Five Dragonlords, Five Decks

Posted in Top Decks on April 10, 2015

By Luis Scott-Vargas

Luis Scott-Vargas plays, writes, and makes videos about Magic. He has played on the Pro Tour for almost a decade, and between that and producing content for ChannelFireball, often has his hands full (of cards).

Due to Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir, our columnists playing in the tournament have asked for a little time to prepare. As such, we’re re-running some of their best work. Enjoy.

The Dragonlords have arrived and they are issuing commands—commands we have no choice but to follow, or at least try and build around. I hear and obey.

Dragonlord Atarka | Art by Karl Kopinski

Dragonlord Atarka demands tribute, preferably of the crunchy kind. Casting her is a good start toward stabilizing the board, but where the real value lies is in bringing her back with Whip of Erebos. Whipping Atarka into a frenzy is a 26-point life swing, as she deals 13 total and you gain 13—numbers that sound very unlucky for your opponent and quite lucky for you.

Atarka Whip

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This deck uses the classic Whip strategy of using ramp creatures, Satyr Wayfinders, and removal spells in order to get to the point where you are casting or Whipping gigantic creatures into play.

All of these creatures provide value with Whip or without it, and there is tons of synergy between them. Whisperwood Elemental can manifest other creatures, which you then get to chump block with and send to the graveyard, Sidisi can find whatever piece you are missing, and Tasigur digs for extra cards. Ultimately, the goal is to get Atarka into play, as she drops the hammer on most games, but all four of these creatures can do a good job closing out the game if need be.

A deck full of five- to seven-drops does need to cast them at some point, and Elvish Mystic and Caryatid help make sure that happens before you die. Wayfinder is the engine that makes this deck tick, as it sets up Whip, makes you hit land drops, puts cards in the graveyard for delve, and even sacrifices to Sidisi. If you could play eight Satyr Wayfinders, you would, although at that point why aren't you playing Treasure Cruises?

I went with a 2:2 split on the card-advantage engines because you generally only want one of each, and because Sidisi and Den Protector give you a little bit of additional selection. Once you have either of these going, you should be able to bury your opponent if the game goes on, so defensive play goes a long way. Whip in particular gives you a long-game advantage and a ton of life to get you there, so it isn't tough to find ways to win with a Whip in play.

The rest of the deck is removal and Sidisi tutor targets, with an eye toward answer cards and efficiency. Roast is going to change how Standard plays, as it gives red decks an efficient removal spell that can kill giant things (though decks like this that have access to black mana weren't hurting for those already).

You Should Play Atarka If: You like fireballing things, casting huge threats, and using your graveyard as a resource.

Dragonlord Dromoka | Art by Eric Deschamps

For being the leader of such a peaceful combination of colors, Dromoka really went aggro with her Command. It's by far the best Command, and I can't imagine playing a deck that features Dromoka without playing her Command.

Devotion to Dromoka

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Dromoka will have to content herself with ruling through her Commands, as she strikes me as more of a sideboard card than a main-deck one. Being immune to counterspells and making your opponent unable to cast them is not relevant in enough matchups that you need to start out with Dromoka in your deck. In decks like this, she does have some sideboard potential, but overall I'll settle for playing her Command instead.

This is the same GW Devotion deck that has been very successful recently, and the addition of Dromoka's Command is a big deal. Dromoka's Command kills enchantments (such as opposing Masteries), stops burn spells, and gives the deck a flexible and powerful way to kill creatures. Den Protector is another good addition, and I'll keep playing what some have called "Maternal Witness" (a nice little Eternal Witness callback) until she proves herself to be too slow.

You Should Play Dromoka If: You like stalled boards, adding 26 mana to your mana pool, and mastering things both seen and unseen.

Dragonlord Kolaghan | Art by Jaime Jones

Kolaghan Midrange

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Kolaghan approves of attacking, and attacking is what this deck does. It's still a midrange deck, as you can see by the Outpost Sieges and five-drops, but it does a good job of getting value while still pressuring the opponent.

Dragon Fodder is the Raise the Alarm that red decks have been looking for. It may be strictly worse, but it's the right color, and for decks like this, that's all that matters. This deck is capable of making lots of tokens, clearing out blockers, and—if a swarm fails—exploiting the tokens with Sidisi.

Using Sidisi to turn a Goblin into a Dragon is awesome, and she can also nab anything, from removal to Outpost Siege, depending on how the game is going. If Sidisi wasn't legendary, I could see running more, but as is I like the 4:2 Stormbreath:Sidisi split.

The pair of Dragons is what gives this deck much of its reach. Between Stormbreath and Kolaghan, the opponent is always in danger of eating a chunk of haste damage, and both Dragons have abilities that can potentially deal a ton of extra damage on top of that.

