Welcome back to another visit with the Epic Experiment! Things have gotten wild with The Streets of New Capenna and the respective Commander decks that joined the set. With only a few weeks before Commander Legends: Baldur Gate hits the shelves, your wallet may be crying. But that doesn’t mean that the budget conscious player cannot get good mileage from some slightly older sets. Today I am going to share some budget conscious options to stretch your dollar and really help you to maximize your fun when you sit to play with your friends.
Recently my attention has been caught by Strixhaven: School of Mages because many of the most powerful Commander related cards have seen their relative prices drop to the point where a budget player can really stretch their dollar. Let’s dive in and see what the set offers.
The Elder Dragons
The elder Dragons are all quite affordable if you wanted to find them in the most basic form. When Beledros Witherbloom tops the price chart for a pack non-foil at $12 USD, the argument can be made that these dragons are budget friendly options. You can also find Beledros in borderless foil right here on Three Kings Loot for $40 CAD, which is steep, but even Galazeth in the borderless version is $8 CAD, giving players lots of options. The fact that some of these can be used as viable EDH Commanders also suggests that the power level can be ramped right up from a casual build to a very competitive build, giving you versatility, flexibility, and just some excellent value for your investment.
Other Mythics from Strixhaven: School of Mages
With the lone exception of Professor Onyx, which still commands a $10 price tag, the rest of the Mythics are quite affordable and many can be found under $5. Depending on what you are building, these could be powerful inclusions to your deck. You may want to double back to this set and have a long look at what may be available to upgrade your deck.
The Rares from Strixhaven: School of Mages
The story repeats for many of the rares from the set, but you can grab Culling Ritual for $5. To put this in context, Culling Ritual appears in over 23k decks according to EDHrec.com… and it is still under $5! In many situations that sort of demand would drive the price of the card up higher, so go ahead and get your ridiculously efficient board wipe and power up your deck for less than an order of Chicken McNuggets.
Archmage Emeritus is another terrific inclusion that just synergizes with every instant and sorcery in your deck. It appears in over 38k decks and is also $5. If you haven’t grabbed a copy or two for your decks, what are you waiting for?
The five Commands from this set may not be on the level of Cryptic Command or Kolaghan’s Command in terms of raw power, but each of them offer something fun and unique that would give them strong consideration for decks. The headliner is probably Prismari Command that can be found for $8, but the others all have a role to play. My personal favorite in Witherbloom Command which can be found for $1.50. These flexible, useful spells are perfect for a budget conscious brewer to get maximum impact and controlling the bottom line.
The Uncommons from Strixhaven: School of Mages
There are a few notable standouts from this set that are well known, like Expressive Iteration, Go Blank, Plumb the Forbidden, and Storm-Kiln Artist, but there are a few others that are helpful in budget decks. Fracture is a versatile removal spell available for under $1. Rip Apart is similarly flexible and can be a valuable inclusion in any list. Lastly, Witherbloom Apprentice is a combo enabler that can be acquired for under $ 1, making it a serious option for many decks.
The Mystical Archives from Strixhaven: School of Mages
One of the big selling features for Strixhaven was the inclusion of the Mystical Archives, reprinting a wide array of interesting cards that really spiced up the set. It also put extra copies of some very important cards into the market to satiate the demand players have for some of these cards.
Natural Order is a card that was last reprinted in Eternal Masters but had not been seen previously in a very long time. It is a very powerful tutor card that, in my experience, ends games. You can grab copies of Natural Order for around $20, which is not cheap, but considering that there are copies from older printings at much higher price points, it seems like a reasonable price point to grab a copy or two. While not necessarily a fun card because tutors create redundancy, sometimes you just need to end a game and going to find your Craterhoof Behemoth is the best thing you can do for 4 mana.
Mind’s Desire was at one time a pretty prominent inclusion in plenty of decks because the Storm mechanic has proven to be broken. These days, the card has largely fallen out of favour for being being too expensive, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t see play in a budget deck to great effect. At about $1.50, it is the perfect sort of budget friendly inclusion a spell intensive deck might look for to push them over the top!
Budget options from other sets:
Nissa of Shadowed Boughs from Zendikar Rising is an automatic inclusion in Black/Green based landfall decks like Gitrog or Lord Windgrace and is powerful way to get your favourite critter back directly to the battlefield. Oh, and it’s under $4 for the borderless version! That seems like a steal for your deck.
As rares, Archon of Emeria and Yasharn, Implacable Earth are very powerful cards that help turn off problematic strategies. Yasharn shuts off sacrifice strategies while helping you hit your land drops. With Ziatora, Korvold, and a whole host of sacrifice strategies, not to mention that Yasharn shuts off Fetch lands and Evolving Wilds, it is a super relevant effect and available at under $1. Archon of Emeria is a Rule of Law on a creature and totally turns off a wide variety of decks by choking them to play a single spell each turn. It is getting harder and harder to track these guys down, but if you can find them, they are priced under $5. They pack a mighty wallop in a small body and are well worth the investment.
Well, that is where I am going to leave it today. Hopefully these suggestions will help encourage you to go through some sets that are now in our rearview mirror and have another pass to spruce up your decks. It is tempting to just focus on the hot new thing, but it takes considerable discipline to go back through these sets and look for those appealing cards to really take control of your spending.
If you enjoyed my thoughts or have something you would like to see explored in more detail, please check out our decks and much more each week on our podcast on iTunes, Google Podcast, Spotify, Amazon, and anywhere else you find better podcasts. Just look for the name The Epic Experiment Podcast! We’d love to have you join us!