Have you ever been on the outside looking in? It is no fun. Reminds me of high school. There's that big table packed full of football players and cheerleaders laughing, throwing around the ole' pigskin, and getting into mischief. There is probably going to be a party while one of their parents are away. Everyone is invited except you. The girl you like will be there, but you? You will be at home, where there are no keggers.

Damnit, Amanda… why did you have to go to that party instead of my poetry slam jamboree?

Whoops. This got personal quick!

Okay, so we have established it is not fun to be on the outside. That means Commander. That is what we are talking about here. Not reliving painful high school memories. 

For those wondering, Amanda has three kids now. She is doing fine. I guess.

The Problem

Commander is a format about self-expression. You want a general that represents your play style and personality. But that is not always easy once you have seen the way pods generally play out. There are some great commanders:


And some hot garbage commanders:


Like, yo—Barktooth Warbeard suuuuuuuuucks.

Eventually a time will come when you will want to compete. You do not have to sacrifice how you enjoy playing Magic, but you might have to reconsider some of your Commander choices. There is a certain tier at which generals begin to ascend in power level, so today we are going to talk about those heavy hitters. 

The catch? We are not breaking the bank.

Ninja Dance Party

For those not familiar with Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow, she is one of the most powerful commanders ever printed.


Her ninjutsu ability allows her to circumvent the "commander tax," the additional two mana a player must spend to recast their commander when it is removed from play. If you have an attacking creature, Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow can always cost as little as a blue and black mana. Not only that—she adds cards to your hand! Not only that—all your Ninjas do! This is important as it gets around planeswalkers like Narset, Parter of Veils. Not only that—all the cards you add to your hand from your Ninjas are revealed and all opponents lose life equal to those cards' converted mana costs! That sounded like I was doing a commercial. 




The game plan with Yuirko, the Tiger's Shadow is simple: you play ridiculously cheap creatures and then get your commander online as early as turn two. From there, you can continue chaining your one-drop and other ninjutsu creatures to take chunks of life away from the table. You always get to attack the most vulnerable player and use them to lower everyone's life total. It is perfect for a Ninja.

This deck comes in at well under $100 dollars! Forget breaking the bank when you can rule over pods for a C-note.

Pretty Poisons

One of my favorite commanders is Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons.


She is cheap at two mana and can have an immediate impact on any board she sticks on. -1/-1 counters let you control the field of play, especially with a ton of creatures like Poison-Tip Archer, Ammit Eternal or Incremental Blight as a savage removal spell. 

We're talking about a deck where almost every single card is under $1, and they come together in a medley that will give creature players fits. 




Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons excels at keeping a board clean, aside from the tons of Snakes she produces. With the many negative counters you can put on any creature, including herself, it's easy to flood the battlefield with tokens that you can parlay into a big kill with something like Overrun

Once you start putting money into this deck, it can compete at some of the highest caliber tables. Triumph of the Hordes and Contagion Engine are absolute houses in this deck. What I love most about Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons is she lets you play "fair" while not combo-ing a table, but absolutely locking it down. She is fun, cheap and incredibly powerful. 

These Damn Flies

So far we've talked about an aggressive and a midrange deck, but that leaves a lot to be desired for control players. We want to counter spells and make people suffer. Woe unto thee that would try to do something. Anything. Nope!


The Locust God is lauded as one of the best Izzet commanders in the entirety of the format, and you can build your very own Locust God for under a hundred bucks that still sports some of the marquee traits of one of the strongest generals in all of Magic. 




What if I told you I have this deck built and that it can totally whoop up on decks that cost ten times as much? 

The Locust God is so inherently powerful that once it lands, your entire strategy can revolve around keeping it in play, drawing cards and countering spells. It's that easy. We're talking an army-in-a-can general that ends games if it sits in play for a few turns. Cards like Impact Tremors, Gravitational Shift and Breath of Fury can obliterate players in moments. But it's not just the payoff cards that are deadly. 

With a Locust God in play, your "wheels" like the Memory half of Commit // Memory, Tolarian Winds and Windfall drop multiple flying hasty Insects into play. These are your win conditions, and you protect them with Counterspell or Counterflux, not to mention the naturally resilient nature of The Locust God in the first place. Other cards can give you tempo, card advantage and clocks, like Fevered Visions and Psychosis Crawler. Have you ever Skullclamped a token with The Locust God in play? You have not lived. 

Some cards in The Locust God are obvious upgrades. Wheel of Fortune is an awfully expensive, but an extremely good card in this build. Mystic Confluence is a very reasonably costed card that helps a lot, as does Reforge the Soul. Purphoros, God of the Forge is also a house in Locust God. 

The Boros Initiative

I'm just kidding. Boros sucks. Shots fired.

At any rate, you don't have to break the bank to break your local metagame. Some of the best commanders in the format are available at your very fingertips for pennies on the dollar. You can be thrifty and bash your friends. 

I hope you were reading this, Amanda.