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Prismari Performance Upgrade Guide – 5 Different Options

Ladies! Gentlemen! Everyone in between or beyond! I present to you: Zaffai, and the Orchestra of the Arcane! Watch as his instants and sorceries raise the roof off the hall and take your breath away.

The pre-constructed deck that Zaffai leads is called Prismari Performance. Today, I want to show you how to take the deck and make it a little bit better. I want to suggest five different themes that you could focus on. I will also include cards that you should include from the main set, Strixhaven, as well as cards that you should take out of the deck.

A Brief Note on Budget

But before I go any farther, I want to make a quick note about these Prismari Performance upgrade recommendations. These lists have a lot of ideas, but they definitely don’t include everything. Feel free to do your own research and find your favorite cards to upgrade the deck with.

Next, there are going to be way more ideas in this article than one deck can handle. You can follow any one upgrade path and focus on that, or pick and choose your favorite parts of multiple paths to make the deck your own.

Also, I am not considering any budget restrictions when making these recommendations. I only want to brainstorm as many fun ideas as possible. Unfortunately, this means that some of the cards I recommend might be outside of some people’s budget ranges. If they are available, I will also do my best to include budget options for a card or effect.

Regardless of your budget or play style, this article will have a ton of great suggestions for powering up your Prismari Performance deck. If you would like to purchase the deck, you can order it on Amazon.

Prismari Performance Strixhaven List of All Commander Precons

Prismari Performance Decklist

Commander (1)
Zaffai, Thunder Conductor

Planeswalker (1)
Jaya Ballard

Creature (20)
Charmbreaker Devils
Crackling Drake
Dazzling Sphinx
Diluvian Primordial
Dualcaster Mage
Erratic Cyclops
Etali, Primal Storm
Humble Defector
Inferno Project
Living Lore
Naru Meha, Master Wizard
Octavia, Living Thesis
Radiant Performer
Rionya, Fire Dancer
Rootha, Mercurial Artist
Sly Instigator
Storm-Kiln Artist
Talrand, Sky Summoner
Veyran, Voice of Duality
Wildfire Devils

Sorcery (21)
Aether Gale
Apex of Power
Blasphemous Act
Brass's Bounty
Call the Skybreaker
Creative Technique
Elemental Masterpiece
Epic Experiment
Expressive Iteration
Faithless Looting
Fiery Encore
Inspiring Refrain
Mana Geyser
Mind's Desire
Muse Vortex
Ponder
Rousing Refrain
Serum Visions
Surge to Victory
Treasure Cruise
Volcanic Vision

Instant (8)
Aetherspouts
Brainstorm
Dig Through Time
Fiery Fall
Reinterpret
Resculpt
Seething Song
Traumatic Visions

Artifact (9)
Arcane Signet
Elementalist's Palette
Hedron Archive
Izzet Signet
Letter of Acceptance
Mind Stone
Pyromancer's Goggles
Sol Ring
Talisman of Creativity

Enchantment (3)
Metallurgic Summonings
Sunbird's Invocation
Swarm Intelligence

Land (37)
Blighted Cataract
Command Tower
Desert of the Fervent
Desert of the Mindful
Exotic Orchard
Forgotten Cave
Izzet Boilerworks
Lonely Sandbar
Mage-Ring Network
Memorial to Genius
Myriad Landscape
Prismari Campus
Reliquary Tower
Scavenger Grounds
Shivan Reef
Study Hall
Temple of Epiphany
Temple of the False God
10 Island
Mountain

Prismari Performance – General Upgrades

Zaffai, Thunder Conductor Prismari Performance

The most difficult part about this deck is going to be balancing the enablers and the payoffs. What I mean by this is that Zaffai, Thunder Conductor wants you to play expensive spells. If not seven to ten mana themselves, they should have “x” in their mana cost.

This is a tricky feat to pull off, since it takes a long time to naturally gather enough mana to cast spells that cost that much. If, however, you include enough ramp or cost reduction spells to gracefully cast such high-costed cards, you dilute the number of expensive instants and sorceries you can run.

