First Flight - Precon Upgrade Guide

Isperia, Supreme Judge | Art by Maxime Minard

Lift Us Up Where We Belong

This is Lenny from the Scrap Trawlers, back with another precon upgrade. I did some maintenance on the First Flight deck fromĀ Commander Starter Decks. Feel free to check out the primer article if you haven't already and if you can check out the original list below.

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Isperia, Supreme Judge is at the head of this deck and while her card draw is useful, getting attacked for it is far from ideal. The deck contains a whole forced combat strategy to give some control over it as well as several cards to protect against opponents attacks. These take up a lot of space in the deck that I feel could be better utilized, so rather than try to improve how that package works, I want to rip it out entirely and change the commander while still keeping the flying aggro core of the deck. Board wipes and removal can be a big problem for this deck, so I want to improve the protection suite. I'm also hoping to lower the average mana value by removing some of the higher cost cards so when we do catch removal, we're more likely to rebuild quickly. Finally I want to add a bit of support for the new commander.

Bring me a Higher Love

Instead of Isperia, we'll be putting Dragonlord Ojutai at the head of the deck. He's cheap and easier to come by thanks to a reprint inĀ New Capenna Commander and while he can't draw as many cards as Isperia, we have a bit more control over drawing them and he has a bit more staying power thanks to being hexproof while untapped. Usually you see Ojutai in front of a more commander focused Voltron strategy, but he works quite well supporting the go wide fliers deck we have here.

We do want to show our commander some love by giving him vigilance to make sure he's hexproof as much as possible. 48% of Ojutai decks are using Sentinel's Eyes and 41% are using Ring of Thune. It makes sense as these are both cheap and reusable ways to give vigilance. We're also adding Thraben Watcher since it's also an anthem for all of our nontoken creatures.

We definitely want to add to the protection suite. Three counterspells is a good start but we really don't want our opponents clipping our wings with a board wipe. Selfless Spirit, and Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate can sacrifice themselves to give your creatures indestructible, and are fliers themselves so they'll benefit from the anthems we have. When faced with these cards, opponents are likely to try to play around them, which makes surprise effects like Unbreakable Formation backbreaking.

Much of the card draw in the original deck is concentrated on six mana cards, I'd prefer to have it on cheaper effects so we aren't taking a late game turn off to draw three cards. With the forced combat mechanics from the original deck, not reprinting Keep Watch was a missed opportunity, but even without forcing the issue, this a fantastic draw spell that you don't even have to be attacked to benefit from. Bident of Thassa is so good, why not have another with Reconnaissance Mission. Since Ojutai is more likely to stick around with his inherent protection, Loyal Drake is a cheap way to get some extra cards on a flying body.

Strixhaven Stadium will rack up points quickly and is a great way to deal with life gain or with decks that are hard to attack. Speaking of being hard to attack, Serra's Emissary can give us, along with our team, protection from creatures. Aerial Extortionist is easily my favorite card from 2022. Not only does it remove nonland permanents when it enters the battlefield or hits an opponent, but it can potentially draw a ton of cards and hits pretty hard with that four power

At the time of writing this article, you can add all these cards to the deck for just $9.13.

Fly Away

Our upgraded deck isn't going to fly with more than 100 cards, so we've got some cargo we need to unload for our new stuff. Since we're swapping the commander out, we can get rid of Angler Turtle and Gideon Jura. We don't want to be sending any attacks our way if we aren't benefitting from it. We're also ditching Ever-Watching Threshold for some other card draw effects.

I want to have a leaner deck, so I'm also cutting a few cards of the top end. Storm Herd seems impressive, but it's also a whopping ten mana to cast and by the time you can pull it off, you have a decent chance that your life total won't be all that high. Diluvian Primordial is an awesome card in a deck that's milling opponents, but here we're just hoping our opponents cast something cool we can use later and we can do better even by just picking a different seven mana flier. Card draw is important, but Sphinx of Enlightenment just feels underwhelming outside maybe a blink or group hug strategy.

Outside of specific strategies, X draw spells feel like a trap. Sphinx's Revelation could draw a bunch of cards, but it's four mana to even draw that first one. Not exactly the kind of effect I want to take a turn off or hold up mana for. Vow of Duty would work great with Ojutai as the commander, but I'd rather use the cheaper and reusable effects we added into the deck.. Hedron Archive is fine as a mana rock, but in this deck we're only sacrificing it if we're desperate for cards, so I'd rather have Strixhaven Stadium.

Thunderclap Wyvern would be great if we were leaning more into instant speed effects, but it's an easy cut for Thraben Watcher. Condemn is very conditional removal and without forcing combats it's going to be a dead card much of the time. We aren't running any effects to synergize with lifegain here, so a one shot effect like Aven Gagglemaster doesn't really belong.

(Not So) Free Bird

If you're looking to fly first classs with this deck, there are a ton of expensive cards to be added. For protective spells, you just can't do better than Teferi's Protection. Akroma's Will is about as close to a Craterhoof Behemoth as you can get in white and it has the added benefit of protecting your creatures if need be. Consecrated Sphinx is a powerful self contained draw engine on a flying beater.

The ancient dragons from Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate are powerful top end creatures that provide tremendous value. Ancient Gold Dragon can generate a ton of fliers if it connects with an opponent and Ancient Silver Dragon can draw a dangerous amount of cards.Archangel of Thune usually finds its way into live gain decks, but thanks to its native lifelink, it can function as a gradually increasing anthem on a flying body.

Leaving on a Jetplane

It's about time to land this bird, so let's take a look at our final product.

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With the new commander, the deck should have a more consistent card draw source available. We're also going to be less likely to just get taken out by a board wipe with the improved protection suite. With a lower average mana value, and cheaper card draw effects, we'll have more to do in the earlier turns of the game. Even with these improvements there's still a lot that can be done to improve this deck and if this idea speaks to you, there are a bunch of other commanders you can use. I run a similar deck with Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate as the commander you can check out here. What did you think of the upgraded verison of the deck, would you pick a different commander? Let me know in the comments, be sure to watch this space for more as we cover other decks, and as always 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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