f you're ever in the Roanoke area, I highly suggest stopping by Arzu's Mediterranean restaurant. They have some great Paella (even though they are not strictly a Spanish restaurant), a fabulous Beef Wellington, and the best Clams Casino I've ever had. When Vorosh called me on the phone and said he was going to meet me for dinner to discuss his part of my Dragon Wars series, it was the first restaurant that sprung to mind.
Now, I don't know about you, but when a Legendary Dragon takes the time to pick up his cell phone and asks to arrange a little 411 session about his truly, the best thing to do is take that Dragon out to a nice meal—especially when Vorosh is flying all the way in from Renton, Washington. The folks at the home offices were nice enough to let him out for the week to come play all the way across country.
There are two precepts you must wholeheartedly embrace before going to dinner with Vorosh. If you ever happen to be in my situation, keep these rules in mind and you will have a fine dining experience.
Number 1: Vorosh is egotistical. The whole meal is going to be about Vorosh, Vorosh, Vorosh. Seriously, all he ever does it talk about him and his! With Intet, you get to talk about what's coming up. Oros talks up a bunch of charity and volunteer work. Heck, even Teneb will dig up a little something from the past you may have forgotten about. But Vorosh? Man, all Vorosh wants to do is talk himself up.
Number 2: Vorosh eats like a pig. And by eats like a pig, I mean a hungry, barn-busting, sty-splitting hawg the likes of which have never been seen outside of a blue-ribbon Iowa state-fair prize ceremony. By the time you're at dessert, I swear that Vorosh will be twice the size he was when he came in.
So keeping all this in mind, our dinner date was set and the moment arrived to sit down and talk. Well, I sat—Vorosh sort of lay there, encompassing half the restaurant. Luckily, it was a Tuesday night so Azru's wasn't that busy.
"HEY BEN!", he yelled, because when you're the size of a small skyscraper, you don't tend to whisper, "I HEAR THAT YOU'RE DOING A DECK ABOUT ME IN YOUR ARTICLE NEXT WEEK!"
"Well Vorosh, that's the truth. I've done everyone else so far, based on order of reader popularity."
"THAT POLL MUST HAVE BEEN BROKEN! I'M THE MOST POPULAR DRAGON! EVERYONE LOVES THE COLOR GREEN! EVERYONE!"
Who was I to disagree?
"LOOK", he continued, "I REALLY DIDN'T LIKE YOUR OTHER DECKS. NEITHER DID YOUR READERS. DO YOU KNOW WHY?"
"Actually," I interrupted, "quite a few readers..."
"DO YOU KNOW WHY THEY DIDN'T LIKE YOUR DECKS?"
"Vorosh, I'm sure that some..."
"DO YOU KNOW WHY? HUH?"
"No Vorosh, why did they hate my decks?"
"BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T HAVE VOROSH IN THEM! DID YOU SEE YOUR OROS DECK?"
"Yes Vorosh. I built the deck. If I was going to hire a ghost writer, I'd either have them make a better deck, or refuse payment."
"YEAH, THAT OROS DECK—IT ONLY HAD BLACK MANA TO CAST ME! HOW ARE YOU GOING TO GET ME INTO PLAY IF YOU DON'T HAVE ISLANDS OR FORESTS?"
I furrowed my brow. "Vorosh, that deck wasn't about you. It was about Oros."
"YEAH, AND THAT'S WHY IT WAS BAD! IF YOU'RE GOING TO MAKE A GOOD DRAGON DECK, MAKE IT ABOUT ME—AND ONLY MAKE IT ABOUT ME!"
I was not going to enjoy this meal. Rather than spend a lot of money on expensive cuisine, I decided to take notes with gravy in my garlic bread, and with a knife for my pen.
"YEAH, BLACK, BLUE AND GREEN—THOSE ARE THE COLORS YOU WANT. FORESTS, ISLANDS, SWAMPS—MAYBE USE SOME OF THOSE FANCY GREEN SPELLS TO SEARCH OUT THE COLORS YOU NEED."
"Well, there's a lot of those around right now."
"SURE ARE, BUT I REQUIRE A LOT OF MANA TO MAKE IT WORTH MY WHILE TO COME OUT AND MAKE A PUBLIC APPEARANCE. YOU WANT SPELLS THAT ACCELERATE YOUR MANA IN ADDITION TO FINDING MY OTHER TWO COLORS, NOT JUST A SEARCH SPELL."
