Deck Spotlight: Grim Lavamancer’s Dragonlord Atarka!

atarka bannerToday, we present to you another part of my interview series where I talk to people I play with about their decks. This time, I’ve dragonlord atarkabeen speaking to Grim Lavamancer about his Dragonlord Atarka deck. The interview turned out to be quite long, but it’s well worth the read. In case you haven’t been paying attention (shame!), Grim Lavamancers starting his Atarka project was what inspired me to build my Dragonlord Ojutai deck.

Atarka has also been mentioned before, most prominently in this post, where Grim Lavamancer presents his custom-made Atarka mat, which he drew himself – and which turned out really well, if you ask me.

The list can be found here, on TappedOut.net: I have eated all the dinner.

And without further ado, I present to you the chat I had with Grim Lavamancer about his awesome deck! Enjoy!


Tell us about your deck. What does it do?
This deck, much like Dragolord Atarka herself, is all about getting the most out of life. You see, Atarka doesn’t believe in half measures, she believes in living life to the fullest. You want a cigar? Smoke a Cuban. Fancy a drink? Make it a double! That moron over there annoying you? Smash his face in with 1500 kilo* worth of dragon.

 

It’s all about having a good time, and to me (I’ve told you before that I’m an unapologetic Timmy) that means ramping it up with one green acceleration spell after another, dropping a couple of dragons on the table and sing a jaunty tune over my enemies screams for mercy. At first glance it may just seem like an average R/G aggro deck with a sub par commander, but there are a few surprises down the line – Sneak Attack is probably the biggest one, which I’ll tell you more about in a minute.

 

* That’s 2175 pounds to our American readers.

 

How does it do it?
How? Well… Claws, fangs? That sort of thing. A fiery breath probably helps as well. As for the jaunty tune I’d suggest “The 59th Street Bridge Song” by Simon & Garfunkel or The Partridge Family theme song (C’mon get happy).

 

Uhh…
What’s that? Oh, you meant how the deck plays? Alright. As I said earlier, ramp spells are very important to this deck. Most of theexploration creatures that don’t add early game value are rather expensive, quite a few of the heavy hitting dragons costs six or seven mana (including the commander herself) and you won’t accomplish much without them, so you need to get a respectable amount of lands on the table as soon as possible. Cards like Skyshroud Claim and Ranger’s Path gets you two at a time from your library (and lets you search for a dual land like Taiga or Stomping Ground) while cards like Exploration and Oracle of Mul Daya allows you to drop the lands on your hand at a faster rate.

 

I was originally a bit worried that the deck was going to run out of juice after the first few ramp spells and a dragon or two, though cards like Outpost Siege, Sylvan Library, and Harmonize helps me work around that, but it turns out that the Dragonlord herself is just so full of value (and other things, like sausages, ribs, hamburgers, stake, bear, beer, chili nuts, chips, and so on) that you’re still in the game even with an empty hand. I really cannot overstate the usefulness of her enters the battlefield trigger enough, it’s a real life saver!

 

xenagos god of revelsI agree, it’s burned my team to a crisp on more than a dozen occasions. But, go on…
Haste enablers are very important in EDH, it’s not unusual for there to be four enemy turns between dropping a creature without haste and getting to use it, and much can happen during four turns! Ogre Battledriver and Xenagos, God of Revels are your best friends here, not only adding haste to your dragons but giving them a significant boost as well. Surrak, the Hunt Caller could probably have been replaced with something with a little more staying power, but it would hardly be a Dragonlord Atarka deck without her trusty little sidekick, would it?

 

Anyway, once you’ve got yourself a pile of lands, a haste enabler or two, and a couple of fatties on the battlefield you just pick whatever opponent that annoys you the most and do your thing. Barbecue sauce is optional but recommended.

 

Why did you build this deck?
After playing a fair number of games with my Mizzix deck I wanted something more aggressive to play with, so I decided to return to my roots and construct myself a fierce red and green deck. I’ve always liked dragons (a few years ago I tried my luck with Zirilan of the Claw, but it ended up playing almost every game in the exact same way) and wanted to include quite a few of them without relying too much on a tribal theme. After some consideration I decided to go with Dragonlord Atarka. Fitting, since I scraped my Surrak, Dragonclaw deck in order to build it. Thus mirroring the Khan’s of Tarkir story.

 

Hah, that’s neat! But I have to ask anyway – did you consider any of the other Gruul commanders?Atarka, World Render
As a matter of fact, I did. My first idea was to use Xenagos, God of Revels as commander, but even in the earliest concept stages it seemed way more powerful than I’d be comfortable with. I decided to go with Dragonlord Atarka instead, since I really like the card (Khan’s of Tarkir is my favorite block in a very long time) and because the game is Elder Dragon Highlander, so it feels right to play with an actual Elder Dragon. A strong case could probably be made in favor of Atarka, World Render instead of her Dragonlord version, but I didn’t want to go too far down the Voltron road, so I somewhat ironically went for the larger of the two. I actually ended up so excited about building the deck that I made a customized playmat for the deck.

 

What are the best cards in the deck?
Xenagos, God of Revels is probably the best card in terms of raw power. He turns pretty much every single creature in the deck into a complete killing machine. He’s especially go(o)d at it since most creatures in the deck has flying.

 

What are your favourite cards in the deck?
A word of warning: anyone who doesn’t want to read about me gushing all over Sneak Attack can skip to the next question.

 

It’s Sneak Attack! Aww, man, words cannot express how much I love that card! I used to run it in a vintage deck back when Scourge had just hit the shelves along with Dragon Tyrant (who’s also included in this deck for nostalgic reasons). There’s just something about the card that really speaks to me. I’m actually a bit surprised that I don’t see it in more EDH decks, it interacts really well with enters the battlefield creatures, and allows for some unconventional blocking strategies as well, a sneak attacked Solemn Simulacrum is a surprisingly decent chump blocker and dropping an Acidic Slime during your blocking phase is just gravy.

