Magic: the Gathering

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Upgrading Commander Precon - Deadly Disguise (Kaust, Eyes of the Glade)

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In today's article, we'll discuss Murders at Karlov Manor's Deadly Disguise, and how to upgrade it to make it even better.

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translated by Joey Sticks

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revised by Tabata Marques

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Even though Wizards of the Coast has increased the quality of the most recent precon Commander decks, we have to agree that not even the most premium product is perfect straight out of the box.

In today's article, we'll discuss Murders at Karlov Manorlink outside website's Deadly Disguise and how to upgrade it, besides showing you a few excellent cards that can take the power of this deck much beyond its initial version.

Our analysis will focus on improving this deck overall much more than improving it budget-wise, but we'll add a version with accessible cards at the end of this article.


The Commander

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Unlike other creatures from Ravnica we're familiar with, this legendary creature doesn't feature the guilds in this great city, and, instead, gives us a Naya Magic Symbol w Magic Symbol g Magic Symbol r deck. Our commander's colors are incredibly efficient in several strategies, but, in this case, we'll use white's small creatures, red's aggression, and green's resilience, which can all help us significantly in key moments of the game.

Kaust, Eyes of the Glade is a legendary creature that does very little on its own, but interacts really well with this deck. Kaust can go into play on turn 2, and create a welcome extra value from all subsequent plays we'll make that involve face-down cards.

This card can turn attacking creatures face up, which will give us a lot of space to bluff, and also allows us to create complex play lines that cost very little. With it, we can turn cards like Forsaken Monument up and entirely change our current board state, and how combats resolve, or make an incredibly simple play by turning a Krosan Colossus face up without spending eight mana.

This deck was originally like this:

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I Play a Card Face Down and I End My Turn!

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For those who are new to MTG and are wondering when did it become Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG, with so many face-down cards, we're talking about a mechanic originally known as Morph, from the Onslaught set in 2002, which allows us to play creatures face down as 2/2 creatures without any type, color, or effect.

This mechanic evolved a lot, and became Disguise in the last set, a mechanic that gives this deck its name.

Disguise is quite similar to Morph, but it gives our face-down creatures Ward 2, an excellent mechanic to protect them from target removal which will force our opponents to spend a lot of their mana, be it in 1v1 matches or Commander tables.

This deck uses both Morph and Disguise, as well as their respective updated mechanics, Manifest and Cloak, which use creatures similarly to their "base" mechanic, but can be used in certain situations to turn cards that didn't have these mechanics originally, like a Sol Ring, into face-down cards.

Non-creature cards that have become a creature card with Manifest and Cloak can be turned face up with Kaust, Eyes of the Glade, but they'll be removed from combat and won't trigger ETB effects. Additionally, instants and sorceries can't be turned face up with this mechanic.

What We Removed

Even though it is a lot of fun to add cards to this deck, first we need to assess what we'll remove to know how much space we have to add upgrades. As we've said before, we don't want to remove a certain number of cards or create a list with a certain budget in mind.

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The first card we'll remove is Imperial Hellkite. Yes, it is a 6/6 Morph card with Flying, we can't deny that, but our focus will be its ability when we turn it face up, which tutors any Dragon in our deck and places it in our hand. Now, the question is: do you know how many Dragons are included naturally in this precon deck? Just one, Scourge of the Throne, or two, if you count Mirror Entity.


Additionally, we'll also remove Scourge of the Throne itself. See, it doesn't have Morph or Disguise on its own, which will force you to use other means to put it face down, and its ability will force you to attack before you trigger it (???). This means this Dragon not only has very little synergy with this deck, which wants to use several face-down cards to confuse your opponents, but it is also extremely slow if you do try to use the little synergy it has with this list.

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With the same reasoning as Imperial Hellkite, which has very little synergy with the small number of Dragons in this deck, Tesak, Judith's Hellhound has dogs as a typal sub-theme in a deck with only three other dogs if we count with Mirror Entity. Judith's dog has very little synergy with this list and tries to boost an infinitely small parcel of the cards in it. It is an easy call to remove it.

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Ransom Note's quality is extremely questionable. As much as it allows us to use Cloak on the top card of our deck, it only does one thing, and the total cost of using this card and activating one of its abilities is the same as casting a card with Morph or Disguise.

This card is a mess, and if we want an artifact that does a lot of cool things, it is always much better to use a Staff of Domination or Laser Screwdriver, which we don't need to sacrifice.

