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Budget Commander: Xenagos, God of Revels ($50)


 

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I'm a hardcore Blue player. My favored playstyle is drawing a card and saying, "Go." Victory tastes sweetest when it's secured on turn 10, including another 10 turns of prolonging my opponent's suffering by countering every play while slowly beating him to death with a spoon.

So it came as a shock to me when I traded my traditional spoon for a bazooka with Xenagos, God of Revels and discovered that it was the most enjoyable budget deck I've ever built! It melted my cold Spike heart and allowed me to rediscover my Timmy side, reminding me that big dumb creatures are ridiculously fun. 

 

Not Gruul? Then Die!

Xenagos is Timmy to a T, encouraging you to make BIG mana to churn out BIG creatures, which the God then makes even BIGGER, and then smashing for TONS OF DAMAGE! It's simple, effective, and ridiculously fun. 

The deck plays out like so:

  1. Play ramp spells to get Xenagos, God of Revels on the field by turn four.
  2. Play a big creature on turn five and smash for huge damage.
  3. Repeat Step two until your opponents are dead.

This is my go-to deck when I want to play a relaxing game and not have to think much. Gruul no like think much. Puny blue mage scratch head while thinking about what card to play. Gruul play all cards, turn sideways, and SMASH stupid blue player! Raaaaagh!

Ahem. Sorry, I think I got a bit caught up in Gruul-think. But seriously, there's something uniquely cathartic about attacking with an 18/18 infect Hydra Omnivore and taking out all three opponents in one swing. That's Xenagos for you: 101 ways to smash your opponents for lethal. It's hard not to enjoy the deck. In fact, of any Budget Commander deck I've covered, this is the top one I recommend trying out.

So, what makes a Xenagos, God of Revels deck tick? Let's find out!

 

The Big Man Himself

Why pick Xenagos, God of Revels over other Timmy commanders, like Riku of Two Reflections or Maelstrom Wanderer? A couple reasons:

  1. The Biggest Fatties. Xenagos is unique in that he makes your already big creatures absurdly large. Worldspine Wurm becomes a 30/30 hasted trampler. That's insane. No other commander lets you slam in with such enormous creatures so easily.
  2. Very Reliable. Commanders die all the time in a typical game. It's hard to count on them to be on the battlefield all the time, which makes decks that rely on their commander inconsistent. Xenagos, on the other hand, is incredibly reliable because he's often an indestructible enchantment. That means he dodges creature removal and most enchantment removal, leaving only a handful of cards can actually deal with him. Often you'll only have to cast Xenagos a single time and he'll stick around for the rest of the game. That staying power saves you a lot of mana and headaches.
  3. Easy to Pilot. The ease in piloting Xenagos is a huge plus in my book and something a lot of people underrate. When playing Xenagos decks, your turns are straightforward. Play a big creature, swing, and maybe play some minor utility spell. It's easy to pick up and understand without being repetitive, since there's a wide variety of threats Xenagos can win with. That's a huge plus when you don't want to play a super complicated tutor-heavy deck like Yisan, the Wanderer Bard.

There are a lot of Timmy commanders to choose from in this format, but Xenagos, God of Revels is probably the one I enjoy the most!

 

More Xenagos Triggers

Xenagos, God of Revels triggers once per combat, doubling your creature's size and sending it into the fray immediately with haste. That ability is wonderful on its own, but we can go even further with this ability into the realm of glorious overkill! 

We have two ways to get more triggers per turn out of Xenagos. The first is Strionic Resonator, possibly the most fun card in the entire deck. For a mere 2 mana, we can copy a triggered ability we control, which means we can copy Xenagos' trigger, doubling a creature's size and then doubling it again! For example, Hydra Omnivore starts as an 8/8, Xenagos' trigger makes it 16/16, then copying the trigger with Strionic Resonator makes it 32/32!

The second way is by taking extra combat steps with cards like Seize the Day and Scourge of the Throne. Since Xenagos triggers each combat step, taking an additional combat means an additional trigger! Pretty nasty, right?

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Sweet Fatties

Ah yes, the heart of any Xenagos deck: Fatties! Because Xenagos, God of Revels doubles the size of a creature and gives it haste, you're encouraged to fill your deck with big creatures to really take advantage of the multiplier. You also want creatures with a form of evasion like flying or trample to get past potential chump blockers. Also the free haste makes triggered combat abilities like Balefire Dragon's more powerful since you get to use them immediately.

There's a Gruul fattie out there for basically any situation. Here's some of my favorites:

Thunderfoot Baloth and Tyrant's Familiar are uniquely powerful with Xenagos, God of Revels. Since most commanders often don't stick around the battlefield for long periods of time, the Baloth's lieutenant ability is unreliable. Not so with Xenagos. Thunderfoot Baloth will almost always be a 7/7 trampler that gives your other creatures +2/+2 and trample for just 6 mana!

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Size Matters

So we play big creatures, Xenagos doubles their sizes, and we swing for huge damage. Are we done yet? Nope! Let's take advantage of the fact that our creatures' powers are in the double digit range by running cards that reward us for their size! Let's draw 10+ cards off Hunter's Insight, deal double damage with Blood Mist, and wipe out our opponent's creatures with Impact Resonance! Here are some of my favorite cards to take advantage of our giant creatures:

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Cheatyface

Generally speaking, each turn the deck wants to plays one big creature and smash face with it. However, we also have ways to get more than one giant creature in play each —cheating on the mana cost!

In a deck with 40 creatures, Guild Feud has a 79% chance of cheating a creature into play on each of your turns. Your opponent may get a creature too, but yours are probably bigger anyway! For best results, target an opponent that you suspect has few creatures at all, like Spellslinger decks such as Mizzix of the Izmagnus.

We can also cheat in big creatures from the graveyard. Feldon of the Third Path makes copies of big creatures from our graveyard, while Mimic Vat can make a copy of anyone's creatures.

Probably the two best cheat cards in our budget are actually lands: Spinerock Knoll and Mosswort Bridge. Both are very easy to activate and count as casting the card, so they let you get full value on cards like Artisan of Kozilek, which do neat things if you cast them instead of putting them into play.

There are other ways to cheat our creatures into play but they are outside the $50 budget so I'll discuss them in the Upgrades and Fiddly Bits section below.

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Winning

Xenagos, God of Revels has no shortage of win conditions, since he's jam-packed with giant creatures that can win the game by themselves. However, there are some cards that are particularly good at ending things:

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Budget Xenagos ($50)

 

Upgrades and Fiddly Bits

I love cheating creatures into play, so the first cards I'd recommend adding to the deck do just that: Elvish Piper, Quicksilver Amulet, and Sneak Attack are wonderful. Then there's my favorite of the bunch, Lurking Predators, which becomes insane if you manipulate the top of your library. Cards like Scroll Rack and Worldly Tutor let you control what card is revealed, while shuffle effects like Wooded Foothills let you shuffle away non-creature cards revealed by Predators.

The greatest annoyance for Xenagos decks are opponents that steal your creatures. Black and Blue decks love doing this treachery with cards like Animate Dead and Bribery. The budget list has Gruul Charm, but you'll want more options. Homeward Path is probably the single best way to get back your creatures and can be tutored with cards like Crop Rotation, Sylvan Scrying, and Expedition Map.

Here's more suggestions:

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Here's how the deck looks with no budget constraints:

 

That's All, Folks!

The next Budget Commander has already been determined, but after that article the polls will go back up so you can determine which commander you want to see built! Thanks for reading!


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