Desert Bloom Commander Precon Upgrade Guide

Desert Bloom Commander Precon Upgrade Guide

Chris CornejoCommander

Outlaws of Thunder Junction comes out next week as of this writing, and along with it are four Commander decks. Today, we’re going to look at the Desert Bloom deck, a lands-based Red-White-Green deck that has some serious potential lurking in its shell. 

First, we’ll take a look at Desert Bloom’s two potential commanders, then run down the other completely brand-new cards in the deck, before figuring out exactly how we’re going to go about upgrading the deck on a $50 budget. We’ll follow that with suggestions for further upgrades where we’ll set the budget aside.  

All right, with that out of the way, let’s ride! 


Yuma is an 8-mana commander that will most often be cast for only the three colored mana symbols in his cost. That first line that gives him a discount for each land in your graveyard also affects his commander tax, which means that with a little setup, casting a 6/6 for 3 mana can become somewhat trivial. 

And keeping Yuma on the field is pretty nice. His ETB and attack trigger work to help with future discounts on his casting cost, and there’s plenty of deserts in the deck to let you start flooding the field with those 4/2 Plant Warrior tokens, which is a hilarious typeline. With the rest of the deck, getting those deserts into the graveyard from the battlefield will be pretty easy, but we’ll get to that soon. 

Kirri, the secondary commander in the deck, buffs your Plants and Treefolk and lets you rebuy those creatures and lands from your graveyard. That’s the main headline, as being an 0/3 for four mana isn’t much to write home about. 

Of the two, Yuma is our choice for commander here, but this deck and the shell we’re going to be building around aren’t going to be reliant on having Yuma on the field. Yuma acts as more of a nice bonus and an eventual way to build an army once all our engines are going, but getting Yuma out isn’t necessarily a do-or-die proposition in Desert Bloom

New Cards 

Yuma and Kirri aren’t the only new goodies in Desert Bloom – let’s take a look at the rest of the new cards the deck has to offer: 

Angel of Indemnity is a nice safety net for some of your more important engine pieces. Very few of our big recursion enablers costs more than 4 mana, meaning if something gets blown up along the way, the Angel lets you get it right back. And if/when you activate the Encore ability, the 8-mana cost is more than offset by the potentially 12-mana worth of permanents you’ll be getting back. While maybe not in the running for a format staple, I can see Angel of indemnity becoming a solid choice in White decks of all stripes.  

Nothing too flashy here, but for two mana you can do way worse than Sand Scout. Combined with Dune Chanter below, this can grab you any land out of your deck, and even when limited to Deserts there’s plenty of good options. And while the token making ability may not be anything to write home about, we’ll certainly take it here. 

Cataclysmic Prospecting is a scalable Wrath that can be virtually free in the right circumstances (just wait for Dune Chanter, I tell you what). While not able to close the game out like an Earthquake as it doesn’t hit players, this is still a super solid inclusion here, even if the Desert restriction might keep it from breaking out much into the wider format. 

Now this is a card with the potential to be a format all-star. Especially in this deck, we’ll be able to Retrace virtually at will, so if we ever need more gas, Embrace the Unknown is going to be a fantastic way for us to keep up on our ability to churn through our deck to find whatever we need for the situation. 

So, here’s Dune Chanter, a three-mana Chromatic Lantern on a creature that also turns all our lands everywhere into Deserts and has a way to get those lands into our graveyard with a small upside. I don’t know if Dune Chanter has much of a place in the wider format, but here in this deck, expect the Chanter to become a removal magnet fast. 

Hey it’s the Yuma discount, this time on a much scarier creature that comes with an Overrun! Rumbleweed, while not having Haste as much as you might look for it on there, is definitely a game-ender, especially if you’ve had Yuma spitting out those Plant Warriors for a few turns. 

If this card were an Instant, I’d be a lot more excited for it. As it stands, it’s fairly expensive land recursion that comes with some mediocre bodies. You can certainly do worse for six mana, but you can also do a lot better. 

As far as creature-lands go, becoming an 8/8 for three mana isn’t a bad rate, but with no evasion or other relevant combat abilities, you kind of have to really pick your spots for this. It does block like a champ, and the fixing is nice, but it doesn’t really stand out too much for me. 

$50 Upgrade 

So, we have a pretty good shell for a lands-based strategy here already with the stock list for Desert Bloom. If we’re going to upgrade it (which is the point of this whole article, so yeah, we are), my first inclination is to go a little old-school with it and bring the deck a little more in line with classic lands-based strategies of old. This will have the benefit of making the deck less reliant on creatures to win and leaning more into a card type the (generally speaking) has the least removal for it floating around in the format. And even if we do run into that one Armageddon player, we’ll already be set up to rebuild quickly and adding in a bit of resilience as well. 

