Commander on a Budget: Kytheon, Monowhite Hero
- Ryan Scicluna
Welcome to a new series where Ryan Scicluna builds Commander decks exclusively out of cards that cost a maximum of two Euros. The first challenge is making monowhite playable on a budget. Luckily, the famous Hero of Akros comes to our rescue!
These are weird and unprecedented days we are living in. Most likely current events impact everyone's life to some degree. Personally, I was wondering how in these financially troubling times, I can still enjoy the relatively expensive hobby of Magic. I want to enjoy EDH without having to sell an arm and a leg. In this series, I want to build decent decks using cards that have probably never been taken out of a trade binder, cards that have been stored away in a shoe box somewhere collecting dust. My budget restriction will be using cards costing less than or equal to two Euros. This should keep the cost of an average deck to around €30–40.
It is fitting that in this time of crisis, we shall call upon a symbol of pure white mana and a founding member of the Gatewatch to save us: Kytheon, Hero of Akros, also known as Gideon!
An Uphill Struggle
As one can expect from a monowhite commander, this is not going to be an easy task. White is already known as the weakest color in the format. Not having access to expensive cards makes it even harder to play with the color solo. However, the finished deck ended up with enough ramp that it never really falls behind. Our strategy is to try to lie low and not attract too much attention from other players until we can start attacking with powerful creatures. White is famous for its access to many board wipes and this can be a good way to keep the board in check if things gets too far out of hand. I also tried to include a subtle Gideon theme for fun.
Speaking of Gideon, our commander is one of the original flip planeswalkers. When attacking with Kytheon and at least two other creatures we can flip it into Gideon, Battle-Forged. This planeswalker, although not impressive, can be quite useful if we want to make one of our creatures indestructible or force an opponent to attack Gideon when we are ready to make an advantageous block. Not to mention that Gideon himself can become a useful creature to attack with.
Gideon has a number of tools that are useful in most situations. Many help us ramp such as Commander's Sphere, Fractured Powerstone, Heraldic Banner, Marble Diamond, Seer's Lantern, Mind Stone, and Wayfarer's Bauble. Others are good combat weapons such as Blackblade Reforged and Loxodon Warhammer.
Still others can even aid in the card-draw department such as Mask of Memory, Staff of Nin, Farsight Mask, and Skeleton Key. Farsight Mask is an interesting artifact that will make our opponents think twice before attacking us and giving us the opportunity to draw a bunch of cards. Dowsing Dagger can be a powerful political tool. With the right ally, it can flip into a land that taps for 3 mana. Oketra's Monument helps us cast our big creatures and also gives us expendable 1/1 Soldiers. They are useful as blockers or to help transform Kytheon. Thaumatic Compass can help us fish out more Plains from the deck and then flip into a Maze of Ith.
Too Many Creatures? No Problem!
As I already mentioned, one of white's strong suits is the ability to reset the battlefield. I was mainly looking for spells that wipe the board but also leave us with something. This includes cards like Descend upon the Sinful, which can clear a congested field and lets us put a 4/4 Angel into play if we have delirium. Martial Coup, Phyrexian Rebirth, and Sunblast Angel have a similar purpose, while Realm-Cloaked Giant // Cast Off allows us to cast its creature side later on in the game. Steel Hellkite can function as a selective mass removal when we pick the right converted mana cost.
If mass removal might compromise our board, we can also use our targeted removal for specific threats. Angel of Sanctions removes problematic creatures while also being able to swing in for some damage. If it dies we can embalm it for extra value, meaning our opponents need to get rid of it twice. Banishing Light, Condemn, Return to Dust, Luminate Primordial, and Swords to Plowshares all serve a similar function. Spectral Grasp is not really removal, but it can direct a problematic creature toward our opponents instead.
Angels are the most iconic type of white creature, so it's no surprise that we have a number of them in the deck. And although we can't afford, for example, the original Avacyn, we still get some surprisingly powerful abilities here. Adarkar Valkyrie allows us to reanimate any creature that dies to our side of the field. Similarly, Reya Dawnbringer brings back a creature from our graveyard on each of our upkeep steps. Angelic Skirmisher gives all our creatures vigilance, first strike, or lifelink. Combine this with Odric, Lunarch Marshal and Gideon's ability to give indestructible to a creature and our attackers will be unstoppable.
Avacyn, Guardian Angel can prevent damage to our creatures. Emeria Angel creates a 1/1 Bird each time we trigger landfall, while Emeria Shepherd returns any nonland permanent from our graveyard to the battlefield when we play a Plains. Resolute Archangel resets our life total in a pinch, giving us more breathing room when we're on the verge of defeat. Victory's Herald gives all our creatures flying and lifelink when attacking.
A Gideon Commander deck would not be complete without some spells from Signature Spellbook: Gideon. However, our picks need to fit our budget and work within our deck. Martyr's Bond makes it hard for opponents to get rid of our stuff, while True Conviction gives our creatures double strike and lifelink. Gideon Jura, the original Gideon card, works similarly to our commander's planeswalker side, but the ability to destroy any tapped creature is appreciated in particular. Finally, Shielded by Faith provides protection for our creatures. As most of them are expensive to cast, this offers some guarantee that our investment was not for nothing.
I also found Gideon's Avenger and Kytheon's Irregulars to be quite useful either by having the Avenger become a huge blocker or by using the Irregulars' ability to tap an opponent's creature, making it easier for another opponent to attack that player.
Lay of the Land
The mana base for a monowhite deck could be pretty simple, however, there are some utility lands that can come in very handy. Detection Tower allows us to target hexproof creatures, while Isolated Watchtower can help us stabilize when it comes to lands. Labyrinth of Skophos can deter attackers, while Myriad Landscape and Temple of the False God let us ramp. The rest is pretty basic.
There are fifteen pieces of ramp in the deck so it should not be a problem to stay on equal footing with other players. However, the deck suffers from a lack of card draw. The ten board wipes and six spot removal effects do help by keeping us in the game long enough to make a big play. The deck will not blow out your opponents in a Commander game, but it can surely hold its own and sometimes sneak in a win. What do you think? Can monowhite budget be a good deck option? Let us know!
Disclaimer: As stated in the beginning, most cards used for the deck are from trade binders and a personal collection. This reflects in specific card choices over others. Having said that, I managed to find all cards needed to build the deck from scratch on Cardmarket without exceeding the €2-per-card budget restriction, which puts the total of the deck at around €33.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.