So finding the balance between those two things is going to be the trickiest, but most important thing you do when upgrading this deck.

General Commander Synergies

Before I talk about how to pull of this balance, I want to give you some examples of cards that can help you ramp as well as spells that you might want to cast at a discounted rate.

Cost Reduction

Baral, Cheif of Compliance

Big Chonky Spells

Obviously, with this list there are a lot of different effects. One of the first things you should do before building the deck is deciding what you want the deck to do. If you want to take extra turns, there are quite a few such spells that have a high mana value. If you want to draw a ton of cards or deal a ton of damage, all those are also options.

Clone Legion Commander 2021 Zaffai Prismari Performance Upgrade Guide

There are also more niche pathways available from these and other instants or sorceries. You could run a Dragon tribal deck and hope to cast Dragonstorm with a huge storm count. You could try to steal your opponents’ creatures with Clone Legion or Insurrection. I personally think that Eternal Dominion is hilarious, albeit a little slow.

However, I won’t be going in depth about any of these strategies in article. Feel free to take inspiration from any of these sections, but you might have to brew the Zaffai Dragon Tribal deck yourself.

Ramp

I want to recommend something for this deck that I wouldn’t normally recommend for Commander decks. One of the most important part of playing Commander is to accumulate resources as fast as possible. Typically, people describe this as mana ramp, card draw, lifegain, or anything else that represents gathering up assets that you can use as a weapon against your opponents.

There are four main ways to ramp your mana in Commander:

  1. land ramp
  2. mana rocks / dorks
  3. cost reduction abilities
  4. rituals

I listed them in the order that I think they appear most commonly to least commonly in the format. In a lot of situations (mostly decks with green and/or white), land based ramp is the most effective. This is because more lands means more mana on each turn, and your opponents are unlikely to destroy your lands.

Artifacts or Creatures that tap for mana are the second most effect, because they give you more mana every turn, but they are fairly easy to remove.

Cost reduction effects don’t add more mana for you to spend, but making things cost less can help you do more similar to if you had ramped into more mana.

Rituals

Rituals are a form of ramp that is almost non-existent in Commander. In cEDH, they are used to power out one explosive play, sometimes even winning that turn. In more casual settings, though, they can’t provide more resources over the course of many turns. Once you cast them one time, they are gone. For this reason, I believe them to be the overall weakest form of ramp in the format.

However, with that being said, I do think that rituals are more effective in this deck. I strongly believe that your deck should include as many cards as possible that contribute to the theme of the deck. If this deck wants to cast a lot of spells, casting Arcane Signet doesn’t synergize with any of your spellcasting payoffs.

On the other hand, Desperate Ritual triggers Magecraft, can be copied with Fork effects, and deals damage with Guttersnipe. Not to mention rituals trigger the effects of Zaffai, Thunder Conductor and Veyran, Voice of Duality.

Infernal Plunge Commander 2021 Zaffai Prismari Performance Upgrade Guide

Here are some of the rituals you can find in red-blue:

A couple good rituals are already included in the deck.

A healthy mix of mana rocks and rituals are probably the best way to craft your Prismari Performance decks. That way you have both the long term power you can get from mana rocks as well as the synergy from the rituals. Again, I don’t normally recommend this kind of this in Commander, but this seems like the perfect place for it.

The Mana Base

The mana in the Prismari Performance deck is workable at best. It includes thirty five total lands: ten Islands, nine Mountains, and five dual lands. The first thing you can do to improve the deck is increase the number of dual lands. This will help make sure you can cast your spells when you want no matter how many colored pips are required in the casting cost.

Training Center Prismari Performance Upgrade Guide

The best dual lands to include are:

Other budget options are:

Don’t forget that gold lands (lands that can tap for mana of any color) count as dual lands in decks with only two colors. Here are some that don’t already come in the precon:

What to Take Out

Just about every iteration of this deck includes some sort of Instants and Sorceries theme. In decks where that’s what you want to be doing, you don’t need a lot of creatures. The precon comes with twenty one creatures, which is just too many. In my opinion, you can cut almost all of these, including:

These creatures have little synergy at best with the rest of the deck, and removing them opens up a lot of space to include more cool Instants and Sorceries.

