Last updated on May 20, 2024

Costly Plunder - Illustration by Ben Maier

Costly Plunder | Illustration by Ben Maier

Commander is one of Magic’s most popular formats and the king of casual play. The deck size and singleton constraint give the format incredible versatility, even within one deck. You rarely see the same game twice, at least not in a short period of time. It can also be incredibly expensive, which makes jumping into the format daunting.

But there are plenty of budget options you can play in Commander, and today I’m ranking 15 budget decks with plenty of power and variety despite not costing more than $100. Remember to check for lesser-costing versions of cards since some have printings that have a vastly greater price for the same mechanical function. These decks are also straightforward with easy-to-understand strategies that make them perfect for a player looking to get into Commander without making a huge financial investment. If you're looking for budget cEDH, your article is in another castle.

Let's get right into it!

#15. Giada Angel Tribal

Giada, Font of Hope - Illustration by Eric Deschamps

Giada, Font of Hope | Illustration by Eric Deschamps

First off is mono-white angel tribal helmed by Giada, Font of Hope. This is a white midrange deck looking to quickly power out angels with Giada helping to ramp them out ahead of schedule and providing them with a stat boost in the form of +1/+1 counters.

The main thing that keeps this deck lower on the list is that it’s a little slow and held back by its color and budget. White is famously bad at ramp and card advantage, which can allow other decks to either outpace or grind out a Giada deck. One of the best white ramp cards for angels is Starnheim Aspirant. To give extra boosts beyond +1/+1 counters are Thraben Watcher, and Lyra Dawnbringer.

Keeping the deck to a budget misses out on some of the strongest payoffs and enablers like Avacyn, Angel of Hope, and Urza's Incubator. Despite these drawbacks, this is still a delightful deck that utilizes one of Magic’s strongest and most iconic tribes and is a fantastic introduction to Commander with a straightforward game plan and easy lines.

#14. Ardenn & Anara Equipment

Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist - Illustration by Jason Rainville

Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist | Illustration by Jason Rainville

This deck partners Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist with Anara, Wolvid Familiar to create a powerful Voltron combo built around stacking a ton of equipment onto one of your commanders and getting in for plenty of damage. Ardenn lets you equip any number of equipment for free, while Anara ensures you can freely attack with indestructibility.

In truth, the real plan of this deck is to use Worldslayer. If you can get Ardenn and Anara in play and auto-equip one of them with Worldslayer, you basically win the game. A single attack destroys everything, including lands, but Anara ensures that your commanders survive. You can then win at your leisure as your opponents watch you attack without any lands to play their own spells.

The deck has ways to find the Worldslayer, including Open the Armory and Stonehewer Giant. This deck can play a more traditional Voltron deck without Worldslayer, though it’s definitely less fun.

#13. Nymris Flash

Nymris, Oona's Trickster - Illustration by Johannes Voss

Nymris, Oona's Trickster | Illustration by Johannes Voss

Nymris, Oona's Trickster leads the only control deck on this list. It’s a great control commander because it blocks incredibly well and draws you a ton of cards. One of the weaknesses of control in Commander is that you’re often playing one-for-one removal against four opponents. Nymris counteracts this by not only drawing you cards when you cast spells on your opponents’ turns but giving you the best card of two.

You maximize this with a fat stack of instants and a plethora of cards with flash. Creatures like Cunning Nightbonder and Slitherwisp let you play threats at instant speed to back up Nymris.

Like any good control deck, you’ve also got tons of interaction. There’s a suite of excellent countermagic and instant-speed removal like Counterspell and Go for the Throat to ensure you’re calling the shots on what happens on the battlefield. You’ll play a long game that you win with massive threats like Hullbreaker Horror and Lochmere Serpent.

