Lazav, the Multifarious
25, Jan, 24

Revenant Recon Commander Deck Surveils to Success With Stellar Staples

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At long last, today is the final day in Murders at Karlov Manor’s spoiler season. With hundreds of cards having been revealed so far, there’s certainly a lot to digest already. For better or worse, however, Wizards isn’t stopping there. To end spoiler season with a bang, each of Murders at Karlov Manor’s preconstructed Commander decks is being revealed today. So far, we’ve covered two of these; Blame Game and Deep Clue Sea. The latest to be revealed is Revenant Recon, which I have the honor of taking you through.

Focused around Surveil, Revenant Recon is a Dimir deck that specializes in growing threats and sculpting your library. To do this, the deck features a concoction of classic Dimir reprints, as well as a handful of new cards. Each supporting this deck’s archetype, many of these new cards are utterly insane, with others being intriguingly mysterious.

As a 100-card Commander deck, sadly, we can’t cover every single card within Revenant Recon in detail. Thankfully, however, we can cover all the best bits that make this deck worth your while. So, if you’re looking for the lowdown on all the new cards and best reprints, we’ve got you covered!

The Face Commander

Mirko, Obsessive Theorist

To kick off this Revenant Recon round-up, we’d be remiss not to talk about Mirko, Obsessive Theorist. As the face Commander for this deck, this is the card Wizards recommends helm your deck. While they might not be the most adorable option, they’re certainly powerful in this position.

Heavily synergizing with the deck’s Surveil theme, Mirko, Obsessive Theorist can quickly scale into a major threat. Not held back by any “once per turn” clause, Mirko doesn’t wait around to become deadly. Beyond being a scaling threat dishing out Commander damage, Mirko is also a fantastic resurrection engine.

With enough power behind them, Mirko can resurrect creatures with frightening ease. While these creatures do come into play with a Finality Counter on them, this effect is nonetheless incredibly useful. Should you want your creatures to stick around for longer, Vampire Hexmage is always an optional sacrificial lamb.

All in all, Mirko, Obsessive Theorist looks like a great Commander for the Revenant Recon deck through their Surveil synergy. If you’re after a more adorable Commander option, however, then you won’t be disappointed!

Clash Is Back!

Marvo, Deep Operative

Last seen in Commander 2011, MTG players haven’t seen Clash in an awfully long time. For 2024, however, Wizards of the Coast is bringing it back for Revenant Recon! Appearing on Marvo, Deep Operative, Clash has you and an opponent duel it out using your libraries as your champions. 

During a Clash, you and your opponent both reveal the top card of your library, whichever card has the highest mana cost, wins. As you might expect, if you win the Clash you’ll get a pretty sizable benefit to make it all worthwhile. Thankfully, should your opponent win the Clash, they get nothing but bragging rights.

As you can see above, if you win a Clash with Marvo, Deep Operative in play, you get an awful lot. Not only do you draw a card, but you also get to cast up to an 8-mana spell for free. Considering every card, bar one, within Revenant Recon is a legal target for this ability, it’s obscenely powerful.

Technically, while this ability is strong, you never know if you’re going to win a Clash. That being said, however, since Surveil is this deck’s theme, you can easily sculpt the top of your library. By doing this, there’s a good chance that you might be able to win every Clash that you trigger. 

Unfortunately, as powerful as this Clash ability is, Marvo does have to attack to activate theirs. In theory, their massive toughness should keep them safe, however, this is nonetheless a risk. Thankfully, however, this risk can be circumvented rather easily since Marvo activates whenever you win a clash. With this in mind, adding old Clash cards like Research the Deep to the 99 seems like a great idea.

A Criminally Cheap Copy Engine

Case of the Shifting Visage

For just three mana, the Case of the Shifting Visage can copy every non-legendary creature in your deck. Doubling up on the creatures you cast, this spell is insane within any deck, as long as it has creatures and can fill the grave. Whether you want more Surveil triggers from this deck or just to swing in twice as hard, Case of the Shifting Visage works wonders.

As a Case, technically, you do have to solve the Case of the Shifting Visage to get its impressive ultimate ability. This, however, is far easier done than said in Commander. Unless your graveyard is cleared by Relic of Progenitus, achieving this requirement is incredibly easy. That said, decks that want to fill their graveyards can generally speed along the process, and may want this even more.

Within Revenant Recon, hitting this target is even easier than usual thanks to Surveil. Naturally filling the graveyard with ease, you’ll struggle to have less than 15 cards in your graveyard. When you factor in the fact that Case of the Shifting Visage Surveils every turn, this Case practically solves itself!

