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Budget Commander: Najeela, the Blade-Blossom ($58 & $211)


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Of all the new potential commanders from Battlebond, Najeela, the Blade-Blossom seems to have the most buzz right now, and for good reason: she is an insanely powerful card and the first commander that specifically benefits Warrior Tribal, making her hands-down the best commander for the tribe, regardless of whatever subthemes you're going for. She's aggressive, flexible, powerful, popular, and fairly budget-friendly ... seems like an easy choice to cover here on Budget Commander!

 

Brainstorming Warrior Tribal

The first step in figuring out what direction to take Warrior Tribal is looking at what cards we're working with. Here's a big dump of Warrior-specific cards I found searching through Scryfall. We're trying to see what Warriors are generally good at and if there's any themes we can build on. I've only cut the worst of the worst cards at this point:

Skimming over the card pool, it's obvious that Warriors love attacking: we have tons of haste-enablers (Rushblade Commander) and tons of benefits from attacking (Arashin Foremost). No matter what direction we take Warriors, it's going to be an aggressive, combat-focused one! Beyond that, however, two themes stand out:

 

+1/+1 Counters

+1/+1 Counters is one of the most common mechanic in all of Magic and shows up as well with Warriors. While only a few of the +1/+1 Counter cards care specifically about Warriors — I only found Bramblewood Paragon and Decorated Champion — there's so much support for +1/+1 Counter decks in general that it's easy to fill out your entire deck with them.

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Go Wide

Warrior Tribal definitely is all about attacking, but the strongest subtheme that Najeela, the Blade-Blossom herself promotes is Go Wide, as the more Warriors you attack with, the more tokens she produces. Thankfully there are other Warrior cards that support Go Wide: the more Warriors you have, the more cards you'll draw off Raiders' Spoils, drain life off Thrasher Brute, benefit from anthems like Chief of the Edge, and even random stuff like more graveyard disruption with Mardu Woe-Reaper.

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As you can see, both +1/+1 Counters and Go Wide are worthy subthemes for Warrior Tribal, so it really comes down to your own preference. For this article I'll be focusing primarily on a Go Wide subtheme since Najeela, the Blade-Blossom personally supports that archetype best, though there may be a bit of +1/+1 Counter bleeding into the deck if it makes sense (Bramblewood Paragon).

 

Blast the Trumpet! We're Going Wide!

Alright, so we've settled on building Najeela, the Blade-Blossom as a Warrior Tribal deck with a Go Wide subtheme. Our deck's goal is to be aggressive, combat-focused, and snowball fast to take people out before they can stop us. Since our creatures are small, we need ways to either give them evasion or increase their size to get under/over blockers. Finally we need removal and protection against opposing removal.

With this is mind, let's go over our Warriors again and add the cards that suit our goals, weeding out the ones that don't:

Warriors cover the combat part of the deck very well: we've got tons of amazing haste-enablers (Lovisa Coldeyes) to choose from along with lots of beaters (Saskia the Unyielding). Our damage potential is in a good spot. Warriors don't provide everything the deck wants, however: we're lacking in ramp, removal, and we could use more options for card draw and recursion. We'll need to fill those gaps with other cards.

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Tribal Support

There's a bunch of generic Tribal support cards that can help support the Warriors in a pinch. Some of these are very good, but most aren't budget-friendly due to the immense popularity of Tribal archetypes. Here are some of my favorites:

 

Go Wide / Weenie / Token Support

We're playing a lot of aggressive creatures and generating a ton of tokens. These creatures are rather small, so we should have ways to pump them up, like Cathars' Crusade, draw cards off Mentor of the Meek and Skullclamp, double up on our tokens with Anointed Procession, lots of sweet things:

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Infinite Combat aka Winning

Saving the best for last! Not only is Najeela, the Blade-Blossom an insane token generator and extra combat step'er, the scariest thing about her is her ability to take infinite combat steps and win the game out of nowhere!

The easiest way to do this is with Druids' Repository: all you need is to hit a player with five creatures, then use the mana generated by the Repository to activate Najeela's ability, rinse repeat. There's similar combos to this one was well: attack with five creatures with Cryptolith Rite / Earthcraft / Song of Freyalise on the battlefield, plus any way to give your creatures vigilance like Herald of Dromoka, so you can attack, then tap your creatures for mana to activate Najeela's ability, and repeat. You can also pair Najeela with Nature's Will / Bear Umbra / Sword of Feast and Famine to attack, untap your lands, use those lands to activate Najeela, rinse repeat.

Want more options? There's also Breath of Fury: Najeela provides extra tokens each combat step so you'll never run out of sacrifice fodder for the aura!

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5C Manabase

"Can you build a 5C manabase on a budget?" is easily in the top three most asked questions weekly on the EDH subreddit. What's really annoying is that there's always people responding that it's impossible, that you need a full set of dual lands and fetchlands for it to be viable, and that's just flat-out wrong! You can absolutely make a 5C manabase on a budget!

