Rebellion Rising - Precon Primer
Rise to the Occasion
This is Lenny from the Scrap Trawlers back for another precon primer. This time, we're putting in more than a token effort with the Rebellion Rising deck from Phyrexia: All will be One. The face commander for this one is Neyali, Suns' Vanguard.
Neyali is a powerful new commander for token decks that gives double strike to attacking tokens and when you attack a player, she exiles a card from the top of your deck that you can play in any turn you attack with a token. Neyali is asking for a go wide deck similar to Jetmir, Nexus of Revels, except Neyali wants to come down earlier to mine that card advantage. I can see this card being adopted as a commander and in the 99 of token decks as it does a lot for the strategy. The commander is straightforward enough, so lets take a look at the rest of the deck now.
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The other potential commanders for this deck lend themselves to a similar aggressive strategy. Adriana, Captain of the Guard and Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer boost the stats of your creatures which is nice, but limited. I'd only swap them in if you want to experience what Boros was like in 2016. Newly printed for this deck and a fantastic option to use in its own right is Otharri, Suns' Glory. This phoenix gives you an experience counter when it attacks, then makes you a 2/2 attacking creature for each of those counters you had. You can also bring it back to the battlefield by tapping a rebel and paying four mana. It's not official, but I'm considering this a do-over of Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas. Swap in Otharri if you prefer to have a token maker in the command zone.
This is primarily a token based aggro deck. It's looking to make small tokens and send them into combat with Neyali out to keep the cards flowing and the life totals going. Supporting the go wide strategy is an equipment subtheme in case an army of small creatures isn't up to the task. I think this was a good call to include as this deck might otherwise struggle against cards like Ghostly Prison that can restrict the number of creatures you can attack with. If you're a fan of token decks, you definitely want to take a look at some of the new toys that were made for this deck. Board wipes are a big problem for any go wide strategy, so Clever Concealment is a powerful new way to keep your battlefield intact that's easy to cast thanks to convoke. We also get another three mana rock with upside in Vulshok Factory. This one gets a charge counter every time we tap it for mana and can be cashed in for a token as big as the number of counters on the factory. Roar of Resistance is a haste enabler for creature tokens with the added benefit of giving creatures attacking your opponents +2/0 for just two mana. Staff of the Storyteller gets counters whenever you create tokens, the draw is limited by it having to tap much like Idol of Oblivion, but the staff also produces a token when it enters the battlefield. Goldwardens' Gambit straddles the line between the token and equipment strategies by giving you five hasted creatures to which you can immediately attach any equipment you have lying around.
There are already quite a few equipment cards that pair well with token decks, but we got a few more made just for this product that feature the for Mirrodin! ability, which makes a token and attaches the equipment to it. Glimmer Lens is an equipment that draws a card whenever the equipped creature attacks with at least one other creature. What I like here is that it comes with its own token so it starts as a two mana 2/2 with upside, and you get to keep the draw effect when the token becomes less relevant. Equipment decks in general are going to be happy to get an extra combat step with Hexplate Wallbreaker, but in this deck, an extra combat means more cards exiled with Neyali and another swing with an army of creatures. Kemba's Banner is yet another effect that boosts power and toughness according to the number of creatures you control, but this one also makes a token attached to it.
This deck doesn't really lack wincons. With token decks, any card that makes tokens en masse can be a win condition, especially when the commander gives them double strike. Martial Coup, Finale of Glory, and White Sun's Zenith are ways to spend a bunch of mana to make an army and just swing next turn with double striking tokens. These effects can also work alongside Goldnight Commander to make an existing token army hit much harder. If you can get them on an evasive creature, both Kemba's Banner and Mace of the Valiant could also be lethal.
Rebellion Rising strikes me as the deck that wants to be attacking early and often, putting opponents on the back foot while they try to deal with your double striking creatures and your commander adds to your available cards. Later on you want to lay down an anthem or an equipment to really pile on damage. Be careful not to over commit to the board; you want to have a way to make tokens available to you throughout the game in case your creatures get removed. In a starting hand I think you want to be looking for an early token producer like Hordeling Outburst or Midnight Haunting so you have something to attack with when you drop your commander. Having a card to protect from board wipes is also a great place to start because this deck has a bad time if it can't keep its creatures on the field. While this can be a problem for all aggro decks, it can be especially rough for this one as it leans on the commander for draw and needs to be able to attack with tokens to make that happen. This can lead to some awkward moments where you have cards you need to cast in exile that you can't access because you don't have a token to attack with. This deck relies solely on attacking to win, so this deck will struggle against cards like Propaganda and Constant Mists. There also aren't many ways in the deck to provide mass evasion so you may have trouble getting through if you encounter a deck that wants to go as wide as you do.
Which cards are the cream of the crop in this release? Among the new cards, Clever Concealment has the makings of a white staple. Teferi's Protection shows up in 182,021 decks according to EDHREC and while Clever Concealment doesn't protect your life total, the fact that you can be selective with what you phase out can be very useful and thanks to convoke, you can cast it when you're otherwise tapped out. Glimmer Lens is a great new card draw effect in white that's cheap to cast and an easy hoop to jump through for the card. Hexplate Wallbreaker is a great new tool for equipment decks to get extra combats. Nine mana total to cast and equip is a lot, but it pairs well with the numerous ways we have to cheat equip costs nowadays, and since it comes equipped to its own token, you don't need to pay the equip cost the first time anyway.
Among the reprints, Flawless Maneuver is a clear stand out. It hasn't been reprinted outside of Commander 2020 and I never expected to see anything from that cycle outside of a chase card in a masters set. It's a great card for this deck and any deck that's looking to protect it's creatures or commander. Boros Charm shows up in 124,902 decks on EDHEC arguably making it a staple in the colors. This is the first reprint for Elspeth Tirel and she was nearly at $10. She only shows up in 4,195 decks, but she does quite a bit for token decks.
Rise and Shine
The Rebellion Rising deck is a decent starting point, but I think it needs a bit of work. Out of the box, this is a good deck to get for a newer player or if you're looking for something to play that doesn't use a lot of complicated interactions, but I think it will struggle against more tuned decks that have answers for combat focused strategies. I think with a bit more draw, board protection, and evasion this deck could really shine. Still, it's not a bad pickup. Flawless Maneuver and Clever Concealment cover a chunk of the cost of the deck and many of the cards are useful in a variety of decks. I've got some great ideas for improving this precon so check back soon for my upgrade guide and remember to budget before you buy it.