Draconic Dissent - Precon Upgrade
Firkraag, Cunning Instigator | Art by Andrew Mar
You Can Goad Your Own Way
Welcome back! This is Lenny from the Scrap Trawlers coming back at you with an upgrade for the Draconic Dissention deck from Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate. If you haven't done so yet, check out my primer article or you can peruse the original decklist here.
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Before we dive into the changes we're going to make, lets talk about the face commander Firkraag, Cunning Instigator.
Firkraag is a five mana 3/3 flying dragon who goads a creature whenever we attack an opponent with one or more dragons and whenever a creature an opponent controls that was forced to attack deals combat damage to another opponent, Firkraag gets a +1/+1 counter and draws you a card. While Firkraag does care about dragons, I think he lends himself more to a deck built around controlling combat similar to Kitt Kanto, Mayhem Diva or Marisi, Breaker of the Coil. Out of the box, the deck's plan is to force opponents to attack everyone but you until you're down to only one other player, at which point you finish them off with dragons. This isn't a bad strategy, but it can backfire if your remaining opponent is prepared for you or has a board state you can't deal with. I also think the deck out of the box is too reliant on the commander to draw cards. In order to fix these issues, I'll be employing a strategy I never thought I'd be willing to try, Super Friends. Goad is quite effective at protecting planeswalkers as long as there is another opponent to attack, and we can employ them to draw cards and help control the board and fire off devastating ultimate abilities if the goading works out.
How Far I'll Goad
For the most part, the cards we'll be adding to the deck are planeswalkers. Both Will Kenrith and Rowan Kenrith come in the deck, but we want quite a few more to really make this a core strategy. We're adding even more of the Kenrith twins with The Royal Scions. They can help dig through the deck, but giving +2/+0 first strike and trample is especially useful for getting the commander into combat. Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker is pretty much just another dragon, but since it becomes indestructible, it's useful for swinging into opponents with fliers we can't beat in combat. Sarkhan the Masterless integrates all the parts of this new deck's strategy. With enough dragons on the field, smaller creatures will be unable to attack our planeswalkers and our planeswalkers can be made into dragons to send at opponents.
Some of the planeswalkers are here for defense, both for us and other walkers. Tezzeret, Artifice Master and Saheeli, Sublime Artificer make tokens to gum up the battlefield for any attackers that aren't goaded. Mu Yanling, Celestial Wind, Mu Yanling, Sky Dancer, and Jace, Architect of Thought can blunt the power of any attackers that get through, while Kasmina, Enigmatic Mentor can help protect our planeswalkers from removal spells.
The last few planeswalkers are present because their ultimate ability provides a tremendous advantage when it's down to two players. Jace, Unraveler of Secrets provides a bit of card draw, but if we can hit that final ability, it will be backbreaking for opponents to have their first spell each turn countered. Teferi, Master of Time filters through our deck until we can use him to get two extra turns. The haste we get from Zariel, Archduke of Avernus is useful since we want to attack with this deck, but if we can get that emblem, the extra combat can make quick work of the remaining opponent.
Tezzeret's Gambit and Flux Channeler are around to proliferate planeswalkers, but it doesn't hurt that the commander is likely to get a few +1/+1 counters. Finally, to go along with the goad theme, we're adding Blast-Furnace Hellkite. Enabling double strike for creatures attacking our opponents not only adds damage, but if an opponent's creature manages to connect, that's a second trigger for Firkraag.
I tried to stay on the cheaper side with these adds, but planeswalkers tend to be pricey, so the overall cost of the upgrades is $20.73 at the time of writing.
Should I Stay or Should I Goad
Since we're still not allowed to run 115 card decks in Commander, some cuts must be made. As I mentioned in the primer, Artificer Class, Clan Crafter, and Niv-Mizzet, Parun don't fit the theme of the deck, so those are easy cuts.
Many Commander players have been traumatized by their experience with Super Friends and will attack planeswalkers relentlessly. This makes Propaganda and Dissipation Field far less useful as they only make it harder to hit you. Similarly, Agitator Ant lets your opponents make a choice on whether or not a creature is goaded, so it isn't likely to protect anything when it counts.
The original precon has 19 cards that force attacks one way or another. I feel that's a bit excessive, so some cuts are coming from that category. Warmonger Hellkite can be a liability as opponents aren't prevented from coming at us or our stuff. This goes double for Avatar of Slaughter thanks to double strike. Pursued Whale is a flavor win, but it's seven mana and your opponents can sacrifice the token or just make a deal to block it to regain control of their combats. The Akroan War is fine for forcing attacks, but this deck wants the opponents to have creatures, so the board wipe effect on the third chapter can be problematic. This is why Thunder Dragon is also getting cut.
Compulsive Research is an easy cut for Tezzeret's Gambit. This deck has enough ramp without Burnished Hart. Stuffy Doll only affects one opponent at a time and you have to go out of your way to reset it so I'd rather swap it out in favor of Brash Taunter. Finally Aether Gale is out because there will be times when there won't be enough targets to cast it.
With our adds and cuts out of the way, let's take a look at the final product:
Draconic Dissention - Upgrade
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Heart of Goad
If budget is no concern, there's a lot we can do to boost the power of this deck. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon would pick off smaller creatures and potentially wipe the board if needed. Sarkhan, Fireblood would effectively be a mana rock for this deck or we could steal our opponents rocks with Dack Fayden.
We could get more out of our planeswalkers with The Chain Veil and Rings of Brighthearth, while Sword of Truth and Justice is an excellent option to proliferate them and protect our commander.
Wake Me up before You Goad-Goad
With the addition of 12 planeswalkers, I think this deck has much more going on than the original list. At the very least, there are six additional ways to draw cards, so we won't be stuck leaning on the commander to see more of the deck. That said, I think this is the kind of deck that needs to be fine-tuned through gameplay as it relies heavily on what the other players are doing. If this idea appeals to you, I'd keep track of how often non creature threats are a problem as I think this deck is light on ways to deal with them. There are also a few cards to consider that I hadn't mentioned in the article. I think Jeska, Thrice Reborn would be a great addition and would make commander damage with this deck into a real possibility. I also think both Aetherspouts and Aetherize would be a great fallback if the goading fails you. Personally I'm intrigued by this idea and I'm looking forward to building this deck for myself. Do you have any ideas for this deck? Are there cards I missed, or maybe a whole new direction to take the commander? Let me know in the comments and keep checking back for more precon primers and upgrades, and as always remember to budget before you buy it.