Blame Game Precon Review

Blame Game Precon Review

It’s Rude to Point

Hello friends, and welcome back to another precon guide here on EDHREC. We’re lining up the suspects to see if these Commander precons from Karlov Manor are any good. And today we’re looking at Blame Game, the red and white deck led by Nelly Borca, Impulsive Accuser.

Who Are the Commanders for Blame Game?

Nelly is a 2/4 Human Detective with vigilance for four mana. When she attacks, you Suspect target creature then Goad all Suspected creatures. And whenever one or more creatures an opponent controls deal combat damage to one or more opponents, you and the attacker both draw a card.

Suspect is a new mechanic in Karlov Manor. A Suspected creature has menace and can’t block. Nelly uses the mechanic as a deterrent to get all your opponents fighting each other by Goading the Suspected creatures. 

The backup commander is Feather, Radiant Arbiter, a 4/3 flying Angel with lifelink for just three mana. Whenever you cast a noncreature spell that targets only Feather (think instants, sorceries, and Auras), you can copy that spell for any number of other creatures by paying two generic mana for each. Aura copies will come in as tokens. 

Dear reader, I misread this card at first. I saw it and thought it was a really crappy version of Zada, Hedron Grinder. Then I looked at the decklist and didn’t see any cards I’d want to target all of my creatures with. I was ready to wreck this review.

Then I re-read it. And I let out a sigh of relief. See, Feather doesn’t just target your creatures. Now I get it, and I’m much happier with this creature. I’ll explain why in the next section.

Here’s the full decklist for Blame Game:

Blame Game Precon

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Commander (1)
Creatures (26)
Enchantments (14)
Artifacts (9)
Instants (5)
Sorceries (7)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (37)

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What Are the Themes and Strategies of the Deck?

You might think Suspect would be the main star of the show here, but unfortunately not. The mechanic is very undercooked, both here and in the main Markov set. There are only 19 cards with the mechanic in the main set, and less than half of those are in our colors. Nope, this deck is all about Goad and preventing opponents from hitting you.

We’ve got some Goad classics here, like Disrupt Decorum, Bloodthirsty Blade, and the two Impetus cards in our colors, Martial Impetus and Shiny Impetus. Newer cards in the Goad arsenal are here too, like Vengeful Ancestor, Agitator Ant, and Spectacular Showdown.

To deter attackers, we have ways to make it more costly, with Ghostly Prison and Windborn Muse. And ways to make it hurt, like Boros Reckoner and Brash Taunter. And ways to make tokens off of it, with Darien, King of Kjeldor and Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs. We’ve got some surprise effects too, with Deflecting Palm, Selfless Squire, Comeuppance, and one of my favorite underplayed cards, Gideon's Sacrifice.

Let’s get back to Feather, Radiant Arbiter, and why she’s so fun. There are a handful of Auras in the deck that Goad a creature (the Impetuses), or just say they can’t attack you (Vow of Duty and Vow of Lightning). There’s also Redemption Arc, which we’ll discuss in the New Cards section below. Generally in a deck like this, you usually put the Impetus and Vow cards on opponents’ creatures, as a way of getting them to attack other opponents. But if you target Feather with the Aura, and have a heap of mana to use, you can add these Auras onto multiple creatures controlled by opponents. Do I think this deck is set up to maximize this potential? No, not at all. Am I happy with it anyway? Yes, I think it’s a fun strategy. 

How Do You Play Blame Game?

Goad early, and Goad often. Get Nelly to the board as quickly as possible, because she’s the lynchpin of the deck. Turn three is optimal, so if you’ve got to mulligan to get to some cheap ramp, do it. The quicker you can get her out and swinging, the quicker you can start making opponents dance for you. 

Save your Vows and Impetuses for mid-level creatures. Small creatures will just die in combat, throwing the Aura into the grave right away, and big threats will probably get taken out by someone else’s removal spells. We have a couple ways of getting these Auras back, namely Sun Titan and Sevinne's Reclamation, but that’s just two cards, so they’re not reliable. 

Use Nelly’s ability to deal with the small and big creatures. While that’s only one creature per turn, assuming you have a safe attack, it’s enough to keep the biggest creatures away from you. Sometimes it’ll be worth it to have Nelly die just to keep your opponents duking it out. Alternatively, you could send her in for the attack trigger and then spend the mana on Labyrinth of Skophos to pull her out if it’s too dangerous. 

