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By: Leviathan, Mike Morales
Apr 27 2012 8:23am
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All right, so my last two decks featuring Elder Dragons were a little outside my comfort zone.  Nicol Bolas caused pain by making opponents draw a whole mess of cards.  It was essentially a combo deck without a massive combo and just hoped to chain a bunch of Wheel of Fortune effects together.  Chromium used mass reanimation to dominate games.  Although it won through combat, that was almost always after a big Living Death.  Yes, these have both been powerful strategies that are fun to play.  Yes, they can do crazy things when they get going.  But these aren't he kind of decks that I am used to playing.  I like beating down with very large things.

That's right, I said "RAWR!"

You see, I like to play by winning in the Red zone, usually with Commander damage.  I like to smash face with large, unruly creatures that mangle opponents.  I like to maul and beat my opponents with the biggest guys on the table.  So I decided to move on to an Elder Dragon who is relevant to the goal of kicking butt, and who will be cast just about every game played.  That's right, I'm talking about Vaevictis Asmadi!  (Palladia-mors, you just have to wait your turn.)


All right, let's see what we have to work with:

vaevictis asmadi

First of all, his art is terrible.  Like, so bad it hurts my eyes to look at him.  He's so ugly he makes blind kids cry.  He's so ugly that when he was born the doctor slapped his parents.  That's how ugly he is.  If there was a way to find out which image he is in the client I would replace him. I was just embarrassed every time he appeared on screen.  But just like in real life, we can't choose who we love (wait, does that even make sense?), so he will be who we use here.

On top of the usual flying that all Elder Dragons have, Mr. Asmadi has multi-colored firebreathing.  Does this mean that the fire he spews changes colors based upon the mana you pump into him?  One can only wonder.  But seriously, wouldn't he just be better if he was mono-Red, like Shivan Dragon or something?  No he would not.  You know why?  Because he uses Jund colors, and that opens up a ton of possibilities.

I knew that I wanted to actually cast Mr. Asmadi about every game, and Green came out to help with that.  Lots of ramp spells would be helpful.  If I was going to be spending 8 or more mana on my guys I knew that I would want them to attack right away, so some haste enabling would be necessary.  I also wanted to make sure that my Commander damage got through, so a couple of ways to give Asmadi trample had to be added.  My next thought was that if I was going to be ramping a lot, I would have a ton of mana to be casting some large, scary creatures!  Guys like the following:

apocalypse hydra hellkite overlord karrthus, tyrant of jund spiritmonger

As a matter of fact, there was also a small token theme in my initial version of the deck so that I could tap Gaea's Cradle for a lot of mana for Asmadi's firebreathing.  Unfortunately, I found out that I had too many fatties in the deck that didn't really do a whole lot besides turn sideways.  In addition the token sub-theme, while cute, diluted the deck.  I ended up taking it out completely and cutting way back on the fat.

Another thing I quickly determined was that once I had Asmadi out, I wanted to funnel all my mana into him.  Unfortunately this would tap me out and I couldn't do as much as I wanted.  Therefore ways to untap my land after combat had to be included.  Add some card draw, some destruction, and we have a deck!

Vaevictis Asmadi
A Commander Deck
1 Anger
1 Bloodgift Demon
1 Brawn
1 Chameleon Colossus
1 Charmbreaker Devils
1 Charnelhoard Wurm
1 Dragonmaster Outcast
1 Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief
1 Dread
1 Duplicant
1 Fleshbag Marauder
1 Genesis
1 Hellkite Charger
1 Hydra Omnivore
1 Lord of Extinction
1 Madrush Cyclops
1 Mana-Charged Dragon
1 Oracle of Mul Daya
1 Primeval Titan
1 Primordial Hydra
1 Rune-Scarred Demon
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Spiritmonger
1 Urabrask the Hidden
1 Void Maw
1 Wood Elves
1 Yavimaya Elder
28 cards

