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Nuke Everything With Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded! | Budget Commander | $50, $100, $200

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Hey, friends! Do you like playing with big dumb creatures that dish out HUGE damage, but don't want to pay their big dumb mana costs? Well, then I have the commander for you! Feast your eyes on Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded! Instead of spending tons of mana to regularly cast a big ol' beatstick like Etali, Primal Storm, Purphoros just picks up and THROWS this chonky dinosaur at your opponents for just three mana! This throw is so goddamn epic that even your dino dies on impact, but Purphoros don't care, he's just gonna toss another big dumb creature right after! "Bronze-Blooded" is an apt title because Purphoros is definitively the god of METAL!

Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded is a brutal god that is both simple and powerful. All you gotta do is fill your deck with giant beatsticks and use Purphoros to hurl them at your opponents' faces until everything dies. He essentially an indestructible Sneak Attack in your command zone and that, frankly, is awesome! The main downside to Purphoros, however, is the hate that he draws: your opponents will quickly learn to fear you once Purphoros enters the battlefield, not knowing what game-ending creature you'll cheat out next!

You might like this deck if ...

  • You want to play a Mono Red Stompy deck that is all about fast, explosive beatdowns
  • You want a deck that can win games out of nowhere
  • You prefer winning through combat over combos
  • You have no strong attachments to the beatsticks that you'll be flinging at your opponents

You might NOT like this deck if ...

  • You want a Stompy deck that has access to multiple colors
  • You don't want to be the de facto Archenemy at tables
  • You love all your creatures and don't want to Fling them to their death

If you want to play a fast, explosive Battlecruiser deck loaded with ways to win games out of nowhere, and don't mind the automatic hate that the deck will generate, then Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded is the commander for you!

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The best land spice in the entire deck has gotta be Endless Sands. For an additional three mana, you can save the creature you've snuck in with Purphoros so it's exiled instead of sacrificed. Then later on you can pop the Sands, returning all the creatures exiled by it to the battlefield permanently! It's also nice as a freebie way to protect your creatures from removal in general.

The rest of the lands are basically Mono Red Goodstuff cards. Although I feel Homeward Path is particularly useful here since any deck running a bunch of theft effects (Animate Dead, Blatant Thievery) are going to have a field day with your deck full of giant splashy creatures if you aren't protecting yourself from that.

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Finding budget-friendly ramp in Mono Red is getting harder and harder these days, but there's a few standouts for Purphoros: Rapacious One is the jankiest of the bunch, creating eldrazi spawn if it connects with an opponent. While I don't count them as ramp exactly, the big rituals like Irencrag Feat and Mana Geyser can help you cast any big creatures stuck in your hand. If you can afford more expensive options then Braid of Fire pairs remarkably well with Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded, letting you dump that mana into his activated ability.

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Card Draw

Red's "impulse draw" (named after Act on Impulse), while usually excellent, is not well-suited to a Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded deck since exiled cards can't be snuck in with Purphoros' ability and therefore you will have to pay the (often very high) casting cost of the exiled spells. They can still be decent, but there are better options for this specific deck.

One of the best card draw options for Purphoros has to be Dragon Mage, which can instantly refill your hand with seven new cards, essentially a Wheel of Fortune that deals six damage! More great options include Sandstone Oracle, which can also refill your hand once you're low, Magus of the Wheel, which Purphoros gives haste so it can activate the turn you cast it, and Combustible Gearhulk, which can twist an opponents' arm into giving you a bunch of card lest they take a truckload of damage to the face!

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Red has plenty of beatsticks that blow up creatures: Drakuseth, Maw of Flames snipes off single targets, Balefire Dragon nukes an opposing board, and Ryusei, the Falling Star wipes out all non-flying creatures. We have some beefy options to deal with noncreatures too: Hellkite Tyrant can steal artifacts, while Meteor Golem handles any nonland permanent.

Outside of beatsticks, Red boasts some nice cheaper removal options too. Vandalblast is great at clearing out artifacts, Chaos Warp kinda sorta handles anything, and Nevinyrral's Disk can wipe the entire board when needed.

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Maximizing Value

We've only scratched the surface on what Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded can do. To really get the maximum value out of our deck, we'll add a bunch of ways to get even more value out of our commander's ability! There are a TON of ways to do this, including taking extra combat steps with cards like Seize the Day, making cheap copies of our creatures with Flameshadow Conjuring, sacrificing our snuck creature before they sacrifice themselves to stuff like Dreamshaper Shaman, or preventing the sacrifice trigger entirely with cards like Sundial of the Infinite so the snuck creature stays around permanently!

