Deckbuilding – Budget Uncommon Narset

think outside of the box

Happy Autumn Commander players! Are you arm deep in a pile of new cards? Have you solved the set on Arena? Did you get kicked at a party because your lands fell? Ouch, right? Unfortunately I’m still waiting for that kind of fun. My roommate and I split a box of Set Boosters, and hopefully they will arrive on the 25th. Draft Boosters and Prerelease Kits are available now, but we’re holding out for the new kind of booster. I’ll review our booster experience, including what mini-games we play to make the opening more interesting, when our cards arrive. I’ll also be building some Commander decks around what I open, but for now I’m offering the product of another deckbuilding ‘challenge’ I gave myself.

At one time, Narset, Enlightened Master was one of the terrors of the Commander table. Power her out, give her haste, then take all the turns with free casts of cards like Temporal Mastery. Gross. And the native Hexproof made it really tough to kill Narset on sight with traditional removal. Sometimes the extra turns piled up before anyone could do anything about them, and that was that. Some time has passed, and there are nastier ways to kill opponents than taking all the turns with Narset, so maybe we can take this previously toxic Commander and make her much more fun.

My challenge to myself was actually to build another budget deck, using only uncommons. I recently built an all-commons build of Glissa, the Traitor that got a little attention, and I feel like uncommons don’t get enough love. Colour-wise, Narset is the opposite of the black and green decks I’ve been building recently. In addition, I wanted to keep all the cards under a dollar, because Magic is expensive. That means no Sol Ring, Lightning Greaves, and even no Command Tower. Scary.

I’d like to give a special thanks and shout out to Sebastian Zaha, who put together the plug-in that’s letting me embed the hover-over links and this decklist. Magic the Gathering Card Tooltips is the plug-in name. Great stuff, thanks!

Budget Uncommon Narset

Commander (1)
Narset, Enlightened Master

Land (37)
16 Island
Blighted Cataract
Cryptic Caves
Memorial to Genius
Moonring Island
Mystic Monastery
New Benalia
Prahv, Spires of Order
Rogue’s Passage
Zhalfirin Void

Artifacts (14)
Avarice Totem
Azorius Keyrune
Boros Keyrune
Chariot of Victory
Farsight Mask
Haunted Cloak
Izzet Keyrune
Magnifying Glass
Ojutai Monument
Raugrin Crystal
Spectral Searchlight
Spinning Wheel
Unstable Obelisk
Vessel of Endless Rest

Enchantments (23)
Banishing Light
Cast Out
Control Magic
Fool’s Demise
Footfall Crater
Frenzied Fugue
In Bolas’s Clutches
Lay Claim
Nahiri’s Machinations
Oblivion Ring
One with the Stars
Quiet Contemplation
Racecourse Fury
Shiny Impetus
Skywise Teachings
Steal Artifact
Take Possession
Uphill Battle
Vow of Duty
Vow of Flight
Vow of Lightning
War Cadence

Creatures (9)
Archetype of Imagination
Cliffside Rescuer
Loyal Drake
Loyal Unicorn
Master Thief
Meteor Golem
Sentinel of the Pearl Trident
Vigilant Martyr
Warden of the Eye

Instants (13)
Banishing Stroke
Chemister’s Insight
Crush Contraband
Grab the Reins
Into the Story
Leadership Vacuum
Learn from the Past
Long Road Home
Make a Stand
Supreme Will
Whirlwind Denial

Sorceries (2)
Hate Mirage
Throes of Chaos

Without much cheap mana fixing available, I went with mostly basics for Land, with some Narset-friendly stuff that either made her unblockable, like Rogue’s Passage, or manipulated the top of my library, like Moonring Island. There’s some scry, and some card draw, and a pseudo Maze of Ith -style land in Prahv, Spires of Order. Not tuned for high-level Commander competition, but pretty sweet for all uncommons.

My artifacts are almost all mana rocks with upside. This isn’t a creature-heavy deck, so rocks that can become chumps are a great tool to have on hand. The rocks with activated abilities are great for those turns where Narset casts all our spells for us and leaves us with mana up. I also have some cheap haste enablers like Chariot of Victory and one of many cards that support my main plan with this deck in Avarice Totem. The plan, naturally, is to take your stuff!

My enchantments are full of theft cards, like the classic Control Magic. Fool’s Demise is great, too, and I love abilities like split second on Take Possession and cycling on Lay Claim. Footfall Crater is another interesting cycler that gives me another haste outlet. The Vows and Shiny Impetus keep the heat off me or buff Narset if need be. One with the Stars has great Darksteel Mutation-like potential. Nahiri’s Machinations keeps Narset alive, and War Cadence makes blocking hard. I’m shocked that Uphill Battle doesn’t see more play. I’ve already been pleasantly surprised by Skywise Teachings and I think Quiet Contemplation might be similarly good.

Creatures are a non-hit with Narset’s ability but I wanted to keep a few around for utility and blocking purposes. Archetype of Imagination is pretty amazing for an uncommon. Cards like the cool throwback Vigilant Martyr, Cliffside Rescuer, Sentinel of the Pearl Trident and Loyal Unicorn help keep Narset alive, which is pretty important.

My array of Instants comprise card draw, flexible removal, stuff that saves Narset from doom, and removal. I’d like to highlight perpetual all-star Grab the Reins which is incredibly flexible for a threaten/fling hybrid. I’ve also had great but limited results with Leadership Vacuum, and love the criminally underplayed Fumble. I’m not packing much in the way of counterspells, because they are a bit of a non-bo with Narset, but Whirlwind Denial can stop a nasty ability, and Supreme Will‘s modal nature makes it worth the include.

Finally, there’s my two lonely Sorceries. I want to cast Hate Mirage on a pair of Solemn Simulacrums, attack for 4, then sacrifice them both to some sort of value engine. The dream. Throes of Chaos is super fun, and helps with the late-game flood.

For a Jeskai deck, this wants to tap out more than most. But after a few play-throughs, I’ve found it clearly has some game. Theft is a great way to scale your strategy to whatever everybody else is playing, and this would be sooooo easy to upgrade with staples a lot of players may already have. Here’s the deck on Archidekt, which has more abilities than I do to track prices and different card options for the deck. The deck comes in at about $60, which is pretty good for a budget deck, and overall, very friendly for newer players.

I called the deck ‘Middle Child Narset’ because if I ever put together an uncommons-only format, that’s what I’d call it: ‘Middle Child.’ Maybe someday.

Thanks for checking this post out today! With an embedded decklist and card tooltips, I feel like my posts have taken a huge step up. I’m going to go back and redo a lot of my content to compensate, and re-highlight some old decks. And of course, cover all the floaty corners of Zendikar. Can’t wait! Have an awesome Autumn, reader! Your life matters! Black Lives Matter!

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