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Prismari Performance $50 Precon Upgrade | Spellslinger | Veyran


Commander 2021 preconstructed decks have been revealed which means it's time for another round of my precon upgrades! I'll go over how each preconstructed deck plays, why you should buy it, analyze its strengths and weaknesses, then use that information to recommend an optimal and impactful $50 upgrade.

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Today we're covering the precon Prismari Performance, a Blue/Red Spellslinger deck focused entirely on big, flashy instants and sorceries. The deck uses instants and sorceries to generate tons of mana off cards like Mana Geyser, storm off and cast silly amounts of spells off Mind's Desire, and return spells while wiping the board of opposing creatures with Volcanic Vision. The rest of the deck supports our instants and sorceries, creating an army of drakes off Talrand, Sky Summoner, creating a ton of clones with Rionya, Fire Dancer, or doubling your spells with Swarm Intelligence. The end result is a focused Spellslinger deck that wins with huge, flashy turns while beating down a spell-infused army.

Swapping Commanders

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The face commander of the deck, Zaffai, Thunder Conductor, does a great job representing what the precon is all about: its magecraft ability will be triggering all the time in this deck, letting you constantly scry and fill the battlefield with 4/4 tokens. Even casting spells of mana value 10 or higher can be done fairly consistently, and the precon itself has three cards that do so: Apex of Power, or casting Epic Experiment and Muse Vortex where X is 8 or greater. Zaffai is unquestionably a strong, unique commander, and definitely worth building around ... however, there's another commander option in this deck that I love even more, and I'll be tuning this upgrade list towards:

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Veyran might not be the face commander of the precon, but my heart says it's the star of the show: it's basically a Spellslinger Panharmonicon! Spellslinger is loaded with support cards that trigger off instants or sorceries, making treasures off Storm-Kiln Artist, making tokens off Talrand, Sky Summoner, and dealing damage with Guttersnipe. Doubling the triggers with Veyran is amazing, and the efreet itself is an impressive beater, getting +2/+2 for each instant or sorcery you cast or copy. That's a ridiculous amount of value for a 3 mana creature!

So I'm sorry, Zaffai, but I'm swapping you for Veyran. I can't pass up that kind of value!

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Alright, let's check out the decklist and see how well it accomplishes its goals:

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Right out of the box, is incredibly focused on its single theme, Spellslinger: I count 29 instants and sorceries and 22 cards that directly support instants and sorceries. There's just a handful of cards that don't care about instants and sorceries, either being generic ramp or intentionally bad out of place cards that are begging to be swapped out.

Now that we've glanced at the list as a whole, let's take a look at the deck's ratios.

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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 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 Prismari Performance and how it compares. I count:

The ratios look pretty good here, at least on the surface. I'd like a few more slots dedicated to targeted removal, but there's a lot to like here. Unfortunately, however, once we start looking at the individual cards, there's a ton of obvious duds that hold the precon back from greatness.

Now that we have the ratios in mind, let's take a look at the individual cards, highlighting the strongest and weakest in each category.

37 Lands. The lands here are pretty bad. There's way less mana-fixing than I would expect from a precon, with a below-average amount of tapped duals even. There's also a bunch of slow, clunky lands like Blighted Cataract and Mage-Ring Network, which cost way too much mana for what they do. Plus Temple of the False God sticks out like a sore thumb in this deck, as there's no land ramp or high land count to make it consistent. This section needs work.

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15 Ramp. The number of cards that ramp is high but 6 of them are actually rituals like Mana Geyser or Jaya Ballard. For a deck looking to storm off in a huge turn this is actually pretty good, but the cards themselves are a mixed bag, with some staples like Izzet Signet and some duds like Letter of Acceptance.

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11 Card Draw. There's very little straight card draw in the deck, though there are some good ones like Treasure Cruise. Most of them cast spells randomly off libraries, like Mind's Desire. The only real stinker is Humble Defector, which is a freebie to swap out.

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6 Targeted Removal. The removal here, well, sucks. We've got a sweet new counterspell with Reinterpret and a new flexible exile with Resculpt, but it's downhill from there. Traumatic Visions and Fiery Fall are trash, and there isn't even any Red artifact removal. Yikes.

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3 Board Wipes. Blasphemous Act is a staple. Volcanic Vision is solid here as an asymmetrical board wipe. Aetherspouts is okay. Not bad.

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7 Graveyard Recursion. The recursion here is very strong and makes up for the lackluster card draw. Surge to Victory is insane, as is Metallurgic Summonings. There are some janky options like Living Lore though.

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0 Flexible Tutors. Tutors are super helpful for any Commander deck to help you find the right card for any situation, but I'm fine with them not showing up in precons. These are decks that are meant to pick up and play without being intimately aware of the deck's contents so tutors would only serve to confuse new pilots.

1 Graveyard Hate. Scavenger Grounds

2 Finishers. For a deck all about instants and sorceries it certainly has a lot of beefy beaters like Inferno Project and whatnot. But for pushing damage through, we've got the almighty Surge to Victory to pump and get a ton of extra spells cast, and Octavia, Living Thesis, which turns our small tokens into enormous threats.

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The Verdict. This precon is a beautiful mess. It's got so many powerful cards that can end games if you chain a couple together, but it's held back by tons of subpar cards and a lack of targeted removal. It feels like this deck was kneecapped in the design to prevent it from consistently outclassing the others, and the end result is an unpolished gem that can arguably benefit the most from some straightforward upgrades.

Adding Some Cowbell

I have some specific goals when upgrading the deck:

The precon has a lot of duds that we can easily swap out. Plus I want to swap Veyran as the commander and make some changes based on that. Let's get started!

$50 Upgrade

Disclaimer: Card prices are volatile, especially during preview season. The prices listed here may be different at the time you read this article.

Here's how I'd swap in $50 worth of upgrades:

In Out Reason
Isochron Scepter Crackling Drake Dramatic Scepter combo, infinite cast triggers.
Dramatic Reversal Inferno Project

Dramatic Scepter combo, infinite cast triggers.

Aetherflux Reservoir Etali, Primal Storm

Reservoir is the best "storm" finisher.

Mizzix's Mastery Charmbreaker Devils

One of the best spellslinger recursion.

Niv-Mizzet, Parun Humble Defector

Way better card draw and removal.

Ral, Storm Conduit Naru Meha, Master Wizard Better copier, win con.

Archmage Emeritus

Sunbird's Invocation

Insane card draw.

Saheeli, Sublime Artificer

Elemental Masterpiece

Great token generator.
Docent of Perfection Call the Skybreaker

Great token generator.

Melek, Izzet Paragon Dualcaster Mage

Better copier with Veyran.

Pongify Fiery Fall

Staple removal.

Rapid Hybridization Aether Gale

Staple removal.

Counterspell Traumatic Visions

Staple removal.

Misdirection Aetherspouts

Great protection.

By Force Dazzling Sphinx

Great mass artifact removal.

Mogg Salvage Sly Instigator

Free artifact removal.

Commit // Memory Wildfire Devils

Spot removal, wheel, and gy tuck, amazing.

Frantic Search

Living Lore

Free looting.
Preordain Rootha, Mercurial Artist

One of the best cantrips. Rootha too slow.

Goblin Electromancer Hedron Archive

Obviously.

Retraced Image Letter of Acceptance

Spellslinger ramp!

Basic lands Bad lands like Blighted Cataract

Better lands.

Here's how the cuts look in lists.

Additions:

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Cuts:

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And here's the deck with the upgrades installed:

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Two Down, Three To Go!

I'll be back soon with the rest of the precon upgrades!



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