I am relatively new to the Commander format, but I have been enjoying it immensely since my introduction. With that said, there is a deck I could use a bit of help with.
Recently I attempted to submit a Commander deck for a contest one of your fellow StarCityGames.com columnists, Matt Higgs, hosted. The contest (Commanders For Coppers) challenged readers to create a Commander deck using a commander that costs 99 cents or less. Other rules included that the commander must be integral to the deck's strategy and that the majority of the cards included in the deck should support the commander's abilities. Utility cards were of course welcomed but weren't to overshadow the synergistic cards.
I chose Boros-colored Giant Brion Stoutarm as my commander, and I thought I built a deck that had synergy and reflected Brion's role as commander via cards with Threaten effects, using life gain as a win condition and focusing on hitting my opponent in the face among other things. I felt I hit a good balance of aggression and control for the decidedly midrangey commander. However, my submission went unmentioned.
Can you help me build a more synergistic Commander deck for
It has been a tumultuous few weeks, finally coming to a gentle landing (rather than an abrupt fall) as the government shutdown/debt-ceiling crisis is being settled as I write this. From the outside looking in, it simply looks obtuse and kind of pointless. But I spent a considerable portion of the last few years learning economics, and the view from the inside was maddeningly topsy-turvy, a far crazier roller-coaster ride than anything I've ever seen at Six Flags.
With every indication that this is finally at rest, it is time to turn to more peaceful climes, and I went digging through the Dear Azami email archives looking for something fun but interesting and hit upon Jeff's Brion Stoutarm deck from back in August (and thus only one set away from current). I've always liked the idea of Brion Stoutarm and approve of both efficiency and passive life gain as a value-added bonus in Commander rather than something you pursue specifically with cards chosen for that purpose, so it seemed like now was the ideal time to finally cover him.
White and red is a bit of a tight spot to work within, and when I asked Jeff for any post-Theros updates to his deck, I also asked what his budget is for making improvements to the deck. He said the absolute upper threshold is $70—$50 of his own and the $20 coupon to StarCityGames.com with each article for participation—and I think we can do very well while staying considerably below that number. These aren't great financial times after all, and a Commander deck doesn't need to be expensive in order to be good. (This coming from the guy who back in February wrote an article about Modern in which he casually advocated playing a thousand-dollar deck.)
With a firm budget on our mind, that means we're going to stick largely to commons and uncommon as well as price-affordable rares, though I am going to give a little bit of leeway as far as anything you can currently get in Standard. The priciest suggestion is going to be a Sacred Foundry, and I believe it will be well worth the investment since we'll have a good number of ways to access it as well as a need to be mindful of heavy colored mana costs.
You can do an awful lot in Commander using the well-loved but inexpensive rares that are out there, and most of the changes that are made are going to be structural rather than jamming the Spikiest power level possible. We need the deck to work right; we don't necessarily need to Stoneforge Mystic up an Umezawa's Jitte. High price and high functionality do not correlate in this format, and I have killed way more than my fair share of people with my cheap rare commander.
We're looking to build in functionality, and that mostly means swapping out your creature base more than anything else. We're going to make a lot of replacements in general—we're only keeping twelve of your 32 creatures, as much of the predicament we face in building this deck up to a sufficient power level comes from playing cards like Goldenglow Moth. Your commander is already going to be a significant source of life gain thanks to lifelink plus the "chuck" ability to toss a creature at an opponent's dome, so we don't need to make life gain a significant theme as we choose cards for the rest of the deck; doing so prevents us from being able to use real defensive countermeasures or even take an aggressive stance at the appropriate time.
Let's get to work, shall we?
Powering Up The Lands
34 isn't really enough, even with as many mana artifacts as you have here, so we're going to find two more slots to bring this up to the more robust 36 lands I'm uncomfortable dipping below. We run into budget right away, as I'd really like to counsel some more dual lands instead of this being heavy on the basic lands, but we could make another dozen card changes for the price of a single Sacred Foundry.
