Dragons, Megamorphs, And Dragons!

It isn’t just the Dragons from Magic’s latest power set that have Bennie excited, he’s also stoked to do some megamorphing! See the Commander and Standard craziness Bennie is ready to unleash on the world with Dragons of Tarkir!

Some years back I was interviewed and was asked a pretty simple question.

“What Magic set is your all-time favorite?”

I’ve been playing Magic since Unlimited and Arabian Nights were on the shelves and have opened packs from every single Magic set ever printed, so just
considering the sheer volume involved that’s a tough question. As I pondered all those sets and tried to recall my feelings when each one was released, I
realized I could actually give a really easy answer to that tough question.

“My favorite all-time Magic set is the newest one.”

There’s a really powerful plot device used in stories across all mediums where something happens that makes you go back and see past events in a whole new
light. Maybe you’ve read 75% of a novel with certain impressions that you’ve built and the reveal suddenly has your mind rushing back over all that you’ve
read, seeing it in a whole new light. In a way, it’s like you’re able to experience the story all over again with a fresh new perspective in an instant.

Magic does something very similar with each new card that’s created. Not only does the individual card tell a story that’s cool and provoke ideas for how
to play with the card going forward, but it also reverberates throughout all the Magic cards ever printed, potentially casting a bunch of them with a fresh
new perspective. Depending on the formats you play and the specific cards, this can be relatively minor, or it can be breathtakingly huge. Since I play
Standard, and I dabble in Modern and Legacy and am an avid Commander player, each new card has the potential to spark all sorts of ideas for combos and
decks involving cards throughout Magic’s history. So truly, each new set is not only is exciting for its own merit, but it’s also exciting for the fresh
coat of paint it throws across potentially everything that’s been printed before.

How could my favorite all-time Magic set not be the newest one?


They couldn’t make a set called Dragons of Tarkir that features an altered timeline where Dragons rule the plane and not give us enough cards to make at
least a halfway decent Dragon deck. Of course, the problem is that we’ve got Dragons spread out over all the allied color combinations, so which direction
do we go? Do we stick with one Dragonlord two-color combination or combine forces into a shard?

To make that decision, the first thing I wanted to know was, what is the very best cheap dragon available? As I write this, the entire spoiler hasn’t been
revealed yet, but I think a strong case can be made for Thunderbreak Regent at four mana. A 4/4 flier for four mana is respectable, and I like that his
triggered ability is cumulative and is applicable to any Dragon, so seems like the perfect four-of to build our deck around. Red also gives us Dragonlord’s
Servant, which can do a nice Sylvan Caryatid impression for colorless mana to cast Dragons but with the added bonus of not needing to tap to provide that
for us. If we go with green, that would give us two solid two-drop accelerators to hasten us to our Dragons.

Speaking of haste and Dragons, Dragon Tempest is definitely a card we’ll want in our Dragon deck. Giving our Dragons haste (if they don’t already have it)
and getting some free damage to throw around sounds awesome. In fact, that particular effect gives me another reason to want to dip into green: Frontier
Siege. We already know that Frontier Siege is a solid Magic card mostly from its performance as a mana producer on the Khans side, and we can certainly use
that side of it here to ensure we can start dropping our big Dragons on time. What’s super sweet in this deck is that any copies we draw after we’ve got
enough mana to play our spells means we can take full advantage of the Dragons side of Frontier Siege to get a ton of value out of our monsters. Between
Dragon Tempest spitting out damage and then our Dragons fighting when they enter the battlefield under Frontier Siege, we can easily put the kibosh on
lesser creatures on the board.

Okay, so it seems I’m leaning full steam ahead and joining Atarka’s clan, huh? That’s actually perfect, since both the Fate Reforged and Dragons of Tarkir
Dragonlord versions are really good. The trick, of course, is how to run them without choking your hand with duplicate copies of the legends, but luckily
we can also take advantage of the new “Draconic Tutor,” Sarkhan’s Triumph, to go and find the right Dragon for the job. The casting cost on that spell
actually works quite nicely alongside the Khans side of Frontier Siege, since you can use the two green mana you get at the beginning of your pre-combat
main phase (plus one red mana) to cast Sarkhan’s Triumph to find a Dragon, and then cast that Dragon with the two green mana you get at the beginning of
your post-combat main phase.

