Unstable Mutation: Party Time

In our Unstable Mutation series we look at the prerelease decks of various sets, talk about their contents, and talk about how to improve them taking them from an off-the-shelf disaster into something that’s worth bringing to the table on a Friday night. This week we’re looking at the Party Time deck from Battle for Baldur’s Gate.


Some of the Baldur’s Gate precons feel like decent decks, or at least pushing into decent deck territory. This one is not one of those. It’s refreshing to see a Commander whose ability is reflected in the deck, so it sort of supports how the Commander wants to play. But…. 44 creatures. That’s a lot.

14 creatures at 4 CMC or more, and some weird sorceries and an enchantment that makes no sense.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Potentially Nalia de’Arnise ability can be terrifying, you can just keep casting spells from the top of your library. Once there are enough Rogues or Clerics or something like that, you could potentially cast a ton of spells off the top of your library.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Seeing the top of your library is also pretty crazy, but Nalia really lacks the ability to do anything much with it, since her other ability is a combat trigger. That being said you could definitely hook up:
Nalia de’Arnise + Edgewalker + Orah, Skyclave Hierophant + Phyrexian Altar

So you could potentially keep casting Clerics off the top, sacrificing them for mana, returning them to your hand, recasting and saccing, recurring and creating death triggers, and just generally going nuts. That’s a lot of pieces to put together, for a wonky combo, and descends into Rube Goldberg territory and also requires literally each combo piece, each of which doesn’t do much on its own.

There’s also a bunch of baffling cards in the deck, which I find Wizards always seems to feel the need to include:


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Magus of the Balance – What is the plan here? Your whole deck is dumping out creatures for card advantage so why run this? Sure, you might be behind on creatures, being out ramped by your opponents, but it’s not as if you can plan to board clear and recover, maybe if you had a bunch of lands that tap for two, like the bounce lands, and a plan to get them and then do better off a reset. You could also benefit from this reset in various ways, with access to black (and white) like for example white’s ability to recur all the permanents that were destroyed. But sitting alone in a deck this is kind of a bizarre card to just randomly see. There’s tons of examples like this, Vault of the Archangel, Pontiff of Blight, Eight-and-a-half-Tails, Starlit Sanctum. They’re not awful cards they just don’t really fit. A critical deck building question is “how much mana will I have” and “will I have something to do with it.” This pre-con is full of ways to dump mana, and no ways to get mana to dump.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Stick Together is at least a bit more on theme and an interesting card, potentially quite good because it’s a sacrifice effect as opposed to destroy, where you could dodge it by maintaining a party, but it feels like it’s always going to hurt the deck a fair amount, counting on wrath + indestructible seems a lot more dependable, even if opponents creatures will occasionally also be able to dodge it.

So what does Party Time do out of the box? Well, honestly not very much. It does have a decent setup of low-cost creatures, and Nalia’s ability means you can look at and play off the top, but it can’t really leverage these things because it has little ability to manipulate the top of your library, nor much ramp. Neither white nor black has a lot of ramp, though rocks are available, and there are the aforementioned tricks like lands that tap for extra and cards like Land Tax to fill your hand.

The deck has 37 lands, 7 of which enter tapped, one of which enters tapped sometimes. There doesn’t seem to be any real need for these ETB lands – there’s quite a few either double white or double black spells, but they all cost 4+ mana, so the odds of you ending up with 3 of a single tapping land are not that high. Obviously the easy fix would be the appropriate shockland and fetchland.

Anyways, drop your land, pray like hell for a mana rock on turn 2 (at least there’s a lot of Clerics in the deck) then get your Commander out, and start casting off the top. Get to a full party, then you can get your +1/+1 counter and attack. So you’re going wide and then, well your creatures will inch up in power so long as you keep the party full. Eventually, 10 or 11 turns in you’ll start dealing lethal damage.

It’s a terrible game plan.


Rebuilding the Deck


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Unfortunately rebuilding Nalia de’Arnise into a “real” deck is pretty rough. In retrospect, the secondary Commander combo of Burakos, Party Leader and Folk Hero would’ve been stronger. Burakos ramps, and Folk Hero will give you card advantage if your whole deck is party members, while the treasures will let you actually use your extra cards, as opposed to Nalia.

Nonetheless, increasing the ramp by adding a bunch of rocks, and throwing in some staples like Land Tax and Archaeomancer’s Map, some ways to give your board state indestructible and some more control makes it a viable slow burn deck. Getting out Nalia early and then casting off the top is your go-to, but you want to drop every ramp you can, basically non-stop, because Nalia potentially can let you cast 3 or 4 creatures off the top in a turn, if you get lucky. Skullclamp will let you manipulate the top of your library so as to keep creatures on top for casting, or in an emergency grab a removal spell.

Cut from Party Time:

1 Plains
1 Swamp
1 Galepowder Mage
1 Glorious Protector
1 Jazal Goldmane
1 Magus of the Balance
1 Order of Whiteclay
1 Squad Commander
1 Butcher of Malakir
1 Calculating Lich
1 Dire Fleet Ravager
1 Gonti, Lord of Luxury
1 Nighthawk Scavenger
1 Pontiff of Blight
1 Puppeteer Clique
1 Felisa, Fang of Silverquill
1 Irregular Cohort
1 Mage’s Attendant
1 Mother of Runes
1 Priest of Ancient Lore
1 Valiant Changeling
1 Corpse Augur
1 Malakir Blood-Priest
1 Dusk // Dawn
1 Despark
1 Firja’s Retribution
1 Castle Locthwain
1 Shambling Vent
1 Temple of Silence
1 Ash Barrens
1 Starlit Sanctum
1 Folk Hero
1 Seasoned Dungeoneer
1 Stick Together
1 Solemn Doomguide

Add these toppings to make Pizza Time:

1 Grand Crescendo
1 Smothering Tithe
1 Glorious Anthem
1 Paladin Class
1 Spear of Heliod
1 Akroma’s Will
1 Make a Stand
1 Generous Gift
1 Flawless Maneuver
1 Rootborn Defenses
1 Teferi’s Protection
1 Wrath of God
1 Archaeomancer’s Map
1 Sword of the Animist
1 Wayfarer’s Bauble
1 Cathars’ Crusade
1 Land Tax
1 Monologue Tax
1 Darksteel Mutation
1 Bastion of Remembrance
1 The Meathook Massacre
1 Path to Exile
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Mortify
1 Utter End
1 Damn
1 Damnation
1 Everflowing Chalice
1 Thought Vessel
1 Mind Stone
1 Liquimetal Torque
1 Fractured Powerstone
1 Fellwar Stone
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Sensei’s Divining Top

Here is a link to the deck on Moxfield:


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