Last updated on February 13, 2024

Reanimate - Illustration by Johann Bodin

Reanimate | Illustration by Johann Bodin

New sets herald new mechanics, fun callbacks, and new Commander decks. Murders at Karlov Manor is far from our first return to the ever-popular plane of Ravnica, but it’s the first foray to come with Commander precons.

New precons mix reprints with cards designed for EDH. These often lead to novel designs that play well in a slower multiplayer format rather than focusing on the efficiency more competitive formats require.

Today, I’m looking at the Revenant Recon precon and finding ways to upgrade it!

Deck Overview

Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin - Illustration by Magali Villeneuve

Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin | Illustration by Magali Villeneuve

Commander precons can be hit or miss. With Revenant Recon, I’m pleasantly surprised to call it a hit!

Mirko, Obsessive Theorist

This Dimir deck focuses on using the surveil mechanic introduced, or rather named in Guilds of Ravnica to fuel a reanimator deck helmed by the new commander, Mirko, Obsessive Theorist.

Not only does the deck have a concise and powerful game plan, but it also comes with some pretty incredible reprints! Reanimate, Necromancy, and Animate Dead are multi-format staples. Other notable reprints include Rise of the Dark Realms and Toxic Deluge.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The precon is powerful right out of the gate. Reanimation strategies are always strong since they often cheat creatures into play far too early or allow you to recur your best threats to grind through removal.

Building around surveil is a great way to fill your graveyard. Mirko, Obsessive Theorist plays as a grindy reanimation commander, happy to spend a bit of time recurring Mulldrifter and Shriekmaw rather than turboing out Archon of Cruelty.

Overall, the deck has a cohesive strategy with solid support. But it’s not perfect. You have some of the best reanimation spells in this list, but your reanimation targets are a bit lackluster. Additionally, some of the surveil support cards aren’t up to snuff—creatures like Thoughtbound Phantasm and Dimir Spybug are Limited cards that you don’t want in your EDH deck. As with most precons, a handful of cards don’t quite fit the themes of this deck.

The common thread linking my upgrades: Take out the duds and up the consistency. Most of the cards I’ve added have surveil to work with the surveil payoffs you’d want to keep, like Mirko and Disinformation Campaign. I also add two more heavy-hitting reanimation targets.

Sire of Stagnation

Sire of Stagnation

Suggested Cut: Thoughtbound Phantasm

Thoughtbound Phantasm might be great on turn 1 when you grow it every turn, but it gets worse and worse. It belongs with your draft chaff. But Sire of Stagnation? This is a considerably powerful reanimation target. It produces a ton of card advantage and is cheap enough to reliably cast should you not find Reanimate and friends.

Nezahal, Primal Tide

Nezahal, Primal Tide

Suggested Cut: Dimir Spybug

Dimir Spybug shares the Phantom’s flaws. Nezahal, Primal Tide does a lot of work. While it’s hard to remove and provides amazing card advantage, it’s also a synergy piece since the discard activated ability can set up future reanimation lines.

Rise of the Dark Realms

It’s especially potent with Rise of the Dark Realms.

Start the TARDIS

Start the TARDIS

Suggested Cut: Copy Catchers

I don’t think Copy Catchers is bad; it just doesn’t mesh with this deck. You have better things to spend 2 mana on, like Start the TARDIS, which digs you to action.

Search for Azcanta

Search for Azcanta Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin

Suggested Cut: Whispering Snitch

If you could surveil infinitely, Whispering Snitch could be intriguing. As is, the card is too low impact. Search for Azcanta is one of the strongest surveil cards, and your commander benefits from a consistent surveil trigger (the card has received errata to actually use the term “surveil”).

The Grim Captain’s Locker

The Grim Captain's Locker

Suggested Cut: Foreboding Steamboat

There’s certainly a deck happy to run Foreboding Steamboat, but I doubt it’s this one. Exiling two of your own creatures is a hefty cost. You have some ETB abilities it could be interesting with, but I think The Grim Captain's Locker serves the deck better. Not only does it give another consistent surveil ability, but giving your creatures escape is a great way to grind through a game.

Undercity Sewers

Undercity Sewers

Suggested Cut: Myriad Landscape

It’s shocking that Undercity Sewers wasn’t included in the surveil precon, but it gives you a convenient reason to cut Myriad Landscape, which shouldn’t be in any deck.

Champion of Wits

Champion of Wits

Suggested Cut: Syr Konrad, the Grim

Konrad is a powerful card. But it’s best in decks with infinite loops or mass self-mill. It’s less effective in a precise deck like this. Champion of Wits digs through your deck, discards your reanimation targets, and isn't a bad card to bin with surveil.

Ghost of Ramirez DePietro

Ghost of Ramirez DePietro

Suggested Cut: Final-Word Phantom

Final-Word Phantom is a great example of a card that’s good for Commander – giving your spells flash at your opponent's end step is excellent – but doesn’t mesh with this deck. Ghost of Ramirez DePietro plays beautifully alongside surveil for some card advantage with your filtration.

Sauron’s Ransom

Sauron's Ransom

Suggested Cut: Counterpoint

I love a good 5-mana counterspell, but Counterpoint feels awkward in a deck that primarily plays at sorcery speed. Sauron's Ransom is cheaper and focuses the deck on milling even more.

Commanding Conclusion

Undercity Sewers - Illustration by Yeong-Hao Han

Undercity Sewers | Illustration by Yeong-Hao Han

Of all the Murders at Karlov Manor precons, Revenant Recon excites me the most. Some precons really meander through numerous themes, but this one is focused and concise. And it’s got great reprints! Though these tweaks make it more cohesive, it’s great out of the box and worth considering.

What precon from MKM are you looking forward to the most? What commander in the new set do you want to build? Let me know in the comments or in the Draftsim Discord!

Stay safe, and keep surveilling!

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