If we’re trying to ever kick a lands-based strategy into a higher gear, it’s almost a guarantee that Life From the Loam should be in the deck somewhere. In this deck in particular, we’re going to have lands going all over the place between our hand, the battlefield, and the graveyard, and Loam helps out with all of those. If you only make one change, make it this. 

Since the deck already has a lot of ways to play lands from the graveyard, and with the addition of Loam, Seismic Assault and Molten Vortex add a solid level of inevitability and the ability to clean up a board state full of smaller utility creatures and tokens. Neither of these are the fastest of engines, but being able to just throw around an endless number of Shocks over time can be mighty powerful. 

Borborymos Enraged is an expensive damage upgrade to Seismic Assault that gets a lower grade due to the amount of creature removal floating around. Roughly the same goes for Living Twister in relation to Molten Vortex, although the Twister does allow for some amount of shenaniganery with all the enters-the-battlefield triggers on our lands.  

Since we’re going to be discarding lands for value, might as well wring every last drop of value we can out of the deal. Surly Badgersaur gives us a treasure each time we discard a land, making it much easier to balance the decision making involved in getting land drops or discarding lands.  

Extra land drops are good in a land-based deck, it turns out. We already have a couple of ways of getting extra drops in the deck, but why not add one of the best in Azusa

These essentially act like recur-able cycling lands that you can use to fix your mana early on if you need to. While not strictly necessary or anything, if you have the room and the budget, you can do way worse than having these in the deck. 

I love any chance I get to jam Riftstone Portal into a deck, and Desert Bloom seems almost tailor-made to get the most out of this offbeat Judgment oddity. A land that fixes our mana from the graveyard in a deck that wants to be putting lands in the graveyard? Sign me up! 

Look. Listen. Look. I know. There is always going to be the temptation to be a real jerk with this card in a deck like this. Now, the nicest scenario is that you can use this on your own lands in order to get your fixing and thin out your deck as you recur Ghost Quarter. Other than that, just read the room – if we’re being a little more casual and loose, maybe just use this to take out a pesky utility land or two. If the table is drifting toward pubstomper land, go nuts. 

Once any one of our several graveyard-land-recursion engines gets online, Zuran Orb can essentially become a way to lock your opponents out of traditional damage as a win condition – infinite combos and the like notwithstanding, of course. The Orb also lets you rebuy enter-the-battlefield abilities on lands you’ve played with any recursion, and is just generally way more useful than you’d think at first glance. 

Gotta protect all our new toys somehow, amirite?! 

In order to make room for all these upgrade, I took the following cards out of the deck: 

And that leaves us with this decklist

Further Landscaping 

With all of the above additions, we’re still somewhere well within the bounds of “fair.” While not all of these further, more expensive upgrades take us out of that realm, a lot of them are going to get you some side eyes around the pod. 

We like graveyard recursion, and having yet another reliable way to make that happen is never a bad thing. Remains a Commander classic for a reason! 

Extra land drops also are fantastic for us, and these are two of the least expensive (mana-wise, not wallet-wise) ways to do it consistently. Manabond might also be a consideration here, but could be a little more situational. 

Want to keep Yuma alive? How about Azusa, or Ramunap Excavator, or whatever other creature that’s helping the lands engine hum along? Enter Sylvan Safekeeper, who can make the graveyard-recursion part of the engine work all on his own in addition to throwing shroud around willy-nilly.  

Again, look. Listen. If you do this, you might not get to play this deck again with the pod, depending of if they have an answer for it. Deploy at your own risk. 

This slot is just the usual “improve your mana base” deal, but since we’re a lands deck, we can go a little more all-in here if you have the budget for it. Jetmir’s Garden is an easy target, slotting right in and cycling like a champ. Fetches are very nice, feeding our themes well. Wasteland and Strip Mine can be thrown in according to taste/the general power-level and feeling of your pod. Glacial Chasm is a lockout combo with a lot of our deck, so also use your judgment. Field of the Dead is an army builder that gets out of hand fast. If you can get your hands on a Tabernacle, I mean, go for the flex. 

I mean, same idea as Heroic Intervention above, just more so. If you ever manage to play this when someone goes for Armageddon, Decree of Annihilation, Jokulhaups, etc., you may witness a coronary event. 

End Step 

Desert Bloom is another in a series of killer Precons over the last few years – I really like the shell it gives players to explore lands as an archetype in Commander. Check out our Upgrade guides for the rest of the Outlaws of Thunder Junction Commander decks, and have fun spellslinging!