New Capenna Commander Precon $20 Upgrades – Maestros, Obscura, Riveteers

Like I said last time, Commander precon decks are getting better, and that’s awesome! It also means I’m going to spend fewer dollars and fewer articles upgrading them. I’m keeping the average budget per article the same; last week we spent $20 each on two decks, and this week we’ll be doing the same $20 upgrade treatment on three decks. With the decks going for about $40 each right now on ChannelFireball.com, adding on $20 of upgrades puts us right into (or sometimes under) triple-A video game price territory – and that’s before you pay for the DLC, Season Pass, virtual currency or whatever else. Plus, it’s the budget I used for my Commander upgrade league, so it’s a totally workable starting point.

As always, I’d like to remind you of a couple of things regarding my budget articles:

  • The $40 startup cost plus $20 upgrade cost has a different impact on different people, but given that it’s about 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.



Header - Maestros Massacre

Let’s go to the first deck of the day: Maestros Massacre, starring Anhelo, the Painter!

Maestros Massacre Precon

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Anhelo wants to cast and copy some huge haymaker-style instants and sorceries, and he wants to use expendable creatures to do so. My big concern here is mana – we have a 3.65 average mana value among nonlands and only 37 total lands. Seven mana rocks and a Wayfarer’s Bauble helps, but I want to add a land to the count and reduce the overall mana value a little.

Syrix, Carrier of the FlameParnesse, the Subtle Brush

We’re cutting just two of the 14 creatures in this list, and guess what? We’re picking the two new legends. Both of them work much better in their own decks – Syrix doesn’t have enough friends here, and Parnesse gives us opportunities we’re not interested in. I don’t want my opponents copying my Clone Legion!

Damnable PactBody Count

Neither of these card draw spells feel optimal here. Damnable Pact is really dangerous to copy without other ways to gain life, and Body Count just won’t be the high-ceiling card it wants to be in a low creature count deck that, while it makes tokens, isn’t a go-wide token-heavy deck.

Determined IterationDread SummonsCall the Skybreaker

These three token generators are not what I’m looking for. Call the Skybreaker lost its 1v1 with Army of the Damned, a card that leans much further into what Anhelo wants, and Determined Iteration’s lack of support makes it a little rough here. Dread Summons milling our opponents is a little too risky for me.

Make an Example

This card is fun, but I’m not convinced it’s a good card to be copying given how annoying the double subgame is likely to become. 

Smuggler's Buggy

Another cool card that doesn’t really fit our theme. 

Darkwater CatacombsGrixis PanoramaShadowblood Ridge

I’ve discussed my gripes with these lands in the past, but let’s reiterate – the Odyssey filter lands are quite awkward in terms of how they force you to spend mana, and we can do better, and the Panorama, while it does make colorless mana, doesn’t use resources in a good way when we’re using it for fixing.

Here’s what comes in:

Dualcaster MageJadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia (Showcase Eternal Night)Poppet Stitcher // Poppet FactoryTalrand, Sky Summoner
Dualcaster Mage (2XM) Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia (MID Showcase) Poppet Stitcher (MID) Talrand, Sky Summoner (UMA)
$0.24 $1.00 $6.50 $0.19

Poppet Stitcher and Talrand pop out tokens we can use for the casualty ability from Anhelo every time we cast an instant or sorcery, and while that doesn’t help us copy the first one you cast with one of these in play, it does help keep the train rolling. Jadar also keeps you supplied with easy-to-sac creatures, and Dualcaster Mage is a perfectly statted card for Anhelo that also happens to work quite well with the rest of the list.

Cut // RibbonsRise from the TidesSyphon FleshRotten Reunion
Cut // Ribbons (AKH) Rise from the Tides (SOI) Syphon Flesh (C11) Rotten Reunion (MID)
$0.59 $0.20 $0.15 $0.10

It’s not quite Exsanguinate, but copying Ribbons out of the graveyard with casualty sounds like a great plan, and I don’t mind throwing a token in to copy Cut if I can hit two commanders or utility creatures. Rise from the Tides plays well here just like Army of the Damned does, and Syphon Flesh gives us fewer 2/2s in exchange for some sacrifices from opponents. Rotten Reunion goes well here alongside the already valuable Waste Management, providing 2/2s and hating out some graveyard synergies.

Ral, Storm Conduit
Ral, Storm Conduit (WAR)

With all this spell copying going on, Ral seems like an easy fit. Plus, more copy effects helps out our Twinning Staff, and the scry is solid in a pinch. 

