Science! Fallout Precon Review

Science! Precon Review

She Blinded Me With Science!

Greetings, esteemed colleagues! Welcome back to EDHREC for another Universes Beyond: Fallout precon guide. Today we’re reviewing Science!, the Jeskai Energy deck led by Dr. Madison Li.

Who Are the Commanders for Science!?

Dr. Li is a 2/3 Human Scientist for three mana (blue+red+white) that gives you an Energy counter whenever you cast an artifact spell. She has three activated abilities which all require her to be tapped and Energy spent. For one Energy a creature gets +1/+0, trample, and haste. For three Energy you draw a card. For five Energy, return an artifact card from your grave to the battlefield tapped.

Energy counters were introduced in the Kaladesh block as an alternate resource to mana. What that block was lacking, however, was a legendary creature that synergized with Energy, meaning Commander players didn’t have a true commander to lead Energy decks. Until now.

Our backup commander is Liberty Prime, Recharged, a five-mana 8/8 Robot with vigilance, trample, and haste. When it attacks or blocks you have to pay two Energy or sacrifice it. You can also tap it with two mana to sacrifice an artifact and get two Energy and a card drawn. So with this massive automaton, we need plenty of Energy fuel to keep it in beatdown mode.

Here’s the full list for Science!:

Science! Precon

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Commander (1)
Artifacts (22)
Creatures (23)
Instants (8)
Enchantments (5)
Sorceries (4)
Lands (37)

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What Are the New Legends in Science!?

Scrappy Survivors isn’t the only Fallout deck with a powerful pupper. In this deck we have Rex, Cyber-Hound, a Robot Dog that gains you two Energy when he hits an opponent in combat. You can pay two Energy to exile a creature card in any grave with a Brain counter, and Rex gains all activated abilities of creatures with Brain counters. The Brain counters are great because they ensure that if Rex leaves the battlefield, he’ll still have access to those creatures’ abilities when he comes back. There a lot of fun paths you could follow with a deck led by Rex. I suggest starting here to get some ideas. 

We have a couple more Robots in the deck: Curie, Emergent Intelligence and The Motherlode, Excavator. Curie draws cards equal to its base power when it deals combat damage to a player, which seems insignificant for a 1/3 with no evasion. But you can also exile another nontoken artifact creature you control to have Curie become a copy of it, retaining the card draw ability. The Motherlode gets a bunch of Energy on entry equal to the number of nonbasic lands an opponent controls. In Commander, you’re usually guaranteed a handful for each player. And when it attacks you can pay four Energy to destroy a nonbasic land the defending player controls and make your creatures much harder to block. 

We have a couple of Synths too, with Nick Valentine, Private Eye and Paladin Danse, Steel Maverick. The Mutant Menace deck had an out-of-place Detective as well (Piper Wright Publick Reporter). Nick makes a bit more sense here though. Even though it doesn’t make Energy, it is an artifact and makes artifact tokens. Paladin Danse doesn’t care about Energy either, but is a nice protection piece that could see a lot of play in Human decks like Eowyn, Shieldmaiden and Kyler, Sigardian Emissary.

Speaking of Humans, the deck has a few of those too. Elder Owyn Lyons gives your artifacts a bit of protection and some graveyard recursion on entry and death. Arcade Gannon brings in the Quest counters that we’ve been seeing scattered throughout this set. You can tap him to draw a card and discard, then cast an artifact or Human from your grave with mana value less than or equal to his Quest counters. This is actually a pretty solid commander, especially if you can Proliferate and save his counters when he dies with a The Ozolith. If nothing else, you can get your Lotus Petal back every turn. James, Wandering Dad can Investigate for his Adventure half, and tap for two colorless mana on his creature side. He’s pretty forgettable outside of Clue decks, which I’m still not sure is a viable deck strategy anyway. Sentinel Sarah Lyons is one of the most aggressive cards in the deck. With her leading a deck, your obvious strategy is to load up with artifacts and equip her with Grafted Exoskeleton for a one-shot kill. Outside of this, her +2/+2 ability is also really good, but sadly worded in a way that we can’t duplicate it. Our last Human is Shaun, Father of Synths. I love this card, and think it could see a lot of play in legends-matter decks like Jodah, the Unifier and Sisay, Weatherlight Captain. Sadly, it’s not so great in this list, but I’m happy it exists now for other decks.

What’s left? Oh yeah, there’s a Crab Mutant. Red Death, Shipwrecker can be tapped to Goad a creature an opponent controls. That player draws a card and you get a red mana. It doesn’t synergize with anything going on in this deck, which I guess isn’t surprising at this point.

What Are the Themes and Strategies of the Deck?

The deck obviously needs a lot of Energy to function. Thankfully, many of the Energy producers are also artifacts, like Assaultron Dominator, Automated Assembly Line, Behemoth of Vault 0, Plasma Caster, Robobrain War Mind, Sentry Bot, Synth Eradicator, and T-45 Power Armor. In addition to those, we have some non-artifact sources: Vault 112: Sadistic Simulation, HELIOS One, Glimmer of Genius, Electrosiphon, and Brotherhood Scribe.

