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$50 Budget Jan Jansen Commander – Both Trash and Treasure!

I’ve been enjoying budget upgrades so much that I decided to brew on a budget again this week! Today, we’ll be building a $50 budget Commander deck from scratch. That doesn’t mean it won’t be strong or fun to play. Usually, these decks feel a lot closer to preconstructed decks, but today’s deck seems quite a bit stronger to me. I goldfished it a couple dozen times and I think it’s decently powerful and a lot of fun!

As always, I’d like to remind you of a couple of things regarding my budget articles:

  • $50 has a different impact on different people, but given that it’s less than the price of a triple-A console game release, I think it’s a price many will be willing to pay for hours of entertainment, which a Commander deck should provide.
  • I’ll be using prices from the ChannelFireball Marketplace to track our costs, specifically the lowest available Near Mint price at the time of this writing. I apologize if listings have changed since then, but that’s just part and parcel of a budget article.
  • I don’t count the price of the chosen commander against the budget. Why? Well, because people will pull a commander they love out of a booster pack and want to build around that, and I figure showing them how to do that on a budget is the most important thing. 

 

 

Today’s commander of choice is Jan Jansen, Chaos Crafter!

Jan Jansen, Chaos Crafter

Even though I don’t count the cost of the commander against the budget, we’d be fine here if we did. Jan Jansen costs $0.20 for the regular version and only $0.10 for the showcase, so pick whichever you like. Jan has haste, which is important for a commander predicated on activations, and he turns artifacts into more artifacts. I’ll be building around this as hard as I can, with plenty of cards that deal damage or cause loss of life when artifacts enter or leave the battlefield, solid artifacts to sacrifice, cards that generate tokens we can sacrifice, recursion options, and ways to get more value out of Jan. Let’s start the rundown!

 

Header - Artifact Payoffs

Reckless FireweaverIngenious Artillerist
Reckless Fireweaver (KLD) Ingenious Artillerist (CLB)
$0.60 $0.20

The more artifacts we have entering the battlefield at any given time, the harder these work. With Jan generating at least two artifacts per turn, and with our other cards moving artifacts around at high speed, these should be good for four or more triggers per turn cycle when the engine is running in high gear.

Disciple of the VaultAgent of the Iron ThroneNadier's NightbladeMarionette Master
Disciple of the Vault (2XM) Agent of the Iron Throne (CLB) Nadier’s Nightblade (CMR) Marionette Master (KLD)
$0.59 $0.20 $0.78 $0.76

Same deal here, except with artifacts going to the graveyard. Agent of the Iron Throne only works when Jan is in play, but the deck is kind of built around Jan, so that’s fine. Nadier’s Nightblade works with any tokens, but we mostly only have artifact tokens anyway. Marionette Master is obviously the nastiest of the bunch and will be responsible for many of the kills in this deck list.

Alibou, Ancient WitnessBronze Guardian
Alibou, Ancient Witness (C21) Bronze Guardian (C21)
$0.40 $0.53

These two require us to attack to take advantage of all our artifacts. Alibou gets us some extra scry energy, which is sweet, while Bronze Guardian protects our artifacts a bit and can smash through an unsuspecting opponent’s defenses. 

But what are we sacrificing to Jan to make all of this work?

 

Header - Sacrifice Fodder

Chromatic StarExperimental SynthesizerIchor WellspringSolemn Simulacrum
Chromatic Star (2XM) Experimental Synthesizer (NEO) Ichor Wellspring (C21) Solemn Simulacrum (NEC)
$0.30 $0.32 $0.20 $0.60

Drawing cards is great, and these four artifacts are the ones we want to hurl into the garbage in exchange for more of those sweet draws. Experimental Synthesizer, when used correctly, can get us two cards, and Ichor Wellspring makes drawing two cards look easy. Sacrificing any of these to Jan is a dream, but sacrificing Solemn Simulacrum feels the best – you get two Treasures to go with your card, meaning your turn might just keep rolling a little further. That’s the essence of this deck: long, flashy turns.

Nimblewright SchematicPrized StatueServo Schematic
Nimblewright Schematic (CLB) Prized Statue (CLB) Servo Schematic (AER)
$0.10 $0.10 $0.20

Artifacts that make more artifacts are key for this strategy, and these three fit perfectly into a Jan deck. Using Jan to turn one of these into two Constructs plus one other token feels great – at worst, you’re generating a wide board of attackers, and at best, you’re fueling one of the damage dealers. With so many damage dealers in the deck, you’ll have one more often than not.

