Reconstruct History - Illustration by Campbell White

Reconstruct History | Illustration by Campbell White

Preconstructed decks, or precons, can be one of the best ways for new players to get into Magic. You don’t have to understand how deckbuilding works to use them, and precons of the same format are usually balanced so you and your friends can each pick one up and know that your games will be relatively even. Even you veteran players can still have fun playing some precons straight out of the box. Maybe your playgroup wants to shake things up, or maybe you just want to try out a new style of play.

Whatever your experience level is, there are likely some preconstructed products that you could pick up and enjoy playing with. When it comes to Commander precons, special releases like the Warhammer 40k decks are good examples of decks that are fun right out of the box. There are also preconstructed decks for formats like Pioneer that are great for any players looking for a prepackaged experience.

Apart from precons related to specific formats, there are also unique products designed for casual play. These can include board game elements, cards with their own special format rules, or cards that aren’t legal outside of casual play. While these are rarely the best precons in terms of value or updating, these unique products can be great if you want to keep the decks unedited and just enjoy the specific experience of that Magic spinoff game.

Ready to jump in and find out which are the best precons in Magic? Let’s unwrap this mystery!

#14. Archenemy: Nicol Bolas

Archenemy: Nicol Bolas precon

Archenemy is a casual multiplayer format where one player takes on the titular role of “archenemy” while three other players team up to defeat them. The archenemy is given an advantage like a higher life total and powerful Scheme cards to supplement their deck.

While previous Archenemy products were single decks designed for the lone player, Archenemy: Nicol Bolas includes one deck for the archenemy as well as three decks for the other players to use. This makes it a much easier way to play this fun format right out of the box instead of having to assemble your own decks to challenge the archenemy.

Not only does having precons for all four players ensure a more balanced play experience, it also keeps a more consistent theme. The player who decides to be the archenemy plays as Nicol Bolas, and the three other players play as popular members of the Gatewatch: Chandra, Nissa, and Gideon. Some players may have gotten sick of the Gatewatch and Nicol Bolas monopolizing Magic’s story for a while, but this is a fun product to look back on and remember this period of Magic’s history.

Magic: the Gathering MTG Archenemy Nicol Bolas Game Set - 260 cards
  • Nicol Bolas is among the most powerful beings in the Multiverse-don't face him alone!
  • Magic the Gathering : Archenemy - Nicol Bolas - English
  • Contents of the Archenemy Nicol Bolas sets:
  • One player takes on the role of the elder dragon Planeswalker while the rest unite to meet the challenge

#13. Explorers of Ixalan

Explorers of Ixalan precon

Explorers of Ixalan is a multiplayer Magic game that combines some board game elements with typical Magic gameplay. It features four precons, one for each major faction from the plane of Ixalan: the Legion of Dusk, the Brazen Coalition, the River Heralds, and the Sun Empire. Each deck has its own unique themes to go along with the faction they represent.

While playing a normal multiplayer game of Magic, you can also explore one of Ixalan’s islands in search of Orazca, the Golden City, and any other helpful treasures. On your turn, you can spend mana exploring some of the tiles that make up the map as well as play cards. Exploring grants you perks in the game to represent your good fortune in treasure-hunting.

This is one of the better options for you if you enjoy thematic Magic products that help you feel like you’re part of the story. It’s also just a fun way to mix up the typical multiplayer game.

Magic The Gathering MTG-EO2-EN Explorers of Ixalan Box English Trading Card Game
  • Explorers of Ixalan is a complete, out-of-the-box multiplayer Magic experience in which players search for the lost city
  • Contains 4 x 60 card preconstructed decks and much more!
  • Players will explore the verdant jungle of Ixalan in search of the Golden City of Orazca and they will discover locations and events from the Ixalan story line along the way.
  • English Edition

#12. Grave Danger

Grave Danger precon

Grave Danger is one of the starter Commander decks that Wizards released in 2022. These decks are cheaper though less competitive than the typical Commander precon. These decks are a great option if you’re looking to get started with Commander or want to try and get your friends into the game with a low barrier to entry.

