I like to attack. It's seductively simple to make a dude, wait a turn, then tap it sideways to get in there for some damage. I'm fond of attacking for 2, as it's said, but I'll splurge for damage of all shapes and sizes.
Attacking, for those likewise interested, is something that I've been enjoying considerably on Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 on my iPad. If it's possible to wear out an App I'm sure I'll find out soon.
But there's an opposite side to every attack: defense. You're the defending player when you're attacked. You block on the defense when the horde of your enemies rolls in. You start checking the toughness of your creatures when trample is being bandied about.
Usually, you don't look forward to the business end of an attack step. That's all about to change.
- Let a Slumbering Dragon Lie
Let's talk Dragons. You know what Dragons are, right?
Thundermaw Hellkite | Art by Svetlin Velinov
Of course you do! Dragons are badass, firebreathing, flying death-dealers you usually summon with red mana. They come down, prowl around, and crush whatever silly non-Dragon creatures an opponent was playing.
Today I get to preview a Dragon, and it looks like this:
Slumbering Dragon | Art by Chris Rahn
Hell yeah! It's obvious all... uh, not breathing fire. It's also not up in the air raining fury down. It looks like it's sleeping. Passive. Unthreatening.
Where's my awesome Dragon? What's going on?
Slumbering Dragon costs just one red mana. So that must mean it's tiny.
Definitely a Dragon, and it does fly! It's also a reasonably sized 3/3. For one red mana that's pretty dandy. Be since this isn't Magical Christmas Land there has to be a drawback.
You get it now? It's a Dragon that's asleep. It won't harm anyone on the first turn because it's too busy pulling an infant act.
So how do we get an awesome Dragon out of this combination? Take a look at the artwork again, and see if you notice something new.
How do adventurers usually end up waking a sleeping Dragon? They go prowling inside a Dragon's lair looking for epic loot. Since we don't loot prizes in Magic, the twist is a little different here.
Here's my friend. Don't wake it up.
If you've wanted fantasy, you get a sleeping Dragon that awakens when enough small-fries have stumbled upon its home. If you wanted power, you get a Dragon that's very cheap.
If you wanted to watch an opponent squirm thinking about attacking, you found a creature that just works hard. Take this deck:
This deck has one goal: making the battlefield an aggravating place for your opponent to engage. "Pingers" are any of the descendants of Prodigal Sorcerer—creatures that tap to deal damage to a target creature or player. These days, that ability is firmly in red, but you'll find it in blue and black when you go back far enough.
Ring of Valkas | Art by Erica Yang
Since it's been red long enough, there are plenty of choices to make in a deck that plans to ping things to death. What makes it a very nice feature in red is the presence of haste; getting to start poking at things immediately is so much nicer than waiting. And thanks to a little competitive technology I recall from a few years back, we can get that haste to be devastating.
Basilisk Collar, and it's suitably similar cousin Gorgon Flail, turn a single point of damage into a one-hit knockout. Vulshok Sorcerer; Cunning Sparkmage; and the old school legendary Jeska, Warrior Adept are all fast and furious with hitting others. Spikeshot Elder and Kumano, Master Yamabushi have abilities that don't require any tapping, functioning similar to haste in that you don't have to wait to use them. Goblin Sharpshooter is outright cheating: equip a Collar or Flail and it's all headshots from there.
So where does the Slumbering Dragon even fit in? He's the Disincentivizer® for the deck. While we can rip and roar the battlefield as we please with pingers and deathtouch, it's ensuring a solid Plan B that made me enlist our new Dragon. Pingers are powerful but fragile; glass cannons, if you will. Attacking into pingers that can't kill you on sight is usually a pretty good plan.
Except, you know, when there's a Dragon in the way.
As a double secret bonus plan, I've included new Magic 2013 Equipment Ring of Valkas, since granting haste is handy for the slower pingers in the deck. But left untouched, it will bring Slumbering Dragon online by itself or power up a previous puny poker.
Say that five times fast and your opponent is probably dead.
