Recently, I took a look at our Esper deck, which had been led by general Halfdane for the last while. After seeing the spoiler for the Blackblade from Dominaria, I was inspired to rebuild the deck into a Dakkon Blackblade list. I went over my initial thoughts here.
Well, I’ve finally built the deck, so it’s time for a much more in-depth look at the direction I took with it. Let’s go!
Years ago, I started a series of Random Friday articles dedicated to rebuilding my EDH decks, with the ultimate goal of making them all fun to play, and fun to play against. The plan is always to rebuild any decks that aren’t performing the way I wanted them to.
Thus far, I’ve built, retooled, and rebuilt several of my EDH decks in this series.
• I put together Arcum Dagsson, a dangerous general who could Tinker up win conditions at will here.
• The original incarnation of Karona, False God and her Allies, here and here.
• I looked at my initial attempt to build a Rakdos deck here, here, and here.
• Our Abzan deck was transformed from Ghave, Guru of Spores into Doran, the Siege Tower‘s “toughness matters” deck here.
• I’d changed my Boros list, from Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer into Brion Stoutarm‘s sacrifice-based deck here.
• The lovely Angela had changed our Dimir deck from Vela the Night-Clad to the milling-based Lazav, Dimir Mastermind here and here.
• I changed our Rakdos deck to Rakdos, Lord of Riots after the release of RTR here.
• I rebuilt the powerful Bruna, Light of Alabaster‘s combo-control deck here.
• I rebuilt the Planechase 2012 duo, Thromok the Insatiable and Krond the Dawn-Clad here.
• Nekusar, the Mindrazer‘s Painful Wheel was built here.
• The Jeskai deck that finished off The EDH Project, Zedruu the Greathearted, was built here.
• Angela’s tribal Soldier build helmed by Coldsnap’s Darien, King of Kjeldor here.
• I went over my brainstorming and the final list I looked at for Khans newcomer Narset, Enlightened Master (who is just ultra-powerful), here.
• The first rebuild of our Izzet deck, from Nin, the Pain Artist to Melek, Izzet Paragon, was done here.
• I rebuilt our Clone and Shapeshifter “tribal” deck, Sakashima the Impostor, which is chock-full of copy effects, here.
• I went over the changes to our Equipment-friendly mono-white deck, Kemba, Kha Regent here.
• I looked at the changes to the budget-friendly Nath of the Gilt-Leaf here.
• I went over the changes to Commander 2014’s Titania, Protector of Argoth, my favourite of last year’s Commander generals, here.
• I rebuilt our U/R control deck, from Melek, Izzet Paragon into Keranos, God of Storms, here.
• I rebuilt the very first EDH deck that I’d ever put together, our Jund deck helmed by Adun Oakenshield, into one led by Kresh the Bloodbraided from Shards block here.
• I rebuilt our Boros deck again, this time changing it from Brion Stoutarm to Tajic, Blade of the Legion, a R/W control deck, here.
• I looked at a huge culling of my decks, where I disassembled Kemba, Kha Regent, Volrath the Fallen, Zedruu the Greathearted, and more here.
• I retooled two artifact-based decks: Karn, Silver Golem changed into creatureless artifact-based control, and our Esper deck Halfdane turned into Sharuum the Hegemon artifact aggro, here.
• I went over my first new Rakdos build of the year, building around Innistrad’s Olivia Voldaren here.
• After Olivia failed to be any good, I built a ‘new’ Rakdos deck (again), this time using Malfegor the Demon Dragon as general, and a hellbent theme here.
• I had reworked our five-color Ally deck, and changed the deck from Karona, False God to a more token- and combo-based General Tazri here.
• I finally sat down to build around Captain Sisay, a deck where “legends matter”, here.
• Two decks were merged into one as I merged the +1/+1 counter-based Skullbriar, the Walking Grave and our Abzan deck, Doran, the Siege Tower, into new +1/+1 counter deck Anafenza, the Foremost, here.
• I redesigned the five-color manabases for each of my five-color generals here.
