14, Mar, 24

Bizarre Upgrades Fix Terrible MTG Fallout Precon

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Article at a Glance

Mutant Menace is a deck dripping with radiation, mutants and +1/+1 counters. At first glance, this appeared to be one of the more simple decks to pilot. Cast The Wise Mothman, distribute Rad Counters to the board and grow a massive mutant army to victory.

Playing the deck, however, was quite a bit different than that. As is the case in most Commander pre-cons a deck can lack a certain amount of focus. Here, it’s not entirely because of the mill theme and the randomness that can occur because of that, it’s also based on tempo and a self defeating mechanic (more on this later).

Mutant Menace forces you to commit to a line of play that might not necessarily do anything or could be very powerful, but it has no mechanic to help you make that decision. First, we’ll talk about how the deck plays and then move on to where changes could be made to preserve the deck’s theme but also make it function just a bit better.

Why I Prefer this guy

The Master, Transcendant
The Master, Transcedent has a very direct plan. Find the player with the best creatures, mill them, and use those creatures to win. Simple. Compare this to Mothman where you need to hit non-land cards, also keep Rad high, and play your own creatures to boost. Oh, and Mothman has to attack to keep this going. Overall it can make for a slow plan. Not so for The Master. Hit excellent creatures with huge ETB effects and sometimes you proceed to win step.

The stock deck has elements that work with each Commander, but there are several effects that are at odds with one another. Let me explain.

…Better Than Cultivate?

The presence of Rad and Ramp forces a difficult choice upon the player piloting Mutant Menace. Do you get your Rad Counter engine off the ground, or start ramping as soon as possible?

Glowing One is certainly worse than Cultivate. There’s also Infesting Radroach and Vexing Radgull alongside Rampant Growth and Farseek. All of these cards want to hit the battlefield as quickly as possible, and its tough to know which choice is the correct one.

The problem is that there is far more uncertainty in playing a creature that must deal combat damage to get an effect than simply ramping. But the later you hold off on playing an early, small creature that must attack for value, the lower its value. Well, the deck also has Sol Ring and other mana rocks as well.

Waiting to cast The Master does not change its effectiveness. In fact, it’s probably better later with additional mill pieces in play. Mothman, however, wants to get into play ASAP. It gives Rad to everyone and it needs to attack to continue. But on top of this, the deck also has cards like Hardened Scales, Winding Constrictor and Branching Evolution that also want to be down before you do anything else so you get extra value.

Every Choice is Wrong

As you can see, there are several effects all vying for your early mana. The problem is you don’t know if you need to increase Rad first, or get more +1/+1 counters. If you do either of those, you miss ramping. Additionally, if you hit one or two lands right away on the mill triggers, nothing happens. It may have been because many pods I played in were trying the Fallout precons, but my results were poor. Mothman was generating a single +1/+1 counter, not per turn, per round. Unlucky, I guess, but it happened in more than one game.

The fact remains. The choice between playing acceleration, an early attacker, or a +1/+1 value piece yields hard to quantify results. I felt that forcing the deck into a more focused play pattern reduced cognitive dissonance, analysis paralysis, and regret. This pre-game decision made all future choices significantly easier. For fans of the Mothman I salute you but, for me, The Master is where it’s at.

Dream Scenarios

I never got to do something busted like Feral Ghoul, or Bloatfly Swarm armed with a Power Fist. Likewise, I never had a Vault 12: The Necropolis generate a gazillion Zombie Mutants or cast a massive Nuclear Fallout. My games with Mutant Menace revolved around having multiple three drops in hand and Mothman generating very little value. The potential is there, but at the same time, Mutant Menace can victimize itself with self mill. This is another thing that using The Master fixes.

One card that did prove its worth, though, was Watchful Radstag. This is a one card combo. It easily gets completely out of control and does not need help doing so. In fact, you might think that cards like Hardened scales helps the Radstag. But unfortunately it’s a little bit of a nonbo. Why?

