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By: Doctor Anime, Tomer Abramovici
Nov 24 2014 12:00pm
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I recently did a review of the new Commander 2014 cards. Since the set’s release, I’ve seen a lot of talk about the red deck, specifically Mono Red Artifacts. I love that archetype, and I’ve discussed it two years ago with a Slobad deck tech. Right now I feel like there’s more than enough information on building that archetype, so this article will focus on some of the other sweet cards that haven’t been explored yet.

   

A new cycle that isn’t getting enough attention are the lieutenants. These cards are weak when your general isn’t on the board, but very powerful when it is. This makes the cycle not worth it in typical decks, but a strong inclusion in niche decks where your general is likely to stay on the board for most of the game. The best example that springs to mind is the god cycle from Theros. Being indestructible means they dodge a lot of the removal being thrown around in the format. They can still be exiled, tucked, or sacrificed, but overall they’ll be booted off the table far less often than your typical general.

One of my favorite budget deck so far was Mayael the Anima. I’m generally a blue player that focuses on spells and tempo, and it was a great change of pace to jam a deck full of fatties and swing for a million. I wanted to revisit that strategy, and since my favorite two lieutenants from the set are Thunderfoot Baloth and Tyrant’s Familiar, my choice was clear:

Xenagos, God of Revels

Xenagos is a straightforward general: play big creatures, then Xenagos injects them with steroids and sends them off charging into your opponent’s face. Rinse repeat. The unique twist with Xenagos is that his ability triggers at the beginning of combat. That means he gets lots of extra value from extra combat phases: more combat, more triggers!

  

This turned out to be the most fun deck I’ve ever built on MTGO. Yeah, that sounds super overhyped, but it’s true. I’ve always been and always will be a Blue player, but I have a soft spot for swinging with the biggest creatures in the format, and oh my Xenagos does he deliver!

As much fun as Mayael was, Xenagos is even better. While Mayael was always the target of removal and a huge mana sink, I had many games where Xenagos was cast once and then stayed on the table for the rest of the game. His triggered ability doesn’t require more mana. This lets me focus on casting my fatties instead. Games were often won out of nowhere -- at the beginning of the turn I’d just have Xenagos out, and by the time combat rolled around I was swinging for lethal with a 24/24 trampler. This is a Timmy player’s wet dream! 


Hydra Omnivore taking out the entire table in 1 hit with Triumph of the Hordes!

 

THE BUDGET

  • No individual card worth more than $1 online (exception being Xenagos himself)
  • Digital Version: Total deck price is around $13 on MTGO Traders, about the cost of a Khans draft
  • Physical Version: Deckbox estimates the deck around $60 at the time I'm writing this article.
  • As always, I do a deck overview first, followed by ways to increase the budget at the bottom. Enjoy!

There are some huge price differences between digital and physical cards. Berserk online is a mere $0.12, while its physical counterpart is over $60. Meanwhile, digital Bane of Progress $8, but the physical copy is a dollar rare. So the two deck lists reflect the price discrepancies. 

 

 

Xenagos (Digital)
$13 commander deck for MTGO
Creatures
1 Wood Elves
1 Elvish Piper
1 Spearbreaker Behemoth
1 Terastodon
1 Acidic Slime
1 Woodfall Primus
1 Yavimaya Dryad
1 Farhaven Elf
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Hellkite Charger
1 Molten Primordial
1 Steel Hellkite
1 Archetype of Endurance
1 Balefire Dragon
1 Gruul Ragebeast
1 Hydra Omnivore
1 Living Hive
1 Moldgraf Monstrosity
1 Rampaging Baloths
1 Rapacious One
1 Ruric Thar, the Unbowed
1 Scourge of the Throne
1 Yavimaya Elder
1 Oracle of Mul Daya
1 Duplicant
1 Artisan of Kozilek
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Deus of Calamity
1 Myojin of Life's Web
29 cards

