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Browse > Home / Strategy / Articles / Budget Commander: $69 Sauron, the Dark Lord

Budget Commander: $69 Sauron, the Dark Lord


Hey friends and welcome back to Budget Commander! Today I'm very excited to share with you my new favorite brew built around the strongest commander from the Lord of the Rings set: it's the Big Bad himself, Sauron, the Dark Lord! This deck is so sweet that I'm even adding it to my own paper collection, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Reanimator Has A New Lord

Sauron, the Dark Lord has one of the highest power floors I've seen in Commander: merely casting Sauron himself is already an Avengers-level threat to the rest of the table since he's an imposing 7/6 himself that is incredibly difficult to remove, he comes with an ever-growing army akin to a pet Taurean Mauler that reanimates itself for free, and he can repeatedly refill your hand -- for free! That's obscene levels of value without even looking at the rest of the deck -- hence high power floor.

But we're not just going to toss in 99 lands into our deck and call it a day, of course. I'm here to optimize Sauron's power ceiling on a budget, with a slightly higher than average budget (for me) of $69 to start and then increase that budget with a $200 list as well!

Unlike most early Sauron lists that I see on the internet, my build will not focus on enhancing Sauron's army with specialized cards like Mauhur, Uruk-hai Captain or Eternal Skylord. It's a sweet way to take the deck, but what I'm more interested in is the more powerful last ability: being able to discard our hand and draw 4 cards whenever we're tempted by the ring! This is a fantastic way to set up a Reanimator strategy since we can discard our reanimation targets while drawing cards and then reanimate them immediately after. My list is will be almost entirely composed of cards that want to be discarded, reanimation spells, and ramp to get out Sauron ASAP and spew our hand before discarding and drawing 4 more cards!

Our game plan basically looks like this:

  1. Ramp out Sauron
  2. Empty our hand and discard our reanimate targets with Sauron to draw more
  3. Reanimate our haymakers and win!

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Early game we're going to be ramping and discarding some of our haymakers to hit land drops and ramp some more: The Balrog of Moria makes treasures to get Sauron down quicker, while cycling cards like Monstrosity of the Lake, Troll of Khazad-dum, Oliphaunt, and Rampaging War Mammoth make sure we hit land drops, all while providing nice reanimation targets in our graveyard for later.

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Once we've discarded some juicy reanimate targets, we can start reanimating! Cards like Breach the Multiverse and Ghouls' Night Out grab creatures from everyone's yard, or Blood for Bones, Sinister Waltz, and Victimize get to creatures from our own yard. We even have flashback reanimate with Dread Return, Wake to Slaughter, and a reanimate wipe with Too Greedily, Too Deep!

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Some of our creatures don't even need to be reanimated by other cards. We've got unearth stuff like Corpse Connoisseur, encore with Rakshasa Debaser, and a bunch of non-keyword graveyard stuff like Daring Fiendbonder and Scavenged Brawler which can make Sauron truly invincible! We even have Wonder and Anger which just passively buff our team from the grave!

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But the creatures are only one half of our Graveyard package: there's also a heavy emphasis on flashback cards with tons that want to be discarded and then cast from the graveyard. We've got Faithless Looting, Summons of Saruman, Visions of Duplicity, Deep Analysis, Dread Return, Lidless Gaze, Visions of Ruin, Wake to Slaughter, and Wake the Dragon. All of these can be tutored up with my favorite card in the 99, Quiet Speculation!

Also From the Catacombs has escape!

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Okay one last cool thing I want to highlight before we look at deck lists: Gravebreaker Lamia and Lord of the Forsaken are allstars in the deck! The Lamia can get literally any card you need, be it Anger for haste, Wake to Slaughter for reanimate, Amphin Mutineer for removal, whatever. And while neither of these cards can pay for creature abilities like encore or unearth, they can pay for escape costs and flashback since those are casts, so they can ramp out a TON of cool spells!

I really love this deck and I could keep gushing on all the little synergies like how Phial of Galadriel lets you draw an extra card when you wheel with Sauron or how sweet the dopamine rush is when you steal three creatures with Molten Primordial and then sacrifice them to flashback Dread Return or how Archfiend of Ifnir is a repeating one-sided board wipe with all the discarding we do but I know we gotta show the deck lists so let's move on!

$69 List

The $69 list has all the examples I was talking about so I won't repeat myself. The deck wants to ramp out Sauron ASAP and get close to empty-handed to start wheeling for maximum value so we're running a higher number of ramp than I normally would, with 15 ramp cards between 1-4mv, and then on top of that some unconventional ramp like Gravebreaker Lamia and rituals like Mana Geyser. I placed a heavy emphasis on ramp that mana-fixes since our land base is budget and we're 3C. Also the land count is 35 which looks very low but we also run 3 landcycling and cheap looters like Faithless Looting and Moria Scavenger, the goal being to discard nonlands while hitting our land drops.

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$200 List

The $200 honestly doesn't change much in terms of playstyle. I added the most efficient ring tempt card for the deck, Call of the Ring, which comes down early and can trigger Sauron's wheel for us easily. I'm also a big fan of Spiteful Banditry, it's great in a deck with high toughness creatures like this one and the treasure generation is no joke. I've also added the super reliable Entomb and great reanimate target / easily playable Cavern-Hoard Dragon. But other than that I just started upgrading the lands! Kind of boring I know, and you could easily start slotting in staples like Diabolic Intent, Orcish Bowmasters, Vampiric Tutor etc. But meh. Maybe this is why I stick to $50 brews for the most part!

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Further Upgrades

If money is no issue you can always juice up the deck with staples:

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Next Week: 4C Aragorn!

I've got not one but two sweet Aragorn, the Uniter brews to share next week: 4C Humans and Charming Voltron! Come back next week to see it!

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