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Commander Quickie: Top 10 Theros Beyond Death Cards Under $1


Hey friends! Theros: Beyond Death has just released, packs are being opened, and prices are starting to settle. Now is the perfect time to pick up some sweet new budget cards from the set to sleeve up for your Commander decks! Here are my top 10 favorite commander cards from TBD currently under $1 US at the time of writing this article. These are pulled from my Commander Set Review of TBD, so if you're interested in the full review regardless of card prices then you can check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

 

Honorable Mention: Allure of the Unknown

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Allure of the Unknown encapsulates my favorite things about the Commander formats: big flashy turns, politics, and of course, card draw. It's definitely the most polarizing card on the list: you'll either love it or hate it. Allure is most comparable to Promise of Power: there's no lifeloss and it draws an extra card, but the catch is that an opponent gets to cast the best card from the pile for free. If you or your playgroup hates making deals during a game of Commander then this drawback is an unnecessary risk and you're better off running more reliable card draw like Ambition's Cost instead. But if you love politics then oh boy is this card a treat! 

Odds are you can choose an opponent to collaborate with when casting Allure. "Snag my Blasphemous Act off Allure so we can deal with Karen's board." That's going to be a common request that should be reasonable enough to be accepted. Then you're drawing five cards and your opponent is helping you cast the sixth; played this way, Allure of the Unknown is fantastic value when used collaboratively.

Of course, Allure can blow up in your face in a magnificent fashion. Perhaps you reveal a Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, and your opponent snatches that from you, then annihilates your board. It could happen! Anything could happen! The allure of the unknown is really, really fun to me. I can't wait!

Recommended For: Political decks like Kenrith, the Returned King, Xantcha, Sleeper Agent, and Queen Marchesa.

 

#10: Heliod's Punishment

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Heliod's Punishment works similarly to Darksteel Mutation, one of my favorite creature removal cards in White. Both are cheap ways to turn a scary creature into a nonthreat. They are especially good against enemy commanders since they strip the creature of their abilities without allowing them to go back to the command zone and be recast like most forms of removal (Swords to Plowshares) do. This makes them the ultimate answer to commanders that are traditionally difficult to shut down, like Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow which ignores the commander tax, or Edgar Markov which gets most of his value without needing to be cast thanks to eminence.

Of the two auras, Darksteel Mutation is built to last; granting the creature indestructible is actually an advantage when enchanting commanders since it makes it even more difficult to send it back to the command zone to be recast. Heliod's Punishment has a shorter life expectancy, lasting three or four turns until the enchanted creature can remove all of the task counters. However, three or four turns is a long time in Commander, and you're bound to have gotten your value's worth with this 2cmc card by then. Also unlike Mutation, creatures enchanted by Punishment can't attack or block, so you're free to attack past the punished creature, something that is difficult to do with Mutation unless you have some form of evasion. Also while you don't think a 0/1 indestructible creature is scary, I have definitely lost more than one game where my opponent responded by loading the creature up with +1/+1 counters and equipment to wreck me with indestructible beatdowns.

I'd put Heliod's Punishment right up there with Darksteel Mutation as one of my favorite targeted creature removal spells in White. Since it's an aura it'll shine brightest in Enchantress and Aura decks that support its card types.

Recommended For: Any Aura or Enchantress decks. Sram, Senior Edificer, Siona, Captain of the Pyleas, Daxos the Returned, Kestia, the Cultivator, Tiana, Ship's Caretaker, and others.

 

#9: Drag to the Underworld

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

If your devotion to black is just 1, Drag to the Underworld is already equal to Murder. But once you have devotion to black of 2, Drag becomes a slightly harder to cast unrestrictive Doom Blade / Go For the Throat / Cast Down / etc. That's a really good spot to be in, and in black-heavy decks it should be easy to get the cost down to just BB reliably. I expect to run Drag to the Underworld in all my Mono Black decks, most notably Toshiro Umezawa which can get double value out of it being an instant! If you're interested in ol' Toshiro then check out my primer!

Recommended For: all Mono Black decks, most notably Toshiro Umezawa.

