Extended review…I should say….
I purchased mine at the Tangled Web in Spartanburg three weeks ago, for $39.99. Most places are marking this up now, so I was grateful to see it on the shelf, and not marked up much.
I have played the deck several times…just at home with the SpartanKid as well as at some tournaments. So how good is it? Is it worth the hype? Keep reading!
The front of the box features that window where we can see the oversized foil commander card. “The Ur-Dragon.” Dumb name. Cool concept. Apparently the Ur-Dragon was the original dragon in the multiverse…making him the most powerful.
Here is the back…
We have a contents list and some encouraging information with some pictures of the cards…conspicuously absent is…”Scion of the Ur Dragon.” The Scion is here alright. But I think the Wizards purposely tried to under-hype him. He is a super popular commander, and it is notable that a foil of him wasn’t included as well.
Why? They are working hard to prevent mass sellouts and major markups on the product after market. “True Name Nemesis” was printed back a few years ago, and it became impossible to find that deck. This is also why Stoneforge Mystic wasn’t reprinted in Nahiri the Lithomancer’s deck.
Foiling out the Scion of the Ur Dragon and featuring him on this box would virtually guarantee the same end result. This deck is ALREADY hard to find. (It has been out for less than a month.) While the others in the series warm the shelves. (Vampires, Cats, and Wizards.)
This box opens like all the others…best from the bottom. Here are the contents. The foil Commander “The Ur-Dragon.” The deck. A poster/guide for playing the deck. A nice box (there was originally a plastic liner). And the Magic the Gathering Quick Reference. (It’s not a guide for Commander.)
Let’s spend a second really looking at that big card.
BIG is the keyword here. Not only is it an oversized card, it is also a large creature, costing nine mana all around, and requiring one of each color.
This is why (so far) I haven’t made him my preferred Commander. You’ll never cast him, and they’ll see him coming a mile away.
What else. Well for all that mana, you do get a 10/10 flyer that gets you card draw and board advantage. And he can make your dragon spells cost one less also, which helps this deck a good bit as far as speed is concerned.
This guy is new. Scion of the Ur-Dragon has been around for awhile. Now we know who he is the Scion for!
Notice anything missing…NO DECKLIST. Instead we get the message, “Learn more about this deck at magic.wizards.com/c17 .
I am calling fail on this one. I keep these little posters specifically for the decklists. Sure, I could always look them up on the internet. But I like having the paper item…it helps me with cataloging what I have. Just saying. BOO!
Let’s open some cards…
First, we get the foil legendary creatures on top. And these are all new guys…designed for the game of Commander.
I have preferred O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami. He is relatively lightweight mana-cost wise. Ramos is lightweight, but the other ability is hard to pull off…(the one that costs ten mana…two of each color.)
O-Kagachi has removal built in. Not only is he huge, with flying and trample, but lets you destroy something else on the field.
Next, the tokens.
Cat Dragons. YES!
As before in my EDH unboxings, this image shows the same token cards, just flipped over. The gold tokens are also notable…King Macaar made these back during the Theros block. This deck makes them another way…(you’ll see.)
Now for some rares…And what an incredible assortment we get! This set of EDH is TRIBAL themed. Meaning that most of the creatures are of the same type. So we get a deck full of DRAGONS!!!
Bladewing the Risen. Crosis the Purger, Dromoka the Eternal. Niv Mizzet. And on and on. Some of these are iconic. Some of them have been staples in the existing Scion of the Ur-Dragon deck. The Wizards opted to go with the “baby” version of the Dragons of Tarkir, I think because the Dragonlords were all mythic rare. The baby ones have been underplayed, so…(Already I have seen builds where these are swapped out for the Dragonlords.)
Wasitora, Nekoru Queen is another new card. This is the one that makes the Cat Dragons.
Taigam isn’t a dragon, but helps you because your dragons get protection from being countered. (He’s really good…more on that later.) There are also some other humans/creatures that help you with the mana costs of dragons.
I’m hoping I’m showing these pictures in the correct order…I took them awhile ago….
Yes. That wierd patch of mountains was in that spot. These cards are some of the staples of Commander. Lightning Greaves, Darksteel Ingot, Sol Ring, and Nihil Spellbomb.
These cards are perfect for this deck! Dragon Tempest…that is a game winner. One of those things that eventually adds up. Palace Siege. Usually use the “dragons” option! Earthquake. Like. almost every creature in this deck flies! Crux of Fate. YES!
Steel Hellkite. This guy makes your opponents think. You can pump him if they don’t block. If they do block, you can pump him and kill their thing. And if he manages to do damage to the opponent, then you can use him to sweep the board.
Fist of Suns. This is a card that I managed to cast early game when I was running slow on mana. Then some jerk destroyed it. I lost that game because of mana problems.
Here are the rest of the lands.
Here are the rest of the lands. Lots of fixing. Tri-Lands. A copy of each Vivid. Make no mistake. This is a slow mana base. It works. But if you get behind, you can be hurting holding useless cards. You do get Command Tower and Opal Palace, and Command Sphere. This deck has Crucible and Haven of the Spirit Dragon, one of which frustratingly mentions Ugin. And there is a new fixer called Path of Ancestry which enters tapped but provides a scry…this land is tribal for a creatures deck.
The Wizards won’t reprint fetches and shocks for Commander, but that is what’s needed here.
