Zirilan of the Claw: Putting a fresh coat of paint on an old classic (not updated since 2013 lol)

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DirkGently
My wins are unconditional
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Post by DirkGently » 1 year ago

EDIT: My new decklist!
Zirilan of the Claw

Commander (1)


Dragons! (21)


Dragon Beatdown (Plan B) (4)


Value (1)


Answers (3)


Approximate Total Cost:

I've been playing Zirilan of the Claw since my early days in the format - I believe early 2011 was my first build.

Unfortunately, I'm pretty bad at actually updating my decks. This current version in my backpack has only seen small changes since 2012 (usually for things too insane to ignore, like scourge of the throne and hellkite tyrant). Every time I pull it out I think...oh god, this deck REALLY needs an update.

I did do some deep-diving a couple years ago (pulling cards from my collection) to create my unofficial primer HERE, so I have tried some things out, but I didn't actually get around to buying singles to update my perm list. So I'm mostly using this list HERE, plus a small number of really obvious inclusions as mentioned.

My current deck looks like this (plz don't laugh):
Decklist
Approximate Total Cost:

As far as what changes I want to make...

DELETIONS:

My testing revealed a few things. One thing was that, back in 2011, there were a lot fewer great dragons to pull. So the sac/recur plan was a lot more necessary than it is now. These days, when I pull out hoarding dragon, I'm more likely to go for something like gauntlet of might than reito lantern, because it's just not necessary to pull out a half-dozen artifacts before going for a big alpha strike anymore. Between hellkite tyrant and utvara hellkite, the rules have really changed - and terror of mount velus looks like it could change the rules all over again. You don't need six dragons and twenty mana to kill the table anymore.

And by the same token, there's more powerful answers to artifacts, making it more and more fragile to try to build some big complicated "machine". I'd much rather take a gamble that my opponents have an answer to a few massive dragons coming out of nowhere, than that they have an answer to a bunch of artifacts being put into play over multiple turns. So hoarding dragon has become less and less crucial, and as such, sac outlets are less crucial. They're a major burden on the deck, and result in a lot of dead draws. Back when the tuck rule existed, they were more important for keeping the deck afloat, but at this point, the extreme density is just too much.
That said, I still like having the option to recur stuff, so reito lantern is probably staying in the deck, and certainly tel-jilad stylus is. But I'm planning to significantly cut down on do-not-enough cards like:

elixir of immortality

Partly because of that, I'm going to probably cut all the theft effects in the deck. In 2011 the allure of stealing a fatty, blocking a fatty, and sacking that fatty was pretty enticing. These days, it seems like people are pretty unlikely to attack with their most valuable creatures, and oftentimes if you're getting attacked, it's either pretty meaningless or you're dead. And on alpha strike turns, often my mana is better spent on dragons. So theft is usually just overpriced removal IF you have a sac outlet. The exception being insurrection, but that's also sort of a boring out-of-nowhere win that I'm not sure I want to keep in the deck. Doing it after an EOT scourge of the throne is pretty hilarious, though.
Spell copying was mostly a fun thematic addition to match the steal theme - use your enemy against themselves. It was never that great, though. A lot of decks just don't have good targets. So I'm probably cutting all of it.
There's also some cards that were more cute than good. Voltaic key, Goblin Welder, and Comet storm just don't pull their weight. I want this deck lean and focused, with no extraneous junk.
Finally, in an effort to focus my mana curve, I'm going to do some overhauling of my mana. This deck really does nothing until it casts Zirilan, so more early ramp is needed, but I think I also need to be more cognizant of how I plan to curve out. In particular, I think a focus on 2-mana rocks will make it easier for me to cast 4-drop setup spells like flameshadow conjuring and gauntlet of might before playing Zirilan on turn 4, and also be easier to weave into later turns without skipping Zirilan activations. So I'm cutting:
ADDITIONS:

To make up for the loss of much of the recursion theme, I'm going to be adding quite a few dragons. The primary contenders are:
Mage I think has improved over the years. Hand disruption is more valuable as combo has gotten more prevalent. I still see it as being largely unnecessary, but I could see it being a reasonable role-player, especially as I trim the curve and make it easier to empty my hand.

Drakuseth is just a really solid new dragon. He does a lot of damage and doesn't ask too much. That said, he may prove redundant with the other damage-dealing dragons. But as I move away from recursion, having multiple options for crucial effects looks more important.

Knollspine dragon is questionable alongside mage, but I like the option to refill only myself.

Moonveil dragon looks better and better now that scourge of the throne has replaced hellkite charger. Having a place to dump my mana would be nice.

Moltensteel dragon is absolutely brutal with SotT. In 1v1 it's incredibly easy to 1HKO someone. Terror of Mount Velus amplifies the effect as well, and could allow me to 1HKO the table from full health with just 3 dragons.

Skyline despot gives me draw and a dragon token, and doesn't really ask much. It's not exciting, but as an "eot, do something reasonable" setup play it's not bad. Utvara is way better, but it's more all-in since you generally want to activate Zirilan again on your subsequent turn. Again, redundancy is going to be more valuable with the loss of recursion.

Terror of mount velus is a pretty uncontroversial inclusion, I think. It hits harder than almost any other dragon, and has a huge, mana-not-intensive team boost for alpha strikes. The only reason it's not already in there is that I don't have one yet. %$#%$#% theme booster exclusives.

Thunder Dragon used to be in the deck once upon a time. I think that time has returned. Global clears at instant speed, instead of waiting for balefire to attack and get through (plus it hits all opponents) is pretty valuable as a tool for responding to enemy tech. Plus it was always good, I'm really not sure why I cut it.

WGD is a trial inclusion, but it's just nice to have an out to any removal, especially MLD or MAD. It's high risk, but it's also very easily game-winning in those circumstances. Plus it can perm all my dragons, which is pretty cute.

Adding all these dragons will give me three things:

-added redundancy in case I draw a crucial effect or need it multiple times, especially since I'm more likely to exile them with fewer sac outlets
-more diversity of effects for dealing with more specific problems
-a more reliable backup plan of just playing dragons, if Zirilan should get priced out of the game, and a generally reduced number of dead draws

As far as synergies, there's been a few good ones printed recently, and some that used to be here, and I think merit reconsideration.

flameshadow conjuring - minion reflector was cut for being too clunky, but this is far more streamlined. Primarily because it curves easily into T4 ahead of Zirilan. And the effect is very powerful.

magewright's stone - thousand-year elixir has been good in the deck forever, and honestly this is probably better. Casting zirilan and activating him the same turn is very expensive, and only really happens if I have a mana doubler out. So this is practically the same thing for less mana. And especially with how powerful pulling 4 dragons out has become, one untapper really is enough to win the game with Zirilan handily.

thornbite staff - This is just too good not to try again. It costs 2, equips for free, and does some pretty crazy stuff. Sure, sacking dragons will be harder, but all I need to do is pull out a bogardan hellkite or thunder dragon and it'll almost certainly trigger as many times as I like.

mirage mirror - this might be my favorite card of the past 5 years. It's just so flippin' cool. Here, it's a great way to double down on dragons. Copy a utvara hellkite, copy a dragon tyrant - at EOT, it'll stick around, no problem. Similar to flameshadow conjuring, except the mana costs are skewed and it pays off in different ways sometimes (less good if you're putting multiple dragons into play, but if you're doing that, you're probably pretty happy anyway).

Finally, ramp. I'm going to be focusing primarily on 2-drop rocks, to improve my curve-out into Zirilan. Here's what I'm looking at primarily.

I probably won't include all of these, but at least a decent number of them. I'm really upset that I used to run a grim monolith and cut it...I really hope I didn't trade that off, or I feel like a prize ass right now. I think I just didn't like "temporary" mana back in the day, but it curves so nicely with Zirilan - sure, you waste a mana T3, but then if Zirilan dies you can untap T4 and try again on T5. If he dies off a T2 mana vault it's not until T6 that you get to recast him. Oof.

Anyway, this is still in progress. Just wanted to get my thoughts out there and see if anyone else is still playing my favorite Viashino Shaman, and if they had any opinions on this build.
Last edited by DirkGently 1 year ago, edited 2 times in total.
Perm Decks
Phelddagrif - Kaervek - Golos - Zirilan

Flux Decks
Lukka - Sefris - Ebondeath - Rokiric - Garth - Nixilis - Grist - Mavinda - Kumano - Nezahal - Mavinda - Plargg - Plargg - Extus - Plargg - Oracle - Kardur - Halvar - Tergrid - Egon - Cosima - Halana+Livio - Jeska+Falthis+Obosh - Yeva - Akiri+Zirda - Lady Sun - Nahiri - Korlash - Overlord+Zirda - Chisei - Athreos2 - Akim - Cazur+Ukkima - Otrimi - Otrimi - Kalamax - Ayli+Lurrus - Clamilton - Gonti - Heliod2 - Ayula - Thassa2 - Gallia - Purphoros2 - Rankle - Uro - Rayami - Gargos - Thrasios+Bruse - Pang - Sasaya - Wydwen - Feather - Rona - Toshiro - Sylvia+Khorvath - Geth - QMarchesa - Firesong - Athreos - Arixmethes - Isperia - Etali - Silas+Sidar - Saskia - Virtus+Gorm - Kynaios - Naban - Aryel - Mizzix - Kazuul - Tymna+Kraum - Sidar+Tymna - Ayli - Gwendlyn - Phelddagrif - Liliana - Kaervek - Phelddagrif - Mairsil - Scarab - Child - Phenax - Shirei - Thada - Depala - Circu - Kytheon - GrenzoHR - Phelddagrif - Reyhan+Kraum - Toshiro - Varolz - Nin - Ojutai - Tasigur - Zedruu - Uril - Edric - Wort - Zurgo - Nahiri - Grenzo - Kozilek - Yisan - Ink-Treader - Yisan - Brago - Sidisi - Toshiro - Alexi - Sygg - Brimaz - Sek'Kuar - Marchesa - Vish Kal - Iroas - Phelddagrif - Ephara - Derevi - Glissa - Wanderer - Saffi - Melek - Xiahou Dun - Lazav - Lin Sivvi - Zirilan - Glissa - Ashling1 - Angus - Arcum - Talrand - Chainer - Higure - Kumano - Scion - Teferi1 - Uyo - Sisters
PDH - Drake - Graverobber - Izzet GM - Tallowisp - Symbiote
Brawl - Feather - Ugin - Jace - Scarab - Angrath - Vraska - Kumena
Oathbreaker - Wrenn&6

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DirkGently
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Post by DirkGently » 1 year ago

Alright, I'm just gonna stream of consciousness some thoughts on dragons.

