Chris takes a look at the Party Time Commander Precon deck, and has some suggestions for how to give it a bit of an upgrade!
New set, new Commander Precons…it’s Party Time! Literally, it’s Party Time, this is an article about how to upgrade the Party Time Precon from Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate without breaking the bank. Ahem.
New Precons also mean fresh new cards, so let’s start there and see what new toys this deck gives us:
The New Cards
Nalia de’Arnise heads up the deck, and immediately lets us know that the name Party Time directly informs what the deck does. This is a deck fully based around the Party mechanic from Zendikar Rising, which fully fits right into the Dungeon’s & Dragon themed set.
Nalia isn’t the sort of Commander that really works in any other kind of deck, but in this deck she can be a powerhouse. Providing conditional card advantage is a big deal – out of the box, there are 44 other creatures in the deck, all of them castable from your library with Nalia’s second ability. Once your deck gets rolling, her third ability makes combat a nightmare for everyone else, making every block cost dearly and your whole army hit hard.
Burakos and their background, Folk Hero, are the alternate Commander pair in the deck, and are also both quite effective here. Burakos is an all-star, filling out any part of a party you need and ramping you into all your other spells. Folk Hero makes sure you have plenty of other spells to cast, as every creature you cast in this deck will share a type with Burakos. If you stick with Nalia, Folk Hero loses some utility, but there are still plenty of Humans and Rogues to go around.
Now, every Commander-centric set has a card or two that has a good shot of making a splash in Eternal formats, and hey, look, two of them show up in this deck! Deep Gnome Terramancer is a low-cost flash creature that will slot right into Death and Taxes builds, helping you keep up with other decks as they ramp. The fact that it can find non-basic Plains is a huge plus as well.
Black Market Connections is an easier-to-cast Underworld Connections that gives you more options. I mean, sure it costs you one more life to draw a card, but the versatility on offer is amazing, helping you out in virtually any situation or all but the most hopeless of board states. It might have a hard time finding a home in Legacy or Vintage, but it’s an instant Commander staple for a huge swath of Black decks.
The Party mechanic was a little underwhelming when it first debuted, as it felt like a lot of hoops to jump through for what often seemed like lackluster payoff. These two cards aim to fix that. Stick Together is one of the most one-sided Wraths ever printed, so laser-focused on this mechanic that the odds of this ever feeling fully symmetrical are slim to none.
Multiclass Baldric can turn any creature into a keyword-soup monster that’s unbeatable in combat, and can be moved around cheaply enough to work on offense and defense in the same turn cycle. The only thing holding this equipment back from breaking out into the wider format is its reliance on this one particular mechanic to fully function.
These last three are cards that are solid role-players here, but unlikely to find much of a home outside of tribal decks focusing on one of the relevant creature types. Harper Recruiter is an evasive threat that will keep the army growing, but is a little fragile. Seasoned Dungeoneer lets this deck play with the new Initiative mechanic, and helps you take it back as it moves around the table. Doomguide granting every creature in the deck Unearth is great, and the fact that the unearth is very aggressively-costed is a huge boost.
Before we go about seeing what we want to change, let’s take a look at what’s already in…wait, what?
So, yeah. As of the time of this writing, the deck retails for $60, and even with a few price oddities on Goldfish (for example, Nalia is not exactly a $40 card), we’re well over double that in singles value. Deep Gnome Terramancer and Black Market Connections are the standouts, but even looking past those there’s a ton here to like. Even as the most expensive of the Baldur’s Gate Precons, there is some outstanding value to be had here.
But how will it play? Is this a fun deck to shuffle up and battle with? Is this indeed a…Party Time?
Yeah, it looks pretty good, actually.
This is a multi-tribal creature-based deck that looks to be chock-full of a lot of synergies, both obvious and subtle. The curve here is pretty reasonable, and there’s enough mana and ramp here to realistically hit the higher-cost spells. A good amount of interaction, numerous ways to protect or recur your creatures, board wipes in Stick Together and Austere Command that you can sculpt to be wildly advantageous to you, and a number of ways to keep the cards flowing into your make this a super-solid place to start. I would guess it’s a very rare game you play with this out of the box where you feel like you didn’t really interact or contribute to the game in a meaningful way.
As far as Precons go, taste notwithstanding you’d be hard pressed to do much better than this.
Now here’s how we do better!
None of these cards are necessarily bad; they’re all on theme, they all do a thing. It’s just that the thing they do can be a little underwhelming (Malakir Blood-Priest, Mage’s Attendant), or hard to fully control (High Priest of Penance), or are just pure removal magnets who will almost never get to really do their thing (Magus of the Balance, Pontiff of Blight). The Changelings are the pieces I’m actually most hesitant to cut, as they fill any gaps in your party no matter what, but I still think we can do a little better.
Adds: Nullpriest of Oblivion; Shaile, Dean of Radiance; Liliana, Heretical Healer; Taborax, Hope’s Demise; Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose; Dogged Detective; Hidden Dragonslayer; Lae’zel, Vlaakith’s Champion; Resplendent Marshal; Emeria’s Call.
When adding cards to a deck like this, the main question to ask is simple: does this have, create, or affect a relevant creature type? You can throw in a card like Teferi’s Protection which is just generically good, but with a deck whose theme is this prevalent, I like to try to stick to it as much as possible.
Taborax and Vito are probably just as much of removal magnets as Magus and Pontiff, but both have a much higher chance of generating a lot of value quickly. Hidden Dragonslayer takes place of High Priest; not as all-encompassing of an answer, but a much easier hoop to jump through (in this deck, anyway) to get there. Emeria’s Call allows for some measure of Wrath protection and solid defense for a full turn cycle, or just ruining combat math for an opponent in an all-out attack. Liliana has a good creature type for us and eventually can give us a good measure of inevitability while cutting out our opponents’ resources. Dogged Detective is a recursive card-selector that chumps like a champ, while Nullpriest can fill a party slot early in a pinch or buy back a key piece later. Marshal is a cheap evasive threat that can grow your army coming and going. Shaile // Embrose can both grow your army, filling different roles depending on the state of the game and what your opponents are packing.
There’s certainly bigger and more explosive changes you can make to a deck like this, but these changes keep to the spirit of what was originally there, keep the deck at a similar but more resilient power level, and, importantly, clock in at under $25 (as of the time of this writing).
And here’s where we end up; for well under a total cost of $100 including Party Time itself, we’ve streamlined the plan a bit, thrown in some high impact effects, and have yet more resiliency and punch. I still say the base deck is one of the better Precons I’ve seen (especially if this semi-tribal creature flavor is your thing – if you like Izzet Spellslinger decks, obviously you might feel different), but this just has a little more “oomph” to it.
Given the inherent value of the deck, keeping it in stock is going to be an issue. If you can get your hands on it, I would say you are certainly getting your money’s worth, and if you want to supplement it, I hope this has helped a bit. Any big cards I missed that would’ve easily fit in? Or if you weren’t being budget-friendly, which direction would you take this? Let me know on Twitter, and as ever, be excellent to each other.
Chris is the Associate Media Producer at Card Kingdom. He would like to apologize to his son for not holding onto more cards from when he first started playing, as that likely would have paid for college. He enjoys pretty much all formats of Magic, but usually ends up playing decks that make other people dislike playing those formats with him.