Precon upgrades are back at a full $50 budget! Yes, that’s right, I’ll be taking a look at each of the Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate Commander preconstructed decks and upgrading them on a $50 budget. Today we’re starting with the Draconic Dissent deck! 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 the ChannelFireball Marketplace to track our costs, specifically the lowest available Near Mint price at the time of this writing. I apologize if listings have changed since then, but that’s just part and parcel of a budget article.
Draconic Dissent is a blue/red deck starring Firkraag, Cunning Instigator, a commander that wants to serve two themes: Dragons and goading. I think it’s quite possible to lean hard into Dragons and let Firkraag do the goading alone, but hanging onto that goad theme is going to be both fun and powerful. Here’s the deck list right out of the box:
Commander: 1 Firkraag, Cunning Instigator 1 Aether Gale 1 Agitator Ant 1 Angler Turtle 1 Arcane Signet 1 Artificer Class 1 Ash Barrens 1 Astral Dragon 1 Avatar of Slaughter 1 Baeloth Barrityl, Entertainer 1 Blasphemous Act 1 Bloodthirsty Blade 1 Bothersome Quasit 1 Brash Taunter 1 Burnished Hart 1 Castle Vantress 1 Chain Reaction 1 Chaos Dragon 1 Chaos Warp 1 Clan Crafter 1 Command Tower 1 Compulsive Research 1 Curse of Opulence 1 Curse of the Swine 1 Curse of Verbosity 1 Death Kiss 1 Desolate Lighthouse 1 Disrupt Decorum 1 Dissipation Field 1 Domineering Will 1 Dragon's Hoard 1 Drakuseth, Maw of Flames 1 Fellwar Stone 1 Geode Rager 1 Goblin Spymaster 1 Hedron Archive 12 Island 1 Izzet Boilerworks 1 Izzet Signet 1 Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs 1 Keiga, the Tide Star 1 Kher Keep 1 Loot Dispute 1 Midnight Clock 1 Mind Stone 1 Mocking Doppelganger 12 Mountain 1 Myriad Landscape 1 Niv-Mizzet, Parun 1 Path of Ancestry 1 Prismari Campus 1 Propaganda 1 Psychic Impetus 1 Pursued Whale 1 Reins of Power 1 Reliquary Tower 1 Rowan Kenrith 1 Ryusei, the Falling Star 1 Shiny Impetus 1 Sly Instigator 1 Sol Ring 1 Solemn Simulacrum 1 Spectacular Showdown 1 Sprite Dragon 1 Steel Hellkite 1 Stuffy Doll 1 Talisman of Creativity 1 Temple of Epiphany 1 Temple of the False God 1 Terrain Generator 1 Territorial Hellkite 1 The Akroan War 1 Thunder Dragon 1 Vengeful Ancestor 1 Wandering Fumarole 1 Warmonger Hellkite 1 Wayfarer's Bauble 1 Will Kenrith
These decks are sweet, and this one’s a great starting point. I love seeing this land count – 38? Fantastic! Sure, one of them is Temple of the False God, but that’s fixable. The curve is pretty high too, at a massive 4.07 average mana value among nonlands, but we do have nine mana rocks and a Wayfarer’s Bauble. Still, I’d rather compact that curve a bit, make some of the Dragons better, and remove some of the cards I think could lead directly to our doom.
Time to make some cuts! We’re cutting 10 creatures today.
Creatures that require everyone to attack all the time could easily lead to our own downfall. With Avatar of Slaughter costing a massive eight mana, I’m happy to set it aside, and even though Warmonger Hellkite is a Dragon that can pump up enemy attackers, I’m a little too concerned that we’ll be the ones getting overwhelmed – after all, why not attack the player who’s making everything difficult by playing cards like Warmonger Hellkite?
I love Baeloth Barrityl, but I think he is much stronger as the commander of his own deck. For the mana investment and with a lack of ways to pump him, he’s off to the sidelines.
Since we’re not buying into the “it’s okay to attack us” thing with Avatar of Slaughter and Warmonger Hellkite, let’s get all the way out and set these aside in the favor of more Dragons and good goad cards.
