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Crushing Tables With $25 Zada Storm | Budget Commander

Hey friends and welcome back to Budget Commander! Today we're revisiting one of my favorite (and incredibly powerful) budget brews, Zada, Hedron Grinder! This Mono Red Storm deck has crushed tables for ages and I'm excited to upgrade it with recent staples!

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Oldie But A Goodie

I've been playing Zada, Hedron Grinder since 2016 when I accidentally dominated one of the earliest Commander Clash episodes with her. I've since optimized the brew over the years and did a Budget Commander back in 2019. This is to say that I'm familiar with the commander and can confidently say Zada is one of the strongest budget commanders out there, able to pop off in a single explosive turn with frightening consistency.

Warning: Storm decks have a "solitaire" playstyle of not doing much and then taking a very long turn. If you don't want to do that, I'd avoid this one!

Zada, Hedron Grinder is incredibly powerful due to her ability transform jank single target spells into mass card draw, ramp, and finishers. If you have Zada and four other creatures on the battlefield, suddenly Expedite draws 5 cards for 1 mana, or Sudden Breakthrough generates 5 treasures while pumping all 5 of your creatures. Put these elements together and you've got a Mono Red Storm deck whose goal is to set up a single game-winning turn. We do this in a few easy steps:

  1. Cast creatures and make tokens
  2. Cast Zada
  3. "Storm off," chaining together a bunch of spells targeting Zada that draw us cards, make us mana, and end with a "storm finisher" that wins us the game.

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Step 1 is getting creatures on the battlefield. More creatures means a stronger Zada payoff. We lean towards creatures to provide our deck's utility such as Iron Myr for ramp. But we also run token producers like Hordeling Outburst and the brand new card Gleeful Demolition. For token producers, mana efficiency is key: we only want to run cards that produce tokens equal to or greater than their casting cost. Mana is the bottleneck of the deck so we focus on being as mana-efficient as possible.

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Once we have Zada and a couple creatures on the battlefield, the fun begins! First we draw tons of cards off cantrips that become draw 5+ with Zada on the battlefield. Again, mana-efficiency is key, so we typically prioritize 1-mana cantrips like Ancestral Anger and Expedite, but 2 mana cantrips that provide tons of utility like Fists of Flame are definitely worth it as they turn our army into lethal attackers.

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We'll need lots of mana to fuel our storm turn. Rituals like Battle Hymn and Brightstone Ritual are All-stars in our Goblin token-heavy deck, while a Runaway Steam-Kin can keep the Storm going forever. At higher budgets we have extra Steam-kins like Birgi, God of Storytelling and Storm-Kiln Artist.

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Our ramp can be straight-up wacky, by the way: most folks can immediately recognize the value of Sudden Breakthrough or Brightstone Ritual in Zada, but check out weird tech like Traitorous Greed and Kari Zev's Expertise: these Threaten effects usually target opposing creatures, right? Well, in our deck we target Zada and make 2 mana per creature with Greed or cast a bunch of spells from our hand with Expertise! We also untap our creatures and give them haste, amazing with our mana dorks! There's other weirdness like pumping our creatures before zapping them harmlessly with Spawning Breath to make even more creatures!

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As we storm off we'll keep making more creatures and keep pumping them while drawing more cards and making more mana. Eventually we'll reach a critical mass to swing out and win. Blazing Crescendo is another new staple that draws cards while pumping the team, and Reckless Charge is a fantastic combination of pump and haste!

And that's the deck! We play creatures, play Zada, then storm off for the win!

$25 List

The $25 list has everything you need to clean up unsuspecting tables. Its main weakness is having Zada removed, but if that happens you just recast her and try again. She just needs to stick for one turn cycle to win the game.

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$81 Deck

The upgraded list has major improvements in mana with Birgi, God of Storytelling, Storm-Kiln Artist, and rituals like Rite of Flame. I've also tossed in a cheeky Veilstone Amulet to make it harder for opponents to stop our Storm turn.

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Further Upgrades

We're just adding generic staples beyond this point:

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Next Week: Budget Manabase Primer!

It's been a while since I've made a manabase primer so we'll have that next week! Thanks for reading!

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