Playing the Landslide Charge – Dragons of Tarkir Event Deck
A few weeks ago we got our hands on the Dragons of Tarkir event deck, and we opened it in a video you can find here. Both myself and Adam thought it was a decent deck list – we said as much in the review. But the thing is these sorts of products are very polarising and a few comments online were coming from a completely different viewpoint. They said the list was poor and that it was no way a decent FNM deck. I could see the deck being a bit outclassed in a hugely competitive meta, but I said as much in my original review. That is the case with any deck that you would pay £20 for.
One thing that has changed in the weeks since my review is that Red-Green Monsters has been showing up in a few Top 8s at the StarCity opens. Writing before the Pro Tour this is the most reliable way to see which way the competitive meta will break. Those Top 8 decks have the same shell as this event deck, but they run a few more rares. Looking at the cards you would need to change this deck into one more like those lists, you would likely spend another £20-£30 to get it up to spec.
But I wouldn’t recommend spending anywhere near that. Sure, get on Manaleak.com and order a few of what you like, perhaps a playset of Rattleclaw Mystic for about a fiver, or a couple of Ashcloud Phoenix for a decent price. But what I think is you should be doing is trading into these cards. People have been opening packs like crazy and there will be plenty of the cards you want to be playing just hanging around in other folks’ folders. However I’ll save that for the end of the article.
In my original article I said that Adam would take this deck along to FNM to test our theory that it was a 3-2 or a 2-3 deck. Basically, we said this deck was good enough to be somewhere in the middle.
Here’s how it went.
His night started off against Abzan. Our LGS is one of those places where half the time you know the deck before you’ve sat down. His first opponent was Sarah. She’s been running an Abzan list since day one of Khans of Tarkir. She is also in our playtest group, so he knew roughly what he was up against. When I asked him about his thoughts on the matchup, he said he wasn’t confident. I’m not sure if that was because of the decks or the fact that Sarah normally has the edge on him.
Round 1 – Abzan
The first game wasn’t great for our plucky event deck. Abzan was too quick in deploying its threats and Adam realised too late that the race was the wrong strategy. Luckily, the sideboard is packed with options for an Abzan game. Out went the Mistcutter Hydra and Arc Lightning and in came Disdainful Strokes. Oh, and the new tech for Siege Rhino – Encase in Ice – in this matchup also hits Anafenza, the Foremost and Rakshasa Deathdealer.
Game 2 he went for a little bit of Tempo Control and then hit hard with big power creatures. It was a success and game 3 beckoned.
However, game 3 was a disaster. Keeping a four-lander and then drawing land for the first three turns meant that by the time he had things to do, he was hugely behind. A loss is a loss, but variance is a thing and therefore I think it’s a little unfair to draw conclusions from this game. As Adam said before the game – this was really a tough matchup. It was perhaps one of a few tier one decks that are in our meta. Abzan is less popular than it was, but you can still expect to see it at least once at our FNM. Going forward I would look to improve the game plan against Abzan.
Round 2 – Mono-Red Midrange
In round 2 he was in the 0-1 bracket. No shame in it, we’ve all been there. It does mean that you are much more likely to come up against a brew or a pet deck, and that is exactly where our intrepid hero found himself. He was playing against one of the younger guys at our shop. He has been playing a Mono-Red Midrange Dragon deck for as long as he’s been coming to the shop. He was playing Dragons way before Dragons of Tarkir was a thing. He loves them.
The thing is he hasn’t always got the money to get all the new stuff, so he doesn’t have a lot of DTK cards in his deck yet. When Adam dropped Thunderbreak Regent on turn three, with the aid of his mana dorks, the lad was rather excited. He doesn’t do pre-releases, so he wasn’t aware of this super sweet Red dragon. So he talked all about the new dragon’s ability and how hard it was to kill – quite happily – whilst Adam beat him to death with it.
Game 2 was not much different. This time it was a pair of Fanatic of Xenagos, whose tribute wasn’t paid that did all the hard work. By the time his opponent found Lightning Bolt, the game was over. You might want to say that this one doesn’t count, as the deck he faced wasn’t really up to much, but there are players playing their not-so-great pet decks up and down the country. These are the exact decks that the Event deck should be beating.
Round 3 – UB brew
Another known deck, this time it was against our shop’s notable brewer. Each shop has one or two of these guys. Those ones asking around after pre-release for a strange card and then coming back a week or two later with some ungodly concoction. This time around he’s playing some sort of Blue-Black monstrosity, running a couple of Ghastly Conscriptions as its big win con. Adam’s Red spells and a quick Savage Knuckleblade made light work of his opponent in game 1.
Game 2 was much the same – the Event deck didn’t give the Blue-Black brew deck a chance to get going.
At this stage the deck was 2-1. It had beaten down a couple of brews and lost to a strong tier one list. Because Modern has garnered quite a decent following in our shop of late, Standard was only going to be four rounds. That meant that the deck was not going to be on a loser that night, but it could go on to have a winning record.
Round 4 – Red Deck Wins
Last round and Adam was drawn against me! How awkward. I wanted the deck to do well, because I had said it was good enough for a winning record and I would have loved that to be true. But I was 2-1 myself and I wanted prizes. I was on a Red Deck Wins list, regular low-to-the-ground Goblins and burn. Adam didn’t know my exact list, but as we sat down to play we talked about the matchup and we agreed that I was probably a little too fast for the Event deck.
Game 1 went badly for me. I kept a burn-heavy hand with only one Monastery Swiftspear in the creature department. I went out aggressively and used my burn sparingly, hoping to be able to combat trick my way to an advantage. But as is the way with the Red deck, I ran out of steam with Adam still on 5 life. After that he got his one-ofs – Savage Knuckleblade and Surrak, the Hunt Caller – on the board. A few turns of chump blocking, looking for my burn spells and seeing only lands, and the Event deck was one game up.
Game 2… well, this was an epic struggle. I got off to a flyer and curved out, then a timely Arc Lightning in Adam’s sideboard took care of my board state, giving the aggressive creatures from the Event deck their chance to shine. Reclamation Sage wearing Mogis’s Warhound was taking lumps out of my life total and my top deck of Stoke the Flames walked right into the ferocious counter spell. My Roast came a turn too late and that was all there was. The Mogis’s Warhound, now a creature in its own right, finished me off, alongside a hasty Mistcutter Hydra just for the overkill.
So, unfortunately for me, my prediction that this deck was good enough for a winning record was true. Adam was triumphant.
After the games we talked about what he would want to do with the deck. He said he would swap out the mana elk for a few Rattleclaw Mystics and put some more Savage Knuckleblades in there, as he felt they were good at all points in the game. He felt that the mana was maybe one or two too many, and that adding some more dual lands would free up space for a few more creatures. One thing he thought Wizards got spot on was the sideboard – he always felt he had options against each matchup.
All in all he had a great night playing the deck. So much so that he is going to keep playing it for the next few weeks.
Community Question: What do you want from an event deck?