#12. Doran Toughness Matters

Doran, the Siege Tower - Illustration by Mark Zug

Doran, the Siege Tower | Illustration by Mark Zug

Commander (1)

Doran, the Siege Tower

Planeswalker (1)

Huatli, the Sun's Heart

Creatures (30)

Avacyn's Pilgrim
Disowned Ancestor
Elves of Deep Shadow
Llanowar Elves
Treefolk Harbinger
Armored Scrapgorger
Bosk Banneret
Giant Ox
Grizzled Leotau
Nyx-Fleece Ram
Soulless Jailer
Wall of Blossoms
Wall of Omens
Wall of Roots
Abzan Beastmaster
Catapult Fodder
Faeburrow Elder
Heartwood Storyteller
Runic Armasaur
Ancient Lumberknot
Arasta of the Endless Web
Gorm the Great
Nemata, Primeval Warden
Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa
Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper
Sapling of Colfenor
Colfenor, the Last Yew
Ulvenwald Observer
Zetalpa, Primal Dawn

Instants (10)

March of Otherworldly Light
Nature's Claim
Path to Exile
Shape the Sands
Swords to Plowshares
Abrupt Decay
Tear Asunder
Mythos of Nethroi
Reach of Branches

Sorceries (12)

Prismatic Ending
Feed the Swarm
Nature's Lore
Night's Whisper
Kodama's Reach
Painful Truths
Fell the Mighty
Wave of Reckoning
Dusk / Dawn

Enchantments (2)

Assault Formation
Lumithread Field

Artifacts (7)

Sol Ring
Arcane Signet
Fellwar Stone
Golgari Signet
Orzhov Signet
Selesnya Signet
Swiftfoot Boots

Lands (37)

Ash Barrens
Bojuka Bog
Canopy Vista
Caves of Koilos
Command Tower
Evolving Wilds
Forbidding Watchtower
Forest x5
Golgari Rot Farm
Haunted Mire
Isolated Chapel
Llanowar Wastes
Murmuring Bosk
Plains x3
Radiant Grove
Sandsteppe Citadel
Scattered Groves
Selesnya Sanctuary
Sungrass Prairie
Sunlit Marsh
Sunpetal Grove
Swamp x2
Tainted Field
Tainted Wood
Temple of Malady
Temple of Plenty
Temple of Silence
Vault of the Archangel
Woodland Cemetery

Doran, the Siege Tower may be an elderly treefolk, but this deck is anything but slow. Despite most of your creatures having little to no power, you’re an aggressive deck looking to capitalize on Doran’s ability. But you're not wholly reliant on Doran; there are enough redundant versions of the effect that this deck operates without your commander.

This deck takes advantage of cards like the plant option on Skinshifter, the five toughness on Nyx-Fleece Ram and Runic Armasaur that were designed as defensive options and turns them into aggressive beaters. Who doesn’t love a 2-mana 5/5 that gains life every turn? Your creatures become overstated for their costs with Doran, Ancient Lumberknot, or Assault Formation.

You lean heavily on green creatures with lots of stats for their cost to make up most of your offensive and defensive forces in the deck. They also give you access to the invaluable ramp and fixing to enable your 3-color strategy. When paired with white’s excellent removal and black card draw, this deck is a force to reckon with.

#11. Gonti Scam

Gonti, Lord of Luxury - Illustration by Daarken

Gonti, Lord of Luxury | Illustration by Daarken

Gonti, Lord of Luxury is hands down one of my favorite card designs. Here the Aetherborn kingpin leads a mono-black midrange aristocrats deck with an ETB subtheme to maximize the number of cards you can extort from your opponents.

Modern players may find familiarity with this deck because it has a strategy that works like Rakdos () scam. You’ve got Undying Evil and all its variants on display here. This deck grinds out opponents with edict creatures like Plaguecrafter combined with these effects. You can use Undying Evil to bring back your Plaguecrafter to double-edict, or target something like Gonti to get a second trigger.

The main thing holding this deck back from being in the top 10 is its narrow interaction. This is broadly the weakness of playing a single color in Commander; you won’t have as many tools in your arsenal. In Gonti’s case, this deck is excellent at shutting down opposing creatures but falters against decks that aren’t looking to win on that axis.

#10. Faldorn Exile

Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald - Illustration by Jason A. Engle

Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald | Illustration by Jason A. Engle

Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald gives you an interesting take on Gruul () with a commander that wants to exploit casting spells from exile. Exiling spells and casting them later has become red’s primary source of card advantage, and Faldorn benefits from it by making tokens of the wolf variety to go along with all the cards you play.

This deck functions on a pretty simple idea: ramp, ramp, and ramp some more. You’ve got plenty of mana to play the cards you’ve exiled to make as many wolves as possible. This deck “draws” cards like a blue deck to see as much of your library as possible and find your wincons.

This list leans heavily on Faldorn’s ability to produce an army to finish things off. You’ve got enough ramp to help cast it multiple times, and your best win conditions are cards like Grumgully, the Generous, and Overrun that turn a few 2/2s into a lethal board state.