Did you notice anything about all the cards I just listed? Yep, there are no cards from Kaladesh in this deck. All of the Energy producers are new cards for the set.

We also have a token sub-theme in the deck, with The Prydwen, Steel Flagship, Nuka-Cola Vending Machine, and C.A.M.P. (the first Fortification we've seen since Future Sight 17 years ago), in addition to reprints Whirler Rogue, Mechanized Production, and Loyal Apprentice.

To round up the last of the new cards, we’ve got: Synth Infiltrator, an artifact Clone effect that fails to live up to Phyrexian Metamorph; Brotherhood Vertibird, a flying death machine with power equal to the number of artifacts you control; Vault 13: Dweller’s Journey, a very over-complicated removal spell; Expert-Level Safe, a very over-complicated card advantage spell; Bottle-Cap Blast, an efficient removal spell for small-to-medium sized creatures (or even opponents with low life totals); Overencumbered, a way to really screw over anyone else playing artifacts; and Nerd Rage, a fantastic inclusion for decks that draw a ton of cards (this precon is not one of those decks). We can’t forget the Bobbleheads. This deck has Endurance Bobblehead and Intelligence Bobblehead.

How Do You Play the Science! Precon?

At a glance, this deck looks like it should function smoothly. There’s an abundance of ramp and card draw, and a respectable average mana value of 3.24. 

But here’s the problem. The deck tries to pass itself off as an Energy deck, despite only having 17 cards in the deck that make the resource, including Dr. Madison Li. Yes, with the Dr. on the board you have a repeatable source of Energy, but she’s simply not as strong as the deck needs her to be. There are 36 artifact spells in the deck, roughly a third of the cards, but how many of those cards will you see in one game? The answer is: not enough for Li to consistently pump out enough Energy to power the deck. Or even her own abilities.

What does the Energy even do, anyway? In playtesting, I frequently found myself using it all up to draw a card with Dr. Li. Even with all the card advantage apparent in the deck, it’s still really hard to keep the cards coming, unless you draw into some standouts like One with the Machine or Mystic Forge

But what does the deck want the Energy to do? It appears that it’s meant to be used to bolster combat. This is apparent in cards like Assaultron Dominator, Brotherhood Scribe, Plasma Caster, and The Motherlode, Excavator. In fact, it took me several playtests to realize this isn’t actually an Energy deck; it’s an aggro deck in disguise. Because of this, it’s tempting to put Liberty Prime, Recharged in the lead singer spot. However, its requirement of two Energy for each attack means that it won’t have enough fuel by itself to keep attacking every turn. Dr. Li is the most efficient energy creator in the deck, and she needs to stay in the lead.

Aside from combat, there’s an additional win condition in the deck: Mechanized Production. The problem with it is that the win condition isn’t easy, especially with no way to make extra tokens.

Starting hands can be really difficult. You need all of your colors as soon as possible so you can get Dr. Li on the board, but the deck makes that difficult by including mana rocks like Thought Vessel, Mind Stone, and Everflowing Chalice. These are all good cards, but in a three-color deck, they make it less likely you’ll get your commander out on turn three. So, while it’s tempting to keep that turn-one Sol Ring + Mind Stone hand, don’t forget how crucial colored mana is in the deck. 

Is the Science! Precon Worth Buying?

Does the hypothesis pan out in this scientific experiment? Here’s my grade:


This is not the Energy deck, or commanders, we’ve been asking Wizards for. While there’s a glimmer of a good deck in here, too much focus is taken away from Energy with so many new cards that don’t interact with the mechanic. It’s also safe to say that the deck is hampered by being Universes Beyond, because it couldn’t include some great cards from Kaladesh block to improve the Energy output.

The deck is also hindered by being in the same set as Mutant Menace, a deck which does counters superbly. It’s clear that the Radiation deck got the Proliferate cards that the Energy deck would have greatly benefited from, like Inexorable Tide and Recon Craft Theta

I playtested this deck twice as many times as I usually give to a precon. I did this because I never got a successful test of the deck. Not once did I get to a point where I felt the deck could be “winning,” or "doing the thing,” as we say in the Commander community. Frankly, I’m not totally sure what “the thing” actually is for this deck. In one playtest, I’d only made two Energy by turn eight, and the other playtests weren’t much better. The Energy output of the deck is far lower than the amount of Energy the deck asks you to make for all of its effects' costs.

It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth test that I realized this is meant to be a combat deck, with Energy as an embellishment. It should have been the other way around. Thankfully (and very surprisingly), we have another Jeskai Energy deck coming in just a few short months in Modern Horizons 3. Let’s hope that deck will make up for this one’s failure.

The deck's reprint value is also extremely poor, with the only "value" coming from Panharmonicon, Treasure Vault, and...*sigh* Lightning Greaves.

I can tell you right now, upgrading this deck is going to be a challenge. It’d be easy to just rip everything out and start from scratch, but that’s not the point of an upgrade. So go check out the Upgrade Guide to see if I’m able to clean up this hot mess. And make sure to check back often for more precon guides, here on EDHREC.

More Precon Fun:

Scrappy Survivors Fallout Precon Review

Hail, Caesar Fallout Precon Review

Mutant Menace Fallout Precon Review

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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