The new Battle for Baldur’s Gate preconstructed decks have been revealed, and they’re all full of exciting cards, old and new alike. Generally speaking, they all seem pretty good, with a good mix of well-chosen reprints and cool new cards. Obviously these decks aren’t overwhelmingly powerful and will require upgrading, and Wizards didn’t pull out all the stops when it comes to reprints, but nonetheless these precons are, I think, better than what we usually get.
But which is the best of the four? Today we’ll be going through and evaluating what you get in each precon, and deciding which one is the best to pick up. We’ll be looking at the big-ticket cards, new printings that come with a higher price tag; the important reprints, cards that have been overdue for renewal for awhile now; and EDH staples, the cards that are good to have in any EDH collection because of how popular they are (note that because cards like Command Tower, Arcane Signet and Ash Barrens are in all four of the decks, they don’t appear on the lists below).
Let’s dive in, have a look at the four lists, and decide which one offers the best bang for your buck!
4. Draconic Dissent
The least impressive of the four precons is probably the Izzet Dragons deck. This list just feels a little… weird, and not in a good way. Goad, as a mechanic, can generate some enjoyably chaotic games, but this deck doesn’t commit fully to the mechanic (despite having a commander that rewards you pretty handsomely for goading creatures).
It feels somewhat scattered, like it’s trying to be a goad deck and a Dragon deck at the same time. This leads to it being kind of bad on both fronts, to be honest. Perhaps some players may enjoy the challenge of upgrading this deck to maximize its synergies by putting in better Dragons, and punishing forced attacks further, but as it stands right now, this deck is somewhat lackluster. I get that precons aren’t supposed to be 10/10 decks, but this one falls short even as a powered-down precon.
There are some moderately valuable pickups in this list, most notably Astral Dragon, which even at eight mana is going to be a big card in EDH decks moving forward. Tokens, Dragons, blink decks – Astral Dragon has a lot of potential. Loot Dispute seems fun but narrow, while Spectacular Showdown is going to end up creating a lot of chaos!
Curse of Opulence is in desperate need of reprinting, and is a big inclusion in this deck given its $12 price tag. Domineering Will had never been reprinted before this, and while it’s not the most expensive card, it doesn’t hurt to have more copies out there. Terrain Generator is a great $5 reprint, too, with the only way to play it with a new border being from the old Jace vs. Chandra duel decks before this version.
Even if you end up tearing this deck apart and never playing it again, on top of the money cards hidden throughout it, there are plenty of cards you’ll find homes for in other EDH decks. Chaos Warp is “unconditional” red removal, Solemn Simulacrum goes in virtually any deck, while Blasphemous Act is often a one-mana Day of Judgment in EDH – very useful in slower red decks!
3. Exit from Exile
This deck explores a new angle for red-green decks – playing things from exile. Faldorn even rewards you for playing lands from exile, which isn’t something you see all that often! This deck has plenty of ways to play from the exile zone, with red’s “impulse-draw” on cards like Light Up the Stage in addition to things like Adventure cards and foretell cards to churn out 2/2 Wolves.
This deck is more focused than the Izzet one, for sure, but its overall power level is a little lacking. It’s not bad, but cards like End-Raze Forerunners pretty clearly signpost that this is a deck that needs some significant upgrades if it’s going to run with the big dogs. Still, it has a rock-solid foundation, with plenty of EDH ramp staples and some sweet top-end cards like Etali, Primal Storm and Ezuri’s Predation.
Some of the new cards command a respectable price tag, although the value doesn’t run quite as deep as the Izzet deck. Passionate Archaeologist is an extremely narrow background that is – in my view – overpriced. Nalfeshnee is similarly narrow – maybe there’s more to this play-from-exile business than I’m realizing, but I think both these cards are in a bit of a hype bubble. Green Slime, however, seems absolutely ridiculous, hitting everything from Smothering Tithe to Vanquisher’s Banner to the mythic Swords.
It’s great to see Jeska’s Will getting reprinted, as the card has quickly become a mainstay of the format since its printing in Commander Legends – most red decks want to play it, so hopefully this will bring down its $12 price tag. Urabrask is a nasty mono-red commander often put in decks looking to take extra combat steps, while Three Visits needs to be reprinted into oblivion so a fancy Rampant Growth doesn’t keep costing $5.
What I really like about this deck is that it has a ton of the cards you would want in any green-based ramp deck. Kodama’s Reach and Cultivate are amongst the most-played cards in EDH, while Sakura-Tribe Elder is always welcome in a green deck. There’s good stuff at the top-end, too, with Primeval Bounty and Warstorm Surge – these are generically powerful cards that slot into a lot of different Commander decks, so it’s useful to have them.