Other Spells
1 Coalition Relic
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Loxodon Warhammer
1 Sol Ring
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
1 Garruk, Primal Hunter
1 Aggravated Assault
1 Bear Umbra
1 Greater Good
1 Mana Reflection
1 Nature's Will
1 Pernicious Deed
1 Phyrexian Arena
1 Beast Within
1 Chaos Warp
1 Fling
1 Hunter's Insight 
1 Momentous Fall
1 Putrefy
1 Soul's Fire
1 Black Sun's Zenith
1 Cultivate
1 Damnation
1 Decimate
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Explosive Vegetation 
1 Hull Breach
1 Kodama's Reach
1 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Mwonvuli Acid-Moss
1 Search for Tomorrow
1 Skyshroud Claim
1 Sylvan Scrying 
34 cards
1 Badlands
1 Bayou
1 Blood Crypt
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Cabal Coffers
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

1 Vaevictis Asmadi
1 cards
soul's fire


Good stuff.  Break it down!

skyshroud claim

Oracle of Mul DayaPrimeval TitanSakura-tribe ElderSolemn SimulacrumWood ElvesYavimaya ElderCoalition RelicDarksteel IngotSol RingCultivateExplosive VegetationSylvan ScryingKodama's ReachMwonvuli Acid-MossSearch for TomorrowSkyshroud Claim 
Oracle of Mul Daya, Primeval Titan, Sakura-tribe Elder, Solemn Simulacrum, Wood Elves, Yavimaya Elder, Coalition Relic, Darksteel Ingot, Sol Ring, Cultivate, Explosive Vegetation, Sylvan Scrying, Kodama's Reach, Mwonvuli Acid-Moss, Search for Tomorrow, Skyshroud Claim:  I knew that I was going to need a ton of ramp if I was ever going to cast Asmadi consistently, so here it is.  The funny thing is that there would be games where I wouldn't get any early ramp and just have to slow things down.  But usually there is enough to get you going.

I initially resisted putting Prime Time in the deck, but I realized that I needed a way to get Cabal Coffers and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth into play so that I could get Asmadi some super firebreathing.  Plus it allows you to play really big critters!

garruk, primal hunter Bloodgift DemonGarruk, Primal HunterGreater GoodMomentous FallPhyrexian ArenaHunter's Insight 
Bloodgift Demon, Garruk, Primal Hunter, Greater Good, Momentous Fall, Phyrexian Arena, Hunter's Insight:  It's always good to have some way to fill up your hand, especially if you get a lot of ramp early on.  And if you pump Asmadi enough, you can actually get a whole mess of cards.  I think the most I drew was 32 cards off of a really large Primordial Hydra!  But don't overlook cards like Bloodgift Demon either. 
bear umbra

Sword of Feast and FamineBear UmbraNature's Will 
Sword of Feast and Famine, Bear Umbra, Nature's Will:  Yes, once you get Asmadi out you are going to be tapping out most of the time to make him large and firebreathing, so it is nice to be able to cast stuff during your second main phase using these.  Of course, Bear Umbra actually allows you to double pump Asmadi as well.

Once I added all these cards I realized that I had to also add Hellkite Charger and Aggravated Assault.  I guess it can be considered kind of cheesy but since I'm basically just going with attack steps I'm fine with it. 

chaos warp

Drana, Kalastria BloodchiefDreadDuplicantFleshbag MarauderVoid MawPernicious DeedBeast WithinChaos WarpFlingSoul's FirePutrefyDamnationBlack Sun's ZenithHull BreachDecimateMaelstrom PulseMwonvuli Acid-MossStrip MineBojuka Bog 
Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief, Dread, Duplicant, Fleshbag Marauder, Void Maw, Pernicious Deed, Beast Within, Chaos Warp, Fling, Soul's Fire, Putrefy, Damnation, Black Sun's Zenith, Hull Breach, Decimate, Maelstrom Pulse, Mwonvuli Acid-Moss, Strip Mine, Bojuka Bog:  Lots of ways to deal with stuff here.  I haven't been burned by Decimate yet, but there's always time I guess.  Void Maw may look goofy, but he was an outside the box critter that lasted from my earliest version of the deck and hasn't been bad.

