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By: Leviathan, Mike Morales
Oct 25 2013 4:27pm
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It's Dragon Week!  I figured that I should delve a little into their history as it relates to Commander.  Everyone knows that the format I like to play most was originally called Elder Dragon Highlander.  The Elder Dragons were pretty iconic, not just for being some of the biggest beaters of the era, but also for their outrageous casting costs:

arcades sabboth chromium nicol bolas
palladia-mors vaevictis asmadi

The overall idea of the format worked well with these 3 color legends, giving each deck the opportunity to use cards across a variety of colors.  Plus, these were Elder Dragon Legends!  They were amazing, with goofy abilities and unwieldy upkeeps, along with slightly impossible casting costs.  However, it became pretty apparent (actually, it was probably very apparent before they even started) that most of these dragons weren't that great.  The abilities didn't really make sense (Rampage on a flying creature???) and the upkeeps were tough to deal with.  Fortunately you didn't have to look that hard to find more modern replacements.

crosis, the purger darigaaz, the igniter dromar, the banisher
rith, the awakener treva, the renewer

Invasion gave us a whole new set of legendary dragons!  Sadly, they weren't Elder Dragons, but still, they were mostly better in every way.  The casting costs weren't as outrageous, they did not have the problematic upkeeps, and their abilities actually made sense!  Plus, they came in the same color schemes as the original Elder Dragons!  This is pretty much exactly what people want when playing EDH.

On a side note, it's interesting that, aside from random outlier Lord of Tresserhorn, the biggest (in terms of power and toughness) 3 color legends printed up until this point were dragons.  It obviously fits into the fantasy theme of the game of Magic overall, and why wouldn't some of the most powerful creatures you could play with be dragons?  Everyone likes dragons, give the people what they want!

Actually, one area that hadn't really been touched with legendary creatures yet was the so called "wedge," that unusual slice of the color pie that was somewhat explored during Invasion block with cards like Guided Passage and Mold Shambler, but otherwise pretty much ignored.  Still, Wizards of the Coast in their infinite wisdom decided to give the people something that they may not have known they wanted, but loved anyways.

intet, the dreamer numot, the devastator Oros, the avenger
teneb, the harvester vorosh, the hunter

Before these new and beautiful dragons came out, there were no legendary creatures that had these color combinations in their casting cost.  The cool thing is that Wizards decided that with these new legends, they should all be dragons!  Similar to the Invasion dragons, they don't have the problematic upkeep, and they all have triggered abilities that are fun to use.  Plus many of them still see play in Commander as Commanders!  On top of all that, this set gave us Scion of the ur-Dragon, the first 5 color dragon, which is great in a dragon themed deck.

I'm a little saddened that these wedge dragons were a bit outclassed by the wedge legends provided with the Commander product a couple years ago, but I know that they're still good.  And I haven't even gotten to all the mono-colored legendary dragons, some of which are better than others, but I'm not going to do that.  Just know that for almost all the colors your deck requires, there's a dragon who can help you out.  Even if they don't always work well as Commanders, like Keiga and Yosei.

And speaking of Commander product, there's a new dragon coming out for you soon!

Yes, Prossh (what's with the extra S?) is going to be super scary and annoying.  The ability to bring a ton of tokens all at once, and having a built in way to sacrifice them, is pretty powerful in conjunction with stuff like Grave Pact.  As a matter of fact, this card reminds me a lot of Sek'kuar, Deathkeeper decks that used to run around, create tokens and sacrifice them for fun and profit.  I actually went back looking for one of those decks and found this one from Sam Black, which can be found HERE:

Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper
An Old Commander Deck by Sam Black
Creatures
1 Acidic Slime
1 Algae Gharial
1 Bloodbraid Elf
1 Bloodghast
1 Bloodthrone Vampire
1 Braids, Cabal Minion
1 Carrion Feeder
1 Deathbringer Thoctar
1 Diligent Farmhand
1 Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder
1 Eternal Witness
1 Farhaven Elf
1 Fauna Shaman
1 Fleshbag Marauder
1 Furystoke Giant
1 Goblin Sharpshooter
1 Greater Gargadon
1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
1 Krovikan Horror
1 Mitotic Slime
1 Nether Traitor
1 Pawn of Ulamog
1 Primeval Titan
1 Puppeteer Clique
1 Reassembling Skeleton
1 Sadistic Hypnotist
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Savra, Queen of the Golgari
1 Scarland Thrinax
1 Sprouting Thrinax
1 Squee, Goblin Nabob
1 Viscera Seer
1 Wood Elves
33 cards

