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Budget Commander: $20 "Wade Into Battle" Upgrade


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You've picked up Wade Into Battle as your preconstructed Commander 2015 deck. Let's be honest here: you want to smash face, so you picked the gal that's all about smashing face. While the other decks want to durdle, you're here to bring the pain, knock down everyones' life totals, and yell, "HULK SMASH!" You picked the right deck!

Let's check out the deck right out of the box:

I was skeptical about Wade Into Battle when it was first announced, as casting big creatures in White / Red is a strategy that doesn't have much support in Commander. I was pleasantly surprised when I got to check out the list and pilot it for a few games. Wade Into Battle is a remarkably strong and well-designed deck that can stand toe to toe with its other Commander 2015 brethren. While the mana curve is staggeringly high, the designers included 13 ramp cards to get you dropping bombs faster than you think. It was a ton of fun and a refreshingly different take on White / Red.

 

Here Be Giants

Red / White has traditionally been about only one thing: Weenie Aggro. You make a bunch of token weenies, and you swing wide, again and again. Sometimes there's a subtheme of creatures with double strike, but it's only used as added support to token swarm strategies. White and Red have iconic big creatures, Angels and Dragons respectively. Combine the two colors, however, and it's small creatures all day long. We've seen this theme play out for years and years now. There's nothing wrong with that, and it's a style I enjoy, but it would be nice if Wizards of the Coast tried exploring new design space instead of rehashing the same archetype Ad Nauseam.

To my delight, Wizards did shake things up with Commander 2015! Instead of going with the usual Red-White Token Aggro "go wide" strategy, we got the return of Giant tribal, the "go tall" strategy, which was only done once in Lorwyn block. These are big, beefy creatures, small in number but each packing a wallop. There's also a really cool "Earthquake" subtheme going on with Giants, where they pair up with mass damage abilities that kill off weaker creatures.  Look at Magma Giant. It synergizes nicely with the tribe and feels very Red. I love it!

Giant tribal is the main theme of the Wade Into Battle preconstructed deck. Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas leads the charge.There is a problem with bringing back Giant tribal, however: a lack of archetype support. Giant tribal was only ever supported in Lorwyn block and only a small slice of the card pool at that. Thundercloud Shaman was pretty much the only good incentive to stick with the tribe. While Giants have been printed in other sets, they've never been given further incentive to play a Giants tribal deck. Does Wade Into Battle offer new incentives to stick with the tribe?

Eh, not really. We got Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas leading the deck, along with Warchief Giant and Kalemne's Captain. None of these are particularly great or specifically reward you for playing Giants. Kalemne, Disciple of Iroas benefits when you play giants, but really, any expensive creature works just as well. There's no new Thundercloud Shaman to give the tribe a boost.

While Wade Into Battle is an awesome preconstructed deck and a serious contender with the other Commander 2015 decks, players looking to upgrade the Giant tribe will quickly hit a ceiling. There's about two other good Giants that aren't in the preconstructed deck and that's about it. You can't take it further. You can upgrade everything else about the deck: ramp, removal, draw, etc. But if you're looking to upgrade your creatures, you may need to consider switching out the Giants themselves, unfortunately.

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Stomping Out The Bad

Since Wade Into Battle is a Giant tribal deck, that's what we're going to stick with. I'm not going to be too critical on the Giants presented, though I recommend taking out Arbiter of Knollridge because it goes against the aggro mentality of the deck. The mana curve is super top-heavy, so we're going to fix that by removing a lot of the expensive cards that aren't Giants. Finally, we're going to take out cards that don't fit the theme (Hunted Dragon) or don't do their job well enough (Fall of the Hammer).

Here are the first cards I'd look to cut for upgrades:

 

$20 Upgrades

There are only a couple of good Giants not already in the deck. Stonehewer Giant is the best of the rest. Red-White is the worst color combinations for ramp, draw, and tutors, but you can address these problems well if you run an Equipment subtheme. Sunforger is possibly the biggest incentive to play in these colors, and, at $1, there's no reason not to pick up a copy. What White-Red is best at, however, are removal and haste enablers. Let's take advantage of that.

Put it all together and here's a $20 sample upgrade list:

 

Here is the Wade Into Battle deck with the recommended card swaps:

 

Budget-less Upgrades

There aren't any pricey Giants left to pick up, but there's still plenty of money cards you can toss in to make the deck better:

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That's All of 'em!

This marks the end of our five part series. I hope this series helps you with your first steps towards making the preconstructed decks your own. Our next Budget Commander will return to the usual $50 deck primers chosen by the poll results.


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