2. Mind Flayarrrs
Despite the name of this deck, thankfully it doesn’t try to hybridize Horrors and Pirates. This is just a good tribal deck, with a good balance of enablers and support cards to allow Captain N’ghathrod to do his best work. Powerful Horrors, efficient mill cards and a sprinkling of high-impact cards both old and new alike make this deck a great one to pick up for any Dimir mages who like either nasty monsters, milling people out, or both.
This deck also doesn’t pull too many punches when it comes to interaction, meaning it will bolster your collection with useful options you can spread out amongst other lists if you end up tinkering with this one. Beyond it all, however, this deck is surprisingly long on rock-solid tribal cards, and while there’s always room to upgrade it, this list looks like it will play extremely well out of the box.
There are some sizeable pick-ups in this deck, as some of the new cards have decent price tags attached to them. Whether these prices stick remains to be seen, but as things stand now, Brainstealer Dragon, Endless Evil and From the Catacombs all command respectable prices – From the Catacombs seems like it might have some staying power, and you can’t deny the power level of Brainstealer Dragon. Is Endless Evil’s Horrors-only rider too much to prevent it being widely adopted in token decks? I don’t know, although my guess is yes. Aboleth Spawn is the most expensive card in the deck, and it does seem annoyingly useful – the combination of copying opposing triggers and ward to protect itself means it might not drop in price.
Hunted Horror surprised me with how expensive it is, but believe it or not this is the first time this card has been reprinted since its first printing in the original Ravnica block, about a hundred years ago. Herald’s Horn is a must-play in any tribal deck, as far as I’m concerned, and a great inclusion here. If you’ve ever played against a Black Market you’ll know what it’s capable of – I don’t think it does its best work in this deck, but it’s a great card to have access to for smaller black decks.
Lightning Greaves is amongst the most-played cards in the entire format and will serve you well even if you take them out of this list. Feed the Swarm is a piece of removal I think more non-green, non-white black decks should play, as a lot of people still don’t anticipate black decks having access to hard enchantment removal. In Garruk’s Wake, meanwhile, is one of those cards you can really only get away with in EDH – if you’ve never hit the table with a Plague Wind, I recommend you try it out.
1. Party Time
Oh baby. This deck’s name is particularly well-chosen, because it is, indeed, party time when it comes to what you’re getting in this particular box. Even if you’re not a fan of the party mechanic and want to immediately pull this deck apart for the juicy singles inside, you’re well and truly getting your money’s worth. There are tons of tribal staples, EDH powerhouses, and just generally good cards in this precon.
What really stands out is that a ton of cards that stand on their own two feet – Pontiff of Blight, Gonti, Lord of Luxury, Mother of Runes – are all party classes, so while they’re thrown in here they’ll be just as useful with other decks. Combine a suite of robust, proven creatures with some huge reprints and pricey new cards, and this deck easily comes out on top!
Deep Gnome Terramancer is one of the most significant pieces of white ramp we’ve seen in a long time, allowing you to overtake your opponents in lands in the early turns. This card can put three extra lands into play by turn three if your opponents are foolish enough to use fetchlands and ramp spells, and I think it will remain a big-ticket EDH card for a long while.
Similarly, Black Market Connections feels like a better Phyrexian Arena, given its flexibility, and I can imagine a ton of black decks wanting access to it. Finally, I’m willing to speculate that Folk Hero will end up being a tribal powerhouse – in most white-based tribal decks, it will be a personal Howling Mine (assuming you can keep your commander alive).
The reprints look fantastic, as well. Skullclamp still manages to remain a $10 card despite not being legal in anything other than Commander and Vintage, while Mutavault is another one of those tribal cards that is too good not to play. Maskwood Nexus will, I believe, grow to become one of those EDH staples you didn’t realize became so expensive all of a sudden, so it’s worth having extra copies of it, while Sevinne’s Reclamation gets its first reprint after debuting in Commander 2019.
The “staples” here are less impressive than in some other decks, but honestly, who cares – the headline acts in this deck are just so good that it doesn’t matter. War Room is huge in one and two-color decks, while Selfless Spirit and Unbreakable Formation are useful in white-based creature decks. Austere Command offers terrific flexibility in decks of all kinds, and Zulaport Cutthroat is a must-play in any sacrifice-style lists. Still, these reprints pale in comparison to the big-ticket items in this precon – the precon that is, for my money, the best of the lot!