Here are some of my favorite ideas to really push Purphoros to the next level:

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The Controversial Nuke

A primer on Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded wouldn't be complete without covering the most controversial "staple" in the deck: Bearer of the Heavens. This card seems like a no-brainer inclusion: sneaking it in with Purphoros is an easy way to nuke the board of all permanents, except our indestructible commander survives. This is a very powerful play ... in theory. The problem is that Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded doesn't actually do anything if it's the only permanent on your otherwise empty board. All you've accomplished with the Bearer is reset the game and likely annoyed your opponents in the process.

If you're looking to sneak in Bearer of the Heavens, I highly recommend building your deck so that you can close out the game once you've nuked the board. The easiest way to do this is to load up on indestructible permanents. Darksteel Citadel, Darksteel Ingot, and Cascading Cataracts are easy inclusions that will survive the nuke, giving you a leg up on the competition in the postapocalyptic board state. Perhaps the best way to close out the game, however, is to give all your creatures persist with Cauldron of Souls before the nuke happens, or make the entire board indestructible with Soul of New Phyrexia. Your opponents will still grumble, but the game will end shortly and decisively if you have a full board while they have nothing.

Bearer of the Heavens is probably the best card in the entire deck, but use it wisely! Don't use it to grief tables; use it as a finisher!

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Deckbuilding Checklist

Alright, now that we've gone over the card pool we're working with, it's time to talk about how we craft the deck. As I often explain in my Budget Commander articles, every time I build a rough draft of a deck, I make sure I have a certain amount of mana, interaction, card advantage, etc. This gives me a reference point to compare to the deck and see which areas may need improvement. This is my general checklist of minimum requirements:

  • 50 mana; lands and ramp, usually a 37–13 split
  • 10 sources of "card advantage;" I use this term loosely but am mostly looking for card draw or any spell that nets me 2+ non-land cards in hand / directly into play
  • 6 targeted removal, split between creature / artifact / enchantment removal
  • 3 board wipes; creature-light decks might want one more, creature-heavy decks might want one less
  • 2 recursion
  • 2 flexible tutors
  • 1 graveyard hate; since you need to keep Graveyard decks honest 
  • 1 surprise "I Win" card; something that can win games the turn you cast it without too much setup

The remaining deck slots are filled with whatever cards fit the deck's theme and add to the overall synergy. That's always my starting point, which is then tweaked to suit the individual deck's strategy and further tweaked with playtesting. I always find it immensely useful to figure out some quick ways to improve the deck in question.

Now that we've covered the deck's goal, the cards we're going to building with, and have a check list of cards that we'll need, let's build the sample decks!


$50 List

When brewing the deck initially I was on track to making the starting point $30 ... until around the 80th card, when I noticed that I had simply run out of cheap cards to add that weren't simply bad filler options. So $50 starter it is!

This is a very straightforward brew: play lands, ramp, cast our commander, and then start flinging giant beaters at our opponents. Our sneaky creatures cover the majority of our removal (Bloodfire Colossus) and card draw (Dragon Mage). We get even more value out of our creatures thanks to cards like Flameshadow Conjuring. We also have Bearer of the Heavens in our back pocket, which closes games out when paired with Soul of New Phyrexia or Cauldron of Souls.

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$100 List

The $100 list has tons of upgrades all over the place: we've got better lands (Scavenger Grounds), ramp (Neheb, the Eternal), card draw (Combustible Gearhulk), removal (Chaos Warp), ways to keep our snuck creatures around permanently (Conjurer's Closet), and even more explosive turns (Combat Celebrant). I feel that this price point is the ideal spot in terms of dollars spent for overall power level.

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$200 List

The $200 list picks up pretty much all the remaining top sneak candidates: Balefire Dragon and Hellkite Tyrant have now entered the battlefield! I've also tossed in the Godo, Bandit Warlord + Helm of the Host combo: simply sneak/cast Godo, Bandit Warlord, fetching Helm of the Host then equip Helm to make infinite Godo tokens and infinite combat steps to attack with them. This combo costs only eight mana if you sneak Godo into play, or eleven mana if you cast Godo. Finally, the deck is rounded out with Mono Red's best hate cards, Ruination and Blood Moon.

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In my opinion, the deck is pretty much complete at this price point until you're looking to spend the big bucks on the final upgrades. Cards like Mana Crypt and Mox Opal are obvious ramp upgrades but cost you upwards of $100 each. Wheel of Fortune is the absolute best way to refill your hand but is another $100. Small upgrades like Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle can also help the deck out but cost a ton to do so. It might also be worth including a Kiki Combo package or Underworld Breach Combo as well, but I'm not sure.


That's All, Folks!

I've got one more article for you coming along and after that, we'll open the polls again for you to decide what the future commanders should be! Thanks for reading!

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