Painbow: Breaking Down The Most Intriguing Dominaria United Commander Deck

In their SCG debut, Chase Carroll, aka ManaCurves, breaks down the Painbow precon deck for Dominaria United Commander and how they’d modify the list.

Jared Carthalion
Jared Carthalion, illustrated by Manuel Castañón

We are in the throes of the Dominaria United preview season, with new cards and earth-shattering lore bombarding Magic players on all sides. Beloved characters are dying and the Phyrexians are finally putting their plan into motion after decades of meticulous plot development. With all of this happening at once, Commander players want to know: why the heck does the Painbow precon not have a Sol Ring?!

Sol Ring

Every single Commander precon, from Commander 2011 all the way to Baldur’s Gate, features one of the format’s most iconic cards. Players were shocked to see the deck’s lack of a Sol Ring when the list was previewed by the Command Zone. Was there a misprint? Did the decklist miss a card? No. But don’t worry, Commander players, there’s a reason why the Painbow precon is lacking the format’s most iconic piece in the 99.

Magic Card Back

The Commander

Jared Carthalion returns to print once again after his paper debut in Commander Legends, this time bigger and badder than ever…and also as a planeswalker who can be your commander!

Jared Carthalion

Jared is an exciting commander because he is the first precon five-color (or WUBRG) commander to appear as a precon’s face commander since The Ur-Dragon. Jared’s loyalty abilities immediately set the tone for the deck, particularly his first two. He wants to have a lot of multicolored or all-colored creatures and buff them up for some insane combat steps. With Jared’s -3 ability, if the targeted creature has three colors in its identity, it gets three +1/+1 counters. If it has five, it gets five of them. This heavily incentivizes you to run as many multicolored creatures as possible. 

The “No Sol Ring” Secret

If you’re anything like me, this precon is a lot to soak in all at once. Any card that’s more than three pips overwhelms and short circuits my brain. While Jared wants you to amass a large army of all colored creatures, that can definitely be a bit of a challenge. Jared values having as many multicolored spells as possible. Even the secondary commander in this precon, Jenson Carthalion, Druid Exile, allows you to fix mana and create 4/4 white Angel creature tokens.

This deck wants to be like a bag of Skittles, and while Sol Ring may be a format staple, it isn’t necessarily a deck staple. Not every deck needs a Sol Ring, and since Jared cares about colored mana, he prefers pieces like Arcane Signet, Commander’s Sphere, and the newly printed Obsidian Obelisk. While a one-mana rock that taps for two would be a gift in almost any other deck, this precon values precision a bit more.

The Creatures

When looking at the decklist, this precon runs a total of 26 creatures with an incredibly diverse spread of mana values. There is a lot of value in this, ranging from multicolored-matters pieces and token generation to card draw, and removal. To be honest, it’s a lot to take in, but there are a lot of new and old pieces to highlight.

Knight of New Alara Maelstrom Archangel

Starting with the older cards, we have Knight of New Alara. This is an amazing lord for this deck, buffing your creatures for each of its colors. Maelstrom Archangel is a welcome sight as well, as it lets you cast things from your hand for free when you make contact with an opponent. Since this deck is so creature-focused, Surrak Dragonclaw is a great precon inclusion. Not only can your creatures not be countered, he gives them trample too! Talk about a win-win!

Fallaji Wayfarer Two-Headed Hellkite Primeval Spawn

Now let’s take a look at some of this list’s new creatures. Fallaji Wayfarer is an interesting five-color piece that gives all multicolored spells you cast convoke, and Two-Headed Hellkite gives you two cards when you attack with it. However, the most interesting and mana-intensive new creature comes in the form of Primeval Spawn. This is a whopper of a card, allowing you to exile and cast for free a boatload of cards from the top of your library. In a list like this where the curve is a bit higher, this seems like a pretty great trade-off. 

The Ramp/Fixing

You think that a five-color deck would have a lot of ramp and ways to fix colors, but the Painbow precon has a decent skeleton that will help make a good foundation for future upgrades. The deck runs pieces like Obsidian Obelisk, Fellwar Stone, Arcane Signet, and Coalition Relic which help you generate colored mana, and Abundant Growth essentially turns any of your lands into a Command Tower. However, there is more to this than just fixing. 

Farseek Search for Tomorrow

The deck runs a decent framework for your ramp as well. It runs the classics like Farseek, Cultivate, and Kodama’s Reach. It also runs a few of the odd ones as well, like Explore, Growth Spiral, Search for Tomorrow, Migration Path, and Explosive Vegetation. These are welcome pieces in a deck that really focuses on colors and color identity; however, note that this list only runs eleven basic lands, which seems like very little considering how many ramp spells search for one or more basic lands. These could end up being dead cards in your hand mid- to late-game; however, the manabase can get tweaks depending on your budget. 

