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Upgrading the Spirit Squadron Commander Deck


Ghosts and spectral beings have always been something that has chilled me to the bone from child to adult. The thought of what lies beyond life and the unseen horrors that could be lurking around the corner was just something that would always get under my skin. And under my skin they got, as I would gleefully watch shows about ghosts or read tales of ghoulish haunts. After all, who doesn't love a good ghost story around the campfire?

Obviously, Wizards is a fan, as spirits have become a mainstay of the plane of Innistrad. Thankfully, with the impending release of Crimson Vow, they're getting the full Commander treatment thanks to the Spirit Squadron preconstructed deck. This is a great little list with everything you'll need to get started with spirits as a deck, but I also want to present a bit of a different take and upgrade it in the process, as I'm wont to do.

Let's check out the initial decklist!

Spirit Squadron Precon | Commander | Wizards of the Coast

Much like with the Undead Unleashed precon from Midnight Hunt, this deck actually seems like a solid representation for what spirits have to offer. With only a handful of exceptions, such as Selfless Spirit, Skyclave Apparition, and Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit, most of what you'd want is here. One of the bigger problems with this deck compared to Undead Unleashed, however, is that there's really a much smaller pool of spirits to pull from compared to zombies, and it ends up feeling a little different as well. Zombies have been a mainstay since the game's start and have shown up with extreme frequency as one of the most heavily represented tribes. Spirits have also been around forever, albeit in a much lower quantity and with a lesser quality to them.

That's not to say the deck isn't as good or is lesser to what you'd find with zombies, just that there's less options when upgrading the deck. This leads to using cards other tribes might not need. Things like Metallic Mimic and Adaptive Automaton. Cards that can more easily help fill in gaps for tribes that might not have the same degree of support others do. Spirits do have a lot of good support, just needs a little extra with how small they tend to be.

Haunted Library
Ethereal Investigator
Sudden Salvation

Most of the new cards presented are actually pretty great. Haunted Library, Occult Epiphany, and Priest of the Blessed Graf put out tons of tokens and Storm of Souls fills the board with everything that's died thus far. Ethereal Investigator gives you a tremendous amount of card advantage and Breath of the Sleepless gives you some serious surprise factor. There are a couple cards I'm not super hot on, though. Sudden Salvation feels rather weak for what you're doing and isn't the kind of card I'm personally interested in. I'm also not too big on the two partners - Rhoda and Timin - as tapping down a couple creatures in Commander isn't super exciting unless your whole game plan is around them. You're better building a separate list around the two as partner commanders.

Overall, it's a pretty good list! But this is an upgrade article and I think there's still a few things that can be touched up, so let's take a look at an updated list!

Spirit Squadron Revamped | Commander | Kendra Smith

The first thing is, as usual, is the land base. Given that this is a two-color tribal deck, much like the last couple upgrade lists I've done, it's basically going to be the same thing. As such, I'm not going to linger on about it too much, but we're adding in a couple good White and Blue lands as well as stuff like Arch of Orazca and Miren, the Moaning Well. Not really too much utility-wise beyond that, so just stick in what you've got for untapped duals and let's move it along!

There were a couple cards that really quickly stood out to me for removal right out of the gate. Promise of Bunrei was a great sideboard card in Constructed once upon a time, but as a one-shot effect it's pretty medium in Commander. It doesn't cost too much value-wise to add in a Hall of Heliod's Generosity for some synergy, but it feels kind of mediocre when most of your enchantments are supposed to stick onto the field.

Promise of Bunrei
Disorder in the Court
Dovin, Grand Arbiter

I also find Dovin to be an exceptionally dull and boring planeswalker inclusion. There's enough 1/1 flying tokens floating around here to supercharge his loyalty count and protect him, but he still takes at least a couple turns to really get there most of the time. The majority of the time he doesn't really do a whole lot and you're better off with even something as simple as Jace Beleren or any Elspeth. Something that will give you some solid value before dying.

The deck also felt like it had a decent number of flicker and tap effects that I ended up taking out. I mentioned it before above, but a lot of times just tapping creatures down one at a time in Commander doesn't feel too impactful. It's fine for a deck like this that's meant to be given to beginners in part, but it's probably not what you want when you're upgrading (though leaving a bit in the mix is reasonable). With regards to the flickering, I just end up feeling kinda dull looking at it all. There are a lot of cards that lack ETB abilities, making them not feel very impactful when you flicker them. These flicker effects, such as Disorder in the Court, tend to be here more as board wipe prevention, but several feel too expensive to be all that worthwhile. Something like Cosmic Intervention is significantly better as it can save other non-creature cards as well.

Long-Forgotten Gohei
Drogskol Reaver
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner

A lot of the focus here is basically juicing up the powering up side of things with a bunch more +1/+1 effects like Adaptive Automaton, Metallic Mimic, Long-Forgotten Gohei, and Favored Winds. That said, there's still plenty of neat effects to go around as well. Eternal Dragon has some nice synergies with some of the graveyard cards while being able to fetch up an extra Plains, while Drogskol Reaver brings the beats and the card advantage. I also slipped in a handful of cards with the disturb mechanic, since the double-faced cards aren't really easy to fit in with the actual precons themselves for logistical reasons.

You can also slip in some cards like Unsettled Mariner and Kira, Great Glass-Spinner for some extra help evading enemy attacks! And bringing up Kira raises another interesting point: Kamigawa. I'll admit, I was a bit surprised to see cards like Oyobi, Who Split the Heavens and Sire of the Storm in here. I even included a copy of Ribbons of the Reikai briefly before determining there was probably enough draw power to get by already and a better version of this effect was already here in Distant Melody. But it's worth mentioning that we'll likely be seeing a lot more spirits soon in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, so this is a deck you'll probably want to revisit then as well.

For now, though, I'm going to leave it here. There's lots of cool directions you can take a deck like this in and this is simply my preferred way of doing so. Truth be told, with lots of great cards to go around, Spirit Squadron is a great precon that you can take in several directions. If you're new to the game, pick it up and give it a try with some friends, or if you've been around for a bit, give it an upgrade and see what you think. It can only get better from here.

I'll be back next week with the Vampiric Bloodline deck as well as some fresh Advanced Jumpstart content, so I'll see you then!

Kendra Smith

Twitter: @TheMaverickGal

Twitch: twitch.tv/themaverickgirl

YouTube: Kendra Smith

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