Your party approaches the doorway. Although you can see through the arch, whatever lies on the other side is obscured by a rippling curtain of magic. You feel trepidatious, but the Tiefling promised that if you cross to the other side, unimaginable wonders await you. You exchange glances with the other members of the party. After a brief moment of consideration, each of you steps toward the portal.
Magic: the Gathering has explored dozens of remarkable places. Throughout Magic’s long lifespan, though, it has never ventured to the land of the Forgotten Realms. For those unfamiliar with it, the Forgotten Realms are the setting for the canonical storyline for the tabletop RPG, Dungeons and Dragons. In the past, Magic has ported over to D&D in the form of module’s like the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica and Mythic Odysseys of Theros. Now, it’s time for D&D to come over to Magic.
Adventures in the Forgotten Realms is a great set full of thematic new cards. Along with the main set, Wizards is releasing four pre-constructed Commander decks. In this Planar Portal upgrade guide, I will go over cards that I recommend to add to the Planar Portal deck, headed by none other than Prosper, Tome-Bound. Additionally, I will highlight new cards that could slot into this deck that are coming out with the main set.
A Brief Note on Budget
Just like with previous such articles that I’ve written, I am not considering any budget restrictions with this article. My main goal is to brainstorm some fun ideas that you can use when constructing your personalized decklist. Unfortunately, I might bring up a few cards that are outside of some people’s price range. Whenever possible, I will try to point out alternative options that are kinder to your wallet.
Along these lines, this article is going to be overflowing with interesting ideas. However, I certainly won’t be able to think of every available possibility. Feel free to use my ideas as a springboard for whatever new and creative build you come up with yourself. And when you think of a cool idea that I missed, please leave a comment about it below.
Regardless of your budget or play style, this article will have a ton of great suggestions for powering up your Planar Portal deck. If you would like to purchase the deck, you can order it on Amazon.
Planar Portal Decklist
New cards might not be in the database yet. In that case you can find all new Forgotten Realms Commander cards here.
Planar Portal – General Upgrades
Wizards’ Commander precons have been gradually improving in quality over the years. The first ones lacked a cohesive theme as well as a functional mana base. Since Commander has become more of a priority for them, though, their decks have been more playable right out of the box. While this is great for the average consumer, it makes these upgrade articles a little bit more difficult with every new product.
With that being said, there are a few things that I think I think any iteration of this deck should improve. A couple slight adjustments can increase the power level enough to be able to compete in an average meta.
The Mana Base
First up, as usual, is the mana base. This deck contains seven lands can tap for either of the deck’s colors. If you want to be able to consistently cast any of the spells in your hand, you are going to need more than this. Furthermore, you want to prioritize dual lands that enter the battlefield untapped, to maintain tempo with the other players.
Here are the best red/black dual lands that enter the battlefield untapped:
- Blackcleave Cliffs
- Blood Crypt
- Bloodstained Mire
- Dragonskull Summit
- Graven Cairns
- Luxury Suite
- Sulfurous Springs
There are also a couple of lands that enter the battlefield tapped that have additional utility. There also tend to be a little bit cheaper than the above-mentioned ones:
Also, don’t forget about lands that can tap for a mana of any color. These work just like dual lands in this deck:
You don’t necessarily have to have all of these lands to have a functional deck, but I would recommend adding as many as you can. The more reliably you can cast the spells in your hand, the more likely you will be to win the game. Not to mention its no fun at all to be mana screwed.
Lastly, this deck comes with thirty nine lands. This number is a little higher than I normally recommend. And considering your commander is a ramp spell, you probably won’t need this many lands. Feel free to cut out two to four basics to make room for cards with better synergy.
General Commander Synergies
There are only a few cards that I want to outline in this section. Because of this, I’ll give each one of them their own explanation.
