Rebellion Rising - Precon Upgrade
It's Always Sunny in New Phyrexia
Once again, this is Lenny from the Scrap Trawlers back with another precon upgrade. This time our cause is the Rebellion Rising deck from Phyrexia: All Will be One. Before we get started let's take a look at the original deck.
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This deck is led by Neyali, Suns' Vanguard and while there are other options in the deck, we'll be keeping the face commander in charge for the upgrade.
Neyali wants you to be attacking with tokens, both to give them double strike and to exile cards from the top of your deck to play later. At four mana, she's in a good spot to come down after you've developed some tokens and she's not too difficult to cast if she gets removed once or twice. I think she has the potential to be a fast aggro commander capable of taking games out of nowhere, but thanks to the card advantage she provides, she's capable of playing a longer game. She reminds me a bit of Jetmir, Nexus of Revels as both are looking to go wide, though Neyali works as both a finisher and an engine to move the game along where Jetmir tends to fit as just a finisher. She's also similar to Adriana, Captain of the Guard and Commander Liara Portyr in that she rewards you for attacking everyone at once.
For this upgrade, I want to keep the core strategy intact. I think token-based aggro works well enough, but I think this deck struggles with getting its creatures through. I also want to include some better anthems to remove opponents more quickly. Removal is a major problem for aggressive decks, so I want to add a little bit more protection as well. Finally, I think the deck could use just a bit more draw; getting cards from Neyali can occasionally be tricky and if the commander gets removed, you don't want to end up in topdeck mode.
Here Comes the Sun
I want to start by adding some better anthem effects. This deck makes a lot of small tokens, and sometimes an army of 1/1's just isn't enough, even with double strike. Starlight Spectacular is a great anthem effect if you're producing a lot of creatures. It's not great when you have one or two creatures, but once you're at three you're making as much power as a Glorious Anthem. Normally, only having the boost on your turn is a drawback, but Neyali wants you attacking constantly so you're less likely to be blocking with your tokens. Inspiring Leader will give tokens +2/+2 as long as we control our commander, which is when we want to be attacking anyway. Leonin Sun Standard is great later on in the game when you have some extra mana to sink into a team buff.
While the commander does effectively grant card draw, I wanted to add a bit more just in case Neyali is dealt with. Tocasia's Welcome is a fairly new take on cards like Welcoming Vampire and Mentor of the Meek, but since it cares about mana value, it works with whatever power tokens you make. Oblation is an especially flexible removal spell in a token deck because you can just shuffle away a token to draw some extra cards if you're looking for a bit more gas. Your Temple Is Under Attack is something I would have loved to see in the original deck. Giving your creatures indestructible is important in a deck like this and if you happen to exile it with Neyali, you can just cast it to draw some cards.
I'm also changing up some of the token producers. I think the deck had a few too many one shot effects and could use a few more permanent effects. Giving double strike to the 5/1 trample token Rite of the Raging Storm is going to make quick work of your opponents and it helps the table gang up on whoever is in the lead, unless it's you. Gut, True Soul Zealot can upgrade the 1/1 and 2/2 tokens this deck makes into a 4/1 menace which will be a pain for opponents to block once it gets double strike. Undercellar Sweep gives you two 1/1 soldiers whenever you attack with the initiative or attack the person who has it. While adding initiative to the game can be a bit complex, it can provide significant benefits throughout the game including those 4/1 menace tokens we get from Gut. Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin works well with the numerous ways the deck has that increase the power of its creatures, especially if we get something like Kemba's Banner.
Finally I wanted to add some evasion. Overwhelming opponents with sheer numbers can work, but you can't always expect to win the war of attrition against three opponents. Goblin War Drums is a cheap way to provide mass evasion. Menace might not seem great, but it's very effective when you're swinging with multiple creatures that have it and double strike from our commander is going to make blocking uncomfortable for opponents. War Cadence lets you make your opponents pay mana for the privilege of blocking. If you combine that with menace, your opponents are likely just going to have to forget about blocking. Dragon Throne of Tarkir is a repeatable way to get trample and a boost to power. Most of the time, Neyali would be the best bet to sit on the throne since your tokens will be better attackers.
At the time of writing, these upgrades will cost you about $6.73. Now that we've laid out the additions, it's time for some cuts.
