One Flying Bolster Basket

When it comes to dragons and Commander, there’s no limit to the damage you can do! See Bennie Smith’s double take on the bolstering baddie Dromoka, the Eternal!

The format now known as Commander was originally called Elder Dragon Highlander, reflecting the initial concept of building your deck around one of the
Elder Dragon legends from the Legends (and later reprinted in Chronicles) expansion. Dragons are cool, and these Elder Dragon legends were extra cool
because they were named, and you could imagine their personalities from the sweet artwork for them, their abilities, and the colored mana in their mana
cost. Nicol Bolas’s artwork made him look like a badass, his colors made him obviously evil, and if that wasn’t enough, his ability to nuke an opponent’s
hand was terrifying. When you build a Commander deck around Nicol Bolas, you’re making a clear statement that you’re not playing nice.

When Fate Reforged introduced their dragons, they had a little bit of the old “elder dragon” feel to them-these were named dragon legends from the
early history of Tarkir. Their cool dragon triggers inspired me to build a Scion the Ur-Dragon Commander deck built to really take
advantage of all those dragon triggers as much as possible. I liked the deck, but that felt a little bit like a cheat flavor-wise: to subject these ancient
legendary dragons to being just another one of the 99 cards in Scion’s deck. These dragons deserve to helm their own deck!

But which one should I pick first?

“The bane of countless shattered weapons, each a failure to slay her.”

Daghatar the Adamant

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Dromoka, the Eternal for Standard. Frankly, I’m a bit surprised she hasn’t broken through yet because she has a ton
going for her. First, she’s just an incredibly efficient creature-a 5/5 for five mana with evasion and a very sweet triggered ability when she attacks. Her
size is on point as a Siege Rhino killer, but what really makes her some potentially sweet tech is being a dragon when the sweeper du jour – Crux of Fate
makes your control opponent choose between killing dragons or your other creatures. If I were playing Abzan Midrange, I’d strongly consider slotting 2-3
copies of Dromoka at the five-mana spot.

So as I was pondering which new old dragon I might want to build a Commander deck around, it was a pretty short leap to jump on Dromoka’s train. My initial
thought was to load up with lots of creatures that take advantage of +1/+1 counters due to her bolster ability, but then I saw the flavor text above and it
sent me in a new direction.

The bane of countless shattered weapons… each a failure to slay her.

So what if I play Dromoka as my only creature, and surround her with spells that make her an unstoppable killing machine?

I’ve built Voltron-style decks before, which are all about boosting the one creature and making it an unstoppable killing machine. And this deck will
ultimately be a similar style, but what’s cool is that she “Voltrons” herself if she’s the only creature you control when you attack with her. On the first
attack she’ll become a 7/7, which is a magic number in Commander-it divides into 21 three times, which means you have to hit your first opponent just three
times to kill him with Commander damage. At that point though, Dromoka will be an 11/11, which can kill your next opponent with just two hits.

Instant Protection

Ajani’s Presence, Withstand Death, Gods Willing, Ranger’s Guile, Brave the Elements, Ephemeral Shields, Mortal’s Resolve, Valorous Stance, Apostle’s Blessing, Feat of Resistance

If you’ve had the “pleasure” of playing against the W/x Heroic decks in Standard, you’re aware that a creature doesn’t need to be hexproof to resist
removal spells while it grows larger and larger with +1/+1 counters. Most of what makes those creatures so difficult to deal with happen to be white
instants that act as “counterspells” for your attempts to otherwise kill the creature, and I can easily see playing some of those (Gods Willing, Valorous
Stance) right here to protect Dromoka. Green’s got a few as well such as Withstand Death and Ranger’s Guile. The trick is to wait until you have one or two
of these in hand before you cast Dromoka.

I don’t normally play Isochron Scepter because of how easy it is to get two-for-one’d with artifact removal and one or two-mana spells aren’t normally
worth the effort, but I think in this sort of deck it’s totally worth running the Scepter to make killing Dromoka that much more difficult.

Preemptive Protection

Yavimaya Hollow, Swiftfoot Boots, Felidar Umbra, Darksteel Plate, Broken Fall, Molting Skin, Snake Umbra, Bear Umbra, Cauldron of Souls, Asceticism,
Privileged Position, Indrik Umbra

Of course, you can’t just keep mana up and a bunch of reactive spells at the ready in your hand the whole game, so I thought it would be worth playing some
preemptive protective spells. The Umbra auras provide nice boosts to the creature while providing protection against any destroy effect. The functionally
identical Broken Fall and Molting Skin provide similar protection against any destroy effect that doesn’t prevent regeneration. Giving Dromoka hexproof
with spells like Asceticism can be quite helpful too. Giving her persist with Cauldron of Souls is particularly sweet since her bolster ability will knock
off the -1/-1 counter.

Protect the King

Arena, Maze of Ith, Kor Haven, Basilisk Collar, Path to Exile, Swords to Plowshares, Dueling Grounds, Setessan Tactics, Wrath of God, Comeuppance,
Wolfcaller’s Howl, Rout, Akroma’s Vengeance, Austere Command, Fated Retribution, Ugin, The Spirit Dragon; Unexpectedly Absent, White Sun’s Zenith

Now, no matter how well you protect Dromoka, one sure-fire way to take her out is to take me out, so I want to provide some ways to keep me alive while I
send Dromoka around taking care of business. I’ve got pinpoint removal like Swords to Plowshares and mass removal like Wrath of God. I’ve got Wolfcaller’s
Howl and White Sun’s Zenith, which can generate some blockers. What’s fun with some of the mass removal spells, is if I can give Dromoka indestructible, I
can use my Wraths to clear a path for Dromoka to attack. Arena and Setessan Tactics can be used with Dromoka to kill smaller prey when you’re not

