I firmly believe that EDH is the greatest format Magic has ever spawned. It’s about getting together with a group of friends, being social, and enjoying the game itself. It matters very little who wins or loses, just that everyone feels like they’re part of the game. This is the epitome of what this wonderful game is.
While I’ve been playing magic since almost the beginning and have a collection that reflects that, other players simply don’t. And that’s okay, of course. But it can be rather intimidating when getting into a format where all sets are legal. To combat that, I gave myself a build challenge a few years ago. I already regularly threw together decks for new players out of my binder and spare stuff, but could I make a deck that they were able to pick up on their own? I challenged myself to build decks with no cards that cost over $1 (in paper), excluding the commander. New players often come up to me and tell me a guild, wedge, or just a commander they want to play instead of just a precon, and I would design the strongest possible build without using any expensive cards. These decks often price out to around $30, and fit the often cited 75% guidelines. While some players have heard of 3DH (the same concept, but a $3 cap to include Sol Ring and Reliquary Tower), those tend to still cost players up to $100-150 to put together, more than most new players can afford. I call my version 1DH (though I’m sure lots of other people have done the same before and after me).
While Building on this budget may seem difficult– cards like Sol Ring and Reliquary Tower and both over $2 and excluded, despite being the most prolific cards in the format– most EDH staples are pretty inexpensive. As I’ve gotten into this variant and build dozens of decks, I started to find new staples that come in under budget. I give most of these decks away, I have kept one for myself (Tolsimir Wolfblood) which I break out against newer players to create a balanced game for them. The best part about it was that it only cost me $18 to put together, meaning I just bought the singles and didn’t have to tap into my personal card pool, letting me keep it together at all times.
The whole point of bringing up 1DH here is that I would like to bring some of these decks to this site. I really enjoy the challenges of putting them together. It’s super easy to play all the best cards in a deck, but finding the best cards on a budget is difficult. Sharing these decks here from time to time gives me a reason to design more of them.
So the first deck I want to share here is Teneb, the Harvester, a mainstay of Abzan EDH. Teneb is known for evasive beats and reanimation. Let’s take a look at the deck, then I’ll break down the sections and strategy.
Lands: I put a lot of stress on having lands that do things. They don’t have to be just mana production. Strip lands are essential in a format with Maze of Ith, Gaea’s Cradle, and Reliquary Tower. Encroaching Wastes fills that order. We have a way to fill graveyards on all sides with Geier Reach Sanitarium. Grim Backwoods gives a sac outlet. You get the idea. To reliably play three colors, we need a lot of dual lands. Sadly, they all come into play tapped, but they still serve their purpose.
Board Wipes: You can’t play EDH without board wipes.
Ramp: Another essential part of any EDH deck. We’re going to rely on mana dorks here and all three playable signets. I would have gone with more land fetching cards, but most of the good ones are over budget, and the deck has very few basic lands to begin with.
Card Draw: We want reliable card draw that’s either going to work over multiple turns, or draw several cards. Lifecrafter’s Bestiary may be the strongest one in the deck, giving scrying power and card draw for every creature played.
Spot Removal: This is where I see a lot of decks lacking. Disrupting your opponents’ plans is essential in EDH. Board wipes are one thing, but sometimes you just need to remove one problematic card to take a player down a peg. Decks should always have 7-12 cards that handle this need.
Protection: It’s important to keep your life total high, and make people look elsewhere for their threats. Between giving yourself hexproof with Aegis of the Gods and life gain off Suture Priest, this deck has options. The best one is Protector of the Crown. It’ll give you Monarch, protect that Monarch, then you can return it with Teneb to get Monarch back as you need it, along with the protection.
Sac Outlets: This deck wants to replay the creatures with enter the battlefield triggers. If you’re attacking with Teneb and his trigger is on the stack, you can sacrifice a creature, then use his ability to reanimate it immediately.
Graveyard Fillers: Just as important here is filling our opponents’ graveyards. Discard is one of the easiest ways to do this. I’ve chosen to focus more on their graveyards than ours because, typically, your opponent will have stronger creatures than you due to the budget. Swiping a Lord of Extinction or Etali, Primal Storm is a big play.
Creature Buffs: Enchantments are harder to deal with than Artifacts, so I’ve gone with a suite of enchantments here for some interesting buffs. Dragon Fangs and Dragon Shadow are amazing ways to ensure Teneb gets combat damage through, and will auto equip from the graveyard any time you cast him. Similarly, Aspect of Mongoose grands the shroud part of Lightning Greaves, and like Rancor, it’ll return to your hand anytime it goes to the graveyard from play.
Disruption: It’s important to impede your opponents’ plans, and there are lots of tricks in here. Aven Mindcensor stops tutoring, which brings a lot of decks down to 75% level. Fate Unraveler frustrates combo players who count on drawing tons of cards. World Queller lets you remove a card of everyone’s each turn. This is another way to get creatures into graveyards for Teneb, or just deal with a player who has a single problematic enchantment.
The Rest: The deck is rounded out with a bunch of value creatures that are worth bringing back with Teneb’s ability.
I think you’ll find this deck can easily hold its own at an average table and has plenty of room to improve it (as long as the cards you replace fill the same role that I’ve placed them in, eg Graveyard Filler for another Graveyard Filler). As of the time I built it, every card in the deck is under $1 for a paper copy (online varies dramatically sometimes). The price for the entire deck worked out to $25 in paper and $12 online.
If you’d like to see this deck in action, I’ve recorded a video of me running it through two games. There’s also a brief explanation of a few card choices and techniques before I begin with it.