We’re on the third and final round of budget upgrades for Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate Commander preconstructed decks! “But Eric,” you ask, “aren’t there four decks?” There sure are, and we’ll be covering both of the two remaining decks in this one article. Since both Mind Flayarrrs and Party Time are focused on adhering to particular creature types, the lists are fairly streamlined for preconstructed decks. That means I did a smaller upgrade to each deck, splitting the $50 per article budget to allocate $25 to each deck. 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.
Let’s start with Mind Flayarrrs, a Horror tribal deck featuring Captain N’ghathrod and a bevy of Horrors!
Commander: Captain N'ghathrod 1 Aboleth Spawn 1 Arcane Signet 1 Ash Barrens 1 Black Market 1 Brainstealer Dragon 1 Chasm Skulker 1 Choked Estuary 1 Command Tower 1 Consuming Aberration 1 Creeping Tar Pit 1 Crippling Fear 1 Curtains' Call 1 Dark Hatchling 1 Darkwater Catacombs 1 Dauthi Horror 1 Dimir Aqueduct 1 Dimir Keyrune 1 Dimir Signet 1 Dross Harvester 1 Drown in the Loch 1 Drownyard Temple 1 Dusk Mangler 1 Endless Evil 1 Everflowing Chalice 1 Exotic Orchard 1 Extract from Darkness 1 Fact or Fiction 1 Feed the Swarm 1 Forgotten Creation 1 Fractured Sanity 1 From the Catacombs 1 Grazilaxx, Illithid Scholar 1 Grell Philosopher 1 Guiltfeeder 1 Haunted One 1 Herald's Horn 1 Hex 1 Hullbreaker Horror 1 Hunted Horror 1 In Garruk's Wake 9 Island 1 Leyline of Anticipation 1 Lightning Greaves 1 Memory Plunder 1 Mind Flayer 1 Mind Stone 1 Mindcrank 1 Myriad Landscape 1 Nemesis of Reason 1 Nephalia Drownyard 1 Nighthowler 1 Nihilith 1 Overcharged Amalgam 1 Path of Ancestry 1 Phyrexian Rager 1 Phyrexian Revoker 1 Plague Spitter 1 Port of Karfell 1 Psionic Ritual 1 Psychosis Crawler 1 Pull from Tomorrow 1 Ravenous Chupacabra 1 Reflections of Littjara 1 River of Tears 1 Rogue's Passage 1 Sewer Nemesis 1 Sludge Monster 1 Sol Ring 1 Spellskite 1 Sunken Hollow 11 Swamp 1 Syphon Mind 1 Tainted Isle 1 Talisman of Dominance 1 Temple of Deceit 1 Temple of the False God 1 Thought Vessel 1 Uchuulon 1 Wharf Infiltrator 1 Woe Strider 1 Zellix, Sanity Flayer
Captain N wants us to play lots of Horrors and mill opponents turn after turn so we can steal some goodies from their graveyards. Since every one of the 31 creatures in the deck is a Horror, we’re set up well to make that happen. I’m going to mix things up a little bit and throw in the occasional non-Horror creature, but I’m mostly focused on individual card-by-card upgrades.
Let’s get started by cutting four creatures!
Dross Harvester’s life-related math works out best in decks that can guarantee multiple life gain triggers each turn cycle and then benefit from those triggers. This is not that deck. Nihilith seems like a great idea with the mill theme, but realistically it’s just slow and poorly costed. Plague Spitter doesn’t really accomplish much of anything unless there’s a particular reason to play it, and we don’t have anything beyond “it’s a Horror,” so out it goes. Psychosis Crawler is great when you draw lots of cards each turn, but we’re not doing that, so away with ye!
Here are the four replacements – and yes, only two are Horrors.
|Arvinox, the Mind Flail (SLX)||Geralf’s Mindcrusher (DKA)||Phenax, God of Deception (BNG)||Syr Konrad, the Grim (ELD)|
Arvinox is a great addition to this list and a pretty wacky Universes Within version of a Stranger Things Secret Lair card. Since we have Captain N giving us control of some of our opponents’ cards, it shouldn’t be too hard to turn Arvinox into 9/9 mode. Geralf’s Mindcrusher does everything we want – it’s a Horror that mills opponents. Phenax makes it easy to mill opponents while staying safely at home, and Syr Konrad turns all that milling into offensive value even if Captain N isn’t around.
