Building_on_a_Budget

The Dragon War continues with a deck centered around Numot.

Dragon War: Numot, the Devastator!

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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
The letter H!ello everyone, and welcome back to Building on a Budget! We're moving to the second week of the Dragon War! This week's featured dragon? Numot, the Devastator. Before I start building my Numot deck, let me address a couple of concerns from last week's article.

First of all, some people are concerned that the Intet deck didn't feature much of Intet's activated ability. Guys, let's be realistic here—if you're smashing your opponent in the face with a 6/6 flying monster, activated abilities aren't going to do much to swing the game (especially if they are giving you one free card for three mana). If you're connecting with that Dragon, chances are you're going to win the game on the back of a 6/6 creature, not on that creature's ability.

This will likely continue to be the case for all five Dragon decks—for instance, Numot's ability will be relevant as a classic "win-more" ability. A classic "win-more" ability is one that lets you win more while you are already in a winning position. There are some dragons that give you an opportunity to come back from behind (Oros, the Avenger, for instance, can take out an entire weenie horde). Numot, if he is hitting an opponent, will be adding insult to injury—your opponent probably already can't kill him with the mana on the table, so taking out two lands will only make you "win more."

This won't always be the case, but it will be the most more times than not. With this said, why even bother building decks around the five Dragon Legends from Planar Chaos? Why not just build decks with any random large creature, such as Simic Sky Swallower or Denizen of the Deep?

First, these five dragons in particular make for an interesting deck building challenge. Each is two colors centered against their common foe color—Numot, the red-activated Dragon, has red in its mana cost flanked by blue and white. This leads to the three rules of Dragon Wars! deck construction:

  1. Each Dragon has an activated ability—the color of that ability is the main color of that Dragon. For instance, Numot's ability requires red mana to activate. This makes Numot the red Dragon. The only mono-colored cards I can use for a Dragon are those of its activated ability!

  2. 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. Numot is red, and the enemies of red are white and blue. While I won't use any mono-white or mono-blue cards to build a Numot deck, I am free to use any multicolored cards that have both the primary colors and one (or more) of the secondary colors! So the Numot deck will have mono-red cards, bed-blue cards (Izzet) and red-white cards (Boros).

  3. Artifacts and lands of any kind are fair game.

The second reason to build around these five Dragons is that they are both popular and cheap. Most run at half-a-ticket each on Magic Online, and all deck building for Building on a Budget is done using Magic Online. It is entirely feasible to start a deck with four copies of any given Dragon Legend, and have plenty of room to add other cool rares, commons and uncommons to the mix.

Third, I ran this poll a few weeks back:

CHOOSE!
I CHOOSE ALL OF THEM! DRAGON WARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! 4902 53.6%
Intet, the Dreamer! 1177 12.9%
Numot, the Devastator! 1084 11.9%
Teneb, the Harvester! 1054 11.5%
Oros, the Avenger! 474 5.2%
Vorosh, the Hunter! 453 5.0%
Total 9144 100.0%

You can't have a Dragon War unless you have an army of Dragons to pit against one another...

But that's all I'm saying about that for now.

Numot is the most played of the Planar Chaos Legendary Dragons in Standard tournaments. It is the finisher for some versions of Star Spangled Slaughter—a red-white-blue deck centered around Lightning Angel, Remand, Lightning Helix, and Court Hussar. One way to build a Numot deck would be to focus on the same basics of that deck, and have a lot of good burn, control(ish) spells, and a couple of large creatures for the win.

There's another route to take with a Numot deck—the one of land destruction. Land destruction is probably the most taboo of deck types for casual play. Destroying your opponent's lands keeps them from being able to play their spells, which makes for a frustrating, one-sided play experience. Against many casual decks (which don't feature a particularly tight mana curve), this can be frustrating to the point of making a person want to throw their keyboard across the room. It is first, ahead of hand destruction, counterspell-heavy decks, or tournament-level combo decks.

Seriously, people hate land destruction.

Therefore, I'm not going to go that route. For the sake of argument, I'll note that the current Numot-deck-construction-legal land destruction spells available in Standard are Avalanche Riders, Boom // Bust, Cryoclasm, Demolish, Detritivore, Ghost Quarter, Icefall, Plunder, Seismic Spike, and Volcanic Awakening.