Catch Copy Catchers Making Copies

Copy Catchers

Aptly for their name, Copy Catchers is all about making copies of themselves whenever you Surveil. Considering the entire point of Revenant Recon is to Surveil a whole bunch, this will certainly be happening a lot. Well, it will, at least, provided that you can afford to pay every single time.

At a cost of 2 mana for each copy, creating an army of Copy Catchers isn’t the most affordable strategy. That being said, however, it is a rather deadly mana sink since 2/1s with Flying are an absolute menace. Should you buff up their Faeries with a lord or two, you’ll quickly have yourself a board wipe-worthy threat!

On their own, even if you don’t revolve your entire game around them, Copy Catchers are a worthwhile value engine. Even if you’re not activating their ability every single time, the option will prove valuable over the entire game. Thanks to this, when Surveiling, this Faerie is definitely one to keep your eye out for.

Universes Beyond: Columbo?!

Final-Word Phantom

Okay, so, first things first, Final-Word Phantom isn’t technically MTG’s bizarre Columbo crossover. That being said, however, the flavor text is literally their catchphrase, so there’s no denying the reference. All that aside, Final-Word Phantom is an incredibly useful card that can briefly give all your cards Flash.

Unfortunately, to limit the effectiveness of this ability, spells you cast only get Flash during your opponent’s end step. While this is a major drawback, it’s nonetheless more than enough time to wreak havoc. Whether you’re sneaking some end-of-turn value or dropping an extra blocker, you’ve now got the freedom to do exactly that.

While the world is your oyster during each opponent’s end step, Final-Word Phantom isn’t to be dismissed themselves. As a 1/4 with Flying, this Spirit Detective can do some good defensive work themselves. Regardless of what you want them for, this new card is definitely worth considering for your corporeally challenged Commander decks.

The Biggest Buffest Sphinx

Watcher of Hours

As a 6/6 for 6, Watcher of Hours is almost on par with being the biggest Sphinx in MTG. Unfortunately, that honor instead goes to the 8/7 Goliath Sphinx. While this does diminish their provenance a little, Watcher of Hours is easily the buffest Sphinx in all MTG and it’s not even close.

Stature aside, Watcher of Hours is incredibly useful within Revenant Recon as a Surveil engine. After paying just two mana for their Suspend cost, you get to Surveil six times over six turns. Following this, admittedly rather lengthy, wait, you get an absolute behemoth of a Sphinx to dish out damage with.

Once in play, Watcher of Hours is an absolutely incredible body thanks to Flying and Ward 3. Through these effects combined, getting rid of this beatdown engine is easier said than done. So much so, in fact, that even just paying the raw 6 mana casting cost isn’t a bad deal. If you can afford to wait, however, the extra Surveil value is a godsend within this deck.

Practically Endless Reanimation

Charnel Serenade

Continuing a cycle originally from Future Sight, Charnel Serenade literally never goes away. Once you cast it, from Suspend or anywhere else, it gets Suspended once it resolves. This creates a mini infinite loop, albeit rather a slow one since Charnel Serenade gets three Time Counters each time.

While Charnel Serenade might not give you a benefit each turn, this card is definitely worth playing. Not only is Surveil 3 incredibly useful within Revenant Recon, but you also get practically free reanimation. With this effect happening time and time again, you can easily bring back every major threat you’ve ever used!

Unfortunately, while endless reanimation does sound incredibly powerful, it is a little too good to be true. When reanimating a creature with Charnel Serenade they return with a Finality Counter on them. Unless you have a reliable way to remove these, this means your best threats may end up exiled. While this is definitely a downside, ultimately, it’s not enough to pass up on cheap and consistent reanimation.

An Eye for Value

Eye of Duskmantle

As if Revenant Recon didn’t have enough reanimation engines already, Eye of Duskmantle lets you capitalize on each Surveil trigger. Allowing you to play the cards you Surveiled into your graveyard each turn, this massive Eye ensures nothing goes to waste. Already, this efficiently turns each Surveil trigger into card draw, however, Eye of Duskmantle doesn’t stop there.

Rather than paying for the Surveiled spells with boring ol’ mana, Eye of Duskmantle has you to pay with life. Since life in Commander is an abundant resource, this is another very welcome upside that you can exploit. Whether you’re playing a land for free or six for Watcher of Hours, this effect offers value galore.

Unfortunately, since there has to be one downside, Eye of Duskmantle does cost seven mana. While they could be cheated out with Marvo, Deep Operative, most of the time they’re only a mid-to-late-game threat. Here, you may have already Surveiled away some of your best cards, so don’t always expect the world from them.

All Aboard the Doom Boat

Forboding Steamboat

At five mana, Foreboding Steamboat is rather expensive, and unusual, for a prison effect. Affecting not just each opponent but also yourself, Foreboding Steamboat is capable of carving quite the wake through the board. As powerful as this sounds, however, you’ll likely not capture all the big threats you might hope for.

