Now that Dominaria United’s Spoiler season is ending, players are gearing up to determine what cards should be at the top of their buy list for their respective desires. A common question on most MTG players’ minds may be: is the new Painbow Commander deck actually worth it? Here, you will find a quick summary of what this Commander deck is trying to do, along with some recommendations to change the deck. Finally, we’ll give a shout-out to the cards that look the most impressive on their own in this deck for those of you interested in buying singles.
Painbow is a bit of a strange precon. Five-color precons are generally fantastic for players building their collection since these Commander decks generally need a lot of powerful fixing for them to work. For those who do not have access to some of the cheaper tap lands that tap for three colors, this deck is for you, full stop. These cards are very inexpensive, and if these are the cards you need, you can acquire them easily while getting some cards that are a bit stronger.
Captained by Jared Carthalion, this five-colored Commander deck cares about your creatures being all five colors. Multiple payoffs help here, with Jared creating tokens that identify as all five colors and offering a massive buff to five colored creatures with his minus ability, allowing them to deal a ton of damage. Now that all this is disclosed, the first item on our agenda for Painbow is to get rid of its terrible Commander.
Jodah, the Unifier
Don’t get me wrong, Jared is a fine card, but we do not think this card will do enough for the deck. Jodah, the Unifier is a new Dominaria United card released in the main set. Jodah cares about Legendary spells, which may require you to switch a few cards around for maximum efficiency, but there are a ton of Legendary spells for Jodah to cascade off of in this deck. Most of the Legendary cards in this deck are huge to make things better. This means that Jodah will pseudo-Cascade off big Legendary permanents and hit more Legendary Permanents. The reason why we say Psuedo-cascade is because this card does not explicitly have Cascade. You can turn this Painbow Jodah deck into an absolute nightmare with a few adjustments.
Cascade, but no Errata?
To explain what this title is getting at for non-Modern players, we need to step back a little bit:
Rewind to Kaldheim. Valki, God of Lies is an incredibly expensive card on MTGO. Nearing $100 per card, Valki was utterly dominating the Modern metagame. The strategy was to use three mana Cascade cards, like Shardless Agent, to exile Valki. Past that point, because of how Cascade is worded, you could cast the flipside of Valki (Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter) for free. This Planeswalker is an absolute beast. Not only can it accumulate value every turn with its plus ability, but it can also deal with threats and exile all graveyards, and cast everything exiled. Casting this Planeswalker for three mana, sometimes at instant speed, proved too much for the Modern meta. Cascade, as a result, saw an errata that looks like this:
The new rule for cascade is as follows:
702.84a. Cascade is a triggered ability that functions only while the spell with cascade is on the stack. “Cascade” means “When you cast this spell, exile cards from the top of your library until you exile a nonland card whose converted mana cost is less than this spell’s converted mana cost. You may cast that spell without paying its mana cost if its converted mana cost is less than this spell’s converted mana cost. Then put all cards exiled this way that weren’t cast on the bottom of your library in a random order.”
This errata disallows Cascade abilities to cast things with a mana value larger than the original spell. This prevented Tibalt from getting cast off of a three mana cascade trigger since it could only cast the Valki side, which is less mana than the original spell. Why is this important? Jodah reads like the original Cascade effect before it got its errata. This means that Legendary double-sided permanents are incredible in the deck!
Tibalt and Valki
Should you happen to use Jodah’s effect and exile Valki, you should have the ability to cast Tibalt. The same will work for Esika, God of the Tree, and Prismatic Bridge, which seems like a slam dunk in a list like this. Even when you need to cast Valki specifically, you get to exile a creature from each opponent’s hand until Valki dies. This makes Valki much better than a Thoughtseize effect in Commander. Exchange cards like these for some of the larger five-colored cards that are not legendary, like Fusion Elemental and Glint-Eye Nephilim, to make these changes work the smoothest. Valki is only worth about $8 for now, but it could go up if this strategy becomes popular!
Add a Sol Ring!
