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Budget Commander: King Macar, the Gold-Cursed | $25, $50, $100, Blinged


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I recently played a King Macar, the Gold-Cursed deck for Commander Clash, and ignoring my egregious punts (aka the usual), I was so impressed with how unique and fun the deck was I knew I had to cover it in a future Budget Commander. And now after two Nicol Bolas articles, here we are!

King Macar, the King of Bling. Each time he untaps, he can touch a creature, turning them into gold. He doesn't just destroy them, he exiles them, denying any death triggers (Solemn Simulacrum) or any possible graveyard recursion (Meren of Clan Nel Toth). This trigger costs zero mana, and even gives you mana in the form of a Gold token! This is a very powerful ability on our 4cmc commander, definitely worthy of building a deck around!

These are the two main themes we will focus on in this deck to maximize our commander, King Macar, the Gold-Cursed:

  1. Tap/Untap Shenanigans. Macar's untap trigger requires you to tap first. The only way Macar can do this by himself is by attacking, which is a bit sketchy since he's a wee lil' 2/3 creature in a format dubbed "Battlecruiser Magic." We're better off tapping him other ways, like having him generate mana with Springleaf Drum. We can also untap him with the help of Sword of the Paruns. With ways to both tap and untap him, we can use his triggered ability multiple times per turn! We can run other creatures that like being tapped/untapped too, like Night Market Lookout and Skirsdag High Priest!
  2. Artifacts. Macar ramps us by generating gold that we can sacrifice for mana. However, since gold is an artifact, this opens up Artifact synergies as well, fueling cards like Marionette Master and Cranial Plating!

So that's the deck! We're going to be running lots of cards that tap/untap Macar, along with other cards that also benefit from being tapped/untapped. We'll put all those gold artifact tokens to good use with an Artifact subtheme. And of course, being a Mono Black deck means we have access to all the Black staples like Cabal Coffers, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, and more!

If you haven't noticed already, King Macar, the Gold-Cursed is an oddball in Mono Black. He doesn't focus on Black's primary schtick of Sacrifice/Graveyard themes (God-Eternal Bontu). In fact, his two main themes are usually in the realm of other colors entirely: Tap/Untap Shenanigans is mostly a Blue/Green thing (Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca), while Artifacts is primarily a Blue/Red thing (Saheeli, the Gifted)! This is both good and bad. The bad news is that since Black traditionally doesn't support these archetypes, we don't have a large variety of card options to support these archetypes in our Macar deck. The good news is that the options we do have are pretty sweet ones and the deck is so unique! This appeals to the hipster in me, but also has a tangible benefit in games because your opponents won't likely be familiar with what your deck can do and will likely underestimate you.

 

You might like the deck if ...

  • You want a grindy Control deck built around layers of unique synergies topped off with big mana finishers
  • You want a unique deck that combines two non-traditional Mono Black themes: Tap/Untap shenanigans (usually Blue/Green) and Artifacts (usually Blue/Red)
  • You want to play an unpopular/underrated commander that is actually really strong

You might NOT like the deck if ...

  • You want to play an aggressive deck looking to close out games fast
  • You want a more traditional Mono Black deck focused on Sacrifice/Graveyard themes
  • You dislike the relatively smaller card pool support for Tap/Untap and Artifact themes in Mono Black 

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Tap/Untap Shenanigans

First, let's go over the various ways we can tap/untap King Macar, the Gold-Cursed to maximize his powerful ability. 

The best cards for tapping and untapping our creatures are repeatable, cheap to cast, and cheap to activate. Springleaf Drum and Paradise Mantle are two of the best options because they're not just cheap to cast and repeatable, but they even ramp you when you activate them. Vehicles are also fantastic because crewing them is free and repeatable, with the best of the best being Mobile Garrison because it even untaps Macar so you can tap him again and get double the triggers. Just be mindful that King Macar, the Gold-Cursed only has 2 power, so he won't be able to activate anything higher than Crew 2 by himself.

For untapping, two of the best options are Thousand-Year Elixir and Magewright's Stone, costing only one mana to untap. Puppet Strings and Ebony Horse are also niche but effective ways to untap. Finally, Sword of the Paruns and Umbral Mantle are good used fairly but also enable combos, such as generating infinite mana when equipped to Magus of the Coffers when you control 6+ Swamps. Of course, the most broken option is Paradox Engine, but since it's currently $38 US at the time of writing this, it's out of range for our budgets.