#9. Gargos Hydras

Gargos, Vicious Watcher - Illustration by Mathias Kollros

Gargos, Vicious Watcher | Illustration by Mathias Kollros

Gargos, Vicious Watcher is an excellent deck for anybody looking to turn their local commander table into a kaiju battlefield. This deck is about pumping out massive hydras loaded with +1/+1 counters and using them to fight the mere mortals your opponents are trying to win the game with including Hungering Hydra, Heroes' Bane, and Whiptongue Hydra.

This deck packs tons of ramp spells to let you accelerate into Gargos and get ahead of your opponents. You’re never lacking for something to do with your mana since you have so many spells with X in their cost and a few cards that draw you a bunch of cards since they scale off the size of your biggest creature.

You’ve also got plenty of targeted spells to make Gargos fight your opponents’ creatures so you can slip through their shattered defenses for a win. There are also multiple ways to give your hydras trample to ensure you can close the game.

#8. Shanna Lifegain

Shanna, Purifying Blade (Dominaria United) - Illustration by Magali Villeneuve

Shanna, Purifying Blade (Dominaria United) | Illustration by Magali Villeneuve

How can your opponents win if they never get your life to zero? Shanna, Purifying Blade forces your opponents to consider this as it helms a controlling midrange deck that’s focused on lifegain. Shanna makes a perfect commander for this deck because it lets you draw cards based on how much life you’ve gained.

This is a deck that ramps really, really hard because you never run out of things to do with your mana. If your hand starts running low, you can pump five or six mana into Shanna to refill it for the next turn. You’ve got a lot of lifegain abilities to facilitate that card draw.

This deck has a tokens subtheme to win the game. You’ll eventually have far more creatures, mana, cards, and life than your opponents, and you can close things out with cards like Lathiel, the Bounteous Dawn, Nykthos Paragon and Blossoming Bogbeast. This is a passive deck that builds up defenses over time, so make sure you don’t look too threatening in the early game.

#7. Judith Aristocrats

Judith, The Scourge Diva - Illustration by Wesley Burt

Judith, The Scourge Diva | Illustration by Wesley Burt

Who doesn’t love to put on a show for the table? Judith, the Scourge Diva ensures you have the flashiest deck at the table as you inch your opponents to their deaths one trigger at a time. This aristocrats deck makes a spectacle of your victory, forcing your audience to watch you chip away at their life total with a plethora of cards that deal damage to them whenever your creatures die.

You’ve also got way more effects triggered by your creatures dying. There’s an abundance of card draw, for one. And… well, that’s about it. But what more do you need than card draw and damage? This deck has a bunch of cards that either produce tokens or creatures that can be recurred so you can keep sacrificing them to ping your opponents to death.

You’ve also got plenty of board control thanks to a suite of edict creatures. You’ll close the game with cards like Torbran, Thane of Red Fell that maximize your damage. You can also go infinite with Putrid Goblin, First Day of Class, and a free sacrifice outlet; after casting Class, the Goblin persists back to the battlefield with a -1/-1 and a +1/+1 counter that cancel each other out so you can sacrifice it again and again. This is an easy win with Judith in play.

#6. Ezuri +1/+1 Counters

Ezuri, Claw of Progress - Illustration by James Ryman

Ezuri, Claw of Progress | Illustration by James Ryman

Ezuri, Claw of Progress is a deck that takes a little time to get going but quickly snowballs out of control. The deck dumps a huge number of counters on small creatures, often to much more benefit than just a few extra stats. Paired with proliferate cards from Phyrexia: All Will Be One, this brews a lethal deck.

This deck has some insane mana production. On top of green’s already solid ramp, there are lots of cards like Marwyn, the Nurturer, Gyre Sage and Rishkar, Peema Renegade that work with this theme specifically to make dizzying amounts of mana. You’ll use this to play a bunch of spells, fueled by cards like Edric, Spymaster of Trest, Fathom Mage and Primal Empathy that help you draw a load of cards.

Much of this deck’s power comes from how hard it is to interact with Ezuri. You can’t interact with experience counters, so it’s like having a commander that creates a planeswalker emblem. Paired with the mana production, you can’t get rid of it. This deck also has some sneaky cards that win the game. Blighted Agent easily puts a whole table on a three-turn clock, while Sage of Hours gives you infinite turns if you have five or more experience counters.