And even though the mana would get both smoother and better on the pretty cheap by adding it plus the four partially on-color Mirage fetch lands, those four inclusions only make sense after we've spent the significant sum to get a Sacred Foundry, and I don't want to overshoot the budget just working on mana when you're likely to find it works comparably well still without requiring that change.
Sticking to the cheaper additions, we get the following:
Mistveil Plains – We're going to want potential access to a bit of recursion, so this gives us the ability to recycle materials back into our deck for future use. This effectively comes married to Sunforger anytime I add it, and it looks like this is a clear potential home for that power Equipment, as you like both the card advantage aspect and the extra power strapped to your creature when you aim it at someone's head.
Emeria, the Sky Ruin – The reason we're cutting Mountains but not Plains, as we want enough of the latter in play to turn on Emeria and allow for some sweet (free!) recursion each turn. I like Emeria pretty well to begin with, but when your commander is a recurring damage source and a sacrifice outlet, it becomes especially powerful.
Thawing Glaciers – Anything that can get you multiple Plains into play off of the same card is going to be pretty good, and this is a free way to hit the higher reaches of your mana curve with a bit of time and patience. A free land every other turn is a great deal, and this will help us raise the mana curve a little higher and play some more powerful drops.
Mystifying Maze – A little bit of defense goes a long way, and Mystifying Maze is far cheaper than Maze of Ith but also has the added benefit of actually tapping for mana (instead of requiring a spell slot effectively). Recurring options are very strong, and this adds a defensive layer that's worth having in addition to the more aggressive utility lands you've already included.
More fixing with Boros Garrison; Clifftop Retreat; Command Tower; Evolving Wilds; Terramorphic Expanse; Naya Panorama – The two rares can be foregone if you want to, especially since you can get a Battlefield Forge at half the price of either of them if that price tag feels like a sticking point, but I think the mana fixing will help in this regard to balance your colors on the pretty cheap. There will soon be a fresh influx of Command Towers if you can wait through the release of the Commander 2013 decks, so the price on that one is going to dip a little soon regardless.
Your artifacts are also sort of a part of the mana base, and we have five cuts but only two additions back in at this point. Boros Keyrune, Star Compass, Marble Diamond, Manalith, and Terrarion all get cut here, and we're adding back in Armillary Sphere and Expedition Map. Armillary Sphere is both card advantage and mana fixing and meets our qualifying statement that two Plains off of the same card is a pretty solid deal when you're trying to get Emeria online.
Expedition Map can sort of count similarly since it gets Thawing Glaciers, but it also gets Emeria itself or your utility lands, be they defensive or offensive. A second shot at Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion is going to be a pretty good deal, so this is a good addition even if it has gotten a little bit pricier than it used to be thanks to Modern Tron players. We've cut five and added two and used two of those empty slots to up our land count, so as of this point we've got one slot open and yet to be filled—it will carry over as we move on to retooling your spells.
We are about to make some serious cuts, and they tend to fit in a concept rather than necessarily being individually distinct. Weak card draw is being replaced with better card draw, while sorcery-speed Threaten effects are being called out for, well, being sorcery speed in a format that greatly rewards you for being flexibly reactive. And we're cutting into the enchantment/creature-buff subtheme largely because Equipment cards will give you more bang for your buck and stay in play longer than any Aura does in this format.
Chainsaw at the ready, we're cutting the following:
Righteous Aura, Curse of Bloodletting, Glory of Warfare, Test of Endurance, Glorious Anthem, Knighthood, Sphere of Safety, Intimidation Bolt, Beacon of Immortality, Faithless Looting, Wild Guess, Threaten, Traitorous Blood, Traitorous Instinct, Mark of Mutiny, Death or Glory, Feudkiller's Verdict
We have one slot floating, and as I worked all of this out graphically on a spreadsheet before I started writing any of the explanation down, I know what we're going to do and what the end balance is. We're going to overfill this section, adding two more cards than we have empty slots to be filled, which we'll be taking out of the creature portion of the deck as we conclude the article. We have eighteen slots and twenty changes to make, and we'll start with the artifacts since they'll inform some of our later choices.
