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Budget Commander: $20 "Breed Lethality" Upgrade

We're back with part 2 of a 5-part series on the new Commander 2016 preconstructed decks where we help you guys choose the right deck for you, including an analysis of the unaltered deck, along with suggestions on how to start upgrading them on a budget. Be sure to check out the previous article if you haven't already: Stalwart Unity.

This time we'll be inspecting the Breed Lethality deck, which focuses on growing your board state bigger and bigger with tons of counter synergies.

You might like the deck if ...

  • You like growing your board bigger and bigger until it overwhelms your foes
  • You love counters and adding more of them to everything
  • You love highly synergistic decks
  • You reeeeally love counters of all kinds, everywhere!

You might NOT like the deck if ...

  • You hate counters
  • You'd rather have big, explosive turns instead of developing your board more gradually
  • You want to play a deck with Red

If this deck sounds cool to you, then great! Let's take a closer look, starting with the full preconstructed list:

Breed Lethality is a deck focused on counter synergies. Most cards either put counters on themselves or your other permanents. The more counters you add to your permanents, the more powerful they become: Astral Cornucopia adds mana for each counter on it, Fathom Mage draws cards, and Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker becomes an enormous flying threat in no time. There's a huge variety of overlapping synergies when it comes to counters, and the deck's main commander, Atraxa, Praetors' Voice, supports all of them:

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Atraxa, Praetors' Voice is a powerful commander. Not only does she have impressive stats for combat, but her free proliferate trigger adds an additional counter of any type, making her a very flexible and open-ended commander to build around. Because of this, people have already been brainstorming using her to lead a number of archetypes, including:

  • +1/+1Certainly the most popular form of counters in all of Magic are +1/+1 counters. Many mechanics revolve around adding +1/+1 counters to creatures, from evolve (Renegade Krasis) to outlast (Herald of Anafenza) and so much more. +1/+1 Counter decks in Commander are drowning in sweet options.
  • Poison. Although life totals in Commander are bumped up to 40 instead of the usual 20 in 1v1 formats, poison counters remain the same: 10 poison counters on a player is lethal. This makes Infect decks "doubly" effective in Commander, with the only thing holding back the archetype from being oppressive is the low card pool of quality infect cards. Adding another way to proliferate poison counters is a huge boost to the archetype's viability.
  • Loyalty. Planeswalkers (e.g. Jace Beleren) all use loyalty counters as a resource for their activated abilities. Adding extra loyalty counters makes them do silly things, such as using their ultimate abilities immediately. Decks built around abusing planeswalkers, called Superfriends, love proliferate for this reason.
  • Energy. Hot off the Kaladesh set are energy counters, a new resource that the player acquires and can then spend through cards that use energy. When energy counters were designed, proliferate was specifically brought up as a mechanic that synergizes well with energy, and now we get to see that synergy in action.
  • Other. There's a ton of other random types of counters out there, such as charge (Vivid Marsh), experience (Ezuri, Claw of Progress), age (Glacial Chasm), level (Lighthouse Chronologist), and so much more.

When Atraxa, Praetors' Voice was first spoiled, I made a quick guide on how to use her at the head of a Superfriends deck. For this article, I'll be discussing how to build a +1/+1 deck around her.


+1/+1 Counters

Right out of the box, Breed Lethality is focused specifically on +1/+1 counters. We have a card that uses charge counters (Astral Cornucopia), -1/-1 counters (Cauldron of Souls), and storage counters (Dreadship Reef), but everything else deals with +1/+1 counters. So for our purposes, we already have a great deck to start with. In fact, out of all the preconstructed decks, Breed Lethality is the one that has the tightest, most focused single-themed deck out of the bunch, so if you want to play a +1/+1 counter deck there's not much you really need to change about it!

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How It Plays

Breed Lethality is all about growing your permanents by adding more and more counters to them until you overwhelm your foes. Your creatures may start small, but they scale alarmingly fast in a multiplayer environment and must be quickly answered or else you'll start swinging for lethal. It goes like this:

  1. Ramp (Astral Cornucopia), drop down some initial threats (Champion of Lambholt), and police the board (Duneblast).
  2. Grow your permanents (Kalonian Hydra) and give them additional utility (Abzan Falconer).
  3. Swing your massive threats filled with +1/+1 counters (Vulturous Zombie) for lethal damage.

The deck has a straightforward but effective approach to winning: grow big creatures and smash with them. No trickery here. Since so many of your creatures quickly grow into game-winning threats, you don't have to commit heavily to the board, which means more cards can stay in your hand and you're in a better position to reset the board with cards like Sublime Exhalation since your opponents will lose way more stuff than you will.


Removing Imperfections

While Breed Lethality is already great right out of the box as a +1/+1 Counter deck, there are some cards that either do not fit the archetype we're going for (Duelist's Heritage) or just aren't very good at their role (Festercreep). These are the first cards I'd recommend removing to make room for upgrades:


Compleation on a Budget

Here's a list of $5 or less upgrade options for Breed Lethality to give you ideas on where to take the deck. Most of the cards listed will stick with the counters theme, but I've also added some general goodstuff cards as well:

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Picking some of the suggested cards, here's what you can add for $20:


Here is the Breed Lethality deck with the sample swaps:


Glorious Perfection

Looking for some more expensive upgrade options? I've got you covered. The focus is still on cards that fit the +1/+1 counter theme, with a sprinkling of general goodstuff cards.

And finally, a sample budget-less deck list for you guys. I decided to add some combo to the list with Woodfall Primus. With Primus, Ashnod's Altar, and your choice of Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit / Juniper Order Ranger / Cathars' Crusade, you can sacrifice the Primus to the Altar, it'll return to the battlefield with a -1/-1 counter that is immediately removed when you add a +1/+1 counter to it, and then repeat the loop to blow up all your opponent's noncreature permanents (including lands!). 

You can perform similar shenanigans with Ghave, Guru of Spores. Or you can smash face with a giant Managorger Hydra. Up to you! Hope you like it!


2 Down, 3 To Go!

That wraps up Breed Lethality. As always, your feedback is always appreciated. Let me know which preconstructed deck you want to see next and what archetypes you want to see built off them. Thanks for reading!

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