Across the field, the hoard of Hobgoblins begins charging toward you. Perhaps the ideal way to deal with them would have been to avoid this part of the map altogether. As a Barbarian, you were never much for politics anyway. The fastest route from where you are to where you’re going is a straight line. If you have to pummel a few goblins along the way, so be it.
You get a crazy smile on your face and twinkle in your eye as you feel your primal rage building inside you. You rip your Greataxe off your back and let out a bellowing war cry. This route is more fun anyway.
Welcome to the upgrade guide for the Draconic Rage pre-constructed Commander deck. This deck is themed around the new Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Magic set. It aims to capture some of the magic of rolling for initiative and entering combat.
In this Draconic Rage upgrade guide, I will offer ideas for cards to include, as well as cards to remove from the precon. Additionally, I will highlight new cards that are coming out with Adventures in the Forgotten Realms.
A Brief Note on Budget
Whenever a new Commander deck comes out, I look at the Legendary Creatures in it and try to find all the relevant keywords. In these articles, I explore those keywords further. What would a deck in these colors with this commander look like if it focused on A, B, or C theme?
I do not intent to make complete decklists for any of my recommended upgrade paths. I am simply offering a cornucopia of ideas that you can sift through for inspiration. Hopefully, one or more of the cards or themes I recommend will strike a chord with you.
As a part of this philosophy, I am not putting any kind of budget restriction on these ideas. I don’t want to omit an interesting card due to it being outside of some players’ price ranges. Whenever possible, I will try to offer replacements for expensive cards that are a little easier on your wallet.
Regardless of your budget or play style, this article will have a ton of great suggestions for powering up your Draconic Rage deck. If you would like to purchase the deck, you can order it on Amazon.
Draconic Rage Decklist
Draconic Rage – General Upgrades
Before looking at specific upgrade paths, there are a couple of cards that you can add to any version of the deck. These are things that will increase the Draconic Rage deck’s power level baseline by one or two degrees. Hopefully, these initial upgrades give you a foundation to build a deck that can compete at just about any Commander table.
The Mana Base
The very first thing to look at with this Draconic Rage deck is the mana base. Lands are the most important part of a Commander deck, since they are the resources you use to play all of the rest of your cards. Typically, the Commander precons have a slightly below average mana base. This first section is going to be about improving that.
Dracnoic Rage deck comes with thirty-nine lands. In my opinion, that is probably too many. I typically recommend 35-38 lands (depending on the deck’s mana curve, ramp sources, etc.)
Since the deck includes green, you could easily afford to remove a basic land or two. This is especially true if you replace those lands with ramp spells like Kodama’s Reach, Three Visits, or Nature’s Lore.
This deck comes with nine dual lands. This is a high number for a precon, but it includes Haven of the Spirit Dragon and Crucible of the Spirit Dragon. These cards are probably only useful in a tribal Dragons build of this deck.
I plan to go over how to upgrade this deck in that direction later in the article, but there are a lot of other directions to take this deck that don’t care about Dragons at all. If you choose one of the latter options, I would recommend replacing these cards with more useful dual lands.
Of the other seven dual lands in the deck, two of them always enter the battlefield tapped and two others sometimes do. Since you can’t use a land that comes in tapped until your next turn, it’s almost like you are playing a turn behind your opponents who have ETB untapped lands. This tempo loss makes a big difference, and I would recommend including more dual lands that enter untapped.
Here are a few examples:
- Wooded Foothills
- Stomping Ground
- Spire Garden
- Grove of the Burnwillows
- Fire-Lit Thicket
- Karplusan Forest
- Cragcrown Pathway
Some of these can be pretty expensive, but I would highly recommend playing the ones you have or can afford. It makes a big difference to have access to the colors you need when you need them.
Lands can have utility beyond simply tapping for mana. Lands with abilities that contribute to your deck’s theme are especially valuable. Not all strategies have synergistic lands to go with them, but if they are available, there is very little opportunity cost to include them in your list.