Soul's Fire and Fling are both for when you pump the crap out of Asmadi and have been great.  Of course, Soul's Fire works with Charnelhoard Wurm to really hurt people with a pumped up Asmadi.  Those kind of silly combos are what the format is really about in my eyes.

charmbreaker devils Charnelhoard WurmCharmbreaker DevilsGenesisVolrath's Stronghold
Charnelhoard Wurm, Charmbreaker Devils, Genesis, Volrath's Stronghold:  Not a ton of recursion here and most of it is creature based.  But Charmbreaker Devils has been really good.  Not only can you get back a key piece of removal, they can also help you continue to ramp up your land count.  Plus, the Devils' power can get pretty large and they can hit hard, especially if you have Brawn in your graveyard.  Charnelhoard Wurm has also been very good in practice despite a prohibitive casting cost. 

For haste enabling, I included stalwarts Anger, Lightning Greaves, Madrush Cyclops and Urabrask.  Trample enabling is performed by Brawn and Loxodon Warhammer.  I wanted to keep the number of tutors low despite all the great ones that Black has at its disposal, so I have only Rune-Scarred Demon and Demonic Tutor.  I found that I occasionally needed some extra defense, so Dread was added to the deck to deter attackers.

As you can see, I did manage to keep some random fat in the deck.

primordial hydra lord of extinction mana-charged dragon hydra omnivore

Yes, most of these guys aren't exactly "optimal" but they are fun to play with.  Primordial Hydra can get out of hand very, very quickly.  I was sad to see that more often than not people wouldn't contribute to Mana-Charged Dragon's firebreathing, but I think most of the time I was attacking with him I was already kind of ahead and people didn't want to help me out.  He is great though when attacking a clear and definite threat at the table.  As a matter of fact the only real underperformer was Lord of Extinction, but he was usually good to Fling at someone.

Spiritmonger and Chameleon Colossus are just solid cards for their cost, and allowed early drops that were threatening as well.  The Colossus is an remnant from when the deck was trying to pump a bunch of mana through Gaea's Cradle but remained in the deck because protection from Black and the ability to pump itself are both pretty good abilities.  And since it was pretty easy for me to get 5 lands out Dragonmaster Outcast seemed like it would be worthy of inclusion.

The plan with the deck is pretty simple:  Ramp out some fat, blow up some threats and beat the crap out of your opponents.  Is it going to win any contests for most original or most elegant?  Of course not!  But you get to beat down with an Elder Dragon Legend!  And that's what I was going for.

Long time Commander players will look at this list and notice that there are a bunch of sub-optimal card choices in here.  Of course, the deck does pack Primeval Titan and the Urborg/Coffers, but there isn't necessarily anything "broken" about the deck.  Of course, if you wanted you could automatically improve the deck by adding the following:

 living death

Yes, with Survival your deck would automatically get better.  You could easily get your Incarnations into the graveyard, or set up a huge Living Death.  Of course, the creature component of the deck would likely have to change into something that looked a lot more utility based.  You could add Squee, Goblin Nabob plus a bunch more "enters the battlefield" guys like Manic Vandal or whatever to make sure that you had answers more often.  But I knew that if I added Survival, I would really want to add Living Death.  I had just used that card in the Chromium deck I showed you guys last week, and I didn't want to go down that road again so soon.  In addition, I liked the idea of using creatures that just bashed and didn't really serve much more purpose than that.  So that's why the deck is built the way it is.

This deck is all about the stompy stompy.  No games, no real tricks (ok, the possibility of infinite attacks is sort of a trick, but you get what I mean).  I actually had Imp's Mischief in the deck for a while but removed it for Hunter's Insight and have been happy with the choice.  Let's see if the deck really works though.


I'm going up against Thada Adel, Acquisitor, Ascendant Evincar and Sen Triplets.  Evincar shouldn't hurt me too much since my Commander is Black.  The Triplets could be worrisome especially if I draw some Black mass removal spell that I don't want to use and they steal it from my hand.  However, I am most worried about Thada coming out early and stealing my artifacts, so I decide to set my sights on her first.  I have some ramp in my opening hand to go along with Charmbreaker Devils and I figure it's an easy keep.  I also manage to draw m y Sol Ring before Thada can steal it from me.  By turn 3 I have 5 lands, Sol Ring, and can play Madrush Cyclops while paying the tax for Thada's Rhystic Study.