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed and Magus of the Coffers aren't the only creatures that you can be running that benefits from being untapped. Night Market Lookout and Servant of Tymaret are both cheap ways to drain our opponents and keep our life total high. They're kinda meh on their own, but if you're running a lot of Black card draw like Ambition's Cost and Promise of Power -- which you should, because drawing cards is basically winning -- then the lifedrain is definitely helpful. Skirsdag High Priest makes big tokens for us, Pain Seer draws us more cards, and Hollowsage chips away at our opponents' hands. There's not a whole lot to choose from, but there's a few good ones!

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Artifact Shenanigans

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed generates artifact tokens. Sacrificing them for mana is great, but we can do so much more with them once we start incorporating Artifact payoff cards. Each gold token makes Cranial Plating more powerful and each time a token gets sacrificed we grow our Moriok Rigger or ping opponents with Disciple of the Vault / Marionette Master. We can use our gold tokens in different ways, like helping pay for improvise costs (Herald of Anguish) without having to sacrifice them, or using them to tutor with Kuldotha Forgemaster. Of course, all these cards benefit from artifacts in general, not just gold tokens, so the more artifacts we run in the deck the better all these cards become.

Artifacts also have ways to untap other artifacts as well. Voltaic Servant, Voltaic Construct, Voltaic Key, Clock of Omens, and Unwinding Clock. There are numerous great artifacts that have useful tap abilities, the most common of these being mana rocks (Worn Powerstone). But there are other artifacts that are good on their own but get much stronger if you can activate them multiple times per turn: Azor's Gateway, Grimoire of the Dead, Lux Cannon, and Oracle's Vault get to their powerful payoffs much faster if you're untapping them with Voltaic Key.

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed can get in on the artifact untapping action as well, by turning him into an artifact with cards like Silverskin Armor. Doing so even unlocks other combo potential, like using King Macar, the Gold-Cursed + Silverskin Armor + Clock of Omens to exile any number of target creatures.

Another neat interaction is turning our opponents' permanents into artifacts for value. If we use Liquimetal Coating to turn an opponents' enchantment into an artifact, we can use Karn, Silver Golem to turn that into a creature which then King Macar can exile. Or we can just target a land and then it immediately dies when Karn turns it into a 0/0 creature. Or we just drop Mycosynth Lattice and lock all our opponents out of the game entirely with Karn, the Great Creator. Up to you!

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Winning

There is no shortage of win conditions in a King Macar, the Gold-Cursed deck, and ultimately it comes down to which finishers best suit your version of the deck. Here are some options:

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Lands

One of the most important lands in a King Macar, the Gold-Cursed deck is Arcane Lighthouse. This lets Macar Gild even creatures with shroud/hexproof, making them quiver in their Lightning Greaves. The worse version of Lighthouse, Detection Tower, can't get around shroud which is kinda a big deal, but it's still a fine option.

Since we're in Mono Black, we're in a prime spot to take advantage of the most powerful black land: Cabal Coffers. Once we have 4+ Swamps it starts generating extra mana for us and gets more ridiculous as the game progresses. Thespians' Stage and Vesuva are worth running solely to copy it. Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth can turn all your lands into Swamps (including Coffers itself) but regardless you should still refrain from going too wild with non-Swamp lands so that Coffers is good even without Urborg helping. There's also Cabal Stronghold aka the "fixed" Coffers, which is ... fine. It's still good, but it's not great, and Urborg can't help you with it.

Also a regular reminder that Temple of the False God is a terrible card and you shouldn't run it.

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Ramp

All the good land ramp (Wayfarer's Bauble) is good because it fuels Cabal Coffers. All the good mana rocks (Worn Powerstone) are good because they work with our Artifact theme (Voltaic Key). Caged Sun, Crypt Ghast, and Extraplanar Lens skyrocket our mana which is especially useful if we're running finishers like Exsanguinate.

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Card Draw

After ramping a ton, we gotta refill our hands. Heck, even if our hand is full of gas, there's no such thing as too much card draw! Luckily we have tons of good options in Black.