As far as spells go, I have never found Call the Skybreaker to be nearly as good as it looks. You could probably remove it from Prismari Performance deck. Similarly, Traumatic Visions and Fiery Fall are probably not necessary for this deck. You can replace them if you want with more efficient color fixing. I also think that Acceptance Letter is a bad ramp spell and could be replaced with Commander’s Sphere or anything other mana rock.

5 Ways to Upgrade

These are the five directions I thought of taking this deck:

  1. Spellslinger
  2. Storm
  3. Suspend
  4. Spell-harmonicon
  5. Dragonstorm

These are not the only ways to upgrade this deck, just the ones I came up with. If you think of another cool idea, let me know in the comments below.

Power Level

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.

Power LevelNameDescription
1-2JankVery little synergy among cards. No Commander staples. Under powered on purpose.
3-4CasualSome synergies, but lacking the strong ones. Deck still lacks focus. Mana curves mostly neglected. A deck that a new player would build.
4-6FocusedSynergy 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.
7-8OptimizedPowerful 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.
9-10CompetitiveThe 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.

Lastly, each of these decks come with at least two legendary creatures that can double as the commander. For each section, I will recommend which legendary creature would be best suited for the lead role.

And without further ado, I give you the Prismari Performance upgrades!

1. Spellslinger (4-9)

Recommended Commander: Zaffai, Thunder Conductor or Veyran, Voice of Duality

This first recommendation is the most broad sweeping. Like I mentioned before, you could simply throw in your ten favorite Instants and Sorceries. You could include copy spells like Fork or the recently reprinted Reiterate. These give the other spells you cast a little bit of additional value.

Ral, Storm Conduit Commander 2021 Zaffai Prismari Performance Upgrade Guide

Guttersnipe, Ral, Storm Conduit, Primal Amulet, and other similar effects give you a way to wrap up the game while you are casting a ton of spells. The sky is the limit on this upgrade path. Other than the cards listed previously in the general upgrades section and these types of cards that I list here, you can build this Prismari Performance deck into whatever you want it to be.

The deck I have described in this section could land in a myriad of places on the power level scale. A bunch of infinite combos start to emerge when you mess with copying your spells over and over. However, it is also possible to just jam a bunch of random Instants or Sorceries and hope that they get you there.

If you do want to play this deck at a higher power level, be sure to include more tutors, such as Mystical Tutor or Gamble. Those help the deck have the things that it needs to win more consistently.

Interaction

Cyclonic Rift MTG Commander

Additionally, removal spells like Cyclonic Rift, Pongify, or Chaos Warp are also good. And if you want to be more proactive, counterspells are probably the most effective way to interact with your opponents in these colors.

Fortunately, a decent counterspell suite can come at any budget level. Force of Will, Mana Drain, Force of Negation etc. are great, but they are quite expensive. On the other hand, Counterspell, Ionize, Counterflux and dozens of others counter spells equally as well for quite a bit less money.

New Cards From Strixhaven

There are tons of great cards from the main set that can go in Prismari Performance deck. Many of them are spells with high casting costs. Others are cards with Magecraft that trigger when you cast or copy Instants and Sorceries. And others still are just support cards. Here is a list of some of those:

What to Take Out

The list of cards to take out for the rest of the deck are pretty much the same as the ones I would recommend removing from the Generic Upgrades section. If you wanted to remove even more creatures, I’m sure that the pros would outweigh the cons.

2. Storm (7-9)

Recommended Commander: Veyran, Voice of Duality

Storm is another version of Spellslinger. Technically, I could have included these recommendations in the previous section (which is a phrase that I could use for the rest of the article). However, Storm is a very specific version of Spellslinger. It uses it’s namesake mechanic to beat its opponents after casting a large, often infinite, number of spells in the same turn.

