Hark! Atarka!

Posted in Reconstructed on January 6, 2015

By Gavin Verhey

When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he dreamt of a job making Magic cards—and now as a Magic designer, he's living his dream! Gavin has been writing about Magic since 2005.

The dragons are here!

I had become used to the Khans of Tarkir artwork, showcasing dragon skulls and bones scattered around the landscape. When I went to go look over the finished Fate Reforged cards, the contrast was incredibly stark. No really. Dragons are here.

Art by Karl Kopinski

There is a cycle of five multicolored legendary dragons in Fate Reforged. By now, you have no doubt seen most of them.

Ojutai. Silumgar. Kolaghan. Dromoka. All powerhouses that rule the skies in their own way.

And now it's time for me to show you the next one. The red-green Dragon.

If you were expecting something that hits hard from red and green, that embodies the essence of dragon savagery, you won't be disappointed.

Let me introduce Atarka, World Render.

The Mother of Dragons

Well, she's not particularly subtle is she?

On her own, she hits for 12 in the air. What does a 12/4 flier cost? That sounds like at least seven mana—and Atarka one ups that by both trampling and having first strike to make her hard to kill in combat.

If you turbo into Atarka and your opponent doesn't have a removal spell, he or she is going to be in serious trouble.

And that's not even looking at Atarka in a Dragon-focused deck.

Imagine you have another Dragon, such as Dromoka, the Eternal on the battlefield, the turn you cast Atarka. Dromoka smashes in with double strike for an additional 5 damage—or potentially even more if you managed to bolster her earlier!

Boom.

Today, let's take a look at two different places you could play Atarka on different ends of the spectrum: one being Standard, and the other being Commander. Let's go!

Atarkaing in Standard

There are a few different places you could look at playing Atarka in Standard. I'm sure I'm going to be taking a look at a dedicated Dragon deck in the weeks to come, and so I'll wait for all of the cards to be known before I touch that topic.

But it's far from just a dedicated Dragon deck that wants Atarka.

I don't know about you, but something I'm into is killing my opponents. Quickly and brutally, when possible. If it's in one shot, all the better.

What if Atarka had haste?

What if Atarka killed your opponent in one hit?

Well, then have I got the combination for you. Perhaps some of you remember this little card from when we were back on Theros:

Step one: Cast Xenagos, God of Revels

Step two: Cast Atarka.

Step three: Move to combat. Trigger Xenagos on Atarka. Attack for 24 damage.

Your opponent has a very small window to kill Atarka. If he or she "accidentally" tapped out, your opponent is just dead.

Now, a deck needs to be more than just one two-card combo. But fortunately, red and green has a pretty solid supporting cast of characters right now—many of which produce mana to help ensure you can get to seven and lay the smackdown. I would start by trying something like this:

Gavin Verhey's Xenagos drives Atarka to School

Download Arena Decklist

On the surface, it's easy to just see this as another Courser and Caryatid deck in a sea of them. And it's true that this has the core of a red-green midrange strategy. But there's quite a few other things going on here.

There are several cards that were included because they're good on their own anyway—but also because they build toward your combo endgame. Elvish Mystic and Xenagos, the Reveler are both solid cards in a red-green deck—that also produce mana to help give you the mana you need to fire off Atarka quickly. Generator Servant might be a little cute—but when powering out Whisperwood Elementals or Atarkas he can help put your opponents under pressure far before they're ready for it.

And of course, Nykthos helps provide a tiny mana boost to get you to where you need to be…plus charge up game-ending Crater's Claws as well!

If you want to kill your opponent over the top with Atarka in Standard out of nowhere, this is definitely one way to give it a try!

Commanding Atarka

There's a big, new legendary creature on the scene that influences all of your other cards of its type—sounds to me like it's time for a Commander deck!

Dragons have a long and plentiful history in Magic, so there's plenty to choose from—although Dragon tribal, not quite as much. There are a few choice cards like Zirilan of the Claw, Dragonspeaker Shaman, and Imperial Hellkite, to name a few, that help to make it work. And with Atarka at the top end, you can hit for a scary amount of damage should you ever set up a Dragon presence.

The key is making sure you can cast your Dragons. Fortunately, Atarka is red and green, meaning you have access to all of the green ramp spells—plus all of that good artifact acceleration as well.

Here's a sample of what that could look like:

Gavin Verhey's Here Are My Dragons

Download Arena Decklist
COMMANDER: Atarka, World Render
Instant (1)
1 Magmaquake
99 Cards

You could certainly make room for sweepers as you choose. Depending on the group you're playing with, you may want cards like Firespout; Earthquake; or, if you're feeling particularly cruel, Wildfire.

But the core of the deck is what's crucial here: play big Dragons!

You can get your Dragons online in one of two ways. The first is to cheat them into play. Cards like Defense of the Heart and Sneak Attack allow you to deploy some of your crimson horrors early, before an opponent has a chance to do too much. You can also use some cards like Tooth and Nail and Dragonstorm later on to make multiples appear at once!

The other is much more of a traditional way: just ramp and cast your Dragons! This deck is full of mana acceleration, with both artifacts and green ways to search up more lands to let you deploy plenty of Dragons on your own.

Once you have some Dragon action rolling you can slam down Atarka and all of your Dragons will deal a lot more damage.

Not to mention: Atarka can kill a player in two shots on her own thanks to the Commander damage rule! With a little help from, say, Xenagos, God of Revels, you could even threaten to take down an opponent in a single blow.

All five of these legendary Dragons are no doubt to cause plenty of havoc in Commander—and Atarka in particular packs a punch. Give it a try!

Setting the New Standard

It's not just Tarkir that looks different in this new world—the world of Standard is about to make a big change as well! Let's see what you can do with it.

Format: Fate Reforged Standard

Restrictions: None!

Deadline: Tuesday, January 13, at 6 p.m. Pacific Time.

Submit all decklists by emailing me at reconstructeddecks@gmail.com.

Decklists should be submitted with YOURNAME's DECKNAME at the top. Underneath should be one card per line, with just a leading number. For example:

12 Mountain

4 Firedrinker Satyr

3 Ash Zealot

4 Lightning Bolt

…and so on. Please don't use anything but a space to separate the card numbers and names—don't write "4x Lightning Bolt," for example. Well-formatted decklists have a much better chance of being read and making it into the column. Poorly formatted decklists are more likely to be ignored. (If I can't read your decklist, I certainly can't talk about it!)

Also, take note that, for this week, please send your decks to reconstructeddecks@gmail.com. There is currently a bug that is causing difficulty with me seeing your decklists sent to my Wizards address.

The entire list of cards will be out in the Card Image Gallery this week, so I set the deadline to next Tuesday so, if you want to wait, you can take as long as possible to pour through all of the new tools in Fate Reforged and make some truly exciting new decks. I, for one, can't wait to see what you come up with!

In the meantime, if you have any thoughts on this article, Atarka, or Standard in general, I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to send me a Tweet or ask me a question on my Tumblr and I'll be sure to take a look.

Have fun thinking about what to do with Fate Reforged this week! I'll be back next week with my first look at a reader's deck for the new format. I look forward to talking with you then!

Gavin

@GavinVerhey

GavInsight

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