For example, this article will discuss a few ideas for tribal versions of Draconic Rage deck. Lands like Cavern of Souls and Unclaimed Territory are perfect for those decks. Not only do they fix your colors, but Cavern can make tribe members uncounterable.
Other examples include High Market in sacrifice decks, Cathedral of War in decks that care about attacking or Voltron, or Balduvian Trading Post if you have creatures that want to be dealt damage. Be sure to put care into your mana base. Making thoughtful inclusions can add a lot of power to the rest of the deck.
General Commander Synergies
There are a couple of cards that you’ll want to put into the deck before you choose an upgrade path. These are cards that are powerful with Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients and not just the deck’s strategy. For example, Pyrohemia helps you trigger Vrondiss’s Enrage ability, with contributes to multiple different versions of the deck.
Also, I mentioned earlier that this deck needs plenty of ramp. The new Goblin Anarchist is a great option in that role. Making all of your spells cheaper makes it more possible to do more on your turns.
Since we’re talking about ramp, Radah Grand Warlord, Radha, Heir of Keld, Druid’s Repository, and Goldspan Dragon are all cards that add mana when they attack. That’s not necessarily helpful for Vrondiss, but if you choose to build around Wulfgar, of Icewind Dale or Klauth, Unrivaled Ancient these effects are great.
Finally, there’s also a new card that might come in handy from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. Bard Class can help make your Legendary stuff cheaper. This deck doesn’t necessarily run a lot of Legendary spells, but even just making your commander cheaper is a valuable ability. Any additional value is just gravy on top.
What to Take Out
This is the only article from the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Commander product that I am not going to recommend taking out the dice-rolling cards. The variance of these cards, combined with the awkwardness of requiring an additional die to play with, make me dislike their design. However, since there is a version of the Draconic Rage deck that focuses in on this theme, they can stay in for now.
I think that Taurean Mauler and Chameleon Colossus can both come out of this deck. If you choose to build a tribal version of this deck, there are plenty of tribe members in red/green. They won’t need to be supplemented with any Changelings.
There are a couple of Dragons in this deck that seem to be under-powered. Even if you play tribal dragons, there are probably better options available. The ones I’m referring to are Skyship Stalker, Opportunistic Dragon, and Demanding Dragon.
Lastly, I’m not in love with Indomitable Might. I understand that it has a valuable ability, especially in a deck that wants to attack and be aggressive. If you like the card, feel free to run it. I recommend taking it out though.
5 Ways to Upgrade
These are the five directions I thought of taking the Draconic Rage deck:
- Tribal Dragons
- Attack Triggers
These are not the only ways to upgrade this deck, just the ones I came up with. If you think of another cool idea, let me know in the comments below.
At the beginning of each of the next sections, I included a range of numbers. That range is what I expect this deck to be able to perform at on a 1-10 power scale (Based on the power scale established by the Command Zone Podcast). For more information on the Commander power scale, you can take a look at the table below.
|1-2||Jank||Very little synergy among cards. No Commander staples. Under powered on purpose.|
|3-4||Casual||Some synergies, but lacking the strong ones. Deck still lacks focus. Mana curves mostly neglected. A deck that a new player would build.|
|4-6||Focused||Synergy exists, deck has a focused gameplan, although doesn't always win in the exact same way, usually after turn 13. Includes staples and a small amount of tutors. On the same power level as most Commander precons.|
|7-8||Optimized||Powerful and varied synergies between the cards. A decent number of good tutors. Good mana curve. Has an efficient and consistent way to win on turns 10-12 (level 7) or 7-9 (level 8). Some social rules - like no mass land destruction, no consistent combo wins - still exist.|
|9-10||Competitive||The most powerful decks, on cEDH level. Quick and explosive, can win on turns 4-6 (level 9) or 1-3 (level 10). No social rules, no jank cards. Only the most powerful commanders and strategies can reach this level.|
Actual power levels may vary, but let those numbers be a guide when considering upgrading this deck in those ways.