"I got it", I said, dipping my knife back into my gravy boat. "Rampant Growth effects in, Sylvan Scrying effects out."
"AND LOOK, SINCE THIS DECK IS ABOUT ME, I WANT TO BE KILLING PEOPLE QUICKLY. I GET BIGGER, YOU KNOW? THE ANGRIER I GET, THE BIGGER I GET?"
"Right, because you're Green."
"Do you wear purple boxers?"
"Do... you... wear... purple... boxers?"
"STOP TRYING TO GET US SUED. LET'S SAY IT'S ALL ABOUT ME, AND I SMACK SOMEONE AND THEN SMACK THEM TWICE AS HEARD—THEY'RE STILL ALIVE, RIGHT?"
"Yes Vorosh, Ben can math good."
"I DON'T LIKE THAT. I GET TIRED GOING IN FOR THIRDS, MUCH LESS SECONDS. LET'S MAKE IT SO THAT I TRY TO MAKE ONE APPEARANCE, AND THEN SEAL THE DEAL."
"What do you suggest?"
"WELL, DOUBLE STRIKE IS GOOD. I HIT TWICE, GET LARGE, AND THEN ONLY COME BACK ONCE MORE. ANYTHING THAT MAKES ME DOUBLE STRIKE IS NICE. I ALSO LIKE GETTING LARGER AHEAD OF TIME. SPEAK TO THE SIMIC ABOUT THAT—THEY USUALLY GIVE ME THE HOOKUP."
I was writing furiously into my pre-dinner bread tray now. "Right, right, continue."
"AND LOOK, NOBODY LIKES TO BE DEAD BEFORE I GET OUT AND STEAL THE SHOW. FIND A WAY TO KEEP YOURSELF ALIVE BEFORE I MAKE MY APPEARANCE. GREEN IS GOOD AT GAINING LIFE AND BLUE AND BLACK ARE GOOD AT STALLING—FIGURE SOMETHING OUT."
"Ok, double strike, make you bigger, life gain, stall, mana acceleration—anything else?"
"YEAH—YOU ALSO WANT TO MAKE SURE I CAN COME OUT AND PLAY WHEN IT'S TIME FOR ME TO COME OUT AND PLAY," Vorosh screeched, between his now fifteenth and sixteenth courses. I think I spotted a chef's hat wedged between his teeth, but I wasn't going to stop him while he was on a rant. "MAKE SURE YOU REMEMBER ME IN TIME TO CAST ME, OR ELSE I'LL HUNT YOU DOWN AND TREAT YOU LIKE A RED-HEADED OUPHE!"
"All right Vorosh, got it—card-drawing, tutoring, double-strike, make you bigger, life gain, stall, mana acceleration. Sixty card deck—"
"Sorry—fifty-six card deck plus four of you, fit all of this in there, win some games, do it for thirty tickets or less. Got it."
"AND BEN," he yelled, lowering his muzzle directly to my face, his breath rancid with multiple meals that were not meant to be stewed together in one gigantic, sloppy maw, "IF YOU SCREW THIS UP, YOU'RE DEAD!"
And with that, Vorosh smashed through the front of the restaurant, took to the skies, and left me to foot the bill. And I was left to build the following deck based on Vorosh's instructions:
Vorosh, the Hunter, Take 1
As per Vorosh's demands, I had a lot to fit into the deck. The most important thing was making sure that Vorosh was lethal, and lethal quickly. I wanted to be able to make Vorosh take my opponent from twenty to zero in a single swing. As Vorosh told me, the best way to do this was with Double Strike. However, Vorosh is the green-blue-black dragon, and the only cards which grant a creature double strike (in Standard) are Psychotic Fury and Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion, which are respectively red and red-white.
Well, I wasn't about to let something like a five-color deck stop me! Vorosh already demanded mana acceleration via mana fixers, so a course of Rampant Growth and Search for Tomorrow would serve well—I could easily splash a single Plains and a single Mountain to support Sunhome, or some number of copies of Psychotic Fury. Getting Vorosh double strike wasn't enough though—that would make him deal 6 and 12 damage, which left him 2 damage short of the magical 20.