Some Pieces I’d Add

When looking at Painbow, it seems pretty strong for a five-color commander precon. A creepy Realtor in a horror movie would say it has good bones…and I also say that (Realtor license pending). That said, this is just a precon, and precons always have room for improvement. If you’re looking to pick up this precon and tweak it a bit, here are a few recommendations for upgrades, so you can really make your opponents taste the Painbow. 

Ramp and Mana-Fixing

As stated previously, this deck has a decent structure for ramp and mana fixing, but it could always be better. For starters, I would love to toss in The World Tree, Chromatic Lantern, and Dryad of the Ilysian Grove. All three of these cards allow all of your lands to tap for any color of mana, making this deck a lot less worrisome to play. Spending less brain power on your lands will make playing this deck a lot smoother.

Dryad of the Ilysian Grove Sunken Hollow

Land budget pending, I would swap some of the ramp spells in here for pieces that snag Forests, like Nature’s Lore and Three Visits. This can snag your shocklands, Triomes, and even the Battle lands from Battle for Zendikar. The list already runs Farseek, which functions similarly, except it doesn’t snag a Forest.

Because this is a five-color deck, it is unfortunate that the manabase might be more expensive than that of the average commander deck. While I recommend slotting in shocklands, Triomes, Battlebond duals, and the slowlands from Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow, they might be out of budget. Battlebond duals and the Kaldheim snow duals are great budget lands that are also fetchable with the ramp cards listed above. Not every upgrade has to be expensive!

More-tal Combat

With our manabase beefed up a little bit, we need to address the elephant in the room. This deck is combat-focused and wants to swing as fast as it can. Jared is a bit impatient, but this list is severely lacking in haste enablers. You have such strong pieces like Primeval Spawn, Maelstrom Archangel, and O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami, but casting them and putting counters on them with Jared, only to have them be sitting ducks until your next turn, doesn’t feel too fun.

Rhythm of the Wild Fires of Yavimaya Xenagos, God of Revels

Tossing in some haste enablers should help speed things along. Two enchantments I recommend are Rhythm of the Wild and Fires of Yavimaya. Rhythm gives you the option to grant haste or give a creature a +1/+1 counter when it enters the battlefield. Not only is it a multicolored spell, it gives you options, which I appreciate. Fires of Yavimaya grants all your creatures haste and allows you to give all of your creatures a temporary +2/+2 buff when you sacrifice it. Another haste enabler I can’t help but recommend is Xenagos, God of Revels. While he may not grant all of your creatures haste, he grants one haste and a nasty buff too. This can turn your Primeval Spawn into a life total-halving monstrosity. How can you not be tempted? Jared certainly is.

Finally, we have the creature recommendations. This one was a bit challenging for me. The creatures in this list are just straight-up value. From Atla Palani’s “free” creature ability to the Glint-Eye Nephilim’s mass card draw trigger, it’s definitely a bit hard to figure out where to start. Since this list is definitely combat-focused, we should tailor our creatures to that.

Maze Glider Maze Sentinel

While they may not be multicolored creatures and their mana value is a little bit high, I cannot recommend the cycle of Maze creatures from Dragon’s Maze enough. Each Elemental gives your multicolored creatures a powerful keyword. Abomination gives them deathtouch, Behemoth gives them trample, Glider gives them flying, Rusher gives them haste, and Sentinel gives them vigilance. While you don’t have to run them all, my personal favorites include Glider and Sentinel. You just can’t beat vigilance and flying.

Another recommendation comes in the form of General Ferrous Rokiric. The precon list runs a similar card, Hero of Precinct One, but the General makes big, beefy 4/4s rather than 1/1s. I wouldn’t say to swap the two, but adding the General to the list can help beef up your blockers while your multicolored baddies focus on the combat. This list is also a big fan of value, so I can’t help but recommend another legendary addition: Garth One-Eye. This five-colored bad boy is six spells in one, allowing you to play anything from a Black Lotus to a Disenchant. Garth just oozes value.

General Ferrous Rokiric Garth One-Eye Jegantha, the Wellspring

My final recommendation comes in the form of Jegantha, the Wellspring. Great in the 99 or as a companion, Jegantha is the ultimate mana creature for this deck, making it incredibly easy to cast some of the more intensely costed creatures of this list (I’m looking at you, Primeval Spawn). While Jegantha cannot be your deck’s companion straight out of the box because of Time Wipe, it’s a super-easy fix. 

Over the Painbow

With each plane we visit and each set printed, it seems the folks at Wizards of the Coast (WotC) are getting more and more creative with their precon concepts, and I love it. The Painbow deck proposes a challenge for players and deckbuilders that involves a greater focus on the concept of color identity and mana value. With Jared at the helm, a creature’s identity and pips impact the game in a new and exciting way. I cannot wait to pick this precon up and see how it plays fresh out of the box.