A third option for the Numot deck is a deck based around the Dragonstorm engine. Typically, Dragonstorm decks ran Seething Song, Rite of Flame, and Lotus Bloom in an attempt to power out a quick Dragonstorm with a 4+ storm count. These would typically get a quartet of Bogardan Hellkite, with some additional support from Hunted Dragon or Tarox Bladewing for a one-turn kill.

Red is the primary color of Dragons, and there are a lot of red Dragons available for use in Standard right now. These include the following creatures in red's air force:

Bogardan Hellkite – 2 Tickets
Dragon Roost – 0.5 Tickets
Dragon Whelp – 0.25 Tickets
Furnace Whelp – 0.1 Tickets
Hunted Dragon – 0.33 Tickets
Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind – 1 Ticket (price down from last week)
Numot, the Devastator – 0.5 Tickets
Pardic Dragon – 0.25 Tickets
Rakdos Pit Dragon – 0.5 Tickets
Rimescale Dragon – 0.5 Tickets
Scourge of Kher Ridges – 0.5 Tickets
Shivan Dragon – 0.5 Tickets
Shivan Hellkite – 2 Tickets
Tarox Bladewing – 1 Ticket

Here are the costs of some other cards I considered for this week's deck:

Dragonstorm – 1 Ticket
Grinning Ignus – 0.1 Tickets
Incinerate – 0.75 Tickets
Lightning Helix – 0.5 Tickets
Lotus Bloom – 2 Tickets
Pyroclasm – 0.5 Tickets
Rite of Flame – 0.25 Tickets
Azorius Chancery – 0.1 Tickets
Azorius Signet – 0.1 Tickets
Boreal Shelf – 0.5 Tickets
Boros Garrison – 0.1 Tickets
Boros Signet – 0.1 Tickets
Calciform Pools – 0.1 Tickets
Chromatic Star – 0.1 Tickets
Icy Manipulator – 0.25 Tickets
Izzet Boilerworks – 0.1 Tickets
Izzet Signet – 0.1 Tickets
Mind Stone – 0.5 Tickets
Prismatic Lens – 0.1 Tickets
Terramorphic Expanse – 0.25 Tickets
Terrarion – 0.1 Tickets

Now let's say we wanted to build a budget Dragonstorm deck, except that instead of necessarily needing a quick Dragonstorm for the win, we could use Rite of Flame or Grinning Ignus or Lotus Bloom to power out one (or more) of several Dragons? Let's say that we started the deck with a base of 4 Grinning Ignus, 4 Lotus Bloom, and 4 Rite of Flame.

In: 4 Lotus Bloom (8), 4 Grinning Ignus (0.4), 4 Rite of Flame (1) = 9.4 Tickets

We'd also want one copy of each of the Numot-deck legal dragons, plus three additional copies of Numot himself.

In: 1 Bogardan Hellkite (2), 1 Dragon Roost (0.5), 1 Dragon Whelp (0.25), 1 Furnace Whelp (0.1), 1 Hunted Dragon (0.33), 1 Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind (1), 4 Numot, the Devastator (2), 1 Pardic Dragon (0.25), 1 Rakdos Pit Dragon (0.25), 1 Rimescale Dragon (0.5), 1 Scourge of Kher Ridges (0.5), 1 Shivan Dragon (0.5), 1 Shivan Hellkite (2), 1 Tarox Bladewing (1) = 11.18 Tickets

And since this is a Dragonstorm deck, we need four Dragonstorms:

In: 4 Dragonstorm (4) = 4 Tickets

This leaves us at 33 cards and only 24.58 tickets in budget! In order to make this deck click, I want to leave a lot of room available for the mana base. The only non-mono-red, non-colorless cards in this deck are four Numot and one Niv-Mizzet. Because these are the only five cards (four and one) I need to account for, the mana base need only support a little bit of a splash. Chromatic Star will go a long way to helping with these – I can both up my storm count and fix my mana in this deck with the Star.

In: 4 Chromatic Star (0.4) = 0.4 Tickets (24.98)

This leaves 23 slots open for lands and acceleration. Two copies of Calciform Pools will let this deck ramp up mana for a Dragonstorm, while providing a quick boost of both white and blue mana for Numot and Niv-Mizzet.