So I went a bit deeper and gave second thoughts to some dragons I'd dismissed earlier, and tried to really think carefully about my dragon package. I separated them out by function, and here's where I ended up:

end-the-game dragons: These are all mostly just there to go for a big alpha strike to end the game.

SotT and ToMV are both individually strong dragons with absurd upsides when paired with additional dragons - they're an easy in.

Thundermaw is pretty small but it's a good way to get past enemy flyers, and castable from hand which is nice.

Moonveil is less good than SotT and ToMV, and pretty weak individually, but with a lot of mana can make another big contribution - basically each of those dragons can double the effective power of all dragons I control. So with all 3, a 5/5 token becomes a 10/5 DSer with 2 attacks, dealing 40 damage. Not bad. But maybe overkill, and I think moonveil is the weakest of the three.

Moltensteel is an all-in play, but it can be very very large, and helps set up SotT in certain games if I'm ahead on life. Very high in terms of raw damage, but he doesn't help the team and doesn't have evasion besides flying.

Manacharged dragon is just cute. Probably not a legitimate inclusion unless I'm trying to depower the deck. Most decks don't have a lot of mana sitting around on enemy turns these days, and if they do they probably want it for something of their own.

Furyborn hellkite is kinda cute, but it requires another dragon to set it up and is mostly just worse than moltensteel in every way. Ok, I talked myself out of it. Cut it.

Dragon Tyrant is a classic. Used to be #1 with a bullet, now he's pretty far down the list. I think he's still in, since he goes really nicely with SotT for a single-target kill, very easy to hit 40 even though defenders with that combo. If I'm pulling out more than 2 dragons, though, he's probably off the team thanks to ToMV though.

Igniter used to be kinda decent back in the day, but there's just too many other better options. Plus I'm not dawdling so long fetching artifacts. To outrace DT or moonveil in terms of mana efficiency I'd really need a lot of artifacts, plus it lacks evasion making it a worse moltensteel. Definite cut.

Hellkite charger is still pretty good. I could almost see running it as a backup to SotT in case I draw it or my alpha strike fails, or I want a setup turn with utvara hellkite or something. It's inferior to SotT in basically every way, but maybe with a bigger dragon package it still makes the cut.

stormbreath is cute that it hits all enemies, but it's just so expensive. I do like the idea of "you drew your deck with a combo? Cool, plz die" but realistically anyone with that many cards and a halfway decent deck can kill this in response and make me sad.

Removal Dragons: This is a pretty contested field, tbh.

Balefire has long been the go-to for this category. These days, I like it less. It lacks evasion, and needs to get through to work. I think it'll still make the cut just because nothing else can match the potential, but it's no longer an auto-include imo.

Thunder has been in-and-out of the deck...I cut it when trying to make the package small, but I think it's actually pretty strong. Mostly because it happens without attacks or anything, which makes it a decent combo breaker. In response to craterhoof, get rekt.

Drakuseth is very middle of the road. He's not exceptional at anything but he's very good all-around. He can smash for 11 while clearing two creatures, or nail something for 4. And he doesn't need to connect to kill minions. That said, there are better game enders, and I'm not sure he compares very favorably with bogardan hellkite or tyrant's familiar. That said, redundancy is nice to have, and he does handle certain board states better than anyone else.

scourge of valkas keeps not making the cut. It doesn't have the ez answer mode like bogardan hellkite, and it takes a lot of work to compare to the game-enders damage-wise. It's pretty castable, which is nice, and it can get really off-the-chain with utvara. If you get SotT, scourge, and utvara all at once, you can make 6 dragon tokens and deal a total of 45 damage. Pretty cool. But if I can pull any three dragons and I'm trying to end the game, is that really the play? Idk, seems loose. Does go through defensive enchantments, fogs, etc. And does leave a lot of value. I guess the jury is still out.

bogardan is another classic. He's just the best at what he does, still. No requirements, just kills a thing, leaves a body. Crazy overpriced to cast, though, yeesh.

spawn of thraxes is the only real competition for bogardan - I like it less, though, especially with how many mana rocks we want to run. It can do work in the late-game if we don't kill the table quickly, though. So it might make the cut. But idk, we have so many damage-dealing dragons to compete with.

opportunistic is cute...and the cost is right. If I had a lot of artifact sac outlets I'd be in. It'd be nice to have a way to disrupt artifacts off Zirilan. Only to do it until eot, though...too weak, I think.

smelter used to be in. The ability is just too expensive. If it cost 3 maybe. zirilan on 5, untap and have it available? 7 mana is too much. Power bonus is basically useless.

scourge of kher ridges does the same thing other dragons do, except you've gotta pay for it. If I gotta clear the skies I'd rather use thundermaw. If I gotta clear the ground I'd rather use thunder dragon. Sure, he can do more damage, but I don't wanna kill Zirilan anyway. And I could just use balefire or steel hellite. I mean, there's places I'd rather have scourge but I think they're too few. Costs a ton too.

kilnmouth dragon i've got some nostalgia goggles for. It's pretty good tbh. reveal 2 dragons and it's an 11/11 flying for 7 with a nasty ping...pretty good for onslaught era. Can't really justify it over, say, bogardan or thraxes. Maybe if I go really deep and have like 25 dragons it'll look worth it.

tyrant's familar is a really solid card, so it's weird that I don't quite like it here. It does deal a lot of damage, which is nice for clearing single targets. I think the instant-speed and reduced interactivity of bogardan makes it far superior, though, and if you're attacking, I think drakuseth provides more flexibility. This does play really well from the hand, though. So idk, I could be talked around. There are a lot of good options in this category, though.

steel hellkite is fairly irreplaceable as a way to remove nearly anything in mono-red. Not super exciting, and pretty expensive to use, but functional.

value dragons: Pretty broad category. Anything that's going to help me on future turns, basically.

skyline despot I dismissed as worse than utvara initially, but getting the monarch is nice, and it's nice a nice solid eot play. Get a token and some draw.

hellkite tyrant is easily among the most broken dragons printed for the deck. Enemy artifacts are MINE. If I ever cut it, it'll be purely to tone down the deck, this card is insane.

Lathliss, Dragon Queen is sort of like drakuseth - jack of many trades, master of none. Worse than moonveil at pumping, worse than utvara at token-making - but still pretty good. I like this less, because I think token-making isn't that important usually, and to use it you often need to tap zirilan on your turn which is not really ideal. Great draw, though.

utvara hellkite is less insane than hellkite tyrant, but not by much. Even alone it makes a 6/6, and with friends it can make an army of 6/6s. I could conceive of cutting it if I was going for a more alpha-strike-only build, but I like having the flexibility to play over turns as well.

WGD is risky but does something nothing else does. Bit tough to get it into the grave instead of exile. I think with any sufficiently large dragon package, this will become worth running as an answer to certain classes of cards. But also because you can do cute things like dragon perming, which is fun too, though probably too cute to be the right play very often.

mirrorwing dragon and backdraft hellkite as an interesting pair. I've done a little work, but I don't think you can really justify them. If I made a lot of tokens I could try having a zada-like twist to the deck off mirrorwing, but I think it'll usually only be drawing me like 2-3 cards, not worth the effort. Certain cards could be cool, but they're just way more complicated than other dragons with similar effects. If I could give them vigilance, seize the day would be epic. But way overkill. If I was playing enough instants and sorceries I'd think about backdraft, but I'm really not. Even with the theft, playing it post-combat is kind of lame, though maybe in those circumstances it'd be worth it.

Nesting dragon (and dragon egg)...2/2 dragons just aren't exciting enough. And with nesting, unless I put fetches in, it'll only ever give me one anyway. Not really worth the effort. despot is way better.

preyseizer is the best of the devour dragons. If it devours twice it's an ok attacker (still sub-drakuseth), but I can't really see sacking 2 creatures to it ever. Having a way to sac hoarding dragon would be nice, but there's gotta be better plays I could make in that circumstance.

hoarding dragon has had quite a fall. It used to be the absolute linchpin of the deck. It's still good, and still probably worth including, but the setup it wants to be reliable is just a bit excessive. I'm still going to run sac outlet lands, but maybe that's it. The rest really are do-nothings a lot of the time. There's been too many other good setup dragons, and less setup required to go for kills.

runehorn needs to find its way into a graveyard, and then it needs 9 mana total for a wheel. Ehhhhh.... On the plus side it can be set there, and then used if needed (say Plan A has gone south). But I can't really see setting it up when I could be doing something more explosive.

dragon mage I feel like I should like more, but I really don't. I think my biggest problem with it is that, when Zirilan is on the board, usually I don't really care about drawing - I want to go for the win, and besides the deck kinda sucks, it's just mana rocks and overpriced dragons - and I definitely don't feel like giving my opponents full grips of potential answers. So I feel like the question is, when am I actually ever going to use this ability?

dream pillager at least solves half the problem with dragon mage. If I'm looking for an eot setup play, though, I just think there are better options.

knollspine dragon does have some legs. It's really annoying to set up myself, but if someone takes a big chunk I can grab a fat hand. Could even do it EOT and get a free hit...7 isn't a small dragon. I used to run it and not really use it, but idk, I might give him another shot.

