Revenant Recon Precon Review

Revenant Recon Precon Review

Mirko & Marvo, Investigators

Hello again! And welcome to another precon guide here on EDHREC. We’re ransacking the evidence room to determine if these Commander precons from Karlov Manor are any good. And today we’re looking at Revenant Recon, the blue and black deck led by Mirko, Obsessive Theorist.

Who Are the Commanders for Revenant Recon?

Mirko is a 1/3 Vampire Detective with flying and vigilance for three mana. Whenever you Surveil, you put a +1/+1 counter on him, then at your end step you can return a creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield if its power is less than Mirko’s. That creature comes with a Finality counter, so if would die, it gets exiled instead of going back to the grave. So we’re looking to fill our grave with creatures and make Mirko bigger to get back the biggest ones.

Our backup commander is Marvo, Deep Operative, a 1/8 for five mana. This mollusc Clashes with the defending player when it attacks, then whenever you win a Clash, you draw a card and cast a spell from your hand worth eight mana or less for free. Sadly, it’s the only card in the deck with the Clash mechanic.

Here’s the full decklist for Revenant Recon:

Revenant Recon Precon

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Commander (1)
Creatures (29)
Enchantments (6)
Artifacts (9)
Sorceries (9)
Instants (9)
Lands (37)

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What Are the Themes and Strategies of the Deck?

The biggest component of the deck is the Surveil mechanic. There are 23 cards in the deck that can Surveil, and several more that have effects when you Surveil, such as Dimir Spybug, Whispering Snitch, and Disinformation Campaign

The goal when you Surveil is to feed creatures to your graveyard for Mirko to bring back. The best creatures to bring back are usually bigger, with the exception of cards like Mulldrifter and Ravenous Chupacabra. There are also a couple of clone cards with zero power, Vizier of Many Faces and Phyrexian Metamorph, which can always be brought back by Mirko.

Mirko’s not the only one bringing creatures back. The deck is full of reanimation spells, such as Reanimate, Animate Dead, Necromancy, and more. And with all these creatures leaving your graveyard, Syr Konrad, the Grim is definitely along for the ride to hit some life totals.

Last, there’s a small duplication sub-theme in the deck, including new cards Case of the Shifting Visage and Copy Catchers. And there’s Sphinx of the Second Sun, which gives you an additional beginning phase (untap, upkeep, draw). This works great with Twilight Prophet, Phyrexian Arena, and Unshakable Tail, in addition to just untapping all your permanents and drawing you an extra card.

How Do You Play Revenant Recon?

The best Commander decks are ones with multiple paths to victory, and this precon mostly fits that bill. Combat will be your most reliable method, but you have two options: going wide or going tall. Any commander that gets bigger has the ability to knock out opponents with commander damage, and Mirko can definitely accomplish that. He starts small, but with the repeated Surveil triggers, he’ll easily get over nine or ten power by the end of every game (unless he gets killed). And with flying, he’s harder to block.

As for going wide, the deck has 30 creature cards in it. But keep in mind, your opponents’ creatures are also available. All of the reanimation spells mentioned earlier can grab cards from other graveyards, and Rise of the Dark Realms gets them all!

There are also a few ways to drain life totals slowly, such as Syr Konrad, the Grim, Whispering Snitch, Twilight Prophet, and Massacre Wurm.

For opening hands, your best cards are the ones that can come out early and Surveil each turn at no cost, like Watcher of Hours (Suspended), Sinister Starfish, and Case of the Shifting Visage. The instants and sorceries that Surveil, and all the creatures that do it on ETB, are nice, but you’re going to get the most value if you can pump Mirko more than once per turn. 

The deck is light on ramp, with only seven cards, but I never once had to mulligan in playtesting. This is especially surprising, considering how much of the deck (18 cards) has mana value of five or higher. But I might have also just gotten lucky.

While the ramp is weak, the card advantage is top notch. And that makes sense, considering Surveil is a form of card advantage, and it’s almost a quarter of the deck. 

Sadly, I think Marvo, Deep Operative is just a throwaway card here. While there are enough higher-costed cards in the deck, there’s no way to manipulate your top card. So often you’re just attacking with a 1/8, the kind of body that’s usually best kept back as a blocker.

My biggest gripe during playtesting is that, even with all the Surveil cards, it’s still hard to keep creatures moving to the graveyard. Far too often I’d Surveil and hit nothing but land. Lands in the grave aren’t terribly beneficial, except with Eye of Duskmantle. But some instant and sorcery spells work with or from the grave, such as Mission Briefing, Deep Analysis, and Counterpoint.

What Are the New Cards in Revenant Recon?

We’ve seen what the deck does, so now it’s time to talk about the most exciting part of precons: the new cards! 

Each of the four decks for Karlov Manor comes with a Ransom Note. I went over my thoughts on this card in the review for Deadly Disguise, so go check it out there!

