Deckbuilding – Revisiting Changelings

person molding brown clay

Hey Commander players! With Kaldheim adding lots of new changeling creatures to the card pool, it’s time I updated my deck: my The Ur-Dragon deck. That’s right, it’s a changeling deck with a dragon commander that functions like an indestructible Stone Calendar that starts the game in play. Who wants to pay full price for a changeling? Not me! Here’s the deck!

Discount Changelings

Commander (1)
The Ur-Dragon

Various Dragons (25)
Amoeboid Changeling
Avian Changeling
Bloodline Pretender
Cairn Wanderer
Chameleon Colossus
Crib Swap
Game-Trail Changeling
Graveshifter
Guardian Gladewalker
Irregular Cohort
Littjara Glade-Warden
Littjara Kinseekers
Masked Vandal
Mirror Entity
Mistwalker
Moonglove Changeling
Moritte of the Frost
Mothdust Changeling
Scalelord Reckoner
Shapesharer
Taurean Mauler
Unsettled Mariner
Valiant Changeling
Venomous Changeling
Webweaver Changeling

Friends and Wellwishers (23)
Atla Palani, Nest Tender
Atzocan Seer
Azami, Lady of Scrolls
Captivating Vampire
Clever Impersonator
Cloudshredder Sliver
Crookclaw Elder
Depala, Pilot Exemplar
Drogskol Captain
Goblin Trashmaster
Greatbow Doyen
Knight Exemplar
Lord of the Unreal
Lovisa Coldeyes
Progenitor Mimic
Pulmonic Sliver
Risen Reef
Scion of Oona
Sea Gate Loremaster
Seshiro the Anointed
Temple Altisaur
Timber Protector
Wirewood Savage

Dragon Stuff (9)
Amorphous Axe
Commander’s Sphere
Dragon’s Hoard
Fellwar Stone
Heirloom Blade
Herald’s Horn
Mimic Vat
Runed Stalactite
Sol Ring

Dragony Spells (6)
Forsake the Worldly
Kindred Dominance
Knights’ Charge
Raiders’ Spoils
Soulcatchers’ Aerie
Supreme Verdict
Lands (36)
Alchemist’s Refuge
Ally Encampment
Arcane Sanctum
Cascading Cataracts
City of Brass
Command Tower
Crumbling Necropolis
Evolving Wilds
Exotic Orchard
Forest
Frontier Bivouac
Grand Coliseum
Haven of the Spirit Dragon
Island
Jungle Shrine
Mana Confluence
Mountain
Mutavault
Mystic Monastery
Nomad Outpost
Opulent Palace
Path of Ancestry
Plains
Primal Beyond
Rupture Spire
Sandsteppe Citadel
Savage Lands
Seaside Citadel
Seaside Haven
Shimmerdrift Vale
Sliver Hive
Starlit Sanctum
Swamp
Terramorphic Expanse
Thespian’s Stage
Vesuva

The plan is simple: play cheap changelings and them lord them up with all sorts of wacky tribal bonuses! Since every tribal bonus from every lord is in play for a deck like this, we can bypass the snoozers like Adaptive Automaton and Metallic Mimic and go straight for the good stuff!

When I initially built the deck, I chose lords that were more than just an anthem effect. I might as well play Benalish Marshal if that’s all they do. Any lord that provided an anthem had to also do something else. And I was willing accept lords that offered high value effects instead of stat buffs, like haste, flying and card draw. Haste means a creature based deck can get going and not get blown out as badly by boardwipes. Flying is evasion but also a must on defense against Voltron commanders and angel armies. Card draw from creature sources means this deck can keep the threat density high. There are a few other lords, too, mostly ones that are there to protect the team from harm. Let’s break it down!

Haste – Like with my anthem lords, I like haste+. Lovisa Coldeyes adds a huge buff, and Cloudshredder Sliver is the perfect segue to the next section.

Flying – Flying+ slivers are great, and I have another with Pulmonic Sliver, which has all sorts of applications, from simple recursion to stopping exile effects like Leyline of the Void. In that case, it’s a timestamp thing. Ask a Magic Judge! I also have another perfect segue in Crookclaw Elder which not only grants flying, but draws cards!

Card Draw – Drawing cards, or doing something a lot like it, is what wins games of Magic. I have a wide range of effects, from the summoning-sickness proof tapping of Crookclaw Elder or Azami, Lady of Scrolls, to the big volume activation of Sea Gate Loremaster. Both Raiders’ Spoils and Seshiro the Anointed are lordly buffs in addition to draw triggers. Depala, Pilot Exemplar can tap and pay X to try and fill up my hand with changelings. Dragon’s Hoard offers a card in exchange for each changeling ETB, plus those of my Commander and incidental other dragons, while being a super useful mana rock. Wirewood Savage gives me the ETB trigger right away, and also hedges against decks that play Rampaging Baloths and/or Beast Within. Seaside Haven requires a sacrifice, which can be a series of useful triggers, or save a creature from exile or theft. Herald’s Horn and Heirloom Blade are the double H tandem that seems to end up in all my tribal decks. They’re big time workhorses here. Former Standard all-star Risen Reef can be a massive source of card advantage. Atla Palani, Nest Tender is a bit of a reach as card draw, but changelings are eggs and can hatch into other changelings and humans and such, so it sort of counts as card advantage.

