Cabaretti Cacophony Precon Upgrade Guide

(Kitt Kanto, Mayhem Diva | Art by Artist)

Challenge the Stats Precon

Welcome to Challenge the Stats! This series is based on the awesome EDHRECast segment where we pick out cards that we think are overplayed, underplayed, or sleepers to challenge EDHREC’s data. But remember, these are merely comments on the data, and card choices made by you, the deckbrewer, for any reason such as flavor, budget, art, or fun are always most important and are what keep our format unique and awesome.

Today, we're doing something a little different! Normally, I wait until a commander has enough data on EDHREC to challenge their stats, but with Kitt Kanto, Mayhem Diva, I just couldn't wait! We're going to challenge cards from her preconstructed deck and compare that to the swaps that people are adding to her EDHREC page.

When Kitt was spoiled, I realized I've been waiting for a commander like her to build around. I've been fantasizing about an instant-speed token deck for a while, and Kitt's ability sort of adds a combat trick to anything that makes tokens at instant speed. Her flavor is also hilarious - she's recruiting our creatures to help her sing to our opponents' creatures in order to Goad them.

We're challenging the data from all 151 Kitt Kanto decks at the time of writing, and you can see how often those cards are played in parentheses (%). Here we go!


Challenges


Cuts


Agitator Ant (38%) & Orzhov Advokist (Unknown)

It makes sense why these are both in the precon. We want to pump up an opponent's creature and direct it to attack another opponent. Agitator Ant is much worse than Orzhov Advokist, even though they look similar. Let me tell you why: it's all about timing. When it comes to the Advokist, we get to know who is taking the deal before we go to make any decisions for our turn. That means we can prepare for an attack from an opponent or feel safe to drop our shields. However, the Ant triggers on our end step, meaning we don't get any of that information before we plan our turn. In addition, the Advokist guarantees we won't get attacked by any of that opponent's creatures, whereas the Ant only gives us safety from one creature. Also, in a one-on-one situation, the Advokist no longer helps our opponents, whereas the Ant continues to pump our opponent's creatures and they're still free to attack us.

Zurzoth, Chaos Rider (23%)

Zurzoth is a great token-maker, and I like him at the helm of his own deck. However, as disruptive he is to our opponents, what with all that random discard, he's also disruptive to us. I have a gameplan and I want to stick to it, not discard my Craterhoof Behemoth a turn before I'm about to use it. We can find better ways to make tokens without hosing our strategy.

Magus of the Wheel (23%)

Wheeling was good for mono-red decks back in the day when that was the only card draw they had access to. In non-wheel-themed decks, giving our opponents 21 cards compared to our 7 cards means that if we're the threat, they're going to have a lot more firepower to take us down or just win the game on their own.

Scute Swarm (66%)

This is an anti-pet card of mine (pet peeve card?) although I'm not quite sure why I don't like it. Maybe it goes too hard too easily? Maybe it's annoying to keep track of? Besides my irrational dislike, though, since we're not in a Landfall deck, the amount of power that Scute Swarm generates for us probably won't hold up to the threat level it generates from the rest of the table.

Sandwurm Convergence (27%)

I really want this card to be good, but for seven mana, it doesn't do enough.

Killer Service (24%)

Five mana to create our first 4/4, and one per turn for two mana after that is slow and not a great rate. When we run out of Food tokens this is likely just upgrading 1/1s to 4/4s.

Life of the Party (45%)

I like the idea behind this one, but I find in EDH games that there's a lot of incidental damage that gets thrown around. Anything with a toughness of 1 is likely to die to a Goblin Bombardment or a Niv-Mizzet trigger. Life of the Party shines much better in Blink or Goad-themed decks. If we want to go tall, I really want something that gives us a static power + toughness boost for the number of creatures we control. A new favorite of mine is Born to Drive, which gives us creatures when we need them.