1. Tribal Dragons (5-8)
When this Draconic Rage name was spoiled, many people expected it to be a five-colored deck. In 2017 there was a deck in the Commander product called Draconic Dominion that was five colors. Many people expected something similar from this deck.
For better or for worse, this deck is only red and green. Almost all the Dragons that are worth playing are red, so you don’t lose much by not having white, black, or blue. However, if you really want to build a five-colored Dragons deck, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms has Tiamat who could lead it. Building a five-color deck includes a lot of details that I am not going to include here. If you decide to build a Tiamat deck, you’re on your own.
Building a Dragons deck out of a precon in these colors is fairly simple. A lot of the skeleton is already there. All you have to do now is add your favorite Dragons and a few other support cards. These are a few non-Dragon inclusions I would recommend:
- Draconic Intervention
- Dragon Tempest
- Crucible of Fire
- Sarkhan’s Triumph
- Sarkhan’s Unsealing
- Sarkhan, Fireblood
Henceforth, when a Legendary Dragon or Dragon tribal comes out, my mind goes to a card that came out with Strixhaven: Dragon’s Approach. This card is perfect for a unique take on the Dragon tribe. Mostly this is because a significant number of deck slots must be dedicated to running this one card. I would recommend no few than twenty-five and as many as 35-40 copies of Dragon’s Approach if you end up wanting to play it.
If your deck includes an average of 30 Dragon’s Approaches and 37 lands, that only leaves 32 slots left for everything else. I would recommend dedicating four other slots to these cards:
They are each unique cards that don’t work with almost any other deck in Commander. They have excellent synergy with Dragon’s Approach, though. Especially Keening Stone, which can potentially win the game on the spot. Unfortunately, Keening Stone is pretty pricey, but you can probably get away with just playing the other three.
The Last Thirty Cards
This version of the deck might also play Experimental Frenzy, since you will want to play more Dragon’s Approaches than you have in your hand at any time. The library is the best place to get them from.
Other than that, make sure you have enough card draw, interaction, ramp, etc. to make the deck function properly. And don’t forget to have a few choice Dragons to be able to tutor up with Dragon’s Approach. You won’t be able to run as many Dragons as a typical tribal deck would, so make sure the ones you pick are quality.
New Cards From Forgotten Realms
Tribal Dragons is a theme from the new set, so you can count on it having some good Dragons. The ones in green and red are:
Also, Minion of the Mighty is a great card to help you cheat out bigger dragons faster. All you have to do is attack with six total power. That shouldn’t be too much to ask in a deck that plays so many Dragons.
Lastly, Temple of the Dragon Queen is a land that probably becomes a staple in Dragon decks from now on. It only taps for a single color of mana, but that color will always be the one that you need at the time.
What to Take Out
For the Dragon’s Approach version of Draconic Rage deck, you should probably get rid of everything except for your favorite Dragons. Maybe some of the removal or card advantage can stay as well, but most of the things have to go to make room for Approaches.
If you want to play a more typical Dragon tribal deck, I would recommend taking out the dice-rolling cards. Chaos Dragon can stay, but that’s only because it’s a Dragon itself. Otherwise, the d20’s need to move aside to make room for more Dragons.
Additionally, I think you should cut all creatures that aren’t Dragons. When I build tribal Commander decks, I like to commit to the tribal theme 100%. Anything that is not a tribe member can be replaced by a non-creature. I understand if you want to keep some utility creatures, though.
2. Enrage (5-8)
This next upgrade path looks at how to utilize Vrondiss’s Enrage ability. Enrage is a keyword ability that premiered in Ixalan and is almost exclusively associated with the Dinosaur tribe. First, I want to talk about what this deck might look like as a Dinosaur tribal deck.
