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!

Check out my other stuff! (shameless plug)

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I know I’ve been horrible at updating this month and I wanted to elaborate on the reason for that, since it’s at least two-fold. I want to be clear that writing is a passion to me, and I write because I want to, not really for anybody else. I feel no obligation to the readers of this blog, although I think you guys are awesome for reading, commenting and spreading my stuff.

As has been customary for me since quitting my old job with the Student Union, I have been changing work places every six months. This holds true for the third time in a row, and I’m currently at a new job, in a new position, with lots of work to do. As such, my time is fairly limited as it stands.

Secondly, I have been writing for another online outlet: X1sverige. If you happen to be a Swede like I, you can find my stuff under my tag, Robin Kaas. Currently, there are only a couple of texts up, but my aim is to write a piece a week or so.

This is not a closing post of this blog, nor do I have any plans to discontinue either playing or writing about Magic, but it is a little explanation to the lack of posts in February this year – I am working on a new piece for this blog side-by-side with this, so there you go. Usually, I hate it when I find blogs with only posts about why they don’t post more – so I guess I’m both lazy and a hypocrite.

Shadows over Innistrad

Holy shit. 

More braggning

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The forest banner has nothing to do with the post, but I think it’s beautiful.

I’ve already Tweeted and Facebooked about this, but in case someone missed it – here it goes again. I got married yesterday to the girl of my dreams, and she proved it again this morning. We exchanged wedding gifts with each other; I gave her a fancy bag she really wanted, and she gave me a nice watch. I was happy and content with the watch, but she wasn’t done. She handed me a piece of cardboard wrapped in cloth, and taped onto the cardboard, in a sleeve, was this:

cryptApparently, our very own friendly neighborhood Grim Lavamancer, famous among other things for writing and drawing our webcomic Mana Burn, and also being part of the wedding procession, had helped my wife with procuring the gift.

It’s easily EX+, maybe even NM-, one of the finest Mana Crypts I’ve laid eyes on, maybe the best looking Mana Crypt I’ve seen signed. For obvious reasons, it’s the most important Mana Crypt in the world to me.

GoyfWars is now officially one year old!

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Again, with the creepy banner. Since the blog is turning a year, I’ve taken the time to reflect upon this year’s experiences with Magic as a whole and this blog. Stay tuned for more content.

I didn’t imagine I would last a full year of blogging about nothing but Magic, but thanks to some encouraging words from readers and having lots of fun with this project, we’ve now officially made it a full year of GoyfWars goodness.

To be honest, I blogged a lot more in the beginning, and a lot less after New Year’s. The reason for this is that I changed work on January 1st, to something that took much more time and energy from me than I expected, and there was less of that to devote to Magic in general and this blog in particular. As of yesterday, I have started a new job again, with again a bit less time and energy expected to be devoted to Magic in the future, but the blog will still live on I’m aiming at about a post every third day or so. If the other contributors draw or record, that will obviously be posted as well.

In a perfect world, I would devote less time to my day job, and more time writing in general, not only about Magic.

In a perfect world, I would play a lot more Magic.

The world isn’t perfect yet however, though it could well be. I’m getting married in less than a month and most of my free time is spent preparing for the wedding (which will be epic, and even have a Magic nuance). My future wife doesn’t play, but has expressed an interest in the hobby and sharing it with me, and I’m looking at building a couple of Portal-esque decks with lands, creatures and sorceries to teach her. Aside that, I’ve moved back home, closer to the old stomping ground and the old gang – and as such I play less competitive Magic and more EDH – which also reflects upon the content of the blog.

I don’t think it’s any worse off though.

Finally, before I get sentimental, I’d like to humbly thank my co-contributors, Grim Lavamancer and psykopatmullvad for their contributions to the blog. I’d also like to thank all of our readers for devoting their time to reading this blog, and I’d especially like to thank the minority who takes the time to jot down a comment or two. It means a lot.


Here’s to another year of GoyfWars!

Merry Christmas from GoyfWars!


I was planning to get a banner of Infernal Spawn of Infernal Spawn of Evil but time makes fools of us all.

Merry Christmas from us at GoyfWars. When this post goes live, I’ll still be sound asleep in my bed on christmas day, and I will hopefully do much of just that over the holidays. Over the next couple of days, we’ll be featuring another issue of Mana Burn by Grim Lavamancer, as well as some shorter stuff from PurgAtog. The rest of the time we’ll devote to eating and drinking ourselves silly with our loved ones. There might be some EDH as well, we’ll see.

Please note that the lads writing this blog is from Sweden, where saying “Merry Christmas” still isn’t considered to be politically incorrect. No flames, please.

The World Magic Cup is on!

Nicke Bolle pw banner

The World Magic Cup is on, and all the action can be followed on

Meanwhile, I must’ve jinxed Reid Duke, because he bombed pretty hard in the World Championships. Top 4 after all was said and done are Yuuya Watanabe, Patrick Chapin, Kentaro Yamamoto and last year’s champion Shahar Shenhar. Jinxing aside, my money is on Chapin to take it all on Sunday, but only time will tell.

As of the time of writing, Team Sweden has beaten Ireland in their first round of Team Sealed. Go Sweden!

New Contributor!

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I’m happy to announce that we have a new contributor to the site as of today. “silferdrake” is joining the fray and will contribute something quite different and special to the blog in the near future. Exactly what and how it will be presented remains to see.

silferdrake is a seasoned Magic player but these days tends to play EDH with Psykopatmullvad, PurgAtog and the others. He prefers “warm” colours in Magic, i.e. red and green. He started his path playing Vintage like the rest of us, and has felled many foes with his patented “RG touch and go”-play (Taiga, Kird Ape, pass). Right now, he’s working on his Surrak Dragonclaw deck in EDH.

New contributor and new looks!


One of psykopatmullvad’s favourite creatures.

Since yesterday, GoyfWars now has the first official contributor to the blog other than myself. Psykopatmullvad (lit. psychotic mole) is an old friend of mine, and we’ve been playing Magic together for about ten years or so. He’ll be contributing MTGO videos to the blog occasionally, breaking up the text-heavy posts of mine. I’m personally looking forward to his contributions. A short presentation of the new contributor can be found under “About the authors” above.

UPDATE: Also, with the new contributor, I’ve changed the theme of the site compeltely. The nifty thing about this theme is that it displays the author of each post, meaning visitors can now click the author and find all posts by said author immediately. Also, I’ve added a classic Legacy scene as the new header, two Tarmogoyfs stuck bro-fisting each other forever.

On cards and card tags


Then again, auto-linking this beast would be tiresome.

I’ve been trying to work out how to add card tags to the cards I’m writing about, but apparently, having just a blog and not a web host service and a blog disables you from using plug-ins. I’ve searched high and low for other ways to solve this issue, since it’d be a nifty thing to have – but alas, I have yet to find a decent option.

As is, I’ll include the pictures of important cards I’m discussing like in previous posts. It’s not auto-linking, but hey – pictures!