Call for Backup - Precon Primer

Call for Backup
(Bright-Palm, Soul Awakener | Art by Mila Pesic)

What’s up everyone, It’s Bert from the Scrap Trawlers, the place where we bring you EDH on a budget. With the advent of March of the Machine on the horizon, it’s time for another set of Commander decks. Today we're taking a look at the Call for Backup deck from the new set, starring none other than Bright-Palm, Soul Awakener. Just like always we'll be going over how the deck plays, its strengths and weaknesses, which new cards are worth looking at, and what reprints we are looking forward to the most. Let’s dive in!

Who’s In the Squad?

Our face commander is Bright-Palm, Soul Awakener, which gives us access to Naya colors. Bright-Palm has an ability that focuses on +1/+1 counters but also has the Backup ability, which allows us to share the ability with another creature upon entering the battlefield. This does two things for our overall strategy. First, this dictates that we must have a critical mass of creatures so that Bright-Palm can always have a target to share their ability with. Second, it means that we can put a focus on +1/+1 counter synergies to power up the ability even further, and believe me the deck has a multitude of those already. There's a staggering 39 creatures in the list, with a few of them enabling additional counters being placed on our creatures. This deck also comes with some new Planechase cards which brings some life into a fan-favorite variant. With that in mind, let’s go ahead take a look at the deck list, shall we? 

Call for Backup Precon

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Commander (9)
Creatures (199)
Instants (49)
Artifacts (34)
Sorceries (19)
Enchantments (24)
Lands (154)


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With the list in front of us, I think it's safe to say that, out of the box, we have a smorgasbord of cards in our arsenal. Our playstyle is going to be an aggro deck that focuses on going wide, then after that tall with our creatures. Backup is a flexible ability as it has a dual function in making another creature larger and giving it a new ability, or just making the initial creature larger. We are going to do a lot of attacking with large creatures so we want to make sure that we have a healthy board state at all times. Within our aggro package there is also a small set of cards that allow you to reuse Backup abilities, two of my favorites being Restoration Angel and Flameshadow Conjuring. Since we have discussed the strategies at our fingertips let's get into the strengths and weaknesses of the deck. 

Where Do We Need Backup?

Just like any aggro deck, Call for Backup's major strength is in the speed at which we can play in a game. This typically means that the first few turns are ours for the taking and we use that to set up for the late game. In our deck we have a ton of creatures, but most of them fall in the mana value of three. The average mana value of the deck is 3.58 which for a precon is really good. This makes it so that our turns allow us to play out our hands and get momentum in our favor as we play bigger and bigger bombs. An example is to have a few creatures with counters on them before we play our Kalonian Hydra so that we can get a ton of power and value from it.

To touch on a couple of the weaknesses of the deck, we have to focus on the problems that a lot of precons face. The deck currently lacks card draw, which is vital in deck construction. The deck does include Armorcraft Judge and Inspiring Call, which gives us a good amount of cards but in its current iteration there is no repeatable card draw source. In addition to card draw, since we have a focus on the board state I would like to see a little bit more protection for our creatures. The deck includes the previously mentioned Inspiring Call which does give our creatures indestructible, as well as Hindervines which protects our creatures with counters on them from damage. Lastly, we have Semester’s end which is a solid spell, however I think that there are some other spells that can do more for us (I'll go over that in my upgrade guide). With that behind us, let's talk about some of the new cards and some of the awesome reprints in this deck.

Something Old and Something New

There are a bunch of reprinted cards included in this deck that I am ecstatic to see. The first and by far the most expensive is Kalonian Hydra, something of a staple for +1/+1 counter decks. This particular card is sitting at about 15 dollars so lets hope to see that price dip as the printings start to roll out. As I stated earlier, this is a bomb in our deck and will make for some powerful plays.

Next on cards that I am excited to see reprinted is Flameshadow Conjuring. Enabling haste in this deck makes a world of difference and this is a solid way to do it, as well as allowing us to get double the Backup triggers. In that same vein are Restoration Angel and Flamerush Rider another two cards that serve the purpose of giving us more usages of Backup with the latter having the ability to give itself haste and make a copy of another attacking creature, creating some interesting plays.

Finally, there is probably my favorite card in creature based Commander decks, Champion of Lambholt. This card is bonkers as it will grow to the point that allows us to bypass our opponents' defenses.

We've discussed the old, now let's look at the new! The card I know that people are excited for is the alternate commander, Shalai and Hallar, which is a powerhouse in and of itself. Dealing damage to target opponent can get out of hand quickly, especially in a deck like this. I can’t wait to see what people do with this card.

The two cards that I am personally excited for are Uncivil Unrest and Conclave Sledge-Captain. Uncivil Unrest does a subtle impression of Rhythm of the Wild, but takes it a bit further and doubles the damage that creatures with +1/+1 counters deal. I think it definitely will be a chase card from the precon. Conclave Sledge-Captain is also great, with three instances of Backup allowing us to share its ability with up to three creatures or put three +1/+1 counters on the Sledge-Captain itself, making it a powerhouse!

Lastly I want to talk about Mirror-Style Master. The attack trigger makes this card a commanding presence in the red zone. In addition to that attack trigger it has Backup, empowering your board even further. These new cards are just a force to be reckoned with, so keep your eye on them. 

Final Thoughts

So what do I think of the Call for Backup Commander deck? It definitely is going to have a dynamic effect in pods, so much so that I will definitely build Bright-Palm myself! This deck has two commanders that people will be playing for a long time to come.

That’s all for this article. Be sure to check out the other Scrap Trawlers precon guides and then our Twitch channel here. Until next time, make sure you keep it on a budget!

Scrap Trawlers is a Magic: The Gathering budget EDH streaming and video group, with gameplay, deck techs, chats, and more. Catch our videos at Andy, Lenny, and Bert.

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