Other Spells
[Artifacts]
1 Culling Dais
1 Eldrazi Monument
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Mox Diamond
1 Phyrexian Altar
1 Skullclamp
1 Sol Ring
1 Spawning Pit
[Enchantments]
1 Diabolic Servitude
1 Doubling Season
1 Dragon Appeasement
1 Fecundity
1 Goblin Bombardment
1 Golgari Germination
1 Grave Pact
1 Oversold Cemetery
1 Perilous Forays
1 Survival of the Fittest
1 Sylvan Library
[Instants]
1 Chord of Calling
1 Entomb
[Sorceries]
1 Buried Alive
1 Death Cloud
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Dread Return
1 Insurrection
[Planeswalker]
1 Sarkhan Vol
28 cards
 
Lands
1 Ancient Tomb
1 Arid Mesa
1 Badlands
1 Bayou
1 Blood Crypt
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Bojuka Bog
2 Forest
1 Gaea's Cradle
1 Golgari Rot Farm
1 Gruul Turf
1 Khalni Garden
1 Kher Keep
1 Marsh Flats
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Mosswort Bridge
2 Mountain
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Pendelhaven
1 Phyrexian Tower
1 Polluted Delta
1 Rakdos Carnarium
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Savage Lands
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Stomping Ground
4 Swamp
1 Taiga
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Volrath's Stronghold
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Foothills
38 cards

Sideboard
1 Sek'kuar, Deathkeeper
1 cards
 
sek'kuar, deathkeeper

 

This deck was a bunch of synergies all rolled into one lethal package.  With Phyrexian Altar it had the ability to combo out in several ways.  Of course, this deck is a little old, as it's running the since banned Primeval Titan but I think you get the point.  This is the kind of deck you are likely to see Prossh heading and he is a ton more threatening than Sek'kuar.  And that's not even counting the infinite combo you can get with him and Food Chain!

Those of you that have been around a while know that I've made a ton of Commander decks.  I figured that I would go back and pull out the decks that I made that either featured a dragon as the Commander, or were dragon themed, and talk about them a little.  As you'll see there is a lot you can do with dragons.  Check the article out by clicking on the Vol.!

oros, the avenger Vol. V: Oros, the Avenger - My first deck with a dragon at the helm, I was trying to put all of Magic's iconic big beaters into one deck:  Angels, Demons and Dragons.  Oros was in the right colors and fit the bill, and here we are.  This would obviously be helmed by Kaalia of the Vast now, but it was much more controlling.  The curve is pretty high for decks now so be aware if you try and put this together.

bladewing the risen Vol. VII: Bladewing the Risen - My first dragon themed deck was just 2 articles later.  This was pretty simple, include some ways to discard, some control elements, and some ramp, and go to town!  The quality of dragons now is much better than it was 3.5 years ago, so you could probably make the curve lower on this one pretty easily.

teneb, the harvester Vol. XV: Teneb, the Harvester - Teneb is the original Rock Commander, and that's exactly what this deck is.  Lots of attrition and recursion, and eventually wear your opponents down.  Lots of fun.

vorosh, the hunter Vol. XVI: Vorosh, the Hunter - This is probably my first "good stuff" deck.  Doesn't really have a theme, doesn't really use the Commander to great effect.  Just a bunch of good stuff put together to make a good deck.

rith, the awakener Vol. XVIII: Rith, the Awakener - Rith is very good at making tokens, so I included a bunch of ways to make them in this deck.  At the time, Hazezon Tamar wasn't available, and he might be a slightly better choice.  Still, it's nice to be able to beat down with a 6/6 flier when necessary.

numot, the Devastator Vol. XXXII: Numot, the Devastator - Numot wasn't the focus of this deck, although his land destruction ability was nice.  Instead, this deck was all about assembling Kaldra!  Included a lot of artifact tutors and control elements to make sure you lived long enough to put him together, even if Kaldra isn't really all that great.