Cast From Exile
First up, we have Squee, the Immortal and Eternal Scourge. These creatures have a unique ability that lets you cast them from exile. Sometimes, Prosper, Tome-Bound‘s ability exiles a card that you don’t have mana available to cast. Other times, you would rather do something else with your turn than cast the spell you exile. If that card happens to be Squee or Scourge, you don’t have to cast them right then. They don’t get stuck in exile like all other cards do if you don’t play them. You can play them at a later time, which will then generate a Treasure token for you from Prosper.
Dauthi Voidwalker and Draugr Necromancer are two cards with basically the same effect. They let you cast spells that go to your opponents’ graveyards. Additionally, they have the added bonus of being graveyard hate.
Murderous Rider, Bonecrusher Giant, and other creatures with an Adventure have utility that is compounded by the fact that they also give you a Treasure token when they return. I always recommend playing removal spells that synergize with your commander, and these cards are perfect.
Next, I want to mention Dream Devourer. Most of the time, Dream Devourer plays like a ramp spell, making your spells cheaper to cast on a future turn. In this deck, it does this doubly so. Not only does the Devourer let you cast a foretold spell for two less than it’s mana value, but it also rebates you a Treasure token if Prosper is on the board. All Foretell cards work this way, but this is the only one I would recommend putting in all iterations of this deck.
This card, combined with the Treasure tokens you are already making, should be all the ramp this deck needs to be successful.
Lastly, we have Desciple of the Vault. This card goes really well in the deck, especially in you are leaning more heavily into the Treasure theme. It plays quite a bit slower than Marionette Master (which comes with the deck), but is a redundant piece just in case.
What to Take Out
There are three different kinds of cards that I would recommend taking out of this deck. First, there are a lot of removal spells that are just too expensive. I’m talking about Danse Macabre, Reckless Endeavor, Hex, and Consuming Vapors. Often, these spells are not even guaranteed to kill the thing or things you want to anyhow. You could probably cut these, or even replace them with spells that don’t cost so much. However, the deck does have a good number other removal spells already.
The next kind of card are all the cards that care about Rats. This theme is super random, and has little to no business being in the deck in the first place. Take them out and free up three or four deck slots.
Finally, the last category is a random bunch of cards that distract from what the deck should be trying to do. Get rid of these and replace them with cards from the Planar Portal upgrade paths I outline below in order to focus your deck. This will make your deck more fun to play, as well as more powerful.
- Bag of Devouring
- Death Tyrant
- Disrupt Decorum
- Ebony Fly
- Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant
- Loyal Apprentice
- Pontiff of Blight
4 Ways to Upgrade Planar Portal Precon
These are the four directions I thought of taking this deck:
- Play From Exile
These are not the only ways to upgrade Planar Portal deck, just the ones I came up with. If you think of another cool idea, let me know in the comments below.
At the beginning of each the next sections I included a range of numbers. That range is what I expect this deck to be able to perform at on a 1-10 power scale (Based on the power scale established by the Command Zone Podcast). For more information on the Commander power scale, you can take a look at the table below.
|1-2||Jank||Very little synergy among cards. No Commander staples. Under powered on purpose.|
|3-4||Casual||Some synergies, but lacking the strong ones. Deck still lacks focus. Mana curves mostly neglected. A deck that a new player would build.|
|4-6||Focused||Synergy exists, deck has a focused gameplan, although doesn't always win in the exact same way, usually after turn 13. Includes staples and a small amount of tutors. On the same power level as most Commander precons.|
|7-8||Optimized||Powerful and varied synergies between the cards. A decent number of good tutors. Good mana curve. Has an efficient and consistent way to win on turns 10-12 (level 7) or 7-9 (level 8). Some social rules - like no mass land destruction, no consistent combo wins - still exist.|
|9-10||Competitive||The most powerful decks, on cEDH level. Quick and explosive, can win on turns 4-6 (level 9) or 1-3 (level 10). No social rules, no jank cards. Only the most powerful commanders and strategies can reach this level.|
Actual power levels may vary, but let those numbers be a guide when considering upgrading this deck in those ways.
