Do you want to improve your Deadly Disguise precon, but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, as in this Deadly Disguise Upgrade Guide I’ll give you some amazing ideas on which cards to add, as well as which ones to remove in order to make your deck stronger and more fun. At the end of the article, you’ll also find a sample upgraded decklist that you can build around.
But first, let’s see what the deck is all about.
Deadly Disguise Overview
This deck is built around facedown creatures, which is surprising for a white-red-green deck. The previous commander for the face-down theme commander was Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer (around which I already built a deck). However, having a whole different three color combination to explore is very exciting.
You’ll get your face-down creatures by using a variety of mechanics, including disguise, cloak, morph and manifest cards.
Face Down Mechanics
If you’re unfamiliar with these, here are some quick explanations about each one.
You can cast morph cards face down as 2/2 colorless creatures for three mana. Afterward, you can pay their associated morph costs to turn them face up. (You can do this at instant speed.)
Disguise works exactly like morph cards, except the creature also has ward 2. That means that your opponents need to spend two extra mana to target that creature with spells or abilities. You can find more detailed disguise rules here.
Manifest is an ability that allows you to put any card on the battlefield face down 2/2 colorless creature. You can then turn it up for its regular mana cost if it’s a creature. You can also turn it up if it has disguise or morph cost.
Cloak works just like manifest, except that the 2/2 creature also has ward 2.
So, that’s it for the rules, now let’s take a look at your commander.
Kaust, Eyes of the Glade
Normally you’d have to pay a cost to flip a facedown creature, but Kaust allows you to flip them for free. On top of that, it also draws you cards when creatures deal combat damage to the opponent on the turn they’re turned face up.
Akroma, Angel of Fury is an example of a powerful card that normally costs 6 mana to flip. So, you have an idea how powerful Kaust’s free flip can be.
While most Commander precons include 2-3 potential commanders, there’s usually one that makes the most sense for the deck, given its initial build. However, Deadly Disguise is one of those rare decks where both new commanders can be switched with minimal changes to the deck. Duskana, the Rage Mother is a higher mana cost to cast but makes all your 2/2 facedown cards into 5/5s when they attack. This can certainly be useful.
So, while I’ll focus on using Kaust as your commander, feel free to switch to Duskana if you want to see how it plays.
Deadly Disguise Decklist
Best 3 Cards to Upgrade Deadly Disguise
I’m going to start with three key cards you should try to add first. Each of these will have a large impact on your ability to win games and enable some fun play patterns. While I’ll also cover both budget and higher cost additions, these are the first ones you should save up for. Thankfully, most of them aren’t that expensive.
Yarus, Roar of the Old Gods
Yarus is an absolute beast for facedown decks. I would love to have him as a commander, but you’d have to cut out all of your white cards.
Nevertheless, you’ll still want a copy in the 99, as Yarus allows you to aggressively attack with your facedown cards. You’ll either get to draw a card, or bring that creature back turned up. Both options are useful.
Sure, sometimes there will be non-permanent card underneath the 2/2 colorless creature. Even so, you’re still bringing it back as a 2/2. Furthermore, your opponents won’t know what’s beneath the card, so they’re heavily discouraged from blocking. In that case — more card draw for you!
Forsaken Monument is a powerful addition since it not only makes your facedown creatures stronger, it also gains you life whenever you cast a disguise or morph creature. You’re going to want to attack constantly for this deck, so the life gain will help you feel safer when you don’t block your opponents’ attacks.
While the added mana ability might seem a bit out of place, there actually are uses for it. There are already some lands that tap for colorless, such as Zoetic Cavern, but you can also add more of them, such as pain lands. (Battlefield Forge and the others.)
Iroas, God of Victory
You’re going to want to attack each turn so you can keep flipping face-down creatures for free and drawing cards. One advantage the deck inherently uses is the fact that your opponents won’t know what the creature is until it flips. That can discourage them from blocking, but not always.
That’s what Iroas can help you with. It makes your opponents even less tempted to block, since they know they won’t be able to kill the creature. Plus, menace means they need to commit more blockers. Not all morph cards use excellent stats, so this is a great way to keep attacking without fear.
