Painbow - Precon Primer
Colors of the Wind
Hello dear reader, and welcome to EDHREC’s Precon Primer series! In this series, we take a deep dive into the latest precon products by reviewing the new commanders, discussing deck strategies and how they play out of the box, and highlighting the best new cards and reprints. I’m Nick from the Scrap Trawlers, where we do EDH on a budget, and I’ll be your guide for this article.
We’ve had numerous sets on Magic’s original plane, but Dominaria United brings us something that hasn’t been done before. If you can believe it, this is the first time Commander decks have been released alongside a set on Dominaria! With the deepest history of any plane in the multiverse, there's no lack of potential characters to put into the spotlight. One of the most notable people from Magic’s history is Jared Carthalion. Last time we saw him was in Commander Legends as a Naya colored legendary creature in Jared Carthalion, True Heir, but now he's back in planeswalker form with all five colors!
New Hair, New Me
Painbow is the second ever color precon to feature all five colors, and this deck’s theme is to use them all. In Commander, one of the potential issues with five colors decks is having access to every card in the format. Oftentimes this lack of limitation can lead to decks stuffed full of good cards at the cost of a coherent theme. This deck aims to remedy that issue by offering two new commanders that reward you for playing multicolored spells.
Let’s take a look at the face commander, Jared Carthalion. He’s tough to cast, but the reward is more than worth it. Jared comes in with a respectable five Loyalty counters. His first ability makes a 3/3 Kavu toekn with Trample that's all colors. Generally, planeswalkers that can protect themselves are considered good, and a 3/3 is a decent blocker. The second ability puts +1/+1 counters on up to two creatures for each of their colors. Suddenly that small blocker is looking pretty scary as an 8/8! The final ability is a Reborn Hope, and if that card is all five colors, you also get to draw a card and create two treasures as a bonus.
Jared is difficult to compare to other five color commanders because there just aren’t that many that specifically care about playing multicolored spells. The the best comparison is Ramos, Dragon Engine, who also loves multicolored spells. The payoff in Ramos decks is either pumping your flying commander to create a lethal threat, or cashing in that power to provide mana to cast even more spells. Ramos doesn’t care what kind of spells you’re casting, so long as they’re multicolored. Jared wants to utilize his abilities to create multicolored creatures, boost their power, and bring them back from the graveyard. Let’s check out the decklist:
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This deck is so intense...but what if you aren't keen having a planeswalker in the command zone? Well you're in luck, as the backup commander is another member of House Carthalion. Jenson Carthalion, Druid Exile comes down much earlier for two, and can filter your mana to provide you five colors. His main payoff is to specifically cast five color spells, which rewards you with a free Serra Angel token. If you want to push the five color theme to it's absolute limit, Jenson is your Carthalion. However, there’s only 12 cards with all five colors in the precon, and the deck is more suited for play with Jared Carthalion as the commander.
While the idea of piloting a five color deck may seem difficult, our gameplan can be executed in three easy steps:
- Find all five colors of mana
- Cast and Protect Jared, utilizing his first two abilities to generate value
- Win via Combat Damage
Let’s briefly go through each step, starting with the search for mana. The deck is filled with ways to provide access to each color. All the nonbasic lands either provide multiple colors, like Arcane Sanctum and Command Tower, or search for whatever color you need via Evolving Wilds for basics and Grasslands for those with Basic Land Types like Cinder Glade. Outside of the manabase, colorless ramp options like Arcane Signet and Solemn Simulacrum, or mana filters like Prophetic Prism can be played no matter what colors you have access to. We’ve also plenty of ways to ramp with classic green cards such as Farseek and Cultivate, along with some additional filtering in Abundant Growth.
In step two we want to focus on casting Jared. On an empty board, playing Jared and creating a Kavu will provide a little defense. Depending on the boardstate this can be a risky move. However, if you were able to play any creatures in step one, like Coiling Oracle or Faeburrow Elder, you could drop Jared and use his second ability to make them better blockers! This is also the part of the game where you want to play as many multicolored spells as possible. Look for creatures like Xyris, the Writhing Storm and Glint-Eye Nephilim to keep your hand full, and Rienne, Angel of Rebirth or Nethroi, Apex of Death to provide staying power against removal.
