Friends, I’ve played a lot of games of Commander at various levels of competitiveness and power. One of the best decisions I’ve made in the last several years of playing casual Commander was playing precons more. Today I’m here to discuss the benefits of having your playgroup play with unaltered precons. Welcome back to the Commander Corner.

Preconstructed decks have been a mainstay of the Commander format for over a decade now, since the original Commander product (aptly named “Commander”) released in 2011. However, precons are usually considered a starter product for new players or a template to be edited by more experienced ones by today’s standards. This is a fair, but in my opinion misguided, way of looking at precon decks.

Over the last year, I’ve purchased the Warhammer 40,000 and Strixhaven Commander decks. I’ve kept them completely unchanged in their original deck boxes. I bring all of these with me, in addition to a handful of my own customized decks, to my local playgroup. While I’m not necessarily saying you should buy a full cycle of decks to bring to your local playgroups, but I do think there are some sweet benefits to convincing your playgroup to each buy a different deck in a cycle. Speaking of benefits, let’s discuss them.


It’s no secret how Magic can be an expensive hobby. Although casual Commander is among the most inexpensive formats, at least compared to formats like Legacy and Standard, the cost of building a deck can quickly inflate to hundreds of dollars. Precons, on the other hand, often cost around $50 for a fully functional deck you can play right out of the box.

Power Level

Generally speaking, the power level across a cycle of preconstructed decks tend to be similar. There are outliers, but casual Commander is often a self-correcting format when one player has a huge lead over the others. Point being, you’ll probably see a lot more games where everyone is on a relatively even playing field, and nobody’s casting Thassa’s Oracle. If that sounds like a good time to you, you aren’t alone.

Fewer Personal Stakes

We probably all know someone who takes games of Commander a little bit too seriously. Maybe you have a friend who takes a deck apart the moment it loses or thinks they build bad decks because they showed up to a table and had no answer to a turn four Expropriate. Well, playing with precons is a great way to mitigate those feelings for every player.

If you didn’t build the deck, and you know most of the precons are of comparable power level, losing can’t possibly be a result of deckbuilding skill. Just as well, you never have to feel bad that you didn’t get to do the thing you built your deck to do. You might not even know what all of the cards in your deck do. Speaking of variance…


One of the trademarks of a singleton format is variance. Although Commander players ironically do their best to reduce this fundamental format phenomenon, having different play patterns across every game was one of the initial building blocks of the Commander format. Having decks that aren’t streamlined or even upgraded at all means the variance is at an all-time high.

Add all that to the fact that more and more precons are coming out all the time, and you can have a wide range of roughly even starting positions without much planning. Plus, you can even temporarily trade decks with another player with the guarantee of similar power levels for an even more varied play experience. If you’ve ever left your cards at home and had to borrow a deck from someone else, you’re already halfway there.

Ease of Access

One of the biggest issues across Magic is finding ways to get new players invested and enfranchised in the game. Admittedly, the folks over at Wizards of the Coast are certainly trying to bring in new blood, but Magic newcomers can get quickly overwhelmed with how large the game is in scope. Preconstructed decks have always been able to bridge the gap between new and experienced players. There are, however, problems.

First, bringing a precon deck to a table full of upgraded decks can be a negative experience. Telling a new player to shelve their precon and play something upgraded you provide can be both confusing and demoralizing, since they might not understand how to pilot it. Additionally, they might feel a bit silly for purchasing a $50+ product that doesn’t in any way keep up with the average casual table.

Having a decent number of precons on hand is a great way to mitigate these feelings and keep new players interested in the Commander format. First, they don’t even need to purchase a deck to try out the format, but they can do so expecting their deck to perform well in-game if they do purchase a deck. Second, the whole game will usually be a lot less complex. Finally, a table full of precons can swap around decks for a game without one player feeling like they got handed a pile of garbage. 

A Downside: Limited Creativity/Power

I’d like to think I’m fair in how I present stuff like this, so I’d feel a bit bad if I didn’t include one of the downsides to using precons instead of player-made or upgraded decks. Being confined to the cards in a single precon often means your only real choice in deck construction is which of the commanders to put in the Command Zone. This is a negative for some folks, and I can understand why. The ability to create a deck from the ground up based on your own desires and creativity is one of the huge draws of Commander.

However, I’m not advising you to only play precons with your playgroup, but to sometimes do it. The same general argument applies for power level concerns, but if you can’t enjoy playing precon decks due to the lower power levels, it might be time to ask why you’re playing casual Commander instead of more competitive formats like Cube, Legacy, or Competitive EDH.

The Unexpected Results

This is all I have for you today, but I want to close things out by discussing what I’ve noticed following my own advice over the last year. I can say with complete honesty: it’s been a blast. Sitting down with old friends and new arrivals to play precon decks has been wonderful. I wish I had been doing it for years. We don’t play with precons every time, and even when I bring them we still play with normal decks, but we always have fun either way. I hope you give it a try at some point too. At any rate, I’ve been Luka “Robot” Sharaska, and this has been the Commander Corner.

Luka V. Sharaska (they/them) earned the nickname “Robot” by having a monotone voice, a talent for calculating odds, and a perfect poker face. Robot has been playing Magic for more than a decade, starting during the days of New Phyrexia in 2011.

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