#5. Fynn Poison

Fynn, the Fangbearer - Illustration by Lie Setiawan

Fynn, the Fangbearer | Illustration by Lie Setiawan

Fynn, the Fangbearer is perfect for any prospective Commander player who wants to be a little toxic in their pod. This is a very aggressive green deck focused on using Fynn’s ability to give their opponents poison counters. This circumvents the traditional issue with aggro in Commander: the need to deal 120 damage.

This is a bit of a glass cannon deck, and your ability to win with it depends on your ability to read a table. You can rush one player to ten poison counters in a few turns, but that could lead to the rest of the table deciding you’re a threat and turning the game into a 2v1. You could spread the poison around, but that could lead to players picking you off as you get closer to ten on each of them.

If Fynn is your commander of choice, and your beaters are Gnarlwood Dryad, Bloated Contaminator, and Questing Beast, you should consider that not every table cares for poison decks. That said, Fynn is still an interesting commander that offers some interesting lines and rewards coming up with a game plan several turns out.

#4. The Locust God Card Draw

The Locust God - Illustration by Lius Lasahido

The Locust God | Illustration by Lius Lasahido

This Izzet () deck unleashes a plague of locusts upon your opponents faster than they can react. This is a quintessential The Locust God deck that wants to ramp out the commander and draw a bunch of cards to create a hasty swarm of insects.

The primary win condition is beating in the air. Once you get your god in play, you’ve got an abundance of cards that let you draw a ton of cards like Whirlpool Rider and Arjun, the Shifting Flame to make swarms of Insects. The Insects can even spawn more of themselves with the help of effects like Reconnaissance Mission and Unctus, Grand Metatect.

You have numerous ways to make your insects stronger. Cards like Shared Animosity and Ferocity of the Wilds help your insects hit harder than ever. You can also play a grindier game with cards like Opposition and Niv-Mizzet, Parun to give the deck staying power if the aggressive route doesn’t work.

#3. Jinnie Fay Tokens

Jinnie Fay, Jetmir's Second - Illustration by David Gaillet

Jinnie Fay, Jetmir's Second | Illustration by David Gaillet

Commander (1)

Jinnie Fay, Jetmir's Second

Planeswalker (1)

Nissa, Voice of Zendikar

Creatures (22)

Avacyn's Pilgrim
Elvish Mystic
Llanowar Elves
Signal Pest
Selfless Spirit
Shanna, Sisay's Legacy
Champion of Lambholt
Feline Sovereign
Jaheira, Friend of the Forest
King Darien XLVIII
King of the Pride
Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin
Mage's Attendant
Prava of the Steel Legion
Queen Allenal of Ruadach
Wayfaring Temple
Arasta of the Endless Web
Irregular Cohort
Jetmir, Nexus of Revels
Regal Caracal
Neyali, Suns' Vanguard
Gahiji, Honored One

Instants (15)

Lightning Bolt
March of Otherworldly Light
Path to Exile
Secure the Wastes
Swords to Plowshares
Artifact Mutation
Aura Mutation
Kabira Takedown
Rite of Harmony
Chaos Warp
Make a Stand
March of the Multitudes
Prismatic Strands
Unbreakable Formation
Crash the Party

Sorceries (11)

Prismatic Ending
Martial Coup
Nature's Lore
Rampant Growth
White Sun's Twilight
Kodama's Reach
Decree of Justice
Hour of Reckoning

Enchantments (9)

Goblin Bombardment
Impact Tremors
Intangible Virtue
Roar of Resistance
Skrelv's Hive
Inspiring Leader
Shared Animosity
Court of Grace
Felidar Retreat

Artifacts (5)

Sol Ring
Arcane Signet
Boros Signet
Gruul Signet
Selesnya Signet

Lands (36)

Animal Sanctuary
Ash Barrens
Battlefield Forge
Boros Garrison
Cabaretti Courtyard
Canopy Vista
Cinder Glade
Command Tower
Evolving Wilds
Forest x3
Gavony Township
Rith's Grove
Jungle Shrine
Karplusan Forest
Kher Keep
Mountain x2
Naya Panorama
Path of Ancestry
Plains x4
Radiant Grove
Sacred Peaks
Scattered Groves
Selesnya Sanctuary
Sheltered Thicket
Temple of Abandon
Temple of Plenty
Temple of Triumph
Windbrisk Heights
Wooded Ridgeline

One of the wider token decks on the list, Jinnie Fay, Jetmir's Second offers a ton of explosive power from the command zone. Most token generators are balanced for their cost by producing 1/1s. Jinnie Fay breaks that wide open by making 2/2s and 3/1s to build a force that outscales the amount of mana you’re putting into your spells.