 

#8: Whirlwind Denial

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I must shamefully admit that when I first saw Whirlwind Denial, I quickly dismissed it as yet another blah Cancel with minor upside. It was only after other people pointed out to me that not only does Whirlwind Denial counter all spells, but also all abilities your opponents control, that it finally made sense to me why Whirlwind Denial is so so good! There's plenty of times when a mass of triggers go on the stack: perhaps the board is getting wiped and Omnath, Locus of Rage & his Elemental entourage are about to voice their displeasure via bolts at your face. Or perhaps there's a 50 damage Aetherflux Reservoir trigger about to do you in. Or maybe somebody stormed off and you're facing 50 copies of Grape Shot. Whatever the situation, Whirlwind Denial has got you covered.

That's a ton of flexibility in a countermagic. Yes, Whirlwind Denial is a bit more expensive than the usual countermagic I advocate running, but the flexibility is huge, and 3cmc isn't insane. It's even quite splashable! After some playtesting I can confirm that it's just as good as I hoped!

Recommended For: any Blue deck, but especially Draw Go decks that can reliably keep up three mana.

 

#7: Wavebreak Hippocamp

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Wavebreak Hippocamp is a crazy good workhorse for all types of Draw Go decks! This 3cmc creature nets us a card for the first spell we cast on each opponents turn; in a typical 4 Player FFA game that's up to 3 cards drawn each turn cycle! Compare that to something at the same casting cost like Phyrexian Arena, which only draws you a single card on your upkeep, and you can see how absurd the Hippocamp can be!

Recommended For: all Draw Go decks. Talrand, Sky Summoner, Jori En, Ruin Diver, Ephara, God of the Polis, Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage, and others.

 

#6: Gravebreaker Lamia

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Gravebreaker Lamia has a lot going on: its ETB trigger is Entomb, a super powerful tutor that has long been used in the more powerful Commander decks to dump a powerful card in the graveyard to use later, such as Reanimate'ing a Vilis, Broker of Blood or flashback Past in Flames. Lamia also makes spells you cast from your graveyard cost less, so a Spellslinger deck running a bunch of Flashback/Jump-Start cards (Chemister's Insight) or a Graveyard deck that regularly casts spells from the 'yard (Muldrotha, the Gravetide) can have a lot of fun with this. Casting Yawgmoth's Will / Underworld Breach / Past in Flames with Gravebreaker Lamia in play can lead to some explosive plays! 

Recommended For: this is the perfect new inclusion for Muldrotha, the Gravetide. I also expect to see it pop up in a fair number of Black Graveyard decks such as Kess, Dissident Mage, Chainer, Nightmare Adept, Karador, Ghost Chieftain, and others

 

#5: Heliod's Intervention

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

After seeing Heliod's Intervention played, I can confirm that it is the real deal. There's always plenty of good artifact/enchantment targets to blow up in your typical Commander game, which means this card will reliably rack up plenty of savage X-for-1's should you choose to include it. At X=2, Heliod's Intervention compares favorably to previous staples Return to Dust and Crush Contraband, losing the ability to exile but being far more flexible than the previous two options. Later on, being able to wipe out all of your opponents' enchantments/artifacts at instant speed is just backbreaking, clearing your path to victory.

The second mode, lifegain, is almost never going to be used, but nonetheless nice to have. There will be the rare occasion where it will help you survive an otherwise lethal attack like a clunky Fog.

Recommended For: any White deck as a generic goodstuff removal card.

 

#4: Destiny Spinner

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Green has quite a few ways to protect itself from countermagic: Gaea's Herald and Prowling Serpopard protect your creatures, while Dosan the Falling Leaf and City of Solitude stop both countermagic and any other type of instants. Destiny Spinner compares favorably to many of the current options. It's an easy upgrade to any deck running Gaea's Herald, like Animar, Soul of Elements or other creature-heavy deck.

But what really excites me is jamming Destiny Spinner in Green Enchantress decks! It protects your enchantments from countermagic, it's an enchantment itself so it has strong synergies with the deck and can be fetched up with enchantment tutors like Idyllic Tutor, and later on in the game it's a great mana sink to start pressuring opponents! That's a ton of value for a mere 2cmc silver bullet.

