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Imagining Dragons with Miirym

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Oil Study of Cotopaxi by Frederic Edwin Church (1861).

Stormbreath Dragon by Slawomir Maniak.

Dragons!

Over the last few years, I've fallen in love with a number of Dragon themed EDH decks. My Lathliss, Dragon Queen deck has become one of my favorites. I managed to shoehorn a Dragon theme into both my Thrasios, Triton Hero / Alena, Kessig Trapper partners deck and my Wulfgar of Icewind Dale attack triggers deck. I've even built my first successful Dragonstorm deck with Vadrik, Astral Archmage when normal people were doing normal stormy things with Vadrik.

Dragons are a lot of fun to play in Commander and can be very powerful. They can also be very mana intensive. I've had my share of Dragon EDH decks that fell short of expectations and at times mana was part of the problem. When I saw all of the Dragons in Battle for Baldur's Gate and then got a good look at today's commander, I knew I had to write about this card.

Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm

Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm is a six-mana Legendary Dragon Spirit in Temur colors (3gur). She flies, which is par for the course for Dragons, and she has ward 2, which is like hexproof lite. If an opponent wants to target her with a spell or ability they'll have to pay 2 extra mana for the privilege. I prefer hexproof, but ward is the new way that Wizards of the Coast likes to handle protecting creatures.

Every Legendary creature worth writing about has what I like to call a "party trick". Miirym might be able to hang a spoon from her nose or stuff 50 marshmallows into her mouth and then whistle the theme to The Simpsons, but her real party trick is a bit more impressive. Whenever another nontoken Dragon enters the battlefield under my control, Miirym will have me create a token that's a copy of it, except the token isn't legendary if that Dragon is legendary.

If that sounds like it might not be that big a deal. Let me tell you about Lathliss, Dragon Queen.

Lathliss can create 5/5 Dragon creature tokens when a nontoken Dragon enters the battlefield under my control. Lathliss can make a LOT of Dragons. It's genuinely hard to not make a decent push to win a casual game of Magic if she sticks around and you're able to build up a decent army. Lathliss also lets you pump your whole team by +1/+1 for two mana (1r) as many times as you like, and it's not uncommon to find tables where nobody has a reliable answer to that many flying threats. Lathliss is a powerful deck, but all she's giving you is Dragon token creatures.

Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm does not give you Lathliss' Firebreathing ability, but the ability to make non-legendary token copies of legendary Dragons has a lot of potential. The mana requirements of playing a Dragon deck will probably keep this from being a fringe cEDH or cEDH commander, but I definitely think the ceiling on Miirym is pretty high.

Choosing a Direction

My first challenge is to figure out what I want to do with Miirym. I want to make lots of Dragons and I'd like to try to push to win the game.

If I were to try to apply my Lathliss plan to Miirym, that would mean playing as many low-cost dragons as possible in my colors and then hoping for the best. It works with Lathliss because I'm simply trying to put as much power onto the table as possible for as little mana as possible. I don't think that approach makes sense with Miirym. I think my focus should be to make the most of Miirym's ability to give me a nonlegendary copy of any legendary Dragon I play.

There are a lot of creatures in Magic that have interesting abilities that can be strong if I have two of them and backbreaking if I have a whole bunch of them. Most of them aren't Dragons, but I think a build path worth exploring might be one where you use Maskwood Nexus, Xenograft, and Arcane Adaptation to make everything you play into a Dragon. You might not have Gray Merchant of Asphodel to throw around, but I'm sure there are powerful non-Dragon cards in Miirym's colors to throw into such a list.

If making everything a Dragon sounds like fun, it's also worth thinking about making more Miiryms.

There are clones in Magic that can make nonlegendary copies of legendary creatures. One Miirym will give me one nonlegendary copy of a Dragon I play. Three Miiryms will make three copies. Rite of Replication, cast and kicked, targeting a token nonlegendary copy of Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm, will leave me with my original Miirym, my original Miirym copy and then five more copies from my kicked Rite.

What can you do with seven copies of Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm?

If they survive long enough for me to cast a Scourge of Valkas, the first one would deal damage to target creature player equal to the number of Dragons I control, which would be 8 damage. The seven Miiryms would each trigger to give me 7 more copies of Scourge of Valkas, doing 9 + 10 + 11 + 12 + 13 + 14 + 15 damage for a total of 84 damage!

Making clones and copies isn't for everyone. It feels a little "magical Christmasland" and maybe you want to cut straight to the heart of the matter and focus on the best value you can get from Dragons - both legendary and nonlegendary. That might mean playing a Dragon like Scourge of Valkas or Old Gnawbone, but it might also mean nonlegendary heavyweights like Ancient Copper Dragon, Ancient Silver Dragon, or Ancient Bronze Dragon.

I think for my first draft I'm going to forego the Maskwood Nexus plan, but look at making more copies of my tokens and playing as many good Dragons as I can dig up that I think will work well with Miirym.