My deck wasn't going to be cramming in the one-drops, so it seemed safe to start with a playset of Llanowar Reborn
—this would allow Vorosh to become a 7/7 and deal 7 and 13 damage for the magical twenty. Plaxcaster Frogling
would also enable Vorosh to become larger, and the Simic frog would serve a second purpose—giving Vorosh shroud so Vorosh couldn't get killed by spot-removal. Loxodon Warhammer
filled the last role of allowing Vorosh to kill in a single swing (9 then 15), and it added both life gain and a breakthrough element (in case Vorosh was chump blocked) to the deck.
I figured Harmonize and Compulsive Research are the best card-drawing spells right now in Standard, so I should start there—both are in-color for Vorosh, so they are a fit. I've already got Psychotic Fury in the deck, so why not go with Shadowmage Infiltrator as well? With the Llanowar Reborn and the Froglings and the Warhammers, the Infiltrators can serve a double purpose—evasive beatdown and card drawing to get to my Vorosh pieces quicker. Remember—Shadowmage Infiltrator plus double strike equals draw two cards (or three, if it's Psychotic Fury replacing itself).
And last, since I'm already going to be the five-color mage, I want an out in case things go horribly wrong. I have card-drawing, mana acceleration, shroud, double-strike, trample, lifelink, mana-fixing and grow already in the deck, so might as well have a "get-out-of-jail-free card" in Legacy Weapon—it shouldn't be terribly hard to assemble all five colors of mana for the deck given that I don't need more than one of any color for any spell except for Harmonize.
Here's the (approximate) cost breakdown for the deck. I found these totals by going to the seller's room on Magic Online, and I located multiple people who had these cards available at these prices!
Shadowmage Infiltrator: 3 Tickets Each (12 Tickets Total)
Loxodon Warhammer: 1 Ticket Each (15 Tickets Total)
Harmonize: 1 Ticket Each (19 Tickets Total)
Vorosh: .5 Tickets Each (21 Tickets Total)
Legacy Weapon: 0.5 Tickets Each (22 Tickets Total)
Everything else: Bulk Price (8-10 per ticket)
Game 1: Zimbardo (Red-Green Haste)
I get stuck at two lands, with Compulsive Research, Harmonize and Shadowmage Infiltrator in my hand, and don't draw a land or a mana acceleration spell by turn five. By then, I'm getting smacked around by Primal Forcemage and his friends.
Game 2: bat_matt (Black-Green Living End)
He begins the game with Leyline of the Void in play. I get down Shadowmage Infiltrator and start building mana, while he plays Mirri (the black one) on defense, and suspends Living End. As the first Living End gets down to one counter, he suspends a second one. I put Loxodon Warhammer and Llanowar Reborn on the board. The Living End goes off, killing his Mirri and my Infiltrator, and he follows it with Deepcavern Imp. I play Vorosh and make him a 7/7 with my land. He holds back, and lets his Living End get down to one counter. I put the Loxodon Warhammer on Vorosh, and attack. When he doesn't block, I use Psychotic Fury to make Vorosh lethal.
Game 3: Rivis (Mono-Green Aggro)
He starts early with Silhana Ledgewalker and Skargan Pit-Skulk, but I drop Plaxcaster Frogling and use card drawing and mana acceleration to set up Vorosh. Unfortunately, he casts Mwonvuli Acid-Moss to take out my only Swamp.
Time for Plan B!
I drop Loxodon Warhammer, and start swinging for the fences with the Frogling. He gets down Carven Caryatid, and tries to double-block my Frogling. I use Psychotic Fury to make my guy a 6/3 double striker, allowing me to kill both of his guys, trample over for 5, gain 12 life, and keep the Frogling alive. He drops another Caryatid and a Civic Wayfinder, but I draw Spectral Searchlight, put Vorosh on the board, and draw a concession with him at 8 life, and with me putting a +1/+1 counter on Vorosh with the Warhammer on the board.
Game 4: Wildiastate (Chord-Pickles)
I get down a quick couple of Shadowmage Infiltrators, and accelerate into Sunhome to draw three cards a turn. He casts Vesuvan Shapeshifter, uses that plus double Wall of Roots to get Brine Elemental, and locks me down for the rest of the game. Congratulations!
Game 5: mohawkdan (Blue-White Reality Acid)
I get an early start with mana acceleration and a Shadowmage Infiltrator with a Loxodon Warhammer on it, and I get Legacy Weapon on the board. He uses Wipe Away to remove Legacy Weapon while I only have access to four colors, and then uses Draining Whelk to counter Legacy Weapon when I try to re-play it, resulting in him having an 8/8 flyer! To make matters worse, he takes Shadowmage Infiltrator off of the board with Wipe Away as well.