Well of Lost Dreams – This card seems absolutely ideal to you given that life gain is built into your commander and can be accessed through Brion's "chuck" ability at a moment's notice. When this card is good, it is very good, as it turns an incidental benefit for choosing your commander into major card advantage.
Skullclamp – Speaking of serious card advantage that works with your commander, Skullclamp rewards you for sacrificing creatures and is quite powerful given its budget impact—$3 worth of power gets you a card so broken it got banned in every format except the one they let you play Tolarian Academy in and allows you to access some serious card draw in a color combination that does not have this as its strong points. Even green gets to draw cards better than red or white do; they are literally numbers four and five in the color pie at it unless you bump artifacts over them (which you may very well do—you know you stink at something when you're sixth-best out of five colors).
Nim Deathmantle – This is recursion rather than card advantage, but it is quite potent recursion that can both work as a combo with your commander or defend against sweeper effects—the trigger happens whether Nim Deathmantle is still in play or not and does not care whether one creature has already been successfully resurrected before potentially bringing back any others. Sacrifice on command is already a strength your Commander possesses, and this lets you tactically retrigger enters-the-battlefield effects as if you had merely blinked the creature all while still getting that damage across and also the lifelink that goes with it.
Bonehoard – Damage amplifier par excellence, Bonehoard at the later stages of the game plus Brion Stoutarm may start flinging player-killing levels of damage around and gaining insurmountable piles of life while you're at it thanks to Bonehoard's scalability in multiplayer games. You even get to start by throwing the token, getting significant chunks of damage across before even equipping it to a real creature.
Sunforger – A difference maker and the reason we're going to try to bend a few other cards that care about Equipment into this deck while we're at it. Red and white are good at tutoring for Equipment, and this Equipment is good at tutoring out spells, meaning the reward for picking these challenging colors is a powerhouse you can lean on to make up for the fact that the other colors have major gamebreakers like Tooth and Nail and Time Stretch that you'll never be able to access.
We're going to have to make sure we have a reasonable suite of spells to fetch with this so that it always suits the moment to make the benefits worthwhile. Oh, and it also incidentally gives plus-four power, which is not completely irrelevant even if it is never the reason I play the card—you will beat down, and it does help.
Return to Dust – I usually end up cutting this as a good-stuff addition, but in this case you don't have solid access to graveyard removal and can greatly benefit from the permanence of the solution.
Oblation – Another permanent answer or as close to it as you're able to get while still being flexible about the card type you are affecting. This is a commander tuck card, regular creature kill, or a permanent answer to any stray card type that may be bothering you at the moment, and it is important to note that it is your only one that acts in this fashion, so prioritize replacing it in your deck with Mistveil Plains after you have used it.
Honor the Fallen – Your colors are not great at stopping recursion effects, but this is a bullet card you can nab with Sunforger that wipes out Living Death effects while giving you a profit and thus can break up all sorts of shenanigans. Sadly, it also blanks your Bonehoard, so only use it when you absolutely need it since that is intended to be a major source of late-game damage.
Debt of Loyalty – This is a neat little trick that is very out of color for us, effectively being a situational Dominate in colors that are nowhere near blue. It's worth noting that you have to actually regenerate the creature to gain control of it, but it is not exactly hard to set up a creature dying in this format.
Grab the Reins, Temporary Insanity, Act of Aggression, Word of Seizing – We've still got the same amount of temporary theft cards, but we now have the ability to use them at instant speed (and thus defensively) rather than sorcery speed (which is very aggro). Two of them are even accessible via Sunforger, which is a neat trick we add to our retinue since that is something Threaten was never going to do.
Tithe – The last of our instants accessible via Sunforger and also the least-likely card for us to search up in this fashion. It's being included effectively as a mana fixer almost as if it were part of the artifact-mana components. But we're valuing cards that can get us two Plains into play eventually very highly as these help turn on the free recursion of Emeria, and this is all but guaranteed to get us two lands since someone will have at least a modest amount of ramp going on and get ahead of us even if we go first.