Other Spells
1 Farseek
1 Genesis Wave
1 Greater Good
1 Momentous Fall
1 Soul of the Harvest
1 Soul's Majesty
1 Sylvan Library
1 Ulvenwald Tracker
1 Explosive Vegetation
1 Hunter's Insight
1 Cultivate
1 Kodama's Reach
1 Nature's Lore
1 Rampant Growth
1 Gruul Signet
1 Quicksilver Amulet
1 Sol Ring
1 Strionic Resonator
1 Aggravated Assault
1 Life's Legacy
1 Seize the Day
1 World at War
1 Savage Beating
1 Thunderfoot Baloth
1 Impact Resonance
1 Malignus
1 Tooth and Nail
1 Tyrant's Familiar
1 Guild Feud
1 Lurking Predators
1 Crystal Ball
1 Cream of the Crop
1 Berserk
1 Triumph of the Hordes
31 cards
Lands
10 Forest
1 Contested Cliffs
1 Kazandu Refuge
1 Skarrg, the Rage Pits
1 Shivan Oasis
1 Gruul Guildgate
1 Gruul Turf
9 Mountain
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Strip Mine
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Command Tower
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Mosswort Bridge
1 Rootbound Crag
1 Rugged Highlands
1 Spinerock Knoll
1 Temple of the False God
36 cards
 
Xenagos, God of Revels

 

Xenagos (Cardboard)
$60 commander deck
Creatures
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Farhaven Elf
1 Wood Elves
1 Yavimaya Dryad
1 Yavimaya Elder
1 Polis Crusher
1 Spellbreaker Behemoth
1 Acidic Slime
1 Seedguide Ash
1 Silklash Spider
1 Bane of Progress
1 Hellkite Charger
1 Hellkite Tyrant
1 Homura, Human Ascendant
1 Inferno Titan
1 Paleoloth
1 Rapacious One
1 Ruric Thar, the Unbowed
1 Steel Hellkite
1 Garruk's Horde
1 Giant Adephage
1 Gruul Ragebeast
1 Moldgraf Monstrosity
1 Molten Primordial
1 Spearbreaker Behemoth
1 Stalking Vengeance
1 Tornado Elemental
1 Archetype of Endurance
1 Living Hive
1 Terastodon
1 Utvara Hellkite
1 Artisan of Kozilek
32 cards

Other Spells
1 Ulvenwald Tracker
1 Cream of the Crop
1 Farseek
1 Gruul Signet
1 Impact Resonance
1 Life's Legacy
1 Mind Stone
1 Nature's Lore
1 Rampant Growth
1 Strionic Resonator
1 Talisman of Impulse
1 Aggravated Assault
1 Crystal Ball
1 Cultivate
1 Hunter's Insight
1 Kodama's Reach
1 Explosive Vegetation
1 Momentous Fall
1 Seize the Day
1 Triumph of the Hordes
1 Hunter's Prowess
1 Malignus
1 Savage Beating
1 Soul's Majesty
1 World at War
1 Guild Feud
1 Lurking Predators
1 Soul of the Harvest
1 Thunderfoot Baloth
1 Warstorm Surge
1 Tyrant's Familiar
28 cards
Lands
1 Command Tower
1 Contested Cliffs
1 Evolving Wilds
12 Forest
1 Gruul Guildgate
1 Gruul Turf
1 Kazandu Refuge
1 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Mosswort Bridge
10 Mountain
1 Rugged Highlands
1 Shivan Oasis
1 Skarrg, the Rage Pits
1 Spinerock Knoll
1 Temple of the False God
1 Terramorphic Expanse
36 cards
 
Xenagos, God of Revels

 


HOW IT PLAYS:

  1. Ramp for turns 1-3.
  2. Play Xenagos turn 4.
  3. Begin dropping bombs and smashing for a million!

 

 

THE GOOD:

