Necron Dynasties Precon Upgrade Guide

Necron Dynasties Precon Upgrade Guide

Tom AndersonCommander, Strategy

This week’s new Commander decks mark two big “firsts” for Magic: The Gathering: the first full precons released under the Universes Beyond product line and the first official crossover between Magic and Warhammer 40,000 — two of the oldest and most important franchises in tabletop games. Today, we’re here to help you upgrade the Necron Dynasties precon.

Born out of the dystopian British sci-fi milieu of the 1980s, 40K imagines a hellish future where humanity has spread itself across the galaxy while embroiled in endless war. Among the Imperium of Mankind’s most terrifying foes are the Necrons — an ancient race of terminator-like, metal lifeforms who ruled the stars eons before mankind even evolved.

Necrons are the classic sci-fi “forerunner” culture, boasting technology far beyond what the younger, fleshy races can wield. Their legions of silver, skeletal warriors lie dormant in gigantic underground tomb complexes, often unnoticed by those who settle the planet until they awake en-masse to sweep it of organic life.

Clearly intelligent, yet utterly merciless, the Necrons are the most enigmatic of all the Imperium’s alien foes. At the silent command of their techno-sorcerors (or the elder star gods they serve), these indestructible armies will rise to reclaim their empire. 


As you’d expect for a modern precon, the face commander is reliable to cast and neatly represents the deck’s gameplay priorities. Where the other 40K precons are tri-color, this one is mono-black with heavy artifact and graveyard themes — themes which are often combined on the same card.

Szarekh ensures we can fill our graveyard at a steady pace turn after turn for no additional mana cost while also fishing out cards we’d rather not mill to bolster our hand instead. Flying makes it easy to find good attacks every turn and makes it easier to threaten Commander lethal with some of the deck’s powerful equipment.

It’s hard to really combo off with Szarekh because his trigger is tied to attacking, but when the rest of the deck is so explosive (and trust me, it is), sometimes you just need a Commander who can keep you supplied with fresh options.


Black artifact synergies are far less common in the card pool than blue, red or even white, so this precon is poised to explore some relatively new design space.

Ethan Fleischer’s design team hit on the great idea of reusing the Unearth mechanic on a lot of Necron creatures, letting them rise from their tomb world (uh, graveyard) to ambush your opponents. 

Other cards reference their ultra-advanced tech and weaponry, especially their ability to repair and revive seemingly destroyed Necron warriors. 

All of this blends so neatly with black’s natural strengths of recursion, removal and big mana that it’s little wonder we got so many incredible cards out of it. With 42 completely fresh printings, I can’t possibly find room in this article to discuss all of them as I normally would. Instead, I’ll just highlight the most powerful and unique effects lying dormant within the precon.

Anrakyr the Traveller

Anrakyr is one of the alternative commander options included in the deck and perhaps the most flexible in terms of uses elsewhere. Many of the most expensive Commander staples are artifacts, and being able to play (or replay) them at the often-negligible cost of life is obviously very good. 

Five mana is a little slow, but I think this could really play well in an “Academy Rector” role — an easy-to-cheat-in stepping stone which opens new routes to payoffs like Bolas’s Citadel.


Biotransference is one of the real standout new printings, both in terms of power and novelty. As Maskwood Nexus and Magda most recently reminded us, changing the properties of cards in all zones opens a Pandora’s Box of combos. 

There is no shortage of game-ending artifact combos to run alongside this, and the fact this also has a respectable second clause stapled on is just gravy.

Canoptek Spyder

Not all Necron creatures are humanoid. The bug-like Canoptek guard and maintain the tomb facilities while their masters lie in eternal sleep. And while the proper Necron-typed creature cards are all black artifacts, these Canoptek have been left colorless as a treat to those of us with non-black artifact decks. This draw trigger is unmatched in its power and openness, with a lot to offer both for combos and as a value piece.

Convergence of Dominion

Another quite unique and powerful piece of ability text at a reasonable casting cost, Convergence of Dominion even has a respectable secondary use. I haven’t yet investigated the true ceiling of combo potential with this and pre-existing graveyard cards, but within the context of this precon, Convergence of Dominion is most useful for discounting your various Unearth costs.

Ghost Ark

A very powerful new friend for anything from Mycosynth Golem to Platinum Emperion to Brudiclad to Sundering Titan, I love the choice to make Ghost Ark a vehicle. The crewing requirement is easy to meet but still slows down the most explosive scenarios around this card enough to be reasonable. 

