Wayfarer's Baublecard, which went from a budget option of a few cents to a card of respectable value. For this reason the decks are not as accessible as before, especially for beginners in the format. Fortunately, with the arrival of Zendikar Rising, Wizards of the Coast launched a new product, Commander's Set Decks, the pre-cons with Anowon and Obuun!
"how to improve this pre-built deck so that it becomes even more fun and powerful without breaking my bank account?". Well I am here to answer that question! And today we’re going to start with the most popular of the two decks, Sneak Attack, the Rogue tribal that will yet steal your heart!
Notorious Throng, which is simply the strongest card I have ever seen included in a pre-con. But you didn't come here to hear my commander stories, you came to learn how to improve this deck, and more importantly, how to do it in a responsible way, without creating a hole in our wallets? The first step when changing a deck is to always set our goals, which in other formats may seem strange, but which in commander is important. I believe that for this Upgrade we will take into account some things: 1) A maximum budget of 10 dollars. That is certainly not insignificant, but compared to the average price of a commander deck, it is still in the cheap range. 2) We will not change the theme of the deck. It is a rogues tribal deck, it will take advantage of mill effects and it will draw cards. That's what Commander does and that's what we're going to focus on. 3) We need to make the deck more consistent. We cannot simply insert more powerful cards without worrying about how we are going to cast them and whether we are going to survive long enough to be able to do that. This is also essential when building a deck. So let's worry about lands, card draw, mana curve and mana ramp effects. With those details out of the way, let's move on.
Mind Stonecosts 2 and adds 1, so it obeys this principle, but
Dimir Cluestone, which costs 3 and adds 1, does not obey this principle. Even though we know that this deck has a low mana curve, we will often have enough cards in hand to play more than one spell per turn, so a minimum number of 10 ramp cards should be enough. Taking this into account:
Wayfarer’s Baublehas already been mentioned in this article because it is no longer a really cheap card, however it manages to do what we want very well at a reasonable price. Even if it costs 3 mana in total, the possibility of dividing this cost during two turns, shuffling the deck and even ramping up a piece of land make this card a MUST HAVE in updating our
Anowon, the Ruin ThiefThe
Hedron archiverespects our rules, is super budget and still has the positive potential of being able to be exchanged for cards if we are in a tight spot. This big brother of
Mind’s Stoneis one of the best 4-mana rocks, and will help us on those turns when we need more gas.
Everflowing Chaliceis a versatile option that always offers the minimum amount of mana to be efficient. Whether paying 2 to generate 1, 4 to generate 2, or more, the Chalice can be an important instrument for us to play the spells that will allow us to win the game. Already a cousin of Signet Dimir,
Talisman of Dominancehas seen more and more play since commander players around the world realized the need for cheaper ramp cards. Its price is quite salty, but its low mana cost and the possibility of adding the mana we need makes it an essential piece for our deck.
Goes out:As mentioned, 3 ramp cards that add only one mana will not be enough for our rogue strategy.
Blackblade Reforgedis a very interesting card and we certainly cannot say that it is not powerful. Unfortunately, as our deck does not put a lot of lands into play, and due to its very high equip cost, it is not the best card for our 99 limit. Since we’re cutting out inefficient artifacts, it’s time for
Scytheclaw... It seems that the deck designers are excited about the possibility of equipping powerful artifacts on evasive creatures. Too bad this ends up leaving the deck very inconsistent, 5 mana to play it and 3 more to equip the scythe is very expensive when you are trying to control the game, play creatures and use the opponents' graveyard. Who knows if this maybe can be a good combination with an effect that would allow us to kill an opponent on the spot, but on this deck this is not possible.
Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitiveis a bomb in our deck, we just have to be careful that it doesn't explode in our face! Tetsuko makes all of our creatures with 1 power or 1 toughness unblockable, which ends up benefiting many of our creatures. Unfortunately, while our commander or another global Rogue buff effect is on the table, our creatures will not respect this criterion and will lose the effect of Tetsuko. Even so, because it is a Rogue and has such a powerful effect, it is worth using her, especially for her very low price (both in mana and in dollars). It is just a matter of being aware of this interaction with our commander and thinking twice before deciding whether the buff or the unblockable is better.
Looter il-Koris practically unblockable and still allows us to filter out the useless cards from our hand. All this at a super affordable cost. Don't say more, just come in!
Shadow Stingershining a lot in some games. Our deck is so focused on Rogues that it will be difficult to have a turn when we will not have an unused Rogue to tap and activate its killing touch, both in defense and in attack. The fact that it has 4 toughness helps a lot in keeping it alive, and the ability to mill is the icing on the cake. Too bad it wasn't inserted directly into the pre-con, since it was an unusual card from the collection itself.
Glint-Sleeve Siphoneris rogue, check. Evasive, check. Low mana cost, check. Draw cards, check. Cheap, check.
Blighted Agenthas two interesting effects. The first is that, if we can really buff it significantly, in 2 or 3 attacks we can remove an opponent from the game. Cool, but nothing too impressive. The second effect is that opponents will be desperate when they see it, focusing their removals on this small 2-mana creature, thus making room for our most significant threats.
Ghostly Pilfereris quickly becoming one of my favorite M21 cards. Its first ability basically draws you a card every time a commander is cast, plus it is a Rogue with other relevant skills. A perfect match for our deck.