Champion of Lambholt (or another finisher)

The precon comes with too many pump effects, so at least one has got to go. Champion is one I've been a little bored of lately. I don't know if I can put my finger on why. Maybe it's too easy, or maybe because if we don't kill the defending player they have all their creatures to crack back at us instead of making them block and thinning their board. It doesn't necessarily need to be the one that needs to go, but I'm counting ~10+ other ways to pump our creatures in the precon, which is a crazy high amount.


Budget Additions (<$2)


Rith's Charm

Rith's Charm is great rate for getting bodies on the board. On top of that, the other two modes are relevant as well: removal for a Gaea's Cradle or a Cabal Coffers, or a turn's reprieve from a Terror of the Peaks or a Goblin Bombardment. Charms, in general, are fantastic for their flexibility, and don't forget the all-star Naya Charm, too!

Emmara, Soul of the Accord (54%) / Stonybrook Schoolmaster (30%)

These friends are great tap fodder for our commander, and the friends they bring in can also be tapped on an opponent's turn! The play pattern is really nice. If just one of these is out when we play Kitt, we can tap Kitt and Emmara for one Goad + pump trigger, then on the next turn tap the Citizen and Soldier for another Goad + pump!

Rapacious One (0 decks)

Rapacious One makes a splash in this deck. We can pump it with Kitt to swing in as a 7/6 trample that makes a lot of little creatures when it connects. I know, I know, an Eldrazi doesn't make a good party guest! If you don't want to invite an Eldrazi to your party, don't forget the Tendershoot Dryad impersonator known as Wolverine Riders is still underplayed and budget as well!

Backdraft Hellkite (0 decks)

There are already 21 instant and sorcery spells in the precon, and even more in my tinkered-with list. Your final version may differ, but make sure you have at least ~25 instants and sorceries before including Hellkite. If you do, Backdraft Hellkite is an awesome way to get card advantage on a big flying Dragon.

Silverwing Squadron

In a deck that wants to go both tall and wide, the Squadron is a great top-end! It makes bodies if we're behind and hits hard if we already have a big board.

Born to Drive (0 dcks)

Born to Drive was made for this deck. Completely ignore all text about Pilots and Vehicles. Our deck wants to go tall and wide, and this lets us choose whether we want to build our board up or pump one creature when we already have a big board. That's the kind of flexibility I'm looking for! These Pilots are trading flying lessons for singing lessons!

Signal the Clans (1 deck)

Already, many players are adding Eladamri's Call to Kitt and Jetmir decks. Since that card is closing in on $10, I'd like to remind everyone that Signal the Clans exists and is less than $1. I would hazard a guess that if we need to tutor a creature card for something, we can find three cards in our deck that will fill a similar role. Need card draw? Search for Rumor Gatherer, Selvala, Explorer Returned, and Master of Ceremonies. Need to pump your team? Go grab Bess, Soul Nourisher, Gahiji, Honored One, or Phabine, Boss's Confidant. Plan your three so that there isn't a bad choice, and you essentially have Eladamri's Call for much less money and an added smidge of exciting randomness!

Trace of Abundance (0 decks)

Trace is a great ramp option in Naya colors. We just need green and one of our colors to fix the other one. It also has a leg up on Fertile Ground by protecting the land and preventing us from getting two-for-one'd.

Fresh Meat (3 decks)

When the party goes late, ordering T-Bell is always a good option. If someone is threatening to shut down our party with a board wipe, Fresh Meat turns all of our creatures into 3/3s, which is probably an upgrade for most of them! Don't forget its cousin, Curious Herd!

Harvest Season (67%)

Harvest Season with our commander out is at minimum better than Cultivate since we'll get at least two lands onto the battlefield. However, we have to balance that with how often we can get tapped creatures before our commander is out. I think the upside is worth the risk in this case, since we'll easily be able to catch up with Harvest Season if we're behind. I'd pack our deck mostly with two-mana ramp since our commander costs 4, but the ceiling on Harvest season is so high I gotta give it a chance.