 

Yeah, I remember you playing that Vintage deck. It didn’t win the most games, perhaps, but you always had a bunch of people lining up around your table to watch the spectacle. Great times…
I like Sneak Attack so much that I ended up constructing a small sub theme around it, with cards like the aforementioned Dragon Tyrant, Berserk, Genesis and the like. I haven’t had the chance to play it a lot yet, but every game I’ve dropped the sleeping dragon it has had a major impact on the game.

 

Any changes you’re looking to make?dragon broodmother
A few, here and there. The deck is still rather new, so I make a few changes as I go along. There are a couple of Dragons that I’d like to get my hands on, especially Dragon Broodmother who would outperform a lot my current creatures. A Pathbreaker Ibex would be nice as well. The mana base is really solid, but I’ll probably buy a Fire-Lit Thicket sooner or later and make it airtight (that is until Price of Progress makes a long dreaded return to our local meta game).

 

Finally, tell us your best war story!
There was the time when I played Berserk on a Sneak Attacked Dragon Tyrant and ended up completely obliterating one of my opponents, but I’ve already told that story. There’s also the time the other day when I and two opponents each had a Xenagos, God of Revels on the table in a true Mexican Standoff, but I believe there’s already a twitter post that shows that. So I’m going to spend the reminder of this interview cracking a few Atarka jokes:

 

Why did Atarka cross the road? To eat the mammoth on the other side!

 

Hah, classic!

 

Two Dragons are eating a clown, when one dragon says to the other, “Does this taste funny to you?”

 

Yeah, but that joke’s a complete rip-off…

 

What did Atarka said when she ate a Blueray disc? “I think the book was better!”

 

 

So, Atarka and Surrak went into a bar when…

 

Hello? Where did you go? Hello? Come back, I can change! I promise!
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The Hipster factor

prossh banner

 

“What is that game you’re playing?”

I think a lot of us have been asked that question at some point when playing Magic at a cafeteria table in school, by the kitchen table around nosy siblings, or in a local gaming store not dedicated to cardboard slinging specifically. Ponder a proper answer to that question for just a second.

Done?

I’m going to guess that you will try and explain that the game is a sort-of mix between chess and poker, with a fantasy flavour stapled on to it. If the person you’re talking to is invested in gaming you might use terms like “trading card game”. Most of the time, I find myself explaining to people that “you take these cards, there are many thousands of them, and you build a deck for yourself and you play against other people who have built decks.”

Usually, there is no point going deeper into the topics of metagaming, archetypes, net decking etc. – to the person you’re explaining the game to, you’re a deckbuilder, and you play against other deckbuilders. Never mind the fact that most of us will never T8 a grand prix with a rogue brew of our own, or make a mark on the Standard metagame with some new tech. Innovation is most of the time for the pros, unfortunately, when it comes to most formats.

zurtheenchanterThe exception is EDH. In EDH, building something for yourself is almost the norm. You select the commander you would like to build a deck around, and even though you technically can net deck an EDH list it might be unwise. Every play group is its own metagame, and a deck that is too powerful or percieved as too powerful might construct a new downside to the player – the others around the table will bully you out. Even though your net decked Zur list is awesome, the others will catch on as soon as you reveal it, and kick you out of the game Archenemy style. This fact seems to frustrate most tournament-calibre spikes that dip their toes into the water.

Innovation, thus, is sometimes key to being able to play politically. On top of that, EDH seems to be one of those formats that people play specifically to discover new cards.


I’m relating this to one of my more recent decks. I was looking to play some more red, since I wasn’t playing red at all for a while, and I settled on re-building my Meren deck after a while and make her Jund. I’ve been wanting to rebuild her since I noticed she was the most popular Golgari general on EDHREC.com – playing her lost me a lot of Hipster points. I’m not trying to say that innovation is quantifiable, but I believe most people will agree that it’s boring to sit down at a table and see the same general in every game played against you. I wanted to build Adun Oakenshield, but he is expensive and hard to come by, so that project is slated for late 2020 instead.

prosshskyraiderofkherAfter going over the other Jund options, I found that most were either too weak, too similar to Meren (like Shattergang Brothers or Kresh the Bloodbraided for example – both being prime examples of “sac for value” type generals), I decided to just say “screw it” and go with Prossh, Skyraider of Kher.

This might make me a hypocrite, on paper, since Prossh is by far the most popular Jund commander, but I regained a few Hipster points just last weekend when I decided to cut all of the “sac for value” cards and go balls-to-the-wall aggro with Prossh. I’m not pretending to innovate on Prossh as a general, but I do play some unusual cards – like Berserk, Diligent Farmhand, or Inferno Titan. A link, to my deck: Prossh it to the limit, on TappedOut.net.

What’s imporant to me is that the deck feels like my own, even if the general is hugely popular. It boils down to some sort of Rifleman’s Creed thing – this is my deck, there are many like it but this one is mine.

That, and all the Hipster points I make from Wydwen and Ojutai must be invested somewhere. I deserve to sometimes just bust out Prossh and destroy my opponents with enough force to leave only a pair of smoking boots behind. To quote XKCD’s “What if?” blog: in a way, they don’t die, they just stop being biology and start being physics.


What do you think? How important is creativity and innovation to you when it comes to Magic or EDH? Leave a comment!

Unboxing a display of Fate Reforged. Ugin?

moment with pm

The title pretty much says it all, and the Video will show it all so I will just shut up now!

Here is the Video:

 

Over and Out!