Browse > Home / Strategy / Articles / "Arm for Battle" Commander Legends Precon Upgrade | $20, $200 | Auras | Equipment

"Arm for Battle" Commander Legends Precon Upgrade | $20, $200 | Auras | Equipment


Commander Legends preconstructed decks have just been revealed which means it's time for another round of my precon upgrades! I'll first go over how each preconstructed deck plays, why you should buy it, and the various directions that you can upgrade the deck and make it your own, including sample $20 and $200 upgrade lists.

We start with the deck that I'm personally super hyped for: Arm for Battle! This is an aggressive Voltron deck that's entirely focused on our brand new commander, Wyleth, Soul of Steel.

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Wyleth is one of the most powerful Boros commanders ever printed. He rewards you for loading him up with auras and equipments, drawing you a card for each one attached to him whenever he attacks. This lets you focus on turning Wyleth into a game-ending beatstick while naturally keeping your hand full of action in the process. The precon encourages you to do just that, letting you suit up Wyleth with auras like On Serra's Wings and Blackblade Reforged to turn Wyleth into a powerhouse while Wyleth draws us more and more cards. The rest of the deck is focused on ways to protect our commander with cards like Timely Ward and ways to remove opposing threats with cards like Wear // Tear.

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If you're interested in an aggressive Boros Voltron deck that rewards you for loading up on auras and equipments by drawing you tons of cards, then Arm for Battle is the preconstructed deck for you. Let's quickly go over the stock list:

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Our deck is all about suiting up and smashing with our commander and the preconstructed deck does a pretty decent job of supporting that goal right out of the box. I count 19 cards that pump up Wyleth while also fueling our commander's powerful card draw ability -- 5 auras and 14 equipment, plus one equipment tutor. On top of the cards that suit up Wyleth, the deck also includes two extra combat cards which drastically increase Wyleth's damage output and the number of cards you can draw off him. The rest of the deck focuses mainly to protect our commander and remove opposing threats.

Now that we've had a quick glance at the list and what it aims to do, let's do a deeper analysis of the deck and see how well it accomplishes its goals.

Analyzing the Precon

As I often explain in my Budget Commander articles, every time I build a rough draft of a deck, I make sure I have a certain ratio of mana, interaction, card advantage, etc. This gives me a reference point to compare to the deck and see which areas may need improvement. My general ratio is:

  • 50 mana; lands and ramp, usually a 37–13 split
  • 10 card draw; cards that net you 2+ cards in hand
  • 8 targeted removal; split between creature / artifact / enchantment removal and countermagic
  • 3 board wipes; creature-light decks might want one more, creature-heavy decks might want one less
  • 2 graveyard recursion
  • 2 flexible tutors; higher budgets I recommend more tutors
  • 1 graveyard hate; since you need to keep Graveyard decks honest 
  • 1 surprise "I Win" card; something that can win games the turn you cast it without too much setup

That's always my starting point, which is then tweaked to suit the individual deck's strategy and further tweaked with playtesting. I always find it immensely useful to figure out some quick ways to improve the deck in question.

Let's see what the rough ratios are for Arm for Battle and how it compares:

Now that we've checked out the general ratios, let's take a closer look at the cards we're working with:

40 Lands. I'm a bit perplexed as to why a deck with such an aggressive mana curve has so many lands. If I had to guess, I think it's due to keeping the precon's value low. This deck really wants low cmc ramp to deploy Wyleth and suit him up as quickly as possible, which would require good 1-2cmc ramp options to pull off, but unfortunately most low cmc ramp options are expensive these days and the cheaper 3+cmc ramp they could've added just don't do much when Wyleth himself wants to be cast on turn 3 or earlier. So instead of adding bad ramp they just added more lands instead to make sure you keep hitting land drops, which isn't ideal but better than the alternative.

Anyway, the lands are pretty serviceable here. Highlights include Rogue's Passage, Slayers' Stronghold, and Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion as lategame mana sinks to push through extra damage. The only outright terrible lands are Transguild Promenade and Rupture Spire, which are both incredibly slow lands which is the exact opposite of what you'd want in an aggressive deck.

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5 Ramp. All the ramp included in the precon is very good. We've got generic staples like Sol Ring alongside synergy options like Explorer's Scope which gets way better as a cheap way to trigger Wyleth's card draw and Danitha Capashen, Paragon which helps ramp but also is a solid backup beater in case Wyleth gets shut down. We also have two great ways to save on equip costs with Brass Squire and Sigarda's Aid. Unfortunately though it's just not enough. The deck desperately wants a few more good ramp options to fill it out.

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3 Card Draw. As for card draw, the low number is misleading since Wyleth is such an absurdly strong source of draw, and since the entire deck revolves around him the deck draws a lot more cards than the numbers would suggest. However, if Wyleth is shut down then the deck is completely out of gas. Sram, Senior Edificer is a great alternative source, but a few other card draw sources to help us refill will be needed to properly recover once Wyleth gets shut down.

