2022 has come to a close, and while no one really knows what the new year will bring, it has always been a time of hope and renewal. In Asian culture, 2023 signifies the Year of the Rabbit, expect lots of rabbit-inspired promos from Wizards of the Coast in the coming year!
In 2021, the alternate-art Sethron, Hurloon General was create to celebrate the Year of the Ox, and subsequently, promotional variants for Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow, Jedit Ojanen and Temur Sabretooth were released in 2022’s APAC League to celebrate the tiger year.
To celebrate 2023’s Year of the Rabbit, we’re going to build a new Commander deck helmed by Magic’s latest Legendary rabbit – Preston, the Vanisher!
Just released as a new card in Jumpstart 2022, Preston, the Vanisher is a nimble 2/5 Creature for 4 Mana, with a fascinating ability to effectively double any “enter the Battlefield” (henceforth ETB) effect from a creature that wasn’t cast. (It also gives us a 0/1 body, and that’ll be more useful later on).
A Rabbit Commander deserves some equally cute and nimble sleeves for the deck, so we built it with Dragonshield’s brand new Art Brushed Water Rabbit 2023 sleeves. These have a white front, which makes a fine complement to the white cards. Since each box comes with 100 sleeves, it’s just right for any Commander deck.
The sleeves’ back feature specially commissioned art for the Year of the Rabbit, so you won’t be seeing this anywhere else. And if you also play Japanese cards games like Yu-Gi-Oh, they’re also available in smaller sizes just for that purpose.
Before someone says that we should focus our money on the cards themselves, this Preston, the Vanisher Commander deck was built with a budget just below US$200, but don’t be fooled, because Preston can easily hop in and snatch a win.
Overall Strategy – Mono White Preston
Preston, the Vanisher opens up new avenues for deck building that we’ve not seen before. Exploiting “Enter the Battlefield” (ETB) and “Leave the Battlefield” (LTB) triggers isn’t uncommon at all in Magic, but mono-white has always struggled with using them efficiently.
Preston offers ways to boost card draw while supplementing the deck’s game plan, a known problem for many white decks in the format. Though there aren’t many options for Mana ramp, this deck has plenty of early-game drops and a solid curve that should allow us to play our cards consistently.
The overall game plan focuses on exploiting Preston’s trigger in combination with other blink cards like Felidar Guardian, Restoration Angel and Fiend Hunter combo lines, supplementing it with a plethora of sacrifice outlets to generate infinite mana, card draw and damage with our 0/1 illusion tokens.
10 Infinite Combo Lines for Preson the Vanisher
For easy reference, here’s a list of the exact methods and techniques on how to execute the 10 infinite combos in Preston, the Vanisher. Keep this list with you when you’re playing if you need a quick reference guide!
Felidar Guardian + Preston + Any blink Spell/Creature (infinite blink, infinite ETB,
Felidar Guardian + Preston + Inquisitor Exarch/Pierce Strider (Infinite damage / life loss / lifegain)
Felidar Guardian + Karmic Guide + Any Sac Outlet (Infinite ETB, LTB)
Felidar Guardian + Vesperlark + Any Sac Outlet (Infinite ETB, Infinite LTB)
Felidar Guardian + Restoration Angel (Infinite ETB, Infinite LTB)
Fiend Hunter + Sun Titan + any Sac Outlet (Infinite ETB, Infinite LTB)
Fiend Hunter + Karmic Guide + Sac Outlet (Infinite ETB, Infinite LTB)
Eldrazi Displacer + Preston + Ashnod’s Altar + Any creature (Infinite Mana)
Panharmonicon + Preston + Any blink creature (infinite blink, infinite ETB)
Karmic Guide + Reveillark + Any Sac Outlet (Infinite ETB, Infinite LTB, Infinite Recursions of any creature with Power 2 or less)
Creatures – the Backbone of any Commander Deck
Given that our deck is so heavily focused on exploiting Creatures’ ETB effects, it makes sense that the deck would have a high number of them. But to give you a better breakdown of our deck, let’s classify the Creatures into 3 main subclasses:
Subclass A: Blink/Recursion Outlets to Generate Loops
These are creatures that help us achieve the “Enter the Battlefield but not cast” effect that Preston’s trigger looks out for. The creatures either pre-exist on the battlefield, and we use an effect that allows them to be Exiled and then enter the Battlefield once again. Alternatively, cards in this class can also allow us to recur our creatures from the Graveyard.
