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Top 5 Zendikar Rising Cards Under $2 | Commander Quickie

Zendikar Rising has been out for a few weeks now and I've had some time to playtest the new cards in Commander. I did a full Commander review of the set which you can find here -- Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 -- and while my opinion on most of the cards hasn't changed significantly, their bottomed out prices means I can revisit my favorite budget picks! So here we go my Top 5 favorite Zendikar Rising cards under $2. There's more than enough cards to talk about to fill a top 10 or even a top 15, but I'll be highlighting the top ones that have exceeded my expectations, with an emphasis on generic upgrades that can fit into multiple archetypes instead of cards that only work in one or two archetypes.

1. Bala Ged Recovery

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Spoiler alert: pretty much all the modal lands are solid inclusions in Commander. And Bala Ged Recovery is definitely one of the strongest even ignoring budget: Regrowth is a super versatile and useful card that you can jam into any Green deck with zero deckbuilding considerations; getting any card back from your graveyard is just a universally good effect, especially mid to lategame where you're basically guaranteed a good target to get back from your graveyard.

Bala Ged Recovery does the exact same thing for one additional mana, but shores up the weakness of Regrowth: not being useful early game. It slots into decks so easily that I'd recommend it in just about any Mono Green or 2C Green deck and it's an all-star in Green decks that can return lands back to hand like Mina and Denn, Wildborn or Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar.

2. Valakut Exploration

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Valakut Exploration is probably my favorite impulse card draw card ever printed. Compared to old favorites like Outpost Siege, Exploration costs one less mana and instead of reliably drawing 1 card per turn it's now a landfall trigger, which at worst means you have no lands to play and therefore no draw triggers but at best you're triggering this tons of times per turn and getting insane value. Also unlike most impulse draw that exiles cards forever if you don't cast them in time, Exploration puts the cards in your graveyard instead and deals 1 damage per card, so not only are you always getting value out of its ability but you'll never run the risk of exiling an important card, something that can ruin Combo decks.

I love Valakut Exploration. Any non-Green deck that runs lots of fetchlands is going to get a ton of value out of this card, but it's absolutely bonkers in Green decks that can reliably put multiple lands into play each turn like Omnath, Locus of Rage and Omnath, Locus of Creation.

3. Malakir Rebirth

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Of all the modal lands under $2, Malakir Rebirth is my absolute favorite and one I think people are sleeping on. I run Undying Evil and Supernatural Stamina as super efficient 1-mana protection in any Black deck that is heavily focused on its commander, like Toshiro Umezawa and K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth, and so many more. Not only is this a great way to avoid having to recast your commander along with paying the commander tax, the fact that the commander still dies and comes right back to the battlefield is especially useful in Black decks that have death triggers like Elenda, the Dusk Rose or enter the battlefield triggers like Gonti, Lord of Luxury.

I love and run Undying Evil and Supernatural Stamina, and Malakir Rebirth is just a better version since it's also a modal tapland while not costing any more mana! That's heckin' amazing! I recommend this card in a ton of Black decks.

4. Yasharn, Implacable Earth

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Yasharn, Implacable Earth is the mightiest of Hateboars, essentially a porked up Angel of Jubilation, shutting down Black's most powerful cards (e.g. Necropotence) and denying everyone the ability to crack fetchlands since they require you to pay life to activate (Wooded Foothills), plus so much more! And as a bonus you get some card advantage by getting a basic Plains and Forest when it enters the battlefield. It's just so much value!

Yasharn is a powerful inclusion in the 99 of basically any deck that isn't hosed by its effects, so any budgetish deck not running fetchlands but especially decks like Gaddock Teeg Hatebears, or Captain Sisay which can tutor up this legendary as a silver bullet. It definitely hogged the spotlight when it showed up in an episode of Commander Clash!

5. Felidar Retreat

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Now that I've had the opportunity to play with Felidar Retreat, friends, I can confirm that this card is a value machine. All three of its triggers are powerful and then when you combine them together it just takes over games so fast. Lots of different decks will want Felidar Retreat, but a few in particular will elevate it to allstar status:

  • The tokens are Cats, so obviously an auto-include in Cat Tribal
  • The buff is +1/+1 Counter so it's solid for +1/+1 counter decks
  • It's a Landfall trigger so Lands decks that Go Wide will enjoy it

It's hard not to jam Felidar Retreat into a deck and not get value from it. But I expect to see it played the most in Obuun, Mul Daya Ancestor Landfall, +1/+1 Counter decks like Atraxa, Praetors' Voice, and it's purrfect in Rin and Seri, Inseparable Cat Tribal.

That's All, Folks!

So that's a quick n' easy Top 5 budget Zendikar Rising cards that I'd recommend jamming into a whole bunch of different decks. There's plenty more still that can be covered, along with tons of staples for specific deck archetypes, so let me know what your favorite budget card is from the new set! What's impressed you the most? Let me know in the comments section below! Thanks for reading!

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