Commander Bling On A Budget, Fam

Mark Nestico may be an old man, but he gets the youth of today! He’s spitting truth about how he earns his cool EDH decks through hip lingo and some good old honest shilling! Holla, Mark. Holla.

Today is going to be a sick-nasty day, Commander Fam.

I have one of the dopest topics I could possibly discuss with you when it
comes to Commander, and you’re not even going to have to put any work in
today. I did it all for you! It starts with you sitting there, looking at
your old and boring deck, and it’ll end with some new hotness gracing your

Today, kiddies, we’re all about come ups.

One of my favorite internet personalities is a handsome fellow named Nate,
better known by his Instagram and Twitter handle as Tabasko Sweet. You can
catch his show, Cheap Thrills, weekly on SuperDeluxe’s Facebook
page for some incredible blessings when it comes to fashion. Tabasko is a
connoisseur of the finer things in life, but our boy Nate doesn’t stack
paper to the ceiling, so he’s constantly figuring out how to beat the
system. He makes his own Jordon’s and handpaints Supreme ski goggles. You
want a Louis Vuitton wallet but don’t want to fork out thousands of
dollars? No worries. Nate will teach you how using some markers, pliers,
and a coin pouch you can buy at the dollar store. It’s swagger boosts
galore, with you as the beneficiary.

But that got me thinking: how can I help my readers increase their clout
levels when it comes to slinging hundred-card decks?

Then it hit me.

Semi-Competitive or full blown super serious Competitive Commander is a
format based around two very important things: The ability to win games and
sweep pods and-way more importantly-looking insanely iced out, so if you
lose…who cares! You looked fly doing it.

Commander isn’t about the games as much as it is filling your deck with
righteous foils, expensive cards, artist-altered beauts while making people
jealous when they sit across from you. We don’t care that you can cast Warp
World 35 times in a row, fam, we care that the Warp World is foil and
Japanese. At least that way when you’re combo’ing out I’ll feel the need to
adorn my face with some shades to shield my eyes from the brightness.

Not everybody can get out there and drop fat stacks on their decks, though.
We want the boost but don’t want to lose the loot. Call me Robin Hood. I’m
gonna teach you how to steal from the rich and give to yourself.

Artist Alterations

One of the fliest things you can do to your deck is customize it with some
hand-drawn artistry. This works super well on cards that you don’t have the
option of getting as foil, which takes a boring card and gives it a serious
upgrade. Magic events like Grand Prix or SCG Tour stops might will almost
always have a booth of some hardworking men and women that can provide you
with whatever you’d like on your cards, but not everyone can travel to
these events.

Sorry west-coasters. Maybe teach your venues not to ask of hundreds of ks.

That doesn’t mean you should stop yourself from adding some slamming
customizations to your Commander deck.

Local artists are everywhere, and they’re literally starving. Starving for
work. Starving for money. Starving for a sandwich. Some super talented guys
and gals are gracing your Facebook right now that could put their liquid
acrylics to good use and paint you up some Care Bears or T’Challa or
whatever you want on the cards of yours that are hella expensive.

Your boy wanted some sweetness on his Mana Vault but didn’t want to drop
the $140 necessary to achieve a Kaladesh masterpiece, so I reached
out to Bryon Wackwitz at a local GP I attended. I requested that he alter a
regular, unfit Mana Vault with my favorite Pokemon of all time, Pichu. For
the low-low of $30 dollars, I walked away with a swagged out mana Vault
that more people ask me about than any card in my collection. How is that
for a come up?

This is one of the easiest and slickest ways to build relationships at a
local level while filling up the pockets of some of the most talented
people in Magic: artists. While it might sound tough to approach them, I
assure you the worst thing that can happen is that they say no. When you’re
dealing with some foils or non-English cards than can cost hundreds and
hundreds of dollars, a deck comprised of a multitude of altered cards is
going to give you massive amounts of street cred and give you full
customization of your beast. Now it’s not just about having a foil that
tons of other people out there also have, but instead you’re now rocking
something that you and only you can sport. If your friends were a type of
doughnut, after seeing your sick alters the only kind of flavor they could
possibly be is jelly-filled.

Different Set Foils

One of the most overlooked ways of tricking out your deck on the low comes
in the form of reprints, kiddies. Original set foils with OG boarders are
for people who swim in giant pools of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck, and
I’m not trying to blow a week’s pay on those things. Hear me out.

For one of my decks I was offered a Future Sight foil of Magus of
the Moon for $80. That’s a lot of bread, and I knew there had to be a
better way to achieve that kind of godliness. Thankfully, Iconic Masters had your boy covered, and I was able to make a

  • Same art? Check.
  • Same text box? Check.
  • Same flavor text? Check.
  • Same everything except the set symbol? Check.

