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"Reap the Tide" Commander Legends Precon Upgrade | $20, $200 | Landfall | Sea Monsters


Commander Legends preconstructed decks have just 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, and the various directions that you can upgrade the deck and make it your own, including sample $20 and $200 upgrade lists.

I recently covered Arm for Battle, the aggressive Boros Voltron deck focused on Equipments and Auras, so check that out if you missed it. I also listened to your feedback from the previous article and this time around I'll explain every single card swap in my sample upgrades. Now it's time for Reap the Tide, a Simic Landfall deck with a Sea Monster subtheme. The goal with this precon is to ramp out lands as quickly as possible with staples like Rampant Growth, fueling landfall cards like Avenger of Zendikar and dumping all of our mana into huge beaters like Stormtide Leviathan.

The precon's main themes are swirled together with our commander, Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait:

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Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait is an insane value engine, both ramping and drawing you an absurd amount of cards with minimal effort. It's very easy to play two lands per turn with Aesi, drawing two cards per turn, which increases the likelihood that you'll have more lands in hand to play. Things get even more ridiculous when you start adding land ramp cards from the precon like Cultivate or fetchlands like Evolving Wilds to draw even more cards. So yeah, Aesi is crazy good, even in this stock precon list, and gets way better once you start upgrading the deck.

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Now this commander isn't a totally unique design, and is actually quite similar to another popular commander: Aesi is basically the result of taking Tatyova, Benthic Druid and stapling an Exploration on to her. You lose some lifegain, but honestly this looks like a significant upgrade to me: being able to play an additional land per turn is well worth the one extra mana to cast. Plus, Aesi is a big ol' Serpent, and everyone knows that Serpents are way cooler than Merfolk (sorry, Prof)! So if you're wondering which commander is better, I personally think Aesi is an upgrade.

So if you're interested in a durdly Simic value engine that land ramps hard to fuel Landfall cards and poop out giant Sea Monsters while drawing a buttload of cards, then Reap the Tide is the deck for you! Let's quickly go over the stock list:

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Reap the Tide clearly sticks to its two overlapping themes of Landfall and Sea Monsters. I count 11 cards that care about lands, 11 cards that fit the Sea Monster theme, and a ton of lands and land ramp to fuel both themes. The deck knows what it wants to do and executes it pretty well.

Now that we've had a quick glance at the list and what it aims to do, let's do a deeper analysis of the deck and see how well it accomplishes its goals.

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 surprise "I Win" card; 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 Reap the Tide and how it compares. I count:

From just a numbers perspective, this actually looks really good for a precon! But now it's time to take a closer look at the individual cards in the precon:

44 Lands. This is a lot of lands. Generally the amount of lands I recommend for a casual or semi-competitive deck is between 36 and 40, though CEDH decks go significantly lower. 44 might sound like too much, but it actually makes sense looking at the deck's super high mana curve and the fact that so many cards allow you to play extra lands per turn, most notably our commander. This is a deck that relies on consistently playing at least one land per turn, sometimes multiple lands, so 44 is a reasonable number.

To drive this point home, three of the best lands in the deck are bouncelands Coral Atoll, Jungle Basin, and Simic Growth Chamber. These lands bounce lands back to your hand which you can then replay to fuel your landfall cards.

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12 Ramp. The ramp in this precon is excellent. Cards like Search for Tomorrow, Kodama's Reach, and Growth Spiral ramp you towards casting Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait, which let you ramp and draw cards like crazy. The ramp is definitely a highlight of this deck.

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11 Card Draw. The risk of filling your deck with so much lands and ramp is that you're prone to flooding out or ramping so fast that you quickly become empty-handed. Luckily this precon runs a high amount of card draw to smooth out draws and restock your hand. The best card draw in the deck is our commander, which is great since we always have access to it, but we also have other allstars like Nezahal, Primal Tide, Fact or Fiction, and Urban Evolution, all of which do a great job at drawing cards. No real complaints here.

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11 Targeted Removal. There's a high amount of targeted removal and most of it is really good. Allstars include Terastodon, Reclamation Sage, and Acidic Slime, being good on their own but particularly strong when paired with the mass bounce spells in the precon to re-use their powerful ETB triggers. There's some less appealing options here but it's a great start.

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3 Board Wipes. The board wipes here are all creature bounce spells. Two of them -- Slinn Voda, the Rising Deep and Whelming Wave -- bounce non-Sea Monsters, and the third, Scourge of Fleets, only bounce opposing creatures. These are all great in the context of the deck, being huge tempo plays that give the deck a chance to catch up to the table and start beating down with our huge haymakers. As good as they are, however, none of these cards can permanently deal with any problematic card and can't affect noncreature permanents at all. I love all three of these cards in the deck, but perhaps a fourth more permanent wipe could be a useful addition.

