Best Budget Commanders: White

Scott CullenCommander

It’s well-known that Commander is a great format for players on a budget. The card pool is massive, you don’t need to buy expensive cards by the playset, and lower power levels are both popular and affordable. The enormous card pool does mean that deck-building can be a long and arduous process, however, especially if you’re trying to find the best options within your budget.

This is a list of the best commanders in white for those that are on a budget. I’ll be highlighting the archetypes they best support, along with some of the most powerful spells and synergistic combos. Hopefully this will help you to decide on your next favorite deck to sleeve up, or give you some solid ideas to build upon!

Sram, Senior Edificer – Voltron

Sram is an extremely popular commander; in fact, they’re the most popular mono-white commander according to EDHREC. Their cheap casting cost and potent ability makes them a fantastic choice for a Voltron strategy. There are countless powerful auras and equipment in Magic; you’ll be spoiled for choice, even on a shoestring!

Sram’s ability draws a card when you cast an aura, equipment, or vehicle, so the majority of cards in your deck are functionally cantrips. Voltron strategies tend not to need vehicles, but auras and equipment are usually popular.

Whether you decide to lean into auras, equipment, or a bit of both, there are a number of payoffs for each one. Golem-Skin Gauntlets rewards you for equipped artifacts, Helm of the Gods gives you a huge boon for enchantments, and All That Glitters benefits from both. There are many more of these efficient payoffs available, and they’re all extremely affordable. My personal favorite is Empyrial Armor: it’s expensive at three mana, but since Sram will be drawing you cards constantly, it can easily provide a seven-point power and toughness boost!

There are many ways to protect Sram: auras with totem armor, protective equipment like Swiftfoot Boots, and auras that grant protection are all invaluable additions. While these help to keep your main win condition alive, you also need ways to find them reliably.

White has an abundance of narrow tutor effects, and thankfully, you can make great use of them here. Heliod’s Pilgrim will grab any aura from your deck, whether it’s a protection piece, a removal spell, or a payoff like Ethereal Armor. Open the Armory does a similar job, only it replaces the 1/2 body with the ability to tutor for equipment, too. Three Dreams is an incredible piece of card advantage that feels tailor-made for this deck; fetching any three cards you want is unheard of in Magic, but you get to take full advantage of this incredible power.

White is exceptionally good at removal, but Sram can really take advantage of more fringe options. Oppressive Rays is a great taxing piece that replaces itself with Sram out, and Reprobation is a great way to remove an opposing commander’s abilities. Single Combat shines here, as it will leave you with your huge threat and prevent others from getting in its way.

Even if you decide to go all-in on Sram as your main way to win, you have plenty of options for low-effort backup win conditions. Sigil of the Empty Throne is a classic that rewards you for casting your auras by building a small army. Archon of Sun’s Grace and Ajani’s Chosen perform similar roles, but with the added benefits of lifelink or spreading your auras around.

Sram is a force to be reckoned with at any budget level, and I highly recommend them to anyone looking for a cheap, fast, powerful commander.

Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle – Artifact/Combo

It’s not common to find such a combo-focused mono-white commander, but Teshar certainly breaks the mold. The bird cleric is infamous for being one of the easiest commanders to combo off with — and they happen to be extremely budget-friendly.

There are a number of ways to combo with Teshar, most of which all follow the same basic principles. You will need Teshar on board, along with a sacrifice outlet, a creature that returns an artifact to your hand, and a zero-mana artifact.

For this example, let’s say you have Blasting Station, Myr Retriever, and Mishra’s Bauble. You sacrifice Mishra’s Bauble to put it into the graveyard, then sacrifice Myr Retriever using Blasting Station. You then use Myr Retriever’s trigger to return Mishra’s Bauble to your hand, and Teshar will trigger when you recast it; this will return Myr Retriever to the battlefield, untapping Blasting Station. You are now at the start of the loop again, and can repeat this any number of times. 