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Krosan Cloudscraper seems to have everything to do with this deck: it allows us to attack with an innocent 2/2 creature, so we then turn it face up as a 13/13 creature with our commander. However, this huge creature, 13/13, doesn't have Trample and costs mana every upkeep, or it is sacrificed.

Well, let's see, we're talking about Commander, a format in which Tarmogoyf, which can easily become a 7/8 for two mana, is considered a bad card because it doesn't do anything against a 1/1 token with its gigantic stats.

Ideally, we'll play Krosan Cloudscraper face down on one turn, and then we'll have to attack on the next turn so we can turn it face up for free with our commander, and then it will be blocked by 1/1 tokens for the rest of the game. As much fun as it appears to be, it is extremely slow.

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Besides this card, we can also point out several cards that are too slow for this strategy (play a face-down card and try to turn it face up with our commander), such as Krosan Colossus, Thelonite Hermit, Printlifter Ooze, Ashcloud Phoenix, and Salt Road Ambushers, which is a worse version of another card we'll keep, Experiment Twelve.

I'll also remove Showstopping Surprise, a card that will usually destroy our entire board, and leave only one creature still standing.

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In our mana base, we removed Selesnya Sanctuary, Gruul Turf, Mosswort Bridge, Boros Garrison, and Krosan Verge, once they're very slow lands, and we're trying to build a faster game pace for this deck.

What Goes In

Now that we've decided which cards we'll remove, we can start upgrading our list with new cards.

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A bold choice is Ashnod's Altar, which allows us to sacrifice creatures to create colorless mana at instant speed. We also already have a very interesting engine, considering we have Yedora, Grave Gardener, a creature that turns dead creatures into face-down cards that will also be forests.

If we combine all of this with the low-cost cards we'll turn face up, like Den Protector, Nantuko Vigilante, and Ainok Survivalist, we have an interesting synergy. We can turn forests we just put into play into colored mana, use colorless mana to turn these creatures face up again, and then sacrifice them again to turn them into face-down forests, repeating this loop over and over.

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Den Protector, Nantuko Vigilante, and Ainok Survivalist, have incredibly interesting abilities when we turn them face up, which make this loop an incredible weapon. Of course, if you want to add cards that care about ETB and LTB triggers, sacrifice, and Landfall, the process described in the last paragraph uses all of these, so it is an opportunity to use your creativity.

And, as we're already talking about it...

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Pyrotechnic Performer deals damage to our opponents through the creatures we turn face up. In the process we described previously, we can end the game at once with this card, and other cards we listed, on the board. Of course, that is a four-card combo, and it is extremely fantastical to talk about that as if it were happening naturally every time.

Still, Pyrotechnic Performer's greatest asset is its synergy with the rest of this deck, considering it will deal damage naturally as the game goes on.

In this same line of thought, Sumala Sentry is perfect because it gets counters when we turn it face up and gives counters to itself and other creatures when we also turn these face up.

Tunnel Tipster grows on its own and can create mana, which means it is a perfect card for this deck.

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I also felt Dream Chisel would be perfect in this deck, considering it discounts the cost of playing face-down cards. Skirk Alarmist works similar to our commander, but it sacrifices the creature we turn face up with it at the end of the turn, and it is perfect to use a few surprise interactions aggressively.

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Ugin, the Ineffable, Yarus, Roar of the Old Gods and Forsaken Monument are wonderful, as they give us support and keep our creatures relevant as the game goes on.


My favorite card to add was Cybership - this vehicle will allow us to put several cards face down on the board, which we'll then be able to turn face up with our commander. So, we'll use a few of the best options our opponents have in our favor.

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To replace the slow lands we removed, I suggest Rockfall Vale, Sundown Pass, Overgrown Farmland, and Access Tunnel, which is like a Rogue's Passage, but cheaper and more useful for small creatures, which means, it is perfect to attack with our face-down creatures and turn them face up during combat. We've also added Farseek to look for more lands.

Upgraded Deadly Disguise

This is our final list:

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Version with Duskana as the Commander

Finally, we must remember this deck can use another commander, Duskana, the Rage Mother, which fits it nicely. This is an interesting build to give your brain a workout:

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Final Thoughts

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What I have enjoyed the most about recent Commander decks in main sets is that they always reprint a cool card that is a bit expensive. This deck reprinted Jeska's Will, which became much more accessible to players.

Thank you for reading, and see you next time!