TWR: $100 Budget Grenzo

A while back I challenged myself to build a budget deck with a dollar limit of $50. It ended up being a janky wall deck that wasn’t competitive in any sense of the word. I’m a fan of making decks of differing power levels, so it was fun to try and build something that at least had a win condition but wasn’t super competitive so that I could play it against folks who might have sub par decks. Having the option to play lower power decks with your playgroup is also nice so you can sort of relax and play EDH how it was initially meant to be played — casually. This doesn’t mean that playing a low cost deck requires it to be trash. There are some surprising budget builds out there that can actually work at multiplayer tables, and some commanders are better suited to these budget builds. You’re probably not going to compete very well with a $50 deck against a bunch of $500+ decks, but everyone has a pet project deck that isn’t high tier but is still fun to play. One of the other Legendary creatures I pulled in Masters 25 was Grenzo, Dungeon Warden and I knew that I’d like to build him at some point. I’ve finally brewed up a deck giving myself the limitation of $100, and have tried to make it as competitive as possible despite the low price tag. I didn’t limit myself on money spent per card, and of course market fluctuations could cause this number to be a little +/- $100, but current pricing shows it sitting at $98.72 which is close enough to the mark. Let’s take a look at the man, or goblin himself:

Grenzo is one of a small number of generals with an X in their CMC. The good news here is that X can equal 0, so he’s actually a 2 CMC commander so he’s quick to hit the board. Of course, you can choose to pay whatever you like for X,  and Grenzo will come into play with X +1/+1 counters on him. His activated ability costs 2 colorless mana, and you’ll throw the bottom card of your library into your graveyard at which point the creature’s power is compared to Grenzo’s — If the creature’s power is less than or equal to our leader’s then the creature is put into play. This means that you could actually build him in a way that you can cheat out large creatures without paying their mana costs. I see the value in that, but the down side there is that you’ll eventually get commander tax added on and X can start to get a bit out of hand. Alternatively you could use pump spells and auras or equipment to buff his power before using his ability, but I felt that these strategies were less effective than simply throwing in plenty of creatures with power 2 or less. It’s a hatebear style of package, but you can also exploit cards that are 0/0 and enter the battlefield with a number of +1/+1 counters. Let’s take a look parts of the creature package:

The majority of creatures are represented here, each having a specific reason for its inclusion (also most of them being on the cheap side to keep us under budget). Creatures have power 2 or less but also have a great upside and most of them cost more than 2 CMC, so cheating them into play makes them that much better. Utilizing cards like Ravenous Chupacabra and Fleshbag Marauder eliminate threats on the opponent’s board. You’ll create tokens with Siege-Gang Commander, Pentavus and Noosegraf Mob. Tree of Perdition is a great tool to slow down lifegain decks, while the Priests of Gix and Urabrask along with Palladium Myr will help speed us up. There are some combo pieces too, with Triskelion and Workhorse being able to go infinite by giving them Undying (and no, you don’t need Mikaeus to do it — he’d break the budget). You’ll be cheating in creatures for 2 mana a pop very quickly with Grenzo, so we’ll want the rest of our supporting cards to help manipulate our libraries. This means ways to put cards on the bottom of our library from our graveyard, or from the top to bottom with heavy use of the Scry keyword.

As you can see, we’re going to be manipulating our deck quite a bit. This is done by using artifacts and creatures that allow us to move cards from our graveyard to the bottom of our library. Example: Cast your Nekrataal, killing an opponent’s creature, then sacrifice it to Viscera Seer putting it into your graveyard, then use any of our cards that has the ability to put Nekrataal back on the bottom of the library, then put him back onto the battlefield with Grenzo’s ability. You can exploit cards over and over again in this manner. You’ll also be able to use cards like Faithless Looting or Tormenting Voice to draw cards and discard cards you’ll want to put onto the bottom of your library with the above method. You can scry at will with many of the artifacts I’ve included, so use this ability often to set up Grenzo in the best way possible. Another way we can churn through our libraries is with cards like Teferi’s Puzzlebox and Mindmoil, drawing a ton of cards and being able to set up your Grenzo uses in the process. The biggest benefit is that Grenzo doesn’t need to be tapped to use his ability, and this also means you can respond at instant speed. For example, if it’s an opponent’s turn and your Crystal Ball is untapped (you’ll need 3 untapped mana as well, so you should probably leave mana up each turn if possible) and they cast a big bad creature that is going to hit you you can tap a land for mana, tap Crystal Ball to scry 2, putting a response on the bottom of your library (say a Chupacabra) and then activating Grenzo to put that creature onto the battlefield and killing the enemy’s threat. Of course Scrying doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get what you need, but having a response is better than not, and you could also use your ability to move cards from graveyard to bottom of library to get the answers you need. You can literally move cards from zone to zone at will, so you might as well take advantage of it!

With that said, there really isn’t a baked in win-con here. You’ll have a sort of toolbox style game plan, wanting to manipulate Grenzo and the abilities I’ve described to lock down the board and get your chip damage in. Of course this won’t be a high tier build of Grenzo, but still looks like a fun deck to pilot for a small investment! You can see the full decklist here.