Earwig Squadis fun! You, like me, must have a friend who plays with that boring and dangerous deck that depends on a very specific combination of cards to win. With Earwig Squad, just pay your prowl cost to be able to take these cards off your friend's deck and watch them sucking their finger for the rest of the game. Oh, and if you don’t have an opponent like that in your pod, no problem! Just target who you think is most likely to stop your plan and remove the cards that do this from their deck. The little robot
Adaptive Automatonis the most metallic rogue on this deck! And it is still a lord, pumping all of our Rogues. Appearances are deceiving, so don't be fooled by Adaptive Automaton. The hefty price of
Icon of Ancestryis well worth it! In addition to a buff for all Rogues, we can use the remaining mana to look for more Rogue cards on the top of our deck. A perfect synergy sandwich with card draw!
Cloak and Daggerare a Rogue's weapons! You may equip it for free and it also gives Shroud to your creature, and that makes this card the equipment we will most want to see on our deck. Oh, and did you realize that it counts as a Rogue? Cards that seek a Rogue from the deck, reduce their cost, or trigger when a Rogue enters the battlefield will work with this.
Goes out:As interesting as the effect of the
Stolen Identitycard is, and even considering we are well prepared to be able to activate its Cypher, its mana cost and the fact that we don't have many creatures powerful enough to copy end up leaving it somewhat how lost in our 99 cards. Wizards' effort to make all the cards somehow work in synergy with the deck's theme is visible, and
Bonehoardis no exception. What is also not an exception is that
Bonehoardis difficult to make it work and it is also slow, which we don't want for our deck. Our deck is too focused on creatures to want an effect similar to
Necromantic Selection, and the high mana cost also doesn't help the cause of this card. Next! The effect of the Kraken
Scourge of Fleetsis super cool and I can imagine it being super useful on a mono blue deck. In our case, it costs much more than what we want to pay, and since we don't only use islands as our basic lands, it probably won't be much effective.
Nighthowlermay seem impressive, but in reality it is unlikely to be a significant card in most matches. The combination of high mana cost and few relevant skills ended up leaving
Latchkey Faerieoff our list. Maybe next time, key faerie? Resuscitating a creature with
Endless Obedienceas a spell and still paying that amount of mana (even if it can be reduced by tapping our creatures) is not exactly what we want to do.
Rise from the Gravemust be one of the least powerful cards in the deck, but it sure was fun in the M21 draft.
Extract from Darknessis another 5 mana resuscitation effect. No, today we will not pay 5 for that.
Open into Wonderis another card that isn't really my type. Most of our creatures already have evasion and we have several other more interesting ways to draw cards.
Command the DreadhordeYES IT IS THE REANIMATING EFFECT WE WANT TO SEE! Taking advantage of all the cards we milled and handpicking the most interesting cards to enter the battlefield under our control makes this card one of the most powerful in our deck. The prohibitive cost of
Memory Plunderdoes not affect us as much because it is a deck of only two colors. Besides, it is an elegant and powerful card. For those moments when we are unable to use a Command the Dreadhorde,
Mnemonic Betrayalshould work pretty well. Ah, just remember that it doesn't only cast creatures, we can play all kinds of cards with it!
Ashiok, Dream Rendercan hinder our opponents' tutors and furthermore serve as a way to clean up the graveyards we are filling in case something there might be useful for an opponent. Do not go out activating this card as soon as you play it. Think well if it is no longer worth for you to have the opponents' graveyards available for our mischievous plans and "rogueries".
Goes out:An effect that revives multiple creatures for 6 comes in,
Fated Returnthat revives a creature for 7 goes out. This is work well done.
Heirloom Bladeis another piece of equipment with an interesting effect but with a mana cost that doesn't help us. Bye sword! Dear Zully, the
Zulaport Cutthroat, is a favorite of many decks, but in ours it is a little out of place and ends up not helping us much in our victory plan. It's hard to say this, but goodbye, old friend!
Spinal Embracebrings a complicated and specific effect with a high and prohibitive mana cost. Nope.
Negateis one of the best counterspells in Commander. Much of the cards that can win the game for our opponents or destroy our victory plans are non-creatures. For me it is an obvious inclusion that will help the Sneak Attack plan a lot.
Walk the Plankcosts less mana than
Murder. It is a little slower but it can affect almost all of the same targets. The mana cost is important to us, and I believe this is the right choice.
Feed the Swarmis a black enchantment removal that can also remove a creature. I love this card! The
Counterspellof all counters, the entity at the top of the blue magician's sacred pantheon. Of course we managed to get a little space on the deck and in our budget for this beauty.
Goes out:Versatility comes at a cost and in the case of
Silumgar's Commandthis turned out to be a little too high. Actually,
Murderis 3 mana to remove a creature which is a little too much in Commander, where there are board wipes with this cost. The positive part of the cost reduction of our deck is that we managed to remove some lands and make it lighter! 36 should now be enough for our game plan.
Command the Dreadhordeand
Ancestrality Icon. Regarding other possible inclusions for the deck, I believe that a tutor on a deck like this would be a nice fit, as well as all Rogues that we were unable to add due to our budget. Oh, and of course, improving the mana base will also help you to make the deck much more consistent as well, something that unfortunately we didn't get to do this time.