Cradle of Vitality – In a similar vein to adding Well of Lost Dreams, Cradle of Vitality allows you to up your damage output by amping up a creature's stats. It's even more impressive when used over and over again with Brion, as the creatures will effectively have modular—the trigger keeps getting bigger and bigger as more damage is passed around, making your board presence more threatening even as you sacrifice creature after creature spending a full card each time.
Cage of Hands, Soul Snare – We want reasonably permanent removal but also some flexibility, and we're not just jamming Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile because budgets are a thing and we're weighing our bang for the buck. Soul Snare is an equitable replacement to either of those at a reasonable price, while Cage of Hands performs a significant chunk of the relevant effect (it doesn't stop activated or triggered abilities quite like "being exiled" would) without putting a commander back in the command zone—it even returns to the hand in the event of a sweeper effect, letting you domineer a second troublesome creature instead, or just buys back when a bigger threat appears and needs to be handled instead. It has an awful lot of politics for an otherwise-innocuous card.
Blind Obedience – This is a format where big problems happen in an eye blink, and Blind Obedience slows down the worst offenders to at least offer you an untap step (and thus a turn) before they can do their very worst. It also happens to have an incidental but relevant damage trigger and a considerable life-gain boon attached to it—every spell has a Healing Salve attached, letting us cut some of your other life-gain effects without necessarily cutting our access to life points. We're just requiring that our life-gain cards do other things too.
Inheritance – This is not one you'll see that often, but you do need cards in your hand. This offers a reasonable level of card draw that you'll likely see trigger on a regular basis and can trigger at will via your commander. It's true that here is blatantly more powerful card draw you could have instead, but this is good enough to play while not being good enough to demand killing, even though it lets you draw a whole pile of cards over the course of a few turns if you have anything at all going on and a decent amount of mana.
Survival Cache – Another small card-draw effect, this one takes advantage of the fact that you're certain to have a life advantage over someone, letting you replace that Wild Guess or Faithless Looting effect with a straightforward (if somewhat delayed) Divination that happens to include a free Life Burst as well. When this is within your deck's general capabilities, this card should get at least considered—Divination is pretty solid when you're not playing one of the card-draw colors.
We move now to the creatures, where we will also perform major surgery—trimming their total number from 32 to an even 30 while also cutting all but a dozen of your existing creature base in order to streamline it for fighting.
They Might Be Giants
Creature size is the main issue for most of our cuts. A few are getting cut on the basis that your tribal element is only a weak interaction, but the lion's share of our cuts are going to be of weak defensive cards or overly aggressive creatures being selected solely for their suicidal power-to-cost ratio that makes them good to chuck at an opponent's head. We are also massively cutting out what looks to have been the enchantment subtheme of the deck, which means the creatures that were there supporting them need to be cut as well; we've moved those over to Equipment instead.
Revving up our trusty chainsaw again, we cut the following:
Goldenglow Moth, Kami of False Hope, Stonewright, Lone Missionary, Aether Membrane, Arc Runner, Auramancer, Cosmic Larva, Monk Idealist, Rage Nimbus, Woolly Razorback, Deep-Slumber Titan, Firewing Phoenix, Lost Auramancers, Avatar of Fury, Giant Harbinger, Hearthcage Giant, Loxodon Gatekeeper, Kabira Vindicator, Bloodmark Mentor
We have eighteen slots to fill back in, having given two over to the spells portion when we replaced Loxodon Gatekeeper with Blind Obedience and Lone Missionary with Survival Cache as we directly upgrade their specific abilities. We still want big bodies, but we also need to focus on elements of mana curve and defensive measures to protect our board. And we don't necessarily want to pay a lot of mana for those bodies, just like you didn't want to pay for Deep-Slumber Titan or Wooly Razorback at full price just to chuck them at your opponents with Brion Stoutarm. But we can get better creatures while seeking large but affordable bodies, and some creature recursion effects in keeping with your light Phoenix subtheme would be appreciated as well.
