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That's my Secret: I'm Always Angry

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Journal Entry, Day 1: Pointless as it seems, my anger management coach insisted that keeping a diary would help with my rage issues. Such a waste of time. I tried to argue back, but the coach was devoured by a spirit dragon before I could say anything. I suppose I could give this a shot, if anything to honor his dying wish. Even though he didn't know it was a dying wish at the time.

Journal Entry, Day 2: Day's going well so far. Only destroyed four alarm clocks this morning. Most of the cat's fur has grown back. Coffee was nice and strong. I did stub my toe on the way out the door, so now half my city block is burnt down. That's a bit of a bummer. I'll try mediation next.

Journal Entry, Day 3: Meditation was going great until a fly got into my apartment. Didn't go well. Landlord is furious. Was furious. Need a new landlord now, too.

Journal Entry, Day 4: Progress! I found an anger management group at my local community center. It'll be great to chat with folks who understand how hard it is to keep unquenchable rage at bay. There was some initial friction when they refused to let me bring my axe along. I took a deep breath, quick count to ten, and actually managed to calm down. Not a single fatality!

Journal Entry, Day 5: We've hit a bump in the road. Everything was fine at first. Meeting was going great. Then someone ate the last donut. The raspberry-frosted one. Everyone knows that's my favorite! The firemen are almost finished putting out the building. Future meetings postponed for the moment. I'm going to draw myself a warm bath and try to simmer down.

I really wish this fiery temper was a bit less literal.

Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients by Svetlin Velinov

Life is hard. We all get upset from time to time. Fortunately, most of us are able to vent without unleashing a torrent of dragons on an unsuspecting world. I imagine the cost of insurance would be outrageous. For our poor buddy Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients, life isn't so simple. Even the slightest tap on the wrist will send this guy into a frenzy. One that manifests into a scaly force of rage. This has to make day-to-day life very inconvenient, but fits right in at Commander, where you've three opponents to take all that anger out on.

The Primal Rage reunion was going well.

The face-commander of the aptly-titled "Draconic Rage" deck, Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients has an interesting blend of abilities. Token generation (big tokens at that), dice-roll synergy, Enrage synergy, and tribal affiliations with one of Magic's most supported tribes. That's a lot to unpack, so let's breakdown the direction for Vrondiss as our general.

Darksteel Plate

Plan on taking a lot of damage in the near future?

1. Enrage lends itself to sources of repeatable damage, especially when doled out in increments of 1. With a starting toughness of 4, Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients can take a few of these hits each turn, able to generate up to a trio of dragon tokens without additional support. And we'll certainly be packing additional support.

Chaos Dragon
Component Pouch

2. Vrondiss can hit himself, but the ability is tied to rolling dice. "Draconic Rage" leans more into this theme, but for the sake of originality, I largely chose to forgo it in favor of other means of damage. Some elements are carried over, such as Chaos Dragon and Component Pouch, but for the most part, we'll be generating the damage ourselves rather than via Vrondiss's ability. On that note...

Fiery Confluence
Firespout
Subterranean Tremors

3. Rather than focus on targeted damage-dealing (Ex. Burn spells like Lightning Bolt), bringing in mass-damage spells works to both trigger Vrondiss and clear the board of annoying blockers for the resulting dragon spirits. This doubled value makes cards like Pyrohemia, Breath of Darigaaz, Fiery Confluence, and Firespout into all-stars

Greater Good
Where Ancients Tread
Path of Discovery

4. Our tokens are very big and can add up quickly, but they only get one shot to deal damage before sacrificing themselves. As such, we've plenty of sacrifice outlets (Greater Good, Blasting Station, Goblin Bombardment, etc.), large-creature synergies (Where Ancients Tread, Colossal Majesty, Garruk's Uprising, etc.) and token-making synergies (Idol of Oblivion, Purphoros, God of the Forge, Path of Discovery, etc.) to take advantage of a steady stream of glass-cannons.

Stalking Vengeance by Anthony S. Waters

Put this all together, and you find yourself with a deck that can not only produce multiple threats, but also a few infinite-damage combos to overtake the game. What's more, Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients is not only a dragon himself, but also makes dragons, which links to a huge variety of tribal support (Ex. Dragon's Hoard, Scourge of Valkas, Utvara Hellkite). If our general and his own army of spirit dragons aren't enough to win, no worries. There's a bunch of other reptilian beasties ready to chomp on your opponents.

So, let's all take a deep, calming breath to steady those nerves and dive right in!

Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients

I'm Always Angry | Commander | Matthew Lotti


Vrondiss aims for three paths to victory: damage-dealing via large draconic threats, grinding value for incremental damage off the likes of Impact Tremors and company, and the culmination of both these strategies into a combo engine that kills all opponents simultaneously. What's especially delightful is how all three strategies play into each other, with damage racking up over time from multiple sources. These avenues give you a variety of directions to take in each game. You can either lean into dragon-tribal beatdown, assemble a value engine, or craft a killer combo. Flexibility doesn't just keep the deck fresh after multiple games, but also grants it a high degree of versatility, the "invisible mechanic" of Magic: The Gathering that often goes underappreciated.

