I’m back with yet another $50 budget upgrade of one of the five Commander 2021 decks! Last time, we tackled the Quantum Quandrix deck, and this time, I’ll be upgrading Silverquill Statement.
Here’s how this process works: I take a preconstructed deck and make an improvement to it on a $50 budget. 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 right here on ChannelFireball.com to track our costs. All prices were accurate when I wrote this – apologies if prices have changed or cards have gone out of stock since, but that’s just part and parcel of a budget article.
Here’s the Commander we’ll be working with this week:
Where last time around we had a fairly straightforward headliner, Breena is a bit more complicated. You can trigger Breena yourself by attacking an opponent who isn’t at the lowest life, but you’ll also get value out of opponents triggering the ability. With that in mind, this deck has a +1/+1 counter theme, some cards that incentivize attacks between opponents and point them away from you, and some Group Hug style effects.
Here’s what the deck looks like out of the box:
I’m not a huge fan of a group hug subtheme, as I think that should really be all or nothing, and in Orzhov it’s a bit harder to achieve the desired effects. With that in mind, I’m cutting that theme and focusing on +1/+1 counters and incentives to attack other players. I’ll also be doing some work to lower the average mana value of the list, as it sits at 3.88 ignoring the lands.
I’ll be cutting a total of 22 cards, starting with seven of the deck’s 26 creatures. Don’t worry, we’ll add those back and more.
This card is a bit too specific for my tastes, though I understand the combo with Orzhov Advokist. Regardless, I can’t really sign on for this.
As I mentioned in my review of this release, I’m not a fan of cards that give away power but depend on staying around to mitigate the gifts they give.
Too much giving away cards, not enough ways to stack our own deck to abuse the effect. I’m out.
Deathbringer Regent has the same effect without all of the voting nonsense, and since the voting can go against us at inopportune times, I’m keeping the Regent.
Hey, it’s everything I said about Combat Calligrapher, but more so!
It’s pretty hard to guarantee you’ll benefit most from this, so I choose to simply stay away and play the stronger versions of this effect.
This has a small impact and isn’t enough of a “rattlesnake” card to justify a slot in the deck.
So what comes in to replace these? Well, I’m actually upping the creature count, bringing in a full 10 creatures as replacements:
These three augment our creatures with counters, providing evasion, the power to trade up and of course, the power to leave some tokens behind when they make their exits.
Card draw is often a sore spot for lists like these, so I’ve added a couple of engine cards for when our creatures die with counters on them. Embrose is going to be cast more often than Shaile, but combining the two-mana side with Hangarback Walker (spoiler alert!) could be profitable.
These three provide some value from having counters on them – Bloodtracker and Mindless Automaton pay off in cards, while Hangarback Walker justifies its price tag by flooding the board with 1/1 flyers that can be augmented with counters later via Breena.
And here we have the miscellaneous section. Calculating Lich, a card you’ve probably never seen or cast, does some extra work incentivizing attacks at opponents – just make sure to stack it under your Breena trigger. Mikaeus’s job is to distribute +1/+1 counters and help you use all of your mana on something good when you top-deck him late.
So far, we’ve spent $21.00, so there’s plenty of budget remaining. What are we cutting from the spells section?
I’m moving away from the Group Hug theme, and while cards like this have their uses, it’s hard to break the symmetry in this deck.
The demonstrate mechanic fits better with the Group Hug theme, and reanimation isn’t really on the menu here.
This gets cut for pretty much the same reasons as Incarnation Technique.
I’m not a huge fan of these, as they’re low-grade removal spells that don’t work on utility creatures and fail to have a huge impact. Goad is nice, and I see how it fits the theme, but I’d rather go bigger on the counters theme.
We’ve got better options for removal, and the days of shuffling commanders away with this are long gone (for the better, I should add).
See Martial Impetus, but I like this one even less.
Again, I’m not seeing a lot of ways to break the symmetry here, so I’m out on this just like I am on Coveted Jewel.
Giving away three cards for free is just too much when you can’t really gain an advantage from it.
This is some Group Hug stuff, and I’m not interested.
Our commander costing just three mana really puts me off this effect, especially when you see it next to Ambition’s Cost.
The Vows are even less exciting than the Impetuses in most situations.
We’ve got nine free slots when you account for the imbalance in the creature section. Here’s what I’m adding:
Both of these serve to add counters to our creatures in wide-angle ways, with Unbreakable Formation doubling as anti-wrath tech while Felidar Retreat can make tokens in a pinch. I chose the Showcase version of Felidar Retreat because that’s what was in stock, but we had the room in the budget anyway.
Some more disincentives to attack us will go well with Breena, and Sphere of Safety is slotting in with ten other enchantments – not a huge number, but it should mean X is at least two most of the time. Revenge of Ravens is a similar disincentive for opponents to send large armies at us.
Some miscellaneous goodies. Akroma’s Will is a game-winner, while Cauldron of Souls saves your board and leaves behind counters you can easily remove with your +1/+1 counter effects. Finally, Talisman of Hierarchy is just a nice mana rock – nothing complex there.
At this point we’ve spent $44.70, which is most of our budget – happily, we’re only swapping out three lands.
I’m not feeling the Group Hug theme, so this is out.
I don’t care this much about putting counters on Breena.
Even in a deck with a high land count, I’m not playing this ruiner of opening hands and early game draw steps – the upside does not match the downside.
We’re bringing in some classics and one curveball:
Two pieces of nonbasic hate will deal with utility lands, while Shineshadow Snarl should come in untapped fairly often in the early and midgame considering our high basic land count. I should note that this is the kind of land decks often graduate from when the budget for their mana base grows, but when you’re playing effects that care about having basic Plains in your deck, you might never lose your appetite for Snarls.
I also put in a Plains and took out a Swamp, as the balance had shifted a bit more toward white mana after my changes.
Okay – we’re done! We’ve spent a total of $49.60, which is in large part thanks to a few $5 and higher cards that I discovered I had room for after adding quite a few powerful commons and uncommons. Here’s the full list – see you next time!