Non-tutor dragons: These would basically just be 4-drop plays I could make before playing Zirilan, or on a later turn without tapping out. Thunderbreak gets played a lot more but tbh it looks awful to me. 3 damage is jack, and Zirilan is the one you need to protect anyway. territorial hellkite is a decent way to just lower the life totals a bit, idk that I can handle the randomness though. And being a dragon is mostly irrelevant. I guess it boosts utvara hellkite. That's about it. Idk, given how much damage this deck usually deals when it wants to, I'm not sure 6 here or there is worth it. But it does add up when you run it out on turn 3.

Ok, that's all I've got for now.
Perm Decks
Phelddagrif - Kaervek - Golos - Zirilan

Flux Decks
Lukka - Sefris - Ebondeath - Rokiric - Garth - Nixilis - Grist - Mavinda - Kumano - Nezahal - Mavinda - Plargg - Plargg - Extus - Plargg - Oracle - Kardur - Halvar - Tergrid - Egon - Cosima - Halana+Livio - Jeska+Falthis+Obosh - Yeva - Akiri+Zirda - Lady Sun - Nahiri - Korlash - Overlord+Zirda - Chisei - Athreos2 - Akim - Cazur+Ukkima - Otrimi - Otrimi - Kalamax - Ayli+Lurrus - Clamilton - Gonti - Heliod2 - Ayula - Thassa2 - Gallia - Purphoros2 - Rankle - Uro - Rayami - Gargos - Thrasios+Bruse - Pang - Sasaya - Wydwen - Feather - Rona - Toshiro - Sylvia+Khorvath - Geth - QMarchesa - Firesong - Athreos - Arixmethes - Isperia - Etali - Silas+Sidar - Saskia - Virtus+Gorm - Kynaios - Naban - Aryel - Mizzix - Kazuul - Tymna+Kraum - Sidar+Tymna - Ayli - Gwendlyn - Phelddagrif - Liliana - Kaervek - Phelddagrif - Mairsil - Scarab - Child - Phenax - Shirei - Thada - Depala - Circu - Kytheon - GrenzoHR - Phelddagrif - Reyhan+Kraum - Toshiro - Varolz - Nin - Ojutai - Tasigur - Zedruu - Uril - Edric - Wort - Zurgo - Nahiri - Grenzo - Kozilek - Yisan - Ink-Treader - Yisan - Brago - Sidisi - Toshiro - Alexi - Sygg - Brimaz - Sek'Kuar - Marchesa - Vish Kal - Iroas - Phelddagrif - Ephara - Derevi - Glissa - Wanderer - Saffi - Melek - Xiahou Dun - Lazav - Lin Sivvi - Zirilan - Glissa - Ashling1 - Angus - Arcum - Talrand - Chainer - Higure - Kumano - Scion - Teferi1 - Uyo - Sisters
PDH - Drake - Graverobber - Izzet GM - Tallowisp - Symbiote
Brawl - Feather - Ugin - Jace - Scarab - Angrath - Vraska - Kumena
Oathbreaker - Wrenn&6

User avatar
DirkGently
My wins are unconditional
Posts: 2289
Joined: 2 years ago
Pronoun: he / him

Post by DirkGently » 1 year ago

I think I've gone too deep. Halp. More unfocused blather incoming. I dream only of dragons.

So in trying to decide on which dragons to include, I've tried to really think about the play patterns this deck wants to have, and here's basically where I've ended up:

1) ramp into Zirilan
2) set up a win condition in one of the following ways:
2a) use an untapper, ability copier, or dragon copier (thousand-year elixir, rings of brighthearth, flameshadow conjuring, etc)
2b) perm/play some dragons, or create permanent tokens
2c) lower enemy life enough that you can kill them
2d) take them down one at a time
3) win

Basically this is because the primary win condition for the deck is to get multiple dragons out to multiply each other's effectiveness. moltensteel dragon, scourge of the throne, and terror of mount velus all do pretty middling damage individually, all things considered. But when all three are in play at once, you can deal upwards of a hundred damage in a turn easily. Winning by pulling out one dragon at a time is almost impossible, so you need to find ways to get multiple dragons on the board at once, or set your sights lower than alpha-striking the table.

So with that in mind, the basic plan of the deck is pretty simple. We should include as many ways to set up that win as possible (more on this later). So what contingencies do we need to plan for?

1) Zirilan gets removed
2) Zirilan gets priced out of the game or permanently removed somehow
3) Someone has an answer to the alpha strike (removal, fog, pillowfort)
4) Someone tries to kill us first
5) We draw the dragons Zirilan needs

1 is pretty simple. The deck packs lots of mana rocks, so recasting him shouldn't be too difficult within hopefully 1-2 turns.

2 forces us into a backup plan. As such, mitigating it by including protection like greaves is advisable. Once it's happened, the only realistic plan I see, outside of one-shot tricks like insurrection, is to play dragons out normally, or with the assistance of sneak attack. This has the best chance of success with a higher density of dragons. There are other ways to improve this plan, though, which I think are worth looking into.

3 is pretty workable with redundancy. Do what you can, then circle back around ASAP to put together another alpha strike.

4 is a big one. This is what we have answer dragons for. More on this later.

5 falls somewhere between 2 and 3. As before, redundancy is important. Also, having tools like sneak attack makes this essentially go away as a problem.

Okay, so far so good. Let's talk dragons.

I've broken down the possible dragons into 3 primary categories, with some sharing multiple categories:

Wincon dragons
Setup dragons
Answer dragons

Wincon dragons are the dragon tyrants and terror of mount veluses. They are the dragons we search for when we're going to alpha strike.

Setup dragons are there for when we don't have a way to put sufficient damage in the air, or need to play around potential and on-board enemy answers. They let us play a longer, value-driven game by creating tokens, drawing cards, etc, as well as usually whittling down enemy life. They are useful without needing a critical mass, like the wincon dragons need. hellkite tyrant and skyline despot for example.

Answer dragons are any dragon whose primary usage is to counter enemy threats, whether that's their own wincon or disruption of ours. bogardan hellkite and steel hellkite, for example.

Ok, so how does this help us? Well, they fit pretty cleanly into our model. If our opponents don't interact with us and we get our setup pieces, we go straight for the wincon dragons. If we don't get the setup pieces or need to play a more careful value game, we go for setup dragons. If we need to answer enemy movements, we get answer dragons.

Note that some dragons fit multiple roles.

Any dragon that doesn't fit into one of these roles, or is outclassed by too many other dragons, is out on its scaled ass.

Ok, let's look more at setting up that wincon.

The crux of the wincon turn is using zirilan's ability to grab a dragon(s) at eot, which won't get exiled until your endstep, then taking your untap phase and getting another dragon(s). This is his built-in way to put together a lethal strike, but it usually needs help to kill the whole table. I already did a quick rundown, but lets look at all the ways you might put together a lethal alpha strike.
1-copying zirilan's ability
2-untapping zirilan to get more dragon
3-copying dragons
4-perming dragons
5-having sufficient tokens
6-having a ton of mana to sink into dragon buffs
7-just playing dragons, they perm all on their own!
8-from-hand combat buffs
9-dealing damage over time until they're within striking range

Let's do some examples/best in classes:
1 - illusionist's bracers, rings of brighthearth
2-magewright's stone, thousand-year elixir, thornbite staff
3-flameshadow conjuring, minion reflector, kiki-jiki, mirror breaker, mirage mirror, mirror of the forebears, feldon of the third path, mimic vat
4-voyager staff, cold storage, synod's sanctum, endless sands, nim deathmantle, worldgorger dragon, sundial of the infinite, conjurer's closet
5-utvara hellkite, lathliss, dragon queen, skyline despot
6-gauntlet of might, gauntlet of power, doubling cube, caged sun
7-Obviously any dragon, though cheaper is generally better of course, and haste is much, much better.
8-savage beating, combat celebrant, fury of the horde, breath of fury, aggravated assault, world at war, relentless assault, gratuitous violence, berserker's onslaught
9-Again, any dragon, either from hand in which case cheaper is better, or support dragons which are ideally getting extra value on the side.

Ok, that's enough. I'm tired.

In terms of what we're looking for:
1) efficiency, how cheaply can these do what we want?
2) reliability/power, how easy is it to win with this card?
3) backup power, if plan A fails, does this provide any other benefit?

The best stuff hits on all three. sundial, for example, is cheap, strong, and gives us great value if our first strike fails.

ONE VERY IMPORTANT NOTE that occurred to me last night: WGD has lots of nice utility and then also accidentally enables a lot of infinite combos. Basically anything that can copy it - kiki, flameshadow conjuring, and minion reflector - all go infinite with it (mana and etbs, and zirilan untaps if you've got haste somehow). This is kind of unfortunate since it means that Zirilan is essentially a 1-card-combo machine. Hoarding dragon fetches minion reflector (you do need a sac outlet, but could potentially use a devour dragon to do this), play minion reflector, then eot bogardan hellkite and get WGD on your turn for the win. Bit slow with zero support, but many many cards can speed the process up by several turns, and any fast mana will give you a huge head start. So what this means is you have to pick one of the following:

1) don't play WGD
2) don't play any of the things that combo with it
3) don't play minion reflector, and only combo when you naturally draw the other ones
4) combo win a lot, probably end up disassembling because it's so linear and disruptable
5) play them all but hold back the combo like a sniveling coward

Personally I'm probably just going to take option 2 but I'm kinda sad about it. As good as those cards are, I think WGD is more valuable to the deck.