In: 2 Calciform Pools (0.2) = 0.2 Tickets (25.18)

I also want a single Boreal Shelf as a white-blue mana fixer, and in case I get Rimescale Dragon into play. A single Izzet Boilerworks, a single Boros Garrison, and a single Azorius Chancery also help with the off-color mana fixing.

In: 1 Boreal Shelf (0.5), 1 Izzet Boilerworks (0.1), 1 Boros Garrison (0.1), 1 Azorius Chancery (0.1) = 0.7 Tickets. (25.98)

For acceleration, I'll add in 4 Mind Stone. While Prismatic Lens might let me fix the off-color mana for my deck in a pinch, my deck is pretty land heavy—having an artifact that can turn into a card in a pinch is more valuable then the off-chance to produce a white or blue mana for just one of five cards in this deck.

In: 4 Mind Stone (2) = 2 Tickets (27.98)

Let's start with the last fourteen cards in the deck as Mountains, and see if we can afford to diversity the mana base a bit more as the deck gets played.

In: 14 Mountain (Free) = 27.98 Total Cost

Game 1: DreamerJake (Blue-Black Control)

He gets double Gauntlet of Might and uses double Mystical Teachings to get Terror, Terror, and Tendrils of Corruption to take out Numot, Shivan Dragon and Furnace Whelp. I also lose a second Numot to Consume Spirit. In the end, I get killed by Triskelion, with no creatures left to drop onto the board.

Record: 0-1

Game 2: BKermit (Green-White-Black Control)

I get stuck at eight mana (with double Rite of Flame) and four Dragonstorms in hand! He gets Yavimaya Dryad and Loxodon Hierarch, and begins to beat me down. I play Scourge of Kher Ridges when at 6 life, and he plays Faith's Fetters to finish me off. I was also stuck with double Numot in my hand, and only a single source (the Boreal Shelf) of white or blue mana.

Record: 0-2

Game 3: litman4308 (Thallids)

I get a third-turn Rakdos Pit Dragon, follow it with a fourth-turn Grinning Ignus, and power that into a fifth turn Shivan Dragon. He gets Pallid Mycoderm and a morph and gets knocked down quickly to 5. I take a hit from the morph once, and he flips it up to be Thelonite Hermit. This gives him four 2/2 creatures, plus a 2/4 Mycoderm. On his turn, he untaps, attacks with everything, makes a Saproling with Vitu-Ghazi, and then sacrifices two Saprolings to make the remaining three into 4/4 monsters, with the Mycoderm itself now a 4/6 beast. His five attacking creatures do 17 damage to me, and I survive at a precarious 1 life. This is enough, as my flyers come in for lethal the following turn.

Record: 1-2

Game 4: Suff (B/W Orzhov)

He gets down Teysa, Orzhov Scion, which deals with my Niv-Mizzet. From there, he drops Undertaker and can remove anything I cast. I get stuck at seven mana (with a Rite of Flame and a Calciform Pools) and can't get off my Dragonstorm.

Record: 1-3

So far, the unanimous decision is that my deck is running short on lands. In order to add even more mana sources to the deck, I take out a Numot, a Grinning Ignus and a Dragonstorm, and add in three more Azorius Chancery. This will add three more bounce lands to the deck and help fix my white-blue color problems, as I've been stuck with Numot in my hand (and no way to play him) three games so far.

Out: 1 Numot, the Devastator, 1 Dragonstorm, 1 Grinning Ignus
In: 3 Azorius Chancery (26.68 total cost)

Game 5: Life_Less (Mono-Black Aggro)

He gets Dauthi Slayer, Dauthi Slayer and Nether Traitor. I get out a sixth-turn Numot thanks to the mana fixing of Azorius Chancery. He gets Augur of Skulls and takes out two cards from my hand. I take out his only two lands, and then Dragonstorm for two—Bogardan Hellkite (to take out his entire army) and Scourge of Kher Ridges (to keep them out). He concedes.

Record: 2-3

Game 6: cell9 (Rakdos)

I get double Lotus Bloom into Dragonstorm for four (thanks to Rite of Flame) on turn four, and he concedes. I actually drew Dragonstorm on that fourth turn, otherwise the turn would have been Numot/Dragon Whelp.

