Maximizing Your Deck on a Budget - Mono Red
Hey Commander pals! How are you today? Let's talk about mono red. We’re going to continue our color pie journey by looking at ten cards you can get for under $50 to anchor your mono red build. A couple things to consider when building your deck: #1 Do you like having friends? And #2, would you like to have less friends than you currently do? Mono red is all about chaos, damage, and destruction, so you’re sure to make enemies at the table with any build you put together. Fair warning, it’s gonna get wild.
Disclaimer: We’ve got a couple cards on the list today that are a little over $10. I’m including them because I truly believe they’re among the most powerful cards in the color. I've still kept our $50 budget in mind and *SPOILER ALERT* we actually come in at under $41 for our list of 10 cards plus bonus pickups.
Vandalblast ($2.59) - For one red mana, you can destroy target artifact at sorcery speed but, we can do better. For four colorless and a red, you can overload Vandalblast and destroy all artifacts you don’t control. This is huge in commander with so many decks building their mana ramp package around mana rocks. Against a deck like Breya, or with something like a Mycosynth Lattice in play, this can be an absolute game-ender.
Blood Moon ($11.51) - For two colorless and a red, you get an enchantment that turns all non-basic lands into mountains. You can't play a red deck and not play one of the more iconic cards is recent Magic history. I mean, just look at that art! You know how we talked about those three color manabases before? Well, now all those budget nonbasics are mountains. You’re welcome. This is sure to make you public enemy number one at the table but, if you cast it at the right time, it can seriously slow things down long enough to run away with the game. You can’t be targeted if your opponents can’t cast spells.
Magus of the Wheel ($0.68) - With Wheel of Fortune now being over $100, we need similar effects to refill our hand without breaking the bank. Magus of the Wheel is a great alternative. For two colorless and a red, you get a 3/3 that sacrifices itself for one and a red to make each player discard their hand and draw seven new cards. With card draw being hard to come by in red, you’re going to want ways to refill, so I’d also recommend running Reforge the Soul ($4.57) to complement the Magus.
Chaos Warp ($1.57) - For two colorless and a red, you get an instant that says “ The owner of target permanent shuffles it into their library, then reveals the top card of their library. If it’s a permanent card, they put it onto the battlefield”. This is a great way of dealing with any problematic permanent your opponent controls and sure they could potentially get something more powerful off the flip but, with lands making up more than a third of most commander decks, I’ll take my chances. There aren’t many ways of dealing with things like enchantments in red so this is, in some cases, your only option.
Blasphemous Act ($4.14) - At first glance, the EIGHT (!) colorless mana and one red seems like a steep casting cost but, read on. Blasphemous Act’s casting cost is reduced by one colorless mana for each creature on the battlefield. The spell itself does 13 damage to each creature, making it the best board-wipe in red. This is potentially, a one mana board wipe. You should be running this card!
Stolen Strategy ($1.50) - For four colorless and a red, you get an enchantment that is sure to make you a target at any table - which is why I love it. Stolen Strategy says “At the beginning of your upkeep, exile the top card of each opponent’s library. Until end of turn, you may cast non-land cards from among those exiled cards, and you may spend mana as though it were mana of any color to cast those spells”. This is like drawing three additional cards on your upkeep, and even better news is that those are now cards your opponents won’t draw. In terms of power level to cost ratio, Stolen Strategy is very high on the list. For $1.50, you can’t afford to not be running this.
Chandra, Awakened Inferno ($10.34) - Chandra, Awakened Inferno is the best red planeswalker and you can’t change my mind. For four colorless and two red, you get a planeswalker that can’t be countered and with three relevant abilities. Her +2 gives each opponent an emblem that deals them one damage on their upkeep. With so many damage doubling effects in red, combined with the fact you can give opponents more than one emblem, this could end the game rather quickly. Her - 3 is a situational board wipe that does three damage to each non-elemental creature. This should sweep up most of the token decks at the table. And finally, her -X ability does X damage to creature or planeswalker, and if it would die as a result, exile it instead. With the best planeswalker answer we’ve talked about to this point being Chaos Warp, Chandra is another great card you should be running.
Bolt Bend ($0.09) - In the last post we discussed the newly spoiled Deflecting Swat. Bolt Bend is a very similar effect. For three colorless and a red (that can be reduced to just one red mana if you control a creature with power 4 or greater) You can change the target of target spell or ability while it’s on the stack. We’ve covered the practical uses for this kind of effect before so I won’t get too much into that. I’ll just say for $0.09, you’ve got to add this card to your deck.
Khorvath’s Fury ($0.70) - I love spells that give me options. Especially in commander. You know what I like more than options? Drawing cards. This spell does both! For four colorless and a red, you get a sorcery that says “For each player, choose friend or foe. Each friend discards all cards from their hand, and then draws that many cards plus one. Khorvath’s Fury deals damage to each foe equal to the number of cards in their hand.” Again, we’re playing mono-red, we’re here to make enemies. Don’t be afraid to choose Foe on each of your opponents, especially that mono blue player who’s drawn a million cards off of their Rhystic Study.
Volcanic Offering ($1.12) - Have I mentioned that I like sowing discord at the commander table? Here’s how to make more enemies! For four colorless and a red, you get an instant that says “Destroy target nonbasic land you don’t control, and target nonbasic and of an opponent’s chose you don’t control. Volcanic Offering deals 7 damage to target creature you don’t control, and 7 damage to target creature of an opponent’s choice you don’t control.” Cool. For 5 mana, you get to destroy two nonbasic lands and potentially two creatures at the table. The bonus is making one of your opponents chose someone else things to destroy so that you don’t take the blame. Sure, you cast the spell but, you only named half the targets. It’s not your fault!
Our top 10 (well, today it was 11) list, even with 2 cards priced over $10, comes in at just $38.81, And that's the whole point of this exercise of building on a budget. You can build a powerful Commander deck on a budget while still getting to pick up some expensive cards! As always, we've left some room in our budget to keep shopping with. We're going to supplement our list with cards like Faithless Looting ($0.27), Banefire ($0.40), and Risk Factor ($1.48).
So all together, for 14 great red cards, our final total is $40.96. What a steal! As always, join us in Discord to discuss chaos and destruction further and be sure to let me know what your favorite mono red cards are!
Stay safe and be well.