Typically, the way Storm decks are able to cast so many spells per turn is by either 1) chaining together cantrips and rituals, or 2) assembling an infinite combo. In this section of the article, I am going to go over both options.

Empty the Warrens Prismari Performance Upgrade Guide

But, first and foremost, let’s talk about the spells in Commander with Storm:

Other than Flusterstorm and Haze of Rage, with a high enough storm count any of these should win you the game. Some of them are a little bit mean (namely Temporal Fissure and Volcanic Awakening), so if you don’t want to play them, that’s fine. The other ones should provide you with a near-instant route to victory.

Additionally, Thousand-Year Storm basically gives each spell that you cast Storm. Other cards like Aetherflux Reservoir, Aria of Flame, or Sentinel Tower don’t necessarily give Storm, but operate in a very similar way. Each of these could be a powerful finisher for the deck, and should probably be included in the deck.

Cantrips

If you are opposed to infinite combos or for some other reason would prefer to do it this way, you need to be able to chain together a bunch of cheap spells that draw cards and cheap spells that net you mana.

Preordain

The deck includes some great cantrips (Brainstorm, Ponder, Serum Visions, Faithless Looting, Treasure Cruise, Dig Through Time) but you will definitely need more. These are a few that you should definitely slot in:

Honestly, I would probably recommend including fifteen to twenty of these cards, including the ones that come in the precon. Additionally, cards like Future Sight and Experimental Frenzy serve as pseudo-cantrips, as they give you access to cards on top of your deck. In this instance, cards like Sensei’s Divining Top and Scroll Rack can help get lands or uncastable cards out of the way so you can continue to storm-off.

Signature Spellbook Chandra Past in Flames

Lastly, Past in Flames help you cast spells that you have already cast and are sitting in your graveyard. This gives you double storm count from each spell.

These cards alone can’t win you the game, though. In fact, drawing cards alone inches you closer to losing the game. Furthermore, you will never get a high enough storm count with the lands and mana rocks you have to win with any storm cards. For this reason, we need to supplement these cantrips with rituals.

Rituals

I talked a lot about rituals in the General Upgrades section of this article. In addition to these cards, Dramatic Reversal, Dream’s Grip, Turnabout, High Tide, and Time Spiral also act as rituals, untapping your lands and/or mana rocks.

Creatures like Birgi, God of Storytelling, Runaway Steam-Kin, and Storm-Kiln Artist (the last of which comes in the deck) work like rituals. Whenever you cast a spell, they pay you back a little bit of that spell, which can hopefully help your mana go farther.

Cards that generate treasure tokens are another kind of ritual. Dockside Extortionist is pretty expensive, but if your opponents have a large amount of artifacts and/or enchantments its one of the best rituals in the game. Other cards that make treasure tokens are:

There are not a lot of these, and hardly any of them produce more mana than they cost. Even still, they can be handy since treasures can also be saved for future turns. Also, some of these even draw more cards, which contributes to the other half of this equation.

Even with all of these cantrips and rituals, it will be fairly difficult to get a storm count high enough to win with Grapeshot or a couple of other Storm cards. You should wait until your opponents are at a low enough life total where you can take out one or two of them, and then clean up with whatever other creatures you have on the board (like with Zaffai’s elemental creature tokens). Otherwise, consider trying to loop spells infinitely.

Infinite Combos

Isochron Scepter Commander 2021 Zaffai Prismari Performance Upgrade Guide

All of the things that I said in the previous sections are true for this one: You still need a large amount of card draw. You will still need to have enough mana to pull off your combo. The only thing that an infinite combo adds is security. Without a combo, you are hoping to not fizzle by running out of mana or card draw. Infinite combos don’t run into this problem, because they only require a few cards that you cast multiple times.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of cards that let you accumulate an infinite storm count. I will try to include cards that are already in the deck, or would have utility outside of the combo:

None of these are particularly groundbreaking, but they will all get the job done for you. The unfortunate part about each of these combos is that none of them trigger Veyran’s or Zaffai’s abilities. This means that if you can’t win after looping the combo, you won’t get any residual value either.