In this example, Blasting Station can completely wipe out your opponents, but if you have another sacrifice outlet that doesn’t double as a win condition (Thermal Navigator, for example), then you will need something like Altar of the Brood to finish them off.

In order to win, you need to ensure you can keep your combo pieces around. Thankfully, that’s something this deck excels at. You can recur most of your combo pieces with Teshar or one of the retrieving creatures, and some of the available combo pieces can perform double duty as protection, too! Fanatical Devotion can keep Teshar around as long as you have creatures to sacrifice, for example. If you really want extra protection, Sejiri Shelter is a great addition that doesn’t reduce the number of lands or combo pieces in your deck. On top of that, Scrapyard Recombiner can tutor for anything from a combo piece (Workshop Assistant) to a cost reducer (Foundry Inspector).

A real strength of this archetype is its redundancy: there are countless affordable sacrifice outlets, artifact retrievers, free artifacts, and win conditions. Even if you don’t want to lean completely into assembling the combo as quickly as possible, you can play a more value-oriented game plan. Karn, Scion of Urza is a great payoff for having so many artifacts lying around, Filigree Familiar is a fantastic fox to recur with Teshar, and Mentor of the Meek works with most of the creatures you’ll be playing here.

If you’re looking for a potent combo commander that’s also a ton of fun to goldfish, I recommend Teshar above anything else. They’re not a color pie break, but it’s refreshing to play something unique in an often underrated slice of the color pie.

God-Eternal Oketra – Aggro

Mono-White Aggro is an archetype that has persevered through the years, and across all formats. From the early days of casting Savannah Lions and Armageddon to the more interactive Death & Taxes variants in Modern and Legacy, White Aggro has always had ways to put opponents into difficult situations. Commander is no exception to this, and God-Eternal Oketra is one of the best white commanders for the job.

Aggro generally has a difficult time keeping up with the bigger decks in Commander, especially if they’re met with a timely board wipe. Oketra can easily be built to reduce the impact that sweepers have on your game plan, thanks to the number of small white creatures that return permanents to your hand. Whitemane Lion and Jeskai Barricade cost just two mana, and you can flash them in while Oketra is on the field to create 4/4 zombies, then return them to hand to repeat ad nauseum. Stonecloaker costs a little more for the same effect, but it’s also incidental graveyard hate, which is nice to have. If you keep returning these creatures to hand, you’ll be able to rebuild immediately after a board wipe and keep the pressure on your opponents.

Creatures that generate value or otherwise interact well with these bouncing creatures are a must, too. Fiend Hunter and Leonin Relic-Warder are amazing with them, as if you return them to hand with their ETB triggers on the stack, the permanent they’re removing will be exiled permanently. Kor Cartographer is a piece of reliable ramp that most white decks use, and it’s especially effective here due to reusing them.

A great way to slow your opponents down is through the use of hatebears. One of white’s strengths is the ability to rewrite certain rules to put itself on par or ahead of others. Spirit of the Labyrinth can seriously choke blue and green decks, Aven Mindcensor can turn a fetchland into a Wasteland, and Imposing Sovereign can shut down any creatures with haste. They might seem like minimal or narrow effects, but once they start to compound, your opponents will really start to feel the squeeze. Other great affordable options are Vryn Wingmare, Containment Priest, and Archon of Emeria.

One of white’s weaknesses is card advantage; it’s evident in many decks, especially when white is the primary color. Oketra helps to mitigate this through the virtual card advantage provided by her zombie tokens, and Oketra’s Monument is another flavorful way to get the most out of every single card. Bygone Bishop gives you some real card advantage, and Ranger of Eos is essentially a board-in-a-box in Oketra’s presence.

God-Eternal Oketra is a testament to aggro’s ability to persevere, even in such a wide and dangerous field. She demands respect, and if you decide to build this deck, she will be sitting at the helm of a budget beast.

