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Upgrading Riveteer Rampage


There sure is no slowing down when it comes to Streets of New Capenna Commander precons, huh? We've reached our fourth one with the Riveteer Rampage deck! The Riveteers are the ones who build the world of New Capenna and aren't afraid to get their hands a little dirty in the process. Browbeating others to get their way and doing things their way is their style and they do it well - especially when under the command of Henzie "Toolbox" Torre.

Henzie is an interesting commander who is a little weird. He himself isn't that powerful stats-wise and doesn't have quite the splashiest effect either. Sure, he can do cost reduction, but it's not going to be much without him going back to the command zone and being recast frequently. Still, he provides discounts and gives a lot of your creatures that sweet, sweet blitz ability and all the synergies it provides. We've got plenty to discuss and upgrades to look at, so let's get right into it by looking at the initial precon deck you can expect right out of the box!

Riveteer Rampage Precon | Commander | Wizards of the Coast

Much like Obscura Operation - which I covered last week - this is arguably one of the better decks right out of the box. It's easy to understand and simple enough to pick up and play. You could give this to a new player and they'd be able to have a great time much the same as a veteran player would enjoy it. The deck basically has you play large creatures, let them do nonsense, and turn them sideways. Creatures die and you get some light synergy from them. Simple, straightforward, and I love it.

Etali, Primal Storm
Avenger of Zendikar
Artisan of Kozilek

The basic plan is to ramp up quickly into your top end or bring them out cheaper with the commander. And honestly, the top end looks pretty great here! There's a ton of solid choices to go around like Etali, Inferno Titan, Avenger of Zendikar, and Woodfall Primus. Each is great to cast on its own and you won't mind too terribly if it comes in and dies - or you find a way to sneak it back with something like Temur Sabertooth. Some cards have extra synergy with Henzie too. Giant Adephage deals damage and makes a token of itself in the process, so while the original dies, the card actually sticks around. Similarly, when you play a creature with a blitz ability, you still cast it, meaning you can get an extra creature back with Artisan of Kozilek by using the blitz cost reduction from Henzie.

There are a few things I don't like, though, and they mostly come in the form of the deck's mana ramp. If you go back and look at the other three upgrade articles I've done so far, they each had a number of mana rocks in them. Each of them tended to have Sol Ring, Arcane Signet, Commander's Sphere, and the three matching signets from the original Ravnica block. Here, though, we drop the Ravnica signets and most others that aren't the former three above. Instead, there's a larger number of lands in the deck than the others and there's a lot more land ramp spells. But there's not really many mana dorks and some - like Explore - don't even guarantee you get a land!

Mitotic Slime
Aether Snap

There's also a handful of questionable card inclusions in general. Deathbringer Regent is a card that's meant to be a board wipe that leaves a creature behind, but too often you're going to find you just sit on it and would rather a lot of other cards instead. Treeshaker Chimera is solid but feels weird, and what's Mitotic Slime doing here? I get there's some synergy with blitz, but it's not that great that I'd want the card in this deck. Aether Snap feels odd as well, though is likely here to play against the other precons, and is reasonable enough to remove except for specific playgroups.

This sets up what we're looking to change, so let's have a look at an upgraded list:

Riveteer Rampage Revamped | Commander | Paige Smith

Now that's more like it! With this list I looked to do three things: upgrade mana dorks and the quality of top-end cards like mentioned above, but also to find ways to keep creatures from being dead with blitz. The first of these was easy enough. Mana ramp is one of the easiest things in the game to come by when it comes to Green cards. Odds are you've probably got several lying around in your collection, and I simply added in some of the better ones here. Llanowar Elves and Elves of Deep Shadow are somewhat obligatory, while Birds of Paradise and Ignoble Hierarch are simply multicolored slam dunks. Joraga Treespeaker ramps even harder and can go truly nuts.

Next was improving the quality of the top-end. As mentioned before, what was in the deck was already pretty solid. In fact, you'll notice most things are the same with a few notable additions. Ziatora, the Riveteer family head, was an obvious choice for blitz synergy and the massive ramp she provides. End-Raze Forerunners - a cheaper alternative if you don't have Craterhoof Behemoth - is also great to close games with. Then there's some creatures you don't mind dying like Wurmcoil Engine and Kokusho, the Evening Star, as you'll get tons of value for their sacrifice! And if you need to get them all in more easily while bringing the big beats, Ilharg himself can help you out no problem.

Ignoble Hierarch
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Cauldron of Souls

Not all your creatures will stay dead, though! There're tons of potent ways to get them coming back. Mikaeus, the Unhallowed and Cauldron of Souls are some of the best, as they allow you to cast creatures for their blitz costs and give them persist, undying, or both prior to their death, thereby ensuring they stick around. If that doesn't work, then Meren of Clan Nel Toth and Phyrexian Reclamation will get you back your creatures no problem. If you need to do a sweeping revival, though, you can get some tremendous mileage out of the likes of both Agadeem's Awakening // Agadeem, the Undercrypt (lots of mana values in this list!) and good old Living Death!

There're some pretty great new cards here too. Industrial Advancement, Caldaia Guardian, First Responder, and Bellowing Mauler each have some great synergy with blitz. The majority of them all let you sacrifice them in a beneficial manner instead of just letting them die or you can return them in the case of First Responder (Erratic Portal does this as well in this updated list). Next of Kin lets you blitz your creature in and keep the train going with creature after creature as they die. Mezzio Mugger is also going to get tons of value from stealing your opponents' cards, Jolene makes things a bit more chaotic, and Grime Gorger clears graveyards while getting in for massive damage.

Bellowing Mauler
Next of Kin
Rain of Riches

A few feel like a miss, though, even if they're awesome cards in general. When I look at cards like Protection Racket, Turf War, and Rain of Riches, I definitely think these are excellent cards...just not in this list necessarily. Protection Racket just feels extremely risky as in a format with 40 life for each player, you'll be exiling a ton of cards - ones you might need. Turf War can get you important and strong lands, but often is just going to be some super slow and unnecessary late game ramp, and Rain of Riches generally doesn't have quite enough treasure support here to work well. And, really, what on earth is Weathered Sentinels doing here? It's bland, unexciting, and I'd rather have several other cards instead. Wave of Rats isn't really much better, but at least that has some blitz synergy. Despite that, it's still not great.

In the end, though, Riveteer Rampage is an excellent precon and one that you can easily upgrade no problem. I've added several cards not everyone has access to right out of the gate, but you've probably got some dorks, reanimation spells, and fatties sitting around. Like, I'd bet most players reading this article at least have an End-Raze Forerunners and possibly a Myr Battlesphere or Steel Hellkite - two cards not in this upgraded list - that can easily slot in here. It's not hard to make some changes, but even if you make none whatsoever, it's a great deck for your next Commander night. Just make sure your friends are ready for you to bring the beats!

Paige Smith

Twitter: @TheMaverickGal

Twitch: twitch.tv/themaverickgirl

YouTube: TheMaverickGal

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