There be dragons!
And some walking dragons, some dragon spirits, a hydra, and some dice shenanigans! This is what lies within the Commander Precon deck from the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Magic: the Gathering set called: Draconic Rage! First of all huge thank you to our amazing partners at Unplug Yourself for supplying us with these awesome pre-cons to play with and to our WPN Premium store, Top Deck for sponsoring the budget upgrades for these decks.
Draconic Rage Precon
Led by the new commander, Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients, Draconic Rage cares about, you guessed it, dragons. In Gruul colours (red and green) this deck is all about putting really big nasty things onto the battlefield, dealing damage directly to the faces of opponents and creatures alike, and simply overwhelming/overrunning the game to the sound of leathery winged terror.
Vrondiss brings back the enrage mechanic first seen on Ixalan, by stating on the card that whenever damage is dealt to them, they create a big dragon spirit token – the downside of course is that the dragon spirit sacrifices itself when it, in turn, does damage to anything else. However, with the right set of cards and the correct draws this addition to the commander’s abilities as well as the effect that whenever you roll one or more dice Vrondiss takes one damage hit, means that creating an army of 5/4 red and green dragon spirit token is not outside of the realm of possibility.
Notable Inclusions and Reprints
We’ll get into how well these two elements are addressed in the deck in a moment, but right now let’s talk about some notable inclusions and some awesome reprints in the deck.
Let’s get big and flappy with Terror of Mount Velus, a whopping 5/5 flyer with double strike, and the enter the battlefield (ETB) effect that gives all creatures you control double strike until the end of the turn. This card can truly be a game-ender!
Just want to make dragons, then Skyline Despot is your go-to card. Not only do you become the monarch when this card ETBs, but if you can stay that way you get to make a 5/5 dragon at the beginning of your upkeep for as long as you wear the crown.
A seemingly odd inclusion is the Neverwinter Hydra. For XX and 2 green, you can plop down a chunky non-dragon with trample and ward 4. However, it plays into the rolling dice mechanic of Vrondiss by stating that you roll a number of d6 equal to the value of X in the casting cost and this multi-headed monstrosity gets +1/+1 counters equal to the total of those rolls! So it could just be the biggest thing on the board and a terror for your opponents to have to deal with asap. Or it could have haste and you could just smoosh someone on the spot.
Some great reprints in the deck are Gratuitous Violence and Warstorm Surge, for some extra damage from your big creatures, Outpost Siege for some card advantage or to enable your commander’s ability to make dragon spirits, Dragonlord’s Servant and Dragonspeaker Shaman to enable the casting of dragons for less – always handy, Dragonmaster Outcast to just make more dragons in your upkeep and what dragon deck would be complete without the awesomeness of Atarka, World Render? 6/4, flying, Trample, and attacking dragons have double Strike. Not too shabby.
Analyzing the Precon
Let’s get back to what ticks in this deck: the rolling dice thing does not, in my opinion. Even though it’s a cool mechanic to have built into your commander, there doesn’t seem to be enough pay-off for it in the deck out of the box. There are only 10 cards that enable dice rolling in the deck and although they do provide for some great random shenanigans like Chaos Dragon and Maddening Hex, I don’t feel that there are enough cards to make this a viable strategy to engage the wrath of Vrondiss to make dragon spirits. Having said that, let’s break down the deck statistics:
- Dice-rolling enablers: 10
- Enrage enablers (this would include the dice rolling enablers): 15 (including two that would wipe your dragon spirits clean off the board and put your commander back in the command zone)
- Ramp: 8
- Card Draw: 8
- Removal (not including ETB effects of several dragons that simply kill things as they flap on in): 5
- Dragons: 18
The deck seems to be fairly well balanced overall, however, I do think that it lacks the impetus needed to make either the enrage mechanic or the dice rolling enrage enabler mechanic work efficiently. That is not to say that the deck is not fun to play out of the box, ‘cos dropping big dragon-type things on opponents is always fun, but I do think there should be a solid focus on a particular direction should you wish to upgrade this deck and make it a bit more challenging for your opponents.
With that in mind, I picked straight up enrage and haste, cos why not have really big things that can swing right away? I brought in the following cards as haste enablers: Mass Hysteria and Fires of Yavimaya. I also wanted to add the deck’s ability to ping my commander to make those 5/4 walking dead dragons, so I brought in Aether Flash, Akoum Hellkite, Spikeshot Elder, and the Staff of Nin – there are many other cards out there that can enhance the deck’s ability to enable enrage but we had a budget of R350 sponsored by the amazing Top Deck (store.topdeck.co.za) so I had to work within that allotment.
I also thought since some of the enrage enablers in the deck may kill my commander or some other big nasty I didn’t want dead, I had to build in ways to recur them, so I added Serpent Skin, Jolrael’s Favor (both of which can be played at instant speed) and Fortitude to help keep whichever creature I needed most at the time on the board. I also thought a little more ramp and card draw would be useful so I included Seer’s Sundial, Tireless Provisioner, and Yavimaya Elder.
Plans to Optimise
At the end of the day, it’s all about what you want to get out of this deck and the lines or strategy you want to follow to have the most fun with it, so these are just my thoughts and I plan to optimise the deck even further in the coming weeks to put the big flappy scare on my opponents.
Until next time, I’ll see you on the battlefield.
Easy Gaming Group