By playing the two removal colors, this deck also gets to kill everything while getting value. Murderous Cut is incredibly efficient, Draconic Roar deals a ton of damage, and Stoke the Flames is still one of the best cards in Standard when combined with tokens.

Kolaghan attacks early and attacks often, while still retaining the ability to take the game long. Outpost Siege and Ire Shaman give the deck additional card advantage, and Sidisi is one of the best topdecks if you have a token lying around.

You Should Play Kolaghan If: You like attacking.

Dragonlord Ojutai | Art by Chase Stone

Last week, I put together an initial list that featured Ojutai in a control shell, but there is more than one way to serve a Dragonlord.

Ojutai Tempo

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It may break flavor rules to have Silumgar Sorcerer and Silumgar's Scorn show up, but I like the idea of a white-blue midrange deck that has both proactive and control elements, even if that requires Ojutai borrow some of Silumgar's troops.

With Silumgar's Scorn, Ojutai's Command, and Disdainful Stroke, this deck has many ways to stop opposing threats from resolving. Scorn is good on turn two without a Dragon and any time with one, and the six Dragons in the deck give you pretty good odds of having one around. Command is a versatile answer to creatures, and can even bring back Stratus Dancer in a pinch, all while cycling and triggering the multiple prowess creatures.

Silumgar's Scorn and Disdainful Stroke are cheap enough that it's very realistic to keep the mana for them up in the same turn as you play a threat, and the threats this deck has are powerful indeed.

Any one of these cards is capable of ending the game if left unchecked, and all the spells in the deck are designed to make sure that's the case. Mentor and Exemplars are cheap enough to cast with Gods Willing, Valorous Stance, or a counterspell at the ready, and in the case of Exemplars, even Anticipate will serve as protection. Regent and Ojutai come with built-in protection, and there's nothing more satisfying than countering a spell that your opponent paid two extra mana to cast on Icefall Regent (except maybe drawing a card off Ojutai). Regent also, conveniently enough, serves as creature removal, giving this deck another layer of protection.

A key part of tempo decks in the past have been creatures that counter spells, and here we have a pair of 2/1s that do just that. Stratus Dancer can come down on turn two if you have the right curve for it, but more commonly it will get played face-down so it can pick off a spell later. Silumgar Sorcerer will often be a three-mana spell that counters a creature, although it combos quite nicely with Monastery Mentor tokens. Both these cards give you more play on the opponent's turn, and both gain you a sizable advantage when they work as planned.

The rest of the deck is value spells, from the draw-smoothing Anticipate to the powerful Dig Through Time, with protection and removal in the form of Gods Willing and Valorous Stance sprinkled in. This deck has a lot of cards it can play at instant speed, and all it really wants to do is untap with a threat in play. Once it does, all of its cards play very well, and cards like Exemplars, Regent, and Mentor all can handle multiple opposing threats to make that more likely.

You Should Play Ojutai If: You like being tricky, getting value, and switching from control to aggro in a heartbeat.

Dragonlord Silumgar | Art by Steven Belledin

Silumgar is an interesting beast, although I'm sure he'd be offended if you called him that. He is undoubtedly powerful, but he needs to survive in order to really do his thing. That indicates to me that Silumgar is best played in a deck that has a bunch of other creatures, because as the lone threat, he will be too much of a removal magnet. Blue-black is not traditionally full of such things, so like Dromoka, Silumgar is going to have to settle for living vicariously through his Command and his previous incarnation. Either way, a Dragon named Silumgar is in command.

Silumgar Control

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Casting removal spell after removal spell until you have a stranglehold on the game seems right up Silumgar's alley, so this deck is a natural fit. It's an update on Blue-Black Control, although it gained a lot from Dragons of Tarkir.

Between Anticipate and Scorn, this deck got some powerful new two-drops. That is why I cut down on the number of Bile Blights, as Scorn should do a good job of protecting you early and being a live card late. Anticipate is also a great turn-two or turn-ten play and helps the deck find the exact right combination of removal, counters, and card draw to win the game.

The Command and Prerogative are the spells that cement your advantage, and if you get to the point where you start casting such spells, you are in good shape. Silumgar's Command may be too situational, but it's powerful enough to be worth trying. I have no such qualms about Dragonlord's Prerogative, and the only question there is if I should be playing more.

The rest of the deck we've seen before, and the game plan is very simple: kill or counter anything that threatens you, then draw a lot of cards. Maybe you cast a threat eventually, but that's honestly not very important. The games you win aren't a race, they are a marathon—a marathon where only one player can possibly reach the finish line.

You Should Play Silumgar If: All you want to do is curve Doom Blade into Divination.

Hopefully this satisfies the Dragonlords, as it seems like a fitting tribute. Find which Dragonlord speaks to you, follow its commands, and enjoy playing the new set.


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