Shard Phoenix – We cut one Phoenix only to add another; I liked Magma Phoenix's ability to affect what creatures are in play as part of its key draws and wanted to replace the Phoenix that only works with Brion to one that works less well with the deck's commander but adds a significant creature-control element at a reasonable cost.
Weathered Wayfarer – Land Tax on a creature and at a drastically more affordable price but with clear upsides as well for that increased vulnerability and lower power. I skip Land Tax in a lot of my white decks but never skip this card, and considering how much power you're potentially adding with a card like Emeria or Sunhome in play, the ability to search for exactly the right nonbasic land is critical indeed. I like very few one-drops in Commander, and you now have just this and Mother of Runes, which feels a lot more right to me.
Eight-and-a-Half-Tails – If Mother of Runes is going to be good, 8.5 is going to be spectacular since it's not limited by the tap ability, constrained instead only by the amount of mana you're able to spend (and we've greatly smoothed over the deck's ability to get enough mana when you want it). This is one of the format's most potent two-drops, as it handles Equipment and artifacts almost as readily as Mother of Runes handles more normal (colored) permanents, though anything that sacrifices first can be a difficult one to protect yourself from.
You have to paint it white first, which is either a waste of a mana each turn or the first step in a fight being picked that you won't win if it sacrifices in response. It's incredibly high powered as a two-drop and able to offer benefits both defensively and on the attack by clearing key blockers or even shutting down Maze of Ith!
Eternal Dragon – Also part of your mana base more or less, Eternal Dragon helps find a significant number of Plains with just one card's worth of investment and also fills a similar role as your Phoenix subtheme does, providing affordable recursion on a body you can throw with Brion. Unlike the memories I had of its very high price, Eternal Dragon is apparently findable for $5 or less these days—I was remembering it as a double-digit card for some reason and cringing before I suggested it, only to find out it's now well within a tolerable price range for a budget-conscious player.
Dwarven Miner; Dwarven Blastminer – I have a particular theory about what you should be trying to do at the two-drop slot here, and that is maintain the ability to impact the board or trip up someone who's overshot to get ahead but not necessarily be bound to use the effect, as well-applied politics is more important than the blunt hammer of force anyway. These two can stop a runaway start before too much advantage has been reaped from it, allowing you to equalize a ramp player before they get out of hand, but also provides a solid rattlesnake effect in the developing turns in the game.
"Leave me alone or your best land gets it!" is an effective ransom, and unlike a Propaganda effect, this can impact the board or go aggressive instead of being strictly defensive in nature. I've been using them for a few years now as part of my Mono-Red Godo deck to excellent effect, and it gives an attack-based deck surprising nuance in the early turns since it is still clearly "aggression" but adds politics and restraining capabilities that give you at least as much power from not using their abilities as from using them.
Taurean Mauler – While it doesn't start as a 7/7 or anything like some of the undercosted creatures we've replaced, it does very quickly gain huge size.
Detritivore – This fits in nicely alongside the Miner team but is also just generally a large creature at a low price when that is already what you're seeking to play. Three opponents with fetch land-based mana configurations is not unusual to find, and plenty of graveyard-centric decks will pump this up almost incidentally just in their normal state of play. It's powerful just being cast to throw with Brion and powerful if you suspend it to play further land-destruction duty before too many problems come up as well.
Glory – You're able to sacrifice this at will, and it is able to protect your team at will once it is in your graveyard for a quite reasonable price. The ability can even be used aggressively to get past blockers, so there is quite a bit of flexibility to your options here, and this is the oft-forgotten Incarnation from the set that brings you such favorites as Genesis, Anger, and Wonder.
Archon of Justice – A body for Brion to eat with a bonus. Especially valuable if you're able to recur the ability, and we've added a few ways to do exactly that.
Celestial Archon – Not quite in the same big leagues as your other threats, but bestow is an interesting ability, one that lets you get two cracks at using its power beneficially with Brion, so it's worth enough to consider. It's also a reasonable defender thanks to the first strike on a flier, though I won't lie—going big with the budget would see this replaced by Archangel of Thune to go with Brion's lifelink. This is something of a budget-compromise addition.
