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Priemer’s Primers: How to Break Your Dragon!

Written by Tyler Priemer on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Legacy

Priemer’s Primers:  How to Break Your Dragon!

Tyler Priemer

Tyler has been playing TCGs for nearly 20 years. A long brewer with a knack for Legacy, there's nothing he loves more than making crazy decks a reality

Legacy was shaken up quite a bit with the release of Fate Reforged. Treasure Cruise had finally bitten the dust, and with it, the menace of UR Delver was beginning to subside. But back when the announcements were first made, something caught my eye as Twitter exploded over losing their Cruises. WORLDGORGER FREAKING DRAGON IS BACK! Worldgorger and I have something of a history together. As a child first starting out in Magic, I primarily played durdly little creature decks and mishmash control decks. The day I learned of Worldgorger Dragon’s interaction with Animate Dead, I sleeved it up immediately. It was too awesome a concept to pass up. Infinite mana as early as turn 1-2? Sign me up!

For the uninitiated, the combo works in seven steps.

1)     With Worldgorger Dragon in the graveyard, cast Animate Dead/Dance of the Dead/Necromancy targeting the Dragon.

2)     The Dragon comes into play and triggers its “enters the battlefield” ability.

3)     The ability resolves and all of your other permanents leave play.

4)     Because Animate Dead left the battlefield, the Dragon is sacrificed.

5)     Since the Dragon left play, your permanents return. Animate Dead triggers targeting the Dragon.

6)     In response to Animate Dead’s trigger, tap your lands and float your mana.

7)     Animate Dead resolves, the Dragon returns, and your other permanents are exiled.

You then repeat steps 4-7 over and over netting more and more mana with each iteration of the combo. This loop is made up of mandatory triggers, so you have to find a way to end or disrupt the loop. Typically this is done by targeting another creature in your graveyard with Animate Dead, such as Oona, Queen of the Fae, Ambassador Laquatus, or Shivan Hellkite, which each have a way to sink your infinite mana to kill the opponent. Another option is to cast an instant that can kill them, such as Stroke of Genius. However, if you don’t have a way to end the loop, it just continues forever and the game will become a draw. It was that little problem that caused Worldgorger Dragon to be banned in the first place, but to me this is one of the most appealing things about the card. For example, with the instant-speed of Necromancy, you could force a draw at will, provided there are no other targets in the graveyard. This means that if you were about to lose, you could draw the game instead and start all over again!

Within minutes of hearing of the card’s unbanning I immediately knew what I wanted my win condition to be. While the Vintage version often uses Bazaar of Baghdad to mill through their deck to guarantee having another reanimation target in their graveyard, with Legacy there is no land that can reasonably do the same. However, with a little bulk rare from Khans of Tarkir called Altar of the Brood, I don’t need to have another creature in my graveyard. With Altar in play, I can combo off and mill out my opponent, stopping the loop by using Animate Dead on one of their creatures. All I have to do is pass the turn and they lose on their draw step.

Unfortunately, this plan ran into one massive 15/15 roadblock. Against Sneak and Show or 12 Post, trying to mill the opponent would always fail, as Emrakul, the Aeons Torn would simply shuffle their graveyard back into their deck. It then occurred to me that by running a set of Stifle, I could not only shut off Emrakul’s shuffle trigger, I could then Animate Dead the Eldrazi for myself! Stifle also gives me the ability to shut off graveyard hate like Deathrite Shaman, Relic of Progenitus, and Tormod’s Crypt for the necessary combo turn, as well as manually stopping the Dragon loop in case there isn’t a creature in their graveyard after milling them, such as against Storm. This was all the inspiration I needed to put together this Reanimator-style Dragon list:


This version has multiple avenues of attack to keep the opponent on their toes. In addition to the Altar of the Brood mill plan, I included a pair of Blue Sun’s Zenith to force the opponent to draw their deck, as well as three copies of Piranha Marsh. The Piranha Marshes came from discussing possible win conditions with my buddy and fellow L1 judge Josh Goldenthal. With a Piranha Marsh on the table, every iteration of the Dragon loop will deal one damage to the opponent as it constantly leaves and enters the battlefield.

For the sideboard, I stuck close to the traditional Reanimator sideboard by including several cards that fight similarly problematic matchups. Misdirection adds to the already substantial amount of free counterspells, and also helps fend off otherwise disastrous Surgical Extractions and Abrupt Decays. Pithing Needle acts as a backup to Stifle for fighting off Deathrite Shaman and Tormod’s Crypt, and even has applications for dealing with slower, grindier decks like Miracles and Jund.

Leyline of the Void is a free method of shutting off the various graveyard decks in the format like Dredge and Reanimator, as well as aiding the Altar of the Brood plan by shutting off the issues that Emrakul causes since it never hits the graveyard to begin with. Chain of Vapor, conversely, stops opposing Leyline of the Voids, and is a cheap way to bounce annoying hate cards like Grafdigger’s Cage and Containment Priest. Finally, I included three copies of Massacre as a way to deal with the hordes of creatures Death and Taxes can drop on to the table.

After consulting Josh, we concluded that in addition to Reanimator, there was also a Tin Fins-style Worldgorger deck that could be made. By trading off the protection and cantrips Blue provides for fast mana and hand disruption, we could speed up the deck by about a turn. After I reminded him that Ghitu Fire was a card, we had ourselves a brew:

Thanks to the fast mana of Dark Ritual and Lotus Petal, this build of Worldgorger has the power to combo off on turn 1. A simple Dark Ritual is all your need to Entomb and Animate Dead your Dragon back. Granted, you still need a win condition, but thanks to Gitaxian Probe and Faithless Looting you can also dig your way into a victory.

This version really preys on decks without excessive countermagic, but just to be safe, extra copies of Pact of Negation and Thoughtseize are in the sideboard to help stave off disruption. Rakdos Charm serves to shut off opposing graveyards as well as blowing up pesky Grafdigger’s Cages and Relic of Progenitus. The split on Leylines is something we debated for a bit, but we came to the agreement that only two Leyline of the Void were needed since the Rakdos Charms could also shut off graveyards. Leyline of Sanctity shuts off hand disruption like Thoughtseize and Cabal Therapy, as well as keeping Tormod’s Crypt from targeting us, and Firestorm helps keep Deathrite Shaman and Death and Taxes under control while simultaneously putting our Dragon and Oona/Shivan Hellkite in the graveyard.

As with every unbanning, the sky’s the limit for what kind of decks Worldgorger Dragon will turn up in. While Josh has had plenty of success testing the BR Tin Fins build on Magic Online, my paper testing has given me plenty of evidence that UB Reanimator-style Worldgorger is strong enough to contend with the pillars of the format. Who knows what the eventual default version of Worldgorger combo will be, but having such fun combo cards coming off the banned list offers plenty of room for brewing and innovation, and that’s more than enough reason for me to recommend these decks. If you enjoy going infinite and trolling opponents and judge staff alike, then Worldgorger Combo is the deck for you!

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