Dragon Wars! In this five-part series, Ben builds a Standard-legal deck around each of the five Planar Chaos Legendary Dragons.
Week 1: Intet, the Dreamer
- Week 2: Numot, the Devastator
- Week 3: Teneb, the Harvester
- Week 4: Oros, the Avenger
- Week 5: Vorosh, the Hunter
ey everyone, and welcome to Building on a Budget! This week is the first of a series of five articles centered around the Legendary Dragons from Planar Chaos
. A few weeks ago, I put this poll at the end of my column, and got the following results:
|I CHOOSE ALL OF THEM! DRAGON WARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!
|Intet, the Dreamer!
|Numot, the Devastator!
|Teneb, the Harvester!
|Oros, the Avenger!
|Vorosh, the Hunter!
The order in which these articles will be done will correspond with the order that each dragon finished in the polls—namely, this week's article will be focused on Intet, next week's on Numot, the third week's on Teneb, the penultimate chapter on Oros, and the final Dragon article on Vorosh. Before I get into the nitty and gritty of how each deck will be built, let me take a minute to share some big personal news with everyone!
By the time this article goes up on Monday, I'll be on the second day of my honeymoon! That's right—I've took the plunge this past Saturday, August 4th, and married the lovely Kate Woods (now Kate Bleiweiss)! You'll notice that my author blurb at the end of this article has changed to reflect my new married life, and I'm looking forward to a lifetime of happiness with my wife.
What's this mean for Building on a Budget? Well, unfortunately I won't be around the next couple of weeks to get reader feedback like I usually do for my column. I go straight from my honeymoon to Gen Con (representing StarCityGames.com at their booth), so I'll pretty much be on-the-go for nearly three straight weeks. I needed to come up with an idea that would encompass a longer period of time while I'll be mostly out-of-town, and so I drew inspiration from an oft-given reader suggestion—Dragon Wars!
Over the past few months, several dozen people have asked for me to evolve decks around one (or all) of the five Legendary Dragons from Planar Chaos
. The next few weeks seem to be the absolute best time to make this request into a reality! Each deck will center around one of the five Legendary Dragons, but with a few deck building restrictions:
Each Dragon has an activated ability—the color of that ability is the main color of that Dragon. For instance, Intet's ability requires blue mana to activate. This makes Intet the blue dragon. The only mono-colored cards I can use for a Dragon are those of its activated ability!
However, a mono-colored deck with a splash solely to play a Dragon would be extremely boring. Each Dragon is made of three colors—the activation color, and the enemy colors of the activated ability. Intent is blue, and the enemies of blue are green and red. While I won't use any mono-green or mono-red cards to build an Intet deck, I am free to use any multi-colored cards that have both the primary colors and one (or more) of the secondary colors! So, not only will the Intet deck feature mono-blue cards, but she will be the general for Izzet (blue-red) and Simic (blue-green) cards as well!
Artifacts and lands of any kind are fair game.
In addition, I want to keep these decks as focused on the Dragons—and their abilities—as possible. These are going to be theme decks. While I still want to build these decks to perform as well as they can, they are within the three constraints above, plus the realization that I want these decks to FEEL like they are about a huge, powerful Dragon and his army.
4 Intet, the Dreamer (0.5 Tickets Each)
Since this is an Intet deck, let's start it out with four copies of Intet. Intet's ability lets her essentially Mind's Desire for one card. Since Intet is already hitting for 6 damage a turn, its ability is going to need to turn up a higher mana-cost card (one that could swing the game) in order to be worthwhile.
3 Simic Sky Swallower (1.5 Tickets Each) & 3 Niv-Mizzet (1.5 Tickets Each)
Niv-Mizzet is another Dragon that falls under the colors of Intet's army, so in he goes! This is Dragon War! There's no time for slackers! In addition to Niv-Mizzet, Simic Sky Swallower is another huge flying creature that fits the Dragon motif. Let's see what kind of use we can put these towards.
2 Body Double (1 Ticket Each), 4 Compulsive Research (0.1 Tickets Each), 3 Careful Consideration (0.1 Tickets Each), & 4 Looter il-Kor (0.1 Tickets Each)
Blue has a lot of spells these days that involve drawing and discarding cards. While blue doesn't have the reanimation spells found in black (Beacon of Unrest, Vigor Mortis, Dread Return), it has the next-best thing in Body Double. Body Double lets you copy a creature in any graveyard, and it lets you get two of the same (non-Legendary) creature. If you Zombify a Simic Sky Swallower, there's no target left for your other Zombify in hand. Body Double does not have these issues.
