4, Aug, 23

Preconstructed Commander Masters Deck Has an Archenemy Problem

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Article at a Glance

The deck archetype known as “Superfriends” has been around for as long as there have been enough Planeswalkers to make it a reality. Planeswalker Party has a decent amount of Planeswalkers with a highly synergistic commander in Commodore Guff but does it play well? Are there smart includes? Finally is it worth it on a financial, fun or future angle? Let’s take a look!

A Solid Three Color Commander

The Commodore does it all. It creates tokens that act as blockers and mana ramp, you add a loyalty counter to any other Planeswalker and finally it’s both card draw and, technically, a win condition. This is a good commander all told as it’s extremely reliable.

Turn one land, turn two rock. Turn three Guff and make a blocker. From there you get to play a Planeswalker, accelerate it to an ultimate in just a couple of turns, and do your best to defend against the oncoming hatred of the board. This is where Planeswalker Party has a bit of a rough time, and it’s not the deck’s fault.

If you look through your options, every walker with an ultimate ability will be able to use it in three turns or less thanks to Guff and other support in the deck. In each case, once the other players at the table have seen the deck in action, they know that it’s imperative to kill your Planeswalkers.

Furthermore, since Guff can generate a single blocker every turn while also increasing loyalty, just a little bit of pressure isn’t enough. That’s right, if the entire table isn’t working against the Planeswalker Party deck it’s so consistent that you can get incredibly ahead every single game. Because of this, any Superfriends deck is sort of training your opponents that you are the threat at the deck selection screen and they need to gang up on you to keep your Planeswalkers from using an early ultimate ability and heavily tilting the game in your favor.

The deck does make some smart choices in this regard to have excellent defenses against the inevitable archenemy moment. The only problem is if you are the archenemy the moment you sit down and reveal your commander.

Two Good

Minus the extremely questionable inclusions of Cartographer’s Hawk and Oreskos Explorer, the other 11 two drops all make a ton of sense. Practically every two cost mana rock shows up to all but guarantee a turn three Guff which is critical to the deck’s success. With all these rocks, the mana base does not need to be particularly robust. Sure it would be nice if there were better lands included but it’s less important in a pre-con environment.

The pairing of Thrumming Bird and Grateful Apparition give you some explosive potential openers, or alternatively additional blockers early when you need them most. They further help the deck’s potential alternate commander Leori, Sparktouched Hunter if you’re trying to make a creature+Planeswalker hybrid deck and there are several nods to that idea in even the land base with Mobilized District. Of course Onakke Oathkeeper is a home run of a two drop which protects your walkers early game while giving you recursion later.

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All for One

While it does not have a lot of one drops, Planeswalker Party does have some of the best available, particularly the removal package of Path to Exile and Swords to Plowshares which deal with pretty much anything for only one mana.

On top of that cheap removal suite, you also have Blasphemous Act which commonly costs only one mana to remove creatures while leaving your Planeswalkers alive. Urza’s Ruinous Blast deals with many things while also not touching your walkers. With multiple one sided wipes and the best single target removal around you can generally keep accruing value safely.

The Obvious Includes

There were a lot of complaints about how many of these new precons missed “obvious includes” but there’s no question in my mind that Planeswalker Party nailed it with cards like The Chain Veil,Spark Double, Interplanar Beacon and Karn’s Bastion.

Sure, there are tons of cards that work well with a deck like this. Ichormoon Gauntlet is probably the most commonly cited example. It would be completely wrong to say it’s not a great card for pretty much every deck utilizing lots of Planeswalkers and there are other proliferate cards included in the deck right out of the box. However, does that mean a player is now obligated to play every proliferate card? Is that the only sub-theme allowed? What if taking extra turns is relatively hated and or banned in your local meta?

Let me direct you to Honor Worn Shaku and Urza’s Ruinous Blast. These are both “legendary matters” effects and The Chain Veil actually survives the Blast and can be tapped for mana through the Shaku if needed. Does the Gauntlet do that? Nope.

Yes, Ichormoon Gauntlet is better almost every single time. But is it always the best card, in every scenario? No.

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Upgrades? Sure!

For just about a dollar, The Eternal Wanderer is one of the best Planeswalkers you can add. It kills practically everything so long as there are two or more creatures per player. Additionally, since you can almost always generate at least one blocker per turn you should not be threatened by what is left over. Furthermore, Wanderer works with table politics and allows you to effectively pick who keeps what.

Too many suggestions often are about making a deck directly more powerful but ignore the fact that that makes every Commander table a linear arms race. Instead, a card like Wanderer lets you make deals rather than be the archenemy every game. This can, ironically, actually end up winning you more games in the long run.

Ignite the Beacon is another very good include and it costs just pennies. Most groups don’t mind a single tutor, especially at five mana. It’s up to you on if the only reason this is included is to search for Planeswalker combos to end the game, or simply to get answers and value.

After saying not to play Ichormoon Gauntlet (note, I never said not to play it!) you could consider something like Staff of Compleation because it does a little bit of everything…and also proliferates without the threat of taking infinite turns. It also prevents others from stealing your stuff, gives you extra card draw and mana fixing without taking up much build space, and gives you a mana sink for late game scenarios. Furthermore, it’s half the price of the Gauntlet, not that either card is particularly pricey but it’s always good to have many options at every budget.

Speaking of taking infinite turns, a card like Savor the Moment is always a strong include in a Planeswalker based deck but, again, runs afoul of lots of tables that frown upon extra turns. The same can be said for so many different versions of Teferi that can make the deck go from good to too good in the eyes of a particular venue, so tread carefully.

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The Ultimate Question, Is it Worth it?

With a couple of pricey reprints and new cards, Planeswalker Party is worth $60 and pricing is falling to around that level now. No, this would not be worth the $80-$100 price tag that it originally looked to command and that is where a lot of the controversy was justified.

That being said, if I were a player that wanted a Superfriends deck right out of the box, this would not be a poor choice at all. If you keep the deck at the pre-constructed level interacting with other pre-cons, everything is fine. Someone building purely for power or a player that already has an extensive collection of cards, Planeswalkers in particular, is probably better off picking up Guff as a single and tilting the deck in a slightly different direction.

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