Welcome, players, collectors, and fans of Magic: The Gathering, Wizards of the Coast's premier trading card game! We have a special treat for you today. In anticipation of the "Planar Portal" preconstructed Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Commander deck, we snagged a copy of "Merciless Rage" from Commander 2019, in hopes that we could compare the two or even mash them together into something great when the new decks release on July 23rd. But the better question, at least for now, is this: How does "Merciless Rage" hold up against precons like "Planar Portal" nowadays? Let's discuss this!
You can read the decklist for the "Merciless Rage" preconstructed deck along with us by clicking on the TappedOut link here. We chose this deck specifically because of the fact that it was most synergistic with "Planar Portal", because three-color decks are rather hard to gauge properly, and because the red-green Draconic Rage deck is the first and only red-green Commander precon to be released so far (and even then you'll have to wait another two weeks for that release!).
"Merciless Rage" is headed by Anje Falkenrath, a value engine card for decks prominently featuring the madness mechanic. Put simply, if you discard a card with madness, you then get to exile and then cast it, typically for a slight discount or with an upside to using that method. So, naturally, her deck has a ton of cards with madness as an ability. This deck's preconstructed list is also only two years old and arguably the fastest out of the four decks that came out at that time. Other commander-potential creatures in the deck include Chainer, Nightmare Adept and Greven, Predator Captain (Chainer particularly was reprinted in Modern Horizons 2 as a worthwhile card for discard/madness builds).
Meanwhile, "Planar Portal" is led by Prosper, Tome-Bound, a black-red Tiefling Warlock with a dual-purpose engine. The card lets you "impulse draw" a card into exile at the end of each of your turns, allowing you to play it until the end of the next turn. It also creates a Treasure token that can be tapped and sacrificed for mana, whenever you play or cast a card from exile. Prosper's decklist is centered on the exile ability of the card, although some focuses are shifted to include Treasure token generation and the goad mechanic, courtesy of Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant, the other featured commander in the deck. The exiling is a commonality between the two decks, as you can likely tell.
How do the two stack up against each other? "Planar Portal" has more opportunity for power creep to factor into its gameplay, but "Merciless Rage" is more focused on one specific mechanic whereas "Planar Portal" has roughly three to consider. In the end, it's hard to tell which is the more powerful one, but the verdict is that the two decks are just too different to really mesh into one refined Commander deck.
But what do you think? Has Wizards of the Coast done a good job making these two Magic: The Gathering precons be so different in the two years between their respective releases? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!