Destiny Spinner does come with some drawbacks, notably, it's a creature so it's more vulnerable to removal than say City of Solitude, and Spinner itself can be countered, which isn't a problem for more expensive options like Prowling Serpopard or Vexing Shusher. That said, it's still a fantastic way to protect creature-heavy decks from countermagic and it's my new favorite way to protect Enchantress decks!

Recommended For: Creature-heavy decks like Animar, Soul of Elements, and pretty much any Green Enchantress deck like Tuvasa the Sunlit.

 

#3: Tectonic Giant

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Tectonic Giant is sweet new impulse-draw (Act on Impulse) attached to a beatstick. Every time you attack with it -- or an opponent finally kills it with targeted removal -- you get to exile the top two cards of your library and play one of them until the end of your next turn, so basically you've got 1-2 turns to cast it. As a fan of Prophetic Flamespeaker, Tectonic Giant looks like a comparable card in function, netting you potentially one less card but making it much more reliable that you can cast it. And hey, if you want to spend your mana casting spells in your hand instead, that's cool too; the Giant will be doing 3 damage to each opponent instead, which is 9 extra damage total in a typical 4-Player FFA game!

Tectonic Giant is an excellent new card for any combat-focused Red decks. Give it haste (Anger) and ways to get additional triggers (Seize the Day) for maximum value.

Recommended For: Combat-focused decks like Aurelia, the Warleader, Torbran, Thane of Red Fell, Grand Warlord Radha; Giant Tribal Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas.

 

#2: Siona, Captain of the Pyleas

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Siona, Captain of the Pyleas is powerful new addition to the Aura archetype, both as a commander and as part of the 99 of a deck like Kestia, the Cultivator. She brings a ton of value for just 3 cmc. Her ETB trigger lets you dig seven cards deep for an aura card and put it into you hand; in a deck with 27 auras that's solid 90% success rate to find at least one aura. Then whenever you attach an aura to a creature you control, she makes a 1/1 soldier token, like a mini Ajani's Chosen. Neither of these two abilities are incredibly powerful, but combining both for 3 cmc is good value.

Siona's main power, however, comes from a unique combo that she enables with Shielded by Faith. with Siona on the battlefield, cast the Shield attaching it to a creature you control, which triggers Siona to create a 1/1 token. The token entering the battlefield triggers the Shield, letting you attach it to the new token, which loops infinite times for an infinite army. While these tokens do have summoning sickness, you can very easily win on the spot with a third card like Crashing Drawbridge to give the tokens haste. This combo is incredibly easy to assemble. Both cards are good on their own, casting both pieces on the same turn is just six mana total, and Siona can even help fetch the other piece of the combo herself.

This combo is so strong that it vaults Siona into being a top Aura commander, if not the best of the bunch. But even just jamming the combo in the 99 of another Aura deck is fine too.

If you're interested in brewing with Siona, Captain of the Pyleas, check out my primer!

 

#1: Nylea's Intervention

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I can't believe that Nylea's Intervention is under a buck! What!

There's no shortage of amazing utility lands in Commander, from the busted Gaea's Cradle to the balanced Strip Mine. Decks running powerful lands often run land tutors to fetch them up, and Sylvan Scrying is one of the most popular options for this in Green. Nylea's Intervention starts as an overpriced Sylvan Scrying but has the upside of fetching far more lands -- heck, you could tutor up all the lands in your deck if you have enough mana!

Will Nylea's Intervention replace cheaper land tutors like Crop Rotation and Sylvan Scrying? No. Sometimes you just want to tutor up your Gaea's Cradle and that's it. But for decks looking to play a longer game, especially Big Mana decks and Land decks that will regularly fetch up 4+ lands with this, Nylea's Intervention is an absolute powerhouse.

There's another mode here, of course: a board wipe for flying creatures. Such a card is too situational for me to ever run in a Commander deck, but tacking this on as an added bonus is fantastic, and sometimes will end up being the exact mode you need to stabilize.

Recommended For: Land decks like Tatyova, Benthic Druid; Big Mana decks like Rosheen Meanderer; any Green deck with lots of utility lands; the best new card for Sasaya, Orochi Ascendant.

 

That's All, Folks!

I hope you enjoyed this first Top 10 article! With this being a semi-regular thing going forward, let me know what Top 10's you'd like to see covered in the future! Thanks for reading!



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