Coldsnap brought us a plethora of new creature types including some forgotten and underused ones like Yeti, Slug and Sphinx. More importantly, Coldsnap brings us two new Lords: Darien, King of Kjeldor and Lovisa Coldeyes. Both of these cards have some interesting, cool and powerful ‘lord’ abilities. Today I’m going to take a close look at King Darien. But first, let’s take a general look at Lords in Magic: the Gathering.
Did you know that there are only twenty Lords in Magic? There are well over 8000 different Magic cards, of which around half are creatures. Then, considering there are almost 400 different creature types, you would think there should be more Lords. The most recognizable lords, all from Alpha, include cards like Goblin King, Lord of Atlantis and Zombie Master. Each of these three Lords gave benefits to other creatures of their type like +1/+1, swampwalk, islandwalk, mountainwalk, and/or regeneration.
Lords are typically used as a means to beef up and strengthen your army of creatures. Giving all of your merfolk +1/+1 and islandwalk with Lord of Atlantis can turn a blue weenie deck into a powerhouse-unblockable beatdown deck if you have a Phantasmal Terrain or two. Goblin King is like the opposite of Lord of Atlantis giving his goblin friends +1/+1 and mountainwalk. Blood Moon anyone?
However, Lords of late haven’t been following suit with the Lords of old. Look at Lords from the Ravnica block: Chorus of the Conclave and Ghost Council of Orzhov. Neither of these two cards really do anything to beef up and strengthen your creatures of a given type. Ghost Council just flickers and sacrifices a lot; the Dryad lords of the Conclave just give +1/+1 counters to newly cast creature cards for a cost. What happened to traditional ‘all ‘creature-type’ creatures get +1/+1’ and things like landwalk? Has that been completely forgotten? Or maybe that’s just too powerful now…
I want to see more Lords and more traditional Lords like the original guys from Alpha. Maybe even a Crocodile Lord! You could make it a blue-green-black legendary guy that gives all of your crocs islandwalk, swampwalk and first strike. That would be cool. Or maybe a Wraith lord that replaces the original ballooning ability on most wraiths with something like: “1: This creatures gets +1/+1 until end of turn” and gives them +1/+2.
Thinking up new lords isn’t what this is all about. While Lovisa fits more into my conception of a Lord mold, I decided King Darien would be a good start to this possible article series. I’m willing to put my views of what a Lord should be aside for a moment so I can present to you two decks using Darien.
King Darien Found in a Flame Rift.
As mentioned, King Darien isn’t exactly your typical Lord. Sure, he’s a king and all, but he doesn’t give all of your Soldiers +1/+1 and first strike. No, instead silly WotC gave that ability to Field Marshal (who I personally think should have been a Lord). But then again, I can understand their reasoning for doing so. Lords have to have some prominence, respect and prestige in the current life of Magic. Any king really is a lord, and a Field Marshal isn’t. Although, couldn’t they just have switched abilities for me? No, they couldn’t do that… make the casual player happier. Not that I’m unhappy. It’s just that I would have been happier had Field Marshal been given King Darien’s ability and vice versa. But I guess that doesn’t make much sense either. Oh well.
In the meantime, King Darien has a VERY interesting ability. Every time you’re dealt damage, King Darien puts that many 1/1 white Soldier tokens into play. Did I read that right? Is there really no restriction on where the damage can come from? It doesn’t say ‘combat’ damage. Hmmm. So basically, damage can come from anywhere: your opponent, your own creature with a drawback, even your own spells and enchantments. Even painlands!
With that in mind, I can already see a deck forming using red and white. Possibly Orcish Artillery, Darien and Soul Warden…
|Darien’s Rift ShopMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards|
4 Battlefield Forge
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Auriok Champion
4 Darien, King of Kjeldor
4 Field Marshal
4 Orcish Artillery
4 Soul Warden
4 Flame Rift
4 Sensei's Diving Top
Finally, that’s a deck that uses Orcish Artillery effectively! Well, really, Orcish Artillery could just be Soul Link-ed and that would be easier than setting up a three card combo deck. However, that doesn’t include King Darien and that’s no fun.