Six mana, even in installments, is a lot to pay for this effect, and I’m not that interested given our many mana rocks that are more efficient.
Let’s get the replacements moving! We’re keeping the creature count the same at a full 29, so let’s get started.
|Life of the Party (NCC)||Komainu Battle Armor (NEC)||Goblin Diplomats (M14)||Dragonspeaker Shaman (AFC)|
We’re adding just four non-Dragon creatures. Life of the Party is a fun way to force some extra attacks out of our opponents, while Komainu Battle Armor can sneak by defenses early with menace or attach to a flyer later and really start to mess up combat. Goblin Diplomats forces all of a player’s creatures to attack on a given turn, and while that could end with them attacking us, the ability to choose when to turn this on makes it much stronger. Finally, Dragonspeaker Shaman is just here to ameliorate some of our cost issues.
|Atsushi, the Blazing Sky (NEO)||Thunderbreak Regent (AFC)||Obsidian Charmaw (MH2)|
Some low-cost Dragons are here to make our curve a little smoother. Atsushi is an incredibly cost-effective card and is well worth the hit to our budget here. Thunderbreak Regent punishes the inevitable removal spells coming at our Dragons with some damage, which can add up over time. Obsidian Charmaw is often going to cost RR, and it’s nice to have a tool that disrupts opposing utility lands.
|Iymrith, Desert Doom (AFR)||Wrathful Red Dragon (CLB)||Lathliss, Dragon Queen (JST)|
Iymrith is a fantastic way to get some additional cards, is costed well, and can be hard to kill when it stays home on defense. Wrathful Red Dragon makes going up against our Dragons in combat or throwing a Blasphemous Act out there potentially disastrous, and Lathliss just makes more Dragons.
We’ve now spent just $14.71, meaning we have plenty of room left! Note that we went up one on the Dragon count, bringing the total up to 14 including Firkraag. That’s on the low end of enough, but it’s what we could do. Let’s cut some noncreature spells.
This is not really an artifact deck, though I do understand why these are here – you put Clan Crafter with Baeloth, make Treasures and sac them. Then you use Artificer Class to get… well, not any of the artifacts currently in the deck, really, so it would require a full-scale overhaul. I’d rather just cut both.
This is not a deck that is going to be completing a lot of dungeons, and adding the initiative to a game where we’re incentivizing our opponents to hit each other a lot seems like a recipe for disaster.
These cards are all fine, but none are amazing. Domineering Will can be a fun way to blow up some creatures during a big goad turn, but it’s also likely to just hang out in your hand for a while. Aether Gale does bounce a lot of permanents, but I need to make room for some cards that support our theme. Dissipation Field is, I find, one of the more ineffective rattlesnake cards, especially in a world where so many creatures have powerful effects upon entering the battlefield.
In come six sweet ones!
|Carnelian Orb of Dragonkind (CLB)||Orb of Dragonkind (AFR)|
Orbs for days! Don’t we already have enough mana rocks? Well, honestly, no. This deck is pretty darn mana hungry even with me cutting the curve down, and it’s ideal that we have at least one in our opener. If we count the Bauble, we’re up to 12, meaning we have a 60.7 percent chance to have a mana rock (or more) in our starting seven. Carnelian Orb of Dragonkind grants haste to Dragons we cast with it, which is kind of incredible and stays relevant for the full game. The vanilla Orb of Dragonkind is a medium-power mana rock in the midgame that we can cash in for a shot at a Dragon in the late game. With 13 Dragons in the main deck, we have a 63.9 percent chance to hit. Not amazing, but it’s worth a try.
|Crucible of Fire (IMA)||Dragon Tempest (C17)|
Both of these cards help our Dragons do serious work. Crucible of Fire pumps up their power and toughness across the board, while Dragon Tempest grants them the all-important haste and throws some extra damage around. It’s not a coincidence that both of these work really well with Astral Dragon!
|Illusionist’s Gambit (C13)||Abrade (CMR)|
I can’t ever escape Illusionist’s Gambit – I previewed it many years ago, and I’ve loved it ever since. It’s an easy fit in a deck like this. Abrade is just nice to have around as a piece of point removal – don’t underestimate how many things three damage can actually kill.