  • Being indestructible (and not always a creature) means that Xenagos stays on the board a lot longer than your average commander. It’s not uncommon for Xenagos to be cast once and then stay on the board for the rest of the game.
  • Because he’s harder to get rid of, you don’t need to waste tons of mana recasting Xenagos like with most commanders, and his triggered ability costs no mana either. That means you can devote your mana instead to your bombs.
  • Swinging with 20/20’s each turn is the norm, and big turns where you’re pumping out 50+ total damage is expected
  • You can easily win out of nowhere with Xenagos and an empty board. The god can steal games with Molten Primordial, Hydra Omnivore, and tons of other beatsticks.
  • Woe to any table that lets Xenagos actually untap with the god and a fatty in play. Numerous game-ending cards -- Seize the Day, Berserk, Triumph of the Hordes, and much more -- will outright kill at least one opponent in such a situation.
  • RG has access to every type of removal you want. You can destroy artifacts, creatures, enchantments, lands, no problem. RG is also exceptionally good against control with cards like Price of Glory, Spellbreaker Behemoth, Ruric Thar, the Unbowed, and Stranglehold.
  • The deck is straightforward, which means you don’t need to think as hard and can relax/enjoy. Plus, less complex decisions means less mistakes.
  • People playing on MTGO: This is a tap-out deck. That means you do what you need to do on your turn, tap down, and f8 through everyone else’s turn! No need to click “OK” a trillion times throughout everyone else’s turn because you’re holding an instant and what if you need to use it BS! I play Xenagos while watching hockey! Hooray!
  • People playing with physical cards: Minimal shuffling required! Because shuffling a stack of 99 cards endlessly every single turn is NOT FUN! Hooray!

 

THE BAD:

  • Decks that steal your creatures at a discount, such as Bribery, or dig them out of your graveyard with Animate Dead, are going to make you cry. The best answer to those steal effects is Homeward Path, which doesn't fit my deck's budget but I highly recommend. There’s also Brand and Gruul Charm if you know your meta likes these strategies.
  • RG has a versatile array of instant speed removal that can stop most combos. However, like any non-Blue deck without countermagic, it struggles against combo decks that don't allow you a chance to respond while they go off. It depends on the combo; Krosan Grip can stop infinites involving Phyrexian Altar or something similar, but options are limited. You can also stop them from tutoring pieces or take extra turns with Stranglehold. RG is best at being proactive, not reactive. Blow up their stuff and take them out before they can combo!
  • Tucking Xenagos is annoying, though that's true of most deck's commanders and not specifically a Xenagos weakness. Luckily, Green has a ton of creature tutors available to get him back. My favorite options are Green Sun's Zenith, Chord of Calling, and Worldly Tutor, which are unfortunately out of this deck's budget.
  • This is an aggressive deck that kill people fast. It's hard to make friends without a lot of smooth talking, and even then, once opponents see how quickly you can take out the entire board, future games will paint a target on you. 

 

 

DECK OVERVIEW:

 

RAMP:

Temple of the False God Sol Ring Nature's Lore Rampant Growth Sakura-Tribe Elder Gruul Signet Cultivate Farhaven Elf Kodama's Reach Wood Elves
Yavimaya Dryad Explosive Vegetation Oracle of Mul Daya Solemn Simulacrum Farseek (tmb= Yavimaya Elder)

Xenagos needs to get to around ~7 mana as quickly as possible to start dropping the bombs. So, as usual, I’m running a lot of ramp to get there as fast as possible. The goal is to consistently cast Xenagos by turn 4, and start churning out the fatties by turn 5. No surprises here in card choices, just the typical good ramp cards while keeping a good mana curve (don’t skimp on the 2-drops!).

 

CARD ADVANTAGE:

Sylvan Library Life's Legacy Hunter's Insight Greater Good Momentous Fall Soul's Majesty Soul of the Harvest Moldgraf Monstrosity

When you ramp really hard, you’ll need to replenish your hand. These are some of the best ways to do so. Drawing cards equal to a creature’s power means that you’ll be drawing 10+ cards, more than enough for the rest of the match. 

