Mutant Menace Upgrade Guide

Mutant Menace Upgrade Guide

Chris CornejoCommander, Products

Mutant Menace, one of the new Universes Beyond: Fallout Commander decks, is a Blue-Black-Green deck that features one of the most popular deck themes, but with a twist. This is a counters deck, but not +1/+1 counters or anything like that; we’re working with the brand-new Rad counters! 

The Wasteland of Fallout is an irradiated caricature of America, and one of the things you have to be sure to track in the Fallout video games is your radiation level. Rad counters bring that nuclear fallout (heh) to Magic, and like the infamous poison counters, are given directly to players. Unlike poison, you don’t lose the game just for having rad counters, but they can kill you. At the beginning of your first main phase, you mill cards equal to how many rad counters you have, and then for each nonland card milled this way you lose one life and remove one rad counter. 

This may seem a bit inefficient at first – after all, Commander players start with 40 life and 99-card decks, so you’d have to hand out a lot of rad counters to even make a dent against your opponent. Oddly enough, Mutant Menace is, in fact, really good at handing out rad counters. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at some of the more exciting and impactful new cards in the deck, starting with the potential Commanders. 

Mutant Menace: New Commanders 

The Wise Mothman is a very well-designed card to lead this deck, and also versatile enough to build a completely different deck around if you were so inclined. In Mutant Menace, the Mothman works as both a way to get the Rad counter train started and take advantage of the milling those counters will cause. The ability to pump up key pieces of your army can get out of hand quickly when you look at everything this deck is doing, and if someone built a semi- dedicated mill deck around him? Things could get scary, fast. 

A lot of effects that give Rad counters in this deck give Rad counters to every player, including you. The Master, Transcendent leans into the self-mill aspect of radiation, allowing you to reanimate the creatures you mill. Or the creatures anyone mills for that matter, but relying on other people’s decks can be a risky proposition.  

While I do like the Master as an idea to build a deck around, we’re going to go ahead and assume that the Mothman will be heading up the deck when we make our upgrades. But there’s still plenty of other noteworthy new cards to look at first! 

Precon Preview 

Holy buckets, this is a Commander powerhouse. Vigilance and trample mean that this scales very well into the late game as threat the more mana you pour into it, but let’s be real, we aren’t playing this because it attacks and blocks well. That second paragraph on the card is bananas good. Most effects like this you can find are at least symmetrical in nature, destroying your artifacts and enchantments along with everyone else’s. Rampaging Yao Guai lets you select which artifacts and enchantments that meet the mana cost of X that you paid get destroyed, allowing you to spare all your own cards, and maybe one or two of the more helpful things your opponents have going on. In any green-based deck that can reasonably cast this with X equaling three or more (so, all of them), I fully expect this mutant bear to become a staple.  

This certainly bumps Graham’s Bear Force One deck up in power level. 

It’s very easy for Watchful Radstag to get out of control if no one deals with it early. Each new copy comes in as a 2/2, and as the game goes on it becomes easier and easier to Evolve more than one of the Radtags at once, creating multiple 2/2 copies, which are then all much easier to evolve, creating a chain reaction that can run over a battlefield surprisingly quickly. 

Strong, the Brutish Thespian gives us a huge payoff for all the Rad counters we’re giving everyone, turning the life loss from them into life gain. Aside from being quite thematic (in the Fallout world, super mutants like Strong are completely immune to the radiation of the wasteland, thriving in areas absolutely deadly to anyone else), this turns the focus of the deck from a delicate balancing act to a much more aggressive one, encouraging loading up as much Rad counters as possible (see Nuclear Fallout below). I’d expect Strong to be one of the biggest removal targets in the deck, but if he survives even one turn cycle, the reward can be enormous.  

The biggest complaint I hear against board wipes come when people use them to reset the game without a clear plan for how to bring the game to a close relatively soon. Using a board wipe in that situation is a leading cause of Commander games dragging on for multiple hours, so I get the vitriol around the subject.  

Nuclear Fallout is a board wipe that, in the later more developed stages of a game, can bring things to a close really quick. Deployed in a situation with already depleted life totals and diminished libraries, a well-placed Nuclear Fallout can be a win condition all on its own, handing out a massive dose of Rad counters all around. I can see this quickly rivaling Toxic Deluge as the black board wipe of choice, especially in Cabal Coffers/Nykthos-style decks that can ramp up to absurd levels of mana output very fast. 

