I am, as anyone who knows me is well aware, a gigantic geek. Star Wars, Doctor Who, music, comic books, and so on.
One of my joys going back to high school is the card game Magic: The Gathering. My friends group would sit around on the stage of the little theater and sling spells back and forth at each other. I wasn’t the best player, nor was I the worst.
I kinda fell out of playing during college and graduate school. Lack of players and funds made it tricky to keep up. Fast forward about a decade, and some of my students wanted to learn to play, and I jumped at the opportunity to get back in.
I also learned about a new (to me) format: Commander, or EDH (which stands for the tremendously nerdy Elder Dragon Highland). Apparently it’s a format almost as old as the game itself, using a legendary creature (traditionally one of the three-color legendary named dragons, but there are literally dozens of commanders in a variety of color combinations available now) to command a deck of 100 cards with no duplicates (except for basic lands). There are some other ways in which Commander differs from a traditional game of Magic, but we’re not really going to concentrate on that.
The biggest challenge of Commander is the price tag. Good Commanders can be pricey, and the best cards that create the best synergies with your Commander can break the bank. I was looking at a pretty impressive Black/White Commander decklist the other day that came up around $1,700. No, I didn’t forget a decimal in there or anything. That’s seventeen hundred dollars. And that’s madness to me. Cost is always a barrier to getting into a game like Magic, but it is possible to set up a playable Commander deck for under $30.
For this deck, I tried to stick to cards that were commons. There are a few uncommons as well, and the single rare is your Commander. I also tried to stick to cards that were cheap as all get-out. I used Card Kingdom for my prices; it’s the website where I tend to buy all my singles anyway. On average, their commons cost $0.25. The vast majority of the cards on this list cost that. The most expensive card, amazingly, is not the Commander. It’s Groundswell, a common that costs a whopping $0.79.
So, the deck. For the Commander, I went with Mina and Denn, Wildborn, a Red/Green 4/4 Legendary Elf Ally creature for two mana of any kind, one red, and one green. When it’s in play, you get to play an additional land each turn. You can also pay a red and a green and return a creature card to your hand to give another creature trample until end of turn.
There’s a couple of different synergies to play with here: first, Mina and Denn, Wildborn is an Ally creature, which gives you all sorts of Enters the Battlefield effects whenever another Ally drops. I’ve included a dozen or so other Allies that boost and buff each other in various ways.
The other thing we can do with this Commander is give creatures trample, so I’ve included a host of big creatures and cheap pump spells to take advantage of that. I also made sure to include some creatures that have Reach or Flying so you don’t get taken down by cheap fliers.
I also tossed in a handful of burn spells, Red’s specialty. There’s something to be said for tossing two or three damage at a creature and removing them from the equation before having to decide how you’re going to block, or taking out a potential blocker and letting one of your creatures get through.
Finally, there’s mana ramp: spells and creatures that help you get your land out there faster so you can play your Commander and your big creatures.
Anyway, without further ado, here’s the deck list. Again, I found everything through Card Kingdom, and – even assuming you need to buy the basic lands as well – the total cost for the deck was $27.46, a bargain.
Mina and Denn, Wildborn
Krosan War Chief
Nessian Game Warden
Archers of Qarsi
Blessings of Nature
Aspect of Hydra
Feed the Clan
Temur Battle Rage
Khalni Heart Expedition
Ring of Kalonia
Temple of the False God