Painbow is one of the few Commander prebuilt decks in recent history that does not have a Sol Ring in the main deck. This is considered the pinnacle of Commander staples and is dirt cheap. The ability on Sol Ring does not reflect its price point. This card will ramp you turns ahead of your opponents on its own! This means that you usually end up a target, so try to play down how threatening you are. You may want to pick these up quickly, as Painbow players looking to upgrade their decks could cause a slight price increase in Sol Ring.
Painbow Core Cards
Now that we’ve gotten the necessary upgrades out of the way, let’s look at what the best cards in Painbow look like. You could also use this as a singles guide for those not interested in buying the entire deck.
Currently, Tiller Engine has the most considerable asking cost of all the cards in Painbow. Presently priced at about $13, this card is capable of untapping your lands as they enter the battlefield. In order to keep the value of Painbow marginal, a lot of tap lands were added to the deck to support the five-color fixing. Tiller Engine will help you to speed these lands up. Players running a Gates Commander deck may find Tiller Engine extremely appealing. Unfortunately for Modern Amulet Titan players, this card will not be legal in that format, which should help to keep its price down.
Coming in at an expected value of $5, Two-Headed Hellkite has much less text than you may expect for a five-color dragon. Regardless, Ur-Dragon players will definitely want to get their hands on this, as it can deal damage the turn it is cast and will draw you two cards whenever it attacks. Not only will it replace itself if it is not immediately dealt with, but Two-Headed Hellkite will threaten to continue drawing cards and dealing damage until someone deals with it.Crystal Quarry is a strictly worse Cascading Cataracts (which is also in this deck) that has an expected value of $4. Not going to sugarcoat this one; Crystal Quarry should not stay at this price. This land is not for you unless you are specifically looking to cast five-colored spells. That being said, this land is an incredible fixing piece in Painbow. O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami embodies the spirit of casual Commander players. Should you go after them and blow up their stuff, you better prepare for the retaliation. The reprint O-Kagachi allows these Commander players to turn their vengeful nature into a consistent reality since it can exile a permanent when dealing damage to a player who attacked you in the last rotation of turns. This currently has an expected price of $4.
Jenson Carthalion, Druid Exile
Jenson is the other card in this deck that can function as it’s Commander. Honestly, if you do not want to touch upgrades with Painbow, I would try this card as the deck’s Commander. Jenson will not do very much in the early game, but they can smooth your draws by scrying one for each multicolor spell you cast. When casting a five colored spell, Jenson will create a 4/4 Flying Angel with Vigilance, allowing you to make sure you get the most out of your deck’s theme. This card’s current expected value is $3
Primeval Spawn is finishing out our Core cards (primarily the new ones). This win condition will singlehandedly win games by barfing out permanents when it dies. Note that you have to hard cast Primeval Spawn, or at least cast it for a discounted cost for it to enter the battlefield. Primeval Spawn will exile itself before entering otherwise, meaning its ability will not go off. This also means you cannot make token copies of Primeval Spawn since the copies would exile themselves before they enter the battlefield. Regardless, this striking effect should be fun for the decks that can use it. Primeval Spawn currently has an expected value of $4.
Reprints and Closing Notes
Honestly, there aren’t a ton of noteworthy reprints in this one. Besides the Painbow deck being easy access to a five-color mana base on the cheap, there are only a few notable reprints in this product. Path to Exile (which may be used on your own creatures as much as your opponent’s in a five-color list), Coalition Relic, Baleful Strix and Bad River are some of the more noteworthy reprints in this deck.
Ultimately, it doesn’t look like this Painbow Commander deck will have a lot of secondary market value. If you want to make a quick buck and are a more experienced MTG player, this deck may not be your cup of tea. If you do not have the necessary cards to delve into a five-color Commander build, this is the absolute best way to get into it. Additionally, if the Jodah strategies outlined in this article are of interest to you, this deck is a great way to start that. Ultimately, Painbow is excellent for anyone who wants to begin building five-color Commander decks. If this deck doesn’t tickle your fancy for whatever reason, you can take it apart and build a deck around literally anything!