The Ruinous Powers Upgrade Guide

Magic and Warhammer players alike can finally celebrate the release of the new Universes Beyond Commander decks. Four pre-constructed decks with around forty new cards each, themed around a faction from the tabletop miniature war game. But once you buy these decks, what’s next? Can they compete with your friends who play Commander, or the Magic players at the local game store?

The short answer to this question is yes. These decks appear at first glance to be some of the strongest decks that Wizards of the Coast has ever printed. But what if you prefer Be’lakor, the Dark Master over Abaddon the Despoiler? Or your favorite character is Kharn the Betrayer and half the cards in this deck don’t match his color identity?

Special Deck, Special Guide

Well, this Ruinous Powers Upgrade Guide is going to be a little different from my usual upgrade articles in order to address these questions. I am going to brainstorm ways to upgrade each commander individually, rather than the entire deck related to specific strategies. Hopefully this inspires you to find some interesting ideas if you want to build around any of these new commanders.

As usual, I don’t plan to impose any budget restrictions on these recommendations. I’ll try to find cheaper alternative options when available, but talk to your playgroup about allowing proxies for cards that are beyond your price range.

If you don’t already own The Ruinous Powers precon, you can get it on Amazon.

The Ruinous Power Warhammer 40k Commander Decks Decklists

The Ruinous Powers Decklist

Commander (1)
Abaddon the Despoiler

New Cards* (41)
Be’lakor, the Dark Master
Lord of Change
Blight Grenade
Great Unclean One
Mandate of Abaddon
Mortarion, Daemon Primarch
Nurgle’s Conscription
Plague Drone
Sloppity Bilepiper
Tallyman of Nurgle
Aspiring Champion
Dark Apostle
Keeper of Secrets
Khârn the Betrayer
Knight Rampager
Let the Galaxy Burn
Blood for the Blood God!
Chaos Defiler
Chaos Mutation
Exalted Flamer of Tzeentch
The Horus Heresy
Kill! Maim! Burn!
Lucius the Eternal
Magnus the Red
Mutalith Vortex Beast
Pink Horror
The Ruinous Powers
Tzaangor Shaman
Heralds of Tzeentch
Nurgle’s Rot
Bloodcrusher of Khorne
Chaos Terminator Lord
Herald of Slaanesh
Noise Marine
Seeker of Slaanesh
The Lost and the Damned
Lands (38)
Exotic Orchard
Foreboding Ruins
Sunken Hollow
Barren Moor
Crumbling Necropolis
Molten Slagheap
Temple of the False God
Command Tower
Dismal Backwater
Evolving Wilds
Forgotten Cave
Path of Ancestry
Swiftwater Cliffs
Terramorphic Expanse

Sorceries (4)
Past in Flames
Decree of Pain
Blasphemous Act
Deny Reality

Instants (6)
Chaos Warp
Bile Blight
Bituminous Blast
Dark Ritual

Artifacts (9)
Chromatic Lantern
Assault Suit
Sol Ring
Talisman of Creativity
Talisman of Dominance
Talisman of Indulgence
Worn Powerstone
Commander’s Sphere
Wayfarer’s Bauble

Enchantment (1)
Warstorm Surge

*Find the new cards from The Ruinous Powers here.

Abaddon the Despoiler

Abaddon the Despoiler Ruinous Powers Upgrade Guide

First up is the face commander for this deck. Out of the box, Abaddon is a great commander for The Ruinous Powers. I will probably keep the deck together how it comes when I get my copy. But what if you want to add some upgrades? There are plenty of good cards you can use to focus and strengthen this commander.

For example, Abaddon gives your cards Cascade, which lets you cast additional spells off the top of your deck. Adding more cards with Cascade to your deck will let you generate absurd amounts of value in a turn. There are a bunch of Cascade spells that don’t already come in the deck:

Dealing Damage to Everyone

You will also want to find ways to deal damage to your opponents to make Abaddon’s ability a little better. Combat damage is a reasonable way to get your opponents to lose life. If you want to be able to increase Abaddon’s ability to deal combat damage, you might consider cards like Meteoric Mace or the Swords of X and Y.

Otherwise, you can use cards with effects that incidentally deal damage to your opponents for simply doing things you likely were already doing. Cards like:

Purphoros, God of the Forge Ruinous Powers Upgrade Guide

Be’lakor, the Dark Master

Be'lakor the Dark Master Ruinous Powers Upgrade Guide

The other option in this deck for Grixis commanders is probably the sweetest Demon tribal commander we’ve ever seen. This deck offers a lot of new Demon support to go along with him, but there are other in-universe Magic cards we could add to sweeten the deck up even more.

