Commanding Respect: Dakkon Blackblade
Welcome back one and all to Commanding Respect, a column on building with obscure commanders. For today's esper-colored Legend, we're going way back.
No, much further.
A little more.
There we go. Hailing from Legends, Magic's third expansion (as in, the third after Alpha and reprints), it's Dakkon Blackblade!
I have gone on the record with some... strong words about the Legends expansion. Strong words like "hate", and "awful", and "oh god why would you print that". Feelings about the "set" aside, Dakkon here is pretty decent. Sure, he's six mana in three colors for a beater, but hey! He's a scalable beater, with a weird land theme that needs to be built without green. Let's figure this out and get to ramping!
Why Can't I Hold All These Lands?
For this deck, I searched far and wide to find effects that allow us to get lands from our library to our hand, our library to the battlefield, and our hand to the battlefield. Most of these effects come from artifacts, but a few of them come from a subset of ramp that white has access to: fetching lands, but only if an opponent controls more lands. This does pose a strange dynamic for a deck focused on ramping, but these effects will help accelerate our early game and ensure that we don't feel behind if we start missing land drops. The most infamous card in this category is Land Tax, far and away the most efficient method of getting lands to our hand. Weathered Wayfarer can search repeatably, and for any land, with the same restriction of only-if-an-opponent-controls-more-lands. Tithe is an instant that always gets at least one Plains to our hand, and finds a second Plains if we're behind.
Believe it or not, we have a few repeatale ramp cards contributed by blue. Remember my Patron of the Moon article from not that long ago? I'm including Patron in spite of his steep mana cost. We don't have any moonfolk to reduce his cost, but we do have a deck that makes a theme of ramping. Lower on the mana curve is Dreamscape Artist, a creature that turns any card in our hand into a blue Harrow.
We have some colorless options for repeatable ramp, and they range from "solid" to "not great but it's the best we've got." On the "solid" side, we have Sword of the Animist. Our deck cares about attacking and ramp, so that Sword is exactly where we want to be. On the "less good" side, there Journeyer's Kite and its new strictly-better version, Thaumatic Compass. Three mana is a little steep for ensuring a land drop, but our commander is expensive and we will need those lands in the long game. Thaumatic Compass has the upside of transforming into a land that helps protect us from attackers, and it being a land provides that tiny additional buff to Dakkon. Either the Kite or the Compass pairs extremely well with my favorite pet card, Walking Atlas (the namesake of my usernames).
For some of our one-shot ramp, we welcome the Mayor of Valuetown, Solemn Simulacrum, as well as his deputy Burnished Hart. To further utilize these excellent cards, we have a few cards to recur artifacts, most notably Trading Post. (Trading Post is a highly-versatile, often-underestimated card. Even if we don't have one of these artifact creatures to reuse, we can get ride of excess artifacts to dig, or spit of Goats to chump-block).
Since our primary game plan involves hitting opponents repeatedly with our commander, it's only reasonable that we suit him up a little! The most on-theme offensive equipment in our deck is Adventuring Gear: not the splashiest card, but the potential synergy is too good to ignore. Darksteel Plate, Swiftfoot Boots, and Conqueror's Flail all serve to protect our commander in one form or another. Whispersilk Cloak does that as well, with the addition of unconditional unblockability.
Double-strike is an excellent game-accelerant for a commander as scalable as ours, but finding that keyword on a piece of equipment is rare, and those pieces of equipment are not very well-costed. As a result, I've looked in other places for double strike. Duelist's Heritage is an enchantment that can grant double strike without the risk of getting two-for-one'd that comes with using an Aura (it also doubles as a political tool). Arashin Foremost takes advantage of the fact that creature type updates have made Dakkon a Human Warrior. The commander and the Foremost are both wonderful candidates to wield our Sword of Feast and Famine.
As artifact-centric as our deck has become, it's only reasonable that we include a few cards to search for artifacts. At three mana, Fabricate does this with reasonable efficiency. There's also Inventors' Fair, which is essentially Fabricate on a land. Finally, we have Whir of Invention, an artifact tutor that we can reduce the cost of by tapping our artifacts. This is especially useful with all the equipment in our deck, since being tapped has no bearing on the effectiveness of equipment.
I continue to opine that Trinket Mage, with his ability to search for artifacts with converted mana cost one or less, is an excellent utility card. I've tweaked our deck slightly to take advantage of his flexibility. Wayfarer's Bauble and Expedition Map were already present, being one-mana artifacts that secure us more lands. While most of our ramp is trying to be land-ramp, including Sol Ring seems like a no-brainer, especially when our other ramp is so expensive. Codex Shredder acts as an unconditional recursion effect, in a color combination with fewer recursion options than green would afford us. Sensei's Divining Top, plenty good on its own, has further synergy with our numerous effects that put lands from the top of our library onto the battlefield.
In this land-themed deck, I would be remiss not to include a selection of awesome utility lands. Multiple lands grant evasion in one form or another: Soaring Seacliff lets Dakkon leap over a crowd, Sejiri Steppe lets him push through, and Rogue's Passage lets him sneak around.
Bojuka Bog is an auto-include in almost any black deck, as graveyard hate is a disproportionately powerful effect against the right decks. We have Terrain Generator, which sits alongside Myriad Landscape as one of the few lands that is itself capable of putting more lands onto the battlefield. Then, for obscene amounts of ramp, we're playing the classic Cabal Coffers / Urborg combo. Urborg makes all lands swamps, and Cabal Coffers taps for one black mana per swamp we control. With no fewer than three tutors capable of retrieving lands, I expect we can reliably bring these two buddies together.
Thank you all for joining us on what is somehow our second obscure land-based deck in a color combination that includes at least blue. I hope you've enjoyed this rare venture of Bryce reaching a hand into Legends and pulling out a workable legendary creature. Care to suggest commanders for future Commanding Respect articles? I'd love to hear from you on Twitter: just track down @Walking_Atlas.You can find my other work at edhrec.com And remember: you can command any deck you want, as long as you command respect.
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