Well, your first Radstag will be a 2/2. It will turn into a 3/3 when it evolves, and then you’ll make another 2/2 copy. But if you have a Scales effect in play, it would become a 4/4. A 4/4 is simply harder to evolve than a 3/3. It’s way better to get two evolve triggers off a creature than one. Most of the time, though, an army of Radstags was extremely easy to amass. They clogged up the ground long enough for The Wise Mothman to do its thing. Of course, as mentioned, you sort of don’t want to put the counters Mothman generates on your Stags.

Read More: Top Five Most Broken MTG Modern Decks of All Time

Poor Protection

Furthermore while Mutant Menace has both Inspiring Call and Mutational Advantage as protection effects, they simply didn’t work. First, they are conditional. Saving just one creature that has a counter on it isn’t very good, so hopefully your Mothman doled out enough counters to protect everything. Next, paying three mana to do so can be difficult. The deck is full of four and higher cost cards so keeping three mana open is a significant drain. The fact that neither commander enters the battlefield with protection up is a bit of a deck construction failure. Cathedral Acolyte is in the deck but, again, consider the intense fight for priority of your early spells.

Consider These Cuts

Lumbering Megasloth, Biomass Mutation, Recon Craft Theta, Nuka-Nuke Launcher, Corpsejack Menace, Harold and Bob, First Numens, Radstorm.

Much like Scrappy Survivors, Mutant Menance is not unplayable or particularly low power. The real issue is that each theme and sub-theme are related but not completely synergistic. For example, using creatures that give Rad on combat damage. These seems like a slam dunk idea for either commander until it hits a table. If your deck’s game plan relies heavily on a 2/2 or flyer 1/1 to function, prepare to be a bit disappointed when it doesn’t exactly work. Radstorm is another card that is clearly amazing but not for this deck because it will be dreadfully difficult to get more than, say, storm two.

What can be Done?

It’s time to revamp Mutant Menace by turning it up to 11 with mill and theft. Unwinding Clock and Clock of Omens are going to allow you to untap The Master multiple times per turn to steal to your heart’s content. Grindclock works with the proliferate theme, untaps and mills.

Instill Energy gives you both haste and an additional activation every turn for The Master. At only one mana it’s an absolute steal. Voltaic Key and Manifold Key are additional cheap untap effects with big synergy.

Instead of expensive, three mana, conditional spells, the unbiquitous Swiftfoot Boots and Lightning Greaves increase your artifact count and help protect The Master. You don’t have to keep mana open and you do not have to make these hit the table until everything else is set up.

The deck can pull off a heck of a turn with Legolas’s Quick Reflexes. In combination with multiple untap effects it allows you to remove just about anything while simultaneously stealing. At one mana and with Split Second this card should be completely unexpected for the deck but looks wildly effective.

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis with Altar of Dementia gives you a massive mill booster and works well with Watchful Radstag to evolve over and over again which can let you re-cast Hogaak many times.

Finally, if you’re looking for another combo enabler you can consider the classic Basalt Monolith plus Mesmeric Orb combo for infinite self mill. The Mesmeric Orb, though, is one of the strongest mill cards around and it’s only two colorless mana so it interferes with your early turns less than virtually any other card. This card has spiked heavily in recent days, so it could be a bigger financial investment than you expect.

The Beauty Behind the Beast

How many mono-blue creatures have Vigilance? Pre-2023 it’s a handful. When I see a card like Mirelurk Queen I can recognize it’s not a powerful card. That said, it is a unique one and it deserves its time in the sun.

I’m going to build around The Master, another unique card, but utilize as much of the deck as possible and even keep the +1/+1 counters sub-theme on top of that. The play experience this deck will generate will be completely different than a relatively standard evolve, proliferate, +1/+1 counters deck, even though many of those cards remain. Heck, I’m even going to keep The Wise Mothman because it generates Rad. It may have come down to a string of bad luck, but for me Mutant Menace performed the worst of all the Fallout decks. That being said, there’s clearly a lot of design space to explore and I am choosing to take the deck into a heavy mill and theft theme.

Read More: Go-Wide Fallout Commander Precon is the Best by Far

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