intet, the dreamer Vol. XXXV: Intet, the Dreamer - This is basically what a Maelstrom Wanderer deck looked like before the Wanderer was available.  At the time, this deck came out hard and fast, and absolutely crushed people.  I don't think it would get the same results now, and the Wanderer is a better Commander anyways.  Still, I remember being able to wipe tables clean with this deck.  Memories.

homura, human ascendant Vol. XXXVIII: Homura, Human Ascendant - Homura isn't a dragon, and the deck isn't really dragon themed.  But once Homura is flipped, he turns your entire team into flying, firebreathing dragons!  I thought the best way to take advantage of that was to go the token route.

zirilan of the claw Vol. LVI: Zirilan of the Claw - At the time, Zirilan lacked the tools that modern decks do.  I didn't have Conjurer's Closet or Sundial of the Infinite to make sure that I could keep my dragons around, and the dragons then just weren't as good.  Still, it was a fun deck to play and probably wouldn't take too much to catch back up to current decks. 

arcades sabboth Vol. LXXVII: Arcades Sabboth - Here is where I started my run of building decks using each of the Elder Dragons.  There's not much of a way to build around Arcades' Castle effect, but I figured that Wild Pair would mean I could get bigger dudes.  I ended up taking that idea and pushing it into an extremely creature heavy deck (45!).  This is a deck that could be tweaked with the addition of Primal Surge.

nicol bolas Vol. LXXVIII: Nicol Bolas - Next up was the bad boy himself, Mr. Bolas if your nasty.  I took an idea I saw in a forum regarding a "group slug" deck and pushed it to the extreme, forcing everyone to draw cards and hurting them in the process.  This was probably the deck I had the most difficulty with playing correctly, as the decision tree was complicated and there were a ton of tutors.  Still, it was a blast, and Bolas came in handy!

chromium Vol. LXXX: Chromium - There's no real way to build around a flying rampager.  Instead, I went with the reanimation route, putting huge dudes in the graveyard and bringing them back over and over.  It completely dies to Rest in Peace and Leyline of the Void, but the former didn't exist at the time, and no one played the latter.  This deck actually used Savor the Moment and liked it!

vaevictis asmadi Vol. LXXXI: Vaevictis Asmadi - Asmadi has super firebreathing, so I loaded up on ramp and decided that extra attack steps were good.  I used Aggravated Assault and Nature's Will variants to bring the beat down.

palladia-mors Vol. LXXXIII: Palladia-Mors - In this article I bring 2 different decks.  The first was based around planeswalkers and had a bit of a token them.  The second was more of a traditional Naya beat down deck.  I enjoyed them both. 

 Vol. CXIV: Melek, Izzet Paragon - Another deck with a dragon theme!  Dragonstorm, to be exact.  This was a pretty popular deck and I really enjoyed playing it.  I gotta say, Dragonstorm is pretty much the last thing people usually expect when they see Melek.  Just one note, take out Rorix Bladewing and add Thundermaw Hellkite, I completely forgot about him.

skithiryx, the blight dragon Vol. CXXV: Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon - Another deck with a dragon at the helm, this one isn't really dragon based.  It's more like mono-Black aggro/control, essentially hoping to infect people out with Skittles and if that doesn't work, beat down with some dudes.  If you like infect, this deck is for you!

That's a lot of decks with dragons!  As you can see there are tons of different ways you can go when dealing with dragons in Commander, everything from tokens to Storm.  Whatever floats your boat!  With all that out of the way, how about we look at something that I put together specifically for Dragon Week here on PureMTGO!

That's right, I'm going to be running a dragon tribal deck featuring Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund!  Originally I was thinking about running Scion of the ur-Dragon as a tribal Commander, but I got overwhelmed with the choices that can come with a 5 color deck.  I figured that Karrthus was dragon-y enough to run his own team of dragons and built around the Jund shard instead.  Let's take a look at what I came up with.

Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund
A Commander Deck (for Dragon Week!)
Creatures
1 Anger
1 Balefire Dragon
1 Bladewing the Risen
1 Bogardan Hellkite
1 Deathrite Shaman
1 Dragonmaster Outcast
1 Drumhunter
1 Flameblast Dragon
1 Genesis
1 Harvester of Souls
1 Hellkite Overlord
1 Hellkite Tyrant
1 Hoard-Smelter Dragon
1 Kokusho, the Evening Star
1 Mana-Charged Dragon
1 Oracle of Mul Daya
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Scourge of Valkas
1 Steel Hellkite
1 Stormbreath Dragon
1 Thunder Dragon
1 Thundermaw Hellkite
1 Utvara Hellkite
1 Urabrask the Hidden
1 Wood Elves
1 Yavimaya Elder
26 cards

Other Spells
[Artifacts]
1 Coalition Relic
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Oblivion Stone
1 Quicksilver Amulet
1 Sol Ring
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Skullclamp
[Enchantments]
1 Greater Good
1 Mana Reflection
1 Pernicious Deed
1 Phyrexian Arena
1 Survival of the Fittest
[Instants]
1 Beast Within
1 Chaos Warp
1 Hunter's Insight
1 Momentous Fall
1 Nature's Claim
1 Putrefy
[Planeswalkers]
1 Garruk Wildspeaker
1 Sarkhan the Mad
[Sorceries]
1 Cultivate
1 Damnation
1 Decimate
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Explosive Vegetation
1 Farseek
1 Hull Breach
1 Kodama's Reach
1 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Mwonvuli Acid-Moss
1 Nature's Lore
1 Patriarch's Bidding
1 Search for Tomorrow
1 Skyshroud Claim
1 Three Visits
1 Wheel of Fortune
38 cards
Lands
1 Badlands
1 Bayou
1 Blood Crypt
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Command Tower
6 Forest
1 Golgari Rot Farm
1 Gruul Turf
1 Homeward Path
1 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Mosswort Bridge
4 Mountain
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Rakdos Carnarium
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Spinerock Knoll
1 Stomping Ground
1 Strip Mine
3 Swamp
1 Taiga
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Volrath's Stronghold
1 Wooded Foothills
37 cards

Sideboard
1 Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund
1 cards
karrthus, tyrant of jund

 

Ok, maybe not strictly dragon tribal, but definitely a tribal element.  Let's check it out!

Deck Tech:

I definitely wanted a dragon themed deck, but I wanted to be able to actually cast them.  Most dragons cost 6 mana or more, so I searched specifically for 5 mana, playable dragons.  And the ones that cost more than that had to serve a purpose.  On top of all that, I knew that I really couldn't have that many dragons and still be competitive.  As such, there are only 15 dragon creatures in the deck.  Of course, there are ways to make more, but those are cheaper and greatly discounted.

Since Karrthus himself costs 7 mana I couldn't rely upon him giving my team haste.  As such, I included a couple of haste enablers in the form of Lightning Greaves, Urabrask the Hidden and Anger.  Including Anger led me to include Survival of the Fittest, which led to Patriarch's Bidding and Genesis.

Even with a low amount of dragons I knew that I wanted to be able to consistently cast them.  Therefore I heavily leaned on Green to give me as much ramp as possible.  It may seem silly to be running Nature's Lore and Farseek in a deck featuring dragons, but they were helpful for getting me to 4 mana for Skyshroud Claim and Explosive Vegetation as well as general color fixing.

With the high amount of ramp, sometimes you can dump your hand quick.  Therefore card draw options like Harvester of Souls and Phyrexian Arena are important.  You can also have games where early on your hand is clogged up with dudes costing 6 or 8 mana.  Don't be afraid to use Wheel of Fortune to get rid of those hands and get playable stuff.

hull breach nature's claim maelstrom pulse

There's a lot of destruction in this deck as well, and most of it is low casting cost.  You need to be able to deal with threats early and often.  And using Nature's Claim is necessary if you want to cast a dragon the same turn.

It's a dragon deck so it's not super competitive but it can definitely hold its own.  However once people see your ramping you will get targeted.  If you're not sure who to go after in a game always go after the Blue players first.  This is just a good rule in general but especially important for Karrthus decks because of their ability to Clone your Commander and then steal all your dragons.  If there's a Blue player at the table always ask yourself if you really need Karrthus, or at least if you have a sacrifice outlet available.  If your answer is no to both those questions, don't cast Karrthus.  Unless you can kill the Blue player that turn of course.

So that's the deck!  Ramp into dragons and deal with threats.  Let's see how it does in action!  Hopefully lots of dragons will come out!