Anyway, the tricky stuff, and the stuff I hadn't really thought about as much before, is the stuff that hits hard on 1 and 2 but not 3. Stuff like savage beating, which is bonkers strong, but completely all-in. If someone's got a fog, it's over and done. But it does a great job of hiding in our hand and concealing how strong our position is.

Anyway, so in terms of the total construction of this deck, I'm looking at the following blocks:

1) dragons
2) setup cards
3) mana rocks
4) lands
5) other???

Ignoring #5, this is obviously a very focused structure that has a lot of spots for each of its functions. I'd guess around 20 dragons, 20 mana rocks, and 35 lands, which leaves 25 spots for setup cards. While that's kind of awesome, it's also probably a bit excessive. I don't want this to be THAT all-in, otherwise it becomes kind of hard to do anything except try to win. So I think #5 should probably have at least 10 spots, and probably focus on control tools, since the dragons are somewhat limited in this regard, as well as support for dragons as a backup plan in case Zirilan is completely removed. Topping that list is sneak attack and dragon tempest I think.

I'm going to put a bit more thought into category 5, but for now I think that's a pretty thorough (if rambling) explanation of the plan we're trying to execute, how we handle different obstacles, and how the cards we're including are going to help us do all this.

Perhaps one day I'll actually have a decklist, after I've finished taking the universe apart and reorienting around zirilan in my head.
Perm Decks
Phelddagrif - Kaervek - Golos - Zirilan

Flux Decks
Lukka - Sefris - Ebondeath - Rokiric - Garth - Nixilis - Grist - Mavinda - Kumano - Nezahal - Mavinda - Plargg - Plargg - Extus - Plargg - Oracle - Kardur - Halvar - Tergrid - Egon - Cosima - Halana+Livio - Jeska+Falthis+Obosh - Yeva - Akiri+Zirda - Lady Sun - Nahiri - Korlash - Overlord+Zirda - Chisei - Athreos2 - Akim - Cazur+Ukkima - Otrimi - Otrimi - Kalamax - Ayli+Lurrus - Clamilton - Gonti - Heliod2 - Ayula - Thassa2 - Gallia - Purphoros2 - Rankle - Uro - Rayami - Gargos - Thrasios+Bruse - Pang - Sasaya - Wydwen - Feather - Rona - Toshiro - Sylvia+Khorvath - Geth - QMarchesa - Firesong - Athreos - Arixmethes - Isperia - Etali - Silas+Sidar - Saskia - Virtus+Gorm - Kynaios - Naban - Aryel - Mizzix - Kazuul - Tymna+Kraum - Sidar+Tymna - Ayli - Gwendlyn - Phelddagrif - Liliana - Kaervek - Phelddagrif - Mairsil - Scarab - Child - Phenax - Shirei - Thada - Depala - Circu - Kytheon - GrenzoHR - Phelddagrif - Reyhan+Kraum - Toshiro - Varolz - Nin - Ojutai - Tasigur - Zedruu - Uril - Edric - Wort - Zurgo - Nahiri - Grenzo - Kozilek - Yisan - Ink-Treader - Yisan - Brago - Sidisi - Toshiro - Alexi - Sygg - Brimaz - Sek'Kuar - Marchesa - Vish Kal - Iroas - Phelddagrif - Ephara - Derevi - Glissa - Wanderer - Saffi - Melek - Xiahou Dun - Lazav - Lin Sivvi - Zirilan - Glissa - Ashling1 - Angus - Arcum - Talrand - Chainer - Higure - Kumano - Scion - Teferi1 - Uyo - Sisters
PDH - Drake - Graverobber - Izzet GM - Tallowisp - Symbiote
Brawl - Feather - Ugin - Jace - Scarab - Angrath - Vraska - Kumena
Oathbreaker - Wrenn&6

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DirkGently
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Post by DirkGently » 1 year ago

Ok, I've finally got an updated list up. I feel great about the dragons, good about the setup cards, and...fine about the rest of it. Kind of rushed through it so I could finally be done, I've spent way too much time on this deck recently. I might actually have found too much ramp, somehow. Anyway, now I actually have to try to acquire all these cards in NZ. What a pain in the butt. I miss card market and tcgplayer. I guess that's the price you pay for being in the only country managing corona effectively. Zing.
Perm Decks
Phelddagrif - Kaervek - Golos - Zirilan

Flux Decks
Lukka - Sefris - Ebondeath - Rokiric - Garth - Nixilis - Grist - Mavinda - Kumano - Nezahal - Mavinda - Plargg - Plargg - Extus - Plargg - Oracle - Kardur - Halvar - Tergrid - Egon - Cosima - Halana+Livio - Jeska+Falthis+Obosh - Yeva - Akiri+Zirda - Lady Sun - Nahiri - Korlash - Overlord+Zirda - Chisei - Athreos2 - Akim - Cazur+Ukkima - Otrimi - Otrimi - Kalamax - Ayli+Lurrus - Clamilton - Gonti - Heliod2 - Ayula - Thassa2 - Gallia - Purphoros2 - Rankle - Uro - Rayami - Gargos - Thrasios+Bruse - Pang - Sasaya - Wydwen - Feather - Rona - Toshiro - Sylvia+Khorvath - Geth - QMarchesa - Firesong - Athreos - Arixmethes - Isperia - Etali - Silas+Sidar - Saskia - Virtus+Gorm - Kynaios - Naban - Aryel - Mizzix - Kazuul - Tymna+Kraum - Sidar+Tymna - Ayli - Gwendlyn - Phelddagrif - Liliana - Kaervek - Phelddagrif - Mairsil - Scarab - Child - Phenax - Shirei - Thada - Depala - Circu - Kytheon - GrenzoHR - Phelddagrif - Reyhan+Kraum - Toshiro - Varolz - Nin - Ojutai - Tasigur - Zedruu - Uril - Edric - Wort - Zurgo - Nahiri - Grenzo - Kozilek - Yisan - Ink-Treader - Yisan - Brago - Sidisi - Toshiro - Alexi - Sygg - Brimaz - Sek'Kuar - Marchesa - Vish Kal - Iroas - Phelddagrif - Ephara - Derevi - Glissa - Wanderer - Saffi - Melek - Xiahou Dun - Lazav - Lin Sivvi - Zirilan - Glissa - Ashling1 - Angus - Arcum - Talrand - Chainer - Higure - Kumano - Scion - Teferi1 - Uyo - Sisters
PDH - Drake - Graverobber - Izzet GM - Tallowisp - Symbiote
Brawl - Feather - Ugin - Jace - Scarab - Angrath - Vraska - Kumena
Oathbreaker - Wrenn&6

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ZenN
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Post by ZenN » 1 year ago

Wow. Just about every card I thought of to suggest, either you're already playing it, or have had it in consideration. List looks solid.

Any consideration for Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded as backup for Sneak Attack?

EDIT: Oh, I just noticed you're not even running Sneak Attack in the current iteration. That feels like a mistake. Card is bonkers, plays well with your plan, and helps prevent getting a hand full of dragons.
Commander
Golos, ETB Pilgrim - Value Town
Maelstrom Wanderer a.k.a. The Kool-Aid Man
Korvold, Fae-Cursed King - OM NOM NOM
Kykar, Wind's Fury - Spellslinger + Tokens

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DirkGently
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Post by DirkGently » 1 year ago

ZenN wrote:
1 year ago
Wow. Just about every card I thought of to suggest, either you're already playing it, or have had it in consideration. List looks solid.

Any consideration for Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded as backup for Sneak Attack?

EDIT: Oh, I just noticed you're not even running Sneak Attack in the current iteration. That feels like a mistake. Card is bonkers, plays well with your plan, and helps prevent getting a hand full of dragons.
So I'm not a huge fan of either because I'm not sure that they fit into either of the decks 2 plans well enough.

When you're on plan A (combo win with Zirilan) they can give you a way to get extra dragons into play, but it needs to be a dragon that's actually going to matter for your combo, or enough dragons to add up sufficiently. Which is pretty plausible, but is it better than just having another untapper for Zirilan or something similar? Especially Purphoros, since he's so expensive to activate. Sneak attack you can at least dump multiple dragons into play pretty easily.

