Maestros Massacre Review: Anhelo, the Painter Multiplies the Fun!
“Magictating” is defined as getting into the zone with your Magic the Gathering collection--thinking, planning, organizing, reminiscing about past games, and imagining future games. It is a combination of hard thinking about the game and calm meditation, reveling in the joy it brings you.
Let's start with something that every one of these preconstructed decks comes with: the sample collector booster. That's a sweet little pot sweetener. Every single deck gets those two bonus cards. Sounds like another success for the Project Booster Fun team. It made opening the decks a little more exciting than normal, and I hope they continue to do this.
Moving on the deck itself, Maestro Massacre has all of the same awesome mana rocks found in all five of these preconstructed decks. These types of staples are exactly the reason why people buy the sealed preconstructed decks and not just the singles. Getting more Sol Rings, signets, Lightning Greaves, and Fellwar Stones is fantastic added value. The mana bases on all of these decks are also great. Short of actually including triomes, these mana bases are offering up some of the best value for a preconstructed deck since the tribal decks from 2017.
The reprints are not terribly exciting in this preconstructed deck. I'm not saying that reprint choices were terrible, because most of these choices are exactly the types of spells you want to run in your fun Casualty-based deck. There are some others out there that are nasty and brutal and more efficient—Expropriate. However, the cards as a whole are excellent choices. I can't really bash the choices, but I don't really feel like lauding them either. They were fine choices. I'd rather spend some time discussing the new cards. I may take a moment to touch on some cards that could easily have been reprinted for this, but were not. I suspect that a few powerful combos were omitted in order to balance this deck against the others. Some of the choices I'm going to mention do help make this deck reach a critical mass point rather early on, so perhaps that's why they were left out of the initial build.
Multiply Your Fun With a Few of These Cards:
I know it's a spell-slinger deck, so we need to keep the creatures to a minimum, but do you remember Deekah, Fractal Theorist from Strixhaven? That card is bananas in this deck. Seriously, every time you cast and/or copy it triggers. Thanks to Anhelo, our deck can be guaranteed to keep using Casualty to crank out extra copies for double Deekah triggers. Using Deekah will result in a trip to not only value-town, but victory land shortly thereafter. In addition, you should likely consider utilizing both Zaffai, Thunder Conductor and Veyran, Voice of Duality. Veyran is particularly powerful in this deck when you consider that each of your supporting enchantments is triggering when you cast or copy spells, and doubling up on those triggers or Deekah's for that matter is grossly good!
Now, after you've trimmed out some creatures for other creatures, you can consider swapping in some sweet spells and enchantments to power this thing up even more. Skywise Teachings seems like a fantastic card to add to a deck like this. Cranking out doubling possibilities for two mana a pop, via Casualty, seems like a seriously powerful tool for this spell-slinger deck. Additionally, since we're considering offering up djinns in order to cast more copies of our spells, how about Ojutai's Summons? So, this is interesting in a world where you get to rebound spells and then you get to copy them as well. However, when you read the fine-print behind Rebound it clearly states that it only gets to be rebound/recast if it was cast from your hand. Copied spells aren't cast from your hand, but there are plenty of cards that bring spells back to our hands. Being able to copy Army of the Damned twice over is actually very powerful as well, because now you get a mini-army that can be used as fodder to feed the massive 26 2/2 zombie dream we are all looking to pull off. That's without flashing it back! Along these lines and perhaps a bit more powerful is Metallurgic Summonings. Using this to crank out tokens for fodder or even using the return ability to suddenly refuel your hand with beefy spells is exactly the dream this deck wants to live. The last little option I'll mention is running the absurdly powerful Shark Typhoon in this deck. Granted, the copies aren't cast so you're not getting double shark tokens, but they are great fodder for more Casualty activations. Fun times, right?
