Self-Appointed Flavor Judge: Naming Your Deck

One of the big questions regarding Dragons of Tarkir is that should we now abandon the old guild names commonly used when naming decks? The answer: Depends.

Certain websites have been very aggressive about naming decks based on guilds, shards and clans. Now the dragon broods are here to make this more complicated. To me, its not strictly a question of colors. Sure, the colors limit what you can call your deck realistically, but there’s more to a deck than the colors its in.

To name your deck, you need to go deeper. What is your approach? How does your deck play? What’s the philosophy (or lack thereof) of your deck? In some cases, guilds and broods are kind of easy to distinguish, in other case not so much.

WU: Azorius vs. Ojutai

Azorius is the Authority. They try to keep other players from having fun. There’s cards like Supreme Verdict and Detention Sphere. There’s no subtlety. Anything opposes and you authority, you kill it. Basically fascism.

Ojutai on the other hand is the avatar of Cunning. You have resources and you guide the situation to your advantage, often simply by denying your opponent information. That card in your hand, is it a land or are you holding something to save your Seeker of the Way from getting killed by Wild Slash? Who knows? Well, you do, because you are ahead of your opponent. The game state might be too complicated for the other player to comprehend, but that’s exactly the way you like it.

Precedents: The Pro Tour M15 winning deck was clearly Azorius, while the current WU Heroic decks would be Ojutai.

UB: Dimir vs. Silumgar

Here the situation is reversed. The Ravnica guild is more about subtlety, while the brood is all about overbearing control.

Dimir will mess with your head. Your thoughts are not safe from them. They were so secretive they weren’t even officially a guild for a long time. You should be on your toes against these guys. They are the Manipulation guys, guiding the game to their advantage.

Silumgar is not that subtle. In fact:

“No machinations, no puppet strings, no plots. Just pure, sweeping death.”
—Tasigur, the Golden Fang

That’s a bit too much, I think, but goes well with being the Ruthless dragon. You oppose him, you will die. No questions asked, no mercy given.

Precedents: Faeries decks of around 2008 would be a perfect example of Dimir, while the recent UB Control decks would be Silumgar decks.

BR: Rakdos vs. Kolaghan

Rakdos is all about Aggression. No blocking here, just going all in and attacking as often and hard as possible. Their guild mechanics (Hellbent and Unleash) tell the whole story. They are not about long-term planning.

Kolaghan is also fast and can go all in, because she’s the Speed dragon, but she also knows how to pick her spots. Getting in early and doing some damage is just a precursor to the late game where the big dragons come in.

Precedents: No famous archetypes come to mind, but here’s an example of the kind of deck I mean for Rakdos and here’s a more Kolaghan type deck.

RG: Gruul vs. Atarka

These are getting harder and harder to differentiate. This is pretty much like the previous one, except for a detail.

Gruul is about going all in, but with a large creature. Whereas Rakdos isn’t one for getting blocked (although to them its more of a inconvenience than an actual problem, because these things are so disposable), Gruul is very much willing to get blocked. Doesn’t matter anyway. Just a bump in the road to victory.

Atarka is about going big and just dwarfing the opposition. She herself is either 6/4 with trample and brings with her the gift of double strike, or an 8/8 that kills everything by just appearing.

Precedents: Gruul would look something like this, while Atarka would look more like this.

GW: Selesnya vs. Dromoka

I really can’t tell the difference.

2 thoughts on “Self-Appointed Flavor Judge: Naming Your Deck

  1. Come on! You can’t be flavor judge if you just ignore the difference in guild/brood you don’t like. :D Also to my untrained eye Selesnya was/is about board presence (by overpopulation) and Dromoka seems to be more like big defense and stubborn resistance.

  2. The thing is that they are both about community on the paper. They do approach this differently, but it doesn’t show in actual constructed decks. Well, there aren’t actually any GW decks right now I could point to, but if there were, they would be about very undercosted creatures that hit hard. Exactly the same as GW decks have always been, as far as I can see. I guess there were the GW combo decks relying on Ajani, Caller of the Pride, but I don’t think anyone would really see that as a Selesnya deck rather than Dromoka deck.

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