Record: 3-3

Game 7: argeeduke (Mono-Green)

I misclick, sacrificing Lotus Bloom after my attack, but still in my combat step. This makes me mana burn for two and leaves me unable to play Dragonstorm for two to win the game. He plays Squall Line for six on his turn, killing Numot, Shivan Dragon and Bogardan Hellkite. If I hadn't misclicked, I would have easily have won this game.

Record: 3-4

It's not often I have a non-undoable misclick, but man is it frustrating when it happens.

Out: 1 Hunted Dragon
In: 1 Bogardan Hellkite (28.35 total cost)


Game 8: Nihonnodom (Green-Red Haste)

He gets down Llanowar Elves, followed by Primal Forcemage and Skyshroud Ranger. I throw Grinning Ignus and Rakdos Pit Dragon in front of him attacking with all three, and he trades Giant Growth for my creatures each time. This buys me enough time to drop Niv-Mizzet, with a Chromatic Star on the board for insurance. I ping off both of his Elves, and sure enough he tries to drop Groundbreaker. After his 6/1 haste creature comes into play, but before the +3/+3 trigger from the Primal Forcemage resolves, I pop the Star to ping his guy, and then I put a counter on my Calciform Pools with the spare mana. I then drop Shivan Dragon, pump him to 10/5, and finish Nihonnodom off in one large attack.

Record: 4-4

Game 9: SHULDINER (Green-White-Black Control)

He gets Faith's Fetters on my Grinning Ignus, which stops me from activating it in Magic Online (more on this at the end of the match). He also locks down Pardic Dragon with another Fetters, and Shivan Dragon with a Pillory of the Sleepless. He gets Scourge of Kher Ridges from my hand with a Castigate, and I land a Bogardan Hellkite, only to see it stopped by Temporal Isolation. I trade Tarox Bladewing for his Serra Angel, but then face another Serra Angel, an Urza's Factory, and the Pillory.

With things looking grim, I drop Dragon Roost, and then get off a Dragonstorm for two—one for Shivan Hellkite, and the other for Bogardan Hellkite #2, which kills his second Serra Angel. At 1 life, I use Shivan Hellkite to kill my own Shivan Dragon (and his Pillory), though he takes down my Hellkite with Putrefy the following turn. I then get another Dragonstorm for two, fetching Numot, the Devastator and Rimescale Dragon. He plays and uses Necrotic Sliver to get rid of Numot before I can get rid of his Factory, but my horde of 5/5 Dragons (growing every turn) combined with Rimescale Dragon overwhelms him, as I come back from a 28-1 life deficit to win.

Record: 5-4

Now, about the Ignus / Faith's Fetters play. According to what I've read, Grinning Ignus's ability is a mana ability. Therefore, Faith's Fetters should not have been able to keep me from activating him (and returning him to my hand) to generate 2 ManaRed Mana. However, I could be mistaken, and this was not a bug, and Faith's Fetters actually can stop Grinning Ignus's activated ability.

 Rules Note  

This is in fact a bug. From the Future Sight FAQ:

Although Grinning Ignus's ability has a timing restriction, it's still a mana ability. It doesn't use the stack and it can't be responded to.

I've reported this issue to Michael "elf" Feuell and his team, so hopefully it will be fixed soon. Good catch, Ben!
–Kelly Digges, Editor

Game 10: awesomerandomdude (Blue-Red Storm)

He gets a first-turn Storm Entity for five on the back of triple Ornithopter and a Rite of Flame. I take three hits and chump block with a Grinning Ignus, and then drop Niv-Mizzet and Furnace Whelp. He trades his 5/5 for my Niv-Mizzet, and I get Shivan Dragon and Numot to press the offense. He chumps with his Ornithopters for a couple of turns, and I finally hit him down to four lands. He returns a Grinning Ignus of his own, recasts it, returns it, and hits me with Ignite Memories for two. I reveal Dragonstorm as my first card and die the turn before I win.

Record: 5-5

All in all, I was pretty happy with the way the deck performed. My early losses were mainly to a slight lack of mana (who'd have thought that in a deck with 31 sources of mana?), and it improved considerably after the Azorius Chancerys were added to my deck. I am definitely looking forward to seeing how Numot performs in the upcoming Dragon War!

Next week: Teneb, the Harvester!

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