New Cards From Strixhaven

Any cards that have Magecraft combo really well with Storm. Here are those cards:

What to Take Out

You want to keep the mana curve on this deck pretty low. Because of this, feel free to cut most of the cards in the deck (that we haven’t already discussed previously as being valuable) that have a mana cost above about three.

Even if the cards seem good, you risk gumming up the deck and being stuck with expensive cards in your hand (or on top of your library) that you can’t cast. You would rather cast three cheap spells than one Charmbreaker Devils.

3. Suspend (4-7)

Recommended Commander: Zaffai, Thunder Conductor

In Magic, there is one red-blue commander that is commonly built as a Suspend commander. Of course, that Creature is Jhoira of the Ghitu. Unfortunately, Jhoira has a bad reputation as a mean commander. This is fair, since most people build Jhoira decks that want to cheat expensive spells like Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre or land destruction cards like Jokulhaups.

This has the sad side effect of eliminating most Suspend-themed commander decks from the metagame. The good news, though, is that Zaffai is a great replacement for Jhoira as a Suspend commander.

While it’s true that Zaffai can’t suspend any card you want, he does reward you more for casting the suspend cards that you can. If Zaffai is out when Arc Blade comes down, for example, you get to deal two damage to any target, scry one, and create a 4/4 creature token. That happens every 3 turns or less, if you are able to remove counters from it. We’ll get to that in a second.

Instants and Sorceries with Suspend

Ancestral Vision Zaffai Upgrade

There are other creatures that have Suspend, even ones with high mana value, but they don’t trigger Zaffai’s ability. If you want to run them, feel free. But if you don’t, I completely understand why.

Suspend Synergies

With that being said, there are also a few cards (creatures included) that synergize with Suspend. They are:

Even though the number of Suspend cards in the game are relatively few, the fact that you can play Jhoira and a new card from Strixhaven, Uvilda, Dean of Perfection, let’s you get away with building a Suspend deck.

New Cards From Strixhaven

Magma Opus

As I mentioned before, Ulvida, Dean of Perfection, works well in Suspend decks. Her effect is not literally Suspend, but it functions similarly. Also, since you are trying to cast expensive spells for cheap, Magma Opus, Culmination of Studies, Creative Outburst, and Explosive Welcome are all really good in this deck.

What to Take Out

Choosing which cards to take out of this version of the deck is difficult. Since Suspend lets you cast the spells for free, copy spells like Naru Meha, Master Wizard and Dualcaster Mage are great. You can spend your mana on those creatures instead of the actual spell.

Diluvian Primordial can be really great, because you can suspend it to cast for cheap later with Jhoira, or you can get a free cast from your opponents’ spells in their graveyard. In the end, you might just have to choose which cards you do or don’t want in this deck from the precon.

4. Spell-Harmonicon (6-8)

Recommended Commander: Veyran, Voice of Duality

This is probably the upgrade path that I am most excited about out of all five versions of Prismari Performance upgrade. I live for the kind of gaudiness that we are getting from this commander. She acts as a Panharmonicon effect when you cast your spells. This would be an unreal effect on any card, let alone a commander. Lets talk about the cards that go well with Veyran, Voice of Duality.

Permanents So Nice, They Trigger Twice

Thousand-Year Storm Prismari Performance Upgrade Guide

When I first saw Veyran spoiled, I thought of Thousand-Year Storm. If this was the only card that I recommended for this deck, you could build a powerful deck with it. You basically get to copy a spell twice for every one spell that was cast before it this turn. I don’t think I need to go on about how ridiculous this is.

Cards that have a similar effect, as we’ve said before, are Sentinel Tower, Aria of Flame, and Aetherflux Reservoir. You could even clump Dynavolt Tower in there if you wanted to. Similarly, Eye of the Storm and Hive Mind are nuts with this commander.

Other cards that get double triggers from Veyran are:

I’m sure that I’ve missed a bunch of permanents who’s triggers could be copied. Please let me know if I did in the comments.