In the past, Dinosaur decks have been red, green, and white. Gishath, Sun’s Avatar, Zacama, Primal Calamity, and Atla Pilani, Nest Tender are the three most common Dinos commanders. If we cut white, we do lose a lot of tribe members, but here’s what we’re left with:
- Apex Altisaur
- Frilled Deathspitter
- Needletooth Raptor
- Overgrown Armasaur
- Ranging Raptors
- Raptor Hatchling
- Ravenous Daggertooth
- Ripjaw Raptor
- Silverclad Ferocidons
- Snapping Sailback
- Sun-Crowned Hunters
- Urban Daggertooth
I should specify that these are the Dinosaurs in red/green that also have Enrage. I figured those would be the most important to look at, since Vrondiss also has that ability.
Speaking of Enrage, we are going to need some ways to trigger that ability. There happen to be a few Dinosaurs that can do so:
This deck should probably also include Drover of the Mighty, Commune with Dinosaurs, Dinosaur Stampede, Knight of the Stampede, Otepec Huntmaster, Savage Stomp, Thunderherd Migration, and Regisaur Alpha.
Before Enrage was keyworded, there were a handful of other creatures that cared about taking damage. Here are a few of those creatures:
- Hornet Nest
- Brash Taunter
- Stuffy Doll
- Coalhauler Swine
- Grothama, All Devouring
- Hungering Hydra
- Protean Hydra
- Sprouting Phytohydra
- Sporeweb Weaver
- Rite of Passage
They are a bit of a hodgepodge, but Vrondiss himself is not a Dinosaur, and therefore wouldn’t fit into a tribal Dinosaurs deck. Maybe combining the Enrage Dinos with these older cards could make a better balance for the ability. This way you don’t over-encumber the deck with tribal cards, but you still get to take advantage of that awesome Enrage trigger.
Here are a few more cards that would go well that don’t explicitly have Enrage:
New Cards From Forgotten Realms
There happens to be a new Creature that cares about when damage is dealt to it. Zalto, Fire Giant Duke lets you add yet another aspect to this deck, Venturing into the Dungeon whenever you deal damage to him. If you don’t want another level of complexity to this deck, he is by no means vital and easy to cut. However, it could be fun to include, especially since you could then call the deck Dungeons and Dragons.
What to Take Out
This version of the deck doesn’t need the dice cards, nor does it need very many if any Dragons. You could probably leave in the utility cards and lands, then take everything else out.
3. Dice-Rolling (4-7)
If I’m being honest, the Dice-Rolling mechanic seems a little bit like a meme to me. You can never count on them doing exactly what you want them to do. This seems to me like it would be frustrating when you need a card to do something specific.
With that being said, I think that Vrondiss has an ability that negates the downside a bit. The fact that he cares about the act of rolling the die and not the outcome means that you mitigate the risk quite a bit. So what would a deck that commits completely to dice rolling look like?
Well, there are twenty total black-bordered dice rolling cards in Magic. If you want to ask your friends about silver-bordered cards, multiple un-sets featured dice-rolling cards. That could also be an interesting way to build this deck, but I won’t be talking about it here.
The precon comes with nine cards that care about rolling dice. Here are the others. They can all be found in the main Adventures in the Forgotten Realms set:
- Chaos Channeler
- Delina, Wild Mage
- Farideh’s Fireball
- Goblin Morningstar
- Hoarding Ogre
- Loathsome Troll
- Spiked Pit Trap
- Swarming Goblins
- Sylvan Shepherd
- The Deck of Many Things
- Treasure Chest
In addition to the actual dice-rollers, Brazen Dwarf and Vrondiss himself care about rolling dice. This may or may not actually be enough cards to build a deck around. You will need to play plenty of card draw, ramp, and removal to give yourself the best possible shot at competing with other Commander decks. If you have success with this kind of deck, I definitely want to hear about your experience. Leave me a comment below.
New Cards From Forgotten Realms
Since rolling dice is new to this set, all the cards that I recommend come from this set.
