So, you’ve got your Grave Danger precon, and you want to make it better. In that case, you’ve come to the right place, as in this Grave Danger Upgrade Guide we’re going to discuss which cards will improve your new deck.
Grave Danger is one of the five Starter Commander decks. Since the deck is somewhat different from regular precons, it’ll also get a bit different Upgrade Guide.
First, I’ll assume that you’re a newer player. This is why I’ll try to explain some cards into a lot of detail. (If you aren’t, you’ll still find great advice on which cards to upgrade the deck with.)
Trying to upgrade the whole deck at once, can be overwhelming for beginners. That’s why I only included three cards in the first section of the article. These three cards will immediately improve the deck significantly.
In the next section you’ll find budget upgrades, so cards that are good, yet fairly cheap. Afterwards, we’ll throw our budget through the window, and explore more expensive cards.
For a complete upgrade you’ll probably want to use cards from both sections, since just because a card is cheap, that doesn’t mean that it is weak.
At the end, I’ll give you some suggestions on which cards to cut, and provide a sample upgraded decklist. However, I’d recommend that you upgrade the deck in a way that feels best to you, and depending on your playgroup.
If you don’t already own the Grave Danger precon, you can buy one on Amazon. The great thing about the Starter deck is that they’re cheaper than the regular precons.
Grave Danger Decklist
Before we start upgrading the deck, let’s check the Grave Danger decklist, as it comes when you open the deck:
How to Upgrade Grave Danger?
The best way to get direction for upgrading a Commander deck is to try to maximize its synergies with its commander. This commander clearly pulls you into Zombie tribal direction, which is well-supported, but there’s still a lot of room for an improvement.
In order to improve it, you’ll need:
- Better Zombies
- More tribal support
- Good Cards
With that said, let’s start by finding the cards, which will help us reach our goals.
Top 3 Cards to Upgrade Grave Danger
First up, here are the three best cards to quickly upgrade your Grave Danger deck with. For this selection, I didn’t pay that much attention to their budget, I only excluded some of the most expensive cards.
Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver
Wihelt is another great Zombie tribal commander in the Blue-Black color combination. When you’ll play many games with Gisa and Geralf, and you’ll want to try something new, you can simply use Wihelt as your new commander.
But that’s not why I’m talking about it here. It’s because it is the perfect fit into this deck’s 99 cards. It rewards you when Zombies die, it is a sacrifice outlet, which draws you cards, and is a Zombie itself. As you can see, it does just so many things well for the cost of four mana, that it’s basically an auto-include into the Grave Danger deck.
This enchantment essentially doubles any non-token Zombie you put into play. Did you play it from your hand? From your graveyard? Did it enter from your library? It doesn’t matter – you get an additional copy.
With so many Zombies in the deck, it won’t be hard to get value from Necroduality. The ability to cast Zombies from graveyard from Gisa and Geralf will also help.
The third card that I want to recommend you has the potential to be very broken. Sure, this enchantment costs six mana, but that to its effect, you can mitigate that immediately by casting some Zombies for free.
This card comes from a time, where there were so many limitations on card as there are nowadays. There isn’t a limit of only one free Zombie per turn, and neither the card cares from where you’re casting the Zombies. If you have enough card advantage in your deck, you’ll be able to quickly overwhelm your opponents with this card.
If you decide to pick up only a single card, this one certainly has the highest power level of all the card that I’m recommending.
Undead Unleashed Precon
At this point, I probably have to mention another precon. In autumn 2021, Wizards also released a Blue-Black Zombie-themed Commander precon, called Undead Unleashed. Lots of cards that I talk about in this article appear in that deck. (For example, both Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver and Rooftop Storm do.)
So one thing you could do to upgrade the Grave Danger precon, is to buy the Undead Unleased precon, and combine both into one very efficient and strong deck. Another author, Spencer, wrote the Undead Unleashed Upgrade Guide, in which you can find cool ideas for the deck’s upgrade, some of which can be useful for this precon too.
Anyway, let’s get back to business, with some additional upgrades that you can use.