The first thing that I want to say about this commander, is that he has an even mana value, which makes him compatible with Gyruda, Doom of Depths. You might consider adding a few Clone effects in addition to your Demons if you decide to make your deck a Gyruda companion deck, but Gyruda could also work really effectively in the 99.

Gyruda, Doom of Depths Ruinous Powers Upgrade Guide

Other than that, here are a few cards that work extremely well with Demons:

And then these are a few Demons that I think should be on your radar for this deck:

Lucius the Eternal

Lucious the Eternal Ruinous Powers Upgrade Guide

Lucius is one of the coolest, but most difficult commanders from this deck to try to build around. The fact that he can pretty reliably come back to the battlefield over and over again is pretty cool. It lets you abuse cards like Purphoros, God of the Forge, Impact Tremors, and Warstorm Surge.

However, the rest of Lucius’s text incentives the player to run a large amount of spot removal and board wipes. This not a terrible problem to have, since often times the solution to a deck not functioning right is to add more interaction. There comes a point, though, when the amount of removal in your deck is doing more to make your friends upset than it is to improve your deck.

I only say this as a word of warning. Go ahead an enjoy Lucius however you want. Just be aware that your opponents might not enjoy playing against him the same way all the time.

Magnus the Red

Magnus the Red Ruinous Powers Upgrade Guide

The hardest part about building an Izzet spellslinger deck is choosing your favorite few non-instants/sorceries to support the instants/sorceries. If you get too many you risk not having enough, but if you don’t have enough your instants/sorceries don’t give you enough value. Don’t include all of these, but here are some of the best support cards in these colors:

Creature Tokens

Magnus rewards you for casting instants and sorceries in a way that makes winning the game much quicker for a spellslinger deck: he makes little creature tokens. These tokens are great for helping you finished out a game, but they also do double duty by reducing the cost of your instants and sorceries with Magnus. If you want to multiply the number of tokens you can make, though, here are some other cards that do a similar thing:

Talrand, Sky Summoner Ruinous Powers Upgrade Guide

And lastly, once you get an army of tokens, Magnus is going to reduce the cost of your spells by a ton. You can cast whatever spells you want, but here is a short list of ones that seemed pretty interesting to me:

Kharn the Betrayer

Kharn the Betrayer Ruinous Powers Upgrade Guide

Another interesting commander from this set is Kharn the Betrayer. His ability is different from pretty much any other commander we’ve ever seen, but it may or may not actually be good. He could be the commander of an interesting group hug deck, but it might be difficult to actually win a game like that.

One interesting strategy that I thought of is to use Threaten effects to take back your Kharn. Once you give him away to your opponents, they might not give him back to you and just bounce him back between themselves. Or worse, they might strike deals with each other to sacrifice him or chump block and kill him. For the latter issue, Assault Suit (which comes in the precon) will be really helpful. For the former, though, you can gain control of Kharn again on your turn to make sure you get in on the group hug action.

Mista Steal Yo Girl

As far as Threaten effects go, the game has no shortage:

Kari Zev's Expertise Ruinous Powers Upgrade Guide

And that’s not even all of them. You probably don’t want to run forty of these cards, though. Choose a handful of them, prioritizing the ones that are repeatable, then spend the rest of your slots making Kharn a large enough threat that he can win the game for you once you draw enough cards. Goad could also be helpful, so he does commander damage to your opponents and speeds up the clock.

Mortarion, Daemon Primarch

Mortarion, Daemon Primarch Ruinous Powers Upgrade Guide

The last commander from this deck is one that uses the player’s life total as a resource. There are a handful of cards that let you do this, and a bunch of them are in black. For example, check out these cards. You’ll notice they are all pretty powerful:

When you flirt with death in such a way, you have to prepare either to win aggressively or to keep yourself alive by some other means. There are plenty of cards that will keep you alive longer than you deserve, as well as cards that trade your low life total for one that feels much safer. Check out these cards for a better understanding of what I’m talking about:

Platinum Angel Ruinous Powers Upgrade Guide

If you can effectively manipulate your own life total as well as your opponents’ you will keep them guessing all game long. It won’t end until the fat lady sings, as they say.

Chaos Shall Reign

If you do decide to build around one of these commanders, I hope this Ruinous Powers Upgrade Guide is a good starting point for you. If you found some inspiration in any of these suggestions, or if you thought of a powerful synergy that I missed, let me know down in the comments. You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter. I love hearing from readers who want additional help building their decks or just want to show me how cool their list turned out.

You can find more information about the Warhammer 40k Commander deck here. Also, check out the upgrade guides for the other decks:

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