On turn 4 Thada plays her Commander.  I try to play Charmbreaker Devils, hoping to get back some of that ramp I had played earlier, but Thada Counterspells it.  Sad times, but that only increases my resolve to smash her more!  Then the Triplets do something that annoys the crap out of me:  They play Phyrexian Arena and even with mana open decide not to pay the Rhystic Study tax.

rhystic study
Aaargh, why don't you pay???!??!!!?

For the love of Pete people, please, please, please pay the tax!  There is rarely a reason to let people draw extra cards when you have extra mana lying around, especially in the early game.  Most of the time if I just need one more land to play a spell in order to pay the tax, I wait until I have the extra land to play.  Waiting a turn won't kill you, and will keep the Study player on the same footing as the rest of us.  There are times when you have to skip paying the tax (if Vicious Shadows is in play, or something like Underworld Dreams for instance) but if you can avoid giving your opponent free cards, do so!

Anyways, enough of my rant (really, please pay it!).  Thada hits me with her Commander, stealing my Lightning Greaves.  On my turn Asmadi comes out and hits Thada along with my Madrush Cyclops, knocking her down to (26).  The Triplets play Transcendent Master, once again giving Thada a card (aaaahhhh!!!), and levels him up a few times.  Thada hits me again, taking my Duplicant and using it to get rid of Asmadi temporarily.  I go to play Asmadi again, but Thada has Thwart, falling behind in mana development to cast it but obviously making the right play.  Things slow down a little bit from there, as I get out Phyrexian Arena and Crovax plays Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief.

On my turn I draw Primeval Titan, using him to get Cabal Coffers as I already had Urborg out, and Kessig Wolf Run as back up.  I then attack with my hasty Titan into Thada, killing the Titan in combat but getting Spinerock Knoll sticking Greater Good under it.  Although the Titan dies it's not a problem with Volrath's Stronghold in play! Around this time I get a PM from Crovax saying that he hates Blue players, and he starts in on the action by attacking Thada as well.  That's pretty good for me, as it means Drana isn't going to be killing my Madrush Cyclops hopefully.  The Triplets play their Commander but stay quiet.

On turn 9 Thada uses Take Possession to steal my Coffers, which is a great play, but taps her out.  Prime Time comes back a second time and I grab more land and attack Thada again, using the Wolf Run to pump the Titan and knock Thada down to (6).  This enables me to get my Greater Good out from under my Knoll.  I sac my Titan for the Greater Good of my team and draw some cards, putting Brawn in my graveyard.  Crovax then finishes off Thada using Drana.  He follows that up with Grave Pact which should provide some amount of defense, but the Triplets Disenchant the enchantment right away.  On the Triplets' turn they attack me with Aegis Angel and play Maralen of the Mornsong!

Maralen essentially keeps me from recurring Primeval Titan, but I'm fine with that.  I use her to search up Soul's Fire, and play Asmadi using Coffers mana.  I also play Nature's Will.  I attack the Triplets with my hasty Commander and pump him up to 21 power, killing them with Commander damage.  My lands untap due to Nature's Will and I play Garruk, Primal Hunter, using him to draw 21 cards.  One of the drawn cards was Rune-Scarred Demon, which I cast to search up Fling.  I then hit Crovax with Soul's Fire using Asmadi and Fling my Elder Dragon at him to win the game.


So there we go, a smashing success!  Of course, having my Cyclops unmolested certainly helped out, and Primeval Titan getting out the Coffers combo really helped things out as well.  But the deck did pretty much what the deck is supposed to do:  Play large fat and swing.

The deck can be really swingy, and that's fine.  If you have a little bit of ramp early on you should be set to go.  But sometimes you don't get the ramp and you have to slow down and hope that you have the removal to stay in the game.  But that's all right.  Once the deck has some of its pieces in play it works really well.  Smashing people with an Elder Dragon is the name of the game, right?

Like I said, it is pretty easy to improve the deck if you want to get more competitive and less smashy.  You can add Survival and Living Death, and take out some of the random fat for utility creatures like Acidic Slime, Indrik Stomphowler, Manic Vandal, and even Bloodghast if you feel like adding Skullclamp.  You could also add Wheel of Fortune as another draw effect to fill your hand when you get too much ramp going on.  Finally you can add Tooth and Nail for the top of your curve to get the creatures that move the deck forward.  

But honestly, I liked where this deck ended up.  My initial version just had way too many fat creatures that didn't really do anything.  You could even say that there are still too many guys in the deck that are just focused on attacking, but that was sort of the point of the deck.  I initially wanted to fit in Karrthus and Death by Dragons, but as you can imagine that was just too mana intensive.  There is still plenty of fat left in the deck to scare people.

Anyways, I hope you liked the deck.  Until next time!

Leviathan, aka Tarasco on MTGO
mrmorale32 at yahoo dot com



I think you're a little too by MMogg at Fri, 04/27/2012 - 08:46
MMogg's picture

I think you're a little too worked up over Rhystic Study. If you want tight play, move on to a more competitive format where the aim is perfect play and wins. Not only is Commander a casual format, but also, you can't really know what the other players' game plans are and what may be perceived as bad playing and/or inaccurate threat assessment might be perfectly in line with their strategic goals. I mean, would you ever run Maralen of the Mornsong? Seems incredibly bad, but maybe it was (and not paying the tax was) some part of a group hug style theme? I don't know. Yet, I think you're a little too worked up over something you have no control over. =p

You are probably right. I by Leviathan at Fri, 04/27/2012 - 12:29
Leviathan's picture

You are probably right. I think that if I was looking from the Triplet player's perspective things might have been different: I was ramping out an Elder Dragon and beating the crap out of Thada, so maybe Triplet was trying to help the Thada player? If the Triplet player had interacted or said anything at all I might have been able to get a sense about what they were trying to accomplish, if anything. The second time the Triplet player didn't pay the tax I called him out on it, but didn't get a response, and he kept doing it. Who knows.

I've just become frustrated with it because I've been seeing it a lot. Does giving the Thada player extra cards seem like the "right" play? Of course not. But as you said, it is a casual-ish format and I shouldn't get worked up about it. Doesn't mean I won't kick the dog the next time it happens tho! :) (I'm joking for all you animal lovers out there. I would actually kick my kids.)

LOL @ last sentence. Yeah, I by MMogg at Fri, 04/27/2012 - 12:54
MMogg's picture

LOL @ last sentence. Yeah, I mean, my comment was more for the sake of your own sanity. You could drive yourself bonkers if you tilted on every misplay opponents make.

And to be honest, who knows, it could also be because of your comment in game that the player insisted on not paying to spite you. It is a political format after all, right? I have no idea how you framed your inquiry, but politically you get more flies with honey. If you said, "wtf, why the hell aren't you paying the tax, asshat?!" you may not get a positive response. If, on the other hand, you said: "please start paying for Rhystic Study if you can, that way Thada doesn't run off ahead of us in card advantage," it's less evocative and might get you what you want.

I was watching that game and by Paul Leicht at Fri, 04/27/2012 - 13:09
Paul Leicht's picture

I was watching that game and it seemed like triplets wasn't really chatting (it was late so its a little foggy in my memory) but it seemed like they had their own agenda that included helping Thada until convenient to turn on them.

I do know Thada was going on and on about how powerful coffers was before they took it. Might have added to why they did when it seemed to be a mistake. (They tapped all but one mana for the Take Possession.) Maybe they ran out of gas and had no counters but if they were bluffing they might have lived. Imho stealing a land with TP is rather pointless but I guess they figured it would give them more mana to spend since all lands were swamps thanks to the Urborg.

There are very few things by Leviathan at Fri, 04/27/2012 - 19:04
Leviathan's picture

There are very few things that set me off during a game but people ignoring the Study tax is one of them. I think I said something like "wait, you gave him another card?" Which was met with silence. So who knows, maybe he was just trying to help a buddy or annoy me. I didn't bring it up again. And it didn't end up helping him in the end.