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Upgrading Maestros Massacre


We're back once again with another upgrade article! Today I'll be discussing the awesome Maestros Massacre preconstructed deck from Streets of New Cappena and looking for ways to upgrade it. The idea behind the deck? Play a bunch of powerfully potent spells and copy them thanks to the aid of casualty! This is all thanks to the incredible new legend Anhelo, the Painter.

Oh Anhelo, how I love you. New Cappena's amazing gay hearthrob enters Commander as an absolute force to be reckoned with. If Kamiz seemed a little weird when looking at Obscura Operations last week, Anhelo is right to the point. He's simple and easy to comprehend, but wow is his ability incredibly powerful. Sacrificing can be made utterly trivial and at times very beneficial, and in the process you get to duplicate the strongest spells the game has to offer! This is a powerful commander!

Before we can work on the upgrades, however, we need to see how the precon itself looks first. Let's take a look!

Maestros Massacre Precon | Commander | Wizards of the Coast

The first thing I noticed when looking through this list was how many cool flashy spells there are to be played here. Army of the Damned, Clone Legion, Reign of the Pit, Maestros Confluence, River's Rebuke, Hex, and so on. There's simply no shortage of awesome things you can do...even if some of them are a little more dull such as the Call the Skybreaker Wizards continually puts into these precons. No matter what you cast, odds are good you'll be doing some cool flashy things - especially when you add Anhelo into the mix.

Army of the Damned
River's Rebuke
Clone Legion

The second thing I noticed, however, was the distinct lack of creatures in the list. Not including Anhelo himself, there's only fourteen creatures in this list! Yeah, you read that right - fourteen. That's kind of a problem when you need creatures to be able to sacrifice to the casualty cost for copying spells. Some creatures like Rekindling Phoenix, Bloodsoaked Champion, and Squee, the Immortal you're more than happy to sacrifice. But then there's cards like Kess, Dissident Mage and Goblin Electromancer where you actually want to keep them around - ultimately making it so there's less creatures you can utilize.

Rekindling Phoenix
Bloodsoaked Champion
Talrand's Invocation

The deck does feature a handful of token generators to help mitigate this but, honestly, I don't think it's enough. Some, like the aforementioned Call the Skybreaker, Army of the Damned, and Dread Summons all come down way too late to be as relevant as they'd like to be. Others like Talrand's Invocation and Waste Management tend to be easier to cast, but there's far too few of these effects and they're too one-shot. Ultimately, you end up relying more heavily on the creatures themselves, but there's so few here that you have to hope that you get any of the right ones at the right time for it to actually matter!

With this in mind, I set to work putting together a new list with some much-needed upgrades. Here's where I landed:

Maestros Massacre Revamped | Commander | Paige Smith

The very first thing I did was to look at the creatures and see what could be done. I managed to get the creature count up to a more respectable twenty-three creatures in this list. It's still a bit small for my liking, but is improved with the quality of options as well as some additional support cards. The first thing I thought of here was to add cards like Bloodghast into the mix. The original list already had a number of these with Bloodsoaked Champion, Skyclave Shade, and Dogged Detective, but I knew we could do a little more. Unfortunately, only Bloodghast ended up making the cut, however. Some of the other usual suspects - like Gravecrawler and Dread Wanderer - are ill suited for a deck like this and so I opted to leave them out.

Young Pyromancer
Cruel Ultimatum

The next thing I did was I added in a bigger focus on token makers, and this is where a lot of the changes really start to shine. Young Pyromancer, Sedgemoor Witch, and Talrand, Sky Summoner are all such easy additions it's a wonder they weren't in the original precon in the first place. All three are virtually worthless with two having been printed several times and they're just an absolute slam dunk because of how well they work with instants and sorceries. Beyond those, I shoved in Poppet Stitcher // Poppet Factory and Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia as both make some extra easily sacrificable tokens regularly. So too do Kher Keep and Westvale Abbey - a pair of lands that often stick around and ensure you're able to keep the sacrificial train going!

The other thing I looked at was finding some other big spells to go in on. The first two that quickly jumped out to me were Comet Storm and Exsanguinate (or, I suppose, Torment of Hailfire if you have it). Each of these can cause massive life point swings and with some can also wipe out boards pretty clean. Exsanguinate in particular can be cast in non-game ending amounts just to keep your life total nice and high. I also looked at Cruel Ultimatum, because - really - who doesn't love copying that spell regularly? Expansion // Explosion also makes a nice choice between copying spells more or just fireballing peoples' faces in glorious copyable fashion.

Extravagant Replication
Determined Iteration
Xander's Pact

You might notice I cut quite a number of new cards in this list too. In many cases, it's not so much that I disliked the cards, but more that I felt the deck could do a little better and/or they often weren't the best fit. Extravagant Replication is a great card, but less so when you have such a small focus on creatures. Similarly, Determined Iteration is great in decks where you can get a variety of cool tokens. In a deck like this, it's not that great, and it feels like you'd often just rather have something like Goblin Assault instead. Body Count similarly expects you to sacrifice several creatures at once, but this deck really only likes to sacrifice in fairly smaller numbers. Xander's Pact is awesome, however the precon doesn't really have a lot of ways to gain life and that life loss can get extremely swingy - similar to Damnable Pact.

I think Anhelo could better be served by taking this deck further and honing it even further, but we're just here to upgrade a precon for now. Consider it a stepping stone, but definitely check out the myriad of lists and ways to build him. He's immensely popular over on EDHRec.com with over 1000 lists already on there, and it's not surprising to see why! Try this deck out at your next Commander night and crush your opponents under the weight of an absolute critical mass of powerhouse spells!

Paige Smith

Twitter: @TheMaverickGal

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