Here’s the final installment of my $50 precon upgrade series! I’ll be going through each of the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Commander precons and upgrading them on a $50 budget, this week with Planar Portal. As always, I’d like to remind you of a couple of things regarding my budget articles:
- $50 has a different impact on different people, but given that it’s less than the price of a triple-A console game release, I think it’s a price many will be willing to pay for hours of entertainment, which a Commander deck should provide.
- I’ll be using prices from right here on ChannelFireball.com to track our costs. All prices were accurate when I wrote this – apologies if prices have changed or cards have gone out of stock since, but that’s just part and parcel of a budget article.
Today we’ll be looking at the Planar Portal deck list, which stars Prosper, Tome-Bound:
Pretty straightforward, right? Cast spells from exile and get Treasure. Prosper provides an Outpost Siege-style pseudo-draw on each of your upkeeps to make that easier, but mechanics like rebound, foretell and similar also give you some extra bites at this evil apple.
Here’s the deck list right out of the box:
Planar Portal Precon
This deck list feels a little scattered. Warlock Class is included for thematic value, there’s some goad stuff going on with Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant and friends and we have sort of a Rat subtheme. I love a good subtheme as much as anyone else, but since Prosper himself isn’t totally focused, I’d rather streamline things towards his two main themes – exiled spells and Treasures – rather than entertaining these sidelines, as they’re likely to make the deck feel a bit clunky. Speaking of clunk, the average mana value of the nonland cards in the list is 3.62, and I’m thinking we might be able to reduce that a bit. After all, we’ll be playing multiple spells a turn if we have our way.
I’m making a full 23 swaps today, starting with eight creatures as follows:
I’m tossing the Rat subtheme, this extra token generator and the Pontiff of Blight that ties them all together. Pontiff is great at providing tons of value for all those creature tokens, but I don’t think this is the deck that wants it.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Karazikar. That said, it’s a much better commander than a role player here, and I’ll probably be building a deck for this one myself.
Again, I’d prefer to put this one at the helm of something else, and it doesn’t have a ton of synergy here.
I don’t see too much about this card that goes with Prosper, and it’s not an amazing value play, so it’s hitting the bench.
So what comes in? Well, let’s take a look.
|Academy Manufactor (MH2)||Reckless Fireweaver (KLD)||Xorn (AFR)|
Getting more value from putting Treasures on the battlefield is a pretty big deal – it means we get paid off even more every time we cast a spell from exile. Academy Manufactor and Xorn both pay us in artifact tokens, albeit somewhat different ones, while Reckless Fireweaver does something most cards in this deck aren’t amazing at – damage to our opponents.
|Disciple of the Vault (2XM)||Mayhem Devil (WAR)||Nadier’s Nightblade (CMR)|
We’ll probably be using our Treasures about as quickly as we can get them, so let’s give Marionette Master some support in dealing damage to the table. Nadier’s Nightblade represents the zenith of the available cards that fulfill this function, while Disciple of the Vault is cheaper but less effective. Mayhem Devil does help clear out the board, which is nice.
|Forsworn Paladin (AFR)||Kalain, Reclusive Painter (AFR Showcase)||Skullport Merchant (AFR)|
While we’re at it, let’s get even more value out of our Treasures. Forsworn Paladin will occasionally help us out in combat, but I think it’ll mostly make more Treasure for us. Kalain, Reclusive Painter lets us make some beefy creatures, though – think Marionette Master here – and Skullport Merchant draws us deeper into the deck for more sweet options.
|Author of Shadows (C21)||Birgi, God of Storytelling (KHM)||Murderous Rider (ELD)|
Treasure value is great, but I’d like to add some more ways to cast spells from exile. Adventure cards do the trick, so Murderous Rider is an easy call. Author of Shadows lets us cast something sweet while also wrecking some graveyard synergies, and Birgi, God of Storytelling, while interesting on the front side, has a little more value to us as Harnfel – we can turn some extra cards into more plays in the later game.
|Hellkite Tyrant (GTC)|
While I couldn’t quite fit Revel in Riches into this deck, Hellkite Tyrant will do just as well in terms of alternate win condition. I actually like it a little better, as it’s less immediately threatening, more interactive, and doubles as an actual beatdown creature with added value when you’re not winning off it.
We’ve now spent $24.10, but it was important to increase the creature count since we’re cutting our token theme out – we’re up from 20 to 25 here. Let’s take a look at the spells we’ve got on the chopping block:
Most of the die rolling cards are getting cut, though I did leave Reckless Endeavor in the list. It synergizes well with the Treasure theme while also acting as a wrath – something we don’t have a lot of here. These casualties weren’t on theme.
Ten mana is kind of unreasonable, especially in a non-green deck, so despite the full rebate provided, I think we can do better.
The goad theme isn’t for this list, so we’ll toss these ones to the wayside. Shiny Impetus almost stuck in this list due to the Treasure theme, but it’s an unreliable source of Treasure that doesn’t come when we call it, so I’m not excited.
This one-shot No Mercy (mostly) doesn’t spark joy in me. It looks like the kind of card that sits in your hand while you think “gosh, I wish I could affect the board on my own schedule.”
Getting a one Treasure rebate on something that suspends for 16 years doesn’t appeal to me.
I love that this Class is in the deck because it’s on theme – Prosper is a warlock, after all! That said, I needed to cut one more card, so the thematic inclusion died for my need to swap in another card.
Of course, since we threw in so many extra creatures, we’re only putting in six noncreature spells, and here they are.
|Oracle’s Vault (AKH)||Outpost Siege (C20)||Vance’s Blasting Cannons (XLN)|
Exile and cast more things from the top of our library? Why yes, I think we will. Oracle’s Vault is particularly attractive once it gets rolling, but be aware it’s likely to eat a removal spell. Outpost Siege and Vance’s Blasting Cannons are fire-and-forget, which is upside over the extra two mana you pay on Oracle’s Vault until it’s fully bricked up.
|Feed the Swarm (ZNR)||Deadly Dispute (AFR)||Ghirapur Aether Grid (ORI)|
And here’s my “miscellaneous” section. Feed the Swarm is a solid piece of removal that happens to hit enchantments – something we really have trouble with – while Deadly Dispute turns two mana and a card into some new options as long as you have a Treasure to spend and get back. Ghirapur Aether Grid is amazing if you stack up enough Treasures, though keep in mind that tapping them will preclude you from sacrificing them to their own ability.
We’ve now spent just $27.80, which is good because I have some important lands to sneak into this list. Four lands, to be specific. We cut the following lands:
I get what we’re trying to do with Mortuary Mire, but I’m not sure it’s worth losing some opening hand equity. Spinerock Knoll can be pretty tough to trigger, and as I’ve said before, I think Rakdos Carnarium and its ilk are past their prime.
I don’t have that much room for colorless lands, and we don’t have much trouble dealing with the listed permanent types, so off they go.
So what comes in? Well, some very notable options, in fact!
|Canyon Slough (AFR)||Dragonskull Summit (XLN)|
|Command Beacon (CMR)||Treasure Vault (AFR)|
Now here’s the best stuff. Command Beacon is really important when our deck is so dependent on Prosper, and Treasure Vault helps us maximize the value from all of our Treasure synergies. It’s not so bad to take a turn off when you can Vault out some serious tokens, and when combined with something like Mayhem Devil or Academy Manufactor, the value goes through the roof.
At this point we’ve spent $49.30, which is a pretty solid use of our budget! That means the final deck in this series is complete for this go-round. I’ll have something else fun next week, but for now, here’s the deck list. Enjoy!