Now let’s cut four noncreature spells!
Dimir Keyrune is easily the worst of our mana rocks, and we can certainly improve this spot. Yes, I know it becomes a Horror, but I’d rather just play better creatures and better rocks instead of splitting the difference. Hex and In Garruk’s Wake are very costly, and while they are pretty strong, we’re going to be spending a lot of time and mana making sure Captain N stays on the battlefield. I assume other players are going to be more focused on wrathing away the sweet creatures we steal anyway. Memory Plunder has such a low floor that I’d like to replace it with something more consistent. Plus, we already have the much stronger Psionic Ritual.
Here are the replacements:
|Into the Story (ELD)||Kindred Discovery (CLB)||Netherborn Altar (C20)||Wayfarer’s Bauble (CLB)|
Into the Story is a fantastic piece of card draw for a mill-focused deck. Kindred Discovery helps us power this deck up a lot – when you’re playing a tribal deck based on a tribe with little synergy, it’s good to have some more generic cards that power things up. Netherborn Altar helps us put Captain N back into play even when he’s been taxed a ton, and Wayfarer’s Bauble is a great replacement for that Keyrune.
Finally, we’ve got three lands to change up!
Three usual suspects on the way out. Darkwater Catacombs is an awkward land and easily replaced. Myriad Landscape is very slow and Temple of the False God is not likely to work well in a shell with little ramp and 38 land. But what are the replacements?
|Command Beacon (CMR)||Hostile Hotel (MID)||Takenuma, Abandoned Mire (NEO)|
Since Captain N is such an integral part of our deck, Command Beacon is an easy addition to make it a little easier to recast him. Hostile Hostel is a fun way to get another Horror, though the price is high. Finally, Takenuma is just a great recursion tool wrapped in a land.
In total, we’ve spent just $24.63, and I think we’ve really improved things! Here’s the new list:
Commander: Captain N'ghathrod 1 Aboleth Spawn 1 Arcane Signet 1 Arvinox, the Mind Flail 1 Ash Barrens 1 Black Market 1 Brainstealer Dragon 1 Chasm Skulker 1 Choked Estuary 1 Command Beacon 1 Command Tower 1 Consuming Aberration 1 Creeping Tar Pit 1 Crippling Fear 1 Curtains' Call 1 Dark Hatchling 1 Dauthi Horror 1 Dimir Aqueduct 1 Dimir Signet 1 Drown in the Loch 1 Drownyard Temple 1 Dusk Mangler 1 Endless Evil 1 Everflowing Chalice 1 Exotic Orchard 1 Extract from Darkness 1 Fact or Fiction 1 Feed the Swarm 1 Forgotten Creation 1 Fractured Sanity 1 From the Catacombs 1 Geralf's Mindcrusher 1 Grazilaxx, Illithid Scholar 1 Grell Philosopher 1 Guiltfeeder 1 Haunted One 1 Herald's Horn 1 Hostile Hostel 1 Hullbreaker Horror 1 Hunted Horror 1 Into the Story 9 Island 1 Kindred Discovery 1 Leyline of Anticipation 1 Lightning Greaves 1 Mind Flayer 1 Mind Stone 1 Mindcrank 1 Nemesis of Reason 1 Nephalia Drownyard 1 Netherborn Altar 1 Nighthowler 1 Overcharged Amalgam 1 Path of Ancestry 1 Phenax, God of Deception 1 Phyrexian Rager 1 Phyrexian Revoker 1 Port of Karfell 1 Psionic Ritual 1 Pull from Tomorrow 1 Ravenous Chupacabra 1 Reflections of Littjara 1 River of Tears 1 Rogue's Passage 1 Sewer Nemesis 1 Sludge Monster 1 Sol Ring 1 Spellskite 1 Sunken Hollow 11 Swamp 1 Syphon Mind 1 Syr Konrad, the Grim 1 Tainted Isle 1 Takenuma, Abandoned Mire 1 Talisman of Dominance 1 Temple of Deceit 1 Thought Vessel 1 Uchuulon 1 Wayfarer's Bauble 1 Wharf Infiltrator 1 Woe Strider 1 Zellix, Sanity Flayer