I drop Plaxcaster Frogling and then Shadowmage Infiltrator, resulting in 2/4 and 2/2 creatures that I can make untargetable. I drop a second Loxodon Warhammer, and he takes out the first with a combo of Reality Acid and Dream Stalker.
I swing for 5 with my Shadowmage Infiltrator, and use Psychotic Fury to try and make it ten. He attempts to cast Momentary Blink on his Whelk to counter my Fury, but I use Plaxcaster Frogling's ability to give his Whelk shroud, countering his Blink! Shadowmage Infiltrator hits for ten (and two cards), allowing me to draw into a third Loxodon Warhammer. He can only remove one of my two the following turn, and I swing in for enough to race him with my 5/4 fear / lifelink creature against his 8/8 flyer
So far, I've been able to use Legacy Weapon once, and all it did was get bounced. I also seem to end each game with too many cards in my hand, so there's a bit too much focus on card-drawing. I take out a Harmonize and two Legacy Weapons and replace them with a Scion of the Ur-Dragon and two Chord of Calling. All three of these cards will let me search out Vorosh at will, and tutoring is something this deck is lacking—the ability to drop Vorosh into play at end-of-an-opponent's turn so it can't be killed by sorcery removal (enchantments, Wrath of God, etc.) seems strong.
Out: 2 Legacy Weapon, 1 Harmonize
In: 1 Scion of the Ur-Dragon, 2 Chord of Calling
Vorosh, the Hunter, Take 2
Game 6: SourceCodex (Lovisa Coldeyes Burn)
He starts the game by dropping a Seal of Fire and Ghitu Encampments. I cast double Rampant Growth, and drop Plaxcaster Frogling on the board with two mana up, so it doesn't get burned out. I follow it with Shadowmage Infiltrator, and then put Loxodon Warhammer on my Wizard. He starts making his Encampments into 4/3 first strikers, and I'm racing 8 damage a turn against 5, with him holding presumably a hand full of burn. At the end of his turn, with him at 8, I use Chord of Calling to put Vorosh directly into play. Since he has to keep tapping out to activate his Encampments, he has no way to burn out both Vorosh and the Infiltrator, and they swing in for the win.
Game 7: TheJestersCap (Orzhov)
He gets down Cho-Manno with Pariah, Mortivore, Teysa, and Skeletal Vampire. I get double Shadowmage Infiltrator, Loxodon Warhammer, and Vorosh. I draw Chord of Calling where Legacy Weapon used to be, and lose because I have absolutely no fail-safes left in my deck!
Well, that sucked. Normally I wouldn't to back on a change this soon after I made one, but there are some decks that just plain can't deal with Legacy Weapon—and I had Vorosh under a Faith's Fetters for part of that last match, and I had to kill him with another copy of himself to drop a third one to even have a chance. There are some times I need to deal with an artifact, or an enchantment, or a creature—rather than dilute the deck with multiples of Putrefy or Krosan Grip or what-have-not, I add back in Legacy Weapon as a clunky yet extremely broad-reaching solution to anything. And heck, since I can ramp up to a zillion mana quickly anyhow, I add in a Plague Wind in case I face down a horde of regenerating creatures again!
To make room for these, I yank the Compulsive Researches—still too much card drawing, especially given the mana curve of my deck (lots of three-drops once the deck gets going!).
Out: 3 Compulsive Research
In: 2 Legacy Weapon, 1 Plague Wind
Vorosh, The Hunter, Take 3
Game 8: Squishe (Mono-Black Control)
He gets down Icy Manipulator, Grave Pact, and two-for-ones me with Smallpox and Plague Sliver. I get down Shadowmage Infiltrator, Vorosh and Plaxcaster Frogling, but they die to Augur of Skulls (with Grave Pact), Cruel Edict, with Icy Manipulator to stop the Vorosh. I get down to 6 life, and he has Gutless Ghoul and Tombstalker on the board. Things look bleak... until I draw my Legacy Weapon!
I use Legacy Weapon to take down his Tombstalker, and he knocks me down to four and drops Nekrataal. I force him to sacrifice Gutless Ghoul, which allows him to bring me down to two with Nekrataal. Thankfully, he doesn't draw another creature, and I get both of my Spectral Searchlights, allowing me to Legacy Weapon two permanents a turn. I get rid of Nekrataal, Grave Pact, Icy Manipulator, and Pithing Needle (set to Loxodon Warhammer, of which I have two on the board), and then drop Vorosh. He tries to Enslave it, but I bring it back, and he concedes in the face of Vorosh equipped with double Warhammer, with Legacy Weapon active to back him up!
