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Budget Commander: Selvala Twiddlestorm | $69 And Beyond


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Today we're going to be revisiting one of my oldest, yet still most powerful budget brews: Selvala, Explorer Returned. At first glance, this looks like a cuddly-soft Group Hug commander, drawing everyone cards each time she taps. Who doesn't love free card draw? People unfamiliar with Selvala might even be happy to see you cast her and let her chill on the battlefield, waiting for you to activate her and draw them cards! How nice!

But then they quickly learn the terror that is Selvala as you activate her a billion times in a single turn and oops win the game. Enjoy your cards while dead, suckers!

While yes, Selvala does draw everyone one card each time she taps, she's also generating a ton of mana and life for only you: statistically speaking it's usually 3 mana/life, sometimes 4, which is a ridiculously good rate for a 3-drop mana dork. And those cards she's drawing? Well, we don't plan on letting our opponents ever use theirs: we aim to win in one glorious turn!

So join me, friends, as we update this old powerhouse with some new tricks. My old Budget Commander on her was $57, which has now hilariously ballooned to $200 friggin' dollars my gosh! So let's start with a similar budget and then work our way up to higher price ranges as well!

Our Game Plan

Our game plan is pretty simple:

  1. Ramp out mana dorks and cast Selvala, Explorer Returned.
  2. Untap Selvala and our mana dorks multiple times to generate tons of mana, life, and card draw, aka TWIDDLESTORM
  3. Assemble an infinite untap combo so we can draw our entire deck with Selvala.
  4. Win with a giant mana sink finisher like Hurricane or Craterhoof Behemoth.

Now that we've got our goal laid out, let's go over in more detail.

Step 1: Ramp and Cast Selvala

Selvala, Explorer Returned is the key engine in our deck and we typically want her out as early as possible. Since we're in Green we have access to a bunch of turn 1 ramp cards like Fyndhorn Elves and Wild Growth so we can reliably get her out on turn 2 even on a low budget. However if you're certain that the table will be ready to kill Selvala before you'd get to untap with her, you can delay casting her until later when you're able to cast her and pop off on the same turn by adding a way for her to immediately tap the turn she's cast like Thousand-Year Elixir or Lightning Greaves.

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Step 2: TWIDDLESTORM!

Once we have Selvala, Explorer Returned and hopefully a couple other mana dorks on the battlefield, it's time to pop off! We run a whole bunch of untap effects such as Vitalize, Mobilize, and To Arms! to activate Selvala and our other dorks multiple times in a single turn. This allows us to generate tons of extra mana while drawing a card to replace themselves with Selvala, letting us ramp out powerful card draw and tutors to assemble our combos. The untappers that can be cast with only green mana work best because Selvala and most of our other mana dorks only produce green.

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Step 3: Infinite Mana

All our ramping, card draw, and tutoring is being done with the goal of assembling an infinite mana combo. We have multiple ways of pulling this off, but here are some of the easiest:

  1. Umbral Mantle or Sword of the Paruns + any mana dork that taps for 4+ mana = infinite mana and infinite untap.
  2. Mirror Entity + Wirewood Symbiote + any creature that can tap for 3+ mana = infinite mana. Activate Entity for 1 mana turning the Symbiote into an Elf, activate the Symbiote untapping the mana dork and returning itself to hand, recast Symbiote and repeat.
  3. Ashaya, Soul of the Wild + Quirion Ranger + any creature that can tap for 3+ mana = infinite mana. Activate the Ranger, returning itself to hand and untapping your mana dork, recast Ranger.

As you can see, the most important piece of our combos is usually a mana dork that is tapping for 3+ mana. We have a few great options here such as Wirewood Channeler, Karametra's Acolyte, Elvish Archdruid, and Priest of Titania, so we just need to find one of them and we're golden.

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Step 4: Win

Now that we've got infinite mana, it's time to win the game. We have a ton of ways to finish things up and it really comes down to your budget.

Our cheapest go-to option is Hurricane. Selvala's lifegain is often going to put us at the highest life total, so we simply have to cast Hurricane where X equals the next highest life total to win the game.

The next sweet win is a weird one: Green Sun's Zenith. If we have infinite Selvala activations we can draw our entire deck with Selvala, then cast GSZ simply to shuffle it back into our library, activate Selvala again to draw GSZ again, and simply do this infinite times until we deck all of our opponents since Selvala will also be drawing them cards as we do this.

We also have another versatile win condition with Finale of Devastation. This is the priciest option but not only is it a great tutor but it makes all of our creatures arbitrarily large and have haste, which is perfect in a deck full of mana dorks.

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The Rest

The rest of the deck is all the typical stuff you'd expect: card draw, tutors, interaction, and recursion. The main difference between the $50 version and the $1000 version is speed and consistency: the lower the budget, the slower you'll be at combo'ing off. That means the lower budget decks need to play with a longer game in mind, so a higher emphasis is put on interacting with opponents, preventing them from winning until we're ready to pop off. Higher budgets trade out some of the interaction for more speed.

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$69 List

So the original plan was to make the first list start at $50 but as soon as I whipped up my 100-card draft it came out to being exactly $69.69 which means I can't alter it now. Sorry I don't make the rules.

This version runs a few key combos:

  1. Umbral Mantle or Sword of the Paruns + any mana dork that taps for 4+ mana = infinite mana, then infinite draw and lifegain with Selvala, Explorer Returned
  2. Wirewood Symbiote + Mirror Entity  + any mana dork that taps for 3+ mana = infinite mana. Shared Summons can find two of these three pieces.

Our finishers of choice at this price point are Hurricane and Squall Line to dump our infinite mana into. You do have to be at the highest life total to win with these, but that's easy enough with Selvala.

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$200 List

There's are enormous improvements to the deck, adding far more speed and consistency largely due to the massive increase in tutors we can now afford. We also pick up Ashaya, Soul of the Wild for the Quirion Ranger combo.

Congregation at Dawn is essentially a 1-card combo in the deck and our greatest tutor since we can put Quirion Ranger, Wirewood Symbiote, and Ashaya, Soul of the Wild on top of our library: activate Selvala to draw and cast Quirion Ranger, bounce a forest and untap Selvala, activate Selvala again drawing Wirewood Symbiote, cast Wirewood Symbiote and bounce the Quirion Ranger to untap Selvala, activate Selvala a third time to draw and cast Ashaya, Soul of the Wild, recast Quirion Ranger, and now you go infinite.

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CEDH Selvala

If you want to take Selvala to the highest power and money is no obstacle, then check out this cEDH Selvala Primer by Moxfield user Nathan_of_the_Gilt_Leaf . Nathan's list is what Selvala looks like in the $3000 range, and while the bulk of the deck is the exact same, this high-end version is powered further by the absolute best mana base and tutors. I haven't personally tested Selvala at a true cEDH table so I will just point you to Nathan's list instead:

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That's All, Folks!

I loved revisiting my six year old brew and updating it with all the shiny new cards. I hope you liked it as well! Thanks for reading!



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