adding these threats to your Commander deck. In most cases, resolving either threat is likely to generate both card and board advantage which is exactly what great EDH threats do.
How about a sweeper that leaves two tokens behind?
I always put a huge premium on dealing with artifacts and enchantments, and that tends to be white’s biggest strength. I’m a huge fan of all three of these cards and would likely play them in most decks with a Commander with a white color identity.
I love threats such as these because they essentially provide a pesky body to poke planeswalkers or chump block with that generate card advantage. Scholar of the Ages in particular is a really powerful endgame card – especially when it can be blinked in and out of play.
One of the best ways to mitigate losing card advantage and still playing removal is simply to steal an opponent’s best threats.
Blue is the king of drawing extra cards. These are some of the best draw spells at under a dollar.
Artifacts tend to be really important in games of Commander. Both of these cards are great ways to control opposing artifact decks from getting too out of control and winning the game.
All of these are fantastic counterspells in Commander. I’ve always been a huge fan of a Spell Burst as a way to dominate the endgame against the final opponent in a control deck.
Both of these are mana-intensive but fantastic counterspells that also generate a ton of advantage when resolved.
Last but not least…
I almost always have a Capsize in my 99. It’s such flexible, fantastic and reusable utility. It can be used to facilitate a lot of combos with ETB creatures, remove pesky permanents or go after an opponent’s mana base in the 1v1 endgame.
Black is a really fun color to play in Commander because it’s naturally quite grindy. Many of the staple mono-black cards have gotten quite expensive, but these are really solid back ups.
Also, stealing an opponent’s monster is great no matter what color of mana you play.
I would put this card into every deck with a Commander with a nlack color identity. Every. Single. Time.
Red is naturally great at destroying opposing Artifacts (and especially so on a budget).
I’m also a huge fan of these cards:
The irony of using a card that costs a quarter to steal an opponent’s expensive spell is pretty excellent.
Two excellent, grindy, card advantage spells.
Green has tons of excellent mana options, but these are some really good ones that check in under a dollar. I particularly like Reap and Sow.
These four are all premier artifact and enchantment removal spells in the format. I always play a Krosan Grip in my deck when I play green, since the ability to break up a protected combo via split second is so important.
Black Commanders are so popular that the miser’s Compost is actually pretty awesome as a card draw engine. The same logic can be applied to Hidden Guerrillas… somebody is going to play an artifact, making the card a 5/3 for a single G!
How are you not going to play Regrowth?
This is an excellent Phyrexian Arena variant that can be played in any deck.
These are excellent mana utility as well.
These cards are specific to two-color identity combinations, but are nice additions for the price tag as well. I’ve pretty much hit on the types of qualities that tend to make a card good in Commander already, so I’m not going to beat a dead horse by continuing to make the same comments over and over again. With that said, these are all pretty solid cards to help upgrade two-plus color Commander decks.
With Commander continuing to grow in popularity, and people beginning to sniff returning to cardboard play, it’s a great time to get ahead of trend and put a deck together. While it’s true that many of the expensive format staples are big bucks for a reason (they’re among the most powerful cards ever printed), there are also plenty of examples of powerful format staples that can be acquired for less than a dollar each.
You can certainly field a respectable deck and have an awesome time playing multiplayer without spending thousands of dollars on singles. If you’ve got a great budget staple that you’d like to suggest to newer players, feel free to drop it in the comments section below!