Top 5 Budget Commanders From Murders at Karlov Manor!

Benjamin Levin • February 8, 2024

Voja, Jaws of the Conclave | Illustrated by Valera Lutfullina
Judith, Carnage Connoisseur | Illustrated by Jodie Muir

Hello, everyone! In this week's article, I'm going to give you my top five budget commanders from Murders at Karlov Manor, the precons, and the Clue set. I'm excluding the price of the commander here since they are likely to change at 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 on a card, I'd always suggest getting a better commander since you'll see it every game. With all of the explanations out of the way, let's get into it!

Duskana, the Rage Mother - The Budget Bear

This Naya Bear is in the newest precon and is the go-to Bear deck commander thanks to its powerful card draw effect and buff it provides when attacking. Doing a quick Scryfall search, there are over 1,000 2/2 creatures in Naya colors, so you can easily fill out an entire curve with them. Some of the most notable are Solemn Simulacrum, Mentor of the Meek, Archivist of Oghma, Acidic Slime, and Scavenging Ooze. I could probably write an entire article on the best 2/2s in EDH.

If you're looking to build this commander, Wild Pair is going to be one of the best cards in the deck. This six-mana enchantment is one of the best cards you could add to this deck. It lets you cast literally Grizzly Bears and tutor up Hornet Queen or Bane of Progress, and since we have white, we can run some enchantment tutors to find it. Honestly, just talking about this commander is getting the brewing juices going. Also, quick rules note, it does say base power and toughness, so 0/0 that ETBs with counters won't do much. Of course, you could run this as a Naya morph commander, but honestly, I'd rather run it as a Wild Pair deck! 

Judith, Carnage Connoisseur - Rakdos Spellslinger & Imp Mommy

My first thought when looking at this commander was to jam a bunch of one-damage board wipes as a cheeky way to wipe the board, but after brewing a deck for her, which I'll be showcasing in a separate article sometime next week, I don't think you actually want a lot of those effects. I did add cards like Electrickery, because it only costs two mana to overload and is an instant, Blazing Volley, again because it's only one mana, and Cast into the Fire, because it's also artifact removal. Try to avoid cards like Cosmotronic Wave, Hazardous Blast and Barrage of Boulders; basically, if a card is bad without Judith in play, I'd avoid it all together and instead run good cards that become great, like Blasphemous Act and Star of Extinction to gain a metric ton of life.

My favorite cards for her are Blood for the Blood God! and Acidic Soil. Acidic Soil should just be played more, honestly. For three mana, you can deal a bunch of damage to all of those nasty green decks that ramped. A great back-up for Judith would be Pestilent Spirit. Also, she is an odd mana value, so she can be companioned with Obosh, the Preypiercer. Something to keep in mind! Finally, make sure to add some protection for her. Not Dead After All, Feign Death, and Undying Malice for example. These not only protect your commander from your own board wipes, but they keep her alive against most targeted removal. 

Commander Mustard - The Prime Suspect

Soldiers just got a new commander, and it's Boros this time! Mustard doesn't buff your board; instead, he gives all of your Soldiers keywords that makes them more difficult to block. There are some expensive Soldiers, such as Myrel, Shield of Argive or Brimaz, King of Oreskos, but you don't need to play the biggest creatures thanks to Mustard's second ability. Fun fact: this ability stacks, so if you can pay eight mana into it, you can deal two damage per creature, and because the creature is dealing the damage, you get lifelink and any noncombat damage triggers.

Making Soldier tokens is easy, especially on a budget. There 's Assemble the Legion, Elspeth, Sun's Champion, and Horn of Gondor, and if you decide to go this token route, make sure to include Impact Tremors and the new Warleader's Call. It's a three-mana Impact Tremors that also buffs your board. I'd also pick up copies of Rescue Retriever to buff and protect your board. Catapult Master turns your creatures into removal, and Tajic, Legion's Edge prevents all noncombat damage that would be dealt to other creatures you control.    