Honorable Budget Mentions:


High-roller Challenges (>$2)


Quest for Renewal (24%) / Drumbellower (54%) / Seedborn Muse (44%)

These are the all-star challenges. Untapping our creatures lets us use Kitt's ability and Goad on each opponent's turn, not to mention that if we have mana dorks and other tappy shenanigans, like Emmara, Soul of the Accord or Cryptolith Rite, we're going to pop off. Drumbellower and Seedborn Muse are easy to spot, but Quest for Renewal sees far less play and deserves some appreciation in this deck. Having this effect on an enchantment is much harder to get rid of. On top of that, it's laughably easy to fulfill the quest criteria and tap four creatures. Kitt gets us halfway there by herself!

Toski, Bearer of Secrets (30%) / Ohran Frostfang (23%)

These are pretty obvious includes for a go-wide strategy in green.

Entrapment Maneuver (0%)

Entrapment Maneuver appears in under 1,400 decks total. I'll admit it's a risky card, and we might have an opponent attacking with a big creature and a 1/1, so we don't get a good rate, but Kitt helps us make this card much more playable. We can Goad a creature when an opponent didn't want to attack with anything, meaning they're more likely to only send in that one beater. Also, in a pinch, we can use it on our own creature (that Kitt also pumps) to have it explode into lots of little creatures! At its floor, we send in a 1/1 that Kitt pumps to get three Soldiers, which is not a bad rate, and its ceiling is pretty sweet!

Cryptolith Rite (23%) / Song of Freyalise (3%)

A Cryptolith Rite and a board full of creatures is an intoxicatingly dangerous combination. Handle with caution.

Welcoming Vampire (34%) / Bennie Bracks, Zoologist (26%)

These new white draw effects really sing in this deck. Tons of cards make tokens on opponents' turns, be they instants like Aura Mutation, or triggered abilities like Arasta of the Endless Web. Throw in either of these card advantage options and we're cooking with gas.

Dragon Broodmother (4%) / Tendershoot Dryad (22%) / Dragonlair Spider (14%)

Of these three, Dragon Broodmother fits best in our deck since we can decide to go wide or tall depending on our needs. Kitt can give those Dragons trample to really take advantage of their power! I find I can't get Tendershoot Dryad to stay on the board, so I might have to swap it for something less threat-inducing. Dragonlair Spider would be my top choice since it helps me pay attention to the game, but it really bugs me that a Spider makes Insect tokens, and I don't know if I can get over that tiny irritating detail!

Pest Infestation (15%)

If you're playing Reclamation Sage and not Pest Infestation, swap it in now! We get a great rate on tokens and can scale it up as the game goes on.

Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance (31%)

Sokenzan just barely made the cut for the higher budget list, which is great news for us since it's phenomenal in our deck. Four mana (or less!) to build up our board, and for this effect to appear on a land, is an easy inclusion.

Adeline, Resplendent Cathar (32%)

Adeline is making waves everywhere she goes, and this is no exception. Just like Silverwing Squadron in the budget list, she goes wide and tall and does an arguably better job of it for half the mana value.

Arachnogenesis (10%)

It's on-theme and a super fun "gotcha" card! I'm personally waiting for a reprint because $30-40 is a crazy amount to pay for this effect.

Honorable Mentions:

Let's go to a decklist! These are my favorite upgrades from the budget and high-roller lists mashed together.


Kitt Kanto and Her Surprise Backup Singers

Commander (1)
Creatures (26)
Sorceries (11)
Enchantments (7)
Artifacts (4)
Instants (22)
Lands (29)

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Let's Party!

What do you think about these challenges? Are there any other cards you would challenge? Let me know in the comments below! As always, you can find me on twitter @jevinmtg.

Everyone is building Jetmir, but I'm so psyched about Kitt. Which new Cabaretti legend would you build?

Jevin Lortie has been playing magic on and off since Portal. He is a nutrition science grad student, so he always tells people to get a healthy serving of fruits and vegetables – especially ramples and drawnanas.