Let’s move on to our fourth and final deck, Party Time! Here’s the list as it exists out of the box:
Commander: Nalia de'Arnise 1 Arcane Signet 1 Archpriest of Iona 1 Ash Barrens 1 Austere Command 1 Aven Mindcensor 1 Black Market Connections 1 Bloodsoaked Champion 1 Bojuka Bog 1 Burakos, Party Leader 1 Butcher of Malakir 1 Bygone Bishop 1 Calculating Lich 1 Castle Locthwain 1 Changeling Outcast 1 Command Tower 1 Corpse Augur 1 Crib Swap 1 Deep Gnome Terramancer 1 Despark 1 Dire Fleet Ravager 1 Dusk/Dawn 1 Eight-and-a-Half-Tails 1 Felisa, Fang of Silverquill 1 Firja's Retribution 1 Folk Hero 1 Frontline Medic 1 Galepowder Mage 1 Glorious Protector 1 Gonti, Lord of Luxury 1 Grim Haruspex 1 Grim Hireling 1 Harper Recruiter 1 High Priest of Penance 1 Irregular Cohort 1 Jazal Goldmane 1 Mage's Attendant 1 Magus of the Balance 1 Malakir Blood-Priest 1 Mardu Strike Leader 1 Maskwood Nexus 1 Mikaeus, the Lunarch 1 Mindblade Render 1 Mirror Entity 1 Mortuary Mire 1 Mother of Runes 1 Multiclass Baldric 1 Mutavault 1 Myriad Landscape 1 Nighthawk Scavenger 1 Order of Whiteclay 1 Orzhov Basilica 1 Orzhov Signet 1 Path of Ancestry 10 Plains 1 Pontiff of Blight 1 Priest of Ancient Lore 1 Puppeteer Clique 1 Rumor Gatherer 1 Seasoned Dungeoneer 1 Selfless Spirit 1 Sevinne's Reclamation 1 Shambling Vent 1 Skullclamp 1 Snowfield Sinkhole 1 Sol Ring 1 Solemn Doomguide 1 Solemn Recruit 1 Squad Commander 1 Starlit Sanctum 1 Stick Together 10 Swamp 1 Tainted Field 1 Talisman of Hierarchy 1 Temple of Silence 1 Thwart the Grave 1 Unbreakable Formation 1 Valiant Changeling 1 Vault of the Archangel 1 War Room 1 Windbrisk Heights 1 Zulaport Cutthroat
Nalia wants us to have a full party – the payoff for that is pretty incredible here. She makes it much easier to achieve that by letting us cast appropriately-typed creatures off the top, and with 44 creatures in the list, we should be hitting pretty often. I’ll be upgrading a few creatures, keeping costs low and taking out a few things that feel suboptimal. Let’s start by cutting six creatures!
Eight-and-a-Half-Tails asks a lot of our mana, and we’re trying to spend that casting creatures off the top of our library. Galepowder Mage has very little to blink for value, so I’m not excited. High Priest of Penance trades one-for-one, usually on defense, but since I’m much more focused on attacking in this list, that feels like a bad strategy. Magus of the Balance seems like it would hurt us a ton by clearing out our creatures, so while it’s a cool card, it’s not in the right deck here. Mardu Strike Leader is costly and fragile, and Order of Whiteclay is a poor offensive tool in my opinion.
I’ve messed with the party balance slightly here, but I think it’s worth it.
|Nullpriest of Oblivion (ZNR)||Remorseful Cleric (M19)||Twilight Prophet (The List)|
Nullpriest is a solid attacker and party contributor early that later provides some additional reanimation utility. Remorseful Cleric can deal with graveyards in a pinch and Twilight Prophet is a fantastic source of cards once we have the city’s blessing. With all these creatures, it shouldn’t be hard to get 10 permanents!
|Gisa, Glorious Resurrector (MID Showcase)||Resplendent Marshal (KHM)||Oona’s Blackguard (ZNC)|
Since we’re going to be attacking a lot, Gisa makes trading off in combat feel a lot more positive. Resplendent Marshal helps bolster some of our creatures and Oona’s Blackguard goes great with Nalia’s +1/+1 counter ability. Once we’ve got a serious board going, the discard can really help close out the game.