Game 1:

First up is a 2 Headed Giant game!  Karrthus is actually great in 2HG because it can use the extra life cushion provided.  The cool thing about this game is that I'm teamed up with an Omnath deck that's based on my old budget version, with some improvements of course!  I manage to ramp into Urabrask and a couple of dragons while Omnath has his artifacts removed by Darien's Return to Dust, then my horde is removed by the Triad's Austere Command.  Right after that, both Darien and the Triad start accumulating a token horde.  We start getting beat down when Omnath get's Condemned.  That's a little sad, but fortunately gives us an extra 30 life to help.

I use Patriarch's Bidding to get all my dragons back but the other team Wrath's them away.  They have a ton of permanents, so I use my Oblivion Stone as soon as I draw it.  Luckily, I draw into Harvester of Souls to help me draw, and Omnath has a Sylvan Primordial to get rid of more problematic cards.  I then use Karrthus and the dragons I drew to beat down with the Primordial for the win.

Game 2:

In this game I ramp into an early Karrthus, stealing the Chameleon Colossus of the Sliver Overlord player before everything gets Wrath'd by CromatCromat has an enchantment theme going on with Sphere of Safety, and as such I put him in my sights, trying to kill him before he gets a wall of enchantments I can't get through.  Meanwhile, the Kaervek player is a little mana screwed while the Sliver player just gets more slivers.  When Cromat gets out Privileged Position and Greater Auramancy things look bad but the Overlord player casts Patriarch's Bidding.  I get my team back with Scourge of Valkas, killing Cromat in the process.

I turn my attention to the Sliver player, who gets out Eldrazi Monument with a horde of slivers.  Fortunately I have Hoard-Smelter Dragon to deal with the Monument, and the Sliver player concedes.  The Kaervek player never got enough mana to really get going, and kill him quickly after that.

Game 3:

In this game I get my ramp plan going, but don't draw any creatures.  Lyzolda gets out Reassembling Skeleton as sacrifice fodder, and follows that up with Ogre Slumlord and a bunch of sacrifice effects like Barter in Blood to keep all the creatures in check, particularly Tajic's soldier army.  The Slumlord and sac effects are annoying so I start focusing on Lyzolda with Karrthus, while getting Mana Reflection out to help me.  In the meantime I'm getting a little bit beat up by the Anax and Cymede and the Lyzolda player.  I had been holding Decimate waiting for someone to cast enchantment when Tajic obliges, casting Mobilization.  Right after that, though, Tajic PM's me asking to team up.  He then Martial Coups dealing with all the problems on the board.

This gives me time to set up and get my Survival of the Fittest rolling and kill the Lyzolda player.  When Tajic plays In the Web of War, I realize I can't trust him completely and tutor up Stormbreath Dragon to act as a blocker in case Tajic comes my way.  The next turn he does, and I manage to survive his onslaught because he sends some guys after A&C as well.  Things look bad when A&C casts Hallowed Burial, which is perfect timing, clearing the board while I'm at 4 life.  I'm worried about the haste that Tajic has, so I tap all my mana, bust Oblivion Stone and cast a bunch of hasty dragons.  With Genesis providing a supply of dead dragons my opponents can't stop my team and I win.

So there you go, a dragon deck for Dragon Week!  Hopefully you guys enjoyed the beat downs I provided.  The deck actually won a fair number of games so I was pretty happy with it.  I was able to come from behind more than once with the dragon beat down.  As the great J.R.R. Tolkien once said: "Never laugh at live dragons."

Until next time!

Leviathan, aka Tarasco on MTGO
mrmorale32 at yahoo dot com

CONQUEROR & COMMANDER ARCHIVE

1 Comments

Kudos for this great article, by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 10/25/2013 - 16:50
Kumagoro42's picture
5

Kudos for this great article, the Tolkien quote, and for being the only one who got my header right! :)

I've also talked a lot about the four Dragon cycles (Elders, Primevals, Planeshifted Primevals and Kamigawa Spirits) in the Dragonpedia. We should compare notes.
Actually, I'd like for you and everyone else to tell me if I mis-evaluated a few (or a lot) of the Dragons, because after a while, all those "5/5 for 6 mana with an ability that's not firebreathing" looked kinda the same to me, and I sort of gave all of them an average rating.

Also:

"Rampage on a flying creature???"

I'll correct this for you.

"Rampage???"

There.