- Let's Go the Other Way
While in an odd deck of red death it makes for silly shenanigans, Slumbering Dragon shines even brighter when you can command attacks to happen. Choosing what attacks you when ensures your Dragon does maximum duty for you.
And there are other cards that like to see the same thing.
"To attack or not to attack?" It won't be your opponent answering the question. Fumiko the Lowblood is the poster child for making attacks happen, but Gideon Jura is a more modern take on forcing the hand. Regardless of whether it's at you or your Planeswalker, Slumbering Dragon will perk up. With plenty of red creatures to go around, Ring of Valkas can do even more heavy lifting, transforming something like Rage Nimbus into The Abyss for an opponent.
Incite War; Bullwhip; Basandra, Battle Seraph; and Heckling Fiends ensure attacks can happen a little more selectively, or in ways that are even better for you. Flayer Husk can block early before pumping up a creature that Brion Stoutarm can sling for a little life—you will be getting attacked, after all. Caltrops is just a good measure to stymie some of the decks that will overload the battlefield with little guys.
Since Slumbering Dragon triggers for each creature that is declared as an attacker, not just a one-time trigger from attackers being declared, I considered ways that took advantage of that fact.
While multiplayer in general—such as the awesome refresher on Planechase that just came out—is a great way to get attacked, there's another format that ensures you will be getting the blunt end of the beat stick: Archenemy.
You're evil. You're vile. You're the only place the team can attack. And you're going to make it as hard as possible for them to attack you to death. Standard stymie methods include Windborn Muse and Ghostly Prison. Esoteric options are Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs; Hedron-Field Purists; and Lightmine Field. Slumbering Dragon makes attacking even worse... if the team can even attack us at all.
Winning is quite simple: get Transcendent Master to maximum level and start swinging. Whispersilk Cloak can help push something else through, such as a leveled Lord of Shatterskull Pass. Volt Charge and Contagion Engine proliferate both our namesake Dragon and our level-up guys along the way.
Our schemes are similarly diaboloical. Restricting who can attack, when they can attack, and how many they can attack with grinds their game to a halt as we level up our monsters. Ramping up lands, running our multiple schemes, taking extra turns, and selectively blowing up annoying things are what round out the features of any overlord's arsenal.
We're not playing good, nice, or fair. Who cares? We're the Archenemy!
- Dragon Mastery
There are quite a few other things that work well with a sleeping Dragon. These are some of them in no particular order:
Dragon Blood pumps up Slumbering Dragon directly. Aside from the dubiously dark idea of feeding a Dragon blood extracted from other Dragons, you won't need to worry about an opponent attacking if you just make the Dragon wake up yourself.
Blessings of Nature is an even more devastating miracle:
- Play Slumbering Dragon.
- Get attacked just once by one creatures.
- Miracle the Dragon awake on your draw step.
In fact, green is overflowing with ways to add +1/+1 counters to Slumbering Dragon. For those interested in exploring some deck ideas I didn't touch on, I'd suggest starting there and sharing your ideas on Twitter with the #MTGM13 hashtag or through email to me.
I promise it will be more than just me listening.
While mastering our new Dragon will be a feat for the future, we can definitely look back at the past with last week's poll:
|Will you be purchasing Duels of the Planeswalker 2013 for any of its releases: Xbox Live Arcade, Steam, PlayStation Network, or iOS for iPad?|
|Yes, on one platform.||2576||56.2%|
|Yes, for multiple platforms.||425||9.3%|
An overwhelming majority of you are playing Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013. If you do a quick search for reviews across platforms you'll find what you already know: Duels 2013 is absolutely one of the best ways to introduce Magic to someone else.
You can count on hearing that for months to come.
This week, I'd like to ask a question to those of you who have purchased Duels 2013:
I'm chipping away at the single-player campaign and I'm eager to start the Challenges as well. I don't have abundant free time to work with, but I squeeze some daily Duels 2013 in wherever I can. The iPad is definitely great for that.
Join us next week when we go all the way with Magic 2013. See you then!