So climbing the converted mana cost ladder up from Thunderbreak Regent at four, what’s the best Dragon at five? The obvious choice is Stormbreath Dragon, a
powerful threat all on his own without all the sweet Dragon synergies. Next up at six mana, I’m looking at Destructor Dragon. I really like this card and
think it could see play at some point during its time in Standard outside of a dedicated Dragon deck, since if it dies you get value out of it killing a
land or potentially a planeswalker.

Since we’re playing a Dragon tutor, I think we can round things out with some singleton copies that can be good depending on what our opponent is playing.
Shockmaw Dragon is great at killing lots of small token creatures that pop up in a lot of Standard decks. Siege Dragon costs one more mana, but not only
will it kill off tokens but it can decimate the 2/2 manifest creatures that seem to be the flavor du jour right now thanks to Whisperwood Elemental and
Mastery of the Unseen. Savage Ventmaw is a cool way to get a bunch of extra mana each time it attacks, letting you cast more Dragons that turn than you
otherwise might have been able to. Then there are the two flavors of Atarka-nab World Render when you want to smash face and end the game fast, or nab
Dragonlord if there’s a creature or two or a planeswalker that needs to die before you begin the 8/8 flying, trampling beatdown.

Another awesome tool we’ve got is Haven of the Spirit Dragon, which fixes our mana for casting our Dragons if we need it, and can also be cashed in to
return a Dragon from the graveyard for another round. Based on what’s been spoiled so far, here’s what I’ve sketched out:

It’s pretty clear that base red makes for the best Dragon deck, and if we move away from green, I think that Generator Servant could make a decent
substitute for Sylvan Caryatid.


Another thing that Dragons of Tarkir brings to the table are some more great support cards for a full-fledged Morph deck. I’ve written a few times about a
Standard Morph deck (the first of which was Of Morphs and Men). The key
point I was making:

“I think the trick to really understanding the benefit to playing a morph deck is to realize that the morph costs are basically spells you get to play
without costing you card slots since they’re tacked on to your creatures.”

The problem with my previous Morph decks were the fact that the overall power level of the cards involved was relatively low, and you had to stretch into
full three-color Temur to find enough good stuff to have a fighting chance. Well since then we’ve got the powerful Whisperwood Elemental to add Manifest to
the mix from Fate Reforged, and now Dragons of Tarkir brings us a few more really potent Megamorph cards in green and blue that we can jettison red
altogether! The biggie here is Deathmist Raptor, a perfectly respectable 3/3 for three mana that has the not irrelevant deathtouch ability. I’ve been a
huge proponent of Heir of the Wilds ever since I tried them out in my Villainous Wealth deck, and its deathtouch ability has been a fantastic defensive
weapon that can also go on offense and swing past creatures that would otherwise surely block. Deathmist Raptor is a little bigger and a little slower, but
the deathtouch is still great, and man, its triggered ability is fantastic in a deck chock full of creatures that come into play face down! Having a
deathtouch creature in the deck also makes the creatures manifested by Whisperwood Elemental all the more threatening.

The next new card I’m excited about is Stratus Dancer, which provides an added layer of protection (along with Whisperwood Elemental) against mass removal
or some other key instant or sorcery (Dig Through Time springs to mind). Another one is Den Protector, which does a pretty good impression of being a
surprise Eternal Witness. I can even see times where I might flip my Icefeather Aven to bounce a face up Stratus Dancer or Den Protector so I can replay it
and flip it again.

So here’s how a full-Tarkir Morph deck might look:

Things might be a little hostile for this deck right after release given how everyone is gunning for the G/W Mastery of the Unseen deck from GP Miami, but
depending on how the metagame adjusts I could certainly see breaking this bad boy out.

Commander Karrthus

With all these sweet Dragon cards, you know Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund wants to fly the Commander skies again. I built the five-color Scion of the Ur-Dragon
a month or so ago featuring all the sweet dragons from Fate Reforged, but now that Dragons of Tarkir is out I’m more inclined to trim down to three colors.
Besides, there’s one new card in particular that draws me back to Karrthus: Descent of the Dragons! What better way to follow up Descent of the Dragons
(killing all the really threatening creatures around the board, plus upgrading any little guys you may have around) than playing Karrthus and stealing all
the newly born Dragons! Sure, that takes a lot of mana, but that’s why you play Mana Geyser and Reiterate, or Savage Ventmaw and Aggravated Assault (weee,
infinite attacks!). The Karrthus deck also has Crux of Fate to clear the decks of all the lowly non-Dragons out there. Here’s what I’ve got cooking out on

Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 03-13-2015

So there you go-Dragons, and Morphs, and Dragons! What new cards from Dragons of Tarkir have you looking at other cards in a whole new light?

