Shower Thoughts: Ten Budget Win Conditions For Your Next Deck
Approach of the Second Sun | Illustrated by Minttu Hynninen
Approach of the Second Sun | Illustrated by Kev Walker
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 to show you ten budget win conditions, two for each color, to consider including in your next deck. This list isn't going to be in any particular order, and if you'd like to tell me about some of your favorite win conditions, let me know in the comment under the article! Without further ado, let's get into it!
Wizards of the Coast could not predict Commander becoming the behemoth it is today, and because of that, they designed cards such as Felidar Sovereign or Serra Ascendant that require more than 20 life to be good. Thankfully in Commander, we start with much more than 20, making these cards that much better. The upkeep trigger might look hard to pull off since you either need to stay at or above 40 life and not have this thing die; one trick I like is using Sneak Attack. Since it says at the start of the next end step, if you wait until the end step before your turn, you can cheat this Cat into play and you won't need to sacrifice it until the following end step, meaning players will only have a brief moment to deal with it or you before you win the game. Pretty neat, huh?
Approach of the Second Sun
This card used to give me nightmares in Amonkhet Standard. I would just wait and wait until the control player drew this card from their library, usually drawing to it the second time by the next turn using a bunch of cantrips. Thankfully we can do the same thing in Commander. I like including this card as a backup win condition in decks since it does not have any specific condition other than casting it twice. There are some cute rules interactions you can do with this card, so I'd suggest checking Gatherer for some neat tricks!
Docent of Perfection
Most people think of cards like Thassa's Oracle or Laboratory Maniac for blue win conditions, and while yes, those cards do in fact win the game, they're not cheap and lead to a very boring play in my opinion, which is why I love Docent of Perfection so much. Even if you're not in a dedicated Wizard tribal deck, you can generate enough tokens to smash in the air. Blue already plays more instants than most colors, so being able to build an army at instant speed before your next turn is an easy task to accomplish.
Blue is one of the premier artifact colors in Magic, so having a big flying artifact creature that creates even more artifact creatures is pretty powerful. Plus, since the tokens it makes have flying, you can snowball ahead turn after turn making exponentially more tokens, and since Sharding Sphinx isn't legendary, you can easily make token copies of it to create two or three times the number of Thopters! I think my favorite card to combo Sphinx is Mystic Reflection, so instead of creating, let's say, ten Thopters, you create ten more Sharding Sphinx. Just talking about this makes me want to make a budget deck to cheat out this creature.
Gray Merchant of Asphodel
Good ol' Gary; this card was a terror in Limited both times we went to Theros, and for good reason. The traits I tend to look for in budget win conditions, or win conditions in general, is how much do I need to build my deck around the card and does it impact the game even if played just for value. Gary is both great without a dedicated deck around it and a powerful value card. Most decks with black already have ways to reanimate or return creatures to your hand consistently, so looping Gary shouldn't be that difficult of a feat, and the amount of life gain from this card will either let you stabilize or slingshot ahead in games where you might have been out. Even if you don't win from the single cast, it could very well bring someone low enough for a final swing in or knock someone out incidentally. I highly recommend this card for almost all black decks.
Now this answer might be a little cheaty, since there are a lot of cards with very similar effects. However, I decided to stick with the most popular one. Aristocrats is an incredibly popular archetype in Commander with some of the most powerful commanders to helm them, and this is one of the key cards included no matter the budget. It's also incredibly efficient at only two mana, making it easy to slot into a combo finish seemingly out of nowhere, and the fact it's a Vampire means it can also be included in Vampire tribal decks for easy wins.
One of the newer cards on this list, but it's on this list for good reason. This is Impact Tremors on a creature and costs much less, dollar-wise. Not to mention it's easier to tutor for in RG decks, given the lack of enchantment tutors in those colors. While Tremors is the superior option, I don't think it's worth the massive 1900%+ difference in price. This card has become a staple in any budget token decks I've helped people with, and hopefully it'll stay that way. I'd suggest pick up a few copies to have on hand in case it does go up in price, and if Tremors gets reprinted, be sure to pick that up too!
If you read my last article you'll know I mentioned Krenko, Mob Boss as a commander that's great to build budget decks with, and Goblin Bombardment helps with that. Like Blood Artist, it's an incredibly efficient card at only two mana and has no cost associated with its ability other than sacrificing the creature. Not to mention the sheer amount of reprints this card has received over the years helping keep its price down. Often times I will include this in any Rx token deck as a way to win the game, snipe down low life opponents, clear pesky planeswalkers, or throw 13 Squirrels at Emrakul, the Promised End to knock her out of the sky.
Now, this card might be Craterhoof Behemoth at home, but don't let its price fool you. Both of these beefy beat-sticks cost eight mana and have haste, and even though Forerunners only gives your team +2/+2, compared the massive potential increase from Hoof, it has the added benefit of giving everything vigilance, which will let you safely attack while leaving you with blockers, assuming anyone is left standing. One of my favorite archetypes for this card aside from tokens is blink. Reusing this effect multiple times in a turn can be devastating and gives you an actual win condition in blink.
Now, you might be thinking to yourself, I already mentioned a Craterhoof Behemoth replacement just before this, and you'd be right. However, this and Forerunners are for different types of decks. Forerunners is more for your token or go-wide decks, while I'd use Stampede in go-tall decks. Yes, I know it is easier to block one 15/15 creature vs 15 1/1s, but how about three, four, or five 15/15 creatures? Even with a few creatures on board, this card can let you beat through defenses of even the most gummed up boards. A little trick I like to do with this card and Forerunners is giving my creatures deathtouch to they can trample in for even more damage. If you don't know how that interaction works, look it up, it is really fun!
This has been the third installment of Shower Thoughts, make sure to check out my YouTube channel, BathroomBrewsMTG, for weekly MTG content and the accompanying video. Also make sure to check out my Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/BathroomBrewsMTG if you want to take your support further.
This has been Ben, from BathroomBrewsMTG, and remember, always wash your hands.