While I said I liked the equipment subtheme in my previous article, that was where I found myself making quite a few of the cuts. A lot of the equipment in the original deck felt like it was better suited for a Voltron deck than for the token strategy that makes up most of the deck. The lifelink provided by Loxodon Warhammer is nice to have in a deck where you expect to have double strike, but adding three power to what is likely to be a 1/1 or 2/2 isn't all that impressive and with card advantage in the command zone, you're more likely to have a card you'd rather cast than pay that equip cost. Mask of Memory is amazing with double strike, but this deck is light on evasion effects. Even with the cards we added, if an opponent can block, they're likely to block the one that's going to draw you cards. Mace of the Valiant was a tough call. I like how it keeps the counters and it works great with the X spells that generate creature tokens, but I opted to keep in as many new cards as possible and this fills a similar role to Kemba's Banner. Maul of the Skyclaves is a decent equipment card, but it just isn't really working with what the rest of this deck is up to.
I also found some issues with a few of the deck's anthem effects. I'm not thrilled with Phantom General being an anthem at four mana when white has so many other options that aren't specific to tokens. This was an easy cut for Inspiring Leader. Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer is a flavorful choice for this deck, but we're cutting a few artifacts from the original list and I don't want to risk having him without metalcraft. Heroic Reinforcements straddles the line between anthem and token maker, but I think it's pretty mediocre at both and you can only use it once here so for that reason, I think it's a good cut.
While I love Myr Battlesphere as a Commander card, this deck isn't recurring it, blinking it, or otherwise making use of it and at seven mana you can get as many tokens out of White Sun's Zenith at instant speed. Also on the high end is Goldwardens' Gambit which is out because I cut so much equipment. I think that card works better in a deck much more focused on equipment than in a dedicated token deck. While we have some goblins, I still think Siege-Gang Commander would be better suited to a deck more dedicated to the creature type.
Dragonmaster Outcast asks for a lot before it starts to pay you back, and my experience is that it gets removed before that happens, so it's out. Legion Warboss does make a token every turn, but it's going to be tricky to attack with it to take advantage of that mentor ability, so I'd rather have something like Rite of the Raging Storm that gives a better token on a less vulnerable permanent. Solemn Simulacrum is my last cut. Once again, it's a fine card, but we're not doing anything in this deck to use it to it's full potential and with 38 land and a curve of 3.26 we're going to be fine with one less ramp spell.
That does it for our cuts so we can take a look at the finished product.
Rebellion Rising - Precon Upgrade
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The Sun Also Rises
If you're looking to really cut loose with this deck and add cards regardless of cost, there is a lot to be done here. Anointed Procession and the recently printed Mondrak, Glory Dominus will double token production, and you can just make better quality tokens with Divine Visitation.
Myrel, Shield of Argive and Hero of Bladehold are powerful creatures that make a ton of creatures in addition to providing useful effects for a deck like this while Grand Crescendo can make tokens and serve as another way to protect the board.
Since we're looking to put so many creatures onto the field, Impact Tremors would be a great addition to provide extra damage and a way to take a game if combat isn't an option. Similarly Purphoros, God of the Forge does twice as much damage, and that activated ability to boost the power of your creatures can be huge with the commander. Fellow Theros god Iroas, God of Victory also deserves a mention here. We already discussed how great menace can be with Goblin War Drums, but ignoring damage to attacking creatures on top of that means that you can freely attack without worrying about your opponents' blockers.
Finally if we wanted to further improve card draw, there are plenty of options. Skullclamp is good enough to be banned in Modern and Legacy and while it can be awkward with anthem effects the draw potential in a deck that churns out 1/1 creatures is just too good to ignore. Bennie Bracks, Zoologist is great card draw alongside instant speed token creation effects, and doesn't even need mana to be cast thanks to convoke. Finally, Wedding Announcement draws cards or makes tokens depending on how many creatures you attack with and after a while it becomes an anthem for your creatures. I'm not usually happy with just +1/+1, but Neyali is going to make that small boost do so much more work.
I'm pleased with the final state of the deck. It packs a bit more punch without being overwhelming. This deck has a lot of room to grow if you're looking for more power, but there are also some interesting directions to take this deck. You could focus on cards likeHate Mirage and Hofri Ghostforge to make token copies of creatures, or you could lean more into equipping tokens with Scytheclaw and Nahiri, the Lithomancer. There's also space to explore cards that care about casting from exile like Nalfeshnee or Wild-Magic Sorcerer. I'd love to hear in the comments what cards you would add to this deck because I know I missed a few. Also don't forget to keep coming back as we go over more precons, and as always, remember to budget before you buy it.