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Upgrading Party Time


Another week and another Commander precon upgrade. There's certainly been a lot of these lately hasn't there? Well thankfully there's tons of fun and variety to be had with all these various releases coming out in the last few months. The lists for Streets of New Capenna were great and so too are the ones in Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate. One deck that caught lots of players' attention when it was first announced was the Party Time deck.

The main reason for this is that, simply put, party didn't exactly get the most support in its first release in Zendikar Rising. Only being in a single set - and a Standard one at that - Party didn't end up having quite the staying power people hoped. It was made worse by the mechanic ultimately being fairly clunky when used in practice. Many players hoped that it would show up in Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realm but sadly it didn't happen. Ultimately, it isn't too surprising it showed up here. But the new party cards only exist in this deck and not in the main set. Is it enough to make this deck work?

Let's have a look at the precon list!

Party Time Precon | Commander | Wizards of the Coast

There were two things that came to mind when I started working on this list. The first is that I really don't like the fact that this deck is only two colors. There's a couple of reasons for that. For one, I don't think some of the tribes are as well represented depending on the colors. Clerics are certainly a tribe I typically attribute to Orzhov colors, but certainly not wizards. Warriors I see a decent amount in White and rogues in Black, and there's certainly some cross-over, but I really think you'd open it up to some more options with a third color. There's also only so much party options in these two colors with the mechanic being in only a single set prior to this precon.

Burakos, Party Leader
Folk Hero

The other thing that stood out was that for once, I kind of want the secondary commander pair over the main one. Nalia de'Arnise is definitely a sweet commander who can regularly draw cards and get you buffs, but I kind of prefer what the combo of Burakos, Party Leader and Folk Hero have going on a bit more. With these two, you can draw a card - doesn't have to be limited exclusively to creatures like Nalia - whenever you play any creature. What's more, you get a bunch of treasures and take out life just for attacking with party members. Folk Hero is also substantially worse with Nalia, as it only works off Humans and Rogues. If you happen to have Maskwood Nexus in play, that's a bit moot, but often times it won't keep you going the way it will with Burakos. And hey, you can still draw into Nalia playing her in the 98.

As such my goals are twofold with this list: find more ways to enhance the party mechanic and also to find ways to make Burakos attack a bit more consistently. Party is easy enough to assemble, it just requires me digging somewhat deep through the game's card pool. Similarly, with getting Burakos through, that's also easy thanks to some decent equipment. Let's see how it turned out:

Party Time Revamped | Commander | Paige Smith

When I worked on the list at first, the deck had only eight cards that specifically reference the party mechanic. Remember when I said the mechanic is pretty light on support? Yeah, I meant it. Most of the cards here are pretty solid, but a big part of that has to do with the fact that they were made specifically for this deck. In fact, the only four returning party cards are Thwart the Grave, Archpriest of Iona, Squad Commander, and Malakir Blood-Priest. Both Archpriest and Malakir Blood-Priest are really underwhelming, though the other two are solid enough. I kept Archpriest here simply because it works a little decently, giving evasion to Burakos, but I'm not thrilled about having it here.

Squad Commander
Stick Together
Ghoulcaller Gisa

While there's rarely cards that specifically reference party, there are still a few cards that riff on it indirectly. The new Harper Recruiter is a good example of this, as it lets you continuously dig for more creatures of the types related to the mechanic. Similarly, Solemn Doomguide lets you bring them back from your graveyard with unearth. It doesn't really feel like there's a lot of payoff, though, and what you're left with is a deck largely trying to just swarm the board. That's fine enough, but I'd have loved for a deck called "Party Time" to do more with, you know, party. This mechanic really needs more support and I hope it gets it in future releases to make this deck better.

Even without the degree of party utilization I'd like, the overall experience a deck like this offers is pretty solid. It's not hard to swarm the board with tons of cards and there is still some amount of interplay with the tribes thanks to the commanders. It's almost more of a midrangey-aggro deck as opposed to a party themed one, and that's fine. I tried looking for a couple new cards that could work well and found some solid additions. Some stood out as very obvious inclusions. Archivist of Oghma, Ghoulcaller Gisa, and Ogre Slumlord all immediately jumped out to me and Liliana, Heretic Healer felt like an excellent on-theme planeswalker addition.

Going through the tribes, I was actually surprised to have the hardest time finding good rogues for this deck. I thought the one I'd have the most trouble with was wizards, but it turned out there were some actually decent ones like Spelltithe Enforcer and Lim-Dul the Necromancer. Of course, there was an abundance of clerics with Orzhov being so heavy in the tribe, and there were a decent amount of warriors as well. When it came to rogues, though, almost all the really good ones were already in the deck. I think that's because most of the decent rogues are best at being all-out aggro and more so in a 1v1 setting compared to multiplayer. Warriors were a bit similar, but had a decent amount more support for other creatures as well, so they made for decent support options.

Avenging Huntbonder
Ravos, Soultender
Whispersilk Cloak

Beyond that, I mostly added support options. I was surprised at the lack of clear removal in a deck that clearly has the best colors for the option. Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile are both easy options, but I think adding something like Hero's Downfall is good as well to help deal with planeswalkers. Similarly, there isn't a ton to deal with artifacts and enchantments so in comes Return to Dust. Finally, some evasive support for Burakos in Whispersilk Cloak and the aptly named Rogue's Passage (how do you not include that in a deck like this?) both help him get through so you can keep the flow of treasures coming.

All told, Party Time actually makes for a surprisingly fun deck. The biggest issue I have with it is that it fails to really make big use of the actual party mechanic, but the actual deck that it makes surrounding it is quite solid. If you like more aggressive leaning strategies, this is a deck for you, and it isn't hard to upgrade either. I do hope that party gets additional support in the near future, but for now, it remains an excellent deck to play at your next Commander night. Just remember: it's dangerous to go alone, so take this precon.

Paige Smith

Twitter: @TheMaverickGal

Twitch: twitch.tv/themaverickgirl

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