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Best Discard Commander! Tinybones! | $50*, $100*, $200* | Budget Commander


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The Baby Yoda of Magic Has Arrived!

Jumpstart hasn't even hit the shelves yet and we've already crowned the most popular commander of the set: it's Tinybones, Trinket Thief, of course!

A big reason for Tinybones' popularity has nothing to do with the card text: instead, many people have latched on to this card for its cute name and art! The cute factor has taken the Magic community by storm, our own "Baby Yoda" in skeletal form. Now I'm not here to debate whether or not a baby-sized animated skeleton is "omg CUTE" or "omg DEEPLY DISTURBING" -- for the record, I think it's a mix of both -- but the community clearly has a strong desire to build around Tinybones for the "cute" factor alone, and since clicks are the main way I judge my own self-worth, I am here to provide the content that you crave!

Luckily for me, Tinybones, Trinket Thief isn't just an adorable pile of bones: the card itself is powerful, quite possibly the most powerful commander from the entire set! Tinybones comes with two abilities. The first ability draws you a card each end step if an opponent discarded a card this turn. Keep in mind that this triggers each end step, not just your own end step, so Tinybones can potentially draw you a card on each player's turn, which in a typical 4-player Commander game is four cards drawn per turn cycle. The second ability lets you spend six mana to make each opponent that has no cards in hand lose 10 life.

These abilities make Tinybones, Trinket Thief the ultimate engine for a Discard deck, rewarding you with tons of card draw for making your opponents discard cards and also providing a powerful finisher once you've emptied your opponents' hands. All this power comes at a tiny cmc of just 2 mana, letting you quickly and consistently cast Tinybones and be able to recast it a few times if it's removed. All these combined makes Tinybones, Trinket Thief the best commander for a Discard deck, beating out the few other Discard commander alternatives like Nath of the Gilt-Leaf and The Haunt of Hightower.

Mono Black has lots of powerful options for a Discard deck: we've got super efficient discard engines like Bottomless Pit and Necrogen Mists and super efficient discard payoffs like Geth's Grimoire and Waste Not. All the pieces are here for a powerful deck, and with Tinybones, Trinket Thief at the helm, we now have an equally power commander to lead our deck to victory.

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Budget(ish) Commander

Tinybones, Trinket Thief won't be released for another month after this article/video is released and the preorder prices are currently volatile and insane. Tinybones itself is currently priced at $58 $50 and will probably settle around the $20 range, but it's impossible to tell this early especially with the whole quarantine situation. For this reason, while I'm loathed to do it, I've decided to exclude the commander's price from the sample deck lists. I'm not doing this to be clickbaity or mislead you all, but rather I don't want one super volatile card to drastically change the prices of otherwise relatively stable deck prices.

 

Archenemy Warning!

I predict that in a month from now when Jumpstart is released, I expect Commander community forums being flooded with threads complaining about how their playgroups are unfairly hating them out of each game and how miserable it's making them feel. Each thread will start off the same way: "So I built Tinybones, Trinket Thief and ..."

So before we talk about the deck, let's get this warning out of the way: playing this deck will automatically make you the archenemy at the table. 

The vast majority of Commander players play the format casually. They want to play in games where their deck gets to do its thing. Sure, winning is a nice perk, but the main thing casual players want is for their deck to do the thing they built their deck to do, win or lose. "Denial" strategies -- denying people the ability to cast spells or play Magic -- are hated by the general community. That's why Denial strategies like Stax, Mass Land Destruction, and yes, Discard, are generally frowned upon in Commander.

Tinybones, Trinket Thief is a Discard commander. It promotes a Denial strategy where you're denying your opponents the ability to play. You will therefore be hated out at most playgroups. You will be targeted the moment you reveal that your commander is Tinybones. You will be attacked, your permanents will be destroyed, and your opponents will try their best to kill you first. It doesn't matter if you're "not a threat." It doesn't matter that Jimmy has a scarier board. And it doesn't matter that your Tinybones deck is actually a pile of jank like Skeleton Tribal -- you will be targeted.

With this in mind, I have two specific bits of advice for would-be Tinybones players:

  1. Don't build Tinybones if you don't want to be the archenemy each game. If you just picked Tinybones because "omg CUTE" and have no intention of making people discard cards, then I'd suggest picking a less threatening commander and putting Tinybones in the 99. If you get miserable when you're "unfairly" targeted, then all you're doing is making everyone miserable with you.
  2. If you DO want to be archenemy, then Tinybones is a fantastic choice. Being archenemy isn't necessarily a bad thing. I mean yeah, it makes the game harder for you, but the plus side it means you get to be the villain at the table, and we all know that villains are more fun than heroes! Lean into the villain role, taunt your foes' vain efforts to stop your vile plans, monologue once you've emptied their hands and crushed their dreams! If you have a good attitude about it, some playgroups can enjoy teaming up to stop you.

So yeah, if you don't want to be hated out, don't play Tinybones. But if you do want to take up the role of archenemy, then have fun with it!