• Our Jeskai deck, Zedruu the Greathearted, and our mono-white token swarm deck, Kongming, “Sleeping Dragon”, were merged together to form Narset, Enlightened Master, here.
• I rebuilt our Golgari deck, Skullbriar, the Walking Grave, and took pieces from Titania, Protector of Argoth, to form our new Golgari deck The Gitrog Monster here.
• I went over big changes to our Izzet control deck, Keranos, God of Storms, here.
• I went over some big changes to our Jund deck, Kresh the Bloodbraided, here.
• Our Temur deck was changed, from fun-loving Maelstrom Wanderer, to Khans bear-puncher Surrak Dragonclaw here.
• I looked at what our five-color Superfriends planeswalker deck, Progenitus, would look like after dropping the red cards and switching to four-color general Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice here.
• I went over the changes to our artifact aggro deck, as I added red to Sharuum the Hegemon, changing it into Breya, Etherium Shaper here.
• Our “copycat tribal” deck, Sakashima the Impostor, gained the use of white and black cards, and became our new Esper deck with the same theme, Halfdane, as shown here.
• I looked at the third of our four-color decks, led by partner generals Vial Smasher the Fierce and Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix (who were a surprise entrant in The EDH Battle Royale V), here.
• I went over the hostile takeover of our Mardu deck, instigated by Conspiracy II’s Queen Marchesa and the monarch mechanic, here.
• I looked at my build for my favorite general from Commander 2017, the highly-aggressive Saskia the Unyielding here.
• I went over our build for the difficult-to-brainstorm WURG color combination (which was our final four-color deck) based on partner generals Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa and Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist here.
• I rebuilt our BUWG deck, Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice, from a planeswalker deck, to “+1/+1 counters matter” here.
• I went over major changes to Saskia (over 20 new cards!) here.
• I rebuilt another of our four-color decks, Vial Smasher the Fierce/Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix by changing one of the partners; the new deck is Vial Smasher the Fierce/Thrasios, Triton Hero, as seen here.
• Taking advantage of Ixalan’s new “planeswalkers are legendary” rule, I retooled Captain Sisay with a host of new cards here.
• I rebuilt the Vampire tribal Commander 2017 precon around Edgar Markov here.
As an old-school player, I’ve always had an affinity for older cards, which is one of the reasons I went back to Halfdane to lead our Esper deck in the first place. I can remember the days when you could crack the mighty Dakkon Blackblade in a pack, and he was then (and still is now) a damn cool legendary creature to open and play.
I’ve always liked Dakkon as a theoretical Esper general, but I’ve also always had reservations about using him (which is why I never have). White/blue/black are not the colors of mana-ramping — unless you use mana-producing artifacts, so his “power/toughness equal to the number of lands you have” ability will not ever be all that spectacular. Having said that, I’ve always liked his potential, and I’ve always had the idea of a Dakkon deck on the back burner, just in case Wizards printed me more cards to go with him.
Well, I finally sat down to build the deck, and I will tell you going in, it looks pretty fun.
I figured going into brainstorming that the basic gameplan of the deck would be “get lands into play, make Dakkon huge, and general-kill people with 21 general damage.” Simple enough gameplan, but are there enough support cards for mana-ramp in Esper colors?
Let’s take a look.
THE WIN CONDITIONS:
I had a lot of hoops that I had to jump through with the creature base for this deck. I wanted to have as many creature-based ways to get extra land into play as I could, letting me simultaneously beef up Dakkon and play threats. I wanted to have versatile, powerful threats that could actually win me games. And finally, I wanted to have scalable threats, creatures whose power increased through the game as I acquired more and more lands.
This is what I’m starting with:
As a starting batch of creatures and threats, I like this a lot. I have a number of ways to ramp extra lands into play, from Dreamscape Artist, Kor Cartographer, and Walking Atlas all the way up to big beefy Oblivion Sower. These creatures should keep me ahead on mana, and ensure that when Dakkon does hit play, he’ll be enormous.
From here, I have many creatures that I would consider just to be excellent threats: Angel of Despair/Ashen Rider, Grave Titan, Sphinx of the Steel Wind, etc. These giant monsters will end up being the backbone of the deck, letting me beat down my foes with impunity, and should overall be great at doing what they do.