Grave Danger Upgrade – Budget
As I’ve mentioned before, in this section I’ll discuss cards that will improve your deck, but won’t be too expensive. Keep in mind that the prices of cards can change. If you’re reading this a long time after the article was first published, some of these might no longer be that cheap.
Zombies have a lot of lords. Lords are cards that give creatures of certain type a buff (usually +1/+1), and sometimes also grant an ability. There are many such creatures in the deck already. One that’s missing, and fairly cheap, is Death Baron. It makes your Zombies bigger, and very good defenders.
Diregraf Colossus can be big, and it provides you with a lot of Zombies during the course of the game.
Hordewing Skaab makes your Zombies fly, and can improve the quality of cards in your hand.
Cleaver Skaab can effectively double one of your Zombies. Certainly a powerful effect, that you want access to.
Additional Zombie Support
Endless Ranks of the Dead doesn’t just have an amazing art, it also has an amazing effect. If your Zombie army isn’t kept in check by your opponents, it can grow out of control very quickly, thanks to this enchantment.
Geralf, Visionary Stitcher makes your Zombies fly, and has an additional effect, which can be useful in certain scenarios. It also flavorfully fits in the deck.
Graf Harvest is a cheap enchantment that offers some utility. While it’s nothing groundbreaking, it might be a nice option to include in the deck over some worse cards.
Empty the Laboratory can be hard to grasp when you first read it, but it allows you to turn your Zombies (preferably worthless tokens) into new Zombies from your library.
Other Good Cards
Dark Ritual is an iconic card, and it’ll work nicely in this deck. It can let you play a powerful card two turns earlier, which is always welcome.
Secrets of the Dead is an enchantment that can draw you a lot of cards during the course of the game. However, you’ll have to at least somewhat build around it (with cards like Gravecrawler). Just having Gisa and Geralf as your commander, probably won’t be enough to make this card excellent.
There are two other draw spells that you can easily include in the deck, without building around them. Both Fact or Fiction and Forbidden Alchemy get value from the fact that they drop cards in the graveyard.
Counterspell is iconic and efficient. When I’m playing a cheap counterspell, I often just go with the original one. This one can replace some of the three mana counterspells in the deck.
If your opponents are playing a lot of mass removal spells, you can use Rise of the Dread Marn as an insurance. Once you foretell it, it costs just one mana, which can be easy to hold up during your opponents’ turns.
Crowded Crypt is a nice mana rock, which you can later cash-in for an army of Zombies.
Mana base is often overlooked. I’m a big advocate for playing lots of lands in Commander. You’ll usually have so many things to do with your mana, so you really want to play a land every single turn. That’s why I’d recommend you use 42 lands in this deck, even though you have some mana rocks in the deck.
So, the first upgrade is basically free. Add three basics lands (Island, Swamp), and remove three worst cards from your deck. Just this step will already improve your deck, as it’ll make it more consistent.
To make your mana base even better, you’ll want to have more lands that make two colors of mana, without always coming into play tapped. Some cheap dual lands in these colors are:
You might be worried, that you’ll play too many lands and draw too many of them. That’s why you also want some utility lands, which have other effects besides simply making mana. Some examples include:
- Mortuary Mire – a useful effect in the right scenario
- Bojuka Bog – remove an opponent’s graveyard for good
- Nephalia Drownyard – you have way to use cards in graveyard
- Castle Locthwain – if you run out of cards
Grave Danger Upgrade – Full
So, the budget part of the article is behind us. It’s time for the full upgrade. Cards that I’ll talk about here are either more popular, or have fewer reprints, than the cards above. Essentially, it comes down to supply and demand making their price higher. However, if you don’t mind spending a bit extra, these will certainly make for a good Grave Danger upgrade.
Gravecrawler is a nice one drop, which you’ll be able to play from your graveyard most of the time. You be able to use it for your sacrifice outlets, and it’s a payoff for any card that cares about cards being cast from your graveyard. A lot of value for a single mana.
Stitcher’s Supplier is another very useful one drop Zombie. It gets three cards in your graveyard – both when it comes into play, and when it dies. This deck has a lot of ways to use the graveyard, so it makes sense to include the Supplier in it.