I've discussed 5C manabases recently in my Budget Jodah article and not much has changed since then so I'll past the info here with some modifications for Najeela, the Blade-Blossom:

Speed vs. Consistency

The difference between a blinged out 5C manabase versus a budget one is that cheaper manabases are sacrificing some speed and/or some consistency, depending on how you build it. On one extreme, you can build a budget manabase for maximum speed by just playing basic lands; all your lands come into play untapped so you don't lose any speed, but your deck will be very inconsistent because you might not have the right mana to cast the spells in your hand. On the other extreme you can make an incredibly consistent manabase that can effortlessly cast all the spells in your hand, but your deck will be slower because all the best mana-fixing lands on a budget come into play tapped.

Unlike Jodah, Archmage Eternal, which has a high cmc curve and only really gets rolling once you have five mana, Najeela, the Blade-Blossom is an aggressive deck that wants to come out of the gates swinging. This does mean a faster manabase is more important, which is tougher to do on a budget while also being consistent, however Najeela Warrior Tribal isn't really a 5C deck, but a 4C deck that lightly splashes Blue: there's only one or two worthwhile Warrior cards in Blue so our manabase doesn't need to worry too much about producing Blue mana outside of Najeela's activation.

For this mini guide, I'll be referring to these lands:

Cheapest: Trilands, Vivids

This is the classic tried-and-true method to make a 5C manabase on a budget. Your best friends are the 10-card triland cycle (e.g. Crumbling Necropolis) and the 5-card vivid land cycle (e.g. Vivid Crag). Basic lands are important for speed but they do hurt our consistency a bit. The rest is good mana-fixing ramp; no colorless mana rocks unless it's Sol Ring and Mana Crypt:

I'm a big fan of Curse of Opulence here as a 1 mana ramp card that creates mana of any color and also encourages your opponent to attack the cursed victim, benefiting you in additional ramp and potentially redirected damage. Path of Mettle is another weird one but it's trivial to flip in a deck running Ogre Battledriver, Samut, Voice of Dissent, Lovisa Coldeyes, and a bunch of Warriors that randomly have the keywords required to flip it. When flipped it taps for any color!

 

Easy Single-Card Improvements

Regardless of the rest of your manabase, these cards are excellent inclusions to any Najeela, the Blade-Blossom Warrior Tribal deck:

Moving From Trilands/Vivids to Duals

Trilands and Vivids can make for incredibly consistent manabases, but what you gain in consistency you lose in speed as most of these lands enter the battlefield tapped. If you're willing to spend more money, then the next step is transitioning to dual lands.

Dual lands - lands that have two land types (e.g. Stomping Ground) - are incredibly useful in Commander because there's so many great cards that care about land types. For example, instead of getting a tapped Forest with Rampant Growth, we can get an untapped Breeding Pool with Nature's Lore! Instead of getting a tapped Mountain with Evolving Wilds, we can grab a Taiga with Arid Mesa! We win in both speed and consistency!

Don't worry, you don't have to go from Crumbling Necropolis straight to Underground Sea - there's more than enough duals and fetches in between that huge price gap to make the transition much less expensive. Here's some duals / fetches that won't break the bank:

We also just got the new bond lands from Battlebond which are about $5 at the time of writing this, but since they're only good in multiplayer and they're rares in a (hopefully) heavily opened set the price should drop a bit: Sea of Clouds, Morphic Pool, Luxury Suite, Spire Garden, Bountiful Promenade.

If you want to continue upgrading your manabase beyond that then yes, the next step is the Ravnica shocklands, ONS/ZEN fetchlands, and ABUR duals. But these high-priced cards are not required to make a 5C manabase!

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Generic Good Cards

Here are other card options to fill out the deck that don't fit in any of the aforementioned themes:

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Putting It All Together: Budget Brews

Using all the cards I've talked about, I've slapped together a few sample lists. First up is the cheapest list at $57, with all cards being under $2 except for Najeela, the Blade-Blossom, which is currently $13. It's aggressive and easy to snowball with lots of Warriors backed up with haste, evasion, and flexible spot-removal. You can take infinite combat steps pairing Najeela with Breath of Fury, Druids' Repository, or combining vigilance with Song of Freyalise, but the primary win condition is regular combat.

 

Here's another version, this time at $210. The core of the deck is the same, but the manabase has been significantly improved, I added some of the better Tribal cards like Kindred Discovery and Harsh Mercy, some better tutors with Wargate, and some better evasion with Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist.

I didn't squeeze in Patriarch's Bidding into the list since it's currently $18. Our deck has amazing card draw and terrible graveyard recursion, which means this deck is actually the perfect fit for Rest in Peace, the best graveyard hoser ever printed.

 

And that's it! There's no more good Warrior cards to add in, so from here it's just about upgrading the manabase further, adding better tutors like Demonic Tutor, and figuring how to better turn your deck against your personal playgroup. Running up against countermagic? Cavern of Souls and Surrak Dragonclaw are answers. Lots of board wipes? Heroic Intervention, Teferi's Protection, Make a Stand, Boros Charm. Each playgroup is different, so tweak the lists to suit your style and best deal with your group's threats.

 

That's All, Folks!

I hope you enjoyed my take on Najeela, the Blade-Blossom. I haven't decided what I want next week's Budget Commander to be about yet, but I'm currently leaning towards a janky brew with Virtus the Veiled and Gorm the Great, since I love Lure decks! As always, you can reach me in the comments section below, tweet me @BudgetCommander, or email me at tomer@mtggoldfish.com !

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