Fans of Magic and Warhammer alike: prepare yourselves. Today, we are talking about the white, blue, black pre-constructed Warhammer 40,000 Universes Beyond deck from Wizards of the Coast. Whether you’ve been playing Magic for years or you found the game through this crossover product, this Forces of the Imperium Upgrade Guide will help you get a feel for how to improve your new Commander deck.
If you are like me, you might prefer to leave this deck intact. There’s something satisfying about the common art style and overall feel of the precon. However, I also recognize that these decks introduce multiple new legendary creatures to the format, many of which have already inspired players to build new decks.
Special Deck, Special Guide
This article is going to be a little different from my typical upgrade guides. Rather than talking about how to improve this deck out of the box, I want to write about each new commander individually and how to tune this precon to be synergistic with that card’s abilities. I won’t talk about how to improve the mana, nor will I recommend cards to remove from this deck to make room for new additions.
Hopefully this article will help you as you try to improve your new deck, or just tune it to fit in with your playgroup’s meta. If you have any ideas for cards or strategies that I left out of this article, leave me a comment down below.
If you don’t already own the Forces of the Imperium precon, you can get it on Amazon.
Forces of Imperium Decklist
*Find the new cards from Forces of the Imperium here.
The face commander for this deck does a lot of little things, each of which you could build around. They pump your creatures +1/+0, tap your opponents’ creatures, and investigate. These seem like mostly intuitive concepts: build an army, use anthems to make them stronger; your opponents want to attack you, tap down their creatures. Do to their simplicity, I don’t want to go too in depth on those strategies. If you are curious, though, I brainstorm them both in the Spirit Squadron and Party Time upgrade articles.
I do want to talk about how to build around Investigate, though. You could quickly turn the deck into a Clue/Food/Treasure token deck with cards like Academy Manufactor and Tivit, Seller of Secrets. You would be able to utilize all the cards that care about artifacts, such as Urza, Lord High Artificer, Time Sieve, and Marionette Master.
If you preferred to exclusively focus on Clues and Investigating, those cards could still be pretty powerful. However, here are a bunch of other cards that only care about Clues:
- Angelic Sleuth
- Bygone Bishop
- Daring Sleuth
- Declaration in Stone
- Dennick, Pious Apparition
- Disorder in the Court
- Eloise, Nephalia Sleuth
- Erdwal Illuminator
- Ethereal Investigator
- Fleeting Memories
- Foul Play
- Havengul Laboratory
- Search the Premises
- Tamiyo’s Journal
- Thorough Investigation
- Trail of Evidence
- Wernog, Rider’s Chaplain
In my opinion, Investigate is the most compelling ability on this card. You might find the other abilities more interesting, though. As we go through the rest of this article, a lot of the other commanders have similar abilities. You will likely find some inspiration as you study up on how to build this deck. So without further ado, let’s move on:
A lot of people have been talking about Marneus Calgar as if he is the strongest new commander from this set. That may or may not be true. He is definitely powerful, though, especially paired with cards like Smothering Tithe, Monologue Tax, Black Market Connections, and Grim Hireling. But those cards are all expensive staples. They will be amazing in this deck, but they’ll likely be good in any deck. Let’s look at some other cards that are likely to be better in Marneus decks than others.
Esper colors don’t really have a dedicated token commander yet, even though each of its individual colors do a fine job of producing tokens. Marneus, though, fills this important role quite well. There are a few different ideas for producing these tokens, though, since black, white, and blue make them differently. Here are a couple of ideas:
Blue and even sometimes black makes a lot of tokens when you cast instants and sorceries. There are already tons of decks that do this. If you make Marneus the commander of such a deck, he will reward you by making sure you always have a full hand of spells to continue slinging.
Here are some cards that you definitely want to include in this type of deck:
- Talrand, Sky Summoner
- Sedgemoor Witch
- Deekah, Fractal Theorist
- Docent of Perfection
- Metallurgic Summonings
- Murmuring Mystic
- Poppet Stitcher
- Shark Typhoon
- Tura Kennerud, Skyknight
- Whispering Wizard
- Monastery Mentor
There are tons of cards that let you make tokens when creatures you control die. And since Marneus doesn’t care if the tokens you make are creature tokens, this opens your options up even farther.
- Blight Mound
- Death Tyrant
- Life Insurance
- Nightmare Shepherd
- Ogre Slumlord
- Open the Graves
- Pawn of Ulamog
- Pitiless Plunderer
- Requiem Angel
- Dramatic Finale
There is an infinite combo with Pitiless Plunderer and March of the Machines. Since Plunderer doesn’t care if the creature that dies is nontoken, March turns the treasures into creatures, which immediately die, which triggers Plunderer again, and again in an infinite loop. With Marneus on the field, you get to draw your whole deck immediately. None of these abilities are “may” abilities, though, so be sure to have a Thassa’s Oracle trigger you can put on the stack or a Laboratory Maniac on the board. Otherwise, this combo will lose you the game.
Lastly, here are a couple of great token producers that don’t really fit in the above categories, nor is there really enough support to be able to create a full deck around their strategy in Esper colors. If I am wrong about this, and you build just such a deck, please let me know about it in the comments below.
- Felidar Retreat
- Nadir Kraken
- Grave Titan
- Keeper of the Accord
- Bone Miser
- Blade of Selves
- Alela, Artful Provocateur
- Halo Fountain
- Shorikai, Genesis Engine
- Helm of the Host
- Bloodforged Battle-Axe
- Divine Visitation
- Extravagant Replication
You’ll notice that I didn’t include Anointed Procession or Kaya, Ghost Hunter on any of these lists. These cards are probably pretty good in a Marneus Calgar deck. I wanted to mention them separately, though, because these effects won’t let you draw more than one card with Marneus’s effect.