When you're on plan B, I feel like you'd rather have dragons that stick around rather than die EOT. Sure, maybe if someone is low on life you can finish them off, but otherwise it seems kinda risky. We don't have a ton of reload, so I think you'd want to try to get more value from your dragons than a 1-shot fling. Purphoros giving haste is still useful for sure, but he's so expensive and fights with Zirilian for the 5-drop slot. I went with crater for that reason, it's easier to weave in and it has the flexibility of cycling, plus trample which can be a huge deal for plan A and plan B.
Perm Decks
Phelddagrif - Kaervek - Golos - Zirilan

Flux Decks
Lukka - Sefris - Ebondeath - Rokiric - Garth - Nixilis - Grist - Mavinda - Kumano - Nezahal - Mavinda - Plargg - Plargg - Extus - Plargg - Oracle - Kardur - Halvar - Tergrid - Egon - Cosima - Halana+Livio - Jeska+Falthis+Obosh - Yeva - Akiri+Zirda - Lady Sun - Nahiri - Korlash - Overlord+Zirda - Chisei - Athreos2 - Akim - Cazur+Ukkima - Otrimi - Otrimi - Kalamax - Ayli+Lurrus - Clamilton - Gonti - Heliod2 - Ayula - Thassa2 - Gallia - Purphoros2 - Rankle - Uro - Rayami - Gargos - Thrasios+Bruse - Pang - Sasaya - Wydwen - Feather - Rona - Toshiro - Sylvia+Khorvath - Geth - QMarchesa - Firesong - Athreos - Arixmethes - Isperia - Etali - Silas+Sidar - Saskia - Virtus+Gorm - Kynaios - Naban - Aryel - Mizzix - Kazuul - Tymna+Kraum - Sidar+Tymna - Ayli - Gwendlyn - Phelddagrif - Liliana - Kaervek - Phelddagrif - Mairsil - Scarab - Child - Phenax - Shirei - Thada - Depala - Circu - Kytheon - GrenzoHR - Phelddagrif - Reyhan+Kraum - Toshiro - Varolz - Nin - Ojutai - Tasigur - Zedruu - Uril - Edric - Wort - Zurgo - Nahiri - Grenzo - Kozilek - Yisan - Ink-Treader - Yisan - Brago - Sidisi - Toshiro - Alexi - Sygg - Brimaz - Sek'Kuar - Marchesa - Vish Kal - Iroas - Phelddagrif - Ephara - Derevi - Glissa - Wanderer - Saffi - Melek - Xiahou Dun - Lazav - Lin Sivvi - Zirilan - Glissa - Ashling1 - Angus - Arcum - Talrand - Chainer - Higure - Kumano - Scion - Teferi1 - Uyo - Sisters
PDH - Drake - Graverobber - Izzet GM - Tallowisp - Symbiote
Brawl - Feather - Ugin - Jace - Scarab - Angrath - Vraska - Kumena
Oathbreaker - Wrenn&6

masterjonburr
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Post by masterjonburr » 1 year ago

Gotten to look at M21 yet? I think Terror of the Peaks seems like it would merit an inclusion.

JHHBjr

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DirkGently
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Post by DirkGently » 1 year ago

Terror of the peaks looks like a very likely inclusion to me. That card is bonkers.

Probably the only card for the deck, though. Fiery Emancipation is sweet but I think it's just too clunky with our curve.
Perm Decks
Phelddagrif - Kaervek - Golos - Zirilan

Flux Decks
Lukka - Sefris - Ebondeath - Rokiric - Garth - Nixilis - Grist - Mavinda - Kumano - Nezahal - Mavinda - Plargg - Plargg - Extus - Plargg - Oracle - Kardur - Halvar - Tergrid - Egon - Cosima - Halana+Livio - Jeska+Falthis+Obosh - Yeva - Akiri+Zirda - Lady Sun - Nahiri - Korlash - Overlord+Zirda - Chisei - Athreos2 - Akim - Cazur+Ukkima - Otrimi - Otrimi - Kalamax - Ayli+Lurrus - Clamilton - Gonti - Heliod2 - Ayula - Thassa2 - Gallia - Purphoros2 - Rankle - Uro - Rayami - Gargos - Thrasios+Bruse - Pang - Sasaya - Wydwen - Feather - Rona - Toshiro - Sylvia+Khorvath - Geth - QMarchesa - Firesong - Athreos - Arixmethes - Isperia - Etali - Silas+Sidar - Saskia - Virtus+Gorm - Kynaios - Naban - Aryel - Mizzix - Kazuul - Tymna+Kraum - Sidar+Tymna - Ayli - Gwendlyn - Phelddagrif - Liliana - Kaervek - Phelddagrif - Mairsil - Scarab - Child - Phenax - Shirei - Thada - Depala - Circu - Kytheon - GrenzoHR - Phelddagrif - Reyhan+Kraum - Toshiro - Varolz - Nin - Ojutai - Tasigur - Zedruu - Uril - Edric - Wort - Zurgo - Nahiri - Grenzo - Kozilek - Yisan - Ink-Treader - Yisan - Brago - Sidisi - Toshiro - Alexi - Sygg - Brimaz - Sek'Kuar - Marchesa - Vish Kal - Iroas - Phelddagrif - Ephara - Derevi - Glissa - Wanderer - Saffi - Melek - Xiahou Dun - Lazav - Lin Sivvi - Zirilan - Glissa - Ashling1 - Angus - Arcum - Talrand - Chainer - Higure - Kumano - Scion - Teferi1 - Uyo - Sisters
PDH - Drake - Graverobber - Izzet GM - Tallowisp - Symbiote
Brawl - Feather - Ugin - Jace - Scarab - Angrath - Vraska - Kumena
Oathbreaker - Wrenn&6

Liberi
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Post by Liberi » 1 year ago

Hi, i'm glad you updated this deck! You know, when i decided to start playing edh i founded your guide and i fell in love with this deck!
I love toolbox, but often this is an archetype very oppressing (see Zur, i love the card, but it's too much unfun).
Luckily i love dragons too, so Zirilan looks like the right compromise.

During the last years i had the opportunity to see exactly what you wrote in this update: the engine was too heavy, clunky, and fragile.
I think the new path you proposed is the right one for the deck.

About that i have some questions and observations:

1) Why only 2cmc mana artifacts?
The possibilities are:
* Turn 1: land → Turn 2: land + 2cmc artifact → Turn 3: land + something → Turn 4: Zirilan
Of course, if we draw big ramp cards like grim, sol, crypt, ancient tomb or mox we cast it usually on Turn 3.
If for example we have a 3cmc mana artifact in hand:
* Turn 1: land → Turn 2: land + something → Turn 3: land + 3cmc artifact → Turn 4: Zirilan
Yes, we can't cast a spell with 4cmc on turn 3, but we have the turn 2 spell with 2cmc.
Is that an important difference in our deck?
There are a few 3cmc mana artifacts that are worth including in my opinion (see Worn Powerstone) and that can help cast dragons from our hand.
Moreover, if we don't have a 2cmc mana artifact in hand, we can wait only until turn 3 to draw it if we want to cast zirilan in turn 4. Until turn 3 we can draw and cast a 3cmc mana artifact, so there is no advantage in playing only 2cmc mana artifact in my opinion.
Maybe there's something i don't see, let me know!

2) Are you sure we don't need anymore cards like Oblivion stone and All is dust?
Also Tel-Jilad Stylus is a very strong card, it definitely have a place in the deck!

3) About the Worldgorger Dragon combo: Molten Echoes and Flameshadow Conjuring are too efficient for us not to be played. Like you i don't love instant unfun combo, but we are not obliged to do that. We can play and profit of all those cards ignoring the combo. We can always decide to use that combo in response of an adversary that is going to close the game with and alpha strike or combo before us.

4) Like i wrote in your topic in the other forum (mtg salvation, my name is spaccaculi), i think we can now consider Extraplanar Lens, we can tutor it with goblin engineer!

5) I think Altar of dementia is better than Gargadon, it offers an alternative win condition against fog or life deck, it's removable but stronger.

6) Have you considered Fatal Frenzy?

7) Why there are sacrifice outlets like high market and gargadon if we don't run recursion pieces like Reito lantern anymore?

8) Conjurer's Closet may be interesting: it offers perming and additional ETB effects, we run more dragons now, so it's more useful, the cmc is still a problem though. If only it was 4cmc...
Nice one: it's a repeatable tutor with goblin engineer!

9) Talking of goblin engineer, is it so good that we can run cards like Goblin Matron or Goblin Recruiter??

Sorry for the infinite message!! Cheers! ;D

Liberi
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Post by Liberi » 1 year ago

Hi,
I had the opportunity to try my new Zirilan deck and i want to share some observations with you:

1) I learned the importance of ramp on turn 1 and 2 and the impact of powerful cmc 4.

About this, i think i will cut Worn Powerstone, Unstable Obelisk (maybe Dragon's Hoard ???) for some cmc 2 ramp, and maybe consider Dragons with cmc 4!
We can chose from: Opportunistic Dragon, Territorial Hellkite, Thunderbreak Regent, Verix Bladewing. There are others dragons of course, but i don't consider them enough good for us ( btw here's the list: https://scryfall.com/search?q=cmc%3A4+c ... order=name)
The more interesting imo is Territorial Hellkite, it lowers the life of our opponents allowing us to oneshot the table more easily, moreover (like with other 4cmc dragons) in combination with our tutored Scourge of the Throne and Terror of Mount Velus it allows some crazy bonus damage without even the need of tutoring more dragons!
The more i think about this, the more i believe that we can push our probability to drop a dragon on turn 3!
Verix Bladewing is not that bad, considering that we can cast him later in the game with kicker, Opportunistic Dragon can shut down some early adversary ramp like sol ring, mana crypt, ... (not that bad!), Thunderbreak Regent is the weaker of the four, but it can punish adversary interaction.

2) Doubling mana is key! I was always happy to draw my Extraplanar Lens, if you have a Gauntlet of Might, i suggest you to play both.

3) Flameshadow Conjuring and Molten Echoes are so much important for us, just play them without the fear to combo with Worldgorger Dragon, nothing obliges you to do it.

4) I don't think sac outlet are important to us now, without recursion we don't need dragons in graveyard. We just need to sac Hoarding Dragon, but i don't think it's worth including Miren, the Moaning Well High Market, maybe it's better a Command Beacon. I love in the deck Altar of Dementia against Glacial Chasm and Constant Mists.

5) Terror of the Peaks is H U G E, for that reason i prefer to play Crucible of Fire over Blood Mist.