Mycosynth WellspringMyr Retriever
Mycosynth Wellspring (NPH) Myr Retriever (2XM)
$0.1 $0.32

These two fit into the more miscellaneous category, with Mycosynth Wellspring getting a land and Myr Retriever grabbing an artifact from the graveyard. If you want to start some wild loops, throw in a Workshop Assistant and a Dross Scorpion, then find a way to make Jan an artifact. Not quite infinite, but pretty nasty. I stayed away from that as I didn’t want to go too far down the combo road in a budget list, but if you’re into that, grab your copy of Clock of Omens and start turning those gears. 

We have more token generators as well – check these out.

Loyal ApprenticeDigsite EngineerMyr Battlesphere
Loyal Apprentice (AFC) Digsite Engineer (C21) Myr Battlesphere (C21)
$0.40 $0.20 $0.32

Need creature tokens? These three can easily provide the value you need. Digsite Engineer’s tokens should probably stick around as part of your attacking force, while the other two make more disposable Thopter and Myr tokens. If we had more Myr tokens, we could roll the Myr Katamari a little harder, but without any other serious sources of those tokens, we can’t go terribly hard. If you want some of that, try Myr Sire, Myr Matrix and other Myr generators.

Magda, Brazen OutlawMahadi, Emporium MasterProsperous Partnership
Magda, Brazen Outlaw (KHM) Mahadi, Emporium Master (CLB) Prosperous Partnership (NCC)
$0.31 $0.20 $0.60

Magda makes Treasures in the early game – even without any Dwarf or Dragon support, she’s fantastic. Mahadi makes Treasures forever, especially if you’re willing to sacrifice some nontoken creatures. The real winner here, though, is Prosperous Partnership. All you need is one other creature before you cast the Partnership and you’re off to the races. Make a Treasure, then sac it with Jan and make two Constructs; that puts you 2/3 of the way toward another Treasure! 

But besides Jan, do we have any sac outlets? Why yes, we do! Let’s take a look at eight great cards.

 

Header - Sacrifice Outlets

Village RitesDeadly DisputeTrash for Treasure
Village Rites (C21) Deadly Dispute (CLB) Trash for Treasure (2XM)
$0.20 $0.76 $0.40

These three are just one-shot effects, but they all provide serious value. What’s better than two cards from Village Rites? Two cards and a Treasure from Deadly Dispute! (What a card.) Trash for Treasure can paradoxically turn a Treasure into something you put in your trash. There should be plenty of garbage artifacts lying around to hurl into the garbage to make both ends of this card work quite nicely.

Hidden StockpileOni-Cult AnvilBreya's ApprenticeDaretti, Scrap SavantTrading Post
Hidden Stockpile (2XM) Oni-Cult Anvil (NEO) Breya’s Apprentice (MH2) Daretti, Scrap Savant (C21) Trading Post (M13)
$0.10 $0.20 $0.17 $0.50 $0.70

These five stick around to generate more and more value. Hidden Stockpile and Oni-Cult Anvil provide a steady stream of tokens turn after turn, which is incredible in this deck. Daretti turns trash into treasure (or vice versa) over and over again, while Breya’s Apprentice and Trading Post generate plenty of card advantage. These kinds of cards are key to keeping the engine running and making use of the overflow of tokens from Jan’s abilities.

Need more value? Let’s get some more recursion in here to go with Myr Retriever!

 

Header - Recursion

Scrap TrawlerRuthless TechnomancerTeshar, Ancestor's ApostleWake the Past
Scrap Trawler (C21) Ruthless Technomancer (NEC) Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle (NEC) Wake the Past (C21)
$0.40 $2.60 $0.20 $0.20

Scrap Trawler makes sacrificing artifacts fun, and while we’re not doing any Mox Opal shenanigans in this list, there are plenty of short chains to follow down with our sacrifice fodder artifacts. Teshar can bring back your favorite creatures to help deal more damage or, in the case of cards like Myr Retriever, generate extra value. Ruthless Technomancer can turn an errant Myr Battlesphere into a pile of treasure or use treasures from Jan to bring back key creatures like Disciple of the Vault or even Marionette Master with ease, and Wake the Past just gets everything. Everything worth getting, anyway!

With all of these cards that work well with Jan, you might be worrying. We only have one Jan, and he only gets to activate once per turn cycle… right? Well, let’s see about that.

