Hey everyone! As of December 20th, the Commander 2013 decks are out on Magic Online, and that means it’s time to start brewing all over again. I know people just love spending money on the same product twice, so with that in mind, my plan is to give you a good way to turn each of the precons into a serviceable deck on the cheap. The precons are $29.99 each, so I figure spending another $20 (or 20 tix) on them isn’t so bad in terms of getting them closer to “good decks.” It’s at least a start. The catch is that we’re not using the commanders at the front of the box. We’ll be using the alternative commanders: [ccProd]Gahiji[/ccProd], [ccProd]Sydri[/ccProd], [ccProd]Roon[/ccProd], [ccProd]Nekusar[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Shattergang Brothers[/ccProd]. Let’s get started building the 5 under 50!

(Side note: I’ll be using MarlonBot prices for this article. This is not because I endorse it or particularly care about one bot or another—in a land where differentiation is impossible, I’m loyal to whomever I happen to have bot credit with. They just so happen to have prices listed for every card, not just rares like some others. I wouldn’t even mention them if I didn’t think it was important to give them credit for their work.)

Nekusar, the Mindrazer

Let’s take a moment to discuss the land base. At the outset, we have the following balance of mana symbols on our cards:

37 blue (39.4%)
35 black (37.2%)
22 red (23.4%)
94 total mana symbols
(And, according to MTGO, two white—not sure where those are.)

I’m going to compare that to the number of lands we have that can produce (or fetch lands that can produce) each color and try to keep the balance appropriate to how our deck changes. Right now we have:

19 blue (47.5%)
21 black (52.5%)
18 red (45.0%)
40 total lands

(I’m counting [ccProd]Opal Palace[/ccProd] as a land that produces colorless.)

That seems a little off to me, but hopefully we can improve the ratios as we move forward. I think the easiest way to do that will be to change the balance of basic lands, because we’ll want to spend our 20 tix on cards that really change up the battlefield. If you love this deck, then you can start adding fancy lands to it! We can’t really worry about any of this until we change the deck, though.

There are a ton of cards I want to put in this deck, but as Travis Woo likes to say, to add a card, you need to cut a card. There are plenty of cards in this deck that don’t fit the Nekusar theme. Let’s get rid of some of them.


[deck]1 Arcane Melee
1 Baleful Strix
1 Crosis’s Charm
1 Curse of Chaos
1 Curse of Inertia
1 Curse of Shallow Graves
1 Eye of Doom
1 Fissure Vent
1 Fog Bank
1 Grixis Charm
1 Guard Gomazoa
1 Guttersnipe
1 Hooded Horror
1 Infest
1 Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge
1 Mirari
1 Mnemonic Wall
1 Nivix Guildmage
1 Opal Palace
1 Phthisis
1 Strategic Planning
1 Sudden Spoiling
1 Tempt with Reflections
1 Terra Ravager
1 Thraximundar
1 True-Name Nemesis
1 Uyo, Silent Prophet[/deck]

That’s 27 cards coming out right there. One of them is a land, so that’s not so bad—we can probably replace it with a basic or jam in the [ccProd]Transguild Promenade[/ccProd] this deck doesn’t have, but what should we do about the 13 creatures and 13 noncreatures we’ve just removed from the deck? Well, let’s find some folks that help us with Nekusar’s theme!

First off, we need some cards to help protect Nekusar. [ccProd]Swiftfoot Boots[/ccProd] do a great job, but we’ve got to have more than just that. What else do we have to keep him on the table and out of the command zone?

[ccProd]Lightning Greaves[/ccProd] (0.56)
[ccProd]Champion’s Helm[/ccProd] (0.73)

Okay, so these should help keep Nekusar safe from targeted removal at the very least. We can’t stop him from getting Wrathed away, but hopefully we can introduce some redundancy into this deck to help us not have to worry about that so much. Let’s start talking about some of the cards we want to introduce to help us do the job of punishing players for drawing cards better:

[ccProd]Underworld Dreams[/ccProd] (0.12)

Obviously, if we’re making people draw cards, we want them to pay for it. We can’t be bothered with players who take all of our gifts and get away scot-free.

[ccProd]Psychosis Crawler[/ccProd] (0.05)

Similarly, all these cards we draw ought to amount to something, right? This one helps our deck pack a punch, no mistake. We’ll draw lots of extra cards with this deck, and when we do, we’ll be doing some damage.

[ccProd]Dark Suspicions[/ccProd] (0.16)

We should be blasting through our cards pretty quickly, but our opponents may be stuck with theirs. We will do especially well with this card after a big [ccProd]Prosperity[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Skyscribing[/ccProd].

[ccProd]Phyrexian Tyranny[/ccProd] (0.34)

As usual, Phyrexia doesn’t care how you pay—life or mana—as long as you do pay. If this deck does what it’s supposed to do, our opponents will pay over and over for their card draws.