You’ll generally want to turn all your tokens into Cats. The haste is fantastic, and you’ve got a few cat lords like King of the Pride and Feline Sovereign that make the Cats more appealing than the Dog tokens.

The token deck leans on explosiveness and making a few tokens incredibly large by focusing on putting out a reasonable force and using finishers like Jetmir, Nexus of Revels, and Inspiring Leader to claw your opponents down.

#2. Abdel & Candlekeep Sage Flicker

Abdel Adrian, Gorion's Ward - Illustration by Phil Stone

Abdel Adrian, Gorion's Ward | Illustration by Phil Stone

Flicker decks have been a part of Commander forever, and Abdel Adrian, Gorion's Ward makes a great commander for the deck when paired with the Candlekeep Sage background. Abdel is wrath protection in the command zone and a way to get numerous triggers and build out a wide board all at once while the background gives you access to blue and plenty of card draw.

Abdel is the heart of this deck. Often, you’ll want to build out a bit of a board before casting it and exiling multiple permanents with its ability. This nets you several Soldier tokens. You can then use one of your flicker effects to blink Abdel. This’ll draw two cards if Candlekeep is in play, but also gives you two triggers from Abdel; its ETB and LTB. Stack them so it puts all the permanents into play first to get their ETB triggers, and then exiles them again, producing more tokens and setting you up to do it again the next turn.

This is an insanely grindy deck with tons of lifegain and card draw. The longer the game goes, the more likely you are to squeeze enough value from your cards to win the game. You’ve even got a sneaky infinite combo with Peregrine Drake, Archaeomancer, and Ghostly Flicker.

#1. Adrix and Nev Token Doublers

Adrix and Nev, Twincasters - Illustration by Andrew Mar

Adrix and Nev, Twincasters | Illustration by Andrew Mar

Where Jinnie Fay went tall, Adrix and Nev, Twincasters is a token deck that wants to go wide. Really, really wide. This is just Doubling Season in the command zone, so it’s not surprising the Twincasters are topping this list as the strongest of our budget decks.

The strategy is simple: ramp out and start doubling tokens. It’s just so much value. It’s hard to keep up with this many tokens coming into play. It’s hard for your opponents to attack you, and you generate a powerful attack force of tokens that swarm around your opponents’ blockers.

Once you’ve established an overwhelming force, you can finish the opponent with cards like Overrun and Master Biomancer, or just by crushing your opponent with sheer numbers. If your opponents give you any time to build up steam, you’ll crush them.

Commanding Conclusion

Smothering Tithe - Illustration by Mark Behm

Smothering Tithe | Illustration by Mark Behm

Playing Commander on a budget doesn’t mean you need to forsake powerful cards and strategies. There’s something for everybody in the decks above, from aggressive strategies to controlling and everything in between. There are also plenty of choices for the color you want to play with and tips for building Commander decks.

These 15 budget Commander decks are a great entry point for players new to Commander or even Magic as a game. They’re cheap and straightforward without pulling any punches on power. Which list was your favorite? Who was your first budget Commander? Let me know in the comments below, or find us on the Draftsim Twitter.

Stay safe, have fun, and draw well!

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  • Avatar
    Keith March 11, 2024 6:20 pm

    The first deck with Giada, Font of Hope got me thinking. Give Giada a black background, build a black and white angel Reanimator deck. Looked on a couple of sites and can’t find a black / white Giada deck, so maybe I’ve come up with something new.

    • Timothy Zaccagnino
      Timothy Zaccagnino March 11, 2024 8:54 pm

      Unfortunately Backgrounds only work with creatures that have the “Choose a Background” ability.
      So you can’t really pair Giada with anything else in the command zone.
      Though you could run a BW Angel deck with something like Liesa or Firja and just make it your goal to find Giada every time~

      • Avatar
        Keith March 14, 2024 3:43 pm

        Thank you. Did not realize that.

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