In this article, we're going to check out some casual or precon deck tips to play with your friends or take to events and play at casual tables, having fun and getting a good laugh, at the very least.
We catalog lists that already have good synergies straight out of the box, or budget decks to start playing, or even build a new deck and have more options.
Casual Decks to play Commander
Precons + Upgrades
This part of the article is meant to elaborate on precon decks - which you can buy, open the box and play Commander with your friends.
There are also suggestions for possible upgrades to make the strategy more consistent or faster to execute.
If you want to check out more decks and suggested upgrades, just check out more articles about them.
Dihada, Binder of Wills
Dihada, Binder of Wills proposes through its synergies a Legends-themed deck, and in this context it is a powerful source of card advantage generating up to four additional draws per turn and the treasures are a compensation for filling the graveyard the which can generate even more advantage when incorporating recursion elements.
All of its creatures are Legends, in addition to most of its permanents, prioritizing synergies with the deck's main commander, Dihada, Binder of Wills. It has a fairly linear game plan, well-developed interactions, consistent draws and ramp.
The great strength of this deck are the abilities triggered in combat, with Alesha, Who Smiles at Death and Shanid, Sleepers' Scourge as alternate commanders. Its greatest fragility is the number of specific removals and interactions, which can be easily added without loss.
Some notable points are equipment that allows a stance change to Voltron using the commander's positive ability, power ups in the form of keywords, utility lands, and legendary spells.
Szarekh, the Silent King - Necron Dynasties
The Silent King, Szarekh, the Silent King, brings a set of balanced stats for its mana cost and an evasive ability, which added to its synergistic triggered ability with the other cards in the deck make it the best option in the command zone.
The precon combines a powerful card selection with interaction with the graveyard, allowing a better use of the Unearth theme and numerous recursions present in the 99.
Unlike many artifact decks, here we have a strategy that aims at the game in the medium term, that is, with a safe and gradual development, with several control elements and creatures with a relevant impact on the game.
Szarekh, the Silent King has proactive positioning, carving the hand and graveyard into a solid board state. His play style consists of a combination of reanimator and Artifacts matter, a novelty in this color identity.
The list presents a linear strategy aimed at winning by combat or commander damage. The different cards have varying effects that satisfy most functions satisfactorily.
The Dragon Domination precon was released in August 2017 and purports to be a dragon-focused deck. Or, as I like to think of it, a family reunion.
This is another one of the Eminence decks (an ability that your commander activates while in the command zone or on the battlefield), like Edgar Markov's “Vampiric Bloodlust” or Arahbo, Roar of the World's “Feline Ferocity”.
The goal of the deck is quite simple: The Ur-Dragon wants you to play as many dragons as possible and have fun with different interactions in the process.
In addition to being the progenitor of one of the strongest tribes in all the Multiverse, Ur-Dragon is a five-color commander with Eminence that reduces Dragon spells you cast by one colorless mana and, if on the battlefield, draws to each dragon that attacked and still allows you to put a permanent from your hand onto the battlefield. However, he's not the only card that lowers cost.
In the original deck list we have Dragonspeaker Shaman, Dragonlord's Servant and Herald's Horn that take colorless mana cost, so you can cast dragons more easily. In a perfect scenario with these three on the battlefield and Ur-dragon in the command zone, your dragons cost 5 less colorless to play.
The Riders of Rohan precon is themed around the heroes among humans of Middle-earth, featuring many legendary characters such as our commander Éowyn, Shieldmaiden, her consort Faramir, Steward of Gondor, Théoden, King of Rohan among many others with legends being a possible secondary theme.
The Kings of Men are represented in this deck with the return of the Monarch mechanic, this being yet another possible theme, and in this line we have the secondary commander Aragorn, King of Gondor, one of the highlights of the entire set.
Riders of Rohan follows the trend of generating value through combat, so we're talking about a very aggressive deck. The ease of passively generating tokens and the large number of available amplifiers makes it very similar to a "go-wide".
The tactic of flooding the board with an abundance of tokens and using amplifiers to create big threats here generates a greater advantage by triggering draws, new chips and other resources, extracting maximum value. This purpose is clear in our commander, Éowyn, Shieldmaiden.
It is also possible to make a version of the deck with Aragorn, King of Gondor.
Aragorn claims the Crown upon entering the battlefield. We can see his tactical dominance through the way his abilities interact on the battlefield, sending scouts who can't be blocked or on an unstoppable offensive when he holds the royal title.
His vigilance plus your lifelink allows for successive attacks to pressure foes, creating ever-increasing value as you deplete your opponents' resources - to the final moment of a lethal strike, which can easily win the game.
Kotori, Pilot Prodigy
When we take a look at the commander, Kotori, Pilot Prodigy, it's easy to deduce that this is a deck of vehicles and artifacts. The Buckle Up precon offers a proposal for an aggressive white and blue deck, which is somewhat different for its colors. It also tries to explore the possibility of adding blue to the vehicle theme, which was previously only between white and red.
Ultimately, your victory condition is based on your creatures and combat. The precon only has a minimum number of removals and seems to care less about interacting with potential threats from opponents and more about creating its own threats. The deck's technologies essentially serve to support the battlefield and allow you to build an army strong enough to impose an aggressive pace of play.
