Shower Thoughts: Ten More Budget Commanders That Pack a Punch

Benjamin Levin • June 2, 2023

Jinnie Fay, Jetmir's Second | Illustrated by David Gaillet
Jinnie Fay, Jetmir's Second | Illustrated by Jack Hughes

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 talk about ten commanders that can be both powerful and inexpensive. They aren't listed in any particular order, and if you'd like to see completed decks for any of the commanders mentioned, let me know in the comments under the article and I'll see what I can do. Without further ado, let's get into it!

Magda, Brazen Outlaw

It's no surprise that Magda is the second most-played mono-red commander on EDHREC at the time of writing. Her low mana value allows you to play her on turn two every game. Her ability to ramp you in red is unique and is the de-facto commander for Dwarf tribal.  There are some expensive Dwarfs, such as Dwarven Bloodboiler or Dwarven Armorer, but a majority of them tend to be inexpensive, dollar-wise. Aside from the unique tribal synergy, finding ways to tap her and other Dwarfs to generate Treasure and including threats to cheat from the library leads to an interesting deckbuilding puzzle. Do you want to only have one or two big threats you cheat into play, such as Phyrexian Triniform or Graaz, Unstoppable Juggernaut? Or would you prefer to build a big mana deck where you cast massive red spells, such as Apex of Power or Banefire? The versatility she provides lets you find the exact build or playstyle you love. What option will you pick? A fast combo deck that crushes enemies in a pile of Treasures and creatures or a midrange build where you slowly grind out the table? 

Key cards to include: Smuggler's Copter, Clock of Omens, Clown Car, God-Pharaoh's Statue, Idol of Oblivion

Fynn, the Fangbearer

Fynn is an interesting commander, to say the least. He introduced poison to a Standard environment where it hadn't been seen in years, is only uncommon, and costs two mana. Poison is one of the most heavily debated mechanics in EDH thanks to its ability to take players out so quickly. With Fynn out, you only have to hit an opponent with five deathtouch creatures to end their existence. If you can give your creatures double strike and/or trample, it gets even easier than that. Since his ability specifies combat damage, double strike will give someone four poison counters instead of just two, and trample with deathtouch will almost guarantee your creature deals combat damage. And you don't need expensive creatures to have the deck function. Even a one-mana-value creature, such as Moss Viper, will still give opponents two poison counters. Toxic was introduced in Phyrexia: All Will Be One, so if you can get a creature with both Toxic and deathtouch to hit, such as Ichorspit Basilisk, you can stack on the poison counters.

Something fun you should try is building a deathtouch creature pile that you shuffle into a Fynn deck at random each game so no two games are the same. Sometimes you'll get a Hornet Queen and other times you'll get Fang of Shigeki. Why pick which creatures to include when you can play with all of them? 

Key cards to include: Skullwinder, Bellowing Tanglewurm, Overrun, Roar of Challenge, Prowler's Helm

Halana and Alena, Partners

Originally I wanted to suggest Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes, but didn't realize how expensive that card has gotten. While Halana and Alena aren't as powerful as the cute hamster, they still pack a pretty nasty punch on a budget and give you multiple build paths. The first one I thought of was extra combats, since their ability triggers at the start of combat. The biggest issue, though, is the price of extra combat spells. The cheapest two are Akki Battle Squad and Relentless Assault. I would make sure to include those even if your list doesn't focus on extra combats as they provide excellent value. Another and much cheaper option is modified creatures. There is already a Gruul precon from Kamaigawa: Neon Dynasty that makes an excellent starting point for this commander. And finally, you could build a psuedo voltron deck to buff the power of Halana and Alena, which will give your creatures a bigger buff in return. 

Key cards to include: Kami of Whispered Hopes, Champion of Lambholt, Forgotten Ancient, Thundering Raiju, Prodigious Growth

Baba Lysaga, Night Witch

Baba quickly became one of, if not my favorite, Golgari decks to play. I was introduced to her thanks to Joey from EDHREC and haven't looked back. The best thing about her is the variety of ways you can build her. You can do a build that focuses on untapping her multiple times each turn, or do what I do and make it a pseudo-lands deck with ways to play extra lands or abuse the life gain aspect of her ability. Lands can get a bit pricey if you want to include cards such as Crucible of Worlds or Exploration. Every time I play this deck I feel like I have an impact on the game, and you get to play this minigame of trying to sacrifice the fewest number of permanents possible. I'd highly recommend her if you're looking for an interesting commander that both draws you cards and gains you life. Make sure to check out my budget version over YouTube, where I go in-depth with card choices and gameplay patterns.

Key cards to include: Silversmote Ghoul, Psychosis Crawler, Genju of the Fens, Genju of the Cedars, Mishra's Factory.