New Cards From Strixhaven

There aren’t any new cards from Strixhaven for this deck that I haven’t already mentioned. Basically, anything with Magecraft will work. Feel free to go back through the previous upgrade recommendations in this article to find specific examples.

What to Take Out

You can probably take out everything that is not an Instant or Sorcery, or that doesn’t trigger from casting Instants or Sorceries. This means you can hang on to Charmbreaker Devils, Octavia, Living Thesis Erratic Cyclops (all of which I did recommend removing earlier in the General Upgrades section ¯\_(ツ)_/¯).

Some other cards that can stay are Talrand, Sky Summoner, Storm-Kiln Artist, Zaffai, Thunder Conductor, Sunbird’s Invocation, Swarm Intelligence, Metallurgic Summoning, and Elementalist’s Palette. Anything else can go.

5. Dragonstorm (4-6)

Recommended Commander: Zaffai, Thunder Conductor

I know that I said before that I wasn’t going to talk about the Dragonstorm deck in this Prismari Performance upgrade article. But, the more I thought about it, the more I think that there’s something good here. A month ago, I wouldn’t have considered this a workable idea. However, Strixhaven brought us a new card that I think is going to make this deck incredible. That card is Dragon’s Approach.

Dragon's Approach Commander Deck Prismari Performance Upgrade Guide

A little-known fact about me is that I went through a Shadowborn Apostle phase a few years back and brewed probably twenty decks. I learned a lot about how to build around cards with the text “any number of cards named…”. If Dragon’s Approach decks are built at all like Shadowborn Apostles decks, this is what I would recommend:

Balancing Dragon’s Approach with Everything Else

You need to run no fewer than twenty five copies of Dragon’s Approach. I would probably recommend closer to thirty to thirty five copies, but this limits the number of other cards that can fit in the deck.

So if we have about thirty Dragon’s Approaches and thirty seven lands, that leaves us with thirty two other cards to finish this deck. This means that you have to be very choosey about which cards you include. Among these cards, we need to include some dragons to search up with Dragon’s Approach‘s ability. Here are a few that come to mind:

Dragon Synergies

While getting a lot of dragons on the board might be difficult, here are a few cards that synergize with dragons:

Cards That Care About Cards With The Same Name

This last few cards in this section are going to be cards that see a fairly small amount of play in Commander. They care about casting cards that have the same name as other cards. Since Commander is a singleton format, there are not very many decks that let us use these cards. Fortunately, this deck is one that can. Here are some of those cards:

Hopefully between all of those different kinds of cards, you can piece together a workable deck that features this fun new card.

New Cards From Strixhaven

Obviously, Dragon’s Approach is from the new set. As is Galazeth Prismari. Otherwise, this deck might not have enough room to fit any other Strixhaven cards.

What to Take Out

Everything but the commander and the mana base. I suppose you could also leave some card draw spells and ramp, but be very particular about what you keep because slots really matter in this deck.

Prismari Performance – Conclusion

And with that, we finish another upgrade article. Thank you so much for making it to the end of the Prismari Performance upgrade guide. 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.

More Strixhaven

If you want to open some of the new Strixhaven cards, to upgrade your Prismari Performance deck with, you can purchase a booster box on Amazon. In addition, you can find all Strixhaven cards here.

Strixhaven School of Mages Booster Box

If you want the shiniest and the rarest card, you can check the Strixhaven Collector Booster contents here.

More Commander

Would you like to check upgrade guides for other Commander 2021 / Strixhaven decks? They are listed here:

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 Prismari Performance Commander deck!

2 thoughts on “Prismari Performance Upgrade Guide – 5 Different Options”

  1. “Here is a non-exhaustive list of cards that let you accumulate an infinite storm count. I will try to include cards that are already in the deck, or would have utility outside of the combo:

    Grinning Ignus + Birgi, God of Storytelling or Runaway Steam-Kin or Storm-Kiln Artist”

    – Storm-Kiln artist only triggers on Instants or Sorceries – so it would not generate the extra mana with Grining Ignus – or am I missing something?

    Reply

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