Last week on Budget Commander, we looked at some cheap and effective boardwipes to add to your deck – ways to clear the field when things get a little out of hand. We limited ourselves to looking at only noncreature spells, so this week, let’s dig into some boardwipes on legs and increase our efficiency. It’s always better to be able to follow up a board wipe with something relevant, so doing both with one card is a great way to streamline our deck.
Some non-creature wipes generate creatures themselves: Descend upon the Sinful, Crush of Tentacles, and Phyrexian Rebirth are all cards that I think are very playable in their own right, each generating a nice creature upon resolving. These effects, though, tend to be a one-time thing, and the tokens they produce aren’t nearly as relevant as a creature card which you can more easily recur and recast. It doesn’t make these cards any less good – and I’ll say that as someone who has played the lot of them in my decks – but we’re all about getting value for money here, and the chance to reanimate or recast a creature with a boardwipe attached to it is arguably a more exciting prospect. This is even more relevant considering the paucity of ways to re-use instants and sorceries from your graveyard relative to the number of ways to recur permanents or creatures (which are available in more colours, too).
Many players can tell you that Ravenous Chupacabra is a great limited card. It has the (mostly) unconditional ability to remove a creature, and it leaves behind a 2/2 body with which you can attack and block. It even gets played in Standard – so it’s a good card, right? I’m here to make the argument that if we analyse what makes a card ‘good’ in a standardised way, then we should be playing more of these effects than we currently are in Commander. By that logic, any creature that can come into play and remove multiple threats is doing work. They can’t all be Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite though, so, who’s in the budget lineup this week?
Well, before we dive in, I’d like to preface this with a comparison: Settle the Wreckage and Angel of the Dire Hour do very similar things, but one of them has a 5/4 flyer attached to it, and doesn’t ramp the opponent. It costs a little more, but… eh. It’s pretty clearly better value, right?
Well, not always. Generally, this is true, but there are decks, such as those running a Sunforger package, where running Settle can be a better choice. This is a question you’ll ask yourself a lot when building a Commander deck, and that’s because each deck is both very personal and can be built in infinite ways. There are some cases where a card is strictly better – a definition the community doesn’t tire of getting wrong – but this, like many of those comparisons, is very much not one of those cases.
I’ll also say again that I don’t like putting all of my eggs into creature-shaped baskets that have summoning sickness – if you have to ‘untap’ with something to be good, it’s probably less good than you think, and when it has a boardwipe attached to it it becomes such a hate magnet that you’ll wish you hadn’t wasted the mana.
You Came in Like a Wrecking Ball
I’m gonna switch it up this week and start with Green. Green has potentially the most enviable suite of effective creatures, with the likes of Bane of Progress and Whiptongue Hydra doing a lot of work. I’d suggest picking up the latter, as it’s currently under $2 and answers some of the problems with flyers you might have in Mono-green. Another card similar to the hydra which is also worth considering is Tornado Elemental. It hits all flyers for 6 damage, which does include your own if you have any, with the upside being that it can assign combat damage as though it weren’t blocked. This can potentially be huge, as although you’re unlikely to be able to get in with it twice, being able to pump it for more damage is something Green mages will find easy – heaven forbid you have ways to give it Infect! It’s only 42 cents, so treat yourself. If this isn’t enough for you, grab a Silklash Spider and just keep killing those Flying creatures again and again.
Speaking of recursion, the next card I’d like to recommend is Desolation Giant. For six Mana in Red and White, you can destroy all other creatures and leave behind a 3/3 giant. Sure, you never want to be casting it for four Mana, but if you look at this as a six-Mana spell, it’s still solid. I had the pleasure of sitting across from this the other week when Chris Vincent was playing his Boros Avacyn deck, and it was pretty backbreaking given his ability to bring it back again over… and over…
Red also has access to a Bane of Progress-style effect in Furnace Dragon, which will clean up all of the Artifacts in play. Having Affinity for Artifacts here is a bit of a trap, as you’ll likely be playing this in a Red/Green ramp style deck and not in an artifact deck; this does mean the 9 mana you need to cast it is still achievable with your ramp, though. Being able to exile all artifacts is huge, and so is this scaley boi. His price, however, isn’t at all huge, so maybe you’ll find a home for him.
On that note, if you did want to splash out a little more, it might be time to grab a Balefire Dragon – they’re at the lowest they’ll probably be for the foreseeable future at $9.
Wyrms and Wurms
Being able to recast creatures and gain value is something all decks want to be doing, and the one colour that can do this the most efficiently is Black. One creature you would much rather be casting than reanimating, though, is Deathbringer Regent. If the board is clogged up, drop this bad boy and give yourself a 5/6 Flyer and a pat on the back for spending only 30 cents.
Massacre Wurm is an EDH staple, and whilst ponying up for its hefty $25 price tag might be beyond you, you’ll still be able to grab his (her… its?) smaller cousin, Bane of the Living, for around 50 cents. This morph creature scales with the game, and being able to choose the value for X allows you to choose which creatures die and which live – potentially saving your own board while wiping your opponents’.
Black isn’t the only colour known for its Wurms, however – if you’re in Selesnya colours, you can add Novablast Wurm to your deck for only $2. When it attacks, all other creatures are destroyed. Not having trample is suddenly less problematic when there’s nothing else on the board.
You can get similar effects in different colour pairings too. Magister of Worth will rarely be resurrecting everyone’s graveyards, so getting an Angel out of the equation tends to be a good deal. It’s also a bit better than Sunblast Angel, another budget option that only deals with tapped creatures. It’s good if you don’t have access to the Magister, and opens up avenues that can punish mana-dork-heavy decks, or ones that rely on attacking – sometimes nerfing one opponent’s board is better than making more than one enemy!
The Vanguard of Your Destruction
Much like everyone’s favourite space cuttlefish, Leviathans are the Blue curve-toppers that signal the start of a cycle of destruction that few survive. Kederekt Leviathan is criminally underplayed, and with the emergence of Arixmethes builds, I can see this card creeping up a little – get one for $2 now and reap the rewards. The ability to Unearth this is crazy value and dissuades your opponents from deploying their threats while it remains in your graveyard – pure value.
False Prophet is another… prophet of destruction, with a super-powerful effect stapled on – exiling all creatures in play. That is some serious power! It does mean that you need to engineer a situation in which you can sacrifice him, but it’s a really sweet political move, especially if you don’t care about your graveyard.
The final card on the list today is as perplexing as it is terrifying. If you’ve ever wanted to staple removal to a Shadows of the Colossus style titan, Ixidron has got you covered. This one doesn’t technically remove your opponents’ creatures, but given that they can’t flip them face-up again, and don’t immediately go to the graveyard, it might as well do. Your opponents’ Indestructible or Hexproof creatures will be turned into lowly bears right before your eyes, and for each one turned over this way, Ixidron gets bigger. It’s $3 and it’ll annoy everyone to no end – sounds like it ticks all the boxes to me.
Well, that’s us done for this week. I hope you enjoyed today’s piece, and that it helps you improve your reach and flexibility in Commander. If you have a recommendation I didn’t mention, please let me know! This Budget series is aiming to deliver solid playables into the hands of those that can’t, or don’t want to spend ludicrous amounts on shiny cardboard – I think we’re doing a good job so far.
Hit me up on Twitter @TheKristenEmily to let me know your thoughts.