Upgrading Ruthless Regiment on a Budget


Humans? Check. Aristocrats? Check. The Ruthless Regiment preconstructed Commander deck is a great option to play straight out of the box. But it's easy to improve, even on a limited budget. Let's take a look at some affordable and effective upgrades, so that you can better hold your own in your Commander playgroup.

We're Only Human After All

jirina kudro

I was pretty excited when Wizards announced that one of the latest batch of preconstructed Commander decks would be focused on Humans in Mardu colors. Alesha, Who Smiles at Death is one of my all-time favorite commanders, and Human is a creature type that deserves a bit more love. Overall, the deck features some nice inclusions, but also leaves a lot to be desired.

One of the bigger issues when building a multiplayer Humans deck is that your creatures are easily outclassed, making it hard to finish off opponents. Fortunately, Mardu enables an "Aristocrats" subtheme. For those of you unfamiliar with the term: an Aristocrats strategy, originally named after an old Standard deck with Falkenrath Aristocrat and Cartel Aristocrat, revolves around generating value from sacrificing creatures in various ways, converting them into new cards, damage, more creatures, et cetera. This partially answers a lot of the problems a small creature deck has, like card draw, finishing opponents, and recursion. Humans and Aristocrats are a perfect match in that there's plenty of easy token generators, and some decent payoff cards that share the Human subtype.

The Budget

I've set the total budget for this deck at €100. Assuming you bought a copy of Ruthless Regiment for €30, we have about €70 left to play around with. I've tried to use average Cardmarket prices for all these cards, but you will probably be able to get a better deal! Just keep in mind that I've not included any potential shipping costs.

So What Do We Get?

verge rangers

Before we dive into how to spend 70 of your hard-earned euros on singles, let's take a look at what the Ruthless Regiment deck has to offer to begin with. Here are the most relevant inclusions in terms of — either monetary or gameplay — value.

  • Verge Rangers is a very solid card for any deck lacking green. It's currently priced at around €3, though I expect this to go up in the long run.

  • Species Specialist may not be as splashy as Verge Rangers, but is still a very powerful card. The fact that it looks out for any creature of the chosen type dying, including your opponent's and tokens, makes it viable for a lot of different strategies.

  • Flawless Maneuver is part of a cycle that Wizards clearly pushed to drive Commander sales. While the white one isn't as good as the blue or black member, it remains a very solid card. Cards that can be played for free will always be worth money in the long run, and it's currently going for about €10.

  • Believe it or not, but Shared Animosity used to be an expensive card, and I would still consider it desirable, despite its two recent reprints.

  • Some other (less) notable reprints include Odric, Master Tactician, Knight of the White Orchid, Nahiri, the Harbinger, and Arcane Signet.

For this deck, we're keeping Jirina Kudro as the commander. The card's anthem ability allows our many Humans to make a bigger punch, while it also generates tokens that can be used as sacrifice fodder.

Manabase Upgrades

€70.00 of the budget left.

Just like most preconstructed decks, Ruthless Regiment comes with a bunch of lands that enter the battlefield tapped and bounce lands. At this point, if you're not on a super tight budget, there is no real excuse for running these lands anymore. Temples have been reprinted, Battle lands and cycle lands are relatively cheap, and even the check lands provide good value for their money.

The first step we're taking is to remove all the "bad" lands from the deck — not to be confused with Badlands, which you should include, if you have it, but which doesn't fit this article's budget restriction. We replace them with more untapped lands, and Temples. While the scry from the Temples might not seem like a large improvement over the lifegain lands, it makes these lands more desirable at any stage of the game. They provide useful information in your early turns, and even have some relevance in the late game to manipulate your topdecks.

Utility Lands

€57.00 of the budget left.

One of the cool features of a card pool as large as Commander's is the guaranteed ability to find some suitable utility lands. I already wrote an article on the importance of utility lands in the format. While not all utility lands are cheap and accessible, there are plenty of inexpensive options that fit right into our plan.

Castle Ardenvale is a land that taps for white mana and makes tokens that have a relevant creature type. I'm a bit surprised this wasn't included in the original. I suppose Wizards left it out specifically because it's such an obvious and easy-to-get upgrade. Castle Embereth is another land that taps for one of our colors and makes our go-wide strategy more viable without a huge investment. Meanwhile, Vault of the Archangel provides additional support for our attackers. Finally, every deck should have answers to lands like Cabal Coffers, Field of the Dead, or Glacial Chasm. We're including a Ghost Quarter to have at least one out against these cards.