 

 

TOPDECK MANIPULATION:

Cream of the Crop Sylvan Library Crystal Ball

These cards do a lot of work in the deck. They smooth out your curve, helping you hit the land / ramp you want early, and then let you dig for bombs later. Where they really shine, however, is when paired up with Oracle of Mul Daya, Lurking Predators, and Guild Feud

 

CHEATING CREATURES INTO PLAY:

Spinerock Knoll Mosswort Bridge Elvish Piper Quicksilver Amulet Tooth and Nail Artisan of Kozilek Guild Feud Lurking Predators Myojin of Life's Web

Even with tons of ramp, you won’t be able to cast 2+ fatties on the same turn. The only way to get multiples out is by cheating them into play. Mosswort Bridge and Spinerock Knoll were both amazing at this. Activating them is trivial in this deck, as all you need is Xenagos out and cast any fattie, Xenagos doubles its power, boom done.

Two options that I love more than most folk are Guild Feud and Lurking Predators. I laid out the math in my Mayael article. Guild Feud has a 72% chance to hit one of the 34 creatures, and that percentage goes up even higher with topdeck manipulation. I think that's worth a slot!

 

DISRUPTION:

Contested Cliffs Strip Mine Ulvenwald Tracker Acidic Slime Deus of CalamityDuplicant Steel Hellkite Balefire Dragon Gruul Ragebeast Terastodon
Woodfall Primus Impact Resonance Tyrant's Familiar Ruric Thar, the Unbowed 

Sometimes you have to stop your opponent from winning the game, and that requires blowing something up: creature, enchantment, artifact, nonbasic land, graveyard, whatever – RG has the right card for anything.

A nice perk is that a lot of the removal comes with a big fattie which Xenagos can then throw at your opponents. Just remember that the fatties cost 6+ mana, which limits you to casting one per turn, so it’s best to sprinkle in some low-cost removal as well to use your mana more efficiently.

Two fantastic new additions from CMD14 are Tyrant’s Familiar and Impact Resonance. With Xenagos staying on the field for the entirety of most games played, Tyrant’s Familiar was always a 7/7 flyer that blew up a pesky creature each swing. Impact Resonance was even better. Smashing for 10+ damage is the norm for this deck, and following up with Impact Resonance made it to be a one-sided board wipe for 2 mana. It’s as absurd as it sounds. 

 

 

EXTRA COMBATS:

Aggravated Assault Seize the Day Savage Beating World at War Scourge of the Throne Hellkite Charger

I can’t emphasize enough how good extra combat steps are with Xenagos. Hitting with Living Hive as a 12/12 trampler, making an army of tokens, and then doing it AGAIN as a 24/24 trampler immediately after is completely unfair and so much fun! Games were won out of nowhere when I’d cast + flashback Seize the Day, taking out multiple opponents in one swoop.

Of these, I found Seize the Day to be the strongest, while Hellkite Charger was the weakest due to how much mana it requires.

 

THE REST:

Skarrg, the Rage Pits Kessig Wolf Run Strionic Resonator Genesis Wave Malignus Rapacious One Hydra Omnivore Rampaging Baloths Molten Primordial Spearbreaker Behemoth
Living Hive Berserk Triumph of the Hordes Thunderfoot Baloth

Strionic Resonator is a workhorse in this deck. It’s one of the best cards here by far. It’s often copying Xenagos’ trigger for ridiculous beatdowns – turning an 8/8 Hydra Omnivore into a 16/16 into a 32/32 – but if Xenagos is ever off the board, it also works with nearly every single other creature this deck runs. So much value for a mere 2 mana!

Special mention goes to Berserk and Triumph of the Hordes. As if this deck needed more ways to win on the spot, these two cards spell doom for at least one opponent. 

Thunderfoot Baloth is another MVP. It’s very undercosted for how much it brings to the table, a 7/7 trampler by itself that gives all other creatures +2/+2 and trample is absurd in this deck. If there was a single CMD14 card that brought the most to this deck, it would be the Baloth.