The other spells here (Compulsive Research, Careful Consideration, and Looter il-Kor) are the workhorses of blue card drawing and filtering. They are at home in any blue deck, and especially so in one that doesn't mind pitching creatures to the bin. Also, hitting with Intet into a draw-three or draw-four spell isn't a bad call.
3 Confiscate (0.1 Tickets Each)
If Intet is racing alone against an opponent's board, Confiscate might be the one card that can save you. It's also a good, generic blue spell as a "catch-all" against anything that might be thrown against you. A perennial Building on a Budget favorite!
4 Coiling Oracle (0.1 Tickets Each), 4 Gruul Signet (0.1 Tickets Each), 4 Prismatic Lens (0.1 Tickets Each)
The mana acceleration for the deck, and the parts that make this deck work. Look, when your deck's win conditions start at six mana, you need to ramp up your speed, and fast. Having the redundancy of twelve two-drop accelerants ensures that you'll draw at least one a game, and sometimes two early on, especially when combined with the card drawing. This ties into:
12 Island (Free), 4 Terramorphic Expanse (0.25 Tickets Each), 1 Gruul Turf (0.1 Tickets Each), 1 Izzet Boilerworks (0.1 Tickets Each),1 Forest (Free), 1 Mountain (Free)
Total Deck Cost: 17 Tickets
Game 1: Waterdonkey (Mono-Red Suspend)
He gets double Epochrasite going, with a suspended Greater Gargadon and a Rift Elemental on the board. I get down Intet and Niv-Mizzet, and the last turn comes down to him either having a Rift Bolt or a Fury Charm (I had seen one of each). I choose to double-block his Gargadon with my guys, and he hits me down to 3 with his Epochrasites. Unfortunately, he has the Rift Bolt, and I die. If he had the Fury Charm, I would have won this game.
Game 2: Mahatmajond (Blue-White Rescue)
He gets an early start with Court Hussars and uses Dust Elemental to return them plus an Azorius First-Wing. I ramp up my mana with Signets and Prismatic Lens and Coiling Oracle, and Confiscate his guy on turn five. I then play Simic Sky Swallower, Body Double another Sky Swallower, and beat him senseless.
Game 3: Nevinyrral803 (Green-White Aggro)
I get a turn-four Niv-Mizzet and a turn-five Intet. He gets Scryb Ranger on turn two, and puts Griffin Guide on it turn three. Temporal Isolation takes care of my Niv-Mizzet, and my Intet just stares blankly at his Ranger as I die. I also draw triple Intet this game.
Game 4: Craigvh (Four-Color Slivers)
He drops a Sidewinder and Virulent Sliver
. I drop a second-turn Coiling Oracle
, which accelerates me into a bounce land, and then drop a third-turn Careful Consideration
into a fourth turn Body Double
for Simic Sky Swallower
. I get another Simic Sky Swallower
two turns later, and they win it for me.
Game 5: BigLandoz (Mono-Red Goblinstorm)
He plays Goblin King, then Seething Song / Rite of Flame into a large Empty the Warrens, with a Greater Gargadon looming. I get stuck at three mana, have to waste a turn dropping Prismatic Lenses, and can't Body Double for a Niv-Mizzet to stabilize.
So far, all of my losses have been to creatures I either couldn't target, or that were too numerous to take out. Given the card pool available, I decide to give Evacuation a whirl. Against all three opponents I lost to, Evacuation would have turned the game around—those 2/2 goblin tokens would have vanished for good, I could have gotten rid of the Epochrasites and Gargadon in Game 1, and I might have slowed down the beatings from the Scryb Ranger in Game 3 (a 1/1 flyer is a lot easier to navigate around than a 3/3 flyer!).
I also really like being able to reanimate my guys with Body Double, so I add a third one to the deck. In exchange, I take out a couple of Confiscates (everyone is playing Greater Gargadon today!), a Niv-Mizzet, and one Signet.
