Marath, Will Of The Wild: Juicing Up The Naya Precon

If you’d like to amp up the power level of your Nature of the Beast Commander 2013 deck while keeping most of it intact, take a look at what Bennie suggests!

So last Friday’s plans didn’t work out quite the way I wanted them to, but by the end of the evening (or rather in the wee hours of Saturday morning), I’d acquired all five of the new Commander 2013 decks and played a fair number of games of Commander. Playing them right out the box is a tad clunky with just a bit too much “Sealed Deck” feel for me.

For instance, while playing the Mind Seize deck, the first three times I cast Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge I missed hitting any instants or sorceries I could potentially cast off anyone’s deck, including my own. It would have been more than a bit embarrassing but for the fact that I did get a nice little thing going with Charmbreaker Devils, Tempt with Reflections, and a couple other helpful sorceries that were in my graveyard. Not to say that Jeleva isn’t a powerful commander—I think she’s probably rather bonkers, but she needs the right support cards to make her shine.

Grumbling aside, I did however note while everyone was playing one of the Commander 2013 precons that the decks all seemed very evenly matched; the games ebbed and flowed back and forth for quite a while before someone eked out a win. So while I think the cohesion of the decks on their own merits leaves a bit to be desired, they are all equally awkward but still quite fun.

Of course, the real reason I wanted to get my hands on these decks was to take them apart and use them for new full-blown and nicely developed Commander decks. But where to begin? I decided to ask my readers on Twitter what they thought.

The Jund deck got votes quick, but then another horse took the lead . . .

Alright, so Nature of the Beast it is!

Will of the Wild

If I were going to build a Marath, Will of the Wild deck from scratch—and one day soon I will—I would likely build it quite differently than the precon, but this exercise to help give those who might just be getting into Commander some guidelines for juicing up their Nature of the Beast deck while keeping a lot of it intact.

One thing I like about this deck is the Beast theme it’s got going on, which is especially nice given that Marath itself is a Beast. So with an eye towards juicing up that side of the deck, here’s what I did.

Cards I Cut

  • Curse of the Forsaken – Of all the Curses this strikes me as the weakest one, and since three mana is always tight, this got the boot.
  • Druidic Satchel – I love this card, but it’s rather mana intensive and we’re going to want to spend our mana casting big monsters in this deck, so . . .
  • Fiery Justice – I love the new artwork but am not entirely sold on this card for Commander.
  • Grazing Gladehart – Tiny, rather ineffective, three mana, and not even a Beast!
  • Sprouting Vines – This card never seems to work for me sadly.
  • Curse of Chaos – I kinda wanted to keep this in the deck, but it ended up on the cutting room floor after the second round of cuts at three mana.
  • War Cadence – I like this card in Commander, but I think this deck is already going to be rather mana intensive.
  • Seer’s Sundial – I’ve never been much of a fan of this card.
  • Slice in Twain – For four mana I want more in Commander . . .
  • Wrath of God – Like this! I ended up booting this in the last round of cuts to make room for cards at four mana I found more useful, especially since I’m more interested in playing larger creatures than sweeping a bunch of them into the graveyard.
  • Tower of Fortunes – Just way too mana hungry.
  • Mystic Barrier – A fun card, but more of a controlling card than the style I’m working on.
  • Witch Hunt – Another fun card, but I think it belongs in a much more chaotic and red deck than this one.
  • Baloth Woodcrasher – Much better Beasts available for six mana.
  • Magus of the Arena – I’ve always liked this card, but again at six mana I want Beasts!
  • Mold Shambler – I’ve never been much of a fan of this guy even though it is a utility Beast.
  • One Dozen Eyes – A card that makes a Beast but misses on a Mayael the Anima activation? Seems like a bad idea.
  • Rain of Thorns – I can’t help but feel I want more from my six-mana spell.
  • Slice and Dice – I suppose this wouldn’t be bad to sweep away little chump blockers, but I didn’t think I had room for it. I was right.
  • Valley Rannet – It’s a Beast, but outside of Living End decks I don’t think it makes the cut.
  • Deadwood Treefolk – Oh man I love this card. It felt so wrong ending up cutting this card, but as the list of six-mana Beasts I wanted to add to the deck grew, so did the pressure to give the Treefolk his walking papers.
  • Spitebellows – It’s okay for Sealed Deck.
  • Archangel – Fantastic artwork; mediocre card.
  • Avenger of Zendikar – Fantastic creature, but a victim of the non-Beast relocation program.
  • Eternal Dragon – See Avenger of Zendikar.
  • Naya Soulbeast – For eight mana I better reliably count on something near-game winning . . . like Craterhoof Beast-hemoth.
  • Spawning Grounds – This is cute, but see One Dozen Eyes.
  • Savage Twister – I wanted to keep this in, but in the last round of cuts it got the boot.
  • Fireball – This is not really going to be a Fireball deck.
  • Street Spasm – I don’t know that I’ve ever seen this cast around the Commander table.
  • Boros Guildgate, Gruul Guildgate, Selesnya Guildgate – There are much better land options than these in Commander.
  • Khalni Garden, Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree – I can see playing either of these in Commander decks, but I don’t know that they are particularly well suited for a Beast/Marath deck.

Cards I Kept

So with all those cards on the cutting room floor, this is what I kept:

Darksteel Mutation may look a little odd, but I kinda like its ability to freeze out a commander on the board without allowing the controller the ability to put it back in the command zone to be replayed. I was pleased to discover that Crater Hellion is a Hellion Beast! From the Ashes is land destruction done right for Commander, and I think it can possibly even function as some mana acceleration if you float mana from nonbasics that you’ll be losing and replacing to its resolution.

Cards I Added

With some significant holes to fill along the mana curve, here’s what I added to the deck:

One thing I want to take advantage of—especially with Mayael the Anima in the deck—is the beastly theme of “five power or greater” matters, but the vast majority of Beasts that fit that requirement cost quite a bit of mana. So I made sure to stuff a lot more mana acceleration than Sol Ring and Cultivate into the deck, from Veteran Explorer at one mana to a whole bunch of mana critters at two mana.

Hua Tuo, Honored Physician totally deserves to be in a Mayael the Anima deck, and I made sure to add him here along with nice enablers like Sensei’s Divining Top and Sylvan Library.

Alright, so putting it all together, here’s what it looks like:

Marath, Will of the Wild
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 11-10-2013
Magic Card Back

I’m curious—how would you go about juicing up the Nature of the Beast Commander 2013 deck that’s different from my approach? Are there some obvious cards I missed? Let’s hear from you in the comments below!

Take care,


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