My Top Five Budget Commanders From Modern Horizons 3!

Benjamin Levin • June 15, 2024

Arna Kennerüd, Skycaptain | Illustrated by Cristi Balanescu
The Necrobloom | Illustrated by Igor Krstic

Hello, everyone! In this week's article, I'm going to give you my top five budget commanders from Modern Horizons 3 and the precons. I'm excluding the price of the commander here since they're likely to change after release. Instead, I look at how much it would cost to build a powerful 99 around a commander. If you're going to spend $10 or more on a card, I'd always suggest it being the commander since you'll see it every game. With all of the explanations out of the way, let's get into it!

Rosheen, Roaring Prophet

Let's kick things off with an incredibly underrated Gruul commander, Rosheen, Roaring Prophet. This commander is all about X spells, and I'm here for it. Its first ability is pseudo card draw, and if we add enough graveyard recursion, it can act like a draw three. Its second ability is Metalworker but for X spells. I feel this deck will often be built as a Hydra commander. However, I'm more interested in building generic X spells with some of my favorite win conditions: Fireball, Banefire, and Comet Storm.

There are some amazing budget cards for this theme, too, like mana rocks, such as Elementalist's Palette and Astral Cornucopia. I'd still want to primary ramp using lands, but these are worth including. I'd also want to pull in some of my Baba Lysaga, Night Witch untap cards, like Instill Energy, Seeker of Skybreak, and Saryth, the Viper's Fang. Plus, there's some incredibly powerful creature acceleration with Nexos, Rosheen Meanderer, and Magus of the Candelabra. Technically Magus takes a bit of work to get value from, but the juice is worth the squeeze.

Azlask, the Swelling Scourge

Next is the alternate Eldrazi precon commander, Azlask, the Swelling Scourge. Now, you might be asking yourself, "How is a five-color Eldrazi commander budget?" To that I'd say, technically this is a Scions and Spawns deck more than an Eldrazi commander. You don't need to include the titans, like Ulamog, the Defiler, Kozilek, the Broken Reality, or Emrakul, the World Anew, and frankly, I'd suggest avoiding the titans, even if you have the budget. Instead, load up on Eldrazi who make tokens.

Aside from the new cards, which are inflated right now, the most expensive Spawn-generator is Pawn of Ulamog, and for Scions it's From Beyond. Technically Spawnsire of Ulamog is the most expensive Spawn generator, but I don't think it is anywhere close to worth it, and even while being a bit inflated, Spawn-Gang Commander, Glaring Fleshraker, and Emrakul's Messenger are all cheap Scion-generators. Same for the Spawn-producers, like Sifter of Skulls, Blight Herder, and Brood Monitor. Additionally, the mana base for this deck is incredibly budget. All you need is the ten pain lands, some filter lands, and whatever utility lands you have lying around.

The Necrobloom

If you've ever wanted Field of the Dead in the command zone since Golos, Tireless Pilgrim's ban, now you can! Land decks can be incredibly inexpensive, especially when your commander gives your lands dredge, for some reason. Fetches are being reprinted, so it might be worth picking up one or two for this deck, but using Evolving Wilds or Terramorphic Expanse are fine budget replacements, or you can also use the slow fetches, like Grasslands, Mountain Valley, and Bad River. Then add some snow-covered lands and with just basics you have six different land names.

If I were building this deck, I'd take some inspiration from a Standard deck using all of the Streets of New Capaenna common fetches with Aftermath Analyst or Splendid Reclamation. Of course, you can add more token generation with Scute Swarm, Rampaging Baloths, and the new Springheart Nantuko. I'd also include some of the best generic Landfall cards, llke Tireless Tracker, Tireless Provisioner, and Felidar Retreat.

Arna Kennerüd, Skycaptain

I've been wanting to build a Voltron deck for several years, and I finally think I've found the commander. Arna Kennerüd, Skycaptain has built-in evasion, lifelink, and an annoying ward cost. It's no ward three, but it's something. Not only that, but they provide a unique form of card advantage by making copies of your Auras and Equipment. It also copies counters, but those don't matter a ton unless you're putting on exalted counters with Emissary of Soulfire or +1/+1 counters. The deck I'd want to build is focused around bestow creatures and Auras.

For those who are newer to Magic, when a creature enchanted with a bestow creature leaves the battlefield, the bestow creature falls off and becomes a creature, so if we can make multiple copies of Eidolon of Countless Battles, Indebted Spirit, or Celestial Archon, whenever our enchanted creature leaves play, we can easily rebuild by enchanting our new board. This is great against board wipes and targeted removal, which can easily disrupt these strategies. However, with only 26 bestow creatures, and most not being great on rate, I'd suggest adding an Aura package with ETBs, such as Sage's Reverie, Cartouche of Solidarity, and Righteous Authority. Finally, let's add some Constellation cards featuring Archon of Sun's Grace, Grim Guardian, and one of my favorites, Boon of the Spirit Realm.

Shilgengar, Sire of Famine

Last, but certainly not least is Shilgengar, Sire of Famine. My initial impression of this commander was that of ambivalence. It seemed like just another Orzhov sacrifice commander, which you could also build as a weird Angel sac deck. No thanks. But as I was discussing this card with a friend, we realized something. Instead of building your usual aristocrats deck, I want to brew a blink deck. Shilgengar's second ability might seem like a downside; however, finality counters only put creatures into exile if they were put into the graveyard, and because they're counters, if we blink our board, we can remove the counters and trigger their ETBs again.

If you're looking for mass blink, Lae'zel's Acrobatics, Eerie Interlude, and Ghostway should be your go-to options. Cosmic Intervention also combos nicely since Shilgengar's ability isn't restricted to sorcery speed. Allowing you to sacrifice your board before your opponent's end step, returning them with Cosmic Intervention, sacrificing them again, and then using their ability, you can return all of them into play with finality counters. As for creatures you'd want to blink, I think the usual suspects of Solemn Simulacrum, Marionette Apprentice, and Inspiring Overseer will do just fine. 

But I also want to add some Blood token support with Voldaren Bloodcaster, Glass-Cast Heart, and Transmutation Font. These might seem like weird inclusions, but hear me out. Voldaren Bloodcaster essentially doubles the Blood tokens from your commander. Glass-Cast Heart provides an additional sac outlet for your Blood tokens, and Transmutation Font lets you tutor up any artifact from your deck into play, such as Panharmonicon, Myr Battlesphere, or Thousand Moons Smithy.

Wrap Up

And that wraps up my top five budget commanders from Modern Horizons 3! I'd love to hear what commander you're looking forward to building and how the pre-release went. Make sure to check out my other articles and let me know which of these commanders you want to see turned into a deck. Alrighty nerds, I'll see you next time.

Ben has been playing Magic since 2012 and started creating Magic the Gathering content in October of 2022 on YouTube under the name BathroomBrewsMTG ( Primarily focusing on budget EDH content. When he isn't thinking or talking about MTG, he is usually playing video games, spending time with his wife or playing with his two cats. You can find him on Twitter @BathroomMTG.