1. Casting Spells From Exile (6-8)
This seems like the low-hanging fruit for this commander. Obviously, this deck was designed to go in this direction, and Prosper, Tome-Bound seems to be the intended pay off.
Recently, red cards have been leaning into the ability to temporarily cast spells that you exile from your deck. Having a commander that incentivizes you to do this as much as possible seems like a great design. We have never seen a commander care about an ability like this before, so let’s talk about what we can do with it.
First of all, there are a good handful of abilities in the game that incidentally cast spells from exile. The deck even gives us hints about what they are. You can find Bituminous Blast, Phthisis, and Consuming Vapors in the precon, among other cards with similar abilities. Below, I included a list of cards in red/black with Cascade, Suspend, and Rebound. Additionally, cards with Madness can be cast from exile when you discard them. Focusing on one of these abilities or mixing all of them could each be fun ways to upgrade Planar Portal.
- Aurora Phoenix
- Bloodbraid Marauder
- Boarding Party
- Demonic Dread
- Ingenuity Engine
- Maelstrom Colossus
- Meteoric Mace
- Volcanic Torrent
- Arc Blade
- Festering March
- Glimpse of Tomorrow
- Greater Gargadon
- Living End
- Lotus Bloom
- Mind Stab
- Mox Tantalite
- Profane Tutor
- Rousing Refrain
- Shivan Meteor
- Sol Talisman
- Wheel of Fate
Also, don’t forget about the cards that help you manipulate the number of time counters on suspended cards. These can be extremely valuable in a deck that uses the Suspend mechanic:
The way Madness interacts with Prosper is really clever. However, if you decide to go this route, be sure to include plenty of discard outlets as well as Madness cards.
- Anje’s Ravager
- Archfiend of Spite
- Asylum Visitor
- Avacyn’s Judgement
- Big Game Hunter
- Biting Rain
- Call to the Netherworld
- Curse of Fool’s Wisdom
- Dark Withering
- Fiery Temper
- From Under The Floorboards
- Gibbering Descent
- Grave Scrabbler
- Hell Mongrel
- Ichor Slick
- Muck Drubb
- Murderous Compulsion
- Stormkirk Occultist
- Terminal Agony
- Voldaren Pariah
- Honorary Mention: Conspiracy Theorist
The last part of this section will give you ideas for cards that don’t have a keyword ability, but still let you cast spells from Exile. The solution to red’s card advantage problem was solved by giving it the ability to exile cards from your library and cast one or more of them temporarily.
This is a short, non-exhaustive list of cards that let you do that very thing.
- Act on Impulse
- Ardent Dustspeaker
- Chandra, Fire Artisan
- Chandra, Heart of Fire
- Chandra, Pyromaster
- Creative Technique
- Cunning Rhetoric
- Fire Giant’s Fury
- Grenzo, Havoc Raiser
- Harnfel, Horn of Bounty
- Jeska’s Will
- Laelia, the Blade Reforged
- Magmatic Channeler
- Oracle’s Vault
- Outpost Siege
- Praetor’s Grasp
- Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer
- Robber of the Rich
- Soulfire Eruption
- Stolen Strategy
- Sunbird’s Invocation
- Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter
- Valakut Exploration
- Wildfire Devils
If you chain this ability together multiple times, Prosper rewards you each time with a Treasure token. This is similar to Birgi, God of Storytelling and Storm-Kiln Artist in that you get a small rebate on your spells. Another path you could take with this commander is to try to “storm off” with your impulsive draw abilities and your rebated mana.
All of the best Storm cards are in red and black anyways, making this idea even better. Here they are now:
- Empty the Warrens
- Fiery Encore
- Galvanic Relay
- Ignite Memories
- Reaping the Graves
- Spreading Insurrection
- Tendrils of Agony
New Cards From Forgotten Realms
There is only one card in the new set that casts spells from exile that isn’t already included in the Planar Portal deck. That card is Flameskull. As you can see, it is a great addition to this upgrade path for Planar Portal.