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12 Targeted Removal. The removal package is definitely a highlight of the precon. There's a bunch of staples here like Swords to Plowshares and Wear // Tear. There's also flexible options like Valorous Stance that can double as protection for Wyleth. The focus on cheap, targeted removal is a good call in this deck since most of our mana will be spent suiting up Wyleth and keeping just a little bit extra up for instant speed answers. It may be bit too much, but at least it's not too little.

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3 Board Wipes. Winds of Rath is a great board wipe here since it spares Wyleth as long as we put an aura on him first. Volcanic Fallout is an interesting way of sweeping away weenies off the table while not killing a suited up Wyleth. I think Martial Coup is the weakest wipe here, giving the deck a bit of lategame oomph but we can't really take advantage of the tokens it produces.

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2 Graveyard Recursion. Ironclad Slayer is fine. It's not exciting recursion, but it does its job, plus it's another body we can equip if needed. Tiana, Ship's Caretaker is more protection than recursion in this deck, also not exciting.

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2 Flexible Tutors. Relic Seeker is okay. It's an efficient tutor that you can equip if needed. The only problem is it has no built-in evasion so it can have difficulty triggering its tutor especially mid-to-lategame. The other tutor is one of the best cards in the entire deck: Sunforger. This equipment lets you find the right instant for any situation, acting as both a swiss army knife and incremental card advantage. The precon is loaded with tutor targets and also has ways to lower the mana cost of activation, such as removing the equip cost with Brass Squire.

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0 Graveyard Hate. Graveyard hate is an important and often neglected aspect to deckbuilding in Commander, which unfortunately is the case in this precon too. Graveyard recursion is incredibly powerful and popular in the format and every deck should have some way of stopping it.

2 Surprise "I Win" Cards. After a long grueling game that has Wyleth shut out, you can always dump your mana into an instant speed White Sun's Zenith to win with a surprise token army or dish out the last bits of damage with Comet Storm. It's simple but it works!

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The Aura / Equipment Core. While Wyleth himself supports both Auras and Equipment equally, the precon leans heavily on the Equipment end: there's 14 equipment cards and only 5 auras, plus the support cards favor equipment. So for upgrading the deck it's a lot less work transforming it into an Equipment-focused deck than an Aura one. As for the Equipments and Auras themselves ... well, they kinda suck for the most part. There's a few great standouts like Blackblade Reforged which is a huge buff to Wyleth, Swiftfoot Boots offering both haste and hexproof, and of course Sunforger, which lets the deck repeatedly tutor up the best answer to any situation.

However there's also a lot of filler in the deck, like Ring of Valkas, Haunted Cloak, and Sword of Vengeance. There's a lot of redundant mediocre equipment that you'll hate to draw more than one of. I suspect the issue designing this deck was that most of the better equipment are expensive and they wanted to keep the price down. But if that was the case, why not focus on Auras? Auras are a much more budget-friendly archetype to build effectively than Equipment. An Aura version of this precon would be a lot more well-rounded and powerful at this price point, while Equipment strategies really shine more at higher budgets. Regardless, even the bad equipment can turn into card draw with Wyleth, so it's not all bad.

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$20 Arm for Battle Upgrade

To tune Arm for Battle into a more powerful, focused Voltron deck we're going to make the following swaps:

  • More ramp
  • More card draw
  • More auras / equipment

That's what we want to add to the deck. We can safely cut cards that don't match what the deck is trying to do, which is Wyleth Voltron.

Here are the first cards I'd add on a $20 budget:

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And that's it! Okay bye! Article done!

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...

Okay fine here's an alternative to Kaldra for you non-believers. I've bumped up the amount of Equipment and Auras in the deck, added more ramp with cards like Knight of the White Orchid, Everflowing Chalice, and Dowsing Dagger, added more card draw with Akiri, Fearless Voyager, Puresteel Paladin, and Mask of Memory, and generally increased the speed and efficiency of the deck:

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And here are the cards I'll cut for the upgrades:

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Finally, here's Arm for Battle with the $20 upgrades installed:

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$200 Arm for Battle Upgrade

The $200 upgrade shifts the precon towards a more pure Equipment Voltron strategy. We've started picking up the remaining best Equipments like Sword of Sinew and Steel and best Equipment support cards like Stoneforge Mystic. We're also making Wyleth far more deadly with extra combat spells like Seize the Day. The Equipment archetype is still a very expensive one though so we can't fit all the staples even with $200, but this is an excellent version nonetheless.

Here are the $200 additions:

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Here are the cuts:

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And here's how the deck looks with the changes made:

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Next Up: "Reap the Tide" Precon Upgrade

I'll be back soon with the Simic Landfall upgrade!

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