Thalisse, Reverent Medium

Orzhov tokens is a tried and true theme that I'd suggest everyone try at least once, and if you want to try it, try out Thalisse as your commander. Being uncommon might turn you off of her; after all, there are some great options such as Elenda, the Dusk Rose, and Teysa Karlov. But don't let that rarity fool you, she is a powerhouse that will take over games in a flash. Since her ability doesn't care what kind of tokens were made and triggers each end step, you'll want to either create tokens at instant speed or make a lot of them in one turn. Sadly, Smothering Tithe isn't a budget option, but Academy Manufactor is, so I'd include cards that make Treasure, Food, or Clues as often as possible. Often, people win by sacrificing tokens and draining the table with Blood Artist or Zulaport Cutthroat effects, but buffing and attacking with a massive army of Spirits is the better option on a budget. Especially with cards like Mirror Entity or Intangible Virtue.

Key cards to include: Corpse Knight, Nadier, Agent of the Duskenel, Nadier's Nightblade, Felidar Retreat, Rabble Rousing

Hofri Ghostforge

A great way to play a budget deck that can keep up with even the most powerful decks is by playing your opponents' decks, instead. Hofri quickly became my favorite thief deck of all time and for good reason. His ability can scale depending on the power level of the table or you can focus on cheating big threats into play. If someone has an Avenger of Zendikar, why not take it and make it your own? A player cheated an Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite into play? It's yours now. When building this deck on a budget, you should include as many Act of Treason effects as possible, along with sacrifice outlets. Often even single sacrifice outlets, such as Culling Dais, will do the trick. As for your creatures, focus on creatures that draw cards or wheel the table when they enter the battlefield. Some themes to try out would be Boros Spirits or a Sneak Attack-centric build that cheats big creatures into play. 

Key cards to include: Fanatical Devotion, Quintorius, Field Historian, Solemn Simulacrum, Act of Aggression, Spirited Companion

Kardur, Doomscourge

Kardur is a commander that I've seen crush tables time and time again. The ability to force combat can be incredibly disruptive to a game by forcing people to attack with essential creatures or just lowering life totals to hinder certain strategies. You might look at Kardur and think it's a commander that wants you to attack, too. However, I look at him as a Rakdos control commander instead. By forcing combat, you gain card advantage from other creatures dying and you maintain your life total. Of course, players can point their removal toward your board, but if they're low enough, they may opt to remove another threat that is pointed at them. If you want to try speeding up your games or you enjoy causing chaos, try this commander!

Key cards to include: Agitator Ant, Life of the Party, Geode Rager, Bloodthirsty Blade, Kaya's Ghostform

Tivit, Seller of Secrets

One of the things I look for when picking a budget commander is what the card offers from the command zone. Does it provide value such as a card draw or ramp? Or is it the win condition of the deck? Tivit is the former in this case. They are pure value in the command zone and use a mechanic that I believe is underutilized in Magic and Commander: voting. Aside from Tivit, 16 cards in Esper colors give you the option to vote. Most of these cards aren't too expensive, the primary exceptions being Expropriate and Coercive Portal. I'd build a voting matters deck on a budget by including all the creatures that pay off voting or give me additional votes, spells to copy instants or sorceries that make everyone vote, and flicker effects to flicker Tivit for additional value.

Key cards to include: Ballot Broker, Brago's Representative, Illusion of Choice, Plea for Power, Grudge Keeper

Jinnie Fay, Jetmir's Second

Have you ever noticed most dog people aren't also cat people but most cat people are also dog people? Thankfully, Jinnie Fay doesn't make you pick between Cats or Dogs. She lets you turn whatever token you want, whether it be Food, Clue, Treasure or incubate tokens into Cats or Dogs. I'm partial to the Cats, but that is strictly due to the stats and has nothing to do with me having Cats. I swear. With the introduction of March of the Machine, we have a new incubate token, which enters with several +1/+1 counters. Well, there is a cute interaction, where if you make those tokens into Cats or Dogs, they also enter with the counters, so why not build Jinnie Fay incubate? All of these new incubate cards are inexpensive, which is perfect for a budget deck. The other idea I had was building a Living weapon & For Mirrodin! deck by turning all of the Germs and Rebels into Cats or Dogs. Whichever option you go with there are some cards you'll want to include in both lists.

Key cards to include: Rabble Rousing, Call the Coppercoats, Neyali, Suns' Vanguard, Rumor Gatherer, Impact Tremors

Haldan, Avid Arcanist & Pako, Arcane Retriever

Speaking of dogs, Haldan and Pako don't mess around. These best buds are a fast and powerful duo that even on a budget will dominate games. Much like Hofri, this deck can scale with the table since you get to take other people's cards. Just be careful when playing this commander since you're likely to get focused down if you jump too far ahead. You will want to make sure to load up on ways to protect Pako, manipulate the top of your library with cards like Brainstorm, and quickly end once you get a lead. This deck is not for those who want to build a big board of beaters. And don't forget Haldan lets you play the cards, meaning you can play lands you steal from opponents.

Key cards to include: Memory Lapse, Aqueous Form, Summer Bloom, Temur Battle Rage, Kediss, Emberclaw Familiar

This has been another 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 if you want to take your support further.

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.