What to Take Out
This version of the Draconic Rage deck doesn’t care as much about any tribal themes, so the Dragons can all go. Wulfgar of Icewind Dale is not consistently relevant and can also be cut. We can’t cut out too many things, though, because there are not that many dice-rolling cards to add to the deck.
4. Aristocrats (4-8)
I talked extensively about what the necessary parts of an Aristocrats deck are in my Dungeons of Death upgrade article. You can read more about that here. In a nutshell, I said that Aristocrats decks need cards that sacrifice Creatures, Creatures to sacrifice, and cards that care about sacrificing Creatures.
These effects are most abundant in black, white, and red, but green offers an interesting array of Aristocrats cards to choose from. Fortunately, if you don’t end up having any of them, the Dragon Spirit tokens that Vrondiss makes sacrifice themselves when they deal combat damage. This won’t allow for you to loop your sacrifices like so many Aristocrats decks do, but it does let your tokens fill two of the three rolls.
The different roles in this deck are almost exclusively filled by one color. The sac outlets will be predominantly green, but you’ll see a couple red cards here as well. Green sac outlets are great, though, because they typically provide a lot of value beyond the sacrifice trigger.
Cards like Greater Good, Life’s Legacy, and Momentous Fall draw you cards. Perilous Forays and Thermopod ramp you. Birthing Pod, Eldritch Evolution, Natural Order, Magus of the Order, Sneak Attack, and Evolutionary Leap help upgrade your creatures.
On the contrary to the previous section, most of this deck’s payoffs will be in red. Green has a few Creatures like Lumberknot that get bigger when other Creatures die, as well as Death’s Presence that works similarly.
If you want effects that actually do damage directly to an opponent, though, you have to look at red:
These cards have a much higher mana value than Blood Artist or Zulaport Cutthroat that you would have in typical Aristocrats decks. However, gaining access to green in this deck can help you ramp into these expensive payoffs.
The last two payoffs, Fecundity and Foster are card advantage engines. Foster helps you turn your Spirit Dragon tokens and other sacrifice fodder into real cards, and Fecundity is pretty self-explanatory. Just make sure you are sacrificing the most Creatures if you want to play Fecundity, because it is a universal effect for all players.
I mentioned before that the Spirit Dragon tokens made great sacrifices, as they sac themselves when they deal combat damage anyhow. However, there are a lot of other Spirits in the game that like to be sacrificed.
In Kamigawa block, some Spirits had an ability called Soulshift. Basically, when that Creature dies, you can return another Spirit from your graveyard to your hand that had a mana value less than or equal to the Soulshift value. Here are the ones that fit in Draconic Rage deck’s colors:
- Body of Jukai
- Burr Grafter
- Elder Pine of Jukai
- Forked-Branch Garami
- Harbinger of Spring
- Kami of the Tended Garden
- Kodama of the Center Tree
- Nightsoil Kami
- Promised Kannushi
- Thousand-legged Kami
- Venerable Kumo
- Vine Kami
These Creatures can help you loop your sacrifices, which is a valuable resource in Aristocrats decks. Furthermore, since nearly all of them are Spirits, you can also lean into that theme. Here are some red/green cards that care about Spirits:
- Sekki, Seasons’ Guide
- Blood Age General
- Iname, Life’s Aspect
- Kodama of the South Tree
- Loam Dweller
- Long-Forgotten Gohei
- Skyfire Kirin
Finally, there was a card in Kaldheim that ties these two themes together really well. Pyre of Heroes is both a sacrifice outlet and a tribal card. It’ll help you find the Spirits you need when you need them, all while sacrificing them for value.
This deck is overflowing with card advantage, and has all the potential to be as powerful as a traditional Aristocrats deck.
New Cards From Forgotten Realms
Instrument of the Bards is a card that works similarly to Birthing Pod and Pyre of Heroes, but doesn’t sacrifice anything. If you need another effect to search your deck, this could come in handy. I just wanted to point out that it’s probably not what this deck is looking for. Other than that, there are not any Spirits or sacrifice cards.