What to Take Out
For this version of the deck, feel free to strip away all of the cards that care about Treasure, that don’t also let you cast a spell from exile (Shiny Impetus, Grim Hireling, etc). These, plus the cards I mentioned taking out earlier, as well as Warlock Class should hopefully free up enough slots for you to build a great deck around this interesting commander.
2. Treasure (5-7)
The next obvious direction to upgrade Planar Portal deck is to utilize the Treasure tokens that Prosper makes. Most cards that make or care about treasure token are fairly new, since the card type was first introduced in Ixalan. You might even have some of these cards lying around in a binder somewhere.
There are two main categories of card to look at for this upgrade path. First, in order to have a Treasure token-centered deck, we need to be able to make Treasure tokens. Prosper can make a couple, but we are going to need more than that.
These are a few cards that can power up you Treasure generation:
- Brass’s Bounty
- Contract Killing
- Dockside Extortionist
- Gadrak, the Crown-Scourge
- Goldvein Pick
- Impulsive Pilferer
- Pirate’s Pillage
- Pitiless Plunderer
- Prying Blade
- Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer
- Ruthless Knave
- Seize the Spoils
- Storm-Kiln Artist
- Tempting Contract
Care About Treasures
The other category is cards that use Treasure for more than just making mana. These are going to be the cards that you want to draw into or tutor for. Hopefully, these can let you cash in all your tokens to close out the game.
A deck that makes a ton of Treasures can play similarly to a green/x ramp deck. Feel free to include more high-mana value cards than you normally would. Chances are good you will be able to hard cast them at some point during the game.
New Cards From Forgotten Realms
Since Treasure is a main theme in this new set, there are plenty of cards that make them/care about them. You might consider any of these for this deck:
- Deadly Dispute
- Forsworn Paladin
- Grim Bounty
- Hoarding Ogre
- Kalain, Reclusive Painter
- Treasure Vault
- Unexpected Windfall
What to Take Out
The precon seems to be split almost half and half: spells that cast things from exile, and Treasure. Basically, if you take out all of the things that you left in the previous section’s deck, you’ll have your Treasure deck. This means cut out all the impulsive draw spells, Cascade, Rebound, Suspend, or anything that says “exile” on it. Obviously, if you like one or more of these cards, feel free to include them. Casting them from exile makes you more Treasure with Prosper’s ability, so you could afford to hang on to a few of these.
3. Tribal (2-5)
Whenever I write one of these upgrade articles, I always look to see if the new commanders open up any possibilities for tribal decks. Some decks have excellent offerings despite not being designed around a tribal theme.
In this deck, the commanders happen to have obscure creature types. Despite this, I did my best to find some interesting ideas. I think it would be difficult to build a tribal deck around Prosper or Karazikar, but hopefully this section helps a little bit.
Warlocks were introduced to Magic in Throne of Eldraine, a set that is not that old. Since then, we haven’t seen too many Warlocks, let alone tribal identity for them. However, I think that if you pooled together all the relevant Warlocks in the game, you could probably come up with enough for a Commander deck.
Here are the Warlocks that I think are worth playing in Commander:
- Author of Shadows
- Cabal Initiate
- Callous Bloodmage
- Daring Fiendbonder
- Fain, the Broker
- Kaervek, the Spiteful
- Marshland Bloodcaster
- Oriq Loremage
- Sedgemoor Witch
- Tivash, Gloom Summoner
- Veinwitch Coven
- Vile Entomber
- Witch of the Moors
- Young Necromancer
It seems like Warlocks want to balance reanimating things from the graveyard and manipulating your life total. Keep this in mind as you upgrade the Planar Portal deck in this direction.
Beholders or Tieflings
These tribes are new to Magic. They were introduced new in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, and as a result, are scarce in Magic. There were six Tieflings and two Beholders, four of which are off color for this deck. If you are looking to build either of these tribes, I would recommend either using as many Changelings as are available in these colors, or being patient and hoping Wizards prints more of these awesome creatures in the future.