Commissar Severina Raine
This commander is probably one that wants you to go as wide as possible with your token army. You can do that any number of ways. You might consider leaning into Severina’s tribes, Human, or Soldier. Both of these creature types are pretty decent at making lots of little tokens, which will help you get the most out of your attacks with Severina.
Technically speaking, you don’t have to actually deal any damage for Severina’s ability to drain your opponents. There aren’t a lot of cards that have such an ability, but Reconnaissance lets you untap your creatures and remove them from combat. This gives your creature pseudo-vigliance, but it also lets you attack unfavorably and keep your board state intact. Giving your creatures actual vigilance, like with Intangible Virtue, Akroma’s Memorial, or Felidar Retreat could also be good for this commander.
Since this commander already wants you to make as many creatures as possible, you probably want to find other cards that will give you value for the same thing. For example:
- Halo Fountain
- Boss’s Chauffeur
- Rumor Gatherer
- Throne of the God-Pharaoh
- Harsh Sustenance
- Gruesome Scourger
- Devout Invocation
This commander helps you to make a bunch of creature tokens, then rewards you for making so many. You’ll need to have a healthy split of creatures and artifacts, or just run as many artifact creatures as you can. Maybe you try tribal Golems or Constructs. Perhaps you lean into affinity, so you can get expensive things for cheap.
The deck will likely end up being more grind-y and controlling. However, it isn’t hard to go infinite with this commander either. All you have to do is have two or more artifact creatures on the board along with Intruder Alarm. This will let you make an infinite amount of tokens, which you can then tap to look at your whole deck and put a card from it onto the battlefield. If you can’t win with a setup like this, you definitely didn’t build your deck very well.
You can also get a large, non-infinite amount of value from Freed From the Real and Penman’s Aura. Voltaic Key, Clock of Omens, and Unwinding Clock can also let you grind out some incremental value over multiple turns.
Overall, I don’t expect this commander to be widely popular, but I expect a deck led by him will be pretty powerful and consistent.
There’s a lot going on with Inquisitor Eisenhorn. He cares about drawing cards, instants/sorceries, and dealing combat damage. And if you meet Eisenhorn’s requirements, he rewards you with a legendary 4/4 creature or clue tokens respectively. I think the goal here is to use a bunch of instants or sorceries that pump Eisenhorn’s power, such as:
With a critical mass of these kinds of spells, you can maximize your chances of drawing an instant or sorcery as your first card each turn. Plus, with more power, when Eisenhorn hits an opponent he’ll make more clue tokens. These can then be sacrificed to draw more cards, hopefully making Cherubael more times.
I do want to point to out here that Cherubael is a legendary token. If you make more than one copy, you will have to sacrifice one of them. However, you could build your deck to take advantage of that. If you add a few aristocrats cards, you could incidentally drain your opponents’ life totals while doing everything else your deck does. Alternatively, you could run Mirror Gallery, Mirror Box, and Sakashima of a Thousand Faces to keep as many Cherubaels on the board as possible.
The last thing I want to mention about Eisenhorn is that the text on his card is very similar to the text on cards with an ability called miracle. Miracles are otherwise normal cards that cost quite a bit less if they are the first card you draw on your turn. This keyword ability almost exclusively appears on instants and sorceries, so they would fit in pretty well with the rest of this deck. There are only a few of them in blue/black, but they are probably worth making room for in your deck.
Neyam Shai Murad
Neyam seems at first to be a group hug commander. However, it quickly becomes obvious that you will be benefiting more from their ability than your opponents will be. If you want to see more black/white group hug recommendations, check out the upgrade article for Silverquill Statement. For this article, though, I want to talk about reanimator.
So, Neyam only lets you get permanents back from your graveyard. This means you will want not only cards that fill your graveyard, but cards that let you selectively exile them. If you mill a bunch of lands, for example, delve cards like Death Rattle let you exile them, so you can be sure your opponents’ only options are cards that you want them to choose.
You will also want to be reasonably confident that Neyam can get through to your opponents. Cards like Rogue’s Passage will be helpful for this. You can also strike deals with opponents; promising to give them back a valuable permanent in exchange for letting you hit them.
Lastly, you will need big scary things to reanimate for this deck. This could be anything from planeswalkers, to curses, to big scary creatures. You will also need ways to fill up your graveyard, such as Entomb, Cemetery Tampering, Oriq Loremage, etc. All these pieces together will make Neyam Shai Murad a great commander.
Celestine, the Living Saint
Celestine is also a reanimation commander. Rather than trying to control what permanents are in your graveyard, though, she just wants you to gain life. You could go the soul sisters route and gain a bunch of life in increments of one with Soul’s Attendant and Soul Warden effects. You could also use things like Beacon of Immortality to gain massive amounts of life all at once.
Either way, you will also need impactful things to reanimate. They could be more soul sisters, or bigger threats with higher mana values. You could even commit to this with more creatures that reanimate like Sun Titan, Reveillark, Karmic Guide, and so on. With the right combination, as well as a sac outlet, this deck will quickly turn into a combo deck.
Life gain decks are popular among players of all different skill and experience levels, because they are fairly straightforward, but they can be quite powerful. I expect Celestine to be a great option for mono white life gain.
By This Oath I Pledge to Stand by Thee
If you do decide to build around one of these commanders, I hope this Forces of Imperium Upgrade Guide is a good jumping-off point for you. If you found some inspiration in any of these suggestions, or if you thought of a powerful synergy that I missed, let me know down in the comments. You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter.
You can find more information about the Warhammer 40k Commander deck here. Also, check out the upgrade guides for the other decks: