With Commander decks releasing alongside every set, it can be difficult for both new and veteran players alike to know which one they should get. While it’s hard to go wrong with this decision, some decks stand out among the rest.
While most players will choose a deck based on what cards or strategies excite them, many are also concerned with their deck’s competitive strength. Precons are far from the most powerful version of a deck, but there are plenty that can hold their own right out of the box. Powerful reprints or strong new designs can push a deck’s power level, as well as a keen focus on the deck’s main theme and synergy.
Listed here are the best precons to play out of the box, featuring a wide variety of colors, strategies, and prices!
Commander Decks to Buy on a Budget
The Commander precons of the past few years are plentifully available and have focused designs. You can often find these for under or around $50, making them excellent options for players on a budget. Don’t be fooled by their low price, though: these decks can absolutely hold their own and have powerful format staples.
Planar Portal (Adventures in the Forgotten Realms)
You might not expect the red-black deck to have one of the best value engines on the list, but Prosper, Tome-Bound can catapult you ahead of the other players. Planar Portal has a ton of “cast from exile” effects that can snowball into more and more card advantage.
There are over twenty cards in the deck that let you play cards from exile. Chaining these effects together can produce so many extra resources that it can overwhelm your opponents. It also has a graveyard subtheme to recur powerful threats and create even more value.
Planar Portal features Commander staples like Etali, Primal Storm and Gonti, Lord of Luxury that synergize very well with Prosper. Getting treasures from these cards in addition to their powerful effects really makes these creatures stand out.
Lastly, I really appreciate how many mechanics synergize with Prosper. Suspend, rebound, and cascade all cast spells from exile and are featured in Planar Portal, but you could also choose to include cards with madness, adventure, foretell, and even more. That means there are lots of directions you can take when upgrading this deck, which really excites me as a deckbuilder. For a cheap option, this might be the best precon for its initial playability and open-ended design.
Exit from Exile (Battle for Baldur’s Gate)
If you like the sound of Planar Portal’s strategy but you want something more aggressive, then Exit from Exile is the deck for you! Just like Prosper, Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald both lets you play cards from exile and rewards you for doing so. The key difference between these two creatures is that instead of providing ramp, Faldorn expands your
Exit from Exile might have a similar theme with Planar Portal, but it leans much more heavily into token generation and combat. Cards like Hornet Queen and Arasta of the Endless Web allow you to go wide, while Return of the Wildspeaker and Urabrask, the Hidden make your army even more threatening. In addition, numerous cascade spells like Sweet-Gum Recluse and Aurora Phoenix let you build a
What really makes Exit from Exile special is how well it plays both aggressively and late. Cards with adventure or cascade represent two spells, as well as an extra 2/2. That means you can build a
At the same time, Exit from Exile can play the long-term value game. Cheap exile effects like Light up the Stage or Dire Fleet Daredevil can help you rebuild after a sweeper, and getting an extra body for casting most of your spells gives you extra tools for offense or defense. Don’t sleep on Exit from Exile if you want to play fast and fight hard.
Timeless Wisdom (Commander 2020)
Timeless Wisdom is another precon that relies on its commander’s value engine, but it gains advantage in a very different way. Gavi, Nest Warden lets you cycle one card for free each turn and rewards you for drawing extra cards. Cycling is a great mechanic for smoothing out your hand and digging through your deck, and Gavi’s mana reduction just makes the deck even more consistent.
When you also consider that some cards give you additional effects for cycling them, Gavi’s first ability becomes even crazier. Cycling Decree of Justice or Dismantling Wave and getting the effect free-rolled can be a game-deciding play. Nimble Obstructionist is another cycling card with a strong effect, but somehow isn’t the deck’s most powerful free counter.
This brings me to one of the deck’s strongest selling points: if you’re looking to buy Fierce Guardianship, you should consider just picking up Timeless Wisdom. Fierce Guardianship alone is worth more than the deck’s current price, so you’re saving money and getting an entire deck! Even if you take out Fierce Guardianship to put it in another build, Timeless Wisdom is a consistent deck with a potent value engine.
Elven Empire (Kaldheim)
Elven Empire is a fantastic starting point for anyone interested in this iconic tribe. The deck follows the classic elfball strategy: play elves, use them to get more mana, play more elves, get more mana, and repeat until your
Lathril supports this plan very well, as she can make extra tokens and then use them to drain the other players. Her second ability is especially powerful. You can use it to weaken your opponents before your big attack or knock them out of the game entirely. Having extra reach is really useful in decks that win through combat, so even just one Lathril activation can be meaningful.
Of course, this is still a precon, so you won’t get the most expensive elf staples. You do, however, get strong cards like Elvish Archdruid, Beast Whisperer, and Wolverine Riders. I’ve seen Elven Empire take over the game with these cards, and I’ve struggled to know exactly which is the biggest threat. When this deck’s value engine is online, you have so much synergy that losing any one piece isn’t enough to stop you.
Lorehold Legacies (Commander 2021)
Boros has struggled in Commander for a long time. It can often struggle to keep up with other colors’ access to ramp and card advantage. However, Lorehold Legaices doesn’t suffer from these problems nearly as much as other red-white decks of the past.
Osgir, the Reconstructor gives you access to all the artifacts in your graveyard, which means the deck has more resilience and play patterns than you would typically expect for Boros. Did you sacrifice Commander’s Sphere or Hedron Archive? Get them back for even more mana and cards! Did one of your opponents remove a key piece of your
With all of the potential for extra mana and card advantage, don’t overlook that there are still huge artifact creatures that Osgir can reconstruct. There’s only one thing better than sending a Myr Battlesphere or Triplicate Titan at your opponents: sending TWO of them instead. If you like red-white because you want to swing your cards sideways, then Lorehold Legacies still has tons of great options for you to beat face with.
This deck also features new and old Commander staples. Hellkite Tyrant and Solemn Simulacrum have seen play for years, but the most valuable card is Archaeomancer’s Map. It provides efficient card draw and ramp for white, the color which struggles with those effects the most. Oh, and it happens to synergize quite well with Osgir. This deck executes well on the artifact theme and gives Boros players some great tools to stay in the game.
Undead Unleashed (Innistrad: Midnight Hunt)
Like Lathril, this deck made our list of best commanders for new players. Undead Unleashed is an excellent deck for players interested in graveyard strategies or zombie tribal. These two themes work very well together, as a typical game will have you sacrifice your creatures as well as amass a hoard of zombies.
Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver shines as a commander for this strategy because he can generate lots of card advantage while still maintaining your
I also like that Wilhelt isn’t crucial to closing games out. A common problem in EDH deckbuilding is having a deck so focused on your commander that it falls flat without it. When these decks have their commander removed two or three times, they can struggle to finish games. I know I fall into this pitfall quite often, but a general like Wilhelt solves this issue. He synergizes very well with the deck’s plan, but your chances of winning aren’t dependent on keeping him around.
Instead, you’re more likely to win from stellar zombie payoffs like Zombie Apocalypse, Rooftop Storm, or Endless Ranks of the Dead. The power level of these cards are really impressive, and anyone looking for a zombie deck should consider picking this up.
All-Time Classic Precon Commander Decks
Now that we’ve looked over some of the cheaper, more accessible options, let’s look at the heavy hitters. All of these decks are incredibly powerful: they have fantastic commanders and tons of haymakers, but they’re all much more expensive. If you’re looking for the best of the best, regardless of price, then look no further.
Plunder the Graves (Commander 2015)
Graveyard strategies are one of the most popular archetypes in EDH. If you build your deck to take advantage of it, having a well-stocked graveyard can often be like having a second hand. Plunder the Graves shows just how strong manipulating your graveyard can be, as its sacrifice and reanimation themes work extremely well together.
Plunder the Graves has lots of small creatures meant to provide a little extra value, which become perfect sacrifice fodder later in the game. Skullclamp and Butcher of Malakir can really take advantage of killing your own creatures, as can your commander: Meren of Clan Tel North.
Her ability to recur creatures becomes more and more potent as the game goes on. Reanimating a creature that gives extra lands or cards is nice, but returning threats like Terastodon or Verdant Force can be game-defining. Many of these threats also create tokens, which can serve as more sacrifice fodder or be pumped up for a final attack. Graveyard decks can be incredibly resilient, and Plunder the Graves is no exception. Players looking for inevitability in their decks should definitely consider picking this one up.
Vampiric Bloodlust (Commander 2017)
Eminence is one the most powerful mechanics in EDH, and Edgar Markov is one of the most powerful commanders to ever be printed. The ability to make 1/1 tokens may not seem too impactful, but being able to go twice as wide at no extra cost lets you dominate the
Cards like Captivating Vampire and Patron of the Vein can turn your small tokens into big threats. Alongside various lords and tribal pump effects, you can get off to extremely fast starts. Even if your opponents manage to deal with your
Of course, this power does come at a price: this is one of the most expensive precon commander decks at around $300. For that cost, however, you do get plenty of cards that you’ll always be able to find a home for: Skullclamp, Door of Destinies, and of course Teferi’s Protection are all powerful cards that plenty of decks could run.
If you love the theme of vampires but are looking for a cheaper option, it’s worth noting that Vampiric Bloodline from Innistrad: Crimson Vow shares a few cards with this deck. It has similar themes of aggression and aristocrats, but if you want to play with the most powerful option possible, you can’t beat Innistrad’s original vampire.
Breed Lethality (Commander 2016)
Breed Lethality features another contender for the most powerful commander ever printed: Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice. Her consistent proliferate trigger can fuel a variety of strategies, but her original deck focuses entirely on +1/+1 counters.
Breed Lethality can generate a ridiculous amount of +1/+1 counters. Individual cards like Kalonian Hydra and Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker are huge threats all by themselves, and the supporting cards around them turn the deck into a well-oiled machine. Cathars’ Crusade, Hardened Scales, and Master Biomancer, just to name a few, all make your creatures a force to be reckoned with.
Having access to four colors also means that Breed Lethality gets the best versions of many key effects. It has blue’s card draw, white’s
Breed Lethality is also rather expensive, even for the older products, but it provides a focused game plan with a power level that’s near the top of the best precon commander decks.
Ultimately, the best deck for you is whichever one appeals to you the most. There are plenty of commanders and strategies to choose between, and these are all excellent options to consider when buying your next deck.