Grave Danger is my personal favorite of these decks because it’s helmed by Gisa and Geralf and has a very strong zombie and reanimation theme going on. That said you can really slot any of the starter Commander decks here depending on your preference for the theme. They’re all great out-of-the-box options for players looking to get started.

Magic: The Gathering Starter Commander Deck – Grave Danger (Blue-Black)
  • 100-card Blue-Black Commander deck
  • 1 Foil-Etched Legendary card + 99 nonfoil cards
  • Accessories—deck box, 10 double-sided tokens, punchout counters, strategy insert, and reference card
  • Grave Danger—command an army of undead with sibling necromancers Gisa and Geralf
  • The perfect introduction to Magic’s most popular format—join your friends in epic multiplayer battles with a ready-to-play MTG deck

#11. Gruul Stompy

Gruul Stompy Pioneer Challenger Deck

Challenger decks are a hard thing to get right. It’s difficult for Wizards to plan and print a product that’s competitive in its format when it comes out with formats changing so quickly. Gruul Stompy still does a pretty good job. Bonecrusher Giant and Scavenging Ooze are both cards that see play in competitive decks, and Questing Beast can be a great addition to an aggro deck.

This deck also includes a pretty good mana base for a precon. You get a full playset of Rockfall Vale and Karplusan Forest, and you even get the Gruul () shock land, Stomping Ground. Having a good mana base is always important to keep up with formats that want to move quickly.

Like any good precon, Gruul Stompy is also $30 cheaper than if you tried to assemble the deck with singles.

Magic The Gathering Pioneer Challenger Deck 2022 - Gruul Stompy (Red-Green)
  • 1 battle-ready 60-card MTG Pioneer 2022 Challenger Deck
  • 15-card sideboard
  • 5 double-sided tokens and 6 helper cards
  • 1 deck box (holds 75 sleeved Magic cards)
  • Pioneer Gruul Stompy (Red-Green)—accelerate your mana early and crush with giant threats

#10. Magic 2022 Starter Kit

Magic 2022 Starter Kit

The Magic 2022 Starter Kit is a great option for some quick and cheap fun. It’s a great way to get to know the game for new players, because these two decks together cost less than many single cards at just $10. They aren’t super competitive, but they’re balanced well against one another which means this plays well out of the box in a one-on-one setting.

These are also great decks for experienced players if you’re just looking for a quick game. They’re sold at retailers like Target and Walmart so they’re an easy impulse buy. I bought one on a camping trip when it ended up raining most of the time, and it was a great way to stay busy while stuck inside.

Magic: The Gathering 2022 Starter Kit | 2 Ready-to-Play Decks
  • Magic: The Gathering Starter Kits are a great way to dive into a game of deep strategy, gorgeous art, fantastical stories, and a thriving fan community
  • 2 decks designed for out-of-the-box play, with a Play Guide to get you started
  • 2 boxes to store your decks—easy to bring to your next board game night or play at your local game store
  • Includes redemption codes that unlock both decks on Magic: The Gathering Arena—letting you play both in person and online with your friends
  • 5 Rare cards, including 1 rare in a shining Traditional Foil treatment, included in each deck

#9. Guided By Nature

Commander 2014 Guided by Nature

Commander 2014 introduced an interesting new concept to the format: planeswalkers that can be your commander. Of the five planeswalker commanders released in the set, Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury is one of the best. It can generate tokens and ramp at the same time, but it’s also a great form of unnatural removal. It won’t be too difficult to get Freyalise out and get it to its ultimate ability as your commander, which can end up drawing you a ton of cards.

Apart from Freyalise itself, Guided by Nature is a great elf-themed Commander deck with a lot of mono-green staples like Emerald Medallion, Beastmaster Ascension, and Song of the Dryads. You don’t have to worry as much about the typical precon issue of having a bad land base as a monocolored deck, and you get some good utility lands like Oran-Rief, the Vastwood.

#8. Unsanctioned


Unlike other Un-sets, Unsanctioned wasn’t a Draft product but a box that contained five preconstructed half-decks. These decks feature a mix of new and reprinted silver-border cards and were designed to be shuffled together to make full ready-to-play decks similar to a Jumpstart pack. This box set is a great way for players to enjoy an Un-set while not being super confident with either Draft or Sealed formats.