Finally, I have several ‘scalable threats’, creatures whose power grows the longer the game goes on. Oona, Queen of the Fae is my major growing threat here, and will be huge in the late-game, letting me exile opposing libraries with ease. In the future, I have a feeling that I’ll be adding in Geth, Lord of the Vault as another big threat with late-game power, but this is enough for now.
So that’s the threat base. I have a feeling that when I edit the deck after its first few games, I’ll be shoehorning in a copy of Stonehewer Giant to find key Equipment (like the Blackblade!), but for now, this is what I’m starting with.
Much the same as the creatures, I knew that I had to work a lot of things into my spell-base to make the deck function the way I wanted it to. I wanted to make sure I had one of each Ixalan block transform card, which would let me run more lands (without actually running more lands, which I thought was cute). Running the transform lands would also let me play a mini-game each game; “can I transform this land?”
I wanted to have lots of card-drawing, to ensure I always hit my land drops each turn. I wanted to have Wraths for the early game, to make sure I don’t die while trying to set up. And I wanted to make sure I had at least one way to make Dakkon unblockable, so that I could set up a win with 21 general damage in the lategame.
That is a lot of things to balance, but here’s what I went with:
|Card drawing spells (8)|
1 Arguel’s Blood Fast
1 Azor’s Gateway
1 Sphinx’s Revelation
1 Fortune’s Favor
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Seer’s Sundial
1 Esper Charm
1 Brilliant Ultimatum
Wraths and removal spells (7)
1 Merciless Eviction
1 Decree of Pain
1 Martial Coup
1 Phyrexian Rebirth
1 Final Judgment
1 Profane Procession
1 Return to Dust
1 Utter End
1 Dismantling Blow
1 Whispersilk Cloak
1 Sword of the Animist
1 Dowsing Dagger
1 Profane Command
1 Ever After
Other spells (5)
1 Druidic Satchel
1 Treasure Map
1 Search for Azcanta
1 Thaumatic Compass
1 Journeyer’s Kite
There are a lot of fun spells in this deck. I did manage to fit in one of every Ixalan transform land that made sense (ten total), and I’m really looking forward to getting these transformed in every game. I have lots of Wraths and removal spells, and I even have some cute combos — I can look at my top card with Treasure Map and Search for Azcanta, and then cheat it into play (if it’s a land) with Druidic Satchel!
…Hey, I didn’t say they were good combos. They are funny, though!
In theory, the various Wraths and Disenchants should buy me enough time to get the deck up and running. I’ve even managed to fit two ways to make Dakkon unblockable in here (Profane Command giving fear, and Whispersilk Cloak), letting the deck kill people off with general damage like I wanted it to.
One section of spells that I did leave out were the Annex land-thievery spells (Annex, Confiscate, Volition Reins, Blatant Thievery, and Expropriate, which can all steal lands from other players). As I’d mentioned in Part One, these spells are ways to make Dakkon bigger (by stealing lands from my opponents)… sadly, I feel that this would come at the expense of good gameplay, and people would hate it. Hence, these were preemptively cut.
There are a couple of ramp spells that didn’t make the initial cut. I wanted to include Path to Exile, as I can Path my own creature to get a land, or it’s a powerful removal spell… sadly, this ended up being one of the final cuts for Profane Procession, which is repeatable removal. I also looked long and hard at the artifact ramp, Wayfarer’s Bauble, which also just barely missed being in the deck. As I play the deck, I’ll definitely reassess how I feel about these two cards.
That was a lot of things to balance, but I think this is a good starting list to work with.
THE FINAL DECK:
So, after a lot of brainstorming, this is my starting list:
Dakkon Blackblade starting list:
Of all my rebuilds through the years, this may have been the trickiest to balance properly; there are a lot of moving pieces in this deck. I am a big fan of what I’ve set up here, however, and I’m really looking forward to seeing this in action!
How much mana can a non-green EDH deck ramp into play? I’m really looking forward to finding out! Thanks for reading!