Put A Dragon In Your Tank
Building On A Budget - The Claw
Monday, August 18, 2003
I went to the Tenth Anniversary tournament, and you know what I got? A Shivan Dragon. Shivan Dragon may very well be one of my favorite magic cards--after all, it's big, it's firebreathing, it flies, and well...it's Shivan Dragon! In my opinion, that card represents the game of Magic even more so than the recently hyped Serra Angel. Shivan Dragon eats angels for lunch.
It's a little known fact that in the old days you had to be able to make the sound of Shivan Dragon breathing fire to be a part of Team CMU. (Well, that's how Erik Lauer always wanted it, anyhow.) Shivan Dragon has been good for all 10 years of Magic. Snack on that, Serra.
Besides, have you seen a foil Shivan Dragon? Best looking card in the game.
Thus, in honor of its triumphant reappearance, I will talk about a deck that does not include Shivan Dragon, yet pays homage to its brethren. I am talking about The Claw--a Block Constructed deck that YMG played in Venice with good results. Considering the Onslaught Block Constructed qualifier season lies before us, I figure you avid readers might want to take a chance and try out the qualifier scene with a decent and fun deck that can be built for less than thirty tickets.
Note that a Standard-legal version of this deck may actually be a lot more fun, considering you can play Shivan Dragon and Two-Headed Dragon as well.
Building on a Budget - The Claw
The original version of this deck had 8 Beasts (4 Tuskers and 4 Baloths) and some Contested Cliffs to help hold down the fort. Since this is a budget article, the word "Baloth" without "Enormous" in front is a no-no.
Back to Dragons--The premise of this deck is to accelerate out a big, fat Kilnmouth Dragon and proceed to chomp on your opponent until you have need of a toothpick. The Kilnmouth is often 8/8 and sometimes 11/11. Statistically it's kind of hard to make it any bigger than that, but no matter, there is always a follow up Dragon on its way!
There are many ways to get a fast dragon. Usually, a Kilnmouth will hit the table on turn five using Explosive Vegetation, Goblin Clearcutter, or Dragonspeaker Shaman, but sometimes appears earlier with an assist from Wirewood Elf. In general, Block Constructed is slow enough to allow you to do nothing but accelerate yourself for a while, and Slice and Dice and Shock are there to help keep you alive in the meantime.
One difficult choice for this deck is Carbonize or Shock. Shock is better versus Goblins and Carbonize is better against Twisted Abominations (there are a lot of those out there, too). In general, the Twisted Abominations are too slow for Rorix or Kilnmouth, so Shock took the slots--Shocking a Goblin Warchief can really slow a Goblin deck down.
The thing that I really like about this deck is sometimes you get a draw that involves Rorix smashing in on turn four and an 8/8 Kilnmouth appearing on turn five.
Tips On Playing The Deck
- If you can cast Rorix the turn before you cast Kilnmouth and you have one other Dragon in hand to amplify with, go ahead and smash face with Rorix. The 6 damage is more important than 3 extra +1/+1 counters a turn later.
- Try to not overcommit. I know I get all giddy when I have lots of dragons in play, but one is really all you should need. Don't get wrecked by Arkoma's Vengeance or Decree of Pain.
- If you have a slow hand, don't be afraid to play Imperial Hellkite face down--it blocks, after all.
- Watch out for Akroma--if she appears, you're taking too long to win. Start shooting your opponent with Kilnmouth if possible, and try to get a few Dragons in play so you can attack for the win.
I would recommend Silklash Spider against anything that looks like it might have Akroma in it. Silklash is one of the few cards that can deal with her.
Stabilizers or Naturalizes help against Slide, and you're going to need them--Slide is a rough matchup. I wouldn't worry so much about the Rift-only decks--it always seems like Astral Slide was the most annoying card in these decks. Also, your opponent may find it difficult to Rift out your Dragons.
Adding Money To The Deck
Well, you can sink a decent amount of money into this deck if you want to add Wooded Foothills, Starstorms, Baloths, and Contested Cliffs. If you're doing that, then I would replace Shock with Starstorm and Slice and Dice with Baloth. If you use Cliffs and Baloths, you may want to consider adding Tuskers. However that means taking out things like Dragonspeaker Shamans, which are pretty good in this deck. (They're even better in the Standard-legal version. Turn three Shivan, here we come! Or turn three Rorix with Bird assist!)
Shivan may be the King, but Rorix is a master.
Decree of Annihilation is another good card in this deck--you can cycle it fast after getting out a fat Dragon and just end the game. Same goes with Form of the Dragon.
Until next time, may your red mana tap for +1/+0.
NateHeiss on Magic Online