The kingpin here is Felidar Guardian; who, by himself, can create an infinite combo with Preston alongside any blink spell, creating an infinite number of 0/1 Illusion Tokens. Felidar Guardian is the gold standard of our deck, but in the event that we don’t find it fast enough / gets sent to the shadow realm, we do have a few backups:Restoration Angel Eldrazi Displacer Glorious Protector
Are all Creatures we can alongside Preston to create different infinite loops. Note that this subclass excludes Flickerwisp, because its blink ability isn’t instantaneous (brings the Creature back to the Battlefield at the beginning of the next End Step), hence making it difficult to combo off with your Creatures. However, in slower games, Flickerwisp is still a haymaker and can be very annoying to deal with.
In addition, cards like Sun Titan, Karmic Guide (and its buddy Reveillark) and Vesperlark are all ways we can exploit the creatures in our graveyard to your benefit, recycling them for their ETBs before throwing them back to our graveyard using Sacrifice outlets.
Subclass B: Payoffs from Infinite Loops
These are creatures that have useful ETB effects that we’re looking to chain alongside our blink/recursion package. It is okay to play these cards as soon as you have Mana to cast them, but be wary of removal spells or control cards like Torpor Orb that can halt our Preston deck in its steps.
The main payoffs help to draw cards, and sift through our deck to find the game-winning combo piece. They are:Combat Thresher Inspiring Overseer Priest of Dwarven Lore Rumor Gatherer Skyscanner Spirited Companion Wall of Omens
The secondary payoffs are the more important set of cards, since they help you win the game by either reducing your opponents to zero life, or by allowing you to gain infinite life.
The cards that deal damage to your opponents are Pierce Strider and Inquisitor Exarch, while the cards that help us gain infinite life are Charming Prince, Dawnbringer Cleric and Priest of Dwarven Lore.
Subclass C : Defensive/Protective Pieces
For our deck to function properly, we need defensive pieces that allow us to defend our core combos and help us stabilise against opponents trying to mess with our strategy.
Fiend Hunter has a unique role in the deck, acting as a defensive piece that allows you to remove Creature threats, but also as an offensive activator for our combos involving Sun Titan or Karmic Guide.
Non-Creatures – Protection and Threat Removal
Most of the non-Creatures in our deck basically aid us in achieving our combo lines, or provide additional ways to trigger Preston.
Most Instants double up as blink outlets as well as temporary protection from board wipe effects. Eerie Interlude and Ghostway help to defend our creatures against mass Creature exile/removal, while Cloudshift and Ephemerate can help against those pesky Deadly Rollicks that target only a single creature.
Our Sorceries like Recommission, Ascend from Avernus and Storm of Souls all help us recur creatures from our Graveyard to trigger Preston’s ability. In particular, Sevinne’s Reclamation can help us get out of a pinch if any important combo piece gets stuck in our Graveyard, or if we mill out too much of our deck using Altar of Dementia and we need to return a combo piece back to our hands.
Speaking of Altar of Dementia, our Artifacts aren’t solely used for mana acceleration. They’re also used as our primary Sacrifice outlets, with Blasting Station and Ashnod’s Altar paving the way for our combo lines to help us generate infinite damage and infinite colourless mana along the way. These combo pieces are very important, so protect them at all costs.
Skullclamp works more as an infinite mana sink as opposed to a classical infinite draw outlet, since (as you’ll see later) a majority of combo lines in our deck recur Fiend Hunter, which is a 1/3 creature that doesn’t die to Skullclamp. However, once you’ve established an infinite loop using Karmic Guide and Reveillark, using Skullclamp in addition to any creature with 1 Toughness effectively gives you a near infinite amount of draw that you can control at will.
Not enough triggers? Mirror of Life Trapping and Panharmonicon serve to double both “Enter the Battlefield” triggers and Preston’s triggers as well, increasing the potency of this Preston, the Vanisher deck.
End Step and Upgrades
To top off the lunar new year experience, play Preston, the Vanisher on Dragonshield’s Water Rabbit playmat, featuring glorious, blown-up art by Rien. Although Preston is not exactly a top tier competitive deck, at the very least you can wow your opponents with a highly flavourful deck and sleeves for the whole of 2023.
To upgrade to an even more competitive level, try swapping in Thalia, Guardian of Thraben or Archon of Emeria against other combo-oriented decks, while Wandering Archaic can be added in to effectively making all forms of countermagic an additional +2 generic Mana to cast.
Surprisingly, our deck can play around Rule of Law, since a majority of combos only require one spell to be cast to start the chain reaction. Just remember to protect your cards from removal spells or any other funny business so we can kill our opponents swiftly.
With so many infinite combos at your disposal, it won’t be difficult to roll out a few wins with Preston, the Vanisher.