Shower Thoughts: Five Budget Commanders That Pack a Punch - MOM Aftermath

Kiora, Sovereign of the Deep |Illustrated by Dominik Mayer
Kiora, Sovereign of the Deep |Illustrated by Chris Rallis

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another installment of Shower Thoughts, the budget Commander series that proves that Magic isn't pay-to-win. In this week's article, I'm going over my pick for five commanders from March of the Machine: The Aftermath that are easy to build on a budget, along with some key cards and why you should include them. In my previous articles, I've shown off ten commanders, but given the small size of the set, I'm sticking with five here.

They aren't listed in any particular order, and if you'd like to listen to this article, check out my YouTube channel where I post the accompanying video. Without further ado, let's get into it!

Tyvar the Bellicose

Mana dorks aren't known for their ability to end games of Commander. Usually one or two mana, when you draw them early you love it, when you top deck them on turn ten you curse the Magic gods. But what if we could take this weak creatures and turn them into absolute units? Thankfully, Tyvar will help us do just that. Unlike Raggadragga, Goreguts Boss, Tyvar will make sure to keep our dorks nice and buff after he's gone.  Don't forget, there are other types of mana abilities aside from just tapping creatures. Cards such as Lord of the Forsaken have mana abilities that are easy to activate each turn.

Key cards to include

Lord of the Forsaken: As mentioned above, they have a mana ability that you can active during each player's turn. Giving you the ability to take this 6/6 flying trample Demon into an 11/11 by your next turn.

Awakening: While I would have loved to include Seedborn Muse or Quest for Renewal, I don't consider them to be budget cards. Just be careful when you decide to play this card since the effect is symmetrical.

Staff of Domination: This is a card that can go infinite with a ham sandwich, and its price has stayed down since the reprint. Great way to untap mana dorks or just win the game by getting infinite life and drawing your entire library.

Kami of Whispered Hopes: This newly released Hardened Scales on a creature is one of the best inclusions in this deck. Not only will it put an one additional +1/+1 counter on creatures you control, it will continue to tap for more mana as you use it.

Incubation Druid: Tyvar cares about how much mana was created from the mana ability, and once this creature gets a single +1/+1 counter, it will start tapping for three mana instead of just one, letting you grow this dork into a massive threat in only a few turns.

Samut, Vizier of Naktamun

The first thing I thought when looking at Samut was, "Can I build Gruul Ninjas?" Those dreams were quickly dashed after brief scryfall search. There are only three creatures in Gruul colors with Ninjutsu, which makes me sad. But that's okay, we must move on from that amazing but very short-lived dream and figure out how to build this commander.

Thankfully, Samut doesn't specify nontoken creatures, which means we can abuse cards that put hasty tokens into play. If I were personally building this commander, I'd use it as a home for a hidden Valduk, Keeper of the Flame deck since green can tutor creatures with ease and Valduk makes tokens with trample. However, since we are on a budget, I would stick to a trample and haste theme.

Key cards to include

Brawn: This is an inexpensive way to give your creatures trample. I'd like to suggest Anger, but the price tag is a bit too much for me to consider it budget.

Life of the Party: It has a lot of the keywords we care about and can get massive with the right board state.

Surrak and Goreclaw: It feels like this card was made for this deck. It not only gives our creatures trample, but haste, as well, and grows them.

Haunted Cloak: This is an inexpensive way to repeatably give creatures we play haste and trample for a turn.

Footfall Crater: Same reason as Haunted Cloak. This is essentially one mana to give a creature trample and haste until end of turn.

Kiora, Sovereign of the Deep

Finally, we have a dedicated sea creature commander! I know we've had Arixmethes, Slumbering IsleRuno Stromkirk, or Slinn Voda, the Rising Deep as sea creature commanders, but I'm so happy we finally got one in Simic colors. Kiora is exactly what I wanted to see in a sea creature commander. Her ability to give your sea creatures pseudo-Cascade is such great value in the command zone, but she's also not overly powerful since you have to cast the card from your hand, and unlike normal tribal decks, I don't think we need a huge number of creatures. I would personally go with about ten or fifteen high-mana-value sea creatures and focus on the ability to double up on big spells. Quick rules note: Kiora's ability doesn't follow timing restrictions.