This deck’s main theme is Surveil, so let’s start with the new cards that do that. Unshakable Tail Surveils on entry and at upkeep. It also makes a Clue when we put a creature card into the grave from our library, which can happen with Surveil or by milling. You can also pay two mana plus a Clue to bring Tail back from the graveyard to your hand. This Zombie does a lot for just three mana!

Next is Watcher of Hours, a 6/6 Sphinx with flying and ward 3. It also has Suspend 6 for one and a blue, and you Surveil whenever you remove a time counter from it. There’s no Jhoira’s Timebug in this list, so we’ll definitely be waiting six turns for it. But the Surveil trigger each turn is very beneficial to the deck. Case of the Shifting Visage also Surveils every upkeep, and, once solved, copies our nonlegendary creature spells. With 26 nonlegendary creatures in the deck, this might do a lot of work. Although, it has to contend with the fact that our goal is to resurrect creatures, not cast them. Also, I have to say that it's a huge flavor fail that this is the only deck with a Case in it. Each of these precons should have come with one.

Charnel Serenade Surveils 3, then reanimates any creature from our grave and puts a Finality counter on it. It also has Suspend 3, and re-Suspends itself every time it’s cast, a neat trick we’ve seen in previous precons with Inspiring Refrain and Rousing Refrain.

Eye of Duskmantle is a 3/8 Eye with flying and lifelink that lets you play lands and cast spells from your grave if you Surveilled them there this turn. Spells cast this way cost life instead of mana. This is very powerful in this deck, but a bit costly at seven mana. I like that it offsets the life spent by having lifelink, and has a large body to be an extremely valuable blocker. With its low power, it's a great target for Mirko to reanimate.

Copy Catchers is a 2/1 flying Faerie that lets you copy it for two mana whenever you Surveil. This is one of the first cards that I’ll be cutting in my Upgrade Guide. I’m always down on creatures that have a triggered ability with a mana cost, but this one is especially weak.

I love the reference to Columbo in this next one. Final-Word Phantom is a 1/4 flyer with flash that lets you cast all spells at instant speed during each opponent’s end step. I’m torn on this. Did we really need another Vedalken Orrery/Leyline of Anticipation? The Phantom costs one less than those, but only works during end steps. It’s also much easier to remove as a creature, and not terribly useful in this list. But there may be decks out there that want this effect on a creature.

Counterpoint is the latest in a line of high-cost counterspells that give you an additional benefit, like Spell Swindle or Access Denied. The problem comes when you don’t have anything good in your graveyard to cast for the benefit. Then the five mana feels really bad. At least with SS and AD you’ll definitely get things that are useful. Counterpoint feels more like Forceful Denial, where the floor is just way too low for the cost.

Last, let’s talk about one of the strangest removal spells, Foreboding Steamboat. This is a tough one to gauge, because it’s so board-dependent. It gets rid of two creatures on each opponent’s board, and stipulates that they can’t just throw away a token, which is great. But the removal also applies to its controller, so we might have to lose some good creatures as well, including our commander. What if we don’t have multiple creatures to get rid of? If we only have one or two creatures, then who’s left to Crew the steamboat so we can get those creatures back to our yard? You get a 5/7 body, but there’s no evasion. I think this one sinks, but if there’s something I’m missing about it that makes it great, or a commander that loves it, let me know in the comments.

Is Revenant Recon Worth Buying?

Is this deck any good? Here’s my final grade:


There are some great things about this deck. Mirko, Obsessive Theorist has some serious potential to lead a really cool Voltron/reanimator list, we just need to get rid of those Finality counters. The deck plays well enough, even if we sometimes struggle to get creatures into the yard to reanimate. And it has some of the best reprint value we’ve ever seen in a precon. Reanimate, Necromancy, and Rise of the Dark Realms are all high-value cards, and that’s not even all of them. In fact, this deck is probably worth buying just for the reprint value - if you can get it a good price.

Where the deck falters most is in the new cards and the backup commander. Marvo, Deep Operative is so out of place in this deck. It doesn’t care about Surveil, it doesn’t care about the graveyard, and it’s the only card in the deck with the Clash mechanic. There are a decent amount of high-cost cards in the deck, but not enough to consider Marvo strong. Very often you’ll be left paying five mana to attack with a 1/8, which just feels bad. 

Several of the new cards just feel weak, particularly Copy Catchers and Foreboding Steamboat. It’s good the reprints are so great, because these new cards are mostly forgettable bulk.

Can I make this deck better? Find out in my Upgrade Guide for Revenant Recon! And keep checking back for more precon guides here on EDHREC.

More Precon Guides:

Deadly Disguise Precon Review

Deadly Disguise Upgrade Guide

Andy's been playing Magic on and off since Fallen Empires. He loves to travel, drink, eat, and spend time with family and friends.

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