The built-in “exile at end step or leaving the battlefield” clause on Unearth is another key limitation, which is why your best targets for this are creatures which can have massive impact inside of one turn.

Illuminor Szeras

I’ve had a soft spot for sacrifice effects which care about the size of the sac’d creature since I picked Ghoulcaller Gisa to lead my mono-black precon back in 2015. These sorts of cards offer an avenue to build a bit differently than the stock-standard sacrifice decks, without being completely locked into that niche. 

Anything that lets you cheat a big creature into play for less than its printed cost works wonders with Szeras, most obviously the many Unearth cards in this precon.

Imotekh the Stormlord

This precon boasts three or four viable, alternate commanders, any of which can provide solid board presence combined with combo potential. Imotekh’s ability doesn’t seem like the easiest to go infinite with; otherwise we’d see a lot more Desecrated Tomb kills.

However, the reward for triggering Imotekh is substantial enough that going infinite may be fine as a backup plan to large-but-finite beatdowns, ala Bridge from Below.

Out of the Tombs

The first comment I saw on this card was about moving its counters onto Magosi, the Waterveil to take extra turns. While that line is probably more in the “neat to think about” category, Out of the Tombs has a more obvious synergy with cards like Laboratory Maniac and Thassa’s Oracle

Just play Out of the Tombs before emptying your deck with Ad Nauseam or a self-mill combo (like Cephlid Breakfast). From there, you can repeatedly jam the stack with reanimation attempts by drawing cards in response to interaction. I am no cEDH expert, but that sounds like a scary new layer for such decks to have! 

Oh, and this also looks like crazy fun as an endgame for casual decks.

Shard of the Void Dragon

This precon contains exactly two non-artifact creature cards, each depicting an avatar of the C’tan: immortal energy beings who once ruled over the Necrons as gods. As old as the galaxy itself, each of the handful of known C’tan have their own terrifying powers and agendas. 

The C’tan tricked the original Necrons into becoming soulless machines with promises of immortality. In return, the Necrons shattered their gods into fragments and captured the shards to unleash against their enemies as weapons of war.

Anyway, Shard of the Void Dragon is Korvold’s poor, mono-black cousin, threatening to turn a stack of Treasure and cheap artifacts into lethal combat damage at any time. It’s fun to feed to Szeras, too.

Tomb Fortress

Even at sorcery speed (and with an enters-tapped clause), getting an effect as impactful as reanimation on a color-producing land is going to prompt a lot of people to find room for Tomb Fortress. It’s not the most exciting card in the precon, but perhaps it’s the one you’ll encounter most often in the wild.

Trazyn the Infinite

OK, this one actually is the most exciting thing in the precon. Infinite by name and by nature, Trazyn can come out of the Command Zone (or the 99, I guess) and immediately do any number of completely disgusting things depending on what your graveyard is loaded with at the time. 

Those who think fondly of Necrotic Ooze may find this variation to be even more powerful; simply adding a Pili-Pala to the stock precon already creates several, different Trazyn combos.


Thanks to those eye-popping new cards and an all-star cast of reprints, the Necron Dynasties deck looks to be among the more powerful precons ever released for Commander. 

The game plan is tightly focused, the individual pieces well costed and impressively powerful, the suite of effects varied and the mono-color land base perfectly sufficient. It does lack a go-to combo win-con, but players who feel the need can fill that gap almost effortlessly.

Barring such changes, the stock deck list aims to win by combat or commander damage, usually as a consequence of snowballing different artifact synergies until you dominate the board. Szarekh helps us progress all facets of the plan by filling our hand and yard with gas, as well as pressuring players who can’t keep out a flying commander. 

We can go wide with artifact tokens and tall with equipment, and there’s a handful of effects which will let us punch through a really stubborn stalemate once the army is threatening lethal.

Also, be careful not to mistake this for a true graveyard deck, like Meren, where your hand is essentially an afterthought. Our main graveyard synergy is the various Unearth creatures, and for the most part we’d prefer to cast them normally when the chance arises so they can stick around for a bit. 

The self-mill components are quite light, especially if you use an alternative commander, and the self-discard is basically non-existent. Even with the Silent King at the helm, we’re loading our yard more for use as a toolbox than anything explosive.

However, if we’re looking to upgrade the deck, that’s a different story. Turning up the graveyard focus can make our existing cards better and plug the few big holes in our strategy — win-cons and interaction. And while the best artifact synergy cards are often expensive to acquire, this deck is certainly one where the benefits justify the price tag.