Once you’ve established a formidable boardstate, it’s time to move to step three and swing for the fences! Jared’s real power comes from his second ability, so your five color creatures like O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami will become very threatening! At this time, life totals should be low enough for you to easily pick off opponents with pure power.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
So how does it play? Well, after playing more than a few games with the stock list, the deck performs very well out of the box! It’s really fun to pilot a deck that actually cares about being multicolored, rather than simply playing the best cards from every corner of the color pie. There was never a point where I struggled to obtain all five colors. As stated above, there’s an abundance of mana ramp and fixing in the deck to easily execute step one. However, because of the density of lands that come into play tapped, your early game is likely to be much longer than your opponents’.
For opening hands, keep ones that are land heavy, or that have access to Green so you can play ramp spells like Cultivate. Colorless cards like Commander's Sphere are also worth keeping, as you’ll definitely be able to cast them. You’ll want to avoid hands full of high cost cards, or ones with too many multi-colored pips, as you won’t be casting them until much later. Be on the look out for Archelos, Lagoon Mystic and Tiller Engine so your lands come into play untapped.
Aside from speed, one of the deck’s weaknesses is lack of targeted removal. Cards like Terminate and Path to Exile are at a premium here. In most cases, you’ll want to save these cards to protect Jared, as his loyalty may fall dangerously low after using the second ability.
The Gold Standard
There are 10 brand new cards in each Dominaria United precon, and each of them supplement the five color theme of the deck in different ways. Let’s take a look!
Starting with mana production and filtering, Fallaji Wayfarer is a way to turn any of your creatures into mana dorks for multicolored spells. This pairs well with Jared's Kavu tokens to simultaneously ramp you and provide the colors you need. Tiller Engine, is another version of Archelos, Lagoon Mystic and allows your lands to come into play untapped. This is also great late game as it turns your lands that would otherwise be dead draws into a way for your creatures to get through for those last points of damage. Finally, Obsidian Obelisk is a great mana rock that's easy to cast with whatever colors you have, and goes a long way in providing mana for your pentacolored paradise.
Of course, there are new five color cards as well. Two-Headed Hellkite will love the counter support from Jared and will keep your hand full. Primeval Spawn is a 10 mana haymaker that crashes in for evasive life gaining damage, blocks any non-flying threat, and provides even more value if it kicks the bucket. Iridian Maelstrom is a potentially one-sided boardwipe by keeping your amazing technicolored creatures alive. Finally we have one of the most powerful modal spells ever printed in Unite the Coalition. All five modes are almost always relevant during the mid to late stages of the game, and you can choose the same mode more than once!
Lastly we have Mana Cannons, which rewards you for casting multicolored spells with direct damage. Don’t think you need to only cast five color spells to make great use of this. Stringing together a couple two or three colored spells can keep the board clear of annoying utility creatures, or close a life total gap in a hurry!
Let’s get to the reprints. One thing you won’t find in this precon is Sol Ring. That’s right, this is the first precon deck without one! Thankfully it’s not a must have. Two standout reprints are Maelstrom Archangel and Maelstrom Nexus. Both are five colored spells that reward you for just playing the game! There’s also Chromanticore, which is just one of the coolest creatures ever printed.
The manabase isn’t bad, either, with noteworthy includes like Cascading Cataracts and Crystal Quarry that used to be a little pricey. There’s also the dual lands with basic land types, like Sunken Hollow and Smoldering Marsh, which are always great to add to your collection.
Throw Them Bows
So is the deck worth buying? For me, the answer is an absolute yes! If you find building with five colors to be a bit challenging, consider following the Painbow. You’ll find a respectable manabase, even by precon standards, an arsenal of awesome creatures and spells from all corners of the multiverse, and a commander that actually cares about playing multicolored cards. There’s plenty of ways to take this deck to the next level, but if you’re looking to do it on the cheap, check out the upgrade article right here on EDHREC! If you’d like to see more from the Scrap Trawlers you can find us on Twitter, YouTube, and Twitch.