Last updated on February 13, 2024
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!
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!
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
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
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.
It’s especially potent with Rise of the Dark Realms.
Start the TARDIS
Suggested Cut: Copy Catchers
Search for Azcanta
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
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.
Suggested Cut: Myriad Landscape
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
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.
Suggested Cut: Counterpoint
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.
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