Miirym Basics

This deck wants to play big, impactful dragons. The more dragons I run, the greater the chance that I'll be able to make those extra token copies with Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm's party trick. Dragons are very mana intensive, so this deck's average mana value is a lot higher than my average deck. That means I'm going to run 40 lands and a little more ramp than my usual.

I've also got a few cards that are particularly well suited for a Miirym build.

Korlessa, Scale Singer
Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma
Elvish Piper

Any deck in Blue and Green that plays over two dozen dragons will want to have Korlessa, Scale Slinger on the field. Korlessa can contribute to my dragon count for cards like Dragon Tempest and Scourge of Valkas, and if I happen to have a Dragon card on top of my library, my hand size will be effectively increased by one. Korlessa is not a slam dunk by any stretch of the imagination - most of the time I won't have a Dragon on top of my library, but she's good enough to make this first draft.

With so many creatures that have a high mana cost, it makes sense to run some cost reducers. Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma, Krosan Drover, and Dragonspeaker Shaman will reduce the cost of a lot of my Dragons by two mana. Goreclaw cares about creature spells with power four or greater. Krosan Drover cares about creatures with a mana value of 6 or greater. Dragonspeaker Shaman just cares that they are Dragons. Dragonlord's Servant is another Dragon fanboy and will drop the cost of my Dragons by 1 mana.

If I'm unable to get any cost reducers on the field, Elvish Piper will tap and let me pay a Green mana to drop a creature from my hand onto the battlefield. There's a good argument that I should be running more "cheat into play" enablers like Ilharg, the Rage Boar and even Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded but too many of them require the creature to be returned to hand or sacrificed at the end of the turn.

Token Matters

Miirym might not be flooding the field with Saprolings, Squirrels, Treasures or Clues, but she is in the token business. For this first draft I think it makes sense to lean into her token making a bit.

Parallel Lives
Doubling Season
Adrix and Nev, Twincasters

Even if I'm only making one or two tokens each turn, a card like Parallel Lives or Doubling Season has the potential to really push me ahead. Adrix and Nev, Twincasters does the same token doubling as Parallel Lives and gives me a body on the field. Sure, Korlessa, Scale Singer might not bring me much extra value if I have three or four of them instead of two, but having multiple copies of many of my Dragons will present a real challenge to my tablemates.

Ancient Copper Dragon
Old Gnawbone
Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer

Three of my creatures - Dockside Extortionist and two Dragons, Ancient Copper Dragon and Old Gnawbone, can help flood my field with Treasures. Those Treasures are good and even better when I've got a token doubler on the field.

Magical Christmasland might happen with a heap of Treasure tokens, Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer and a single token Dragon. With nonlegendary token copy of Lathliss, Dragon Queen and 9 Treasures, I'd go to combat, make a 2/1 blue Myr with Brudiclad, and then turn all 10 of my tokens into copies of Lathliss. The next Dragon I cast would trigger my original Lathliss and my 10 nonlegendary token copies and I'd put 11 5/5 Dragon tokens onto the battlefield.

This deck is built to be able to get out of hand.

Here Be Dragons

There are a lot of dragons in Magic, and the majority of them can be played in this deck. We might not be able to play Bladewing, the Risen or Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon, but we've still got a ton of great options to pick from. Each of these Dragons is good on its own, but it's going to be worth thinking about how much they will impact a game if I have two, three or four of them.

Terror of the Peaks
Scourge of Valkas
Lozhan, Dragons' Legacy

Terror of the Peaks will have creatures entering the battlefield under my control do damage equal to their power to any target. More Terrors means more damage triggers. Scourge of Valkas also pushes out damage when creatures enter the battlefield, only it cares about Dragons and looks at how many dragons I control. Lozhan, Dragon's Legacy will push out damage for casting Dragon spells equal to the spell's mana value. More nonlegendary copies of Lozhan means more damage triggers. A second copy of any of these could be a problem for my tablemates. Having three or four will probably be enough to let me push for the win.

Thrakkus the Butcher
Ancient Bronze Dragon
Ancient Silver Dragon

Thrakkus the Butcher will double the power of each Dragon I control when it attacks. A single 5 power dragon will swing for 10 power with one Thrakkus, for 20 power with two and for 40 power if I have three of them on the field. The mind boggles when you start thinking about how much damage I could be throwing around if I'm able to make copies of a nonlegendary Thrakkus using a kicked Rite of Replication or Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer.

Ancient Bronze Dragon and Ancient Silver Dragon join Ancient Copper Dragon in this list. The former will put +1/+1 counters on up to two target creatures. Ancient Silver Dragon just draws up to 20 cards and will give me no maximum hand size for the rest of the game. I might just roll a 1 for any of these combat damage triggers, but the potential for these Elder Dragons is just enormous.

Harbinger of the Hunt
Drakuseth, Maw of Flames
Earthquake Dragon

Harbinger of the Hunt might seem like an odd choice for this deck, as it really doesn't directly synergize with Miirym. It is a 5/3 flying Dragon, but it also provides a fantastic answer to anyone playing a deck that wants to go wide with a lot of small creatures. Goblins? Elves? Squirrels? I might need to take a turn off from doing other things, but I should be able to pour enough mana into Harbinger of the Hunt's first activated ability to kill an army of 1, 2 or maybe even 3 toughness creatures that don't fly. I should even be able to deal with Thopters or other low toughness flyers without killing any of my Dragons.