Malignus – I like big bodies and I cannot lie. Malignus can count the opponent with the highest life total and attack the opponent with the lowest life total, so this may be a creature that comes into play with sufficient size to be sacked to Brion for a lethal shot with no further frills or buffs required. If that's the job you're recruiting for—and it sounds like it is—Malignus will do the job quite effectively. Sadly, this may be arbitrarily large against an opponent with infinite life, but because of Zeno's paradox, it will still never attack for lethal. Learn your limits, ladies and gentlemen.
Stonehewer Giant; Godo, Bandit Warlord – Both search up the right Equipment at the right time, and in fact one can do it more than once (and as an instant and attach Sunforger directly—tricksy indeed!) so that you're steadily advancing your board with juicy enhancement effects that work nicely with Brion or just powering through the attack phase by amping up creature damage. While there are only four targets total for them to work with, they're powerful targets indeed.
Twilight Shepherd – Creature-recursion effects are very powerful for your deck, as you have to give serious consideration to running out of relevant cards and protecting your resources means you'll still have something to invest again later. This can get you two big triggers that put an army back in your hand, and thanks to persist you can set this up with Brion if need be to trigger exactly when you need it. This is just a solid card you can play before a sweeper to protect against it, letting you play into it without losing the resources and thus getting decimated for overreaching. Cards that let you play without fear of sweepers are few and far between, and I like all of them.
Patron of the Kitsune – I was thinking about replacing your Glorious Anthem with Path of Bravery to get a bonus while I was at it and then decided you didn't need that sort of creature buff—Equipment would do more for you—but did like the free life buffer. Patron of the Kitsune generates a significant life buffer each turn, whether you're attacking or being attacked. If two opponents go against each other and leave you out of it, you'll still profit even if you aren't involved. I like life gain better when it is attached to reasonable bodies, and this will still do a lot of work even if it doesn't say the naughty word "double" anywhere on it like Beacon of Immortality does.
Hamletback Goliath – You like big creatures to throw at your opponent's face, and Hamletback Goliath has a habit of becoming very big very fast, not caring whether the creature is yours or not. Just a turn or two with this in play and it should be big enough to chuck at an opponent, which seems to be exactly the sort of thing Brion most wants to do.
Angel of Serenity – And we find a recent mythic as our last addition, one that has held a very high price point in the past and no doubt will soon again, making now an ideal time to capitalize on its super-low $7 price tag even if that is a full ten percent of your budget. I am envisioning awesome turns with Emeria online and Brion Stoutarm in play, resurrecting Angel of Serenity and having two mighty choices: permanently exile the three worst threats or return your three best threats to your hand to be replayed, all while dealing five damage and gaining five life.
It's also good without that Magical Christmas Land option, though unless you're attacking someone for lethal you'll probably get a better value out of the card by setting aside three of your cards for recursion than trying to kill threats, leaving those threats as the sole survivors of the next sweeper effect tends to end badly.
And since we're cutting our price limits there, we do not get to add the creature I feel would have the strongest impact on your build, Preacher, whose ability feeds Brion an endless stream of your opponents' monsters to off as you see fit. While it may not have the best aim, the price of zero mana can't be beat, and with three opponents to choose from and other cards working in keeping their boards contained, it should always be able to tap and recruit something juicy.