While I’d usually say that precon products are good for new players, silver-border cards might be a little lost on them just because many of the cards draw on Magic mechanics to create inside jokes. But Unsanctioned is a good introduction to Un-sets if you’ve been playing Magic for a little while and want to dip your toes into some of the game’s goofier side.

Magic: The Gathering Unsanctioned | Card Game for 2 Players | 160 Cards
  • Combine two of the 30-card decks into a two-colored super-deck! Mix and match the decks into new deranged, delirious, and downright preposterous combinations.
  • The rules are unhinged, the stadium is unstable, and things are about to come unglued. Unsanctioned is mayhem-filled Magic: The Gathering, ready to play right out of the box.
  • Unsanctioned includes 160 Magic cards, including 10 full-art basic land cards—5 foil and 5 non-foil— with gorgeous illustrations, printed here for the first time.
  • Unlike most Magic: The Gathering sets, Unsanctioned is filled with special silver-bordered cards that get to do things other Magic cards don’t, like give a creature “infinity” power.
  • Unsanctioned is filled with cards from Magic’s “Un” sets, like Unglued, Unhinged, and Unstable, plus seventeen cards that join the “Un” family for the first time. Unheard of!

#7. Draconic Domination

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No products found. is a Commander 2017 precon featuring one of the most popular dragon commanders: The Ur-Dragon. Until Commander Masters releases, Draconic Domination is one of only two places where players can actually get their hands on the card, and you’ll get a pretty strong dragon deck to go along with it if you pick up Draconic Domination.

The Ur-Dragon is a very powerful commander that makes it easier to cast this deck’s other powerful dragons like Scalelord Reckoner and Scion of the Ur-Dragon. Apart from a host of strong dragon creatures, this deck also includes 5-color staple Fist of Suns and tribal deck staple Herald's Horn.

While this is one of the more expensive precons, it’s a powerful deck that’s a lot of fun to play right out of the box.

No products found.

#6. Tyranid Swarm

Tyranid Swarm precon

It’s clear that Wizards put a lot of effort into their Universes Beyond Warhammer 40k crossover when looking at decks like Tyranid Swarm. This deck has some great original cards like Shadow in the Warp, Ghyrson Starn, Kelermorph, and Old One Eye. Not only are these cards powerful, but they really make it stand out from other Commander decks and strengthen the 40K theme by being originals for the deck.

The deck also has a powerful alternative commander in the form of Magus Lucea Kane. It synergizes very well with the deck’s unique ravenous mechanic and can really change up the way the deck is played. Tyranid Swarm has good replay value without having to change the original decklist by having two strong commanders you can run with it that each play a bit differently.

Magic: The Gathering Universes Beyond: Warhammer 40,000 Commander Deck – Tyranid Swarm
  • 100-card ready-to-play Warhammer 40,000 Commander Deck—Tyranid Swarm
  • Green-Blue-Red Deck—contains 2 legendary traditional foil cards plus 98 nonfoil cards
  • Every card features Warhammer-themed art—including 42 cards that are new to Magic
  • 1 foil-etched Display Commander
  • 10 double-sided tokens, 1 life tracker, and 1 deck box

#5. Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose precon

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose was the first ever Secret Lair Commander precon. The deck was a bit more expensive than the average precon, and players had to wait over a year from ordering for it to finally arrive unlike most Magic products. When it finally came it proved very much worth the price and wait for how powerful of a precon it is. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise since the deck is based on one that senior Magic designer Gavin Verhey plays.

The deck uses Okaun, Eye of Chaos and Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom as partner commanders, but you can also run Yusri, Fortune's Flame as an alternate commander. The deck is coin flip themed, including all the best coin flip cards like Chance Encounter, Krark's Thumb, and Stitch in Time.

The deck is fun and chaotic, with luck playing a huge role in how well you do. It’s great for players who seek a less traditional type of deck but still want to stay competitive. Players who bought it at its $100 Secret Lair price also got a great deal because the deck includes around $250 worth of cards. While the price has spiked, it’s still a good value at the new $180 price tag.