HOW DOES THE “DRACONIC DOMINATION” DECK PLAY?
Since my first unboxing, I have played this deck just about exclusively with the stock cards. I wanted to bring a strong review. I have no plans to review the other decks from Commander 2017. Maybe I will…but right now I have to save money…and my Magic budget is going to have to replenish my Standard deck.
I have played this deck casually at home and in “sanctioned tournaments.” I personally have yet to take down a table of four. But this deck rarely comes in last place.
Go back to what I said about the mana base. These lands are too slow to generate the required five colors. You need to get five colors out, and quickly. The best fun I’ve had with this deck is on games where people have slow draws and I have lots of fixing with tap lands to load on the board early game. Then you are just (hopeully) top decking good stuff that you can play. But some of the cards, like Palace Siege, have a double requirement on mana, making those cards even more difficult to play. And you can hang up playing Ramos for his ability.
The dragon tribal theme is very strong. Dragon Tempest makes it out on most every game. And like I said, that is a huge winner. It gives all your flying creatures haste, and deals damage to something equal to the number of dragons on the board. Which if that number is four or five, you can really take out a creature, or send that damage to a player or planeswalker.
Utvara Hellkite makes Dragon tokens. And those trigger Dragon Tempest. You win!
Sometimes it’s a difficult choice for your opponents to figure out what is the worst thing on the board for them to kill. Should they kill the commander or Utvara Hellkite? How about Taigam?
Crux of Fate is incredible. You get to kill everything except for Dragons, leaving you in a board state of total advantage…you are hoping an opponent doesn’t follow up with a sweeper.
I haven’t played Scion of the Ur-Dragon as commander yet. Why? I have been killed by him too many times. This deck didn’t come with it, but Skithiryx (Skittles) is a big black dragon with infect…and people typically make the scion into a copy of Skittles and kill you off quick. I hate infect…and won’t be modding this deck with Skittles. Besides, the Tangled Web league docks you points for using infect. (Yes!)
The dragons are great on the field, but they can also be a liability. People tend to take control of your dragons and use them against you, or reanimate them from the graveyard for the same reason. If they do, though, your games can become super fun!
I like The Ur-Dragon in the graveyard. You can target him with the Scion easily!
Ramos has made it to my hand once. I guess he is slippery with the odds somehow? Someone made me ditch him into the graveyard once. BOO!
MODIFYING THE DECK
So overall, the deck is fun, but needs a few things to make it great. I think Dragonlord Silumgar would be perfect. This deck needs Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and Nicol Bolas. Who would I fire? Originally I thought it would be Taigam. But NO WAY! That guy has protected my dragons so much! Some of those baby dragons can be upgraded or swapped for these. I’m not a big fan of the Bolster mechanic, so probably would get rid of Dromoka the Eternal.
You could add fetches and shocks to this deck! I would probably replace anything that has a double mana requirement. It’s just too hard to reliably pull those cards and abilities off. These have been the cards that sit in my hand the most, waiting on me to get that other black or blue source.
A player could go after Skittles. But most Commander players don’t like infect. It doesn’t feel like a fair way to win the game. The rules committee should consider raising the number of poison counters hare required to kill you from ten to twenty.
SPARTANNERD’S RATING OF “DRACONIC DOMINATION”
Out of the box, this is a playable deck. That is something! In a tournament, it can stand up to other decks. It is a good matchup against Voltron-type decks, and mono-color decks don’t stand a chance. It has taken down Meren of the Nel Toth and Atraxa. People have to pay attention to what you have on the board…big flying monsters with abilities. These are just hard to ignore. Your opponents are probably also playing big hard-to-ignore creatures…so then it comes an evaluation game. What gets killed off first? The fact that the dragons are big flyers make them constant threats. The decks that usually beat this are more control oriented…(This is why Taigam, Ojutai Master is so good…he keeps your dragons from being countered.) Famously, a deck I call, “Force Field” came back from near lethal damage, and locked me down with Sphere of Safety…this person had a TON of enchantments on the battlefield. This deck could remove that with Rain of Thorns or with another “destroy permanent effect.” But I was unable to draw those. This person was extorting every turn as well, so they slowly took me down and dug themselves out.
To make it to the top, this deck will need modifying. Not to complain too much. That mana base needs some speed. My losses have usually come because of mana problems, more than creature or strategy problems.
I wish it had some planeswalkers. Why not Sarkhan Unbroken? Seems like a no-brainer! How about Ugin and Bolas? Here was a chance to reprint creature Bolas. Why didn’t they? Surely not the True-Name Nemesis effect…Bolas as a Commander isn’t really good.(Maybe that’s why…)
As a product, I have to take off for the fact that they didn’t include the decklist. They continue to include the “Quick Reference Guide to Playing Magic” which doesn’t mention the rules of Commander.
But the deck is pretty terrific, loaded up with legendary and excellent dragons. It is fun to play. The mana problems that it has are pretty serious. I am going to mark off there.
So that’s two marks off. The SpartanNerd is going to rate the Commander 2017 “Draconic Domination” deck at 3.75/5. I just want you to see how optimistic I am that this deck could be really great. If you get this, consider upgrading the mana base, and consider other dragons to replace some of the baby Khans dragons.
The SpartanNerd rates “Draconic Domination” at (we’ll say cautious) 4/5. The wizards need to include decklists with every sealed deck. Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments!