Welcome back the Epic Experiment!
Ladies and gentlemen… Kaldheim is here and things have been shaken up pretty extensively. Standard is seeing a proliferation of snow decks. Horizon Seeker has spawned a pretty silly combo deck in Standard. Bottom line, the set is strong and is giving players a plethora of new tools. On our show each week we look to brew up a deck using cards from Return to Ravnica block and forward and look to keep the deck about $100. That means we are consistently on the lookout for budget options to help keep our costs down. So, some of today’s cards may be cards that many readers are familiar with, others may not so well known. Let’s dive headlong into what Kaldheim has to offer.
Getting Started With The Ramp
As we discussed in the last article, being able to ramp effectively is important in a game of Commander and we are always on the lookout for good ways to generate additional mana. We have had a number of excellent options in the last few sets like Circuitous Route and Vastwood Surge, but Kaldheim doesn’t seem to have any such obvious staples. Instead we get a couple of smaller effects like Horizon Seeker and Binding the Old Gods. Horizon Seeker is a 3 mana 3/2 creature with Boast for one generic mana and a green mana. When it Boasts, Horizon Seeker can search your deck for basic land and it goes into your hand.
Now, this is not a great card and people will point out that when it enters play that it won’t find a land like Borderland Ranger. However, since this creature can activate it’s ability multiple times is undeniably a positive. There are loads of ways to make this evasive like Rogue’s Passage, Raven Wings, or Whispersilk Cloak and hard to block which can allow you to leverage this into all sorts of value. Whether it is a Landfall deck, a deck jamming Azusa, or just a deck looking to make its land drops Horizon Seeker seems like a decent budget option at a mere $0.15 at Three Kings Loot.
Capturing the Gods
The case for Binding of the Old Gods is a little bit different. In War of the Spark we had the card Deathsprout which is found in over 11k decks on EDHrec. That means that roughly 10% of the decks that could play Deathsprout do so. Well, now we essentially have an upgrade with Binding and it should be played lots.
Pardon… how is Binding actually an improved version of Deathsprout? Easy.
Deathsprout was 4 mana, instant speed kill, a creature, and a land search. Binding of the Old Gods does almost exactly the same thing, except it can destroy any nonland permanent on Chapter 1. Chapter 2 lets you find a Forest, including a Shockland, a Triome, or another non basic land. Chapter 3 is strictly gravy, although I suspect it will likely be underutilised unless you are on a B/G deck with Fynn, the Fangbearer.
Since Binding of the Old Gods is an enchantment, B/G Constellation and Enchantress style decks will be appreciative of this. At the cost of a mere $0.49, this is yet another budget conscious ramp option.
The Search for Treasure
The other interesting feature of Kaldheim is the propensity to lean into Treasure tokens. Wizards of the Coast seems intent on making Treasure Tokens fairly ever-green, and they present another effective way to ramp. Yes, we all saw Goldspan Dragon and the card is ridiculous. If you have ever wanted a big old ramping dragon, well, we got one here.
However, at the price tag for the dragon, we need to go look at other budget options. I have long felt that Prying Blade was an underappreciated ramp option and now we get a second option with Goldvein Pick that spits out a treasure token every time you deal combat damage to a player. Revel in Riches, Magda, Brazen Outlaw, and Treasure Map are just a few of the ways you can leverage these treasure tokens and we haven’t even discussed Voltron style commanders. Goldvein Pick is a very budget friendly option at $0.15 on Three Kings Loot and could be a card seriously considering if you are short a ramp option or two.
One Ring to Rule Them All
The final one to discuss is Replicating Ring at $0.99. I prefer my mana rocks to be 1,2, or 3 mana, with a strong preference for the 1 and 2 mana variants. However, Replicating Ring is intriguing as a 3 mana play. In most games it will only ever be a Darksteel Ingot without indestructibility, but in those rare games where you can get it to 8 counters, you have the potential to suddenly be inundated with enough mana sources that you should be able to beat your opponents. While I’m not sure if this card is truly good yet, it presents enough of an interesting upside that I would certainly be looking to see if I can’t leverage it.
There is some complicated math around the expected mana return from this compared to other mana rocks. But the truth remains – the potential output on this is extensive and potentially worth the high risk/high reward play. Considering that Darksteel Ingot is in 32k decks on EDHrec. The question is should Ingot be subbed out of many decks in favor of Replicating Ring.
The Week’s Deck…
This week’s list is yet another Kaldheim uncommon legend in the form of Vega, The Watcher.
Vega incentivizes you to cast spells from anywhere other than from your hand. Good News budget players! Wizards has given us a plethora of ways to do this from recent sets. With mechanics like Adventure, Jumpstart, Flashback, Foretell, Escape, there are plenty of options to choose from. This deck can generate good velocity, and has some tricky components to keep your opponents off balance.
How It Works
The main game plan is to utilize your many cards that get cast from other than your hand to draw additional resources and leverage something like Dream Trawler, Nadir Kraken, or Chasm Skulker for the win. However, if you find yourself needing more time, there are a number of strong pillow fort effects that make attacking you very challenging including the often overlooked Archon of Absolution from Throne of Eldraine. Otherwise, this deck packs enough control elements to help you probably make your opponents stay honest when you pack things like Dovin’s Veto, Saw it Coming, Declaration in Stone, and Path to Exile.
If things get really hairy you still have the board wipe option with things like Doomskar, Shatter the Sky, and Realm Cloaked Giant to keep your opponents from getting too far ahead on board. At $120, the deck is budget friendly, well balanced, and still has plenty of room to be upgraded.
Well, there you go for our second installment. Hopefully you budget players can find a few new ramp optionswithout costing your wallet a small fortune. Oh… and Vega looks to be a fun U/W Commander. It gives your deck a fresh feel and plenty of room to grow the power level as needed.
That’s all for this week folks. Have fun, stay safe, and I’ll catch you all next time.
Do you have suggestions of what to help boost this deck’s potential? Then leave your suggestions in the comments below!
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