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Priemer’s Primers: The Doomsday Dragon

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

Priemer’s Primers: The Doomsday 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

Every now and then I get the urge to revisit an old combo deck and try to revamp it with a different angle of attack. In the past, this led to crazy things like splashing Deceiver Exarch and Splinter Twin in a Standard Valakut deck, or using Unexpected Results to back up a Green-Red Through the Breach deck in Modern. These little twists help keep my opponents on their toes, and often allow me to win games where the stock lists would otherwise be unable.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a pair of decks that could abuse the Worldgorger Dragon combo to their fullest potential. Both the Reanimator version and the Tin Fins version have done exceedingly well in our testing circles, but a recent surge of inspiration and insomnia-induced insanity led me to evolve the archetype even further. One of the biggest issues we’d have when playing the traditional Worldgorger decks is that we would have to max out on copies of each combo piece to ensure that we would draw them. This would often lead to clunky opening hands, or turns where we would draw redundant combo pieces. I knew that there had to be a way not only shave slots for my combo pieces while still maintaining that level of consistency I needed to combo off in the first place. That’s when it hit me: Doomsday.

Doomsday is a card that I’ve written about extensively in the past. It’s a one card combo engine that can tutor out exactly what cards you need at the cost of half your life and the rest of your deck. It felt like the perfect card to not only tutor out the combo pieces I needed, but to set them up to guarantee victory as well. With Doomsday, I would be able to cut back on several slots taken up by combo pieces in order to pack more permission and card draw, which was something the previous iterations always felt like they could use. After several hours at the drawing board, I came to the following list:

This is pretty much the most streamlined Doomsday Worldgorger Dragon combo deck you’re going to see in Legacy. The game plan is simple: dig until you hit Doomsday, resolve Doomsday, and win. This deck runs a whopping 20 cantrips backed by 12 counterspells to ensure your Doomsday resolves. Once Doomsday is live, you form the following pile: Mental Note, Worldgorger Dragon, Oona, Queen of the Fae, Animate Dead, Laboratory Maniac. With a simple cantrip you draw the Mental Note, milling both the Worldgorger and Oona and drawing Animate Dead. You then cast the Animate Dead targeting Worldgorger Dragon, performing the loop and making infinite mana. You then end the loop by using Animate Dead on Oona, exiling their deck. The Laboratory Maniac is your plan B, just in case they disrupt the Dragon loop, you can still win by casting Laboratory Maniac and another cantrip like Brainstorm or Ponder.

While traditional Worldgorger plays like a fast combo deck, this build is closer to the slower, more controlling Meandeck Doomsday. You  want to be in control for the entire game, countering their key spells and sculpting your hand until it’s time to combo and kill them. This often requires Gitaxian Probe to give you perfect information, or Lim-Dul’s Vault to effectively tutor for Doomsday and sculpt your next few draws, all on your opponent’s end step. As well, unlike most tutors, excess copies of Lim-Dul’s Vault can be pitched to Force of Will and Misdirection. Misdirection is especially strong in this deck, since one of the easiest ways to beat Worldgorger combo is to use Abrupt Decay on Animate Dead. Redirecting an Abrupt Decay to one of the opponent’s permanents while ensuring you combo off is the epitome of value.

SO HOW DOES THIS DECK STACK UP TO THE METAGAME?

Due to your excessive countermagic, most combo matchups are already excellent. Keeping a deck like Sneak and Show or Reanimator from resolving their key spells is clutch, and buys you plenty of time to put together your Doomsday. These decks fall victim to the issue that plagued the previous Worldgorger decks in that they require too many slots to be taken up by combo pieces, so you have the edge in counterspells and cantrips. These decks also tend to not have answers to graveyard-based decks, which is also very helpful.

For graveyard decks like Dredge and Reanimator, your abundance of countermagic is usually key to keeping them under control. Countering an early Careful Study or Putrid Imp can often be enough to get Dredge to stumble on actually getting a Dredger into their graveyard, which means they either play draw-go until they hit another discard spell or they have to discard on their cleanup step. This gives you plenty of turns to find Doomsday. For Reanimator, you have a little more flexibility since, while they have counterspells of their own, they only run between 4-8 counterspells to your 12. As well, the majority of their deck is Black, which makes having a card to pitch to Force of Will difficult. This was a major flaw with the initial Worldgorger Dragon deck I built, and this version is more capable of preying on that flaw.

Delver decks are slightly problematic if they run out an early clock that can deplete your life total fast enough that even if you play Doomsday, you could easily die to a Lightning Bolt. These are matches where casting an early Force of Will on their creatures is necessary. RUG and BUG Delver decks are typically threat-light, so countering a Tarmogoyf or Deathrite Shaman in the early game will usually buy you a couple turns of breathing room.

Opposing creature decks like Death & Taxes and Elves can be rough in game 1, as they can easily overwhelm your countermagic with sheer bodies, and a lot of your countermagic is just dead since it’s predominantly geared toward noncreature spells. In these types of matchups you really have to try to fire off a Doomsday as quickly as possible in the hopes of just not dying to whatever they have on board. Postboard is an entirely different story, as the deck runs three copies of Massacre to keep the opponent’s board clear long enough to dig into your combo.

SO WHAT DOES THE SIDEBOARD LOOK LIKE?

First and foremost, you need to identify what cards stop you from comboing off with Doomsday. The most pressing issue is a weakness to graveyard hate, as a well-timed Deathrite Shaman or Relic of Progenitus activation can stop you from getting your infinite mana. That’s why I have three copies of Stifle, as well as my bounce package of Chain of Vapor and Echoing Truth. For the most part, these cards can be countered, but should one resolve they can spell hell on your graveyard. If left unchecked, you will have to resort to your plan B, which is setting up a Doomsday pile of Laboratory Maniac, Brainstorms, and Gitaxian Probes to play around the graveyard hate. While awkward, it gives you alternate methods of dealing with resolved graveyard hate.

Another awkward card against us is Abrupt Decay. Since we can’t counter it, a well-timed Abrupt Decay can kill our Animate Dead and leave us with zero permanents in play. This is why I opted to run three copies of Divert to compliment the maindeck Misdirections. Divert also helps fight Thoughtseize and Hymn to Tourach, which are typically found in the Abrupt Decay decks like Jund and Shardless BUG, since they turn opposing countermagic and Surgical Extractions back on their controller for hilarious amounts of value.

Massacre is there for the various creature swarm decks like Death & Taxes and Elves, since it can sweep the board and leave them with no threats or lockdown pieces. Finally, rounding out the sideboard are more counterspells for the combo and Delver matches. Swan Song is a catch-all counterspell against pretty much every castable card in Sneak and Show, while Flusterstorm helps trump the opponent in a counter war while also stopping ANT in their tracks. Divert also does some work in the counter wars, since you can turn an opponent’s counterspell on to Divert or one of their other counterspells.

WHY SHOULD I BUILD DOOMSDAY DRAGON?

This deck is the end result of a week of insomnia and Gatherer searches, a fever dream mashup of the most convoluted combos in Legacy. It’s worth it to build the deck for the experience alone. Not only are you playing a deck centred around Doomsday, one of the most mind-boggling combo engines in the game, you get to cheat out Worldgorger Dragon, make infinite mana, and exile the opponent’s deck! There isn’t a part of that sentence that doesn’t scream fun, and backing it all up with enough counters and card draw to hold its own against the established decks in the format should be more than enough to give this deck a shot. So if you’re in the mood to go infinite and go crazy, you can’t go wrong with The Doomsday Dragon!

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