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Deep Tracks: Vaevictis Asmadi


Hello and welcome to another edition of Deep Tracks! This week signifies the final chapter of our compendium on the Elder Dragons from Legends and Core Set 2019. It has been an intense journey, and I want to send a huge thanks to all of you for accompanying me on this deck building adventure! For this Deep Tracks, we’ll be reviewing each Dragon from the last four weeks, but first, we need to shed some light on our final subject:
 
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Pump… Pump… PUMP! I imagine Vaevictis Asmadi preparing for an attack, glowing with rage, and growing exponentially in size reminiscent of Bruce Banner transforming into The Incredible Hulk! That may not be a spot-on analogy, but it’s one for all my comic book nerds out there! Vaevictis Asmadi comes fully equipped with Firebreathing, as one would expect from an Elder Dragon. And it’s nice to see that the artist of Vaevictis Asmadi’s depiction from Legends nailed it in terms of flavor. It’s an interesting piece of art, and I’m fully convinced that there is nothing but a massive wall of fire blazing in the background. He’s even got some residual flames pouring out of his nostrils!
 
Last week, we discovered that the design for Palladia-Mors, the Ruiner included a touch of throwback flavor when compared to her original Legends printing, Palladia-Mors. But this philosophy doesn’t necessarily hold true for every one of the Core Set 2019 Elder Dragons. As a matter of fact, we find a vastly different ability stapled onto the new version of Vaevictis Asmadi:
 
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Well, it's nice to at least see that this artist also nailed the whole "wall of fire'' aesthetic! However, in terms of functionality, the only identical characteristics between the two versions of Vaevictis are his creature type, color identity, and the flying keyword ability. But let’s get real here; all Dragons fly, right? It seems as though Vaevictis Asmadi went from being a nearly unplayable creature card to a reasonable top-end threat with a triggered ability that has some crazy combo potential. To start, Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire's ability can be viewed as a very unusual way to cheat a high CMC permanent into play. But there's more to consider here. What I personally found most interesting is that his ability provides this weird "pseudo" form of removal, and could be especially useful if we could develop a way to break the symmetry of his built-in sacrifice effect. So when it came time to brew up something crazy for this Elder Dragon, I had options to mull over in terms of deck design. I ended up putting together several decks that were focused on abusing Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire's triggered ability, but ultimately, my favorite idea ended up being a good old fashioned self-sacrifice deck:
 
 
Ah, one of my favorite fringe archetypes for Modern: Aristocrats! As I mentioned, there were many avenues to explore involving the new Vaevictis. But at the end of the day, I just loved the idea of taking advantage of Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire's sacrifice clause. The main idea of the deck is to survive long enough to resolve a copy of Vaevictis, and then overtake the game with a stream of incremental value! In this strategy we want to sacrifice our creatures, and we've got a lot of them! Let's start by taking a look at our primary sacrifice fodder:
 
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Dread Wanderer, Young Wolf, and Mogg War Marshal are a few of my favorite "sacrifice friendly" options in the colors of Jund. They all come down relatively early in the game serving as useful blockers and also fueling our Aristocratic shenanigans. Next up we have our sacrifice outlets:
 
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Both Viscera Seer and Bloodthrone Vampire are synonymous with this style of deck. But to go along with Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire, I also decided to try out another new entry from Core Set 2019, Demon of Catastrophes. I really like the simplicity of this Demon, and it makes for a very strong top-end threat in a deck that's aiming to sacrifice it's own creatures! To polish things off, I included the de facto payoffs Blood Artist and Zulaport Cutthroat, and also squeezed in Dark Confidant and Scavenging Ooze as a shoutout to prototypical Jund decklists. And I have to give a moment of praise to one of my pet cards for any Aristocrats brew I dream up:
 
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Liliana, Heretical Healer looks fairly innocent on the surface, and is commonly outshined by other various iterations of the Planeswalker like Liliana of the Veil or Liliana, the Last Hope, to name a couple. But like every other version of Lili that sees Modern play, Liliana, Heretical Healer always feels like a high-impact card when she hits the battlefield, especially in an Aristocrats deck!
 
Now that we've uncovered a glimpse of potential for Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire, I'd like to take some time to review my favorite highlights from the past few weeks as a recap of the entire Elder Dragon hoard form Legends and Core Set 2019!

Palladia-Mors

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Palladia-Mors ended up being one of the most difficult Elder Dragons to brew around. There simply weren't a ton of interesting ways to make use of her abilities. That being said, I really enjoyed playing around with this Dragon Tribal concept for Standard:
 
 
Dominaria and Core Set 2019 have laid the groundwork to make Dragons a thing in Standard for the foreseeable future. This is my initial take on Dragon Tribal. I'm really excited to see where we can take this build as we head towards rotation!
 
Notable decklist changes: I decided to slide Sarkhan, Dragonsoul out of the maindeck and into the sideboard. Also, I took some advice from user Phosphorescent and added a few copies of Dragon's Hoard to the deck.

Nicol-Bolas

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Nicol Bolas was an absolute blast to write about and brew with. This is especially true for the new Core Set 2019 flip-Walker version of the Elder Dragon. We saw Bolas in action from Old School 93/94 all the way to Standard. But, my favorite deck from Bolas week was this sweet Modern Grixis list:
 
 
I don't have a whole lot to say here. I simply fell in love with the idea that we could max out the potential for Nicol Bolas, the Ravager in Modern with a little help from Training Grounds. This brew came together nicely, and is one of those special ideas that I'm very proud of!
 
Notable decklist changes: none

Chromium

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My article featuring Chromium was special because I asked all of you to brew up a unique deck using Chromium, the Mutable from Core Set 2019. And boy, did you all come through! I received a bunch of solid submissions, but the one that had my gears turning the most also took the title of being the first Vintage decklist I've ever included in an installment of Deep Tracks!
 
 
I really love the fact that MrMoesis had the courage to send in such a thought-provoking prototype, and it will be one that sticks in my mind for quite some time. Thanks again to all of you who took the time to send in a sweet decklist!

Arcades

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We kicked off our celebration of Core Set 2019 with Arcades, and we sure had a blast! I received a ton of feedback from all of you, and it seemed like the Modern Arcades, the Strategist decklist stirred up the loudest buzz:
 
I received a lot of great suggestions in the comments for the Arcades article, and as a result, I made some updates to this Modern decklist that definitely strengthened the overall idea. Thanks everyone for the fantastic feedback!
 
Notable decklist changes: added Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive, as suggested by user JDFernandes. Added Tower Defense, as suggested by user Andrew Gates. Added Wall of Denial, as suggested by user Kundow Firevine.

Conclusion

Over the past five weeks, It's been kind of like a rollercoaster ride trying to figure out each one of the Elder Dragons from Legends and Core Set 2019. The Legends versions of Arcades Sabboth, Chromium, Nicol Bolas, Palladia-Mors, and Vaevictis Asmadi were particularly challenging to brew with. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the new M19 versions of each Dragon, and that's what ended up really driving the whole experience for me. And it was really great to receive all the fantastic input and advice you all brought to the table as well. For me, that's the most important thing I take away from Deep Tracks; sharing ideas with such a wonderful community of people not only here on the @MTGGoldfish website, but also in person, and all around the web! Thanks everyone for taking this ride with me!
 
Well, that’s it for now. Let me know what you think! Which one of the Elder Dragons from Core Set 2019 is your favorite, and why? As always, all comments are welcome, thank you so much for reading, and have a great one!
 
Follow me on Twitter - @WallofOmens
 
-John
 


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