For such an enraged fellow, Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients has crafted quite the composed battleplan.

Let's take a deeper look.

Fire Ants
Harbinger of the Hunt
Warmonger

You wouldn't like me when I'm angry: Our creature base is made up of three players: enablers, payoffs, and supporters. All are necessary to make the deck tick. For enablers, we employ creatures that are able to deal repeatable bursts of wide-scale damage. As mentioned, this works to not only trigger Vrondiss, but also sweep the table of opposing blockers. Think Fire Ants, Harbinger of the Hunt, and the politically-tricky Warmonger. Chaos Dragon provides a quick, albeit unpredictable, source of evasive damage that allows Vrondiss to ping himself. Other dragons, like Terror of the Peaks and Scourge of Valkas, can also serve as enablers, but are primarily included as payoffs, turning each token that enters play into raw damage.

Dragonborn Champion
Utvara Hellkite
Purphoros, God of the Forge

When it comes to other payoff creatures, Stalking Vengeance turns all your fallen dragon spirits into Lava Axess, Dragonborn Champion allows your tokens (and general) to draw you cards in combat, and Purphoros, God of the Forge is notorious for turning waves of tokens into raw death. Adding to the token-support, Broodmate Dragon is able to cash-in 5/4 spirit dragons into more permanent 3/3 flyers whenever needed, and Utvara Hellkite has more than enough tribal support to reliably churn out 6/6 flyers. This host of dragons can be enough to kill opponents alone, and we haven't even gotten into the value-engine part of the deck yet!

Ranging Raptors
Cacophodon

Supporting creatures all back up themes established above: we're looking to deal widespread damage and make tokens. One the damage side of the equation, Ranging Raptors and Cacophodon can provide large sources of additional mana. Having a Cacophodon in play alongside Pyrohemia allows for 'free' activations of the enchantment, as the dinosaur can simply untap the land used to activate Pyrohemia each time it takes damage from it. If you manage to make Cacophodon more resilient (Rite of Passage, Darksteel Plate), you can sweep the board (and opponents) with infinite damage for free. If you're at the highest life total, that's game-ending combo #1 right there.

Golden Guardian
Delina, Wild Mage

Token generation is further supported via the likes of Golden Guardian // Gold-Forge Garrison and Delina, Wild Mage. 5/4 dragon spirit tokens make Golden Guardian // Gold-Forge Garrison easy to flip into ramp (two mana for any color!) and an excellent mana-sink / threat generator. Delina, Wild Mage allows you to multiply Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients, making subsequent mass-damage into even more 5/4 tokens. Note that while copies of Vrondiss will vanish at the end of combat, any dragon spirits they make beforehand will stick around.

Rolling Earthquake
Impact Resonance
The First Eruption

Seething Spellcraft: Moving on to non-creature spells, we start with wide-spread sources of damage. Sweltering Suns, The First Eruption, Rolling Earthquake, Subterranean Tremors, Shatterskull Smashing // Shatterskull, the Hammer Pass, Savage Twister, Pyroclasm, Firespout, Pyrohemia, Impact Resonance, Fiery Confluence, and Breath of Darigaaz all spread out damage, but in increments that can leave Vrondiss and his tokens alive after the dust settles. If larger threats loom, don't hesitate to turn your X-spells into board-wipes. That's why Blasphemous Act is included, too. Not to make tokens, but to keep you alive.

Garruk's Uprising
Parallel Lives
Assault Suit

Enablers covered, let's move onto more payoff spells. With our dragon spirit tokens being numerous and huge in stats, cards like Greater Good, Garruk's Uprising, Colossal Majesty, Furious Rise, and Elemental Bond can provide consistent card advantage. We intend to make numerous dragon spirits, among other tokens, so Idol of Oblivion provides reliable card draw. Parallel Lives and Path of Discovery are included to further support token generation, and Fires of Yavimaya allows any newly-minted dragon spirit to attack right away. Finally, it'd be a shame to hog all these dragon spirit tokens to ourselves, so Assault Suit is brought in as a fun way to share the love. Note that because the equipped creature cannot be sacrificed, dragon spirit tokens wearing Assault Suit will continue to fight on after dealing damage.

Darksteel Plate
Goblin Bombardment
Impact Tremors

And now, the truly evil part: More Infinite-combo engines! Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients has a variety of tools that can crush a game out of nowhere. And multiple paths to achieve this goal. For instance, if we're able to protect Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients via Darksteel Plate, Heroic Intervention, or Rite of Passage, we'll still be able to damage our general and make tokens, but without risk of killing him. This allows cards like Goblin Bombardment, Dragon Tempest, and Blasting Station to generate infinite dragon spirits. All that's left is an Impact Tremors, Where Ancients Tread, Terror of the Peaks, Scourge of Valkas, or Purphoros, God of the Forge to deal infinite damage to all opponents. Infinite combo #2!

