A Song of Fire and Ice
After making a Kaalia deck and removing most of the Dragon cards from it, in favour of Angels, I still wanted something that focussed on dragons. The main reasib is that I liked Utvara Hellkite enough to try out some dragon tribal, hoping to fill the sky with numerous flying monsters.
As the deck developed more and more non- dragons got sidelined to make place for more dragons. Even though it makes the deck somewhat slow to start, one cannot argue with the fact that it makes it far more awesome! And being awesome is the goal of this deck more than anything. It should make Deanarys green with envy.
Another card that informed on how a portion of the deck would look was Rimescale Dragon. Unlike it’s firebreathing kin, it’s an ice-breathing dragon, and to make it work the basic lands in the deck are now snow-covered varieties, like Snow-Covered Mountain. And who knows what’s hiding up north. The ice dragon does add some political power to the deck, being able to lock down creatures as long as it’s in play.
As for the commander itself, I settled on Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund, even though there are some other options. For me he signals ‘this is a dragon deck’ the best, even if there are some downsides. But more on that later.
Mother of Dragons
Another notable dragon in this deck is Dragon Broodmother. There are a couple of dragons with the devour mechanic in excistence, but she is the only one who made the cut. Mostly because she births a dragon token during every players upkeep! That’s a lot of dragons, and they have the option of eating eachother, or whatever creature you have lying around, like a stray elf that outlived it’s usefulness or maybe even a yummie Dragon Egg!
Devouring is a risk, but with the rate the broodmother makes the tokens, it can really pay off, especially when there it’s Doubling Season. The dragons also have a father in there somewhere, as Scourge of Valkas celebrates every birth with an increasing amount of fire.
But we didn’t come here for the baby dragons. Jund is all about the food chain and at the very top there are Dragon Tyrant and Hellkite overlord, which are among the biggest things with flying you can find in the game. But depending on the situation, even they could be severly outclassed by a Kilnmouth Dragon. With 28 dragons in the deck right now, it should often come down as an 8/8 or 11/11.
Having dragons is one thing, the point is ofcourse to attack with them. To do so as often as possible, there are some ways to get extra combat phases. Aggravated Assault is one way to accomplish this, but the effect also comes on a dragon: Hellkite Charger. Adding Sword of Feast and Famine or Nature’s Will, among other things, will free up some mana to attack many times over.
There are plenty of cool interactions to be found in the deck. Even dragons aren’t as straightforward as the seem at first glance. Let’s take a look at the list:
~ Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund Commander ~
Walking With Dragons
There are a couple of non-dragon lieutenants to help out. Zirilan of the Claw can find any dragon in your deck. This could be a Bladewing the Risen, to bring back another dragon, Malfegor to wipe the board or Dragon Tyrant to make a big attack. If that wouldn’t solve the problem there and then, it’s even possible to do it on an opponent’s end step, so you can follow up by finding Changeling Titan and get around the exile clause.
Kiki-Jiki has a similar role, but makes temporary copies of dragons in play. While he doesn’t copy Legendary creatures, he does suplement Zirilan quite well, and can use Changeling Titan to get around all kinds of destruction effects. And if there is more doubling needed, there is Xenagos, God of Revels, making faster and stronger dragons.
Rivalling both gods and dragons in power are the planeswalkers. Domri Rade helps finding dragons in your deck and keeping your hand full, and sometimes allows them to get close and personal with opposing creatures. His ultimate is a sight to behold, as it makes your dragons even more frightening and difficult to get rid off. The first ability can be hit-and-miss, but Courser of Kruphix and Oracle of Mul Daya will show and set up the next card and maximize the advantage.
Sarkhan Vol is the planeswalker closest related to dragons (Well, aside from Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker who is a frigging dragon!) and he’s represented by two versions. The regular version makes your side slightly larger and occasionally brings others to your side, so they can join in the fight or serve as lunch for your dragons. Sarkhan the Mad , like Domri, helps finding more dragons to play, or creates a dragon token that Karrthus kan bring to your side.
There are plenty of other dragons that warrant inclusion in this deck, but space is limited and choices need to be make. There is always room for improvent though. The trick with Death By Dragons may get stale at some point, as players will find the best ways to get around it. There may be other cards that are cute, but simply don’t pull their weight. So here are some cards that didn’t make it yet, but are still strongly concidered:
– Hunted Dragon is cheap enough for a hasty 6/6 flyer. The fact that it puts some knight tokens under an opponent’s control may not always be a drawback in a multiplayer format. It could happen that you can ally yourself with another player and give him the tools to help fight a common enemy. With Scourge of Kher Ridges or Steel Hellkite on your side, the knights aren’t long lived anyway.