So here’s the thing – this precon, as it’s built and as we’re going to upgrade it, is not the best deck for Radstorm. That would be some kind of spellslinger go-wide token strategy, or something like that. But with that said, Radstorm is still bonkers good for us. Mutant Menace is throwing around Rad counters and +1/+1 counters like there’s no tomorrow, and if you decide to throw in some planewalkers (or go full dark side with poison counters), even a small Radstorm can put the game away quickly. And remember, Storm counts all spells cast in a turn, not just yours. So maybe let the blue player cast a million small draw spells in some end step, then go for a big Radstorm with almost no effort on your part. 

This one’s fun for the Group Hug players out there, with enough versatility to find play outside of those archetypes as well. In Brotherhood mode, this functions like a more powerful Outpost Siege that other players might not always mind having around. In Enclave mode, this can at least make folks think twice before taking incidental swings at you and stop them from chipping away at your life total. It likely won’t dissuade an attack for lethal or anything, but it could buy you a little breathing room early on. 

Mutant Menace $50 Upgrade Guide 

When upgrading a deck, you generally want to pick one theme to strengthen. Recent Precons like the Fallout and Doctor Who Commander decks tend to have their main themes pretty well under control; and in the case of Mutant Menace and Rad counters, we can’t really add much directly to that theme since this is a brand-new mechanic. But counters come in many shapes and sizes with plenty of archetypal support, and we can ratchet up one of the subthemes that happens to be one of the most popular Commander mechanics of all time: Proliferate! 

Before we add to the deck, let’s make some room. We’re going to be removing these seven cards from the deck, either because they don’t do enough on their own, are off-theme, or just because we can simply find something with a little more kick to it – without breaking the bank, of course: 

Strength Bobblehead
Vault 87: Forced Evolution 
Young Deathclaws 
Recon Craft Theta 
Evolving Wilds 
Terramorphic Expanse 

Now, what do we add in? 

Starting with a couple lands, Karn’s Bastion is almost an auto-include here. Any turn cycle where you have unused mana, you can certainly do worse with it than getting a proliferate trigger off a land. Alchemist’s Refuge draws way less hate than cards like Vedalken Orrery or Leyline of Anticipation, but still lets you get away with some really silly plays in a pinch. 

Interaction is always good, and modal interaction even better. Modal interaction with proliferate stapled on is amazing here, so Carnivorous Canopy gets the nod. 

Ripples of Potential acts as a very sneaky version of board wipe insurance, while still growing the Rad count. Phasing out is the premiere way to protect your permanents, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ripples of Potential see more and more play over time. 

Evolution Sage and Ezuri, Stalker of Spheres are both great in this deck on their own, but as a one-two punch they make land drops some of your most potentially valuable plays each turn. 

Tekuthal, Inquiry Dominus is a beast here, and finding the counters to remove to make it indestructible is trivial as it doubles up each proliferate trigger. 

And as with every deck that’s dealing with proliferate, you have to decide how many Planeswalkers you may want in the deck. Vraska, Betrayal’s Sting plays into the rest of the deck’s plan rather well, so she gets the first inclusion here, but there’s a number of other planeswalkers that could easily get slotted in. Just make sure to add them in moderation, otherwise you’re going to end up with a pretty killer Superfriends deck. 

Here’s the fully upgraded list:

Further Mutations 

If you have the resources and inclination to go further add to the deck, Sword of Truth and Justice is a decent place to start, providing useful protection and working right into the proliferate plan. Staff of Compleation is also worth a look, acting a bit as a multitool to shore you up wherever you may need. 

Ramunap Excavator and Crucible of Worlds are always worth consideration in any deck that’s self-milling, making sure you’re hitting your land drops and getting the most out of any kind of fetchlands you may add. 

And if you do end up with a decent amount of planewalkers in the deck, Ichormoon Gauntlet can be a powerhouse that gets out of hand quite fast, allowing for infinite-turns wins much faster than you may think. 

As always, while the precon comes with a serviceable manabase, it could always use a little improvement. Investing in some fetches and shocklands opens up a lot of deckbuilding possibilities, and don’t forget the appropriate triomes as well where applicable. 

End Step 

Mutant Menace looks like a lot of fun straight out of the box, and I hope I gave you a few ideas for where to take it when you’re ready to start tinkering with the decklist. Remember, just because war never changes doesn’t mean your decks can’t!