Back in January I explored three budget decks that anyone could build on the cheap. Thanks to price inflation, those decks have gone up a bit in value. They are still affordable, but are not nearly as wallet-friendly as the $150 I paid for all three decks combined.
While the GDC crew was discussing MTGfinance frustrations, we came to the realization that for budget content to be relevant and useful, it needs to be put out regularly and in a timely fashion. With that in mind, I present to you a new, inherently budget minded Commander Deck. [Editor’s Note – This should have gone up last night, on Wednesday, and thus still been part of April. Alas, the siren song of actual Magic delayed things. Apologies.]
Our Commander of the month is Hanna, Ship’s Navigator. You may recall that she had a decent run in the March Madness brackets. This isn’t the Hanna deck from the tournament, but it still packs the kind of punch you should expect from a top tier Commander.
Hanna is obviously a graveyard-centered general. As a result, the whole deck revolves around getting value out of ETB (Enters The Battlefield) and graveyard triggers. This budget Hanna deck is a relative of the Modern Eggs decks you may have seen floating around; since many of the eggs (artifact cantrips) are low converted mana cost commons and uncommons, the deck naturally lends itself to budget construction without having to cut many core cards to keep the price reasonable. In this build, Hanna acts simultaneously as a strong utility card for the control elements in the deck, an enabler for some of the lockout win cons, and a failsafe to recover in case an attempt to “go off” with the egg combo fizzles.
The deck revolves around getting things in and out of the graveyard. Before we get into how the deck wins, it’s important to go over how the deck can generate card advantage and protect itself. The deck primarily runs off of what I like to call the “S^3” or “S-cube package”. (No one else calls it that, but try and make it a thing). This is a package I originally discovered when trying to generate card advantage in Mono-white decks. The package revolves around 3 pieces of recursion Sun Titan, Salvaging Station and Auriok Salvagers (See? Three “S”s.).
You combine these with cards like Origin Spellbomb, Codex Shredder, Wayfarer’s Bauble, Chromatic Sphere, Dispeller’s Capsule, Lotus Petal, and Tormod’s Crypt to create a constant value stream. In a U/W deck, the package gets significantly better because of Trinket Mage, Artificer’s Intuition, and Reshape. Hanna acts as a fourth piece of recursion to make sure the small pieces in the engine always have value.
Once you get running, you have to figure out how to stay alive. Recurring board wipes like Planar Collapse and Scourglass go a long way. If price weren’t a consideration, Oblivion Stone and Nevinyrral’s Disk would also make this list. You rarely want for an answer to enemies’ artifacts and enchantments with Hanna, because both she and Sun Titan can constantly replay Aura of Silence, Dispeller’s Capsule and Seal of Cleansing.
Hanna also plays a small number of tutors both to protect a combo when you want to try to resolve it, and to stop a player from killing you. Sadly, the counters are harder to get back from the graveyard, so they should be used sparingly.
The primary method of winning is a combo using Second Sunrise or Faith’s Reward. Open the Vaults also works in certain situations. By using Zuran Orb and/or Krark-Clan Ironworks you can net mana off of Second Sunrise and Faith’s Reward. If you also have Codex Shredder or Mnemonic Wall plus a sacrifice outlet you can get back either instant to cast them again. As long as you can generate enough mana for the combo to pay for itself, you can loop it until you win the game. Common win conditions that actually win once you get the loop going include:
- Shooting opponents with Triskelion with each loop.
- Generating mana to give Steel Hellkite enough firebreathing to kill off a player.
- Use Grinding Station and Tormod’s Crypt to completely exile opponents’ libraries.
- Making players draw more than their library with Blue Sun’s Zenith.
Luckily, the eggs combo is not the only path to victory. To take full advantage of Hanna, there are also several win conditions built around her ability. You can Mindslaver lock a player. You can make it nearly impossible for opponents to cast spells by continually recurring Decree of Silence. If you allow yourself to be dragged down in life totals, a Second Chance will be all you need.
As a sort of last resort win condition, if you happen to have enough mana you can use Planar Portal and Beacon of Tomorrows to take all the turns you need. If you are feeling particularly vindictive, you have the choice of casting Tunnel Vision after casting Spin Into Myth or Condemn. Worst case scenario, you can play March of the Machines and try to kill people with all the tiny artifacts you have (or just make them laugh themselves to death). To be fair, that spell should be replaced by Tezzeret the Seeker as soon as people can find one.
This deck cost $50 plus shipping when I used the cart optimizer for TCGPlayer.com. I hope that keeps it in the budget range for everyone. I will try to post one of these budget lists a month going forward, so that anyone who wants to get into Commander or just wants to try something new will have an option outside of the preconstructed commander decks.
If anyone needs any deck advice or help you can email me at email@example.com just give me your deck list, what you want the deck to do, how competitive your group is, any known issues with the deck, and your budget. I will make sure to help you out to the best of my abilities.