There are a few that care about when other creatures die, but I think the payoffs we talked about above are better options than what you could find in the set.
What to Take Out
This version of Draconic Rage deck doesn’t need any of the Dragon tribal cards, Neverwinter Hydra, Wulfgar of Icewing Dale, and the dice-rolling cards. If you want to focus in and build Aristocrats Spirits, you can cut out all the non-Spirit creatures and replace them with non-Creatures with similar abilities.
5. Attack Triggers (5-8)
This version of the deck should be led by Wulfgar of Icewind Dale. Basically, the idea of the deck will be to attack as much as possible (including multiple times on one turn) and make a bunch of mana. There are cards that have other attack effects as well, but these are the important ones. This deck sometimes has the tendency to devolve into infinite combat steps, but you can leave out the pieces that enable such combos.
First things first, here are a bunch of cards that accelerate your mana production when they attack:
Second, cards that can give you extra combats when they attack:
More Useful Attack Triggers
Other attack triggers allow you to draw cards, make tokens, put +1/+1 counters on Creatures, deal damage, untap lands, and more. Here is a non-exhaustive list of Creatures that want to attack:
- Ilharg, the Raze-Boar
- Inferno Titan
- Robber of the Rich
- Kalonian Hydra
- Gallia of the Endless Dance
- Utvara Hellkite
- Fangren Firstborn
- Flamerush Rider
- Blade of Selves
- Mage Slayer
- Esika’s Chariot
- Curse of Opulence
- Curse of Bounty
- Curse of Verbosity
- Bear Umbra
- Tectonic Giant
- Elder Gargaroth
- Hanweir Garrison + Hanweir Battlements
The last kind of cards I want to talk about are pretty mean. I wouldn’t recommend building a deck around them, unless your play group thinks it sounds fun. In Rise of the Eldrazi, a bunch of the Eldrazi Creatures had an ability called Annihilator, which triggers on attack. Wulfgar makes an individual Annihilator ability extra devastating. Here are some Annihilating Eldrazi:
- Artisan of Kozilek
- Hand of Emrakul
- It That Betrays
- Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
- Pathrazer of Ulamog
- Spawnsire of Ulamog
- Ulamog’s Crusher
- Ulamog the Infinite Gyre
- Eldrazi Conscription
- Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
New Cards From Forgotten Realms
The D&D set has a new keyword mechanic that triggers on attack. It’s called Pack Tactics, and it would probably be great in this deck. Here are some cards with that ability:
- Battle Cry Goblin
- Gnoll Hunter
- Hobgoblin Captain
- Intrepid Outlander
- Minion of the Mighty
- Targ Nar, Demon-Fanged Gnoll
- Tiger-Tribe Hunter
- Werewolf Pack Leader
What to Take Out
This version of the Draconic Rage deck is another that will want you to gut out most of the existing deck. There are a few cards that can stay, including Savage Ventmaw and Klauth, Unrivaled Ancient. Anger would also probably be helpful. Other than that, you should cut the Dragons, dice-rolling, and other filler cards.
“Rawr!” (Draconic for, “The End”)
And with that, we finish another upgrade article. Thank you so much for making it to the end. Let me know which one of these builds you like best or are going to build.
If you have any suggestions or comments, feel free to leave them below or find me on Instagram or Twitter. I also have a podcast you should listen to called Gathering: My Thoughts. You can find it on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
More Adventures in the Forgotten Realms
If you want to open some of the new Strixhaven cards, to upgrade your Draconic Rage deck with, you can purchase a Set booster box on Amazon.
If you want the shiniest and the rarest card, then you’ll probably like Collector boosters. You can check the Forgotten Realms Collector Booster contents here.
Also, check out the upgrade guides for the other Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Commander product:
However, if none of these precons suit you, you can find all Commander precons here.
Until next time, enjoy Magic and have fun with your upgraded Draconic Rage Commander deck!