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Browse > Home / Strategy / Articles / Precon Upgrades for "Cavalry Charge" | Knights | $30

Precon Upgrades for "Cavalry Charge" | Knights | $30

March of the Machine Commander preconstructed decklists have been revealed and with it comes another round of my precon upgrades. We're going to do a thorough analysis of each deck, highlighting its goals and how well it accomplishes them, check out its deckbuilding fundamentals, identify its strongest and weakest cards, then use all that information to make an optimized $30 upgrade path!

*Note that all the new MOM precons come with a bonus 10 planechase cards (5 new and 5 reprints) that can be used if you run the planechase variant of Commander. They are 100% optional and can be completely ignored if you don't want to use them, and we won't be covering them in this series.

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Cavalry Charge is a White/Blue/Black Knights deck first and foremost with a splash of Go Wide Tokens, Reanimator, and Card Draw subthemes. The goal is to quickly start attacking with Knights to trigger the looting ability of Sidar Jabari of Zhalfir, discard cards we don't need or expensive Knights to reanimate later with Sidar, and keep developing our board with Knights until we eventually can start swinging for lethal with the aid of cards like Knights' Charge.

If you're looking for an Esper Knights deck that draws lots of cards and keeps smashing face then Cavalry Charge is the deck for you!

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The Precon List

Before we talk upgrades, let's take a look at the stock list to see what we're working with:

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Cavalry Charge is a Knights deck and the designers took that tagline very seriously: every single creature card in the deck (33) is a Knight! I don't think I've ever seen such commitment in a tribal precon! There are also 3 more cards that make Knights (Sigiled Sword of Valeron) and a few more tribal specific cards like Conjurer's Mantle. Obviously not all the Knight cards are good, but I respect a deck that knows what it wants to be.

There are also 10 cards that produce tokens and quite a few cards that provide minor anthems, either a buff (Knight Exemplar) or a drain (Knights' Charge). There's a very minor Card Draw theme with stuff like Syr Elenora, the Discerning and Vodalian Wave-Knight for spice, along with a bit of reanimation set-up like Exsanguinator Cavalry to help discard Knights and Haakon, Stromgald Scourge to get them back, but it's minor enough to be mostly just added resiliency to the deck, not a specific goal.

So yeah, the deck is clearly focused on Knights, so that's what we're going to do with the upgrades!

Choosing Our Commander

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There are two potential commanders to lead the deck: Sidar Jabari of Zhalfir or Elenda and Azor. But for this precon, the choice is obvious: this is a Knights precon and Sidar is the Knights commander. Sidar's eminence ability provides a ton of power for the deck, smoothing out your draws throughout the game, letting you hit your land drops early and find gas late game, all while setting up Sidar's incredibly powerful reanimation combat trigger. 

Elenda is strong too, but Sidar always helping your game plan thanks to eminence can't be overstated. If we're going Esper Knights then Sidar is a slam-dunk commander pick.

Analyzing the Precon & Identifying Weaknesses

Now that we've glanced at the stock list and settled on our commander, let's take a closer look at the deck itself to identify what parts benefit the most from upgrades.

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 

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 Corrupting Influence and how it compares. I count:

The ratios here are pretty good with nothing standing out as a critical weakness. Some of the individual cards are pretty bad though: colorless ramp like Mind Stone is bad in a 3C deck that is hurting for mana-fixing, while cards like Pull from Tomorrow and Return to Dust simply have dozens of better budget options to replace them with.

It's better than the Growing Threat precon out of the box, but there's still a lot we can improve!

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Upgrade Goals

I have some specific goals when upgrading Cavalry Charge:

  • Add more Knights and Knight synergy
  • Lower our mana curve
  • Upgrade our mana-fixing, card draw, and removal

So first and foremost we're adding The Circle of Loyalty because of course we are: we finally have the perfect home for it, even if it still pales in comparison to others in the cycle like The Great Henge. We're also adding some other powerful utility Knight cards like my favorite anti-board wipe tech Guardian of Faith.

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We're also going to significantly upgrade our draw engines which will smooth out our draws, find our answers, and discard down to hand size to set up reanimation. Kindred Discovery is the best of the best here, but also cards like Teferi's Ageless Insight turn Sidar's eminance looting into straight card draw!

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We're also tweaking the removal with the addition of Crib Swap, which counts as a Knight card so it's relevant for a couple things most notably Haakon, Stromgald Scourge, which we can repeatedly recast from the graveyard!

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$30 Upgrades

Disclaimer: Card prices are volatile and may be different at the time you read this article.

Here are the proposed adds and cuts.


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Here's how the deck looks with the upgrades added:

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The deck has a lower mana curve, way better card draw, upgraded Knights, upgraded removal, and better mana-fixing.

Further Upgrades

Some of the Knight cards were targeted for speculator buyouts, including the single best one for the deck: Kinsbaile Cavalier. It's a great anthem for the deck and particularly strong with Sidar Jabari of Zhalfir since we double that reanimation combat trigger. Unfortunately, the speculators were correct to buy this up because this is my top recommendation.

Beyond that there's only a few other strong Knights I'd recommend: Invasion of New Phyrexia, Battle Angels of Tyr, Cavalier of Dawn, that's pretty much it.

Other strong Tribal cards that work here are And They Shall Know No Fear, Cavern of Souls, Urza's Incubator, Crippling Fear, Pact of the Serpent, and Species Specialist.

For ramp I actually would avoid most of the traditional mana rocks outside of Sol Ring, Arcane Signet, Fellwar Stone. The reason is you actually want to be playing Knights on turn 1 / turn 2 to start getting eminence looting triggers. Instead of Talismans and Signets I'd recommend running equipment ramp Sword of the Animist, Dowsing Dagger, Sword of Forge and Frontier, Sword of Hearth and Home, they are slower but they provide far more value over the course of the game. Also love Deep Gnome Terramancer since it can hold swords!

Afterwards I'd start adding more generic staples like Smothering Tithe, Rhystic Study, Smuggler's Share, Land Tax, Teferi's Protection, Clever Concealment, Akroma's Will, Farewell, Vanquish the Horde, Anguished Unmaking, fetchlands, shocklands, ABU duals, Vampiric Tutor, Demonic Tutor, the good stuff.

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Two Down, Three To Go!

Check back daily for another precon upgrade!

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