Top Five Budget Commanders from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan

Benjamin Levin • November 15, 2023

Tetzin, Gnome Champion | Illustrated by Kekai Kotaki
The Mycotyrant | Illustrated by Andy Brase

Hello, everyone! Welcome back to another installment of Shower Thoughts. As is tradition with a new set, I'll give you my top five budget commanders from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan. There are two main factors I look at when picking my budget commanders: the price of the commander itself and the price of the archetype. A commander might be budget, but if the archetype itself is expensive, it defeats the purpose. I think you should spend the extra cash on the commander that you will always have access to instead of a random card in the 99, and if you're looking for a fun budget Commander deck, check out my last article, where I built The Master, Formed Anew with the companion Gyruda, Doom of Depths all on a $50 budget.

Okay, with all of the explanations out of the way, let's get into it!

Honorable Mentions

I wanted to take the time to briefly go over some other commanders I love from the set but didn't quite make my top five.

Amalia Benavides Aguirre: I already have an Orzhov commander on my list and didn't want to include a second one. However, Amalia is a great life-gain commander, and you can companion them with Lurrus of the Dream-Den, which is what I'd personally do.

Hakbal of the Surging Soul: This is the face commander for the Merfolk precon and I love it. It's a great go-wide Merfolk commander, but there wasn't much else to say about it. If you love Merfolk, pick up this precon.

Indoraptor, the Perfect Hybrid: This is one of the more unique Jund commanders I've seen, and I love it for group slug. My fellow writer Travis Stanley over at EDHREC reviewed the entire Jurassic Park/Word set, so you can check that article out for some great ideas on this commander!

#5 - Francisco, Fowl Marauder

My number five budget commander from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan is Francisco, Fowl Marauder, the best Bird. This Pirate Bird has the benefit of having partner, giving you a massive variety of decks to build with him. I'm personally looking to build Esper Birds with Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker as the partner or sticking with two colors and adding Esior, Wardwing Familiar. But you can build Dimir Pirates, with Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator, or Rakdos, with Breeches, Brazen Plunderer. Aside from the meme factor of this commander, his ability is powerful, especially if you can find a way to ping yourself with a Pirate. Notice how it says player, not opponent, so if you can find a way to ping multiple times a turn, you can explore up to 16 times a turn cycle. I'm personally leaning toward a pinger build with this commander since it's an easy way to deal damage, and because this commander has partner, the budget cards I'm going to suggest aren't going to be mono-black.

Budget partners to try: Esior, Wardwing Familiar, Keleth, Sunmane Familiar, Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator, Breeches, Brazen Plunderer, Ghost of Ramirez DePietro

Key budget cards to include: Conspiracy, Viridian Longbow, Sting, the Glinting Dagger, Quicksilver Dagger, Archery Training

#4 - Carmen, Cruel Skymarcher

Fourth on my list is another precon commander in Carmen, Cruel Skymarcher. While this card does make for a powerful Vampire and sacrifice commander, I'm much more interested in building them as a Landfall commander. Their first ability reminds me of The Gitrog Monster's ability since we get benefit from sacrificing lands. While fetch lands, like Marsh Flats and Arid Mesa, are powerful, they aren't needed in this deck. That being said, they are pretty inexpensive right now, so I'd probably pick up any that are under $15. Sorry, let's get back on track here. You can play the tapped fetches, such as Grasslands, Flood Plain, and Bad River, but I think you'll do just fine with cards like Evolving Wilds, Terramorphic Expanse, and Esper Panorama. Despite not having access to green, Orzhov still has access to 32 Landfall cards that are $3 USD or less, which is more than enough to build a deck.

If Landfall isn't your thing, you could try a life-gain deck that uses the Streets of New Capenna lands to gain additional life.

Key budget cards to include: Felidar Retreat, Emeria Shepherd, Retreat to Hagra, Sevinne's Reclamation, and Trove Warden.

#3 - The Mycotyrant

Coming in at number three is The Mycotyrant. While this commander might remind you of Slimefoot, the Stowaway, I think in practice they're going to play quite a bit differently. Yes, both do care about Saprolings, are three mana, and are in Golgari colors, but this is where the similarities stop for me. Slimefoot wants you to sacrifice Saprolings to drain out the table as a win condition. The The Mycotyrant has a different goal in mind: beating face. Yes, you should add aristocrat payoffs, such as Blood Artist and Zulaport Cutthroat; however, you can just turn The Mycotyrant sideways, or you could take a page out of Yargle and Multani's playbook and play Essence Harvest or Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord to drain out the table. One final thing to keep in mind is that descended only triggers when permanent cards are put into the graveyard. This means tokens will not increase this count because they are not actual cards.

Key budget cards to include: Reassembling Skeleton, Mirkwood Bats, Broodrage Mycoid, Lich-Knights' Conquest, and Moldervine Reclamation.

#2 - Ojer Taq, Deepest Foundation

Number two is the newest token-tripler, Ojer Taq, Deepest Foundation. Now you might be thinking, how is this a budget commander? As I said at the start, I don't only look at the price of the commander, but how budget is the archetype to build with a commander, and mono-white tokens can be built on a budget pretty easily, especially when you have a powerhouse of a commander. Of course, you can spend a ton of powerful cards, like Adeline, Resplendent Cathar, Mondrak, Glory Dominus, and Anointed Procession, but there's no need for that. This commander makes three times the number of creature tokens, so Elspeth, Sun's Champion makes nine 1/1 white Soldiers, and Raise the Alarm makes six 1/1s for two mana. All of these tokens synergize greatly with Soul Warden, Suture Priest, and Daxos, Blessed by the Sun to provide a ton of life gain.

Key budget cards to include: Myr Battlesphere, Rootborn Defenses, Visions of Glory, Spectral Procession, and Horn of Gondor.

#1 - Tetzin, Gnome Champion

And my number one budget commander from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan is Tetzin, Gnome Champion. Aside from being a legendary Gnome, which is just awesome, they provide us with a unique effect. They care about double-faced artifacts, which is a refreshing change of pace for artifact commanders. At the time of writing, there are 47 flip artifacts in Jeskai colors, most of which are from this set and the previous Ixalan block. But fear not, as we can easily turn cards into artifacts! With Liquimetal Torque and Liquimetal Coating, we can easily flip cards like Storm the Vault.

Remember that this doesn't exile cards when they transform: if you transform a Jin-Gitaxias, the first chapter won't trigger until your next turn. Also, token copies of transforming cards do have backsides, but clones do not; see rule 711.5. So if you use Saheeli's Artistry to make an artifact token copy of a flip creature, Tetzin can flip that creature, but if you have Clone enter as a copy of a flip creature, it can't flip because there is no backside.

Sorry for that brief tangent, just wanted to be clear on the rules because of how weird this card is. As for building the commander, the best budget path is going to be artifacts with a token subtheme. Because of the rules referenced above, cards like Osgir, the Reconstructor and Mechanized Production are great at giving us even more artifacts to flip.

Key budget cards to include: Chrome Host Seedshark, Emry, Lurker of the Loch, Urza, Prince of KroogGolden Guardian, and Thousand Moons Smithy.


What are your thoughts on the Top Five Budget Commanders from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan? Honestly, I'm pretty happy with the entire set. We got some great commanders and even better cards for the 99 of decks. Let me know which The Lost Caverns of Ixalan commander you're most excited to build is!

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.