Protection – The defensive cards tend to get the biggest reactions from opponents. That does what?? Yes, please read my Timber Protector and Knight Exemplar. Forget spot removal after Drogskol Captain, Lord of the Unreal or Scion of Oona hit the table. Temple Altisaur is sometimes a brick wall. Scalelord Reckoner, a bargain at 4CMC thanks to my Commander, is just plain scary.

Big Swings – I can win with the beatdown plan, because the lords pile up quickly and a few 6/6ish bashers with all sorts of abilities are a solid clock. But there are a few higher gears the deck has, starting with putting the Commander in play. Getting an attack phase with it in play is often enough to seal up a game. Otherwise, I’m packing some unusual game-enders. Starlit Sanctum is hardly what you’d think of as a game-ender, but Taurean Mauler is one of many potentially gigantic, life-total eating clerics. Knights’ Charge is a recent addition that nibbles at life totals and then recurs all the changelings for a final strike or boardwipe response. Soulcatchers’ Aerie can sometimes enable a Kangee, Aerie Keeper deck (don’t laugh, this happened. Ok, laugh anyway, it was super dorky), but it can punish opponents for overusing removal. Mimic Vat is always a fine choice, acting as both a super utility card, an on-theme fun card, and a finisher under the right circumstances. Kindred Dominance is expensive to cast, but should either save or win the game. Last, every opponent I’ve ever had has ignored Greatbow Doyen when I first played it on them. I often encouraged them to read it, because I feel like keeping this thing under the radar is probably unfair. It will end the game very very fast.

Mana Base – A 5-colour base can be a lot of trouble, but I’m running plenty of rainbow lands, tri-lands, and fixers. Vesuva and Thespian’s Stage are a must for the theme, and Mutavault adds another changeling in land form. New card Faceless Haven is really cool, but I’m not able to play enough snow lands to accommodate it. Alchemist’s Refuge is usually worth playing if the colours can support it, and with The Ur-Dragon‘s discount, can be a regular source of flashed-in changelings. While they don’t help my lords much, at least cards like Sliver Hive, Primal Beyond, Haven of the Spirit Dragon and Ally Encampment all have some upside besides just fixing the mana for changelings. A surprise all-star in the deck is the humble Atzocan Seer who fixes mana, blocks like a chump champ, and recurs a changeling at instant speed. Sweet.

Fun Tech – Some I’ve already covered, but the best of the rest is the insane versatility of Crib Swap. As a dragon card, it gets the discount, and it can either exile a problem, or give me a changeling ETB trigger and a body. It cantrips with Wirewood Savage in play no matter what it targets. I’d also like to mention lords+ Goblin Trashmaster and Captivating Vampire, who give this deck 2 powerful abilities it wouldn’t have otherwise. Both have saved games for me.

What I’m not playing – I do not yet own an Orvar, the All-Form or Realmwalker. I am hoping their prices drop. I think it’s reasonable considering Orvar is likely unfun and linear as a Commander, and Realmwalker is the buy-a-box promo for Kaldheim and should be in good supply.

I’m not playing Morophon, the Boundless as my copy is the Commander of my Rick and Morty themed Unnecessarily Badass Suit-Up deck. But I wouldn’t want to anyway, as the main payoff is an extremely discounted The Ur-Dragon which is not really what the deck wants to do. Morophon comes down late anyway, making his discount effect a bit marginal, and the anthem is no better than Adaptive Automaton‘s. Great card, wrong deck for it.

I’m not playing Universal Automaton because it would be a combo piece as a 0-cost creature in a deck like this, and a vanilla dork otherwise. I’m not doing combos. I’m not bothering with Reaper King because it’s not great. I’m not running a pile of ETB trigger potential, and no Cloudstone Curio or other nonsense to loop changelings. I passed on Birthing Boughs because the tokens are really expensive to generate and I’d rather just run more creatures. Maskwood Nexus is cool because it makes all my lords buff each other (and sometimes themselves), as well as making less pricey tokens. I’ll try one eventually. The Bears of Littjara looks pretty good too.

I sadly cut hilarious tribal payoffs Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro and Soraya the Falconer to add the Kaldheim changelings. I’ll keep them close, just in case. Banding FTW. I’m not doing any of the champion changelings, and I’m finally able to go without playing stuff like Impostor of the Sixth Pride which is still ok in this deck as a 3/1 for W. I think the deck is in a good place. If you want to see exactly what physical copies of the cards I’m playing, or just like Archidekt (I do), check it out on Archidekt.

It’s funny that I rarely play this deck, and it mostly ends up in the hands of my roommate. She tends to trounce tables with it, so maybe upping the power slightly will be overkill. I think the deck is still trying to play fair, though and should be fun to play with or against. Thanks for reading! Your life matters! Black Lives Matter!

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