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Can Isshin Break Dungeons?! | Isshin, Two Heavens as One | $100

Hey all, welcome back to Budget Commander! Since my recent articles on the very popular commanders Gix, Praetor's Voice and Ghyrson Starn, Kelermorph proved to be popular among readers with about double the usual view count, I decided to keep giving what you folks want: popular commanders done on a budget! This week I'll show you how to build one of the most popular commanders of 2022: Isshin, Two Heavens as Onebut with a twist!

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The Twist Is Dungeons

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Recently Legacy has been shaken up thanks to the initiative mechanic and cards like Seasoned Dungeoneer. The irony here is that initiative is pretty unpopular amongst its intended audience (multiplayer Commander) and far from busted in multiplayer, but becomes unintentionally far stronger in 1v1 formats where you only have to defend the initiative against 1 opponent rather than 3+.

News of Legacy being dominated by the new White Initiative deck was happening as I was brewing this Budget Isshin, Two Heavens as One list, and I couldn't help but notice that a lot of the more powerful Initiative / Dungeon cards happen to include attack triggers: Seasoned Dungeoneer and Caves of Chaos Adventurer are two initiative cards that I'd jam in a vacuum for Isshin, but what happens if we push it a bit further? Well, for venturing into dungeons there's Nadaar, Selfless Paladin, Thorough Investigation, Barrowin of Clan Undurr, Planar Ally -- by gosh, that's a lot of attack triggers to double with our commander!

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Move over, Sefris of the Hidden Ways, there's a new Dungeon Leader in town and he's ready to venture towards victory!

Okay, But How Does It Work?

This deck is loaded with attack triggers just like any other Isshin, Two Heavens as One list. The only difference is I've added as many good Initiative / Venture cards into the deck as possible without going too jank. What I deem "good" is basically just initiative / venture cards with attack triggers (e.g. Planar Ally) and some bonus cards that I think are strong enough to warrant inclusion (e.g. From the Catacombs). So it's not an all-in Dungeon deck -- I've been selective on what makes the cut -- but the deck takes full advantage of dungeons nonetheless.

We also have some subthemes going on, nothing forced but nice to note: the first is Exile Matters. I noticed that there was a bunch of powerful "impulse draw" cards tied to exile like Laelia, the Blade Reforged and Caves of Chaos Adventurer, and they fed nicely into a couple Exile support cards like Commander Liara Portyr and Kami of Celebration. All these cards work great on their own and benefit even more off Isshin.

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There's some more minor synergies to highlight, like how well Thorough Investigation works with Sophina, Spearsage Deserter, or Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant being BFFs with Vengeful Ancestor, but again these are just good Isshin cards that happen to be even better if they're both on the battlefield. I focused a bit more on goad and evasion because we want to have the initiative each turn -- it's okay to lose it, as long as we get it back next turn!

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One more note about the deck: Isshin loves extra combat steps. There's a few ones that trigger off attacking, thus being doubled off Isshin for two extra combats, like Aurelia, the Warleader and Akki Battle Squad that are absurdly good but come with a major snag: the trigger doesn't untap your creatures during your second extra combat! You need either vigilance (like Aurelia has) or a way to untap your creatures after each combat to get the full benefit of the bonus extra combat from Isshin. I did add two cards that can do this -- Sparring Regimen and Taranika, Akroan Veteran because they're good outside of this interaction -- but even without it, a single extra combat is really good!

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$100 Sample Deck List

Behold, Isshin Dungeons! Did we break it? Nah ... but it's a cool twist on a commander that you never really see!

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If you don't want to deal with Dungeons then fair enough. The default Isshin builds are Go Wide tokens. This version of Isshin doubles the token generation off cards like Adeline, Resplendent Cathar and Mardu Ascendancy and then quickly pumps your army into a lethal threat with supercharged anthems like Cathars' Crusade and Adriana, Captain of the Guard (which gets double the melee triggers! easy +6/+6!). With all these attack trigger token generators I've also tossed in Breath of Fury which easily becomes infinite damage if your opponents can't block.

Oh, and Mishra, Claimed by Gix! I added that too because it's a fun attack trigger.

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Here's what that type of list looks like at $200:

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That's All, Folks!

Next week we're doing something that the Reddit EDH community keeps saying is impossible: we're doing 5C on a budget! It's the crowd-pleasing Jodah, the Unifier with an Aristocrats twist!

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