TWR: Doran to Arcades Upgrade (on a Budget)

Core Set 2019’s release is right around the corner, and I’ve already gone over the spoiled cards and those I found to be the best in the set. One of those spoiled cards inspired me to do something different with one of my existing decks. Let’s look at the commanders in question:

I created a budget jank deck a few months back where I set myself a $50 limit and attempted to make something work despite it not having access to some of the better more expensive cards. Doran was the commander I settled on, and his special ability allows all of your creatures to assign their combat damage via toughness rather than power. By itself that ability doesn’t mean much, and lends itself pretty readily to building a wall tribal deck, which is what I did. It relied heavily on Assault Formation and Rolling Stones to work though, and that was a limiting factor. Enter one of the new versions of the Elder Dragons, Arcades, the Strategist. Arcades essentially combines Doran’s ability with that of Rolling Stones, in that now all of your creatures will assign combat damage via toughness, and those with defender can now attack as if they didn’t have defender. On top of that, Arcades is a 3/5 flying/vigilance for only 4 mana, AND he draws you cards each time you cast a creature with defender. Needless to say, I have removed the $50 limit (though I’ve kept the deck under $100 still, so it’s a budget build) and swapped commanders. Arcades could actually make this deck a bit more consistent and competitive. Let’s look at the old decklist (those crossed out names have been swapped with other cards, as we’re working with a different color identity).

1 Doran, the Siege Tower
1 Abzan Beastmaster
1 Amaranthine Wall
1 Archers’ Parapet
1 Assault Formation
1 Axebane Guardian
1 Belligerent Brontodon
1 Blooming Marsh
1 Carrion Wall
1 Cathedral Membrane
1 Colossus of Akros
1 Command Tower
1 Cultivate
1 Dazzling Ramparts
1 Diabolic Tutor
1 Dusk/Dawn
1 Entangler
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Fell the Mighty
8 Forest
1 Give No Ground
1 Glyph of Doom
1 Golden Guardian
1 Golgari Rot Farm
1 Golgari Signet
1 Guardian Zendikon
1 Harmonize
1 Isolated Chapel
1 Jareth, Leonine Titan
1 Krosan Grip
1 Lifecrafter’s Bestiary
1 Moaning Wall
1 Mobile Fort
1 Orzhov Basilica
1 Orzhov Signet
1 Overgrown Battlement
13 Plains
1 Plea for Guidance
1 Prison Barricade
1 Rampant Growth
1 Rolling Stones
1 Sandsteppe Citadel
1 Selesnya Signet
1 Shifting Wall
1 Slaughter the Strong
1 Sol Ring
1 Stalwart Shield-Bearers
8 Swamp
1 Sylvan Caryatid
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Thallid Shell-Dweller
1 Tower Defense
1 Tree of Perdition
1 Valor Made Real
1 Venom
1 Vine Trellis
1 Wakestone Gargoyle
1 Walking Wall
1 Wall of Blood
1 Wall of Blossoms
1 Wall of Bone
1 Wall of Essence
1 Wall of Faith
1 Wall of Glare
1 Wall of Hope
1 Wall of Limbs
1 Wall of Nets
1 Wall of Omens
1 Wall of Shadows
1 Wall of Souls
1 Wall of Swords
1 Wall of Tanglecord
1 Wave of Reckoning
1 Whip Vine

For the most part, I’ve just removed the black cards and replaced them with blue ones, though I was able to also find some other additions that will make the deck better. Here’s the new creatures:


A couple of nice defender cards exist in blue, two of which transform into bigger badder creatures. Ludevic’s Test subject turns from lowly 0/3 to a massive 13/13 trampler, and the Thing in the Ice changes from an 0/4 to a 7/8 that bounces the board. The obligatory Fog Bank, Wall of Denial and Guard Gomazoa round out flying defenders that aren’t likely to die. Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa is one of the few creatures without defender, but he can essentially make all of these walls unblockable. (EDIT @3:05pm: Upon further inspection of the deck I’ve included Tetsuko Umezawa to also make all of our walls unblockable). I’ve also included a wall that can counter a creature spell, one that can be transmuted to tutor something better out, one that let’s us scry each turn, and one that makes one creature unblockable for a turn. These cards go hand in hand with the other white and green walls that stayed in the deck.


Having the addition of blue I decided to add some counterspells rather than the usual removal package. The reason being is I figure that I’d rather counter a board wipe or a combo piece than worry about spot removal. Sphinx’s Revelation is great for card draw and life gain, and a couple more mana rocks were added to the pile. Two other fun pieces are Aurification and Meekstone. The former makes it so that any creature that does damage to you gets a gold counter on it and becomes a wall. This can slow down aggro decks or keep people from attacking you altogether. The gold counters are removed when the enchantment is destroyed, but any control is good control. Speaking of, the Meekstone is your best friend, as it will keep any creatures with power 2 or great from untapping, and since all of the creatures we control have 2 or less power, this won’t hurt us a bit.

That’s the upgrade, but I feel like it’s an awesome one. You can see the fully updated deck list here.