Hello! My name is Mike Carrozza and usually here at The Bag of Loot, I write a series called A Seat at the Table where I pick a commander and discuss ideas of what to include in the 99. With the release of the Universes Beyond: Warhammer 40,000 Commander precons finally here, and having had a chance to play with the cards myself, I can finally pick and showcase my favourite new cards of each deck.
Let’s begin with Forces of the Imperium, the Esper (White, Blue, Black) deck.
Forces of the Imperium makes it very clear that you want to be making tokens, but it’s also got some surprises. For the sake of the series, I will only be considering new cards and ignoring the face and back-up commanders. We already know that Marneus Calgar is crazy and people have been talking about what can be done with Inquisitor Greyfax since the deck faces were spoiled.
Here are my top cards from this deck. I do promise to pick at least five, but seeing as there are like 40 new cards per deck, I’ll permit myself to maybe pick a few extra.
Here’s a heads up: The Golden Throne does not make my list! It’s already $30 and you know it’s good! That said…
I know this is already an expensive chase card from all of the precon decks, but Vexilus Praetor is a nutty card if you get it to stick. Giving your commanders protection from everything means that this does not go into a Voltron deck with Equipment and Auras, but it does mean it goes into decks where you want your commanders left alone. This is shroud, basically indestructible, and unblockable at flash speed. You need to protect the Praetor, sure, but the moments when this stays leads to a lot of advantage.
Note that your commanders don’t need to be creatures. Nor do they have to be your own. If you Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools ultimate into having all of the commanders in the game on your board, you will give them all protection from everything. Your planeswalker commanders can no longer be attacked! Go off, uninterrupted! Unless of course your opponent has a kill spell for a creature – or worse, a Counterspell – you’re off to the races. And if they do kill Vexilus Praetor, that’s one less resource coming for your commander and it feels like a big “oh, well, you tried!” moment.
- Squad mechanic
I am also allowing myself to cheat in these lists. The Squad mechanic is seen on a handful of creatures. In a long line of keywords that boil down to being “basically Kicker”, Squad is Replicate for creatures. You cast your creature and pay the Squad cost as many times as you’d like and you get an extra token copy of that creature for each time you paid for the Squad. There are six creatures with Squad in this deck and I have a mini-top 3 in the top 5 list for you.
- Ultramarines Honour Guard is an anthem for your other creatures for each copy you have. Squad this once and your board gets +2/+2 while the Honour Guards get +1/+1. This means that for a late game push, you can sink your ten mana into +4/+4 for your board and four 5/5s added to your army.
- Sicarian Infiltrator gives you more for three mana. Flash surprise 1/2 that enters and draws you a card is already okay for 2U. How about two cards and two of those bodies for 4U? Three for 6U. If you’re an unconventional control deck player, having this in your back pocket for when you have a turn where nobody’s played anything worth countering means you can build up a presence and get more into your hand.
- Space Marine Devastator is my favourite of the bunch. For 3W, it’s a 3/3 with Squad 2 that is basically a beefier White Reclamation Sage – it destroys up to one artifact or enchantment. For 5W, you’ve got two targets and 7W gives you three bodies and three targets. This card is excellent and scales well in the late game.
All of these cards have some added flexibility: they don’t cost more than a single coloured pip and can go into even five colour decks AND they make tokens. So, if you have an Anointed Procession or Parallel Lives, you’re living large and in charge! I love this mechanic and I hope they bring it back, but I can see how this can get out of hand.
What a house of a card. This 3/2 has menace and first strike meaning it’s a tough block and a tough blocker. Moreover, it absolutely loves when your opponents’ creatures die, making them lose two life per creature. It comes down for three mana – 1BW – and will draw hate from the token player or the aristocrats player, guaranteed. Throw down a Night of Souls’ Betrayal and give an opponent a Spirit with Forbidden Orchard. Whoops, they don’t get a creature they can keep and lose two life, all from you tapping a land for mana! There are many strategies like Grismold, the Dreadsower that give your opponents creatures for them to die, but unfortunately, we don’t have a very good one that involve this guy’s colours. So until then, jam this in your hard creature control decks or in your decks that love Fleshbag Marauder.
A flash clone for six mana that can destroy the creature it’s copying. I’ll take as many as I possibly can. This is a slam dunk for three of my decks: Araumi of the Dead Tide will want to Encore this out to destroy a few problematic creatures while getting their ETBs or even putting creatures I need into my graveyard so they can be Encored next. The Ever-Changing ‘Dane deck I’ve got is going to love having a way to steal opponents creatures without letting them have it anymore, then being able to sacrifice the assassin to the graveyard and reanimating it for more fun. Aminatou, the Fateshifter decks will need this to flicker and bounce to double as removal and utility.
Note that you don’t have to destroy the creature: you may destroy up to one creature it’s copying. Incredible card all around.
For four mana, you have a decent attacker at 3/4. I specify attacker because there is absolutely no way you hold this back if you can play something off of that ability. Build up your board of creatures, swing, and have some fun. I’m looking forward to playing this in my Azorius clones list because even if I swing with two creatures, maybe that means a mana rock comes down. If I swing with three, that’s a Quasiduplicate. Swing with more, maybe I’ll Clone Legion. Who knows! Let’s find out! In my test game with this card, I was able to sneak in a The Flesh is Weak into play and it was divine.
Some of these cards feel like they should be legendary with these names, but I digress. We are seeing Miracle on creatures now! What a time to be alive! Aminatou deck and Yennett, Cryptic Sovereign decks are who you jump to immediately, but I think a Teysa Karlov deck with Haunted Crossroads, Mortuary, and Mortuary Mire is going to hope to see this card a ton. Ever-Changing ‘Dane can play this for two mana and then sacrifice it for a third, becoming a 5/1 and drawing even more cards. Reanimator strategies, look out, here comes fun.
My honourable mentions will be quick. They are all legendary creatures I think are cool as hell and deserve a second look.
- Celestine, the Living Saint is an incredible payoff for life gain that we haven’t seen before and deserves a slot in aristocrats decks that lean on their Bastion of Remembrance or Zulaport Cutthroats.
- Commissar Severina Raine is giving Thalisse, Reverent Medium a run for her money. Swarm the board and make sure Red knows that aggro doesn’t have to be just one colour’s thing. Swing in for hefty damage and life loss on attack! That sacrifice ability is so strong too. Two mana to sacrifice a creature, gain two life, and draw a card in a deck that is already surely running Ashnod’s Altar means that any threat of a board wipe is countered by your threat of being extremely ahead on life and resources.
- Neyam Shai Murad is a strange one. There are hoops to jump like crazy, but I think it’s very interesting. You want to self-mill or Entomb your way to good choices for you and pick opponents whose graveyards don’t impress you much. I think that this deck doing well, and could be quite rewarding.
That does it for the Imperium! Check back next time for another top Warhammer 40k Precon cards list.