First Flight - Precon Primer

Isperia, Supreme Judge | Art by Maxime Minard

Prepared for Takeoff

Hey everyone, this is Lenny from the Scrap Trawlers, where we do EDH on a budget. You may also know me from my Power Sink articles on EDHREC. Today we’ll be taking off with the First Flight deck from Starter Commander Decks. The deck is led by Isperia, Supreme Judge

Isperia gives you cards whenever a creature attacks you or a planeswalker you control, so it's possible to draw quite a bit from her, but it's also likely for opponents to just play around that by attacking with one huge creature or by trying to take you out in one swing. Furthermore, some decks don't even need to attack to win. Being6/4 flier means she can help you close out the game, but at six mana, she might be tough to bring back after getting removed. Isperia wouldn't have been my first choice for a commander and with only 250 decks on EDHREC, it seems like many players feel the same. That said, if you look at this as a product aimed at players just starting out in Commander, she makes a lot of sense. The card draw in the command zone makes the deck more forgiving on play mistakes and bad mulligans, and Isperia doesn't have any unusual mechanics or call for any complicated interactions. Of course the deck is more than just the commander, so let's look at the decklist and learn about her wingmates.


Aerial Maneuvers

The main strategy of the deck is straightforward, get flying creatures and attack with them. It doesn't seem like much, but an army of fliers will often get you farther than you think in a game of commander. The creatures in the deck have some additional utility beyond being evasive attackers. many draw cards such as Tide Skimmer, Cloudblazer and Sphinx of Enlightenment. A token subtheme is also present, both in sorceries such as Migratory Route, and Storm Herd as well as creatures like Skycat Sovereign and Sharding Sphinx. Both the tokens and creature cards are supported by multiple anthem effects to bump up the damage and to make sure you aren't outmuscled by the dragon deck. Most of them are on creatures like Empyrean Eagle and potential commander Kangee, Sky Warden, but Gravitational Shift and Favorable Winds are enchantments that will stick around if creatures get wiped. There's also a sub strategy of forced combat to synergize with Isperia. Bident of Thassa is the best among these since you can activate it when needed and it draws cards, but Angler Turtle forces your opponents to attack and Gideon Jura pulls the attacks his way. The possibility of these forced attacks coming your way is mitigated by the commander, but also rattlesnake cards like Condemn and Soul Snare as well as life gain from Aven Gagglemaster and Archon of Redemption.


Because the strategy of this deck is so simple, the gameplay is straightforward. You want to spend the early turns ramping so prioritize mana, cheap draw, and removal in your opening hand to stay in the game. The mid game has you casting midrange flying creatures and tokens then dropping True Conviction or Gravitational Shift in the late game before swinging for lethal damage. You have to commit creatures to the board to win with this deck, so board wipes can be a big problem. The deck comes with three counterspells that can save you, but it's better to hold a few creatures back so you can rebuild if you're caught off guard. Another issue with relying solely on combat is that often the most effective way to win is to focus on one player at a time, but this can lead to bad feelings from the player you pick, and your other opponents may be in too strong a position for you when you're ready to go for them. Weaknesses aside, this can be a fun deck to pilot as the card draw keeps you in the game, and you can bargain with your opponents to send the damage elsewhere.


Old Models

In the past, Commander precons came with a few new cards, but this release is all reprints all the time. The quality of the reprints isn't the worst, but I think they leave something to be desired. I appreciate putting useful staple effects such as Swords to Plowshares, Generous Gift into a product aimed at beginners, but these have been getting regular reprints in other precons. Thought Vessel tends to be a few bucks no matter what and it's nice to finally get some reprints of Talisman of Progress after so many recent Azorius precons.

Among the more deck specific cards, True Conviction is a great card for ending games or just staying alive in white. Gravitational Shift is a flier specific card we haven't seen since Rise of the Eldrazi. While there are multiple cards that are similar to Bident of Thassa, the decks that want these effects tend to want more than one, so I'm glad to see more copies out there. Finally,Sephara, Sky's Blade is an excellent card for your fliers or your angel deck.



Does this deck have the right stuff or does it crash and burn? With it's simple strategies and uncomplicated cards, this product is clearly aimed toward the newest of commander players. With Commander precons increasing in complexity and price, I can understand a market for a deck like this. It's a good deck to pick up and learn the basics of commander, especially if you're looking to teach kids or people who aren't into the more complex aspects of Magic. If that's what you're looking for, this isn't a bad pick up, otherwise you're better off spending that money toward one of the regular precon decks. It's fine for it's intended purpose, but I think this deck gets outclassed pretty quickly when up against more tuned pods without some improvements. With 20 cards over four MV it can be slow to take off, and a boardwipe at the wrong time can send you into a nosedive. I'm also not a fan of the forced combat mechanics in the deck as they don't really protect you from your opponents cracking back at you. I think this deck would be improved greatly by cutting some cards at the top of the curve and adding a bit more board protection. I have a deck that's very similar to this one so I'm excited to bring you some upgrades in the next article. Keep an eye out for that and remember to budget before you buy it.

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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