Commander on a Budget: Stonebrow, Krosan Hero
- Ryan Scicluna
This time, at Commander on a Budget, we build a Gruul deck with a trample tribal theme, inspired by a new card from Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. Quartzwood Crasher cares about creatures with trample and creates even more creatures with trample. All cards used for the deck cost a maximum of two Euros apiece.
The new Magic set got me super excited, for so many aspects of it, but one card that really caught my eye was the unassuming rare Quartzwood Crasher! I have been wanting to build a budget Gruul Commander deck for a while, and one of the strengths of the color combination is indeed this: the fact that most of the cheap red and green creatures like to smash and trample through. Quartzwood Crasher, unfortunately, is not legendary itself.
However, it caring about trample got me to look at an old favorite that is — Stonebrow, Krosan Hero. This 4/4 Centaur Warrior will boost all our trampling creatures while attacking, allowing us to get in for more damage. Let's see how we can build a budget Gruul trample tribal deck using cards costing no more than two Euros.
The way to win with this deck is to attack and get in as much damage as possible. Most creatures in the deck will have trample to make sure they get the +2/+2 boost from Stonebrow. Creatures like Crash of Rhino Beetles, Giant Adephage, Polis Crusher, Rampaging Baloths, Silvos, Rogue Elemental, and Spawnwrithe already come into play with trample.
Steel Hellkite, Terastodon, Garruk's Packleader, Ulvenwald Observer, Soul of the Harvest, Grand Warlord Radha, and Savage Ventmaw, which are useful for card draw, ramp, or removal, don't have it. For this reason we are running creatures that give trample to all our board. These include Aggressive Mammoth, Archetype of Aggression, Brawn, Decimator of the Provinces, End-Raze Forerunners, and Khenra Charioteer. Similar to Stonebrow, Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma gives attacking creatures trample and +1/+0 while attacking.
The Fast and Hard to Block
Trample already makes it difficult for opponents to block. If you have a big creature and they only have small creatures, your opponents can't simply chump, since damage will still go through. They have to decide between preventing some damage and losing a creature or keeping the creature but taking a lot of damage. Familiar Ground makes sure that blockers can't gang up on our attackers either. Combine this with Gruul War Chant and our creature can't be blocked at all. The interaction demands two or more and simultaneously no more than one blocker, which is impossible, so our buffed and beefy tramplers can come crashing in unimpeded.
Another way to generate extra advantage is to cast creatures at instant speed. Yeva, Nature's Herald and Vivien, Champion of the Wilds allow us to play our creatures whenever we want. We could cast a surprise blocker or deploy something at the end of our opponent's turn thus ensuring it'll be able to attack on ours. Alternatively, we can give our creatures haste. Ogre Battledriver, Rhythm of the Wild, Fires of Yavimaya, and Anger all make sure that our creatures can attack the moment they hit the battlefield. Another good addition from Ikoria is Footfall Crater, which can give both trample and haste just by tapping the land it enchants.
A large creature having haste, trample, and sometimes menace already poses a big problem in combat, but giving it double strike will seal the deal. Fireshrieker and Rage Reflection do just that. This also constitutes a very effective way to use our commander's buff, since it will feel like giving the creature +4/+2 instead.
The Rest of the Deck
The deck is pretty simple to pilot and can really explode. Even though our goal is to be aggressive, it might not always be advisable to play all the creatures in our hand. The deck can be very susceptible to board wipes, although fewer bigger creatures obviously have an advantage over lots of small ones. Nevertheless, card draw is another important aspect. Mask of Memory and Snake Umbra can generate card draw each time the creature equipped or enchanted hits our opponents. With trample as our main theme, that is very easy to achieve. Return of the Wildspeaker is a very strong instant, which I am including in more and more decks but in this one especially. Giving our attacking tramplers +3/+3 or refilling our hand can win games out of nowhere.
The deck also scales up pretty well with other nonbudget decks. Depending on the playgroup, all I have to do is swap out the commander without changing anything else. The other commander I like to run leading this build is Xenagos, God of Revels, which makes us hit for more damage.
What do you think of the deck? Do you have any suggestions for other commanders you want us to take a look at for a budget build? Let us know down below!
Disclaimer: As stated in the beginning, most cards used for the deck are from trade binders and a personal collection, mostly excluding new cards from Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. 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. Including preorders from the new set, the total comes in at around €27.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.