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The Discard Engine

Alright, let's get to the heart of this deck: the Discard package.There are two parts to our Discard package:

  1. Discard Engines. Our discard engines should not only be mana-efficient, but they also should make an opponent discard a card each turn so it'll work best with the card draw trigger of Tinybones, Trinket Thief. Bottomless Pit is one of the best examples of our ideal discard engines: for three mana we're making each opponent discard a card on their turn, triggering Tinybones on each of our opponents' turns.
  2. Discard Payoffs. Tinybones rewards our discard efforts by drawing us cards and finishing off our opponents, but our commander isn't the only payoff available to us. Geth's Grimoire and Waste Not are two other excellent payoffs for our discarding, drawing us cards among other things. Some weaker payoffs, like Megrim, are okay ways to eventually kill off our opponents, but generally I'd avoid those card for being too low-impact.

Here are some of my favorite Discard engines and payoffs for Tinybones, Trinket Thief:

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Mana: Lands & Ramp

The manabase is standard Mono Black stuff. At lower budget ranges I recommend jamming together 37 Swamps and any mana dorks (Leaden Myr) and mana rocks (Mind Stone) available to you, with lower cmc options being generally better. At higher budget ranges I like taking advantage of Cabal Coffers -- which is now $80 what the heck?!  -- and similar effects like Crypt Ghast, and fueling them with land ramp options like Wayfarer's Bauble and Burnished Hart.

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Card Draw

In an ideal situation, Tinybones, Trinket Thief is drawing us all the cards we'd ever need, but we can't depend on our commander to always be restocking our hand. We should still be running the usual amount of ~10 card draw spells so that our deck runs smoothly and consistently. Geth's Grimoire is the best thematic option here, Asylum Visitor is sweet, and both Waste Not / Bone Miser will ocassionally draw us cards as well. There's also Syphon Mind, one of my favorite card draw spells in general that gets even better in a Discard deck.

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Removal

Most of the removal options are generic goodstuff, though a few are thematic, like The Eldest Reborn discarding as part of its goodness. Here are my favorite removal options in Mono Black, including creature, noncreature, and graveyard removal.

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Recursion

While we're not specifically a Graveyard deck, Black has some of the best creature recursion in the game so we might as well take advantage of that. Some recursion options, such as Phyrexian Reclamation, are great ways to play around the commander tax, since we can let Tinybones go to the graveyard and return it to hand instead of recasting from the command zone.

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Tutors

Black is the best at tutoring, making it easy for us to consistently find key Discard engine pieces like Bottomless Pit. Here are some of my favorites:

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Deckbuilding Checklist

Alright, now that we've gone over the card pool we're working with, it's time to talk about how we craft the deck. As I often explain in my Budget Commander articles, every time I build a rough draft of a deck, I make sure I have a certain amount of mana, interaction, card advantage, etc. This gives me a reference point to compare to the deck and see which areas may need improvement. This is my general checklist of minimum requirements:

  • 50 mana; lands and ramp, usually a 37–13 split
  • 10 sources of "card advantage;" I use this term loosely but am mostly looking for card draw or any spell that nets me 2+ non-land cards in hand / directly into play
  • 6 targeted removal, split between creature / artifact / enchantment removal
  • 3 board wipes; creature-light decks might want one more, creature-heavy decks might want one less
  • 2 recursion
  • 2 flexible tutors
  • 1 graveyard hate; since you need to keep Graveyard decks honest 
  • 1 surprise "I Win" card; something that can win games the turn you cast it without too much setup

The remaining deck slots are filled with whatever cards fit the deck's theme and add to the overall synergy. That's always my starting point, which is then tweaked to suit the individual deck's strategy and further tweaked with playtesting. I always find it immensely useful to figure out some quick ways to improve the deck in question.

Now that we've covered the deck's goal, the cards we're going to building with, and have a check list of cards that we'll need, let's build the sample decks!

 

$50* List

The first list is currently $50 excluding the commander. Our plan is to be a Control deck full of interaction to clear the board of opposition with cards like Force of Despair and Mutilate while emptying our opponents' hands with cards like Bottomless Pit and Cunning Lethemancer. With no board and no cards in hand, our opponents are sitting ducks. Tinybones, Trinket Thief is our main win condition, but we do have some redundant effects like Quest for the Nihil Stone and Shrieking Affliction, slowly but surely draining our opponents to death.

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$100* List

The $100 list (excluding commander) snags the last perfect Tinybones trigger, Gibbering Descent. Our manabase has gotten significantly better with staples like Crypt Ghast and Sol Ring, our removal has gotten better with cards like Ugin, the Ineffable and Crux of Fate, plus we've added way better tutors with cards like Beseech the Queen and Dark Petition.

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$200* List

The final list has added the final best discard cards, Painful Quandary and Waste Not, for this deck. After that, we blew the rest of our budget on Mono Black staples like Demonic Tutor, Reanimate, and Necropotence. This is a powerful Control deck looking to ramp out quick, empty our opponents' hands, and blow up anything they managed to sneak into play. Then we just drain them out with Tinybones or similar effects. Powerful, efficient, and definitely archenemy material!

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That's All, Folks!

It feels good to be back doing Budget Commander articles! Let me know which commander you'd like to see covered in a future article, and as always, thanks for reading!


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