Creative Energy - Modern Horizons 3 Commander Precon Upgrade Guide

Creative Energy – Modern Horizons 3 Commander Precon Upgrade Guide

Tom AndersonCommander

What’s this? Commander precon decks (like Creative Energy) in MY Modern Horizons set?!? In the current Commander-forward era of Magic, it’s more likely than you’d think.

Confusing product names aside, I think that it actually makes good sense to release new precons alongside MH3. The main, Constructed portion of the set has a strong focus on supporting some specific mechanics and bringing them up to Modern’s dizzying power level. Why wouldn’t people be equally excited to explore these themes in Commander, and equally in need of some pushed new printings to enable that?

Creative Energy is the perfect example: a compelling and unique mechanic with theoretically open-ended deckbuilding possibilities. One which could serve tons of Commander archetypes, both as a central focus or a niche card package; the same flexibility I brought up when analyzing the main set’s energy cards last week!

If only the pool of Commander-playable energy cards ran a little deeper, and if there were more picks for the commander slot which specifically synergised and enhanced the mechanic…


The default commander for the Creative Energy precon is Satya, Aetherflux Genius. An artificer from Kaladesh is the only real choice for an energy deck, although I’m surprised to see a (to my knowledge) new character debut instead of one of the inventors alluded to back in Kaladesh block. Regardless, this is an explosive debut card for our beanie-rocking boss which answers many of the demands I had for a Commander-quality energy legend.

For one, I wanted to see a commander choice who could be both a generator and outlet of energy counters. Many energy cards are primarily designed to be one or the other, and exploiting the differing rates of returns between them – using the efficient generators to fuel the powerful outlets – is a big part of deckbuilding around this mechanic. 

Satya ends up being a little better at spending energy than making it, but he does generate it consistently, and for zero mana. Best of all, you can still gain significant upside from the trigger while choosing to bank the energy to use with your other cards.

Another thing I wondered was whether our commander would end up being totally energy-centric, or something that could reasonably see play in other archetypes. Satya ends up in a spot where playing other energy cards does make him better, but it’s far from essential. 

Cloning other energy-using creatures may not produce the same impact as cloning the strongest ETB and static abilities in the format – but they can generate bonus energy which helps you make more powerful tokens permanent. Finding your preferred compromise on energy vs. non-energy creatures is going to be a great way to personalize your Satya deck once you start modifying this precon!

At mana value four with three colored pips, Satya feels a little harder to cast than the top tier of modern legends. But you’ll want to lead with a different creature spell anyway in order to maximize Satya’s effect. Menace, haste and solid toughness make it highly likely Satya will be impactful as soon as he arrives on the battlefield, so I suspect he won’t end up feeling like a “slow” commander regardless of cost.

As cool as Satya is, I do like that we get a second valid commander choice for the same colors right here in the precon list, letting you change things up for a different feel between games. Cayth does not directly synergise with the energy theme, though this is a good time to note that energy is stored as counters on a player and can be increased every time you proliferate!

But this card is more concerned with other mechanical themes from Kaladesh block, namely Dwarf typal and Fabricate. The average impact of Cayth on an early-game boardstate is going to lag behind Satya somewhat. But the fact she effectively reads “whenever a nontoken creature ETBs under your control, make an artifact creature” immediately opens up a ton of potential for infinite combos, as well as more fair synergies utilizing sacrifice mechanics or cost discounters like convoke, affinity or improvise. 

Sai, Master Thopterist is already a popular commander for all sorts of artifact decks. A new legend that’s remotely comparable to Sai while gaining access to two additional colors is a fantastic option for those archetypes to have! It’s also worth taking note of Cayth as a source of populate – another dynamic and open-ended mechanic which is still only accessible to a small range of commanders and color identities.


It would be irresponsible to review a Commander precon without examining the new printings outside the context of their deck. Especially in this case, as Creative Energy is likely to unlock significant upgrades for any energy-wielding decks players are already sitting on.

Aurora Shifter

My first take on an energy card will always be driven by its effectiveness as either a generator or consumer of energy. Aurora Shifter is definitely in the generator category: “energy-link” is a very potent option which can turn any kind of power-buff on your creatures into the other kind of power. 

It is important to note that it costs two energy to bring the Shifter online as an effective attacker, which means this one is probably limited to decks with a broader energy focus.

Blaster Hulk

Any card offering this large a potential cost discount is going to be worth a look, and Blaster Hulk to me looks like it’s half a line of rules text away from breaking Legacy. The idea of a cheap hasty 8/8 is slightly less spooky in multiplayer Commander, but if your deck has enough energy lying around to immediately pay for the attack trigger then a souped-up Inferno Titan is something I’d be rushing to sleeve up.