6) The first turn with Zirilan in play i usually have no way to kill the table, for that reason i think we need "intermediate" dragons. My favorite dragon for this is Skyline Despot: we tutor him in the endstep before our turn, we make a token and we draw an extra cards, not that bad considering we can defend the monarch status easily thanks to the token and the fear of our opponent to attack an untapped Zirilan (if they attack with a big creature, we can just tutor Hoarding Dragon!). Another dragon we can tutor early is Dragon Mage, we have a low curve and we can easily empty our hand before our opponents.

These are just some starting thoughts, more will come!

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Post by DirkGently » 1 year ago

Sorry, didn't notice the first post - it helps to reply to a post so I get a notification, if you're trying to get someone's attention.

Let's see, starting from your first post:

1) I think you found your own answer to this later, but I think the value of being able to cast a 4 is a lot more powerful than the bonuses we get from 3cmc rocks. If you keep all 2-cmc rocks, you can also play a bunch of 4cmc stuff without worrying about your curve sucking. If you play a mix, it'll always be a gamble that you'll get the wrong mana rock for your curve.

2) I ran o-stone for forever. My experience, especially as the format becomes faster, is that blowing up our mana rocks and synergy pieces means we almost certainly can't win. For a slower meta it's probably fine. But we're essentially an aggro deck, we need our board more than our opponents need theirs.

All is dust might work, but it's pretty pricey. I'd probably rather recast zirilan or use him to fetch a dragon to blow stuff up instead.

3) I consider intentionally not taking a win when it's available to be disrespectful. When I see someone do that, the first time I tell them not to do it. The second time I stop playing with them. Without playing to win, the game has no integrity.

I don't consider not comboing to be an option, if it's in the deck and I draw it. If your group feels differently, though, then that's your prerogative.

The possible exception would be if, at the start of the game, I said "hey, this combo exists in the deck but I have X meta-rule for myself to prevent that interaction from winning the game (i.e. maybe I always have to stack the triggers in the wrong order or something)." Then I could still try to win within those restrictions. That said, it's an annoying, hacky fix that I don't want to explain to every table I play against unless the deck absolutely doesn't work without the card - which is far from the case.

So it's either WGD or the enchantments, but not both, for me at least.

4) I never really liked lens personally (I'm very 2-for-1 averse, especially with lands), but I do think it's a strong card. Very high risk, high reward.

5) Vs fog (which I don't think I've basically ever seen as an archetype) we could win by noncombat damage. Vs lifegain we can deal literally hundreds of damage...unless they're gaining infinites, we can probably kill them. If they do gain infinite...zirilan gets into the red zone I guess?

Alternately, hellkite tyrant ftw.

I don't think these are big enough problems to dictate slots in the deck. Gargadon being near-impossible to interact with is a big selling point. Costing less and being a big beater is also handy. Altar doesn't really compete imo.

6) I did...there's lots of stuff in that vein that seem fine? But we've only got so many slots for cards that only really work as wincons.

7) to trigger hoarding dragon, primarily. And because those particular outlets don't really cost hardly anything and/or are just good cards.

8) closet is a fun card for a slower version of the deck for sure. I think this build is pretty fast and wouldn't want it, though.

9) I don't think so considering our game plan, but it is a solid card for sure. If matron cost 2 so we could cast them both t4 maybe.

New post:

1) good to hear.

I think territorial is a reasonable inclusion (I ultimately cut it from my list, just barely). The others I think are too low-impact probably. Hard to imagine having 7 and wanting to spend it on verix.

2) gauntlet is an easy include. Thoughts on lens I already mentioned. Probably a meta call depending how likely it is to get removed - it really does suck if it gets blown up.

With the double strike dragon I think we are a lot less beholden to mana doublers though - that used to be key for a lot of wins, but I think we've got a lot of strong tools that don't need deep mana these days.

3) Thoughts above. I'm absolutely not budging on this (though I could cut WGD instead if I thought the enchantments were more powerful overall). If I include both WGD and the enchantments, it will be because I fully intend to combo win when it's available, and that's not something I want for the deck right now.

4) It sounds like you're harder in on mana doublers which might make miren/high market a higher cost, but in my list it's a very minor cost for the convenience of having a sac outlet without spending a card.

If chasm/mists are bigger issues in your meta then maybe altar does make sense, but I virtually never run into them.

5) Terror is definitely insane. I haven't really gotten to play with it much yet though (there's this covid thing going around...which also compounds the problem that I always have more decks that I want to play than I have games to play them in, I've already got tons of brews ready to go when lockdown ends).

6) I agree, and I do like despot for that role. Less sold on dragon mage since he can reload our opponents or put dragons into our hands we'd rather leave in the deck, but the power level is definitely there if you're more of a gambler.
Perm Decks
Phelddagrif - Kaervek - Golos - Zirilan

Flux Decks
Lukka - Sefris - Ebondeath - Rokiric - Garth - Nixilis - Grist - Mavinda - Kumano - Nezahal - Mavinda - Plargg - Plargg - Extus - Plargg - Oracle - Kardur - Halvar - Tergrid - Egon - Cosima - Halana+Livio - Jeska+Falthis+Obosh - Yeva - Akiri+Zirda - Lady Sun - Nahiri - Korlash - Overlord+Zirda - Chisei - Athreos2 - Akim - Cazur+Ukkima - Otrimi - Otrimi - Kalamax - Ayli+Lurrus - Clamilton - Gonti - Heliod2 - Ayula - Thassa2 - Gallia - Purphoros2 - Rankle - Uro - Rayami - Gargos - Thrasios+Bruse - Pang - Sasaya - Wydwen - Feather - Rona - Toshiro - Sylvia+Khorvath - Geth - QMarchesa - Firesong - Athreos - Arixmethes - Isperia - Etali - Silas+Sidar - Saskia - Virtus+Gorm - Kynaios - Naban - Aryel - Mizzix - Kazuul - Tymna+Kraum - Sidar+Tymna - Ayli - Gwendlyn - Phelddagrif - Liliana - Kaervek - Phelddagrif - Mairsil - Scarab - Child - Phenax - Shirei - Thada - Depala - Circu - Kytheon - GrenzoHR - Phelddagrif - Reyhan+Kraum - Toshiro - Varolz - Nin - Ojutai - Tasigur - Zedruu - Uril - Edric - Wort - Zurgo - Nahiri - Grenzo - Kozilek - Yisan - Ink-Treader - Yisan - Brago - Sidisi - Toshiro - Alexi - Sygg - Brimaz - Sek'Kuar - Marchesa - Vish Kal - Iroas - Phelddagrif - Ephara - Derevi - Glissa - Wanderer - Saffi - Melek - Xiahou Dun - Lazav - Lin Sivvi - Zirilan - Glissa - Ashling1 - Angus - Arcum - Talrand - Chainer - Higure - Kumano - Scion - Teferi1 - Uyo - Sisters
PDH - Drake - Graverobber - Izzet GM - Tallowisp - Symbiote
Brawl - Feather - Ugin - Jace - Scarab - Angrath - Vraska - Kumena
Oathbreaker - Wrenn&6

Liberi
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Post by Liberi » 1 year ago

DirkGently wrote:
1 year ago
I consider intentionally not taking a win when it's available to be disrespectful. When I see someone do that, the first time I tell them not to do it. The second time I stop playing with them. Without playing to win, the game has no integrity.
I don't consider not comboing to be an option, if it's in the deck and I draw it. If your group feels differently, though, then that's your prerogative.
The possible exception would be if, at the start of the game, I said "hey, this combo exists in the deck but I have X meta-rule for myself to prevent that interaction from winning the game (i.e. maybe I always have to stack the triggers in the wrong order or something)." Then I could still try to win within those restrictions. That said, it's an annoying, hacky fix that I don't want to explain to every table I play against unless the deck absolutely doesn't work without the card - which is far from the case.
Now that i think about this, i believe you're right. A well tuned Zirilan deck is deadly and it leads to fast games maybe not that funny for our opponents. The combo with the two enchantments and the Worldgorger could be "too much"...

About our dragons, i never had the occasion to test Hellkite Charger, Moonveil Dragon, Kilnmouth Dragon.
Are they really worth the inclusion? The one i like less is Kilnmouth for his inconsistency, maybe i can switch him with Territorial Hellkite, or a Spawn of Thraxes?

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DirkGently
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Post by DirkGently » 1 year ago

Hellkite charger I ran for a long time and it can do insane damage with enough support. Definitely worse than scourge ott, but as a backup I think it's fine, especially if you're a fan of mana doublers.

The other two I haven't tested (at least not in this deck), so I'm going off theorycraft. Moonveil is definitely capable of delivering the pain, but it can be a bit redundant with charger and dragon tyrant since they all drain Mana. It is important to have a good mana sink but 3 might be excessive.

Kilnmouth is redundancy for bogardan hellkite, and definitely one of the stranger dragons in the deck. Given that boggy is a reliable backup, though, I think kilnmouth being an alternative for games where you have 2+ dragons is fine since it doesn't need to be reliable. Do note that it can do really filthy things with untap and ability copy synergies, though, potentially killing someone as an instant even.