 

INCREASING THE BUDGET 

Homeward Path Ancient Tomb Temple of Abandon Stomping Ground Taiga Scavenging Ooze Blightsteel Colossus Worldspine Wurm Kozilek, Butcher of Truth Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger Giant Adephage Wurmcoil Engine Natural Order Worldly Tutor Chord of Calling See the Unwritten Green Sun's Zenith Survival of the Fittest Sneak Attack
Garruk, Caller of Beasts Garruk, Primal Hunter 
Domri Rade Sensei's Divining Top Scroll Rack  

The very first thing I'd splurge for is Homeward Path, which can be picked up for under $5. It's such an amazing response against opponents that try to steal your creatures, turning the deck's biggest weakness into a complete blowout in your favor. Imagine someone uses Animate Dead to pick up your Spearbreaker Behemoth, and then you get it from them by tapping a land. Ridiculous! I'd recommend pairing it up with methods to fetch for it, such as Expedition Map, Sylvan Scrying, and Realm Seekers. These fetches are never a dead draw because you have tons of utility lands already to fetch for, such as Contested Cliffs when you need creature removal, Strip Mine for lands, Skarrg, the Rage Pits for trample, etc.

Another cheap upgrade is See the Unwritten. The deck runs a high density of big creatures and ferocity is trivial to activate, so odds are you're getting 2 fat creatures each time. Currently both online and offline versions are under $4.

The rest of the cards are a mix of things that Xenagos is already doing, but a little better. Better fatty creatures, better tutors, better card draw, better cheats, etc. Some of them are under $5, others are over $50. But most importantly, none are "necessary" to kick ass!

 

That's All, Folks! 

Hope you guys enjoyed this budget deck tech. If you're interested in seeing a particular commander covered, please let me know and I'll see what can be done. Thanks for reading!

9 Comments

Great article but I'm still by ScionOfJustice at Tue, 11/25/2014 - 00:17
ScionOfJustice's picture

Great article but I'm still scratching my head on how this got over 7K views in a day.

The magic of reddit! :) by Doctor Anime at Tue, 11/25/2014 - 11:23
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The magic of reddit! :)

Wow. by The D.K. at Tue, 11/25/2014 - 13:24
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5

Played a 1v1. Archetype of Endurance + Hunter's Insight + Xenagos = 12 cards. Seize the Day on same turn = 36 cards drawn and 36 damage dealt in same turn. I love this deck so much.

Awesome! Xenagod is pleased! by Doctor Anime at Wed, 11/26/2014 - 11:41
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Awesome! Xenagod is pleased!

As am I. by The D.K. at Wed, 11/26/2014 - 16:50
The D.K.'s picture

Me too. I made some adjustments to the deck since I already had some pricier cards from my Yisan, the Wanderer Bard deck (Avenger of Zendikar, Garruk, Lotus Cobra, Azusa, Chord of Calling, GSZ, etc). It's been working splendidly. Yet to play a full 4-for-all but it seems like I'll draw a lot of hate. XD Still, a super fun deck.

Those all sound like good by Doctor Anime at Thu, 11/27/2014 - 02:42
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Those all sound like good inclusions. My personal experiences in 4-player was yeah you get targeted if you have a fast start and come out the gates swinging. But many times people left me alone if I "just" had Xenagos out and a bunch of lands and others had bigger boards. That's the prime time to play a fattie, take an extra combat step, and win.

I approve this message. Good by Leviathan at Tue, 11/25/2014 - 17:07
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I approve this message. Good stuff.

What are your thoughts on by Kerrick at Thu, 12/25/2014 - 00:49
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What are your thoughts on Avatar of Slaughter? Too dangerous, or value town?

Could be very strong. I'm not by Doctor Anime at Fri, 01/02/2015 - 12:01
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Could be very strong. I'm not worried about giving opponents double strike. We're going to get the most use out of it for sure.