Putting it all together, we get the following:
- 1 Angel of Serenity
- 1 Angelic Skirmisher
- 1 Archon of Justice
- 1 Blazing Archon
- 1 Desolation Giant
- 1 Detritivore
- 1 Dwarven Blastminer
- 1 Dwarven Miner
- 1 Eternal Dragon
- 1 Flametongue Kavu
- 1 Glory
- 1 Hamletback Goliath
- 1 Hammerfist Giant
- 1 Magma Phoenix
- 1 Malignus
- 1 Mother of Runes
- 1 Oathsworn Giant
- 1 Rhox Faithmender
- 1 Shard Phoenix
- 1 Stonehewer Giant
- 1 Sunrise Sovereign
- 1 Suture Priest
- 1 Taurean Mauler
- 1 Twilight Shepherd
- 1 Weathered Wayfarer
- 1 Zealous Conscripts
- 1 Celestial Archon
- 1 Eight-and-a-Half-Tails
- 1 Godo, Bandit Warlord
- 1 Patron of the Kitsune
- 1 Armillary Sphere
- 1 Bonehoard
- 1 Boros Cluestone
- 1 Boros Signet
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Expedition Map
- 1 Nim Deathmantle
- 1 Norn's Annex
- 1 Skullclamp
- 1 Sunforger
- 1 Well of Lost Dreams
- 1 Angelic Accord
- 1 Blind Obedience
- 1 Cage of Hands
- 1 Cradle of Vitality
- 1 Inheritance
- 1 Sigil of the New Dawn
- 1 Soul Snare
- 1 True Conviction
- 1 Warstorm Surge
- 1 Act of Aggression
- 1 Boros Charm
- 1 Boros Fury-Shield
- 1 Debt of Loyalty
- 1 Grab the Reins
- 1 Honor the Fallen
- 1 Oblation
- 1 Return to Dust
- 1 Temporary Insanity
- 1 Tithe
- 1 Wear
- 1 Word of Seizing
- 1 Survival Cache
Unfortunately, we did not quite hit our budget cap, though we did show enough restraint to keep it below $100. Pricing out all of our suggested changes brings the total to $85.44, which is definitely not $70 or less but is at least somewhat on the order of that $70 hoped-for price tag. My hope is that instead of having to throw money (and the $20 coupon you get for participating in this week's Dear Azami!) at the problem you'll be able to trade for enough of the cards to make a significant dent in that number so any further acquisitions become within that target range, with Clifftop Retreat having just rotated out of Standard and fallen off a cliff in both price and desirability and Angel of Serenity an in-print card that is still trading at a low price at least for now.
Command Tower is about to be printed for the second time and thus should be considerably more accessible now via trading, and if you can get a Sacred Foundry and Temple of Triumph as well, you should add the Foundry because it will do excellent work even at the price point it'd command, with cards like Eternal Dragon and Tithe potentially able to search for it (and being able to add up to four cheap fetch lands to your mana base as well if you want to via the original Mirage cycle).
Breaking down the prices, we got the following:
|Cage of Hands||$0.15|
|Act of Aggression||$0.25|
|Grab the Reins||$0.39|
|Archon of Justice||$0.49|
|Patron of the Kitsune||$0.49|
|Word of Seizing||$0.75|
|Cradle of Vitality||$0.99|
|Return to Dust||$1.25|
|Honor the Fallen||$1.49|
|Well of Lost Dreams||$2.49|
|Debt of Loyalty||$2.99|
|Emeria, the Sky Ruin||$2.99|
|Godo, Bandit Warlord||$2.99|
|Angel of Serenity||$6.99|
This was a fun one for me to work on. I have always loved the idea behind Brion Stoutarm and have wanted to make him work for a while (just, ya know, not more than I wanted to keep my Godo deck intact, and it felt like they both played in similar spaces), and I have sorely, sorely needed some fun.
Between politics suddenly getting quite real and tangible in everyone's lives lately and my other writing involving lots of detail regarding credit-default swaps, other portions of my life have been largely devoid of fun. So the idea of tossing an infinite/infinite Malignus at someone's head because another opponent "went off" and got themselves infinite life makes me smile inside, and working that life-gain angle with Angelic Accord, Cradle of Vitality, and Well of Lost Dreams innately pleases that small silent part of me that actually appreciates and approves of life gain.
Then I strangle it again and go back to being a hardcore Spike who plays as hard as he can within the social construct's play space of "rules" for which next time's submission intends to put me through my paces. You'll just have to wait til then and join me back here in two weeks same bat-time, same bat-channel.
-- Sean McKeown
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