It is admittedly a bit of a pet card of mine, though, since legions was one of my first sets, so maybe that's clouding my judgment. If you're actually able to test it lmk how it goes!
Perm Decks
Phelddagrif - Kaervek - Golos - Zirilan

Flux Decks
Lukka - Sefris - Ebondeath - Rokiric - Garth - Nixilis - Grist - Mavinda - Kumano - Nezahal - Mavinda - Plargg - Plargg - Extus - Plargg - Oracle - Kardur - Halvar - Tergrid - Egon - Cosima - Halana+Livio - Jeska+Falthis+Obosh - Yeva - Akiri+Zirda - Lady Sun - Nahiri - Korlash - Overlord+Zirda - Chisei - Athreos2 - Akim - Cazur+Ukkima - Otrimi - Otrimi - Kalamax - Ayli+Lurrus - Clamilton - Gonti - Heliod2 - Ayula - Thassa2 - Gallia - Purphoros2 - Rankle - Uro - Rayami - Gargos - Thrasios+Bruse - Pang - Sasaya - Wydwen - Feather - Rona - Toshiro - Sylvia+Khorvath - Geth - QMarchesa - Firesong - Athreos - Arixmethes - Isperia - Etali - Silas+Sidar - Saskia - Virtus+Gorm - Kynaios - Naban - Aryel - Mizzix - Kazuul - Tymna+Kraum - Sidar+Tymna - Ayli - Gwendlyn - Phelddagrif - Liliana - Kaervek - Phelddagrif - Mairsil - Scarab - Child - Phenax - Shirei - Thada - Depala - Circu - Kytheon - GrenzoHR - Phelddagrif - Reyhan+Kraum - Toshiro - Varolz - Nin - Ojutai - Tasigur - Zedruu - Uril - Edric - Wort - Zurgo - Nahiri - Grenzo - Kozilek - Yisan - Ink-Treader - Yisan - Brago - Sidisi - Toshiro - Alexi - Sygg - Brimaz - Sek'Kuar - Marchesa - Vish Kal - Iroas - Phelddagrif - Ephara - Derevi - Glissa - Wanderer - Saffi - Melek - Xiahou Dun - Lazav - Lin Sivvi - Zirilan - Glissa - Ashling1 - Angus - Arcum - Talrand - Chainer - Higure - Kumano - Scion - Teferi1 - Uyo - Sisters
PDH - Drake - Graverobber - Izzet GM - Tallowisp - Symbiote
Brawl - Feather - Ugin - Jace - Scarab - Angrath - Vraska - Kumena
Oathbreaker - Wrenn&6

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Krosan Ecologist
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Post by Krosan Ecologist » 10 months ago

Hi there!

Zirilan is by far my favorite card in the game and I myself have been playing Zirilan in 60-card decks since I started playing magic in 2005. I have been trying to build him into EDH, without much effective avail, until I came across DirkGently's original primer on MTG salvation last year. I am very thankful that someone was able to provide me and other Zirilan-fanatics with a such an original and in-depth baseline for a Zirilan build, so I figured that at the very least I could chip in with my own version/philosophy of the Zirilan EDH deck, as a (dragon) token of my appreciation. I hope my post can provide some additional inspiration for anyone trying to build a Zirilan EDH deck.

I've only reached a 'playable' construction this year, so due to the Covid situation, my own deck is still at a point where most of it needs to be play-tested. I still need to figure out if certain cards are worth keeping, or if I might want to replace them with something else in case the reality turns out to be less exiting than theory. Here is my current decklist:
Decklist

Commander (1)


Shielding the Shaman (3)


Approximate Total Cost:

Quote in first post by DirkGently:
My testing revealed a few things. One thing was that, back in 2011, there were a lot fewer great dragons to pull. So the sac/recur plan was a lot more necessary than it is now. These days, when I pull out hoarding dragon, I'm more likely to go for something like gauntlet of might than reito lantern, because it's just not necessary to pull out a half-dozen artifacts before going for a big alpha strike anymore.
My humble opinion:
Personally, I really like the recycle mechanic too much to leave it out. Not only is it a very neat trick, but having our dragons tucked safely in the deck reduces the chances of them being affected by the dynamics on the battlefield too much, allowing them to strike opportunistically. The emergence of Terror of the Peaks has also really risen the recyle mechanic to a new level. Being able to pump out massive amounts of damage by simply having dragons enter the battlefield, creates a reign of terror through allowing your dragons to repeatedly shift back in to the deck and re-emerge onto the battlefield through the sac outlets and recycle pieces. Not only can you simply damage your opponents in order to win the game, but until you are able to one-hit K.O. multiple players with alpha-strikes, it's also possible to have access to practically infinite spot removal. You can use this feature to either protect yourself from opposing creatures, or to use as political leverage on the EDH table by offering your opponents to help them get rid of threats from the rest of the table. Theoretically speaking, this makes the deck a very powerful threat that can simultaneously help improve game-play experience for the rest of the table, based on how 'aggressive' or 'politically involved' you want to play-out your game.

There are some cards that I haven't seen mentioned in the original primer or in follow-up posts. Maybe I haven't been paying enough attention, but just in case, I would like provide some elaboration on some personal choices:

Molten psyche
Hand disruption for our combo-oriënted opponents, shuffling dragons back in the deck to make available for Zirilan, and extra damage practically a given since we run so much artifacts.

Valakut Awakening // Valakut Stoneforge
It's like this card was specifically designed for this deck! Not only does it give us the option to select which cards (dragons) we want back in the deck, it also provides us with a land card in case we're short on mana. Granted, a land that comes t.i.p. and just provides one red mana usually isn't worth the cardboard it's been printed on, but given the value that Valakut Awakening provides in it's selectivity in combination with the mana-hungry nature of the deck, having a both a wheel and a land without wasting a slot for either makes it hard to justify not running this.

Strionic Resonator Maybe not the most exiting inclusion, but it can really shine in the right conditions. Paying two mana to double the abilities of Drakuseth, Maw of Flames, Spawn of Thraxes, Thunder Dragon (keeping Zirilan's P/T in mind!), Bogardan Hellkite or creating an extra dragon with Lathliss, Dragon Queen and/or Utvara Hellkite (and thus extra damage or extra spot removal if paired with Terror of the Peaks) can be useful at times. Fetching extra artifacts with Hoarding Dragon sounds pretty decent as well, as it allows you to assemble certain combo's quicker. The true reason I like to keep Strionic Resonator around, is for the possibility to pair it with Rings of Brighthearth, as their respective activated and triggered abilities allow you to have them feedback off of each other.

Resonating Rings
Spoiler
Show
You can activate Zirilan for 3 mana and pay 2 for Rings of Brighthearth's triggered ability that allows you to copy Zirilan's activated ability and get out your second dragon. The resonator then allows you to pay 2 and tap in order to copy Rings of Brighthearth's triggered ability that targets Zirilan's original activation, allowing you pay 2 additional mana for a third dragon. Since the resonator's ability is an activated ability, it triggers the rings again, allowing you to pay 2 mana for an additional Rings of Brighthearth trigger that targets Strionic Resonator, which allows you to copy Strionic Resonator's activated ability that targets the first Rings of Brighthearth's trigger, allowing you to pay a third instance of 2 mana to copy Zirilan's ability yet again and search for a fourth dragon.

It costs 13 mana and is therefore definitely less effective than other combo options in the deck, but in a far-fetched way, when introduced at the right moment, it has the potential to distract your opponents and throw them off their game, as you walk them through the 'complex' steps of the resonating rings. Maybe it's just me, but it took me a while for me to validate if the interaction between rings and resonator checks out. I can only imagine that in the heat of a big game of EDH, that the last thing you want is to be distracted by a two-card interaction migraine, followed by the threat of four dragons (or eight if you activate Zirilan EoT). Theoretically speaking it's not only a two-card combo that brings out more dragons, but also one that potentially throws in some psychological warfare for free.
.


Mycosynth Lattice, Unwinding Clock and Clock of Omens
Making everything you own an artifact and having the option to tap two permanents to summon extra dragons with Zirilan with enough mana is always a welcome option in this deck. Alternatively, being able to copy the attack trigger from Scourge of the Throne with Strionic Resonator and untap some dragons for a third combat step (which would be otherwise be useless due to the dragons 'being stuck' as they would remain tapped after the second combat phase), seems cool to be able to pull off, despite it being a little farfetched. I don't know if these three will be worth keeping around, especially since you run the risk of you opponents extracting more advantage from Mycosynth Lattice than yourself, but I'd like to experiment with them before I decide to permanently keep or delete any of these. Also, if things get really hairy, there's always the Mycosynth Lattice + Hellkite Tyrant wincon, although I personally think it's a cheap combo and would only use it as a last resort. Alternatively I justify keeping the combo around as a way to deal with toxic players, (which ironically might make me one as well?).

Crucible of Fire
I'm still undecided about this one. It's a bit clunky and slow and it doesn't exactly pay off immediately. On the other hand, having Terror of the Peaks deal 3 extra damage for every dragon does add up. I suspect it's pretty redundant in this build, but I'll have to actually play is and figure out if it's worth keeping around.

On a possibly unnecessary sidenote: The only card on the list that I do not actually own yet is Cavern of Souls. Counter spells are a huge pet-peeve of mine, so a land that guarantees Zirilan coming through would make this an auto-include for me personally. I'm just waiting until it drops in price or for a moment to come along that will allow me to strike a good deal on one. I currently think it's a little overpriced for what it does in a casual format, but the situational value CoS provides does merit it's inclusion. Cards like Lightning Greaves Swiftfoot Boots and Champion's Helm protect from most threats on the battlefield, so making sure he comes through at all is pretty important in my opinion.

As a closing statement, I would like to thank DirkGently for sharing his Zirilan of the Claw Compendium with the rest of the world, and for being such an OG with this concept. For anyone reading this: if you haven't checked it out, the original primer remains the best and most authoritative starting point for a Zirlan build, as it not only provides an overview of the most important cards and why they are so important, but it also elaborates on what cards not include in the deck. By doing so, it does everyone wanting to build Zirilan EDH that can actually keep it's head above water a huge favor for filtering out a lot of cr*p that might otherwise discourage people from building and refining a deck revolving around the coolest card in all of Magic: The Gathering's history.

Dracarys!