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2 Graveyard Recursion. We've got two staples for graveyard recursion. Eternal Witness is fantastic here since we can always bounce it to reuse its ETB trigger. Ramunap Excavator is okay but has limited use in the precon; if you start upgrading the deck with fetchlands though this card becomes an all-star.

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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.

0 Graveyard Hate. What I can't excuse, however, is the lack of graveyard hate! Graveyard hate is sadly still underrated by whomever at WOTC is designing these precons. Graveyard decks are some of the most popular in the format and you're playing at a handicap if you can't interact with their engine.

1ish Surprise "I Win" Cards. This deck is all about dropping a huge beater and then smacking your opponents to death. There's nothing in the deck that immediately wins the game if you draw it super late. The closest thing to what I'm looking for is Avenger of Zendikar, which basically wins you the game if your opponents don't deal with it during that turn cycle, which is probably good enough.

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The Beaters. Finally I want to talk about the win conditions of the deck: the beaters. Some of these are Sea Monsters, some of them are not. The ones included here are a mixed bag: some of them are amazing but most of them kinda suck. We've got some format all-stars like Avenger of Zendikar which can easily win games or the significantly worse version but still great Rampaging Baloths. But most of the stuff we're dumping our mana into is underwhelming. Stuff like Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer can get the job done but it doesn't do it particularly well. This is the part of the deck that can use the most work.

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Overall, I'm quite impressed with the cards found in this precon! Every aspect can still be improved, but the only part of the deck that I think really needs a lot of work are the threats.

Now that we've looked at the individual cards in the deck and identified the strengths and weaknesses, it's time for upgrades!

$20 Upgrade

We have some specific goals when upgrading the deck:

  • Strengthen the main themes of Landfall and Sea Monsters
  • Add better threats
  • Speed up the deck's game plan

With that in mind, here's how I'd swap in $20 worth of upgrades:

In Out Reason
Tatyova, Benthic Druid Seer's Sundial Tatyova is insane card draw, basically a second commander.
Lorthos, the Tidemaker Elder Deep-Fiend

Better threat plus control.

Brinelin, the Moon Kraken Verdant Sun's Avatar Better Sea Monster threat plus synergy with our ETB creatures.
Serpent of Yawning Depths Sharktocrab Better threat plus tribal evasion.
Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer Basically a strict upgrade.
Breaching Leviathan Stumpsquall Hydra Better threat plus control.

Kogla, the Titan Ape

Stormtide Leviathan

Leviathan is stylish but overcosted and most of our creatures don't fly or have islandwalk. Kogla is insane value removal plus threat.

Imoti, Celebrant of Bounty

Compulsive Research

Way better card advantage in our high cmc deck.
Garruk's Uprising Harmonize Superior draw and evasion in this stompy deck.
Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle Simic Signet Slower ramp but more mana and high synergy.
Trygon Predator Wickerbough Elder Cheaper repeatable removal.
Springbloom Druid Yavimaya Elder Double landfall trigger and bounce synergy.
Scavenging Ooze Into the Roil Best GY hate in Simic.
Retreat to Coralhelm Retreat to Kazandu Lots of value; enables infinite combos like Meloku the Clouded Mirror + Llanowar Scout.
Llanowar Scout Urban Evolution Good ramp that combos with Retreat to Coralhelm.
Skyshroud Ranger Fathom Mage Good ramp that combos with Retreat to Coralhelm.

Zendikar's Roil

Sporemound

Easy upgrade.

Broken Bond Peel from Reality Cheap removal with ramp.
Kenrith's Transformation Murkfiend Liege Premium creature removal. Liege has little synergy.
Myriad Landscape Island Land + ramp.

Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner

Vivid Grove

Card draw + ramp.

Spell Pierce

Simic Charm

Primary goal is to protect our value engine aka Aesi and the difference between 1cmc and 2cmc is huge.

Khalni Ambush

Forest

Land / removal flexibility.

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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$200 Upgrade

A bigger budget allows us to improve all aspects of the deck. We have better ramp with cards like Lotus Cobra and Exploration, tutors with Fauna Shaman and Green Sun's Zenith, but most importantly we've started picking up fetchlands like Windswept Heath which are double landfall triggers for the deck. The list is pretty dang scary at this point, ramping fast, drawing tons of cards, and winning through huge beatdowns or combos.

Additions:

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Cuts:

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And the upgrades installed:

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More Commander Legends Content Soon!

There is a ton to cover with this set so I'll be back soon with lots more budget brews and reviews. Thanks for reading!



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