 

Header - Jan Synergy

DrumbellowerPatriar's SealWhite Plume Adventurer
Drumbellower (NEC) Patriar’s Seal (CLB) White Plume Adventurer (CLB)
$3.04 $0.46 $0.25

Untapping Jan more often is a surefire way to generate a ton more value, which is why I’m willing to spend so much of our budget on Drumbellower. White Plume Adventurer is much cheaper, as it turns out, and since we mostly care about untapping Jan, it’s great here. Plus, with all of our Constructs, we can probably steal the initiative back when necessary. Patriar’s Seal edged out Commander’s Sphere with that sweet untap ability!

Battlemage's Bracers (Extended Art)Rings of Brighthearth
Battlemage’s Bracers (C21 Extended) Rings of Brighthearth (CMR)
$2.10 $1.86

We don’t need the haste from Battlemage’s Bracers, so it’s a little bit of a waste, but its trigger is cheaper than the one from Rings of Brighthearth. Luckily, we have room in the budget for both! You don’t have to sacrifice more things with these – you just need to activate Jan and then pay for the trigger from whichever one (or both) of these cards you’re using. Nearly free value!

That’s the core of the deck – let’s flesh out the rest with some utility cards mana rocks, and so on. 

 

Header - Utility

Painful TruthsSeize the SpoilsBig Score
Painful Truths (NCC) Seize the Spoils (KHM) Big Score (SNC)
$0.30 $0.20 $0.32

At this price, you can’t do much better than Painful Truths for card draw in three color decks, though I suppose there’s some debate about this card vs. Read the Bones. Pick whichever one you prefer, honestly. Seize the Spoils and Big Score are more filtering than card draw, since they both go two-fortwo, but the additional Treasures are the big draw.

Swiftfoot BootsFoundry Inspector
Swiftfoot Boots (KHC) Foundry Inspector (CMR)
$0.90 $0.20

Some miscellaneous utility here. Swiftfoot Boots protects our commander or confers haste to other creatures, and Foundry Inspector reduces costs on many of our cards.

Sol RingArcane SignetBoros SignetLiquimetal Torque (Retro)Mind StoneOrnithopter of Paradise (Retro)Orzhov SignetRakdos Signet
Sol Ring (CLB) Arcane Signet (CLB) Boros Signet (RAV) Liquimetal Torque (MH2 Retro)
$1.00 $0.90 $0.40 $0.46
Mind Stone (CLB) Ornithopter of Paradise (MH2 Retro) Orzhov Signet (CLB) Rakdos Signet (AFC)
$0.29 $0.20 $0.20 $0.70

Eight mana rocks? Yes! Even though this deck’s average mana value comes in pretty low (more on that later), we have plenty of ways to sacrifice artifacts once they’re no longer useful, so a high count is pretty sweet. Plus, the ones that make different colors of mana will help cast Jan on time while also putting other artifacts into play at the same time. Playing Jan a turn after you initially could is often a good choice, as that makes it easier to have something to sacrifice.

DispatchDesparkRakdos CharmBedevilGenerous GiftWear // Tear
Dispatch (NEC) Despark (CLB) Rakdos Charm (C17)
$0.39 $0.20 $0.33
Bedevil (AFC) Generous Gift (CMR) Wear // Tear (DGM)
$0.50 $1.69 $0.86

Spot removal is always nice, and I made sure we had options for a bunch of different permanent types. All that without breaking the bank? That’s quite the feat! Generous Gift is the most expensive of the six. 

Let’s move on to the mana base. We have three utility lands to discuss.

 

Header - The Mana Base

Bojuka BogBuried RuinCommand Beacon

Bojuka Bog (CLB) Buried Ruin (2XM) Command Beacon (CMR)
$0.60 $0.46 $4.20

Bojuka Bog is our only piece of graveyard hate, though if you wanted you could work Tormod’s Crypt or Relic of Progenitus in easily. I started off with a more offensively potent list that you can tweak to the threats in your group – move things around as you need. Buried Ruin is a little extra recursion, and Command Beacon makes it easier to keep Jan around.

I managed to fit seven artifact lands into this list! Here they are:

Ancient DenDarksteel CitadelGreat FurnaceVault of Whispers
Ancient Den (MRD) Darksteel Citadel (2XM) Great Furnace (C14) Vault of Whispers (MRD)
$0.32 $0.40 $0.70 $0.65

These come in untapped, which means they can make some mana before they go away just in case you need to sacrifice them on that exact turn. Yes, these are here as Jan fodder – you don’t need a ton of land to operate in the midgame.