Relentless Dead is a fine two drop, which is perfect to sacrifice, as it offers you a lot of versatility when it dies.
Undead Warchief is a cool lord. It reduces the cost of your Zombies, and gives them a significant buff. If you have a large army of Zombies, the damage can quickly add up.
Lord of the Undead also pumps Zombies, and it has an ability with which you can return a Zombie from your graveyard to your hand. It’s certainly a fine card to add to your deck.
Additonal Zombie Support
Herald’s Horn reduces the cost of your Zombies, and can also give you some card advantage in a longer game.
Other Good Cards
Diabolic Intent is a powerful tutor (that’s an effect that allows you to search your library for a card), in the right decks, and Grave Danger is one of them, since it doesn’t mind sacrificing creatures. While the card isn’t the cheapest, it was recently reprinted in the Brothers’ War set, which brought its price down significantly.
Ashnod’s Altar is another sacrifice outlet. It can generate a lot of mana, and make for some explosive turns.
With many sacrifice outlets, lots of your creatures will die. You can take advanatage of that fact by playing Dictate of Erebos, which can decimate the opposing creatures.
Cyclonic Rift is one of the best Blue cards in the format, and it would certainly improve this deck too. It often wins you the game on the spot, or at least gives you a big tempo advantage.
First up, here are the lands that will make your mana base better. However, these once aren’t as cheap as the ones that we’ve talked about before. Nevertheless, the good dual lands usually retain at least some of their value long-term, as they are always needed.
- Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
- Watery Grave
- Drowned Catacomb
- Shipwreck Marsh
- Clearwater Pathway
- Polluted Delta
- Morphic Pool
Here are the exciting lands, that do something else, besides just give you a single mana:
- Cabal Coffers – great when paired with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
- Unholy Grotto – a useful effect, somewhat similar to the one on your commander
- Field of the Dead – if you have enough different lands in your deck
- Phyrexian Tower – sacrifice outlet, which can make two mana
- Takenuma, Abandoned Mire – very useful channel effect
Cards to Remove
Commander decks consist of 99 card + 1 commander. This means that if you’re going to add cards to the deck, you’ll also have to remove that many.
So, how do you decide which cards to remove? I’d suggest you start with cards that don’t work in the theme, and aren’t extremely powerful on their own. For example, Undermine would be one such card.
It doesn’t do contribute to the deck’s synergies, and is a bit clunky at three mana. You’d rather have a card that works towards your theme, or is more efficient, like the good ol’ Counterspell.
Truth be told, for this deck, I found it pretty hard to find lots of obvious cuts. Most of the card make at least some sense in this shell. So the following recommendations are (mostly) based on the power level of the cards. With that said, here are the cards that I’d first remove from this deck:
- Lazotep Reaver
- Lotleth Giant
- Loyal Subordinate
- Scourge of Nel Toth
- Vela the Night-Clad
- Vengeful Dead
- Withered Wretch
- Syphon Flesh
- Unstable Obelisk
If you can’t decide which card to remove, you can try to find a card with a similar effect like the card you want to add. So, if you want to add Crowded Crypt, perhaps you’ll want to remove Unstable Obelisk.
If you do decide to take my advice and play 42 lands, you’ll first need to remove three non-land cards. Then, for each land you add, you also remove a land.
Finally, don’t play too many lands that always enter the battlefield tapped. When you add in some dual lands, you can start removing cards like Salt Marsh.
Grave Danger Upgraded Decklist
Here’s an example of an upgraded Grave Danger decklist. Note that you don’t have to strictly follow this exact decklist – you should build your deck in a way that feels fun to you.
This is the end of the Grave Danger Upgrade Guide. Let me know in the comments if there are some amazing cards that I missed. There are so many Magic cards, that I most certainly should talk about some others as well, but I didn’t want this article to get too long and too overwhelming.
If you’re just starting out with Commander, here are some other articles that might interest you:
- How to Build Your First Commander Deck
- 5 Tips to Improve Your Commander Deck
- Beginners’ Guide to Commander
- List of All Commander Precons
See ya next time!