Thursday, 20 February 2020 11:35

10 budget rares you should be playing in Commander (but probably aren’t)

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10 budget rares you should be playing in Commander (but probably aren’t) WOTC // MAGIC UNTAPPED

Let’s face it.  The price of an EDH deck can be downright crazy with the 100 card deck size and the popularity of the format constantly increasing the prices of cards left and right (We’re looking at you, Reap).

The thing is, it doesn’t have to be that way.  There are a number of cards – actual playable cards – that are worth consideration that don’t even come close to breaking the bank.  In fact, many of those $1 and under cards are, indeed, rares.  Forgotten or underappreciated rares, sure, but that only helps to keep the cards obtainable for those who are looking to pick them up.

So, what are these wallet-friendly cards?  We’ve listed ten of them below for your consideration.

 Aether Gale // WOTC

Aether Gale (50¢) – Currently seeing play in 2576 decks according to the website EDHREC, the card allows players to return six target non-land permanent to their owners’ hands for less than one mana apiece (the card costs five: 3UU).  The card can be quite powerful in a number of circumstances as it allows players to pick and choose the permanents they want returned rather than with the more-often played all-or-nothing cards like Evacuation and (the typically better) Cyclonic Rift.

While Aether Gale doesn’t board wipe like those other two options do, having the ability to surgically target six targets rather than all of them.  Decks helmed by the likes of spell discounter Saheeli, the Gifted, group hugger Phelddagrif, and artifact storm enabler Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain can all benefit from Aether Gale as part of the 99.

 Arena of the Ancients // WOTC

Arena of the Ancients (72¢) – Surprisingly only included in 204 decks, Arena of the Ancients is a card that can be a real pain in the butt for those who aren’t prepared for it.

A three-costed artifact, Arena of the Ancient not only taps all legendry creatures upon ETB, it also (theoretically) keeps them tapped as they’re unable to untap during their controllers' untap phase.  In a format in which every EDH deck (well, almost every thanks to those pesky planeswalker commanders), this can be quite the annoyance.  For decks that run a large number of legendary creatures, this can be downright game breaking.

While the original Legends printing lists at nearly $14, its Chronicles reprint’s market price is less than a dollar.

 Commune with Lava // WOTC

Commune with Lava (25¢) – Found in 1385 decks, Commune with Lava is an instant that costs XRR.  It makes its caster exile the top X cards of their deck, but it also allows that person to play those cards until the end of their next turn.  It’s very much like a scalable Light Up the Stage, which is considered a very good card.

Commune with Lava is an oft-overlooked provides red with a better-than-normal way to gain card advantage (something the color tends to struggle with).  While the card could be cast during your own turn, allowing you access to the exiled cards through each opponent’s turn as well as your next turn, the most optimal time to cast it is at the end of the turn before yours.  This allows you to tap out for it safely, maximizing the short-term gains this impulsive “card draw” spell provides.

Dictate of Karametra // WOTC 

Dictate of Karametra ($1) – Found in 2930 decks, Dictate of Karametra is an enchantment for 3GG with flash that makes it so whenever a land is tapped for mana, it adds an additional mana that the tapped land could produce.  The kicker, though, is that it does this for all players.  While this sort of symmetrical benefit isn’t typically something that players want in a multiplayer format such as Commander, the fact that you can flash it into play at the end of the turn before yours means that you often get to reap the benefits first.

The card has “group hug” written all over it and works well with the popular commander Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis.  The card also pairs well with ones that prevent your mana pool from emptying such as Kruphix, God of Horizons and Upwelling.

 Key to the City // WOTC

Key to the City (30¢) – Being played in slightly more than 5100 decks, Key to the City is a card that plays a few tricks.  First off, the two-drop artifact can make a creature (and not just one of yours) unblockable for a turn (more efficiently than can the land Rogue’s Passage, by the way).  Secondly, it’s a discard outlet that enables madness and other discard triggers.  Thirdly, it can act as card advantage as paying two colorless every time it untaps nets its controller a bonus card draw.