Game 9: krynthe (Blue-White Flyers)
He drops second-turn Azorious First-Wing, third-turn Pride of Clouds and Suntail Hawk, fourth-turn Magus of the Moat, and fifth-turn Glorious Anthem. I ramp up to six mana by turn four, but don't have Vorosh and therefore die!
Game 10: Nik83 (Five-Color Hivestone / Supply)
He gets an early Gemhide Sliver, and uses it to get down Tolsimir Wolfblood, and a Supply // Demand for three, followed by Glittering Wish for Congregation at Dawn for Necrotic Sliver, Essence Warden, and Darien, King of Kjeldor.
I draw all lands and a Legacy Weapon
, and get down a Legacy Weapon
about the same time that he casts Congregation. I use Legacy Weapon
to take out his Gemhide Sliver
(which leaves him at five mana, and I know he has three creatures coming, so unless he was slow-rolling a land, he can't both play and use Necrotic Sliver
in the same turn), and then take out Tolsimir, bringing myself down to eight. I get Shadowmage Infiltrator
on the board and use triple Llanowar Reborn
to make him a hefty 4/6 blocker. He casts another Glittering Wish
) and I take out his black mana source, drop Loxodon Warhammer
, put it on Shadowmage Infiltrator
, and start swinging in for 7 life a turn. He doesn't draw a land, and I get him locked with Legacy Weapon
Game 11: reTodd (Mono-Green Aggro)
I get Shadowmage Infiltrator, and he gets Llanowar Sentinels. I swing for one, and put Loxodon Warhammer on the board. He drops Blanchwood Armor on his guy, and swings for 6. I drop Vorosh, and hold back my Infiltrator to block—I have double Psychotic Fury in my hand, and I got a Mountain from a first-turn suspended Search for Tomorrow. He scuttles my plan by dropping a second Blanchwood Armor and a Fists of Ironwood on his Elf, and knocking me down to 2. I untap, put Loxodon Warhammer on Vorosh, cast Psychotic Fury on Vorosh, and swing in for exactly 19.
Game 12: Spider69 (Nacatl War-Pride)
I get down double Shadowmage Infiltrator and follow them with Vorosh. He gets double Nacatl War-Pride. I put Loxodon Warhammer on my Vorosh and swing for 11, bringing him to 4 and me to 29. He drops Groundbreaker, and swings for 30—if I had held back an Infiltrator, I would have been able to stay alive. I attacked with both Infiltrators because my hand had Plague Wind, and I wanted to be sure to draw a ninth land (I was at eight lands) in case he could kill Vorosh (he was blue-black-green).
Game 13: mamaluke (Mono-Green Aggro)
I get an insane draw—first-turn Search for Tomorrow, second-turn Rampant Growth, third-turn Search for Tomorrow #2, Shadowmage Infiltrator, fourth-turn play Legacy Weapon, with all five colors of mana on the board. He doesn't have removal for my artifact, and I quickly lock him down – he concedes before I get to eleven mana to drop Vorosh and use Legacy Weapon in the same turn.
Game 14: tefus (Red-Green-Blue-White Blink)
He gets down Civic Wayfinder against my double Shadowmage Infiltrator, but uses Savage Twister to clear the board. I get down Plaxcaster Frogling and a third Infiltrator, but he drops double Rumbling Slum to the board, with a suspended Greater Gargadon. I use my Infiltrator to chump-block, and then Chord of Calling Vorosh into play (7/7 thanks to the Frogling). I then untap, attack, play Psychotic Fury on Vorosh (7 first-strike damage), use its triggered ability (+6/+6) and deal regular damage (13) to kill tefus in a single swing.
Well guys, it's been fun hanging with all five of the Legendary Dragons from Planar Chaos! I think that this Vorosh deck turned out the best, followed by the Teneb deck, the Oros deck, the Intet deck, and the Numot deck. Now, where there are five dragons—there is sure to be a Dragon War! And one day, the Dragons will fight—at a time and a place where it is least expected... but trust you me, I have a real shock ending in store for these decks down the road.
For now, next week departs from our winged friends and heralds the return of one of the most popular features in this column. See you in 7!