Dig and Draw

Mikokoro, Center of the Sea; Skullclamp, Land Tax, Sylvan Library, Scroll Rack, Crystal Ball, Druidic Satchel, Temple Bell, Harmonize, Greater Good,
Hunter’s Prowess

One of the issues with my plan of putting all my eggs in one big Dragon basket is the fact that, in general, it’s going to be tough to have enough ways to
protect her from all of your opponent’s resources. Which is why it’s probably wise to wait to play Dromoka, the Eternal instead of slamming her down on
turn 3 and 4 and start swinging. Sit back, let other players go after each other and burn up resources. Eventually, you can “save” the table with a board
sweep, and at that point, you’ve hopefully got enough ways to protect her for a while. Green and white aren’t exactly known for mass card draw, but there
are some good quality ways to dig for what you need. One of the oldest of old-school non-blue ways to do that is Land Tax + Scroll Rack, which we can
easily drop into this deck. So long as one of your opponents stay one land ahead of you, you can churn up three basic lands during your upkeep, and then
toss them back (along with anything else that’s not very useful) to Scroll Rack. During your next upkeep, you can shuffle your deck, get back the same
lands, and Scroll Rack again. A more modern and less powerful combo is Crystal Ball and Druidic Satchel, which can slowly churn through your deck to find
what you need. Then, of course, if there’s nothing you can do to save Dromoka, you can always cash her out and sacrifice her to Greater Good to draw a
fresh grip of cards.

So without further ado, here’s my “protect the queen”-style Dromoka, the Eternal Commander deck!

Dromoka, the Eternal
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 02-20-2015

Note the sweet Strionic Resonator in there to get an extra bolster trigger when Dromoka attacks! I also like having Berserk in this list, since there are
several ways to give Dromoka indestructible so that she survives hulking out. Berserk is also just really good in multiplayer, in general, since it can
kill a huge threat on the table that’s attacking someone else, dishing out a huge amount of damage to an opponent while taking out the threat.

Bonus Deck

Okay, so it occurred to me that some of you may have been more interested in my initial impulse to make a “+1/+1 counters matter” themed Dromoka, the
Eternal deck, so today you get two Commander decks!

+1/+1 Counter Lords

Ainok Bond-Kin, Abzan Falconer, Tuskguard Captain, Abzan Battle Priest, Longshot Squad, Elite Scaleguard

One thing that’s been fun with Khans of Tarkir and Fate Reforged are the “lords” they’ve printed that boost creatures that have +1/+1
counters on them to play nicely with outlast and bolster. If I were playing Ghave, Guru of Spores, I’d have access to the full Abzan range of these lords,
but with just green and white we’ve got a fair number of good ones we can put in here. I particularly like Elite Scaleguard, since tapping down multiple
blockers can be even more devastating in multiplayer games.

Creatures With Counters

Fleecemane Lion, Gyre Sage, Shinewend, Champion of Lambholt, Fertilid, Predator Ooze, Spike Feeder, Twilight Drover, Kitchen Finks, Cytoplast Root-Kin,
Mindless Automaton, Spike Weaver, Cauldron of Souls, Kithkin Spellduster, Realm Seekers, Woodfall Primus, Lifeblood Hydra

There are no shortage of creatures that either come into play with +1/+1 counters or can put them on themselves, so I tried to pick the ones I thought fit
best into what this Commander deck is looking to do. It’s pretty sweet to put Dromoka’s bolster trigger on Mindless Automaton to draw some cards, or on
Spike Weaver to provide defense against attackers. The persist cards are here because putting +1/+1 counters on them after they’ve persisted knocks off the
-1/-1 counter, which makes them even better. Between those cards and the indestructible Predator Ooze and maybe Fleecemane Lion, we’ve got some solid
defense against board sweepers.

More Counters

Gavony Township, Oran-Rief, The Vastwood, Llanowar Reborn, Hardened Scales, Blade Of The Bloodchief, Otherworldly Journey, Strionic Resonator, Bow of Nylea, Dragonscale General, Cradle of Vitality, Forgotten Ancient, High Sentinels of Arashin, Archangel of Thune, Cathars’ Crusade, Juniper Order Ranger, Kalonian Hydra, Death’s Presence, Primeval Bounty, Tempt with Glory, Vigor, Sandsteppe Mastodon; Mikaeus, the Lunarch

These are all great ways to add more counters to your creatures over and above the bolster you get from Dromoka’s attack trigger. You may note that there’s
the infinite life combo from Modern in here: Archangel of Thune and Spike Feeder. Both cards play right into the theme here, and the combo gives you a way
to “go off” and win games you may otherwise lose, but since I don’t have any tutor effects, it’s not the focus of the deck. Just remember that no matter
how much life you have, you can always die to Commander damage!

You may notice I don’t have Doubling Season in here, which might seem like an oversight. It was in my initial deck sketch, but I ended up cutting it
because I think it’s best in a deck that generates tokens as well as counters. There are some five mana cards that are extremely powerful in supporting the
+1/+1 counter theme that I ended up choosing instead.

Alright, so here’s my version of Dromoka that’s much less “all eggs in one basket” focused:

Dromoka, the Eternal
Bennie Smith
Test deck on 02-26-2015

Notice the insane work that Mirror Entity will do here when you have Dromoka in play, turning all your dudes into dragons that can attack and set off
Dromoka’s triggered ability-now that’s some serious +1/+1 counters getting spread around!

So what do you think of my Dromoka decks? Do you have any questions about my card choices, or see something that I left out that should be in there? Which
other of the new Fate Reforged dragons do you think would make good commanders?

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)