The card pairs well with Voltron decks, Madness decks, and any deck that could benefit from rummage-like abilities.  It also has great synergy with commanders such as Anje Falkenrath for Madness strategies, Alesha, Who Smiles at Death since she can bring the discarded card back into play for two mana if that card is low-power creature, and Feldon of the Third Path thanks to his ability to make temporary copies of creatures in your graveyard.

 Moonlight Bargain // WOTC

Moonlight Bargain (45¢) – Run in 1451 decks, this instant provides nice card draw in black for a fairly cheap drawback considering Commander is a format in which players begin at 40 life.

In casting the card, you’ll be losing anywhere between zero and ten life.  At worst, you fill your graveyard a bit.  At best, you’ll find exactly the card or cards you need as you dig through the top five of your deck.  The fact that you can do this at instant speed is great as that means you have the potential of setting up a killer turn without needing to exhaust your mana during said turn to do it.  Furthermore, the card can be extremely effective in nearly any black deck and can be seen as a situationally better version of a card such as Greed or Fact or Fiction.

Mouth / Feed // WOTC 

Mouth // Feed (20¢) – This extremely wallet-friendly card is barely run in EDH at all with only about 875 decks including it.

In total, the card costs seven mana (2G for the first mode and another 3G for the second).  The card’s first mode, creating a vanilla 3/3 for three mana, is rather forgettable, but it’s its second mode that makes this card worth including in stompy and big creature EDH decks.  For four mana, its caster gets to draw a card for each creature with power three or greater they control (and that includes the 3/3 vanilla hippo created by its first mode).  This can provide some great late game card advantage and could get a deck over the top right when it needs that final push.

 Signal the Clans // WOTC

Signal the Clans (25¢) – Only found in some 1360 decks, this two casting cost (RG) tutor lets players dig up three creatures with different names.  The hitch, though, is that they only get to keep one of those (and at random, no less) with the rest being shuffled back into the library.

The trick here is to tutor for creatures with redundant effects.  Thanks to the number of creatures that are functional reprints (or, at least, within the ballpark of being a functional reprint) of other creatures, this isn’t too terribly difficult to achieve.  While not as good as the strictly better than the Azorius card Eladamri’s Call, the Gruul-colored Signal the Clans can be nearly as good in the right kind of decks.

 Tragic Arrogance // WOTC

Tragic Arrogance (73¢) – Found in roughly 3500 decks, this rare from Magic Origins is mass removal on your terms.  A sorcery for 3WW, the card has you selecting one of each non-land permanent each player has, forcing everyone (yes, yourself included) to sacrifice the rest.  Not only does this get around regeneration and indestructible, but it also gives you the potential of giving your opponents the worst board state possible.

What’s even more, since you know it’s coming, you can play into it to provide yourself with the best board state possible.  Coupling this card with the likes of Faith’s Reward, No Rest for the Wicked, Open the Graves, or Twilight Shepherd could lead to quite the lopsided board state (in your favor, of course).

 Twilight's Call // WOTC

Twilight’s Call (63¢) – Played in slightly more than 900 decks, Twilight’s Call is a card that may or may not have players calling you the Prince/Princess of Friendship.

For six mana (eight if you want to flash it in), this sorcery brings all creatures in all graveyards into play.  While a symmetrical effect as written, the card is really anything but.  If played into correctly, the game can set up a winning board state.  It plays well with cards like Iname, Death Aspect to fill your graveyard with as many as 100% of your deck’s spirits into your graveyard.  Self mill strategies such as those built around Sidisi, Brood Tyrant and Liliana, Untouched by Death also work well to get more bodies into your graveyard than your opponents get in theirs.

Of course, you could always just eliminate opposing players’ graveyards altogether with cards such as Tormod’s Crypt, Bojuka Bog, or (and even better) Soul-Guide Lantern.

What are some of your favorite low-budget rares that you’ve included in some of your EDH decks?  Let us know in the comment section below and we may feature the card in a future list.

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