Key cards to include

Thryx, the Sudden Storm: This will prevent our big spells from being countered and reduces the cost of spells. Also, my friend hates this card, so I love including it in decks when possible.

Pearl Lake Ancient: Not only does this beauty have flash, so we can play it at the end of someone's turn or in response to a spell to try to find an answer, but it also has a way of returning to our hand so we can cast it again. Just make sure you're ramping enough.

Stormtide Leviathan: This turns off opponents' creatures and is a cute combo with Pearl Lake Ancient.

Nimbus Swimmer: Being able to decide how much mana you want to put into a spell with Kiora seems invaluable. If you really need an answer, you can dump all your mana into it or setup the top of your library with a Brainstorm to pay the exact amount needed.

Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle: We need ramp. This is ramp. Not much else to say about this card really.

Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin

Name a planeswalker who has lost their spark more often than poor Ob Nixilis. Go ahead. I'll wait. Thankfully that isn't going to stop this commander from being an absolute house in the format. This card feels like a Prosper, Tome-Bound that won't get you hated off the table right away, and dealing only one damage to each opponent shouldn't be that difficult. We just got a reprint of Impact Tremors, which will help. I would lean into the burn aspect of this commander to win games. One last note, while it might not be considered budget, All Will Be One and Ob Nixilis go infinite.

Key cards to include

Manabarbs: Since our commander doesn't specify that we have to deal the damage, this card will make sure we get multiple triggers every turn.

Fate Unraveler: People will be drawing cards, so let's get some damage from it.

Underworld Dreams: See the card above. Same reason.

Cryptolith Fragment: This is a mana rock that triggers Ob Nixilis. It's an easy inclusion in the deck.

Impact Tremors: We will be playing creatures and triggering Ob Nixilis.

Calix, Guided by Fate

WGx enchantments is an archetype we've seen numerous times over the years, from Sythis, Harvest's Hand to Tuvasa the Sunlit. This is only the second time Constellation has appeared on a legendary creature and is the first legendary enchantment creature with this ability. Calix cares about two things: having enchantments enter the battlefield and smacking face with enchanted creatures. While you might be tempted to build them as Voltron, I think you're better off building a go wide deck. While you are more susceptible to a board wipe, you'll have a better chance of getting the second ability with a bunch of creatures. Plus, there are a number of enchantments that make tokens or draw you cards when they enter, making them excellent copy targets for Calix. Also make sure to include some Curses, since you can copy those and give them to other players.

Key cards to include

Cartouche of Solidarity: A cheap enchantment that makes a body when it enters the battlefield. Great to copy with Calix's ability.

Fists of Ironwood: Same reason as the card above, but this makes two tokens instead of one.

Kenrith's Transformation: While I'd love to have been able to include Song of the Dryads, it's just too expensive right now. Having the ability to turn off problematic creatures is such great value, I couldn't pass it up. Darksteel Mutation also works wonders in this deck.

Sigil of the Empty Throne: You want tokens when you cast enchantments, and this will do that for us. Plus the Angel tokens are great targets for Auras given the built-in invasion.

Unquestioned Authority: This will make sure you get in for damage with any creature enchanted by this Aura. Also great to give to Calix if you need to finish someone off with commander damage.

This has been the fifth installment of Shower Thoughts, make sure to check out my YouTube channel, BathroomBrewsMTG, for weekly MTG content and the accompanying video. Also please follow me on Twitter. If you'd like to take your support further you can sign up for my Patreon.

This has been Ben, from BathroomBrewsMTG, and remember, always wash your hands.

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.