The Pride of Hull Clade - Big Butts Cannot Lie

Time to build Simic Big Butts! Finally we have an interesting Simic commander. Most Simic commanders feel really samey to me. They either want you to ramp, put counters on things, or draw cards, but Thicc Boi cares about toughness and gives you an actual win condition, hitting face with big butts. Thankfully, Simic has no shortage of creatures with a ton of toughness. Some of the best are Tree of Redemption, which lets you exchange your life for its toughness. If you can give it vigilance, you could one-shot someone by giving it 40 toughness at instant speed. There's the best Crab, Charix, the Raging Isle. It has a big butt and is a Crab. Plus, Bedrock Tortoise provides protection on your turns.

Similarly to Commander Mustard, Thicc Boi's  ability can stack allowing you to draw roughly a million cards. A great support creature you shouldn't forget is Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive. Sadly, Thicc Boi does give creatures +1 power, probably to help avoid this exact interaction. However, this ability isn't restricted to sorcery speed, so you can attack with a low-power creature, then before damage activate this ability. Or you could just give them unblockable with Rogue's Passage, Prowler's Helm, or Key to the City. Whispersilk Cloak is a non-bo since it gives the creature shroud. 

Generating a metric ton of mana with this commander is incredibly easy. If you're not a Pauper player, there's this deck known as Walls Combo which uses Overgrown Battlement and Axebane Guardian to generate tons of mana. Then you use Galvanic Alchemist to untap your dorks, then generate infinite mana and win with Valakut Invoker. Notably, the main pieces of the combo are in Simic colors. We can use this mana to activate our commander's ability repeatedly, or we could use Secret Door and venture into the Lost Mine of Phandelver and Tomb of Annihilation to win the game. 

Niv-Mizzet, Guildpact - Not Like the Other Dragons

Finally, we have a five-color commander, which might be weird to see on a budget list, but with the release of Spelunking and all of the budget lands we have access to, this is much easier than it used to be. Remember, you don't need shocks, fetches, or Triomes to have a good mana base!

I love Niv because he's a win condition and card advantage engine in the command zone, and unlike his War of the Spark or March of the Machines: Aftermath counterparts, we want permanents that are two colors, so we aren't punished for running a bunch of mono green-ramp or mana fixing.

Instead, we can load up on cards like Faeburrow Elder, General Ferrous Rokiric, and Baleful Strix and the Liege cycle with cards like Murkfiend Liege, Deathbringer Liege, and Creakwood Liege. I'd also add Edge of the Divinity and Runes of the Deus to turn Niv into a one-shot kill by making him a 11/11 with double strike, plus Squee's Embrace is great multicolor protection! 

One final note on Niv: if you're building him on a budget, I'd suggest focusing on all of the green Guilds first, then splash some of the best nongreen Guild cards. This allows you to play all of the green/X duals and makes it easier to cast ramp spells, and if you want a super budget mana base, I'd suggest running a Guildgate package with Gond Gate

Honorable Mentions

Before we wrap up this article, I wanted to go over some Honorable Mentions. These are commanders I like but I thought were overshadowed by my top five. 

Voja, Jaws of the Conclave: This is an Elfball and Wolf commander. I think the design space is unique and can lead to some weird decks. Heck, you could build two dedicated decks using this commander, or if you want to be super spicy, build a pile deck where you shuffle in 32 random Elves and/or Wolves each game. 

Etrata, Deadly Fugitive: I love her flavor, but I'm not sure how powerful she'll actually be. She does scale with the table, which is great, but people don't like having their cards taken, so there is that.  

Anzrag, the Quake-Mole: Gruul stompy gonna stomp. I'm sure people will make interesting decks with our new Mole overlord, but I have a feeling the pieces of the deck are going to be expensive. 

Mirko, Obsessive Theorist: It's a precon commander, and honestly the precon is going to be your best bet for a budget deck. Nothing I can brew will be better than the value of what you get in the precon. I don't usually do precon upgrades simply because of how many there are, but if you want one, let me know! 

Amzu, Swarm's Hunger: This is probably my favorite Clue commander, even though it was probably pretty weak. I just love Golgari, and I love that this sort of does what my Tormod deck does, but slightly different. 10/10

So, which commanders from the new sets are you looking forward to building? Any deck techs you want to see specifically? Let me know in the comments below! 

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.