[ccProd]Vicious Shadows[/ccProd] (0.05)

This is the card that [ccProd]Price of Knowledge[/ccProd] wishes to be every day when it wakes up and looks at its ridiculous art. If we keep everyone’s hand full, there’s no telling just how much damage a good wrath effect will deal to the table.

[ccProd]Seizan, Perverter of Truth[/ccProd] (0.15)

Seizan doesn’t interact with card draws that aren’t his own, which is too bad, but it does mean you get to double-dip on his draws with cards like [ccProd]Nekusar[/ccProd], [ccProd]Spiteful Visions[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Underworld Dreams[/ccProd].

So where are our opponents getting all these cards? Well, we should be able to help them turn after turn with effects like these:

[ccProd]Howling Mine[/ccProd] (0.98)

An old classic. Everyone loves Howling Mine. This is one of the cards that will convince people to keep us around even as they’re taking damage. After all, we’re just giving them so much help!

[ccProd]Font of Mythos[/ccProd] (1.00)

The new hotness. Look at this fancy business right here. Two cards? Two Howling Mines at once? How can this even be real? This is such a great card.

[ccProd]Forced Fruition[/ccProd] (0.07)

I’ve loved this card ever since Lorwyn draft, when I zapped many an unsuspecting opponent’s library with [ccProd]Drowner of Secrets[/ccProd] and this gem. Enjoy 7!

[ccProd]Otherworld Atlas[/ccProd] (0.05)

This is a weird one. You can charge it up once and turn it into a [ccProd]Temple Bell[/ccProd], or you can charge it up a bunch and turn it into something truly insane. It depends how much time you have—expect this one to get clipped by Krosan Grip or similar pretty quickly.

Of course, we can’t be all Howling Mines and happiness. Let’s talk [ccProd]Windfall[/ccProd]s and Draw-7s!

[ccProd]Memory Jar[/ccProd] (3.29)

Everyone loves a Jar! Especially when they take a bunch of damage and can’t use the cards as well as you can. And then the cards are gone! Thanks, Memory Jar!

[ccProd]Wheel and Deal[/ccProd] (0.16)
[ccProd]Reforge the Soul[/ccProd] (0.50)
[ccProd]Wheel of Fortune[/ccProd] (2.17)
[ccProd]Whispering Madness[/ccProd] (0.05)
[ccProd]Windfall[/ccProd] (0.46)

These are all pretty much what you think they are. Nothing special about any particular card—they’re all draw-7 type effects that will refresh our options (and theirs) while hopefully continuing to achieve our nefarious aims.

Of course, we need to draw cards all by ourselves some of the time. Here are some of the ways I think we should do that:

[ccProd]Consecrated Sphinx[/ccProd] (2.64)

All those card draws we give away come back to us through the Sphinx. This card is super unfair and may put a huge target on our heads (or it might just run us out of cards if we’re not careful) but I think it’s worth running just because of how powerful it is.

[ccProd]Slithermuse[/ccProd] (0.05)

Feeling behind because of all the cards you’ve given away? Use this (or the similar [ccProd]Balance of Power[/ccProd]) to catch up!

[ccProd]Mind’s Eye[/ccProd] (1.07)

Alternatively, spend some mana and you’ll never want for cards as long as you have opponents who are drawing them.

[ccProd]Notion Thief[/ccProd] (0.53)

I love this card. We can just take all of the card draws we’ve been giving them and use them for ourselves. Of course, this will die very quickly, but if you can get three or four cards out of it quickly, it’s worth it.

Of course, we’ll need some wrath effects, especially if we want to use Vicious Shadows well. I was thinking of the following:

[ccProd]Chain Reaction[/ccProd] (0.08)
[ccProd]Plague Wind[/ccProd] (0.08)
[ccProd]Overwhelming Forces[/ccProd] (0.43)

That leaves a spot for a sweet one-of.

[ccProd]Spinal Embrace[/ccProd] (0.20)

I’ve loved this card ever since Invasion, and out it comes in the Oloro deck just to remind me how great it is. Fantastic! Let’s get it in this deck so we can surprise people with it.

Total cost: 15.94 tix

Look at that! We’ve still got four tickets saved up we can use to replace that [ccProd]Opal Palace[/ccProd] with something nice. Let’s take a quick look at our new mana balance:

33 blue
35 black
18 red

That actually looks pretty good for our old land base. Let’s spend our last four tickets wisely:

[ccProd]Watery Grave[/ccProd] (3.03)

Well, look at that. All those sweet cards and we still have 1.03 tix left. So, this is how we build something sweet on the cheap! I’m looking forward to trying this out. I’m actually about to record a video with it, so we should be able to see how that goes soon! I’m planning to do this with all of my 5 for 50 decks, so get ready to hear some shouting over Magic Online. See you next time!

-Eric Levine
@RagingLevine on Twitter