Let’s clean up the noncreature spells a tiny bit with three swaps.
Crib Swap is not the removal spell we’re looking for – we can easily do better. Firja’s Retribution represents a Warrior, sure, but I think we should throw in an extra removal spell and focus on creatures that Nalia can actually cast off the top. Finally, Folk Hero is great if your commander is Burakos, but since Nalia only represents one of our four core types, it’s not as strong here.
|Coveted Prize (ZNR)||Generous Gift (MH1)||Swords to Plowshares (Mystery Boosters)|
Gimme the prize! The Coveted Prize, that is. I suppose there really can be only one place where this card can thrive, and that place is a party-focused deck. I’m not normally big on tutors, but when we have something so niche, I like to have fun with it. Generous Gift is a great removal spell that can handle pretty much anything, and Swords to Plowshares is a solid replacement for Crib Swap – it may give the opponent some life, but the drop in mana value is well worth it.
Finally, four lands must go!
Ash Barrens isn’t really what I want in two-color decks with no synergy options for it. Myriad Landscape is terribly slow, and Snowfield Sinkhole is a bad dual with no real upside since we’re not doing anything with the snow supertype here. Starlit Sanctum only helps us with about a quarter of our creatures, and it’s not even part of a rad Cleric recursion engine, so I’m off it here.
Let’s bring in some better duals!
|Brightclimb Pathway (ZNR Borderless)||Caves of Koilos (ORI)||Fetid Heath (NCC)||Shineshadow Snarl (STX)|
Four duals that will help us overcome some of our wilder casting costs – nothing too complex here. We have enough basics for the Snarl, and the Heath will really help when cards like Nighthawk Scavenger and Rumor Gatherer crop up around the same time.
We’ve spent a total of $24.92 here, which is pretty darn close to our maximum. Here’s the full upgraded list – see you next time for something a bit different!
Commander: Nalia de'Arnise 1 Arcane Signet 1 Archpriest of Iona 1 Austere Command 1 Aven Mindcensor 1 Black Market Connections 1 Bloodsoaked Champion 1 Bojuka Bog 1 Brightclimb Pathway 1 Burakos, Party Leader 1 Butcher of Malakir 1 Bygone Bishop 1 Calculating Lich 1 Castle Locthwain 1 Caves of Koilos 1 Changeling Outcast 1 Command Tower 1 Corpse Augur 1 Coveted Prize 1 Deep Gnome Terramancer 1 Despark 1 Dire Fleet Ravager 1 Dusk/Dawn 1 Felisa, Fang of Silverquill 1 Fetid Heath 1 Frontline Medic 1 Generous Gift 1 Gisa, Glorious Resurrector 1 Glorious Protector 1 Gonti, Lord of Luxury 1 Grim Haruspex 1 Grim Hireling 1 Harper Recruiter 1 Irregular Cohort 1 Jazal Goldmane 1 Mage's Attendant 1 Malakir Blood-Priest 1 Maskwood Nexus 1 Mikaeus, the Lunarch 1 Mindblade Render 1 Mirror Entity 1 Mortuary Mire 1 Mother of Runes 1 Multiclass Baldric 1 Mutavault 1 Nighthawk Scavenger 1 Nullpriest of Oblivion 1 Oona's Blackguard 1 Orzhov Basilica 1 Orzhov Signet 1 Path of Ancestry 10 Plains 1 Pontiff of Blight 1 Priest of Ancient Lore 1 Puppeteer Clique 1 Remorseful Cleric 1 Resplendent Marshal 1 Rumor Gatherer 1 Seasoned Dungeoneer 1 Selfless Spirit 1 Sevinne's Reclamation 1 Shambling Vent 1 Shineshadow Snarl 1 Skullclamp 1 Sol Ring 1 Solemn Doomguide 1 Solemn Recruit 1 Squad Commander 1 Stick Together 10 Swamp 1 Swords to Plowshares 1 Tainted Field 1 Talisman of Hierarchy 1 Temple of Silence 1 Thwart the Grave 1 Twilight Prophet 1 Unbreakable Formation 1 Valiant Changeling 1 Vault of the Archangel 1 War Room 1 Windbrisk Heights 1 Zulaport Cutthroat