Tim, King of Dragons (upgrading Sarkhan)

Ahoy everyone! Please allow me to introduce myself. My name’s Tim, although some people know me as Dijital Llama. Jordan from the Orc’s Head Magic YouTube channel came up with an idea of five UK based content creators each taking a brand new Planeswalker deck from Core Set 2019, and working our Magic (pun intended) on it, to offer some insights and a couple of upgrades. The first should be a very budget tweak, around the $5 mark, and following that we get to push the boat out to around $20. Challenge accepted!

Planeswalker decks are a great way to be introduced, or introduce someone to the game of Magic. They provide a fully functioning deck, a booster pack to crack and get that addiction started, and some exclusive cards for collectors and Commander players! They all work well when played against each other too!

So, the random allocation happened, and I received the red deck, Sarkhan, Dragonsoul. Now red is one of my favourite colours in Magic, so needless to say I was one happy Llama! Then to top it off, when I looked at the decklist on the Magic website I found that it’s essentially a Dragon tribal deck, and tribal Magic is a forte of mine!

Throughout the currently standard legal sets there are a plethora of Dragons to choose from if that was the route I’d go down. Certainly Sarkhan’s ultimate ability was screaming that he demanded more dragons. Being able to search your deck for any number of them and drop them straight on to the battlefield is something I could really get behind.

As well as Sarkhan, Dragonsoul, you also get a number of cards that are exclusive to each of the five Planeswalker decks. One of the stipulations of our challenge was to leave these untouched in both of our decks. No complaints here! Kargan Dragonrider is essentially a flying 2/2 for two, Sarkhan’s Dragonfire is a nice bit of burn and a semi-tutor all in one, and his Whelp can keep pinging away at anything we like!

With that said, let’s crack on with the part you’ve probably been waiting for, the deck upgrades!

For the $5 budget, I have to rein in some of my flashier ideas, and focus on improving the consistency of our deck, and we already have a solid base of 10 cards to start us off.

1 Sarkhan, Dragonsoul

2 Sarkhan’s Dragonfire

3 Sarkhan’s Whelp

4 Kargan Dragonrider

Next thing to look at is the burn! We’re in red, so we want to be able to throw flames and lightning towards our opponent and their creatures, and build on what’s included in the out-of-the-box deck…

4 Lightning Strike $0.24

3 Magma Spray $0.18 – You never know when you need something exiled!

2 Radiating Lightning $0.02 – Because Chainwhirler is a touch out of budget!

Now red isn’t particularly well known for it’s card draw, but what it does do well is loot. Discarding cards to draw cards doesn’t always sound like the best strategy, but if what you’re holding doesn’t answer a situation, what you exchange them for potentially could. For that reason I’m including

3 Cathartic Reunion $0.36

2 Hazoret’s Monument $0.11

The Monument is legendary so you can only have one on the field at a time, but the reduction in cost of our dragons will come in very handy!

I’m also very partial to red’s ability to steal our opponent’s things! Besmirch is one of my favourite cards ever, so the inclusion of Act of Treason as a one-of in the OG deck needs to be expanded on for sure in my opinion.

3 Act of Treason $0.04

With the basics of the deck fleshed out, it’s time to turn attention to the fun, flying stuff.

We already have a few dragons in the deck, and with $4.05 left in the bank, we can definitely supplement those!

1 Shivan Dragon

2 Sparktongue Dragon

2 Volcanic Dragon

1 Lathliss, Dragon Queen $1.97

3 Demanding Dragon $2.20

That actually takes us 12 cents over, but hopefully my fellow brewers won’t mind! Upping the Demanding Dragon to a three-of really applies the pressure to our opponents, it’s either 5 to the dome, or a loss of board presence. Both can be a slippery slope.

Lathliss, Dragon Queen is an amazing card, giving us so much value. Say for example she is already on our playmat, then we ultimate our Sarkhan, pulling maybe another four dragons on to the battlefield. That then triggers her ability quadruple times, giving us an additional 20 power! Add to that her hyper-firebreathing and you can’t go wrong!

That also takes us rather nicely to 36 creatures and spells in the deck. The plan is really to hold up our opponent with burn, Whelps and Dragonriders until Sarkhan and his dragons can swoop down to claim the skies in your name! As we have no cash left in the wallet, the manabase remains purely basic, with

24 Mountain

So, now on to magical Christmas land(ish) where we get to splash a bit more cash! The very first thought I had was, needs more Glorybringers. This card has been a star in standard since it’s debut in Amonkhet. Five mana for a hasty 4/4 that can bring the pain in the form of 4 damage to a creature when it attacks and exerts has to be included in here as a playset! That alone munches up $5, but it’s oh so worth it.

The other big dragon of standard is a more recent release. Verix Bladewing is a 4/4 for four this time, but when kicked, brings along her sidekick, Karox, who also just happens to be a 4/4. That’s 8 total power for 7 mana, and two triggers from our Dragon Queen. Speaking of which, she should probably become a 2-of now. So with those 4 dragons, all of that sets us back $3.47.

Now with all these big creatures being quite mana-hungry, our single Monument isn’t quite going to cut it, so we need a bit more ramp. Fortunately M19 brings us just the thing. Dragon’s Hoard is a 3-drop artifact that can tap for any colour, and when not needed for ramping out dragons, can be used for card draw. Very versatile indeed! Two of those sets us back $1.72.

This leaves us with just enough (with some creative accounting) to finish off the deck with the main set version of our Planeswalker. Sarkhan, Fireblood is a nice and cheap to cast walker, who comes in with 3 loyalty, and straight away provides value. +1 to add two mana to spend on dragons is a great ability, and after only four turns if he’s left alone we can create another 4 5/5 dragons! The value is nuts! He’s the most expensive card in the deck, coming in at a whopping $11.89 but with all the power he brings to the battlefield I feel it’s money well spent!

So our final, dragon-based decklist looks a little something like this…

Sarkhan, Dragonsoul
Sarkhan’s Dragonfire
Sarkhan’s Whelp
Kargan Dragonrider
Sarkhan, Fireblood
Lightning Strike
Magma Spray
Radiating Lightning
Hazoret’s Monument
Dragon’s Hoard
Lathliss, Dragon Queen
Verix Bladewing
Demanding Dragon
Shivan Dragon
24 Mountain

I hope you’ve enjoyed this run-down on the new red Planeswalker deck from Core Set 2019. It’s a lot of fun on the kitchen table, and is totally standard legal as of next weekend, meaning you can jump into an FNM with it too!

I’ve been Tim, your guest writer for the day, and you can normally find me over here on YouTube. I release videos all about fun, casual Magic every Thursday and Sunday, covering everything from deck techs, to Arena gameplay, to pack openings, to exploring the jankier tribes of Magic the Gathering.

Thanks very much for reading, and thank you to Master of Magics for having me. Cheers!


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1 thought on “Tim, King of Dragons (upgrading Sarkhan)

  1. Unfortunately Lathliss doesn’t put Dragons when you ultimate Sarkhan Fireblood, cuz she specifies nontoken dragons – great article though!

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