So, those were the three best cards to add, now we’re moving to other additions. They are sorted into three groups: facedown cards, constant attacking, and mana base.
First up, here you’ll find some powerful facedown cards as well as cards that enhance them.
Dream Chisel is a neccessary staple for any facedown deck. It’s particularly strong in the early game, given you have a commander that can flip cards for free. However, it’s also useful later in the game, when it allows you to play multiple spells per turn.
Another card that makes your face-down spells cheaper is Ugin, the Ineffable. While its mana cost is a bit high, it does provide a very large discount. One mana for disguise? Yes, please. Of course, its ability also come in quite handy.
New Cards from Karlov Manor
A lot of the good reprints for this theme are included in this deck. However, there are also plenty of useful cards that were just released in the Karlov Manor set.
Hide in Plain Sight is an insane card. Four mana to cloak two cards among the top five of your library is splendid. It truly is such a bargain, when you consider it costs 6 mana to disguise two cards. While you might end up with noncreatures, it’s still well worth the risk.
This deck doesn’t play many Forests, which makes Flourishing Bloom-Kin is beat weaker. However, given that your commander can flip it for free, it’s a great for ramping you, while synergizing with your theme.
I highly recommend you use Pyrotechnic Performer. Its ability to have your creatures deal damage when they flip is amazing, especially since it affects each opponent. Flip Krosan Cloudscraper for free with your commander to deal 13 damage to each opponent!
Unyielding Gapekeeper is another powerful disguise card. You can exile any nonland permanent and give the controller a 2/2 in exchange. Or you could even blink one of your own permanents to save one of your attacking creatures. So many great options!
While Sumala Sentry isn’t a disguise card, it does allow you to strengthen itself and your facedown creatures with +1/+1 counters.
At first, you might think Guardian Project doesn’t work with facedown cards. Surprisingly, that’s not the case, since facedown cards don’t have a name. Thus, they can’t share a name with other creatures, even other facedown cards.
Liberator, Urza’s Battlethopter is a great way to give your creatures flash. This is especially a good fit since the deck comes with Seedborn Muse, so it’s a good idea to include more instant-speed cards.
For the same reason, Skittering Cicada should be included. It works a bit differently, but gets stronger for each colorless spell you cast, which can certainly be useful.
You should also look at Aurelia’s Vindicator, a new card from Murders at Karlov Manor. She allows you to exile creatures from the battlefield and graveyards when she flips. The cards return to their controllers’ hands when she leaves the battlefield, which is not always a downside. There’s a lot of versatility to it. You can stall a graveyard deck or exile creatures that are attacking you. Additionally, you can also use it to redraw some creatures from your graveyard.
In order to unlock your commander’s max potential, you need to attack with at least one facedown creature per turn and have it hit an opponent. Here are my top picks to help those creatures survive or deal more damage before they die.
Jasmine Boreal of the Seven prevents creatures with abilities from blocking creatures without abilities, which is great since morph and manifested creatures have no abilities. Sadly, disguise and cloak cards have ward 2, which counts as an ability. Thus, if you add tons of them, Jasmine won’t be a good fit.
Gisela, Blade of Goldnight is the perfect card for an aggressive deck. The double damage is an obvious plus, but halving the damage you take protects your creatures and also allows you to leave yourself open to counterattacks without fear.
Temur Sabertooth allows you to bounce your creatures. So what you want to do is attack with a facedown creature with an ability that triggers when it flips. You then have your commander flip it to trigger its abilities. Then, if the creature is blocked and would die, Temur Sabertooth bounces it to your hand so you can replay it.
Worldly Tutor will let you search for your biggest creatures to attack. Unfortunately, you have to reveal the card, so your opponents know it’s coming. That said, you can use this to have a little fun and play mind games with your opponents. If your opponents know you have a big disguise or morph card, every time you play a facedown card they’ll think it might be that creature. Thus, you can psyche them out with other weaker creatures. I don’t know about you, but I find this hilarious.