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Graveyard Recursion

Black is also really good at getting cards back from our graveyard! While the color specializes in creatures (Phyrexian Reclamation), we have some interesting choices to get back artifacts as well (Beacon of Unrest). Thankfully, colorless artifacts are great at getting back artifacts: Trading Post is amazing here because we can sacrifice gold tokens to it, plus sacrificial creatures like Junk Diver can get back stuff when it dies too.

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Tutors

Black is the undisputed best color for tutors. We've got access to all the classics like Demonic Tutor, but even the budget-friendly Diabolic Tutor is fantastic at grabbing whatever we need.

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Removal

This isn't a deck that wins fast. This is a Control deck. We aren't trying to outrace the board, but rather keep everyone in check while we grind them out. We have inevitability on our side thanks to lategame finishers like Torment of Hailfire. To get there, we need removal.

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed is obviously excellent creature removal, but we cannot rely on our commander to always get rid of problematic creatures. We need backup. Luckily Black is the best color for creature removal, with excellent spot removal (Snuff Out) and board wipes (Damnation).

Getting rid of other card types is a bit more tricky, however. We are much more limited when it comes to dealing with enchantments or artifacts. Gate to Phyrexia is the only decent Black artifact removal that I can think of, and it's much better suited in a Sacrifice deck than here. Fortunately, colorless artifacts save the day: Spine of Ish Sah is probably our best option since we can re-use it with the help of sac outlets like Phyrexian Core and Trading Post. There's also Meteor Golem and Scour from Existence for spot removal. We can also blow up the board with stuff like Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, Nevinyrral's Disk, Perilous Vault, Oblivion Stone, and All Is Dust.

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Putting It All Together

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 ratio of mana, interaction, card advantage, etc. This gives me a reference point to compare to the deck and see which areas may need improvement. My general ratio is:

  • 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; because you never forget to add some graveyard hate in your deck, right? Right? Right?!
  • 1 surprise "I Win" card; something that can win games the turn you cast it without too much setup

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.

 

$25

This list looks like a random pile of cards thrown together. But somehow ... it works! King Macar, the Gold-Cursed is a house in this deck, repeatedly exiling opposing creatures while ramping us in the process. All our artifacts fit together like cogs in a grand machine that we build throughout the game, with Clock of Omens tapping down random artifacts to re-use powerful abilities like Trading Post. We durdle, control the board, and eventually drain our opponents out with Marionette Master / Gray Merchant of Asphodel or just beat them down to death with Cranial Plating.

We have 16 sources of ramp to pay for our spells while also having mana to activate cards like Puppet Strings, Chaos Wand, Conqueror's Galleon, and Prototype Portal. To keep our hand full of gas we've got 10 sources of card draw, and then on top of it we've got card advantage engines like Chaos Wand, Trading Post, Weatherlight, and Conqueror's Galleon to keep the wheels spinning.

 

$50

Jumping to $50 we've got numerous powerful upgrades. Our ramp gets much more explosive with the help of Crypt Ghast, Magus of the Coffers, and Paradise Mantle. We've picked up another one of the best untap creature cards with Sword of the Paruns, which produces infinite mana with Magus of the Coffers if we have 6+ Swamps on the battlefield. We can use all that mana for our new finisher option, Exsanguinate!

 

$100

The $100 list throws in an additional finisher: Marionette Master + Nim Deathmantle + Ashnod's Altar is infinite pings. Deathmantle is insane in general for this deck, since it protects King Macar and even gives him intimidate if we want to win with commander damage. Our untap shenanigans are taken to the next level thanks to Unwinding Clock, which does crazy things if a board full of mana rocks (now including Sol Ring!), getting maximum value out of Trading Post, Aetherworks Marvel, and new inclusion Lux Cannon PEWPEW! Still no Paradox Engine because that card's price is bananas.

The Bling King

This is how the deck looks with no budget restriction. The two most notable additions are the Karn, the Great Creator + Mycosynth Lattice combo and the almighty Parados Engine. All other upgrades are general goodstuff inclusions for a mono-black deck.

That's All, Folks!

I hope you enjoyed this take on King Macar, the Gold-Cursed. Next Budget Commander is looking like it'll be something Big and Green! But who knows after that? Let me know in the comments section what commander you'd like me to write about!


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