#4. Izzet Phoenix

Izzet Phoenix Pioneer Challenger deck

Like the legendary fire birds themselves, Phoenix decks seem to be an ever-enduring theme in Magic. This makes the Izzet Phoenix Challenger deck for Pioneer one of the best precon decks available. With cards like Thing in the Ice, Expressive Iteration, and of course Arclight Phoenix, this precon is built very similar to Pioneer Phoenix decks that are stills somewhat relevant in the current meta.

This deck also features a good mana base with a playset of Shivan Reef and a couple of Sulfur Falls‘ to go with it. You’ll also get a copy of Steam Vents. Though meta decks have a slightly better mana base you can still hold your own with this deck out of the box, especially if where you play has a more casual player base.

Magic The Gathering Pioneer Challenger Deck 2022 - Izzet Phoenix (Blue-Red)
  • 1 battle-ready 60-card MTG Pioneer 2022 Challenger Deck
  • 15-card sideboard
  • 5 double-sided tokens and 6 helper cards
  • 1 deck box (holds 75 sleeved Magic cards)
  • Izzet Phoenix (Blue-Red)—cast a whole lotta spells and fly in with spell-loving creatures

#3. Built From Scratch

Commander 2014 Built from Scratch

Commander 2014 was a good year for commanders, and Built From Scratch is a very powerful precon right out of the box. The deck uses Daretti, Scrap Savant as a commander, one with great abilities to help you cheat out some expensive artifacts. You’ll easily run away with a game if you manage to get off its ultimate ability.

There are plenty of great artifacts to go along with Daretti, like Junk Diver, Wurmcoil Engine, and Steel Hellkite. There’s also great artifact support with Goblin Welder along with generally good cards like Ruby Medallion and Arcane Lighthouse.

#2. Necron Dynasties

Necron Dynasties precon

Most players agree that Necron Dynasties was the best of the Warhammer 40k Commander precons. While there isn’t one massive standout card, the whole deck just works so well together. There’s a lot of synergy between the self-mill and recursion mechanics, plus a lot of support from and for your artifacts.

Not only is the Necron deck powerful, it’s also a great thematic translation of the Necrons in 40K to Magic. In 40K, the Necrons are very difficult to keep down because they’re basically able to repair themselves and keep fighting. This is represented very well by cards like Dread Return or Beacon of Unrest as well as unearth mechanics.

Magic: The Gathering Universes Beyond: Warhammer 40,000 Commander Deck – Necron Dynasties
  • 100-card ready-to-play Warhammer 40,000 Commander Deck— Necron Dynasties
  • Black Deck—contains 2 legendary traditional foil cards plus 98 nonfoil cards
  • Every card features Warhammer-themed art—including 42 cards that are new to Magic
  • 1 foil-etched Display Commander
  • 10 double-sided tokens, 1 life tracker, and 1 deck box

#1. Vampiric Bloodlust

Commander 2017 Vampiric Bloodlust

Similar to The Ur-Dragon, Commander 2017 also introduced an excellent tribal commander for vampires: Edgar Markov. Edgar Markov can create a ton of token creatures for you, giving you extra bodies to use with your aristocrat cards like Skullclamp, or cards like Blood Tribute which requires tapping vampires.

Edgar Markov can also buff all your creatures and itself quite a bit, making even your token creatures formidable over time. Vampiric Bloodlust also has powerful Commander staples like Teferi's Protection and Blind Obedience that can help this deck stay competitive without having to add more cards.

Wrap Up

The Ur-Dragon - Illustration by Jaime Jones

The Ur-Dragon | Illustration by Jaime Jones

Magic precons come in all varieties. Commander precons are probably the most popular, but there’s lots to enjoy about the more unique products like Archenemy or Explorers of Ixalan. While these decks might not be the most competitive, they offer the best out-of-the-box experience of any Magic product.

What preconstructed products do you like the best? Do you often play right from the box, or do you prefer to upgrade the decks you buy? Let me know in the comments below or on Draftsim’s Twitter.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to seeing you next time!

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