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 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).


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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  1. Grim Lavamancer

     /  June 30, 2016

    Thank you for an other splendid Deck Spotlight! For some reason I keep reading your interview questions in a really posh British accent.

    Liked by 1 person


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