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Budget Commander: Coin Flips! ($70)


The results from the last Budget Commander are in, and the message is clear: you guys love janky decks! Fortunately, I love jank too, so off I went to brew a Coin Flip deck! It turned out to be a much easier task than Tribal Elephants, so that's nice.

You guys asked for it, so for the first time ever, here's a Deck Tech Video of Budget Coin Flips! Now you can listen to my smooth, sultry voice describe the deck and its key cards!

The Most Important Card

If you look over the list of coin flip cards available, you'll notice that almost all of them are terrible—except for one major exception, which happens to be one of the most powerful cards in Commander: Mana Crypt. However, since this is Budget Commander and Crypt is currently $95, we're going to ignore it and focus on the crappy stuff. Off to a good start, right?

There is still hope, dear readers! We have a wonderful card that holds up the Coin Flip archetype, the Chosen Digit that points the flock of crappy jank into the direction of playable mediocrity. Behold, our savior:

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Krark's Thumb. With this sweet support card, our coin flip cards go from 50% chance of doing something to a whopping 75% chance! Stitch in Time goes from "garbage" to "kinda neat"! Krark's Thumb is the foundation of our deck, and we will need to make sure it gets on the battlefield ASAP every game. We have a couple other powerful tricks up our sleeves, but Thumb is definitely the most important one.

 

Who's Our Commander?

There's no legendary creature that directly supports Coin Flips. Maybe we'll get one in the future (Krark?), but for now we have to settle for whatever suits our needs best. 

All the coin flip cards are either Red or Colorless (artifacts). A few add Blue to their casting cost, and only one has White in its identity (Odds // Ends). I highly recommend going Red/Blue (Izzet) because that gives you access to the best coin flip cards and to some of the best artifact tutors to consistently find Krark's Thumb each game.

Adding White (Jeskai) has some merits as well. You get access to at least one more artifact tutor (Enlightened Tutor), a few more ways to get back Krark's Thumb from your graveyard (i.e. Sun Titan and Argivian Find), and enchantment removal. If you want to expand the Coin Flip theme to a general Chaos theme, you could use Ruhan of the Fomori as your commander too.

For this article I've decided to stick with Izzet colors and run Nin, the Pain Artist as the commander. It narrows the focus of the deck and helped me keep the overall price down. Plus, Nin herself is an amazing commander, drawing you tons of cards which increases your chances of drawing into Krark's Thumb. Yes, I keep mentioning the Thumb because it's that important!

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Flipping Coins

Many of the coin flip cards are terrible. Aleatory is a horrible card even if you removed the chance of failure. We won't be running those cards. Instead, we'll be focusing on the cream of the crop, or the slightly bruised apple in a rotten pile. Of those apples, there are a few that I'd like to highlight as being the very best:

  • Karplusan Minotaur is another support card for the Coin Flip archetype. Whenever you win a flip, you get to ping a creature or player. Whenever you lose a flip, you can try to convince an opponent to ping a creature or player both of you want dead anyway. That's a win-win, folks! Great for killing small utility creatures, from Llanowar Elves to Kaalia of the Vast.
  • Goblin Assassin is like a repeatable Fleshbag Marauder. A lot of the coin flipping creatures happen to be goblins so this deck can often trigger the ability one or two extra times before the Assassin bites the dust. A very nice bit of board control!
  • Stitch In Time is a 3-mana Time Warp with a 75% success rate with Krark's Thumb. That's actually pretty good!
  • Planar Chaos is a dirty lockdown piece. Your opponents only have a 50% chance of resolving a spell, while you have a 75% chance with the Thumb!
  • Puppet's Verdict is a White-looking board wipe in Red, for only 3 mana, at instant speeed! Whaaaat?
  • Impulsive Maneuvers and Tide of War both make it extremely unattractive for people to attack you when you've got Thumb out. Red Pillowfort!
  • Fiery Gambit is pure fun. You have to go all the way with it! With Krark's Thumb in play, you have a 42.19% chance of drawing 9 cards and untapping all your lands! Whee!
  • Game of Chaos is life drain in Red? So weird, but so good! Assuming your opponent tries to stop it as soon as you lose a flip, with Krark's Thumb out you have a 17.80% chance to drain 31 life (13.35% chance to drain 62!), but unlike most of the other coin flip cards it's not all-or-nothing, you still drain for each previous flip you won.

That's a pretty sweet haul! We have some other coin flip cards that aren't quite as good, but decent enough to be worth running. Surprisingly, we have a ton of interaction in the deck already due to these coin flip cards, with plenty of creature removal and even some lockdown pieces. Even if our strategy isn't the most optimal we can at least police the board until we're ready to win.

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Winning

Can janky coin flip cards win games? Surprisingly, yes! In fact, the Coin Flip archetype has its very own "you win the game" card: Chance Encounter. All you need to do is plop this baby down and then win ten flips. That's simple enough in theory, but the problem is that it takes a while to gather ten luck counters, which gives your opponents time to take out the enchantment before you win.

Luckily for us, we can abuse a coin flip card to easily acquire ten luck counters in no time at all: enter Frenetic Efreet. This lil' guy has an ability that you can activate for free that lets you flip a coin; winning means it phases out and losing means it's sacrificed. There's a trick though. You can activate the ability, then activate it again and again before the ability resolves. It doesn't matter if you lose a coin flip and sacrifice Frenetic Efreet while there are more of its ability on the stack. You will still have to flip for the other activations. You can activate it an arbitrarily large number of times to guarantee you get at least 10 won coin flips for Chance Encounter

Drop Chance Encounter and Frenetic Efreet for 7 mana total, then collect 10+ luck counters before the start of your next turn. If Chance Encounter is still around on your next upkeep, you win! Easy peasy. Bonus points if you spend an extra 3 mana to take an extra turn off Stitch in Time and win immediately!

If that's not enough, there's always the generic Blue/Red win conditions you can jam to win the game out of nowhere. Insurrection and Rite of Replication are classic options.

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Putting It All Together

The rest of the deck is devoted to finding Krark's Thumb each game and those tutors make up the bulk of this deck's price tag. The rest of the deck is the usual ramp / card draw / removal / protection / yadayada. Add all those ingredients, tweak to taste, and here's what you get:

 

Upgrades and Fiddly Bits

The most notable upgrade to the Coin Flip deck is Mana Crypt, hands-down the best coin flip card ever printed and one of the best cards in the format. The other good coin flip card that I excluded due to price is Ral Zarek. He's mostly used for ramp and spot removal, but hitting his ultimate will win games too.

Another sweet way to grab Krark's Thumb from your library is Transmute Artifact. Gamble is another great tutor that can pick up the Thumb or anything else you need at the time.

If you want to make your Chance Encounter + Frenetic Efreet combo harder to disrupt, either invest in ways to play them right before your upkeep (i.e. Leyline of Anticipation or Vedalken Orrery) or take extra turns (i.e. Time Stretch).

The rest of my upgrade suggestions are typical Izzet goodstuff.

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If you're mad enough to fully bling out a Coin Flip deck, then here's a list for you to ponder:

 

Next One's A Secret!

No voting this time around. I've got something sweet planned for you guys! Let me know if you like the inclusion of the Deck Tech Video and if you're interested in seeing gameplay footage of future Budget Commander decks. Thanks for reading!


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