When boarding the Foreboding Steamboat, each opponent chooses their own cards to exile. Should they have plenty of chump blockers, this may lead to Foreboding Steamboat being a complete dud. Technically, when against the right board it could be a bomb, however, in Commander, you sadly can’t count on that.

Should you hit the targets you hope for, Foreboding Steamboat is able to make its removal more permanent. By attacking, you can put one of the exiled cards into the graveyard, keeping the opponent from getting it back. In theory, this is another major upside, however, having to attack to get this trigger is a definite risk.

Yet Another Source of Surveil

Unshakable Tail

Since it is the theme of the deck, we can’t really be surprised that Revenant Recon has so many Surveil cards. Saying that, however, Unshakable Tail really is another in an already long list of consistent Surveil engines. Offering a Surveil trigger every single turn, and when they’re played this card offers remarkably consistent value.

Beyond letting you easily sculpt the top of your deck, Unshakable Tail also makes each Surveil more valuable. Should you put a creature into your graveyard from your library, you get a Clue! If you really want to blitz through your deck and mill yourself out, this can easily provide oodles of card draw.

Should you not want to be constantly cracking clues and drawing cards, they can also be used to resurrect Unshakable Tail. Aptly living up to their name, this makes them rather hard to get rid of so you can keep Surveiling.

Nice Spell, but What Do You Think of This?

Counterpoint

If you’re not content with just countering your opponent’s spells and making them weep, Counterpoint is the card for you. Sure, at five mana this card is far from cheap, however, its added ability more than makes up for it. After countering a spell, you get to reanimate a cheaper spell from your graveyard.

Since you can potentially reanimate a spell that costs more than Counterpoint, this effect has absolute stellar potential. Unfortunately, however, realizing this potential isn’t guaranteed, even in Commander. Sure, Commander is full of massive spells, allowing you to reanimate anything, but can you really wait around that long?

Ultimately, even if you have to use Counterpoint early to protect yourself, it can still offer decent value. Most of the time, however, you might be better off just sticking with a regular Counterspell and getting the job done cheaply.

Bonus Points for Being Mysterious

Ransom Note

Last not not least for the new spells within Revenant Recon, we have Ranson Note. On its own, this card is admittedly kind of meh, even if it is cheap. Offering a Surveil trigger and then a trio of optional abilities, Ranson Note has a fair bit of utility. Unfortunately for anyone hoping for a big finish, however, that moderate utility is all you get.

Well, that’s all you get from the card itself, at least. During the reveal from LoadingReadyRun, it appears this card has some tricks up its sleeves. Briefly showcased with blurred art, it appears variants of Ransom Note may hint toward Murders at Karlov Manor’s ARG. Since the art was blurred and adorned with “Spoilers??”, sadly aren’t getting any advance clues yet. Thankfully, however, we should find out more soon, since the set’s release date is only two weeks away.

Stacked Surveil Reprints

Necromancy

Finally, now that we’ve covered all the exciting new cards, it’s high time we cover the classics. Thankfully, in this regard, Revenant Recon doesn’t disappoint. In fact, this Commander deck is utterly loaded with value. Looking at the nine most expensive cards on their own, this deck contains a staggering $95 of reprints! Considering the deck costs $46, this is one hell of a deal, to say the least.

As good as this value seems at first, it’s worth remembering that this deck is sure to fly off shelves. Due to this, the insane prices likely aren’t going to last very long at all. The same is true for the Deep Clue Sea deck which offers some of the best reprint value we’ve ever seen. While this expected drop in value may be disappointing to some, for casual players, this entire set is a godsend.

To get onto the actual cards themselves, three cards within Revenant Recon are each worth over $14. Having only been reprinted once before, the new copies of Necromancy and Rise of the Dark Realms are godsends. Hopefully, the same will be true for Reanimate’s reprint, however, this card is a casual and constructed staple.

Bulking out the deck’s value at little, there are a good handful of cards each worth between $5-$10. Out of these, the spiciest is easily Phyrexian Metamorph which adds a cheap copy effect to the deck. Alongside this beloved staple, Toxic Deluge is a devastating board wipe that can do some serious damage. If you’re looking to cast spells rather than deal damage, however, this deck also has you covered with Sphinx of the Second Sun.

You Can’t Go Wrong

At the end of the day, from what’ve seen of Murders at Karlov Manor’s Commander decks so far, you really can’t go wrong. Each one appears to be loaded with not just incredible cards, but also a huge bounty of reprints. Hopefully, considering the rising cost of these decks, this will become a trend going forward. For now, we just hope that each of these decks will play with one another once they are released. For that, however, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Read More: Murders at Karlov Manor Spoils Suite of Spectacular 2-Drops

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