A white staple, Flawless Maneuver is particularly great here, as it’s easy to have your commander out, thanks to its low mana cost. You can use maneuver defensively or to make reckless attacks.
Mana Base Deadly Disguise Upgrade
In this section, I’ll discuss how you can make the mana base in the Deadly Disguise precon better.
Blighted Woodland is a fun and cheap card for ramp. It comes in untapped and gives colorless mana, and later you can sacrifice it to get two basic lands. This way, if you play it, and you’d rather cast spells instead of ramping, you can just tap it like any other land.
Farseek is an amazing card to search for nonbasic lands that have Mountain or Plains types. Even if you don’t have the budget for high cost lands, the deck comes with multiple nonbasic lands that use those types.
Tunnel Tipster is a new card in Murders at Karlov Manor. It taps for mana, but more importantly gets +1/+1 counters every one of your end steps where you flipped a creature that turn. So it’ll eventually get strong enough to start attacking too.
If you want to really improve the mana base here are the top lands to use. Here you won’t find as many fun abilities like the budget lands, but these will help you get the colors you need fast.
- Fabled Passage
- Jetmir’s Garden
- Spire Garden
- Bountiful Promenade
- Spectator Seating
- Sacred Foundry
- Stomping Grounds
- Temple Garden
Also, while the other lands aren’t exactly budget, you can also add the fetch lands, which are typically even more expensive:
Finally, Dockside Extortionist is always one of the best ramp cards for any deck with red. Though given how rare and expensive it is, you might want to focus on upgrading the lands first.
Cards to Cut from Deadly Disguise Precon
Sometimes, figuring what to cut can be harder than figuring what to add. Here you’ll find which cards you should remove first when you start with Deadly Disguise upgrade.
Tesak, Judith’s Hellhound is a fascinating interesting card, but you shouldn’t use it for this deck. It works with Dogs, counters, and decks where you have tons of instants to spend mana on each combat. You can spend the mana to flip creatures, but your commander does that already.
I love Scourge to the Throne. Extra combat steps are amazing for an aggressive deck. But I feel that Gisela, Blade of Goldnight is going to be better for you. Doubling the damage your opponents take and preventing you from taking damage is a better fit for this deck.
You can replace Hidden Dragonslayer with Unyielding Gatekeeper. It exiles instead of destroys, and can also target any nonlands. Sure, your opponent gets a 2/2, but it’s worth it. Trust me, you want to have more targets, and it works against indestructible permanents.
Imperial Hellkite is certainly an incredible card, but there are only two other Dragons in the deck. You can find a better fitting card for this Deadly Disguise deck.
Yedora, Grave Gardener is another amazing card, but I prefer a card that just gives you lands immediately with a lower cost. Plus, you’ll have to start keeping track of your facedown cards. Which ones are Forests? Which ones are creatures? It’ll get annoying faster than you might think.
I love Beast Whisperer but you should replace him with Guardian Project. Enchantments are usually less likely to die than creatures. Project also works with facedown creatures that weren’t cast, so if you’re running cloak and manifest cards, Project works better. Beast Whisperer only triggers when you cast a creature spell.
Mirror Entity is a powerful card that is involved with tons of combos. But the reason you want to remove it is that you want to replace it with a card that pumps up all creatures and also gives trample, like Triumph of the Hordes. Or instead you can trade it for a new morph/disguise creature instead to work with your commander.
Deadly Disguise Upgraded Decklist Example
This is how I recommend you rebuild the deck. I’m trying to avoid cards that are too expensive, though there are some expensive lands like Wooded Foothills that you can feel free to change if you want to save money.
How would you rebuild this deck? Do you have any cards you’d like to recommend? Please comment below and let us know!
If you want to read more of my content, check this article about most fun Commanders from Karlov Manor. In that one, I discussed legendaries from the main set, and from the upcoming Clue Edition. There are some great ideas if you’re looking to build a deck from scratch.
Finally, if you’re interested about the other precons, learn more about Karlov Manor Commander decks here. That article also contains links to other upgrade guides.
Until next time, enjoy Magic, and have a ton of fun with your upgraded Deadly Disguise precon!