There aren’t any truly bad cards in this precon, so if we’re looking for cuts we need to be as merciless as the Necrons themselves. Anything inefficient or redundant can be let go, and to me this includes most of the combat-focused cards. 

Being able to play out of our graveyard like a second hand means we can expect access to most of the spells in our deck at any given moment, and at that point we will have more direct and reliable ways to win the game than casting a bunch of filler creatures.

On the chopping block: Lokhust Heavy Destroyer, Lychguard, Shard of the Nightbringer, Tomb Blade, Triarch Stalker, Flayed One, Hexmark Destroyer, Plasmancer, Royal Warden, Night Scythe

In replacing these less-efficient threats, I’d play cards that help find and cast the most efficient threats more consistently. We need to be able to get cards in our graveyard quicker and in greater numbers than Szarekh alone can achieve, and we need either better mana or better reanimation to capitalize on them fully. 

All the usual mono-black suspects fit in here, from Entomb and Demonic Tutor, to Stinkweed Imp, to Reanimate, to Cabal Coffers. Although, in cases where an artifact-based solution is available (such as Wishclaw Talisman, Priest of Yawgmoth or Grim Hireling), we should perhaps give those greater priority. 

After that, we can try tuning up the back half of our game plan. With how powerful the new cards in this deck are, it should only take a few extra slots to fully unlock their game-ending combo potential. 

If you know you want to build around one of our alternate commanders, you should look for cards which combine well with them first: Bolas’s Citadel and Darksteel Forge for Anrakyr; Scourge of Nel Toth and Mimic Vat for Szeras; or the Metalwork, Blightsteel and Darksteel Colossi for Imotekh.

Trazyn the Infinite is by far the most versatile commander of the bunch in this respect, and you could easily remodel the entire deck list just to include various bits of Trazyn tech. Still, it’s a safe bet to start out with any artifact which lets Trazyn untap itself for three mana or less: Retrofitter Foundry, Basalt Monolith, Pili-Pala, Staff of Domination… any and all of which should make Trazyn lethal once you get Gilded Lotus or Sceptre of Eternal Glory into the bin with them.

After establishing some win conditions, we can use leftover slots on more interaction, either to disrupt opposing game plans or protect our own plan (a.k.a. the graveyard). Upgraders who opt to really open the throttle on Trazyn combo will probably want to look for the latter, likely in the form of defensive artifacts like Orbs of Warding, Silent Gravestone or Defense Grid.

Here’s my shortlist of noteworthy upgrade options, divided by price point rather than card function:


Marionette Master, Armix, Filigree Thrasher, Gravebreaker Lamia, Disciple of the Vault, Voltaic Construct, Ill-Gotten Gains, Stinkweed Imp, Orbs of Warding, Silent Gravestone, Scourge of Nel Toth, Mimic Vat


Priest of Yawgmoth, Staff of Domination, Crypt of Agadeem, Pili-Pala, Basalt Monolith, Bolas’s Citadel, Metalwork Colossus, Nettlecyst, Currency Converter, Grim Hireling, Ruthless Technomancer


Entomb, Reanimate, Altar of the Brood, Retrofitter Foundry, Cabal Coffers, Defense Grid, Blightsteel Colossus, Darksteel Forge, Revel in Riches, Pitiless Plunderer


This precon has been one of the hardest to make upgrade recommendations for — not because there’s any shortage of good options, but because there’s just too many equally strong directions to take the deck! 

It’s rare that any precon sports such a variety of strong commanders and build paths, let alone a mono-color deck with such a narrow mechanical focus. You can feel how much effort went into capturing the feel and flavor of the Necrons and tying it back to the familiar stomping grounds of black decks in Magic.

However, my single biggest recommendation for anyone upgrading the Necron Dynasties deck is this: you don’t need to rush.

Wizards of the Coast went to great lengths to ensure these 40K decks had a cohesive feel, which is how we ended up with a unique card treatment and new Necron-themed art for a ton of reprinted staples. The other precons are equally thorough, and together they show how effective the Magic rules can be as a medium for enjoying other intellectual property. 

Many players still hold reservations about gun-toting Space Marines showing up across from their Krenko deck, but when the whole table is on the same Universes Beyond wavelength? That’s going to be an awesome bit of curated Magic. Just make sure your friends leave Necron Dynasties to you, because this deck is going to be one fearsome adversary.