Drossforge BridgeGoldmire BridgeRustvale Bridge
Drossforge Bridge (MH2) Goldmire Bridge (MH2) Rustvale Bridge (MH2)
$0.28 $0.20 $0.20

These come in tapped, which is a mild bummer, but the mana fixing is nice, and when you do end up sacrificing them, getting them back with something like Scrap Trawler or Wake the Past is rad.

Now, on to the color-fixers.

Battlefield ForgeCaves of KoilosSpire of Industry
Battlefield Forge (C20) Caves of Koilos (ORI) Spire of Industry (AER)
$1.19 $0.49 $0.69

It’s important to make sure some of your fixing lands come into play untapped, and painlands are a great candidate. The two Apocalypse-era duals are great cheap options, with Sulfurous Springs being quite prohibitive cost-wise. Spire of Industry fills in well as a cheap City of Brass analogue.

Command TowerExotic OrchardNomad Outpost
Command Tower (CLB) Exotic Orchard (C21) Nomad Outpost (C17)
$0.20 $0.20 $0.60

Three tri-lands, with one coming in tapped. Nomad Outpost is not that much worse than a Triome, but the cycling would be nice if you happen to have one on hand.

Evolving WildsTerramorphic Expanse
Evolving Wilds (CLB) Terramorphic Expanse (CMR)
$0.10 $0.10

These aren’t my favorite, but they’re a necessary evil in a three-color budget list, and with so few turn one plays, they’re solid in opening hands.

Temple of MaliceTemple of SilenceTemple of Triumph
Temple of Malice (THB) Temple of Silence (CLB) Temple of Triumph (NCC)
$0.67 $0.20 $0.30

The Temples are a step up from Evolving Wilds and Terramorphic Expanse, but if you can add some budget and upgrade to lands that enter untapped, make sure to replace these after you replace those two.

 

Header - The Final List

That’s it for nonbasics – add in six Mountains, five Plains and five Swamps and we’re good! We’ve spent a total of $49.64, which means Jan even fits under the $50 budget if you’re a stickler for that. Our list features an average mana value among nonlands of just 2.95. That makes the 37 land count feel okay, and the sac outlets make it easier to play eight mana rocks. Here’s the list – try it, or something similar, out and you’ll have a board full of artifacts and a stack full of damage/life loss triggers in no time!

1 Agent of the Iron Throne
1 Alibou, Ancient Witness
1 Ancient Den
1 Arcane Signet
1 Battlefield Forge
1 Battlemage's Bracers
1 Bedevil
1 Big Score
1 Blasphemous Act
1 Blood Money
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Boros Signet
1 Breya's Apprentice
1 Bronze Guardian
1 Buried Ruin
1 Caves of Koilos
1 Chromatic Star
1 Command Beacon
1 Command Tower
1 Daretti, Scrap Savant
1 Darksteel Citadel
1 Deadly Dispute
1 Despark
1 Digsite Engineer
1 Disciple of the Vault
1 Dispatch
1 Drossforge Bridge
1 Drumbellower
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Exotic Orchard
1 Experimental Synthesizer
1 Foundry Inspector
1 Generous Gift
1 Ghirapur Aether Grid
1 Goldmire Bridge
1 Great Furnace
1 Hidden Stockpile
1 Ichor Wellspring
1 Ingenious Artillerist
1 Liquimetal Torque
1 Loyal Apprentice
1 Magda, Brazen Outlaw
1 Mahadi, Emporium Master
1 Marionette Master
1 Mind Stone
6 Mountain
1 Mycosynth Wellspring
1 Myr Battlesphere
1 Myr Retriever
1 Nadier's Nightblade
1 Nimblewright Schematic
1 Nomad Outpost
1 Oni-Cult Anvil
1 Ornithopter of Paradise
1 Orzhov Signet
1 Painful Truths
1 Patriar's Seal
5 Plains
1 Prized Statue
1 Prosperous Partnership
1 Rakdos Charm
1 Rakdos Signet
1 Reckless Fireweaver
1 Rings of Brighthearth
1 Rustvale Bridge
1 Ruthless Technomancer
1 Scrap Trawler
1 Seize the Spoils
1 Servo Schematic
1 Sol Ring
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Spire of Industry
5 Swamp
1 Swiftfoot Boots
1 Temple of Malice
1 Temple of Silence
1 Temple of Triumph
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle
1 Trading Post
1 Trash for Treasure
1 Vault of Whispers
1 Village Rites
1 Wake the Past
1 Wear/Tear
1 White Plume Adventurer

 

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