Rishkar, Peema Renegade is a commander that is subtly powerful. His ability to provide creatures with +1/+1 counters not only increases their power – it also allows any creature you control with a +1/+1 counter on it to be a mana dork. This ability is great for both midrange plays and mana producing combos!

This is a budget list I’m running for the first episode of Battle of the Brews – a new video series here on CommanderSociety debuting soon. In this series players meet up and play EDH on MTGO and battle with budget decks. For the first week’s show, we choose 25 Tix as the budget; here’s the list (about 24-25 Tix in cost).

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The Early Game

A lot of green decks run creatures like Llanowar Elves. While I still chose to run a few llanowar elves effects, produce 1 mana creatures are not as good as you would think with Rishkar. Because Rishkar can come into play and bless up to two creatures with the ability to produce a green mana like Llanowar elves running a bunch of llanowar elves effects is redundant and gives us less return on investment on casting Rishkar.

The two and three drops in our deck like Avatar of the Resolute, Eternal Witness, or Wood Elves suddenly gain more usefulness after their enter the battlefield effect resolves. For cards like Avatar of the Resolute (where he’s a little awkward to have in the super early game) Rishkar gives you the option to make the best of awkward situations and turn Avatar and Rishkar into mana dorks on turn three or four when you resolve Rishkar.

The Midgame

Common plays for this deck in the midgame consist of more mana development (through giving creatures you control +1/+1 counters or natural mana ramp) and drawing lots of cards. This deck functions a lot like a combo deck through its desire for card advantage – we need to filter through our deck to both play more creatures to turn into mana dorks and find the cards in our deck that enable massive plays:

Mass Card Draw: Regal Force, Rishkar’s Expertise, Shamanic Revelation, Armorcraft Judge, Greater Good.

Mass Creature Production: Hangarback Walker, Hooded Hydra, Mycoloth. Most of the ways you create lots of creatures is by drawing lots of cards and naturally casting the creatures from your hand.

Tempo Effects: Cultivator of Blades, Beastmaster Ascension, Decimator of the Provinces, Triumph of the Hordes, Wild Beastmaster. These effects can help close the game out in a non-combo fashion. Yeva, Nature’s Herald can enable some of these tempo effects to be lethal when you opponent’s don’t expect them by flashing in the tempo creatures the turn before your turn.

Combo Cards: A lot of the combos in this deck are created via the heightened synergy of +1/+1 cards – like Animation Module. If you can put a +1/+1 counter on many creatures (think Primeval Protector) then you get a bunch of Animation Module triggers. Because of our mana production we can create tons of servos and threaten lethal damage the following turn.

The most notable combo card in this budget build is probably Temur Sabertooth – it has super high versatility and can easily go infinite. If you have enough creatures who can tap for mana you can use Eternal witness or Den Protector to retrieve Benefactor’s Draught from your graveyard and untap all of your mana dorks. If you have enough mana dorks you’ll net mana with each cast and you can create infinite green mana and the ability to recast creatures and spells infinitely.

Other Cards You Might Want To Add

Perhaps you are a highroller, perhaps not – here are other cards you can add. While there are a ton of green staples you could consider I’ll try to focus on the cards most specifically beneficial to most¬†Rishkar builds.

Paradox Engine: Great for letting us combo or create tons of mana to dump into an X spell. Each spell cast untaps all of our creatures!

Concordant Crossroads: great at enabling haste and killing your opponent on the turn that you combo (sometimes a major problem for the deck).

Gaea’s Cradle: A busted card that allows for massive game-winning amounts of mana provided you have creatures in play.

Evolutionary leap: Good Wrath of God insurance and lets you filter through your deck for your mass card draw spells.

Great Oak Guardian: Allows for massive mana generation. The flash makes it super flexible.

Avenger of Zendikar: All the plants get +1/+1 counters when you trigger landfall. This could lead to devastating amounts of mana.

Nissa, Voice of Zendikar: Good as a early play to make plant tokens, but Nissa is special because at a moment’s notice she can make your entire army of creatures able to produce mana via +1/+1 counter distribution.

Verdurous Gearhulk: Perhaps not the best for combo decks, Verdurous Gearhulk gives us more midrange value and allows us another way to give counters to creatures.

Walking Ballista: Another standard staple! If you ever achieve infinite mana you’ll win the game with Walking Ballista because of its ability to give itself counters. It’s also really flexible for pushing damage onto opponents or breaking up creature based combos.

Bane of Progress: Good artifact and Enchantment clearing potential. It also becomes huge!