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Budget Commander: Reaper King

Welcome to our Halloween special, folks! Last article, you guys voted for a spooky commander to lead our ghastly forces. With a whopping 52% of the vote, the decision is clear, and the result makes Linus van Pelt ecstatic. Won't you please make way for a very special guy:

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Our man Reaper King is king of the pumpkin patch! Everyone hail to the Pumpkin King! This commander truly is one to strike fear in the hearts of your opponents. When His Majesty graces the battlefield, no permanent is safe: the King turns his lowly subjects, the rather underpowered tribe of Scarecrows, into Vindicates! 

Such fearful power is a double-edged sword, however: your opponents will fear for the safety of all their permanents (and rightfully so), that fear leads to anger at you blowing up their stuff, which then leads to hate -- hating you off the board, that is! Yup, unfortunately Reaper King often comes with a "kill on sight" target on his back, which means that any removal that can knock him out of the fight will be cast on him. So, while you should absolutely take advantage of his awesome abilities, it's recommended not to build your deck completely based on His Grace sitting on the battlefield.

With that in mind, let's check out what makes Reaper King tick.



Reaper King is one of the very best tribal leaders ever printed in terms of raw power. The tribe he commands, however, is underwhelming to say the least. The best is Scarecrone, which is a legitimately great card regardless of subtype, then probably Scuttlemutt, which is okay if you're focusing on subtype... then we quickly find ourselves amongst the "not even good enough for Limited" scarecrows, like Thornwatch Scarecrow.

Fortunately for us, we have tricks to play "scarecrows" without having to play crappy cards that literally have the word "scarecrow" written on the card. Changeling creatures, like Shapesharer, are all creature types -- yes, including scarecrow! Many changelings are actually good cards, unlike the vast majority of scarecrows out there. My favorites are the changelings that champion a creature, such as Changeling Berserker. Play a "scarecrow," triggering Reaper King's ability, then play a champion, trigging King again. Once the champion dies, the champion'd creature returns to the battlefield, trigging the King a third time. That's a lot of Vindicates!

The very best trick to have a deck full of scarecrows, however, are these two cards: Conspiracy and Xenograft. Both cards turn all your creatures into scarecrows. Now you don't need to feel restricted to playing mediocre creatures to trigger Reaper King's ability -- ALL of your creatures are Vindicates! BOOM!

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So now that we've got a bunch of "scarecrows" in our deck, let's sweeten the deck with a Clone subtheme: creatures that come into play as copies of other things on the board. These can copy our scarecrows when Reaper King is on the field for more Vindicates, but they can also copy any other valuable creature for when our commander isn't on the field or when we don't need something blown up. Dack's Duplicate, Evil Twin, Spitting Image, and many others are available to us.

There's one more thing I haven't talked about the Reaper King, an awesome bonus for choosing him: as a 5-color commander, you can play any card that is legal in the format! Most decks do not have that luxury -- in fact, this is the first time that I get to write about a budget 5-color deck. So with this rare opportunity, let's indulge our sweet tooth a bit, shall we? Let's play the splashiest bomb multicolor cards in the format, all here in one deck. Need some card draw with a political slant? How about Guided Passage? Need some lands? Shard Convergence has got you covered. Want to deal with a Graveyard deck? Nothing's more stylish or punishing than a resolved Identity Crisis. Remember, we can do anything here, so go wild -- just remember to keep your mana curve sane!

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Add in tons of mana-fixing, ramp, tutors, cheap spot-disruption like Nature's Claim, and BOOM! You've got one scary deck! Easy as pumpkin pie:

Upgrades and Fiddly Bits:

Reaper King is an open-ended deck, so which direction you end up taking him is up to you. You could focus on Reaper King's ability more by running more ways of making sure he sticks on the board, like Lightning Greaves, Gift of Immortality, and Counterspell. Or you can go deeper on Changelings and pick "tribal" cards that benefit off the changeling's "every creature type," like Bala Ged Thief, Harmonic Sliver, Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero, and much more. Or you can play more of a 5-color Goodstuff deck, moving away from "scarecrows" entirely.

Whatever you decide upon, here are some good upgrades:

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Vote For The Next Budget Commander

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That's All, Folks!

I've received my microphone so next article will include a live gameplay video! Woo!

Follow me on Twitter @BudgetCommander for notifications on when the next article is up, updates on future decks, and input for what to work on next. Thanks for reading!

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