Drakuseth, Maw of Flames is the kind of Dragon I thought about really loading up on for this deck. When Drakuseth attacks it deals 4 damage to any target and 3 damage to each of up to 2 other targets. Pushing out 10 damage just from attacking is pretty good, and actually filled up a removal slot in this deck. Having two or three of them means I can really clear out the battlefield or just burn my opponents directly if that makes more sense.

My biggest Dragon is Earthquake Dragon, which costs a whopping 15 mana, but costs X less to cast where X is the total mana value of Dragons I control. I might end up paying one mana for my 10/10 "flample" (flying, trample) Elemental Dragon. if Miirym is on the field I'll get a second one for nothing. I can even bring it back from the graveyard at the cost of 3 mana (2g) and the sacrifice of a land. I'm running 40 lands. It seems like a fair deal if I've got enough Dragons to drop that casting cost by enough to let me cast it again.

The Decklist

I love dragons and I really like silly token shenanigans, so I think this could end up being a very fun deck to play at the right tables. This build is really designed for old fashioned battlecruiser Commander games where you play out your creatures and smash them together. It isn't designed to deal well with combo and I'll be the first to admit that it might have issues with tables that present a ton of interaction.

I find that there is a careful balance you have to find between how much you can lean into a tribal deck's game plan and how much you can load up on counterspells, interaction, and all the types of cards that are a key to playing at higher powered tables. Too much interaction and you're cutting into that fat stack of Dragons that you really need in order to have Miirym do what she wants to do. Too many Dragons - which might well be the case with today's list - and you're risking being overly vulnerable to well timed, well played interaction. Ultimately, the right balance for your own Miirym deck will have everything to do with your playstyle and the meta you're playing in.

For what it's worth, I offer up today's list as what I hope will be a good starting point.

Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm | Commander | Stephen Johnson


This list actually weighs in at a higher dollar value than I expected. I think if you wanted to tune it up for higher powered play, you'd want to identify a combo or two that works well with Miirym. Deadeye Navigator makes sense as a way to flicker a Dragon, and that would lead you toward Peregrine Drake, Great Whale, and Palinchron. Once you're running those, you might as well start exploring Maskwood Nexus, Xenograft and Arcane Adaptation and any combos that might play well in Mirrym's colors. None of that is real cEDH material, but I think it could push this list firmly into high powered territory.

Tuning this list down and dropping the hit to your pocketbook isn't too hard. I have really loaded this list up with pricey staples, some of which are actually cards printed in Battle for Baldur's Gate. You could drop out every card that costs over twenty dollars, load up on more ramp, more basic lands and maybe even a few more Dragons and still have a serviceable Miirym deck.

Final Thoughts

As I wrap up this column, I find myself thinking - do I take apart one of my favorite decks in order to take Miirym for a spin?

Should I try this list out on Tabletop Simulator first before I take the plunge?

Should I keep Lathliss together and just build another Dragons deck, because apparently, I really love Dragon decks?

I ask because I genuinely don't know the answer. I've been holding onto decks that I love or like but I've been wondering if I'm in a rut and need to make the time to start refreshing my library of EDH decks with some new builds.

I write up new decklists on at least a weekly basis, but I've been keeping myself from playing these recent sets in paper because I have a lot of older decks that I'm hesitant to take apart. Sometimes that's because I just love them. Sometimes it is for a silly reason, like the fact that they have a Muppet alter in the command zone. Either way, I do think I need to break up my personal logjam and make some new decks in paper.

I'd paraphrase Woody Allen and suggest that an EDH deck collection needs to constantly move forward or it dies, but there are more than a few reasons not to quote Woody Allen. I also don't really think I have a dead shark on my hands. Part of the joy of EDH is having decks you love and can come back to, but another equally important part is the excitement and anticipation of building new decks. I think I've been missing that second part lately.

What I haven't missed is being able to share my thoughts with you here in this column. I get to do that every Monday and I'm very grateful to CoolStuffInc.com for the chance to have this platform.

Last week's piece on Baba Lysaga somehow wound up getting an outsized number of shares on Facebook. I found myself reaching out to friends here at CSI and asking if they read the column. I was wondering if I had made some hilarious mistake that was so bad and embarrassing that everyone started sharing it on social media. I'm not kidding, but so far it looks like the column just struck a chord with people.

If you ever spot something hilariously wrong, or just brilliantly right in my Monday morning commander columns, please share them with anyone you think would get something out of them. If I did manage to screw something up - and every now and then I do - please let me know in the comments! You should certainly feel free to share it if it's so hilarious that it's worth sharing, but definitely let me know. You guys are brilliant and are often every bit as good as I am at deck-building and playing EDH, so your feedback is always appreciated.

That's all I've got for today. Thanks for reading and I'll see you next week!


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