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Budget CEDH: Vadrik Storm | $25 And Beyond

CEDH On A Budget

Welcome to the first in a potential series that I'm calling Budget CEDH, a spinoff of my usual Budget Commander series. The goal here is to build ultra-affordable, entry-level CEDH decks for playgroups that favor a CEDH mindset.

For Budget Commander I consider any and all commanders, archetypes, or deck concepts, then build an optimized version of that deck on a budget. While budget is the primary restriction for these decks, sometimes I impose other restrictions in deckbuilding as well, such as when I built Moonfolk Tribal using every single legal Moonfolk. I also sometimes restrict myself by avoiding cards or strategies that would be considered "unfun" at the majority of casual playgroups, so I'll avoid covering Stax decks are all-in Combo decks.

But for Budget CEDH I want to approach the deckbuilding process with a CEDH mindset. Here the primary goal is to make the most powerful, most optimized decks where the only restriction is the budget. Things like all-in combo decks, hardcore Stax decks, and mana denial strategies will be embraced here, so long as they are the best options to increase our win percentage. where I select any commander or archetype and show you how to build an optimized version of that deck on a budget, here on Budget CEDH I will select only what I consider the most powerful commanders and strategies at the lowest price point possible. 

For those looking to dip their toe into CEDH gameplay and want to avoid proxies for whatever reason, I hope this series can provide an easily accessible introduction. And remember: always make sure to discuss with your playgroup what game experience people are expecting. Budget or no, these decks do not shy away from any cards / strategies, so make sure your playgroup is cool with it before busting these decks out if you're at a casual table. 

Vadrik, King of Budget Storm

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Midnight Hunt has just given us one of the strongest Izzet Spellslinger commanders ever printed, and that's saying a lot because there's probably more Izzet Spellslinger options at this point than there are Boros Attack options. It's kinda the guild's schtick and has been since the dawn of time. But despite the stiff competition, Vadrik, Astral Archmage sticks out as a powerhouse that demands attention: he starts as an overpriced Goblin Electromancer, giving your instants and sorceries a 1 mana discount, but once his power goes up just a bit -- pumping it up with something like Downhill Charge or just cycling between day/night -- and his discount becomes absurdly huge. This enormous mana discount allows you to break instants and sorceries in half, letting you do nutty things like casting Tezzeret's Gambit to draw 2 cards for zero mana and eventually dump out enormous X spells like Jaya's Immolating Inferno for lethal.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Now this isn't the first Izzet Spellslinger commander that offers huge mana discounts. An oldschool queen of Izzet Spellslinger, Mizzix of the Izmagnus, helms a very similar deck as Vadrik, but with notable differences: Mizzix costs 1 more mana and doesn't offer any discount until you cast your first instant / sorcery. On the plus side, Mizzix doesn't require you to run bad pump spells to start getting a discount and you keep whatever discount you built up already if you recast her.

While both are very similar in what they do and have their own pros/cons, it's clear that Vadrik is way better for a $25 brew since Mizzix is currently sitting at $9 and Vadrik is just a mere quarter. Easy choice here!

Our Game Plan

Our plan is simple:

  1. Ramp and cast Vadrik, Astral Archmage
  2. Pump Vadrik's power to get a huge mana discount
  3. Cast a bunch of spells
  4. Cast a big storm finisher like Mind's Desire or Temporal Fissure
  5. Win with a giant X finisher like Jaya's Immolating Inferno

TLDR: we're storming off, baby!

Step 1: Ramp and Cast Vadrik

So step 1 we get Vadrik on the battlefield. Only cast Vadrik if you think he will stick around, which is either if you think you can get away passing the turn with him on the battlefield, or waiting until you have enough mana to both cast Vadrik and immediately pop off. A good amount of ramp is needed to cast Vadrik and storm off on the same turn, particularly colored mana since Vadrik covers our colorless: basic stuff like Sky Diamond do the trick, but the two best options on a tight budget are absolutely Storm-Kiln Artist and Runaway Steam-Kin, which generate an obscene amount of colored mana to make storming off a breeze. Heck, if Vadrik has 3 power, then either Artist or Steam-Kin allows us to cast Seething Anger or Haze of Rage infinite times, and Haze + Artist is infinite mana as well!

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Step 2: Pump Up Vadrik

Our game plan basically needs Vadrik on the battlefield at 3 power to start popping off. Luckily this is super easy to do! Either we use a pump spell like Sudden Breakthrough or even an equipment like Hero's Blade to immediately pump up Vadrik and start going, but we don't actually need to spend a card at all to achieve this: we just need to skip casting a spell on our turn to guarantee turning day to night to give itself a +1/+1 counter. Odds are that one of our opponents will cast two spells and swap night to day for us for another +1/+1 counter, bringing us to that perfect 3-power to pop off on our next turn.