And this is where vehicles really play a more significant role, as they constitute the majority of the bombs. High-impact creatures make up the bulk of the firepower here. Support cards like Katsumasa, the Animator, Aeronaut Admiral, Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage and the commander offer evasion and other extra qualities to improve the functionality and lethality of these creatures.
It is possible to adapt the precon strategy to accommodate Shorikai, Genesis Engine as the commander in place of Kotori, Pilot Prodigy, although doing so would require further deck changes and greater inclusion of reinforcements.
A deck with Shorikai should be built to exploit its activated ability, which is capable of offering card advantage at a low cost. Effects of untapping creatures and/or artifacts (Voltaic Key, Clock of Omens and Unwinding Clock) are quite useful, enhancing the commander's draw ability.
The drawback of discarding cards can also be easily converted in your favor, through graveyard recursion cards (already present in the precon) and other synergies. In addition, the tokens created scale so that the excessively high cost to crew the commander can be paid, making Shorikai a real bomb and eventually even a viable candidate for voltron.
Casual / Budget
In this part, I chose to select mono-colored or even two-colored strategies, and with a friendly price range (being cheaper than precon decks, for example).
Isareth the Awakener
Our strategy is based on the "Aristocrats" archetype, which seeks to accumulate benefits by sacrificing its own creatures, especially low-cost creatures and tokens. It generates strong synergies when added to creatures capable of returning from the graveyard.
Isareth the Awakener is a commander who, whenever she attacks, can reanimate one of our creatures and thus take advantage of resources and generate an advantage, especially when allied with creatures capable of removing counters, bypassing her only weakness.
Additionally, Fain, the Broker generates immense value in this deck, allowing creatures to be reanimated multiple times and generating extra mana.
Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
Red's strategy is aggressive and very interactive, based on a set of creatures and spells to create pressure on opponents, reducing life points and setting the pace of the match.
Torbran, Thane of Red Fell is the perfect commander for our strategy because his presence on the battlefield boosts all damage dealt by our red sources, dealing a significant amount of damage on all interactions, as well as setting a clock to the end of the match. Tilonalli's Summoner is an underestimated creature and by generating an increasing wave of tokens, it receives the attention it deserves from opponents, after all, next to our commander, each token deals 3 damage — a number to be considered.
Baral, Chief of Compliance
Baral, head of the “non-game opponent”. A two mana commander that reduces the cost of all instants and sorceries can't be bad. But as that wasn't enough, it still lets you loot every time you counter a spell.
He is a commander who tends to go in two directions: annoying your friends and winning based on them giving up, or some nasty combo and using the counterspells as protection.
Either way, he tends to make the table think a lot more about how to play.
Halana and Alena, Partners
Halana and Alena, Partners has a triggered ability that at the start of combat on our turn grants X counters to target creature under our control, where X is Halana and Alena's power. That creature gains haste until the end of turn. This ability is strong, reminiscent of Xenagos, God of Revels, however, Halana and Alena have their own counter-based strategy.
Generating large amounts of mana consistently is one of green's specialties, and red knows how to utilize these resources very well. Our goal is to generate an important volume of mana in the first turns to play our threats at the beginning of the game, taking a stance of attrition and putting pressure on our opponents every turn.
By optimizing mana utilization, we've achieved the ability to consistently play 6+ mana cost creatures on the third and fourth turns. We could start with Llanowar Elves on turn one, Incubation Druid or Heronblade Elite on turn two, and the Commander right after.
If we don't miss any land drops the turn the Commander comes into play, we'll have 3 or 4 more mana available, which would allow us to advance even further. Next turn, we're stocked with enough mana to play any threat, but I suggest playing Great Oak Guardian and Temur Sabertooth as a priority.
Katilda, Dawnhart Prime
Katilda, Dawnhart Prime is the headstrong leader of the Dawnhart conventicle, which was brought together to reverse the unnatural darkness and cold that began to spread across Innistrad after Emrakul became trapped on Innistrad's moon. She appears to be a young woman, but wise for her age.
The card has fragile power and toughness, reminiscent of the main mana dorks. Her ability to turn all humans into mana sources, reminiscent of the Cryptolith Rite, is strong and allows us to consistently speed up our game.
Our deck has a strategy based on synergies between the creatures and the commander. Katilda, Dawnhart Prime is an excellent mana engine, as if we had a Citanul Hierophants for only two mana in the command zone, granting great agility and allowing us to dictate the pace of the match.
The use of tokens acting as additional mana rocks is very strong, given that, we adopted this subtheme both for an offensive tactic with Kyler, Sigardian Emissary, and for maintaining our battlefield using cards like Devout Chaplain.
To start (or even build a new deck) in Commander, you just need to have fun! The precon decks have been coming with a lot of synergy, and if you don't want something that's already ready, with less money it's still possible to put together a fun strategy with your face!
Of course, we're talking about decks to play with friends - and at friendly events, you'll find tables with different power levels - so it's important to identify what kind of table will be balanced for everyone to have fun. It is important to always communicate with your friends and opponents.