– Furyborn Hellkite is a tad expensive to play, but if you manage to trigger it’s bloodthirst it’s always very, very large. Then again, if you can get bloodthirst, it means you’re already on the road to victory. Furyborn Hellkite may just keep you in the saddle.
– Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon isn’t much of a team player. As the only source of poison counters, he makes previous damage irrelevant and he doesn’t contribute overall. Even with Crucible of Fire he’ll need two hits to kill someone. Then again, poison counters do make people very nervous.
– Kokusho, the Evening Star. To be fair, there reason Kokusho isn’t in the deck and his brother Ryusei, the Falling Star is, has more to do with availability than power level. Kokusho was banned in commander for quite some time for a reason. Even with changes to the legend rule, he still can get you quite some breathing room once he dies.
– Balefire Dragon also isn’t there for the want of a physical copy. Realistically, noone can afford being hit even once without getting into some real, serious trouble.
– Dragon Mage fills a role similar to Knollspine Dragon, in making sure you never run out of steam. I’m not sure Dragon Mage is better than Knollspine in this regard, as the effect is more symmetrical. It’s easier to refill your hand with the Mage, though, as he doesn’t need a secundary source of damage to work his magic.
– Hoarding Dragon searches the deck for an artifact. If it gets hit with a Path to Exile or things like that, that artifact is lost forever. The deck only has 3 artifacts, and they’re generally not worth it getting a dragon killed over.
– Imperial Hellkite could be quite interesting, especially as the deck doesn’t have a lot of early drops. Later on, he gets the best dragon out of the deck and there is plenty of choice for that. Since he’s the only morph, and the only reasonable morph in the deck, it’s often clear what it is, but morph mindgames are secundairy to a tutor effect anyway.
– Predator Dragon and Preyseizer dragon are similar enough to fall under the same catagory. It comes down to devour, which is not the best thing in this deck as most food is horribly expensive.
– Vampiric Dragon is cool, but too expensive. He does have som synergy with Bow of Nylea, but ultimately there are far better dragons available than this guy.
As far as commanders go, Karrthus wasn’t the only option. It’s nice to have a 7/7 that can jump into action immediatly, but there is a risk involved with playing him. If a blue mage Clones him, you lose all your dragons to to him. Sure, I might include a Homeward Path to cushion the blow, but if it happens too often, you might concider another legend to command your dragon army.
– Prossh, Skyraider of Kher is a good choice, and only a Food Chain away from creating an arbitrary amount of Kobolds of Kher Keep, if you’re into that. He might cause to have the dragons with Devour rate higher on the list. He’s generally not as fast and large as Karrthus though. Unless you feed Prossh other creatures, he takes an extra turn in dealing lethal commander damage. With the combo, he’s far more deadly though.
– Darigaaz, the Igniter is decent, especially when players play mono-colored decks or generally keep large hand-sizes (or you did indeed recruit a Dragon Mage.) Too bad his ability doesn’t count towards commander damage, making it often pointless to use the ability unless it helps finishing the opponent through regular damage.
– Vaevictis Asmadi is there for the EDH purists, as he is indeed an Elder Dragon. He is horribly expensive to play though, and the upkeep cost doesn’t help with developing the board while he’s on the table.
– Scion of the Ur-Dragon is an interesting choice for a commander in a dragon deck. He opens up the option to choose from any dragon, regardless of it’s color. It also means you’ll have to diversify the mana-base even further in order to use him, but at least you’ll be channeling the force that is all dragonkind.
Jund has a couple of options for non-dragons as commander:
– Adun Oakenshield can bring back dragons (and some of their food) from the graveyard to your hand. The excitement never ends with him.
– Xira Arien draws you extra cards. Extra cards is good, but sadly she’s not very efficient.
– Kresh the Bloodbraided is left as a viable commander for your dragons, as your Khal Drogo expy. He grows when a large dragon dies, and he grows when your dragons feed. He’s also not that expensive to play, so while he doesn’t interact all that much with your dragons, he interacts with things dying left and right by growing to humongous size in no-time.
So, that’s a Jund EDH dragon deck. Keep watching the skies, as it may be the last you see.