Liberi
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Post by Liberi » 2 months ago

Hello everybody! Unfortunately due to the confinement I was unable to test Zirilan, but in August I expect to be able to do a few test games with it. Here is my list:

Decklist

Big Boss


Approximate Total Cost:

Notable exclusions for budget reasons:
Grim Monolith, Mana Crypt, Jeweled Lotus, Gauntlet of Might and Chrome Mox.

Cards I don't have and should probably include:
Gemstone Caverns and Jeweled Amulet (I don't know, I really don't like this one...)

Notable exclusions:
Thousand-Year Elixir and Magewright's Stone
--> With Lithoform Engine and Battlemage's Bracers I don't think we need them anymore...

Cards under examination:
Fires of Invention: We have only 3 instants and this card allows us to empty our hand fast for a early Dragon Mage and to deploy dragons mid/late without giving up the Zirilan's activation.
Mana Web and War's Toll: It gives our opponents the choice to skip their turn to interact with us (in which case we have Zirilan ready) or to don't interact with us. Since Zirilan can't really handle hard interaction, those cards give us the safety to tutor right before our turn.

The other cards are more or less the same...
I included Rishadan Pawnshop, because I think it's still worth it since we abandoned the sac/recursion engine.
Given the high amount of ramp and spells with cmc<=4 we can empty our hand fast: Dragon Mage is therefore a very good early Zirilan's activation.
Goldspan Dragon, too good! It is not here to be tutored, but to be played from the hand (actually a 3 cmc given the treasure he produces with haste)
Territorial Hellkite, a very aggressive turn 3, especially if we plan to tutor Utvara Hellkite or Terror of Mount Velus.
Tibalt's Trickery: imo an auto-include in every red/non-blue deck.

I'm still trying to improve the deck, if any of you have any suggestions or have tested any different cards, let me know!

Liberi
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Post by Liberi » 2 months ago

Today I did some math, here are my conclusions:

WIN COMBO:

1) Changeling Berserker + Flameshadow Conjuring/Molten Echoes + Terror of the Peaks/Scourge of Valkas/Dragon Tempest

2) Worldgorger Dragon + Flameshadow Conjuring/Molten Echoes + Bogardan Hellkite/Terror of the Peaks/Scourge of Valkas/Dragon Tempest/Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

Conclusions: Flameshadow Conjuring and Molten Echoes are 1-cards-combo since we can tutor the other 2 combo pieces. However I don't think Scourge of Valkas is necessary.


ALPHA STRIKE:

--> 2 DRAGONS

1) Dragon Tyrant + Scourge of the Throne
ENEMY TURN: Scourge of the Throne
YOUR TURN: Dragon Tyrant
COMBAT 1: 2 Attackers (12 + 6)
COMBAT 2: 2 Attackers (12 + 7)
TOT = 37 [+ 4 * Red mana spent]

2) Moltensteel Dragon + Scourge of the Throne
ENEMY TURN: Scourge of the Throne
YOUR TURN: Dragon Tyrant
COMBAT 1: 2 Attackers (4 + 6)
COMBAT 2: 2 Attackers (4 + 7)
TOT = 21 [+ 2 * Phyrexian mana spent]

3) Drakuseth, Maw of Flames + Scourge of the Throne
ENEMY TURN: Scourge of the Throne
YOUR TURN: Drakuseth, Maw of Flames
COMBAT 1: 2 Attackers (7 + 4 + 6) + 6 on other targets
COMBAT 2: 2 Attackers (7 + 4 + 7) + 6 on other targets
TOT = 35 [+ 12 on other targets]

4) Scourge of the Throne + Terror of Mount Velus
ENEMY TURN: Scourge of the Throne
YOUR TURN: Terror of Mount Velus
COMBAT 1: 2 Attackers (10 + 12)
COMBAT 2: 2 Attackers (10 + 14)
TOT = 46

5) Scourge of the Throne + Terror of Mount Velus + Other Dragon on board (with power X)
ENEMY TURN: Scourge of the Throne
YOUR TURN: Terror of Mount Velus
COMBAT 1: 2 Attackers (10 + 12 + 2*X)
COMBAT 2: 2 Attackers (10 + 14 + 2*X)
TOT = 46 + 4*X

6) Scourge of the Throne + Utvara Hellkite
ENEMY TURN: Scourge of the Throne
YOUR TURN: Utvara Hellkite
COMBAT 1: 2 Attackers, 2*Token 6/6, (6 + 6)
COMBAT 2: 2 Attackers, 2*Token 6/6, (6 + 7)
TOT = 25 + 4*Token 6/6

7) Scourge of the Throne + Utvara Hellkite + Haste
ENEMY TURN: Scourge of the Throne
YOUR TURN: Utvara Hellkite
COMBAT 1: 2 Attackers, 2*Token 6/6, (6 + 6)
COMBAT 2: 4 Attackers, 4*Token 6/6, (6 + 7 + 6 + 6)
TOT = 37 + 6*Token 6/6

8) Scourge of the Throne + Utvara Hellkite + Other Dragon on board
ENEMY TURN: Scourge of the Throne
YOUR TURN: Utvara Hellkite
COMBAT 1: 3 Attackers, 3*Token 6/6, (6 + 6 + X)
COMBAT 2: 3 Attackers, 3*Token 6/6, (6 + 7 + X)
TOT = 25 + 2*X + 6*Token 6/6

9) Utvara Hellkite + Terror of the Peaks
ENEMY TURN: Terror of the Peaks
YOUR TURN: Utvara Hellkite, 6 dmg
COMBAT 1: 2 Attackers, 2*Token 6/6 + 12 dmg, (6 + 5)
TOT = 29 + 2*Token 6/6

10) Utvara Hellkite + Terror of the Peaks + Other Dragon on board
ENEMY TURN: Terror of the Peaks
YOUR TURN: Utvara Hellkite, 6 dmg
COMBAT 1: 3 Attackers, 3*Token 6/6 + 18 dmg, (6 + 5 + X)
TOT = 35 + X + 3*Token 6/6

--> 4 DRAGONS

1) Lathliss, Dragon Queen + Terror of the Peaks + Utvara Hellkite + Scourge of the Throne =
ENEMY TURN: Lathliss, Dragon Queen, Terror of the Peaks, Token 5/5 + 5 dmg
YOUR TURN: Utvara Hellkite, Token 5/5 + 11 dmg, Scourge of the Throne, Token 5/5 + 10 dmg
COMBAT 1: 5 Attackers, 5*Token 6/6 + 30 dmg, (6 + 5 + 6 + 6 + 5)
COMBAT 2: 5 Attackers, 5*Token 6/6 + 30 dmg, (6 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 5)
TOT = 5 + 11 + 10 + 30 + 28 + 30 + 29 = 143 dmg + 10*Token 6/6

2) Terror of the Peaks + Utvara Hellkite + Scourge of the Throne + Terror of Mount Velus =
ENEMY TURN: Terror of the Peaks, Utvara Hellkite + 6 dmg
YOUR TURN: Scourge of the Throne + 5 dmg, Terror of Mount Velus + 5 dmg
COMBAT 1: 4 Attackers, 4*Token 6/6 + 24 dmg, (10 + 12 + 12 + 10)
COMBAT 2: 4 Attackers, 4*Token 6/6 + 24 dmg, (10 + 12 + 14 + 10)
TOT = 6 + 5 + 5 + 24 + 44 + 24 + 46 = 154 + 8*Token 6/6

...

And then I realized that there are still many possible cases (in particular the Flameshadow Conjuring/Molten Echoes on the board cases, however, as demonstrated before, with them in play we don't need to alpha strike to win the game).

So, what conclusions can we made?

Cards like Terror of Mount Velus and Utvara Hellkite (in particular the latter combo exponentially with Terror of the Peaks or Haste enablers) take advantage of a pre-existing board.
Now, how do we create a board before an alpha strike? That means: how do we create a board before the Zirilan cast (i.e. on turn 3) or during it's first activation (i.e. on turn 5)?
Here's the answers:
* Dragons on turn 3, i.e. dragons with cmc<=4: https://scryfall.com/search?q=t%3Adrago ... order=name
* Dragons on turn 5. If we ramped on turn 2 and we do every land drop we have 6 mana on turn 5. This quantity of mana can be more or less depending on how much we ramped and if we have the land drop every turn, so it is not a reliable quantity. One thing we can do for sure is use the Zirilan's activation to tutor Skyline Despot and create a 5/5 token.

One conclusion we can make is that without the combo-cards Flameshadow Conjuring/Molten Echoes we can't win the next turn Zirilan enter the battlefield. So, what we do with its first activations? I think that the best things to do is to summon dragons that help us reach the following objectives: find key artifacts and create a board.
The best dragons for this job are imo: Skyline Despot, Rapacious Dragon, Dragon Mage, Knollspine Dragon. Skyline Despot create a token and draw us 1 card minimum, imo the best setup-dragon. Since the curve is low and we don't plan to drop dragons from the hand early, Dragon Mage is perfect to refuel our hand. Secondary thoughts: since we risk to put important dragons in the cemetery with the wheel, cards like Feldon of the Third Path and Elixir of Immortality can regain importance. Rapacious Dragon may seems bad, but I think it can find a place in our deck, here's why: it's a cmc3 dragon, so we can play it from hand and activate Zirilan the same turn, or we can tutor him to 'ramp' and prepare a big turn; moreover, it combos with Goldspan Dragon . The one I like least is Knollspine Dragon, I just think of it as a Dragon Mage replacement if we have the latter in our hand or in exile.

One final though: I think we should focus on setup cards that allow us to alpha strike with as few dragons as possible, cards like Furnace of Rath come to mind...

End of the rant. Let me know what you think!

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