Xander's LoungeBojuka BogTerramorphic Expanse
Xander’s Lounge (SNC) Bojuka Bog (MIC) Terramorphic Expanse (CMR)
$7.85 $1.20 $0.10

With a lot of our budget left, I decided to fit in a solid land acquisition: Xander’s Lounge. We’re not going to get any land quite this luxurious in our other upgrades, so enjoy this one. Bojuka Bog adds some value to the mana base, and Terramorphic Expanse is a cheap but useful fixer. I also threw in an extra Swamp since we have a high black mana symbol count.

We’ve spent $19.61 – nice and close to that $20! Here’s the upgraded list, featuring a higher land count, a very slightly lower average mana value among nonlands at 3.61, and some overall better spells. 

Maestros Massacre Upgraded

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Header - Obscura Operation

Let’s move on to the Obscura Operation list, with Kamiz, Obscura Oculus at the helm.

Obscura Operation Precon

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The 3.62 average mana value ignoring lands looks a little better here with 38 lands, especially since we have the same “seven rocks and a Bauble” setup to go with those lands. This deck is trying to attack with at least two creatures at once every turn, using a higher-power creature to run interference for a lower-power one. Ideally, we find a way to get that low-power creature that we’re giving double strike through to hit the opponent, because the plan is to make sure that creature has a “saboteur” trigger that gives us value when it deals combat damage to an opponent (ideally, the higher-power one has a similar trigger too!). We’re going to take out some off-theme cards as well as a few that just don’t have the support they need!

Inkfathom WitchAlela, Artful ProvocateurTivit, Seller of Secrets

Inkfathom Witch just costs us too much mana to activate, and even with the double strike involved, I’m not ready to pay that when I could be casting more spells I’m getting off those good connive triggers. Alela doesn’t really have as much support in this deck as I’d like, so out it goes. Tivit belongs at the helm of a deck and doesn’t really fit the theme here, so goodbye to Tivit.

JailbreakLife InsuranceNightmare Unmaking

Jailbreak is a fun politics card, and I understand the connection to the connive mechanic, but I think we can do better on synergy. Life Insurance doesn’t feel like it fits the theme here, but it’s a cool card. Nightmare Unmaking feels like the worst of our wraths, and I think we have too many wraths for such a creature-heavy deck, even if it does give us some conditional options.

Darkwater CatacombsEsper PanoramaSkycloud Expanse

I could say the same thing about these that I said earlier, but you read that, right?

Let’s bring in nine cards to replace these, starting with some creatures!

Containment ConstructRaffine, Scheming SeerBody LaundererWonder
Containment Construct (NEO) Raffine, Scheming Seer (SNC) Body Launderer (SNC) Wonder (MH2)
$0.89 $1.90 $2.30 $0.38

Containment Construct and Body Launderer help us take more advantage of the discards we’re getting from connive, and Raffine adds more connive to the mix, which turns out great with the double strike from Kamiz. Wonder is the perfect card to toss in the graveyard with all those connive triggers!

Void RendBident of Thassa
Void Rend (SNC) Bident of Thassa (THS)
$2.00 $3.08

Void Rend is a great piece of point removal, and Bident of Thassa works well with all of our various unblockable creatures. Why Bident instead of Reconnaissance Mission? Well, I like the option to activate for value, and we have enough connive stuff going on that I think that outshines the cycling.

Access TunnelShipwreck MarshBrightclimb Pathway // Grimclimb Pathway
Access Tunnel (STX) Shipwreck Marsh (MID) Brightclimb Pathway (ZNR)
$0.45 $3.40 $4.40

Access Tunnel is a great complement to Rogue’s Passage for our low-power creatures, and the other two are just solid mana fixers.

We’ve spent $18.80, and I think we’re good here – I don’t want to make more additions with what’s left of our budget. We’re down to 3.56 average mana value without lands, and I think our deck is better for it. Here’s the upgraded list:

Obsucra Operation Upgraded

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Header - Riveteers Rampage

Finally, we have the Riveteers Rampage deck, with Henzie “Toolbox” Torre taking the lead. Here’s the original list:

Riveteers Rampage Precon

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Look at this beautiful deck! The plan is to blitz our creatures out and get tons of value, and with so many high-cost cards, it’s no surprise we have 39 lands, five mana rocks, four ramp spells and an Overgrown Battlement to get us casting our spells faster. And yes, the average mana value here ignoring lands is 4.27, but we need creatures with mana value four or more to synergize with our new friend Toolbox. Of all the upgrades I’m doing today, this is my favorite – let’s take a look at the cuts.

Overgrown BattlementWeathered Sentinels

We’re cutting all the creatures under four. Why? Well, it’s all about theme. Weathered Sentinels doesn’t fit our theme, and Overgrown Battlement has no other defender friends, so out they both go.

