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Browse > Home / Strategy / Articles / Precon Upgrades for "Growing Threat" | Phyrexian Incubate | $30

Precon Upgrades for "Growing Threat" | Phyrexian Incubate | $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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Growing Threat is the first ever precon to focus on the Phyrexian creature type, weaving together Phyrexian creatures old and new into a cohesive White/Black deck! Our goal is cast a bunch of Phyrexians and artifact creatures while incubating tons of sleeper agents with the help of cards like our commander, Brimaz, Blight of Oreskos. We sacrifice Phyrexians to cards like Keskit, the Flesh Sculptor or mill them with Blight Titan, then reanimate them efficiently with cards like Victimize. Any time our board gets wiped we can immediately bounce back into the game by transforming our incubating phyrexian tokens into game-ending threats!

If you like the idea of playing Phyrexians with a strong Artifact subtheme then Growing Threat 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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Growing Threat is a White/Black deck that primarily focuses on Phyrexians, but fills the holes of a scattered and shallow card pool with a strong Artifact subtheme. I count 29 cards that are either Phyrexian or make Phyrexians, plus 41 cards that either are artifacts, make artifacts (incubate tokens), or care about artifacts. We've also got some minor Sacrifice and Self-Mill themes.

Even though Phyrexian is not the largest tribe, I'm still a bit surprised at how low the Phyrexian count is; there are plenty of extras from MOM and ONE that were excluded and we'll have to add in the upgrades section

Choosing Our Commander

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There's only two potential precon commanders found in this deck: Brimaz, Blight of Oreskos and Moira and Teshar, both fine choices to lead the precons but want to take the deck in different directions:

  • Brimaz, Blight of Oreskos is the face commander of the precon and automatically the one you want if you're interested in playing a Phyrexian deck, as it's the only one that specifically cares about Phyrexians. It also supports artifact creatures in general, which is helpful since it lets you flesh out the deck easier, but really he's there to make Phyrexian decks function. Phyrexians need a lot of help to be good since there's never really been Phyrexian tribal support up until this year, but he does plenty of carrying by flooding the board with tons of artifact tokens that become serious threats.
  • Moira and Teshar is arguably the stronger commander as you're no longer restricted to playing Phyrexians or artifact creatures and open up to all historic cards instead. This is more of an explosive "combo" deck where you mill or Entomb huge haymakers into your graveyard and then reanimate them super efficiently with the commander for huge value. I imagine something like Entomb to tutor up a Bolas's Citadel, then casting Mox Amber to reanimate the Citadel and popping off from there could be a good start at what Moira can do, but I'm sure people can come up with far scarier lines than my quick example.

Since I want to build a Phyrexian deck, Brimaz is the obvious commander here.

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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 
  • 1 finisher; 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 Corrupting Influence and how it compares. I count:

This is one of the worst precons for card draw in recent memory. I get that you can dump your mana into transforming incubate tokens so you might need less card draw than usual, but you won't be incubating much with Brimaz if you don't have cards to cast! It's weird that in 2023 we have such low draw.

I also think that the deck is running way too much spot removal, especially when the deck's card draw is so bad and it can't make up the card disadvantage. I'd instead shift the removal more towards board wipes, since those are better card advantage, and you can then transform your incubate tokens to take over the board.

The rest of the deck is fine, but we'll be increasing the card draw and wipes for sure.

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Upgrade Goals

I have some specific goals when upgrading Growing Threat:

  • Go all-in on Phyrexians
  • Cut down on Artifacts
  • Add more proliferate
  • Way more card draw
  • Less spot removal
  • More wipes

I'm making some major changes to the precon, shifting the focus from Phyrexians + Artifacts to just Phyrexians. Phyrexians have stronger synergy with Brimaz, Blight of Oreskos, triggering both his first and second ability. Notable Phyrexian upgrades are Skrelv, Defector Mite, Essence of Orthodoxy, and Terror of Towashi. We're going to incubate way more now!

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Since we're incubating more, we're going to run more cards that synergize with them: Inspiring Statuary is an absolute house in a deck full of artifact tokens, and we can turn our excess artifacts into easy proliferates with Throne of Geth. We also have a bunch of cards that work specifically with incubate like Progenitor Exarch, Norn's Inquisitor, and Scheming Aspirant.

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And since we're going to be proliferating way more in general thanks to more Phyrexians dying with Brimaz, Blight of Oreskos, I'm adding more counters to the deck, such as Everflowing Chalice which is totally cracked when you're proliferating it, or oil counters like Vat of Rebirth and Norn's Wellspring, and even some poison cards like Ichor Rats which adds a secondary win condition if we come up against pillowfort or lifegain decks.

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For card draw, we're turning incubation into draw with Idol of Oblivion, Braids, Arisen Nightmare, and Monumental Corruption, adding poison with Infectious Inquiry, and the generic staple Syphon Mind to round things out. This will give our engine some much-needed gas.

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$30 Upgrades

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

Here's the proposed adds and cuts.

Additions:

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Cuts:

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I've cut down on as many cards that don't work with both Brimaz's abilities, so noncreature cards and non-Phyrexian cards were first on the chopping block. After that I started swapping out Phyrexians that are either too weak or don't fit our theme of proliferating.

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

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Further Upgrades

There's a bunch of heavy-hitter Phyrexians you can toss in the top-end: Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines and Mondrak, Glory Dominus both double the amount of tokens you're incubating with Brimaz which is super sweet, Elesh Norn is a great anthem for incubation, plus there's Sheoldred, Sheoldred, Whispering One, Sheoldred, the Apocalypse (lots of Sheoldreds!),Wurmcoil Engine, Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon.

I'd also consider adding a bit more poison to the deck: Skithiryx, Inkmoth Nexus, Phyresis Outbreak, Phyrexian Crusader, and Norn's Decree are my top picks for this. You just need enough in the deck where you can reliably poison each opponent, then kill them with proliferate. It also lets you run good poison payoffs like Geth's Summons and Chittering Skitterling.

Speaking of proliferate: Glistening Sphere, Contagion Engine, Yawgmoth, Thran Physician are all great pickups in the deck. Also Black Market is an excellent proliferate target here since we can dump all that mana into hatching our incubate tokens!

Beyond that, the boring staples: Smothering Tithe, Vampiric Tutor, Demonic Tutor, Animate Dead, blahblah.

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One Down, Four To Go!

Check back daily for another precon upgrade!



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