Fiendlash
Pyrohemia
Rite of Passage

Other fun combos include applying the above to Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients equipped with a Fiendlash, letting him to hurl infinite Lava Axes. If you've found the aforementioned Pyrohemia+Cacophodon, you won't even need extra creature tokens or sacrifice engines to make this happen. Or perhaps you're more interested in running over your opponent than burning them straight to the face? Simply combine Pyrohemia with Rite of Passage to make all your creatures into gigantic kaiju, with Vrondiss making more and more of them with each activation. Swing for lethal and bring your opponents into the negative 10,000's. Combo 3!

Hull Breach
Spit Flame
Worldly Tutor

Anger-Issues Support Group: With our deck's enablers mostly consisting of mass-damage spells, we already have a ton of mass removal to work with. This allows the rest of our supporting spells to act as targeted removal (Hull Breach, Spit Flame), or to help us find relevant creatures (Worldly Tutor).

Dragon's Hoard
Component Pouch
Ebony Fly

Ramp and Rocks: The majority of our ramp and rocks is confined to the expected players. Green bring the staples Three Visits, Cultivate, Farseek, Nature's Lore, and Skyshroud Claim. We also include efficient rocks Arcane Signet, Coalition Relic, and Talisman of Impulse for further mana development. Nothing too exciting, but there are a trio of more interesting rocks to wrap up with. Tons of tribal support means Dragon's Hoard has the potential to act more as a card-draw engine than it does a simple Manalith. Component Pouch provides a nice burst of two-mana per activation while providing Vrondiss a dice-roll on top. Finally, Ebony Fly is slow, but offers a lot of mid-to-late game potential. It provides a dice roll, a potentially large and evasive threat, and additional evasion to one of our own grounded monsters like Stalking Vengeance. That's a lot for a little uncommon and I'm eager to experiment with it.

Desert
Kessig Wolf Run
Raging Ravine

When it comes to lands, we've a healthy amount of utility to mine. Desert is a simple and straight forward way to trigger Vrondiss. An abundance of 5/4 dragon spirits allow Kessig Wolf Run and Skaarg, the Rage Pits plenty of targets to make even more dangerous. If those tokens are only going to strike once, they might as well strike hard and trample over opposition. Finally, will our plethora of damage-dealing sweepers keeping the opposing boards clear, Raging Ravine is included to sneak in extra damage.

Dragon Broodmother by Jamie Jones

Budget Options: Magic: The Gathering is an expensive game, so here are some substitutes for players who'd rather not shell out excess cash for a single piece of cardboard. All cards over $20 will be noted and recommended for swap-outs. Heck, if any of the cards below seem interesting to you, give them a roll in the main deck whether you've a budget in mind or not. Creativity is an oft-forgotten cornerstone of Commander. One of the aspects that makes it special. So, mix and match card choices to your heart's content!

Creatures: Terror of the Peaks: $22.00, Purphoros, God of the Forge: $22.00

Shivan Hellkite
Drakuseth, Maw of Flames
Polyraptor

Fortunately, only two of our creatures exceed twenty dollars in price. Unfortunately, both are pivotal sources of repeating damage. For replacements, we'll want to find creatures that serve similar roles, even if they're not as efficient at doing so. Monstrous dragons like Drakuseth, Maw of Flames and Shivan Hellkite are expensive to cast, but both provide the repeating damage we're after. Though not a dragon himself, Polyraptor comes in at just under budget and adds to the potential for infinite combos.

Supporting Spells: Parallel Lives: $57.00, Worldly Tutor: $25.00

Second Harvest
Shared Summons
Kindred Summons

Parallel Lives has risen to an absurd price tag. Worldly Tutor's efficiency makes it unsurprisingly over budget. Kindred Summons helps combine aspects of both, potentially grabbing us multiple creatures in one swoop. Shared Summons is also effective, grabbing two creatures most relevant to the situation. Finally, while it's no Parallel Lives, Second Harvest does have the potential to double-up your dragon spirits, albeit as a one-shot effect.

Mana Options: Wooded Foothills: $50.00

Cinder Glade
Mossfire Valley
Arch of Orazca

We all breathed a sigh of relief when the enemy fetch-lands were announced for Modern Horizons 2. Unfortunately, this drove up the price of the allied fetch lands. It's an easy enough replacement, however, with multiple budget Red/Green options to choose from: Cinder Glade, Karplusan Forest, Mossfire Valley, or Grove of the Burnwillows. Regarding that last one, a bit of extra life gain for your opponent won't matter much when you get an infinite-damage engine going. If extra utility is what you're looking for, tools like Ghost Quarter and the Arch of Orazca are solid and inexpensive choices.

Rite of Passage by Kev Walker

All I had to do was pass my driver's test. This poor lady's gotta fight Kamacuras

After a long day unleashing Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients, try to let the charred remains of your opponents serve as a reminder: Anger, when harnessed correctly, can be a useful thing. So long as the subsequent collateral damage is taken into account. Opposing players are not likely to appreciate having their armies cleared away in a sea of flame, only then to find dragon spirits starring down at them. But when your temper is just that fiery, you learn to make the most of it.

Perhaps, one day, our scaly buddy will learn to calm his inner fury?

If not, well... there's always the Commander table.

Thanks for reading, and may you never miss out on the last donut!

-Matt-

@Intrepid_Tautog

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