Don’t forget all the other combat deterrents in the deck. You’ll have a ton of ways to protect yourself, so don’t be afraid to sit back and relax until the dust clears. But if you do have safe paths to attack, say, if an opponent has no flying blockers and you want to get in there with Steel Hellkite or Anya, Merciless Angel, then you should absolutely go for it.

Even if you stay out of combat, you’ll have plenty to do. Duelist's Heritage ensures that you can dabble in every combat step. Brash Taunter, one of the best Magic cards ever printed, can be activated to lower an opponent’s life total (this can be especially good if you’ve got your Ancient Stone Idol on the board). You can even play some mind games by casting Prisoner's Dilemma or Mob Verdict. Since these are both new cards, it’s a good time to segue to…

What Are the New Cards in Blame Game?

Flavor-wise, Mob Verdict and Prisoner's Dilemma fit the themes of the set perfectly, with the suspicions and finger-pointing. But as far as gameplay with this deck goes, these are more fun than synergistic. Either card can lead to great moments in games, which is the kind of experience I look for as a Commander player. But for those among you strictly looking to have the most fine-tuned, synergistic decks, you’re gonna pass these up every time.

Let’s talk a bit about “The Goad Problem,” which is that the Goad strategy ceases to be a strategy as soon as two of your opponents are taken out. When it’s 1v1, any creatures you’ve Goaded on the remaining player’s board now have to attack you. So Goad turns from a blessing to a curse, which is why it’s awesome that there are new cards in this deck that help to alleviate that problem.

Immortal Obligation sneaks a creature out of an opponent’s graveyard back to their battlefield, Goaded, and unable to attack or block you. So if you’re in a 1v1 scenario, the creature you resurrected to fight your battles ceases to be a threat…unless they remove that Duty counter somehow.

Hot Pursuit Suspects a creature and Goads it, similar to Nelly’s effect. But where this card really shines is in that 1v1 scenario we talked about. Although you still have to contend with your remaining opponent, you also get to borrow all of their Goaded and Suspected creatures for all of your combats. The timing might occasionally be against you here, but if you can survive to your turn and your opponent has multiple Goaded creatures, you’re likely to win the game.

Then there’s Redemption Arc, the card that works most perfectly with Feather, Radiant Arbiter. This Aura ensures that the creatures you’ve got tethered to puppet strings won’t get killed in combat, so they can keep pummeling your opponents. Then if/when it becomes a problem for you, just spend that two mana to take it out. This is a beautiful card.

For more Goad shenanigans, look no further than Havoc Eater, which can Goad the biggest threat on each opponent’s board, while also making itself gigantic. It’s costly though, and suffers serious diminishing returns if any opponents have been knocked out.

For another attack deterrent, we’ve got Otherworldly Escort, which needs to die to truly live. The biggest weakness here is that it doesn’t have haste, but it’s a fun card nonetheless, with big “If you strike me down I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine” energy.

Take the Bait is absolutely my jam. I run Illusionist's Gambit in many of my blue decks, so I’m very happy to see the effect playable in other colors. And it’s perfectly at home with this deck’s themes.

We’ll finish with the deck’s hottest new item, Trouble in Pairs. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen Magic design do a lot to help the color white catch up in Commander, and this is another great step. It’s simply one of the best card draw spells white has seen.

Is Blame Game Worth Buying?

Is this deck any good? Here’s my final grade:


This deck is very fun to play. Watching opponents do your bidding is always a blast. However, it’s a strategy that tends to make you the arch-enemy, so be prepared to take the heat. 

Nelly is a fantastic commander, and works so well with the deck’s strategy. I love the new Feather, and I think she’s going to lead some very cool decks. I just wish she had a bit more to do here.

The new cards are mostly fantastic. I’m not sold on Prisoner's Dilemma, but that might also be because I’ve read it 20 times and I’m still not sure how it works. Trouble in Pairs, though, is a new Commander staple.

The reprint value is average. The big ticket item is Fiendish Duo, which was sitting at $36 when this list was revealed. However, that price is mostly due to scarcity, since Duo was only previously printed in Game Night 2019, a product that wasn’t exactly a big seller. Once these cards hit the market, expect Fiendish Duo’s value to crash hard; it’s only in 7k decks currently. Other great reprints in the deck are Comeuppance, Loran of the Third Path, and Smuggler's Share.

Can I make this deck better? Find out in my Upgrade Guide for Blame Game! And keep checking back for more precon guides here on EDHREC.

More Precon Guides:

Revenant Recon Precon Review

Deadly Disguise Precon Review

Andy's been playing Magic on and off since Fallen Empires. He loves to travel, drink, eat, and spend time with family and friends.

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