Additional Humans

€51.50 of the budget left.

While the deck includes a lot of the Human all-stars already, there are some no-brainers that are missing. Hanweir Militia Captain and Hanweir Garrison are some very efficient token produces that support our sacrifice and go-wide strategy.

Now that we have some effective ways to create tokens, we need to look at sacrifice and payoff abilities. Yawgmoth, Thran Physician is the most expensive card we'll add, but also one of the absolute strongest. Being able to convert creatures into card draw at no real cost is exactly what this deck needs. General Kudro of Drannith is an absolute powerhouse and an automatic inclusion here. Judith, the Scourge Diva pumps the team further while listening to the sweet sound of creatures dying, which plays nicely with the Aristocrats subtheme. Furthermore we're adding some utility creatures that either provide protection, card draw, more anthem effects, recursion, or removal. While creatures like Courageous Outrider and Militia Bugler may look underwhelming, they immediately replace themselves while providing a body with a relevant creature type.

We're mostly removing some of the more clunky and off-brand clutter. Cards such as Fireflux Squad, either Magus, and Kelsien, the Plague are fine creatures, but don't really fit the theme we're going for in this deck. Furthermore, cards like Dearly Departed and Titan of Eternal Fire are overcosted and too situational. We'd rather run more Humans that provide immediate value.

Additional Tribal Support

€29.05 of the budget left.

There are a lot of cards that care about playing Humans. There's a lot of unspecific tribal support too. So we can have our pick and add some of the abolsute best options. Angel of Glory's Rise is an awesome on-theme card that can end the game. Coat of Arms is another game-ending card — just be sure to play this only when you have lethal on board, as the "Arms" here include a double-edged sword. I especially like Cover of Darkness, which allows all of our Humans to sneak past the opponents' defenses.

We're removing the janky "Commander specific" cards that the people at Wizards love to put into these decks. While they are fun for out-of-the-box games, many of them are severely underperforming in actual Commander games.

Adding Commander Staples

€18.80 of the budget left.

Now that we've upgraded the mana base, added better Humans and included some additional support, we can spend the remainder of the budget on cards that have, for good reason, become format staples. These cards don't directly interact with our strategy per se, but will definitely increase its playability, as well as provide a bit more substance to the deck.

Final Form: From Toothless to Ruthless

Revised Ruthless Regiment (Commander: Jirina Kudro)

Beyond the Budget

Obviously, many other cards were left out of the list above purely for economical concerns. Here are a few suggestions that you could add if you're still hungry for more or if you happen to own a copy already. I'm excluding obvious stuff such as shock lands and cards like Demonic Tutor. Incidentally, I even think Diabolic Intent is more on theme for this deck.

Closing Thoughts

I very much hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to upgrade the Ruthless Regiment Commander deck. Aristocrats is the subtheme I chose for this deck, but there's plenty of other strategies available too. The other commanders in the original provide plenty of fuel for spicy brews, so let me know what you've done with this deck yourself. Did I miss any cards within the budget that you would've included? Let me know in the comments! As always, thanks for reading. Until next time!

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.


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mazramdesoul(16.05.2020 15:11)

I have seen several C20 upgrades for this deck and the upgrade recommendations here seem like a good starting point. But i would like to draw attention to a certain point that everyone seems to ignore? (maybe i am just wrong)

The point being the mana base: This particular guide recommends 34 lands plus 'temple of the false gods'. This example list also contains thirteen 4cmc and nine 5+cmc cards. And i do not belive the deck can actually function this way. Using the tables of 'Frank Karsten' on ChannelFireball this would only give a chance of ~65% to hit the 4th land on turn four or ~45% to hit the 5th, which seems pretty important with this kind of mana curve. (I also see some abilities with costs of three and more)

Of course this is disregarding all ramp because i am to lazy to do math myself. However so far i have not seen somebody suggesting to increase the landcount, so i am doing it instead. (And you even cut one)

MalteLew(16.05.2020 07:21)

I don't know why you want to put out Fireflux Squad. Its everything we want in this deck? 4/3 (6/3 with our commander out) with haste and a very nice ability for just 3R?

Just replace any of your tokens with a creature that is most-likely to be better every attack (note: its a may ability, so it cannot screw us if we do not want to).

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