New to Commander?

If you’re just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:

Commander write-ups I’ve done
(and links to decklists):

Titania, Protector of Argoth (Titania’s Land and Elemental Exchange)

Reaper King (All About VILLAINOUS WEALTH)

Feldon of the Third Path (She Will Come Back to Me)

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (Calling Up Ghouls with Sidisi)

Zurgo Helmsmasher (Two Times the Smashing)

Anafenza, the Foremost (Anafenza and Your Restless Dead)

Narset, Enlightened Master (The New Voltron Overlord)

Surrak Dragonclaw (The Art of Punching Bears)

Avacyn, Guardian Angel; Ob Nixilis, Unshackled; Sliver Hivelord (Commander Catchup, Part 3)

Keranos, God of Storms; Marchesa, the Black Rose; Muzzio, Visonary Architect (Commander Catchup, Part 2)

Athreos, God of Passage; Kruphix, God of Horizons; Iroas, God of Victory (Commander Catchup, Journey into Nyx Edition)

Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient (Ghost in the Machines)

Jalira, Master Polymorphist (JaliraPOW!)

Mishra, Artificer Prodigy (Possibility Storm Shenanigans)

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard (All-in Yisan)

Selvala, Explorer Returned (Everyone Draws Lots!)

Grenzo, Dungeon Warden (Cleaning Out the Cellar)

Karona, False God (God Pack)

Child of Alara (Land Ho!)

Doran, the Siege Tower (All My Faves in One Deck!)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (my Magic Online deck)

Karador, Ghost Chieftain (Shadowborn Apostles & Demons)

King Macar, the Gold-Cursed (GREED!)

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind ( Chuck’s somewhat vicious deck)

Roon of the Hidden Realm (Mean Roon)

Skeleton Ship (Fun with -1/-1 counters)

Vorel of the Hull Clade (Never Trust the Simic)

Anax and Cymede (Heroic Co-Commanders)

Aurelia, the Warleader ( plus Hellkite Tyrant shenanigans)

Borborygmos Enraged (69 land deck)

Bruna, Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)

Damia, Sage of Stone ( Ice Cauldron shenanigans)

Emmara Tandris (No Damage Tokens)

Gahiji, Honored One (Enchantment Ga-hijinks)

Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)

Ghave, Guru of Spores ( Melira Combo)

Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)

Glissa, the Traitor ( undying artifacts!)

Grimgrin, Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)

Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge ( Suspension of Disbelief)

Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)

Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo’ Myrs)

Karona, False God (Vows of the False God)

Lord of Tresserhorn (ZOMBIES!)

Marath, Will of the Wild ( Wild About +1/+1 Counters)

Melira, Sylvok Outcast ( combo killa)

Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker ( Outside My Comfort Zone with Milling

Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)

Nicol Bolas (Kicking it Old School)

Nylea, God of the Hunt ( Devoted to Green)

Oloro, Ageless Ascetic (Life Gain)

Oona, Queen of the Fae (by reader request)

Phage the Untouchable ( actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)

Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)

Polukranos, World Eater (Monstrous!)

Reaper King (Taking Advantage of the new Legend Rules)

Riku of Two Reflections (

steal all permanents with
Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts


Roon of the Hidden Realm ( Strolling Through Value Town)

Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)

Savra, Queen of the Golgari ( Demons)

Shattergang Brothers (Breaking Boards)

Sigarda, Host of Herons ( Equipment-centric Voltron)

Skullbriar, the Walking Grave ( how big can it get?)

Sliver Overlord (Featuring the new M14 Slivers!)

Thelon of Havenwood ( Campfire Spores)

Varolz, the Scar-Striped (scavenging goodness)

Vorosh, the Hunter ( proliferaTION)

Xenagos, God of Revels (Huge Beatings)

Yeva, Nature’s Herald (living at instant speed)