Out: 2 Confiscate, 1 Niv-Mizzet, 1 Gruul Signet
In: 1 Body Double, 3 Evacuation,
Game 6: ThatDavidDude (Blue-Red Izzet)
A timely Evacuation takes out his board of Thick-Skinned Goblin, Gelectrode and Hunted Phantasm, allowing me to Body Double Intet (which is Blazed) and then drop another Intet (hardcast) and Niv-Mizzet in the following turn. He concedes.
Game 7: xXFokaiXx (Black-Red something)
He gets stuck at three mana, a Steam Vents and two Molten Slagheaps. This is not good for him, as I get double Lens / single Gruul Signet on the draw, and drop a fourth-turn Simic Sky Swallower (Mana Leaked) and a fifth-turn Coiling Oracle (Spell Snared) followed by an Intet (which lands). He concedes.
Game 8: Ulrikk (Mono-Green Aggro)
He gets early Elves and a Herd Gnarr, and I throw Coiling Oracles in front of guys who get hit by Strength in Numbers. I Confiscate his Gnarr, and then start dropping Simic Sky Swallower and Intet. He runs out of gas, and my 6/6 flyers take over.
Game 9: JRamey (Blue-Red Storm)
He hits me with Ignite Memories for four, which does 8 damage (Land, double Looter il-Kor, Careful Consideration). That's pretty much his entire offense, as I drop double Coiling Oracle, discard double Simic Sky Swallower to the graveyard with Careful Consideration, and then Body Double one of my 6/6 shroud trample flyers for the win.
Game 10: mpbjab (White-Green Aggro)
He gets double Watchwolf, and I drop a fifth-turn Body Doubled Intet. I come a turn away from racing him, but I need Evacuation to win this one, and it doesn't come up after two Coiling Oracle hits, two Looter il-Kor hits, double Intet, Compulsive Research, and two normal draw phases.
The deck is doing better, but I've had multiple games where I've drawn multiple Intets, and they have been clogging up my hand. Plus, I haven't really had a need to use Intet's ability. I don't want to cut all the Intets from the deck, but three copies seems plenty—especially given the triple Body Doubles I have now.
In place of the Intet, I add back in a Niv-Mizzet (to give myself three), and put in a singleton of Tidespout Tyrant. I want a bounce spell in the deck, and the Tyrant's ability works perfectly to fill this slot, especially if I get an early Body Double.
Out: 1 Coiling Oracle, 1 Intet, the Dreamer
In: 1 Tidespout Tyrant, 1 Niv-Mizzet
Game 11: LostSymphonies (Mono-Green Aggro)
I get run over by Elves, Nantuko Shaman, and Mwonvuli Acid-Moss. He finishes me off with Aurochs Herd just as I'm about to stabilize.
Game 12: Anciru (Mono-Blue Urzatron)
He counters my first couple of guys, but I drop (in succession) Niv-Mizzet, Simic Sky Swallower, Simic Sky Swallower, Tidespout Tyrant, and then land double Body Double on Tidespout Tyrant. That, as they say, is that.
Game 13: MindShock (Four-Color Green)
He plays Llanowar Elves
and an early Hunted Wumpus
. The only creatures in my hand are a Body Double
and a Coiling Oracle
(which I put into play), but I have double Looter il-Kor
on the table and an Evacuation
in hand. Two turns later my hand is filled with monsters. I Evacuate, he plays Wumpus again, and I drop Tidespout Tyrant
to the board, follow it with double Looter il-Kor
to bounce his guys, and then drop Simic Sky Swallower
. He dies.
Game 14: DavidSTvz (Blue-White Aggro)
He gets a couple of early 2/2 guys, but I stop them with Niv-Mizzet plus double Looter il-Kor
. Niv-Mizzet dies to Vengeance
, and Intet is neutered by Pacifism
. He uses Jester's Cap
to take out three of my dragons, but I get another Niv-Mizzet with Body Double
back-up and win.
Game 15: JoeRetro23 (R/W/U Angels)
He gets Rift Bolt, Remand, Lightning Angel, Akroma, Angel of Fury, bounce lands, and I take my first mulligan into a six-land hand. All of this adds up to a quick loss.
So the first volley is shot in the Dragon War, and I've learned that Body Double is the MVP of any blue deck that pitches cards into the graveyard and plays big monsters. See you in seven days, when Numot and the armies of Izzet and Boros take center stage!