Sephara, Sky’s Blade – Flying Tribal

White isn’t the first place you’d look for a good flying tribal deck, but Sephara is another commander that defies expectations. Her ability to dramatically reduce her own casting cost is better than you may think, and the supports available for a white flyers deck are as plentiful as they are affordable.

In order to make the most out of your angelic commander, you’ll need a critical mass of flying creatures. Cards like Spectral Procession and Battle Screech feel like they were custom-made for this deck due to their efficiency, and Hanged Executioner gives you some utility at a slightly higher rate. When you look at these cards through the lens of minimizing your commander’s costs, they start to look even more tempting.

Once you’ve made a large team of flyers and cast your commander, you’ll need to turn those smaller tokens into real threats. Cathars’ Crusade can easily snowball out of control, turning just one Spectral Procession into a minimum of nine power on board! Celestial Crusader is a card you can use offensively, and it can also be a clutch protection spell in a pinch. Even Rally of Wings can be a lethal trick; it’s great when you’re attacking, but it can cause some real blowouts before blockers during an opponent’s combat step.

Sephara is there to be a massive threat in addition to protecting your team from board wipes, so we should be sure to protect her, too. Aegis Angel pairs beautifully with her; the two cards grant indestructibility to each other and seal any weaknesses in your defenses. Similarly, it’s important to keep yourself protected while jumping into the fray: Magus of the Moat will likely lock most opponents out of combat, and Ghostly Prison will disincentivize attacks in your direction. If you add Brave the Sands to your list, your entire attacking force can pull double duty as blockers, as well as being able to attack before casting your commander for her alternate cost.

This is another deck that can take advantage of a small hatebears package. Hushbringer can often be asymmetrical due to your lack of ETB triggers, Kinjalli’s Sunwing can stop new creatures from blocking, and Remorseful Cleric is a potent source of graveyard hate. 

If you’re looking for an aggressive deck that’s a little different and can be customized to suit any playgroup, Sephara, Sky’s Blade may just be the one for you.

Daxos, Blessed by the Sun – Life Gain

Life gain is a strategy that’s synonymous with white. While Heliod may be the go-to life gain commander these days, it’s his champion Daxos that makes for the best option on a budget.

It’s evident by Daxos’s ability that you want to gain life by playing creatures, and there’s no better way of doing that than by playing creatures that mimic this ability. Soul Warden and Soul’s Attendant are classics, and Impassioned Orator does a decent impression of the Soul Sisters. Suture Priest is an unusual one, as it serves your life gain purpose while also punishing go-wide strategies and preventing infinite token combos.

With so much life gain, you’ll need payoffs. Angelic Accord acts as a creature factory in builds like this, potentially netting you up to sixteen power worth of flyers every turn cycle. Ajani’s Pridemate is the classic life gain payoff, often growing to unstoppable proportions before long. Gideon’s Company is essentially the same as Pridemate, but at twice the cost and growth rate.

There are a number of ways to close the game while keeping with your life gain theme. With all of these Soul Sister effects and other small creatures lying around, you can play Basri Ket as a way to generate a wider board or even grow your team. Harmonious Archon can often be enough to close the game, too, turning all of your 1/1 creatures into more formidable combatants. If going wide doesn’t sound like your style, you can always attach Light of Promise to Daxos himself and try to win through commander damage!

Sometimes, turning small creatures sideways just isn’t going to do it. Thankfully, you have options to end the game without a critical mass of attackers. Felidar Sovereign is a tried and tested path to a pacifist victory, whereas the newer Angel of Destiny is a little more direct in ensuring your opponents know they lost. Finally, no white life gain deck would be complete without an overcosted life gain spell, and Approach of the Second Sun is possibly the best one ever printed.

There are many powerful and varied commanders available to you in white, even if you’re on a budget. White is just one small slice of the color pie, but it’s one that houses many adept commanders and hidden powerhouses. Just because something is affordable doesn’t mean your opponents can afford to dismiss it in combat!

What do you think of these commanders? What’s your favorite mono-white deck? Let me know over on Twitter!