New Cards From Forgotten Realms
There are only a few Warlocks in the set, and some of them aren’t in the right colors. Here are the ones that could go into this deck:
Some of these would even synergize with other things that the decks wants to do!
What to Take Out
The deck comes with a small handful of Warlocks already. However, I mentioned earlier that they synergize better with Rats than with Warlocks. You are going to have to decide whether or not that is something that you want your deck to do. If so, you can leave the ones that come with the deck. If not, replace them with other Warlocks, or spells that care about an indicated creature type.
Other than that, you can clean out all of the cards that deal with Treasure and casting spells from exile. Prosper does enough of that himself to support the deck, while still making room for the tribe members you need. If you find that you have room in the deck after all this, add some of these pieces back in.
4. Stax (5-9)
Warning: This section will not make you very many friends. Many players don’t like playing against Stax decks, because they are focused around a resource-denial strategy. Ask your playgroup before you upgrade your Planar Portal deck this way.
As I mentioned before, Stax decks usually try to shut down everyone from progressing the board. Sometimes they use effects like Winter Orb or Static Orb, to make sure no one untaps enough permanents to be a threat. Other times. they use cards like Cursed Totem and Torpor Orb to make their opponents’ threats useless. All the while, their deck aims to break parody. This means that they try to build in a way to avoid the lockdown that they imposed on their opponents.
The only reason that I considered outlining this in the Planar Portal upgrade guide, is because I noticed that Prosper, Tome-Bound‘s ability has a lot of potential to break parody in a deck that focuses around locking down everyone’s lands. Since the commander makes Treasure tokens, you don’t care if your lands untap or not. Sure, your Treasures can only be used one time each, but if you build the deck right, you can make a bunch of Treasures every turn. Hopefully this means you can be unhindered in your game plan.
Stax Pieces & Casting From Exile
Notably, a good handful of Stax pieces also let you cast spells from exile.
These cards do double duty, interfering with your opponents’ game plans while giving you Treasures with Prosper’s ability. These are the main reasons that Prosper would make a great Stax commander.
New Cards From Forgotten Realms
There are not very many cards from this new set that keep your opponents’ things tapped down, or otherwise interrupt them. Furthermore, the dice-rolling mechanic from this set is too variable for a Stax player to feel comfortable running it.
Some of the cards recommended for previous upgrade paths couple be playable, but beware. You don’t want to dilute the deck too much. Stax decks require a careful balance of lock pieces, parody breakers, and win conditions.
What to Take Out
In order to upgrade the Planar Portal deck this way, you will probably need to gut the precon. Almost no cards contribute to this strategy. You could probably justify a few cards that make Treasures and a handful that let you cast spells from exile. Other than that, almost nothing needs to stay in this deck. Do your best to keep the mana curve as low as possible as well.
Interestingly, I recommended taking out Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant. However, it does have a useful ability to this deck. One of your opponents’ scariest threats against this deck is getting enough creatures on the board to get out from under your lock. Keeping your opponents’ creatures down by Goading them can actually be very helpful for protecting yourself in this situation. Karazikar and Disrupt Decorum can probably stay in the deck for this exact reason.
Through the Portal
And with that, we finish another upgrade article. Let me know which one of these builds you like best or are going to build. If you have any suggestions or comments, feel free to leave them below or find me on Instagram or Twitter. You can also check out my podcast, Gathering: My Thoughts, on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
More Adventures in the Forgotten Realms
If you want to open some of the new Strixhaven cards, to upgrade your Planar Portal deck with, you can purchase a Set booster box on Amazon.
If you want the shiniest and the rarest card, then you’ll probably like Collector boosters. You can check the Forgotten Realms Collector Booster contents here.
You can also check the upgrade guides for other Forgotten Realms Commander decks:
However, if none of these precons suit you, you can find all Commander precons here.
Until next time, enjoy Magic and have fun with your upgraded Planar Portal Commander deck!