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Step 3: Cast Spells

With Vadrik pumped and some colored mana to work with, it's time to Storm off! The best spells are the ones that dig through our deck and are mana-neutral: Seize the Spoils, Pirate's Pillage, Tezzeret's Gambit, Unexpected Windfall are excellent for this since they let us find gas while replacing the colored mana we spent on them with treasures. Ways of generating colored mana like Inner Fire, Mana Geyser, and especially Frantic Search are fantastic too!

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Step 4: STORM!

Once we've casted a bunch of spells, it's time to finish with a giant storm spell! Mind's Desire is a great way to cast the rest of your deck, Temporal Fissure can bounce all your opponents' permanents and lead to a scoop, or a Brain Freeze can mill out your opponents or mill yourself for some flashback fun.

Speaking of flashback: Past in Flames is definitely an MVP of this deck! For essentially one red mana you get to recast all the spells in your graveyard. And I know that I shoehorn this card in all my Izzet Spellslinger decks but I swear Quiet Speculation is one of the best cards in the deck! For one blue it tutors up not just Past but also great flashback spells like Reckless Charge, Mystic Retrieval, Visions of Ruin (it's like a ritual!), Deep Analysis, and more!

Also did I mention Apex of Power? Cast this for three red, draw seven, gain ten mana?! HELLO?!

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Step 5: WIN!

At this point you've cast half your deck and Vadrik is huge. It's time to put your opponents out of their memory: giant X spell like Jaya's Immolating Inferno or the Searing Touch comb (explained in the $50 deck list) will do it. Easy game.

As we increase the budget we move the focus from Storm finishers to more consistent combo finishers, but I'll discuss those in the sample deck lists.

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The Rest

Outside of all the fun winning the game stuff, the rest of the deck is your usual mix of essentials: ramp, card draw, tutors, and interaction. The most notable thing that we lack when on an extreme budget is speed: our ramp options lag behind higher budget brews. Since we're playing a slower game, we need to run more interaction so we can keep up with the rest of the table, biding our time until we're ready to go for the win. We're not a Control deck but running ~3 sweepers and some good spot removal will go a long way. 

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$25 List

Alright, now that we've went over our game plan, let's take a look at our first list. Our ramp mostly comes into play tapped (Fire Diamond) or is fragile (Karfell Harbinger) but they get the job done. We also have plenty of treasure makers (Visions of Ruin) to set up our combo turn. Keep a low profile while making mana and drawing cards. Use wipes like Chain Reaction and Starstorm to keep the board from getting out of hand. We don't have too many rituals in the deck, but if you have Storm-Kiln Artist or Runaway Steam-Kin then it's easymode. Cycle through your deck until you hit something like Mind's Desire or Apex of Power, finish with a big X spell like Jaya's Immolating Inferno ... or combo!

We've got two combos in this deck:

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$50 List

Hey look, we finally get to make significant upgrades to the manabase: behold the almighty Sol Ring, Arcane Signet, and lands that actually mana-fix! 

The biggest pickup for the deck has to be Birgi, God of Storytelling. This card performs the same role as Runaway Steam-Kin but even better, making storming off even easier, plus it's yet another way to combo off with Searing Touch! I also love snagging Blazing Shoal here as a mana-free way to pump Vadrik and get the storm going! Honestly, a $50 Vadrik is veeeeery juicy and consistent!

We've also added another easy combo: Electrodominance + Reiterate. With Vadrik at 3 power, we can Electrodominance X=3 for RR and Reiterate it with buyback for another 1RR. The copied Electrodominance goes on the stack and we let it resolve, casting Reiterate with buyback for free, copying Electrodominance again. Repeat infinite times for infinite damage.

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$100 List

The biggest upgrade in the $100 list is the addition of Jeska's Will and Underworld Breach. Both are insane engines separately but together they let us cast pretty much our entire deck if any opponent has 4 or more cards in hand. Jeska's Will + Reiterate pulls off the same nonsense. 

We also upgraded our Storm package with Brain Freeze, which acts as a way to self-mill important flashback spells like Past in Flames into our graveyard while doubling as a win condition to mill out opponents.

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What Do You Think About Budget CEDH?

This is my first attempt labeling any of my budget brews as "CEDH" so I'm curious to see how the reception will be. I'd love to explore $25 CEDH decks more and find out which are truly the best of the best, so let me know if you'd like to see more of these! Thanks for reading!

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