We’ve now spent $23.29, leaving us plenty of room to upgrade the mana base! Let’s cut eight lands – two Islands, two Mountains, and these four nonbasics.
Myriad Landscape is just way too slow for me most of the time. Prismari Campus is the worst of our ETB tapped lands. Ash Barrens isn’t what I’m looking for in a two-color deck that doesn’t have any way to recur it or otherwise take advantage of its travel between zones, and Temple of the False God just doesn’t work unless your land/Rampant Growth effect count is at least 42, as noted by the tag team of Tomer Abramovici and Frank Karsten back in 2020.
Here come the upgrades!
|Training Center (CMR)||Frostboil Snarl (STX)||Riverglide Pathway (ZNR Borderless)||Cascade Bluffs (NCC)||Sulfur Falls (DOM)|
A solid group of dual lands for any occasion.
|Command Beacon (CMR)||Scavenger Grounds (C20)||Haven of the Spirit Dragon (AFC)|
With Firkraag being a big part of our strategy, I wanted to include Command Beacon just in case we need a cheap buyback. Scavenger Grounds is always nice to have against graveyard synergies, so as I often do, I found room for it. Finally, Haven of the Spirit Dragon is a pseudo-dual that also lets us recur a Dragon from the graveyard, virtually upping our Dragon count.
After spending $26.61 on lands, we’ve used $49.90 of our $50 budget – that seems fine to me! We upped the Dragon count by one, dropped the average mana value among nonlands from 4.07 to 3.79, and made the deck more cohesive. Here’s the full upgraded list – enjoy, and I’ll see you next time!
Commander: Firkraag, Cunning Instigator 1 Abrade 1 Agitator Ant 1 Angler Turtle 1 Arcane Signet 1 Astral Dragon 1 Atsushi, the Blazing Sky 1 Blasphemous Act 1 Bloodthirsty Blade 1 Bothersome Quasit 1 Carnelian Orb of Dragonkind 1 Cascade Bluffs 1 Castle Vantress 1 Chain Reaction 1 Chaos Dragon 1 Chaos Warp 1 Command Beacon 1 Command Tower 1 Compulsive Research 1 Crucible of Fire 1 Curse of Opulence 1 Curse of the Swine 1 Curse of Verbosity 1 Death Kiss 1 Desolate Lighthouse 1 Disrupt Decorum 1 Dragon Tempest 1 Dragon's Hoard 1 Dragonspeaker Shaman 1 Fellwar Stone 1 Frostboil Snarl 1 Geode Rager 1 Goblin Diplomats 1 Goblin Spymaster 1 Haven of the Spirit Dragon 1 Hedron Archive 1 Illusionist's Gambit 10 Island 1 Iymrith, Desert Doom 1 Izzet Boilerworks 1 Izzet Signet 1 Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs 1 Keiga, the Tide Star 1 Kher Keep 1 Komainu Battle Armor 1 Lathliss, Dragon Queen 1 Life of the Party 1 Midnight Clock 1 Mind Stone 1 Mocking Doppelganger 10 Mountain 1 Niv-Mizzet, Parun 1 Obsidian Charmaw 1 Orb of Dragonkind 1 Path of Ancestry 1 Propaganda 1 Psychic Impetus 1 Pursued Whale 1 Reins of Power 1 Reliquary Tower 1 Riverglide Pathway / Lavaglide Pathway 1 Rowan Kenrith 1 Scavenger Grounds 1 Shiny Impetus 1 Sly Instigator 1 Sol Ring 1 Solemn Simulacrum 1 Spectacular Showdown 1 Steel Hellkite 1 Sulfur Falls 1 Talisman of Creativity 1 Temple of Epiphany 1 Terrain Generator 1 Territorial Hellkite 1 The Akroan War 1 Thunderbreak Regent 1 Training Center 1 Vengeful Ancestor 1 Wandering Fumarole 1 Wayfarer's Bauble 1 Will Kenrith 1 Wrathful Red Dragon