Jolene, the Plunder QueenThe Beamtown Bullies

These two really want to be in charge of their own decks, and they’re off theme for this one. Easy cuts!

Dodgy Jalopy

I understand that the plan is to blitz something in, crew the Jalopy and then scavenge it onto something, but given the transitory nature of our creatures, I’ve decided to send this Jalopy to the junkyard in favor of more sweet creatures.

Glittering Stockpile

I have a great one-for-one upgrade here for us. While saving up some mana and sacrificing this is an interesting idea, wouldn’t you rather have Cursed Mirror? Good news: you’re getting Cursed Mirror.

Protection Racket

I mentioned this in my set review, but this card isn’t going to give us cards when we need them. I’d rather have more creatures to blitz in – that’ll get us cards for sure, as well as plenty of other awesome effects.

Aether Snap

I imagine this was included to help this deck play well against the other preconstructed decks, but I want the upgraded decks to be able to hang out in unknown metagames, and Aether Snap doesn’t feel like it fits that particular bill. I suppose it also would help if Jolene was still in the deck.

Turf War

It’s fun to fight over lands, but these are the first cards I cut when I try to streamline a deck like this. Want the fun back? That’s great! Cut something you don’t love instead. 

Fellwar Stone

I’d rather have some stronger ramp spells than weaker mana rocks, and with plenty of green mana sources, that should be easy.

Jund PanoramaMossfire ValleyShadowblood Ridge

Hey, we’re cutting the same lands again. What a shock. You might be surprised I’m not cutting Temple of the False God, but with 39 lands and plenty of ramp (especially after I swap in some more green ramp effects) it’s actually a great fit. 

Here’s what comes in:

Atsushi, the Blazing SkyRavenous ChupacabraJunji, the Midnight Sky
Atsushi, the Blazing Sky (NEO) Ravenous Chupacabra (RIX) Junji, the Midnight Sky (NEO)
$4.00 $0.79 $5.10

Two great dies effects and one fantastic ETB effect! Atsushi helps with additional card draw or Treasure for more blitzing, and Junji brings back something powerful from the graveyard. Ravenous Chupacabra is great with blitz – it’s an easy two-for-one!

Ognis, the Dragon's LashZiatora's EnvoyWorkshop Warchief
Ognis, the Dragon’s Lash (SNC) Ziatora’s Envoy (SNC) Workshop Warchief (SNC)
$0.38 $0.19 $0.38

Three sweet creatures from Streets of New Capenna that fit well here. Blitz gives our creatures haste, making Ognis a great source of Treasure. Ziatora’s Envoy and Workshop Warchief already have blitz, and they both provide tons of value whether or not they’re blitzed in. This deck is all about getting value!

Three VisitsCultivateCursed Mirror
Three Visits (CMR) Cultivate (NCC) Cursed Mirror (C21)
$3.98 $0.30 $3.50

More ramp! We’re replacing Overgrown Battlement and the two lost mana rocks with these three, and I think we’ve done some upgrading. Cultivate and Three Visits make it way easier to pay all these tri-color costs, and Cursed Mirror can even copy a creature temporarily in addition to mana-rocking out. 

Riveteers Ascendancy
Riveteers Ascendancy (SNC)

This is the perfect card for this style of deck. If we’re going to blitz a lot of creatures, why not get four-drops back with five-drops, five-drops back with six-drops, and so on? Plus, the creatures we bring back with the Ascendancy stick around for the long haul!

High MarketTerramorphic ExpanseEvolving Wilds
High Market (2XM) Terramorphic Expanse (CMR) Evolving Wilds (IKO)
$0.72 $0.10 $0.15

High Market lets us sacrifice creatures for those dies effects when we haven’t blitzed them in, which is good because Toolbox won’t always be in play. Terramorphic Expanse and Evolving Wilds do a great job in the early turns, since we’re not adding much to the board before Toolbox comes down on turn three.

We’ve now spent $19.86 – that’s almost all of our budget. Fantastic! Our upgraded list actually goes up to 4.32 average mana value without lands, but that’s just fine here, as we’ve stayed on theme and made much better use of the mana we are spending. Here’s the final upgraded list – enjoy, and I’ll see you next time!

Riveteers Rampage Upgraded

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1 thought on “New Capenna Commander Precon $20 Upgrades – Maestros, Obscura, Riveteers”

  1. Excellent post! Did forget to mention the taking out of Rite of the Raging Storm in Maestros Massacre though, took me a sec to figure out how you were able to add in the extra swamp. Much appreciated!

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