The New Cards:
The face Commander, Anhelo, the Painter is incredibly fun. Aside from hybrid mana symbols, this is about as aggressively costed as you'll see a three color commander. So, yes, it's a fantastic card to build around. The ability to give all your instant and sorceries Casualty 2 is what makes this deck and this strategy sing. It's just awesome. Parnesse, the Subtle Brush is another incredibly fun legend to toss into the mix with the whole concept of copying spells. When you combine Anhelo or Parnesse with any of the other creatures I mentioned from Strixhaven, you end up reaching “critical mass—acre” in about no time. Keeping with the creatures, Sinister Concierge is incredibly fun to abuse with sacrifices and ETB effects. It makes me wonder if Panharmonicon might be worth a try in this deck, but let's stick with the new stuff. Dogged Detective is a decent card in that we get to keep sacrificing it, and all the rest of the players will be to blame when we get to return it to our hand. It really is just sacrifice fodder here, so it's OK, but I'm not really loving it.
Spellbinding Soprano is neat, but really it seems to just function as a one-time multi-ritual. It can be used with its encore ability to set up a hellaciously powerful turn. Cranking out multiple spells off an Encored Spellbinding Soprano can really be tempting, and it does die nicely to Anhelo's ability as well. At least Spellbinding Soprano actually fits the deck whereas Syrix, Carrier of the Flame is really just in here to give people an opportunity to build Phoenix tribal. Now, to be clear, I am fully in support of this card's existence, and this is a fine place to put it as well. However, you should be pulling this card from your deck and replacing it with any of the other cards I mentioned previously.
The sorceries and instants are decent enough, but not all are all-stars. Body Count is a fun way to draw cards while Waste Management seems underwhelming. It's OK, but a bit too utilitarian for me, and I'll be swapping it out for any of the other cards I've mentioned earlier. Maestro's Confluence is going to be brutally effective when we copy it with Anhelo's ability. That's going to be a truly satisfying time. Now, let's chat a bit about Flawless Forgery. This is one of the most exciting new spells introduced in this deck. Being able to use other people's cards against them can be back-breaking for some decks. Similarly, Xander's Pact can be brutally effective, though a bit more chaotic in its results. Paying life can make it rough, but it can often be more than worth it in this beautiful 40 starting life format. Audacious Swap is a much riskier and temperamental Chaos Warp, and so I'm not entirely sold on it (also giving people cast triggers can be dangerous). However, if you've got a deck that likes to counter things with spells like Zur's Weirding or Counterbalance, then feel free to try and resolve a card like Audacious Swap (you might want to run Teferi as well). Lastly, Make an Example is a fun new version of Do or Die, and definitely improves on the old version for the sake of Commander.
Smuggler's Buggy is alright, but it just seems a bit too combat oriented for this spell-slinging deck. I doubt our ability to truly take advantage of its uses. This seems like it'll be more at home in a Gruul styled combat deck.
Enchantments are the best parts of this spell-slinger deck. Cryptic Pursuit, Extravagant Replication, and Determined Iteration are just incredible enablers for this deck. I can easily imagine myself picking up multiples of all of these to use in other decks that will benefit from these continuous value adding enchantments. The possibilities for these cards are so deep. Cryptic Pursuit is tailored to this deck. Making 2/2's for the purposes of activating Casualty and then being able to take those free creatures and effectively turn them into added cards in hand is value all day. Meanwhile Extravagant Replication is amazing in that it copies any nonland permanent each upkeep. That's just awesome. I love this card for two reasons: it uses upkeep (not many cards still do), and it can copy your artifacts, enchantments, or even planeswalkers. This can be a great way to reset a planeswalker that has dropped below useful loyalty. Additionally, creating more copies of creatures in a deck that utilizes ETB effects is obviously powerful. Combining Extravagant Replication with Determined Iteration is amazing. That is the sort of play that dreams are made of. Also, pulling these cards from this deck and dropping them into any other deck that happens to run green for cards like Doubling Season and Parallel Lives is going to be wonderfully degenerate. I am so looking forward to playing with these new enchantments across several decks.
As a whole, this deck is built really well. It has been designed to work synergistically, and it's more than the sum of its parts. Interestingly, this deck isn't a great pick-up for people parting it out to other decks, but again, it does provide solid mana and mana-rock staples. Overall, I'm pleased with this deck as well, and look forward to sacrificing creatures for spell-slinger profits. I hope that your spells, casualties, and the cards remain ever in your favor!