Conversion Apparatus

Another lovely entry in the genre of “what does a three-cost mana rock have to do to see play” – and spoilers, I think this one definitely makes it over that bar! When I talk about finding outlets to maximize energy return, turning it into mana at an almost 1:1 rate (you do lose the potential mana from tapping the Apparatus) is both efficient AND something you’ll always be happy to do. 

At worst, the second ability lets you use this to “store” mana between turns, something every control deck – and a lot of other archetypes besides – will be happy to have a good option for.

Sphinx of the Revelation

Finally, we have a rival to Aetherworks Marvel for “card most likely to break design assumptions around the cost of energy counters”. Gaining life has always been one of the cheapest and least-restricted spell effects in the game: tacking an equal amount of free energy onto effects like Martyr of Sands, Loxodon Lifechanter, Beacon of Immortality, or even Loxodon Warhammer will get out of control really fast.

Sphinx may not package that energy generation with an outlet quite as powerful as the Marvel, but it’s only a little behind that gold standard – and the 4/5 flying lifelink body makes up for a chunk of that value. This is probably efficient enough to slide into some non-energy UW lists, but for dedicated energy decks it’s an A+.


Creative Energy is blessed with a tight mechanical focus which makes it quite playable and potent right out of the box. But it’s still a precon deck, and there are always a few aspects which can be cleared up with a few extra singles at minimal cost and make it feel substantially more consistent at the tabletop. In order to add cards though, we need to make cuts; to make cuts, we need to understand the steps in our gameplan and how each card does (or doesn’t) serve them. 

The stock decklist reminds me a lot of another UWR precon: the Divine Convocation deck from March of the Machine. Just like a convoke deck, we’re playing creatures in order to generate resources to then play more creatures, and relying on that snowball to rapidly go wider than our opponents and then beat them down. There’s mana rocks to accelerate our early game, some efficient token generators to further boost our creature count, and then a few combat-step force multipliers like Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer and Lightning Runner to push our damage potential into lethal range.

I don’t expect a precon deck to focus on easy combo kills (although the Quick Draw deck from my last review is certainly set up that way). But my experience in the last few years has been that you should probably be packing a few such win conditions somewhere in your list, even if you don’t plan to aggressively tutor them up every game. Playing “fair” and hoping to just outmuscle opponents with a wide board makes you too dependent on a good start and too susceptible to board wipes; you’re just increasing the number of games you’ll walk away frustrated.

Following that logic, I’m cutting any notably underpowered spells from Creative Energy and then looking to trim back the least synergistic or flexible versions of our combat-centric effects. This will make room for a couple of on-theme combo wincons, more instant interaction, and better payoffs for Satya’s ability.



As you can see, we’re mostly raiding the better energy cards from the Modern Horizons 3 main set and the Fallout Commander decks. The other cards are there to provide noncombat win conditions. Aether Revolt and Mechanized Production are both capable of winning by themselves, while providing valuable utility along the way. 

Karn, the Great Creator might be controversial if your group leans heavily on artifact mana sources, but I actually have it here for the other two abilities: making artifacts into creatures lets Satya copy them, and the normally-dead wish activation can actually be used to loop Gonti’s Aether Heart, assuming you can proliferate enough loyalty and energy counters to keep that going!

Otherwise, the most likely way to win is with critical mass: eventually you’ll hit a 3-4 card infinite combo using the cards which generate energy from creature ETBs. Aethergeode Miner flickers itself for energy, Whirler Virtuoso and Automated Assembly Line make tokens, and at a stretch Legion Loyalty and Lightning Runner can form an unstoppable feedback loop. 

Satya’s wording makes it relatively tricky to go infinite off him directly, but he can be a big contributor to your eventual win if you make permanent copies of cards like Aetherstorm Roc or Brotherhood Scribe. Here’s the full decklist with changes included for easy reference!


I know I said so at the top of the review, but I’m just so glad to see this string of new printings expanding the card pool for energy as an archetype. Between Creative Energy, Science! from the Fallout precons, and of course Modern Horizons 3 itself, it feels like a real watershed moment for a mechanic which has always had excellent potential for a resource-focused, low-draw-consistency format like Commander.

The way each new card empowers all existing cards is great for smoothing out draws in a 99 card singleton list, but can make it hard to balance in Constructed formats, especially Standard. The Commander metagame is magnitudes harder to disrupt, so I look forward to WotC further capitalizing on the chance to explore this design space more through Commander releases. 

I think that exploring alternate resources to create a middle ground between “free spells” and complete dependency on mana is vital to long-term game balance. That’s a bit of a crackpot theory, but you don’t have to agree with it to appreciate the new and varied deckbuilding choices energy decks present – and Creative Energy is about to expand those choices even further.