We were dealing with the same card in almost every single regard minus the Future Sight set symbol, but there was a $60 difference. That
might not sound like a ton, but how many tanks of gas does that put in your
car? How many other foils is that going to let you pick up? That’s like
1/4th of a Standard deck nowadays, and you’d just be wasting it on a card
that’s ten years older. Sounds muy malo if you ask me.

Once you really start delving in to the amount of reprinted foils out there
that give you unlimited boosts in your decks’ clout, you start to have
trouble buying the old stuff when the new stuff is exactly the same, only

Check out some of these staples and then the price differences:

Foil Dakmor Salvage for your Dredge Needs

Grim Lavamancer for when you have to burn faces

  • $99.99 for Torment
  • $8.99 for Magic 2012 Core Set

Karn Liberated because they’ll never ban Tron

  • $159.99 for New Phyrexia
  • $119.99 for Modern Masters 2015

Imperial Seal for maximum tutoring:

  • $499.99 for English Portal: Three Kingdoms
  • $149.99 for a Judge Promo

These are just a few of the deals you can bless yourself with. Now I know
what you’re saying: “But Mark, I like the way these old foils look.” I
totally hear you, and for many years I was a foil purist, but then I
realized I like having money and foils a lot more than I liked
only having foils. I started taking advantage of the sick deals that SCG
has on the regular and began making my decks look incredibly fuego, and I
found I was spending less and getting more value out of my purchases and
trade-ins, which leads me to the big third point.

Make Your Cards Work for You

This one I’m going to take the most flack for, but this is coming from deep
within the cockles of your boy’s heart.

StarCityGames is absolutely freaking Wild n’ Crazy Kids for how much trade
in value they give. When a deck grows tiresome to me, I toss it to them in
order to hook myself up with a 50% bonus, which other stores and
businesses simply cannot compete with. We’re talking close to full value on
your cards if you take the trades, which you’d likely be crazy not to.

Pretend you have 250 bulk rares. Trash, right? And it’s just taking up
space in your binder. No one is ever going to trade for this junk. Most
dealers are going to give you ten cents a rare trade for your bulk nowadays
because it’s not safe money anymore, and with the rate packs are opened it
doesn’t make fiscal sense for businesses to spit out tons of cash for cards
that might never move. That business is going to give you $25 trade or
around $20 cash for that bulk. Andrew Jackson is going to be really lonely
in your wallet, but dealing with SCG’s 50% trade bonus will add an
Alexander Hamilton to that equation and get you locked into something much

Don’t believe me? Your boy puts his money where his wallet is.

When I decided I wanted to completely foil out my baby, Gisa and Geralf, I
turned a lot of unwanted nonsense that has been sitting around for years
collecting dust into a ton of iced out sickness for my favorite Commander
deck. This wasn’t about walking up to a booth and taking whatever they
offered me, nor was this about doing the rounds and worrying that I needed
to keep track of every penny to make sure that I got the best deal. When I
had Emma Handy (shoutout to my girl for processing my orders Gang Gang)
take care of me, I knew that I was in the best hands and that I was going
to get the sickest deal. Almost 80% of the full value of these cards is
f****** bonkers, and that’s after I spread the love to my
LGS to make sure they were getting a piece of the action. But in the end
it’s a no-brainer when you want the best value out there. Other sites were
offering 25% or 30%…but 50% extra? Come on now.

Bless yourself before you wreck yourself. If you hate spending money like
your boy does, give those cards a workout and let them be the gateway to
even greater hotness. I literally just used my trade-ins to buy two new
Modern decks. My bank account isn’t weeping, and my backpack just got hella

Your Come Ups are Your Choice

If there’s one thing Tabasko Sweet has taught me, it’s that change must
come from within. You must actively want to trick your decks out with more
budget-friendly options before you dive into the lifestyle. This is extreme
couponing for Magic players, but the rewards are plenty.

My decks have never looked sweeter, and I don’t think my collection has
been this streamlined in years. I’m packing tons of artist alters, newer
foils, and the credit that I’m getting on unwanted chaff is ensuring that I
won’t be spending any of my hard-earned cheddar for quite a while. In
short, your boy blesses himself on the daily with amazing cards due to a
little ingenuity and understanding that you can have the finer things in
life without putting yourself in the red.

That does it for today.

Holy ****. That was exhausting.

I hate the way that the youth talk these days. All of you children make me
sick. Do you have any idea how much time I had to spend on Urban Dictionary
to make this article possible?

I’m never going to try to reach out to a new demographic again. Give me my
old curmudgeons that hate my guts any day of the week.