With Darien in play, a Soul Warden and Orcish Artillery, tap your Artillery to deal two damage to either your opponent or a creature they control. Then, Artillery does three damage to you. Darien’s ability nets you three 1/1 white Soldier creature tokens and Soul Warden nets you three life. In summary, you did no damage to yourself, two damage to your opponent or one of his creatures, and you gained three more creatures. That’s spiffy.
To help out the cause, I’ve includes a play set each of Char, Fireslinger and Flame Rift. All three of these cards serve the same purpose as the Artillery – dealing damage to either an opponent or opponent’s creature and dealing damage to you. As long as you have a Soul Warden and Darien in play you will gain back the life you lost and still get all of the creatures. Also included in the decklist is Soul Warden’s on-another-world-distant cousin: Auriok Champion.
Sensei’s Diving Top helps to round the deck out by giving you some library management options. Remember that you goal is to get all of the pieces on the board as quickly as possible so you can start amassing that army of Darien’s soldiers. I even included a play set of Battlefield Forge. When you tap the forge for a white or red mana, it will deal damage to you. This will activate King Darien and put a creature token into play.
Just to help our your new Soldier tokens, I included Field Marshal. Despite my gripe with WotC for not switching around the abilities of King and Marshall, I still think those tokens deserve a boost and first strike. It only makes sense.
There are other card options for this deck. One card you could easily work into this deck is Goblin Bombardment. With the possibility to amass many Soldier tokens, you can break a stalemate by catapulting the tokens at your opponent’s head. Or you could include some more burn. It doesn’t have to be burn like Flame Rift, Char or Orcish Artillery. Fireball, Ghitu Fire, Demonfire. All of those will help you control the board while you set up your combo. You may even consider Disenchant or its kin for this deck if your casual group likes to play lots of enchantments and artifacts. Either way, this deck isn’t set in stone – make it your own!
Focusing on Soldiers
After making a red-white deck using Darien, I felt the need to make something a little more close to home: all white. Making an all-white deck means focusing more on the Soldier side of things. This is mainly because white doesn’t have many means to deal damage to you. Of course, I could always focus on Icatian Moneychanger… but that seems bland. With this kind of a deck, you need to invite your opponent to deal damage to you and yet still be able to stay alive. I think what we need here is a tribal Soldier deck featuring Darien and a little painful artifact from Tempest.
Unfortunately, this following deck uses some of the same strategy as the first – namely Soul Warden. Soul Warden is the best way to keep your life total sane. We don’t want a white suicide deck. We have black for that. Soul Warden will gain you the life you need while Darien is in play. This life will keep you at a stable level to continue the crazy Soldier token generating your deck will do. Let’s have a looksy:
|Darien’s IdolMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards|
2 Ancient Tomb
1 Daru Encampment
3 Nomad Stadium
2 Catapult Squad
3 Darien, King of Kjeldor
4 Deftblade Elite
3 Field Marshal
4 Noble Templar
1 Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker
4 Soul Warden
2 Glorious Anthem
2 Privileged Position
2 Slate of Ancestry
3 Jinxed Idol
The obvious card of choice: Jinxed Idol. Who would think to include this card in a deck full of Soldiers? I would, of course. I think I have reigned as the supreme crazy-deck builder on Magic Deck Vortex and why would I stop here! Oh wait! This is MTG Salvation. Well, I’m sure I’m still a crazy deck builder here. Moving along…
Jinxed Idol serves one major purpose – dealing damage to you while Darien is in play. Mind you, it will only deal damage to you during your upkeep. But who cares when you have Darien and a Soul Warden? Like the first deck, when something deals damage to you, you will produce that many creatures and that much life back thanks to the Darien-Warden duo. While Jinxed Idol would normally make you want to sacrifice a creature to make an opponent gain control of it, this deck would prefer you keep it to generate two Soldier tokens during each of your upkeeps.
In the early game, you can still use Jinxed Idol as a means for either creature control on your opponent’s side or damage to your opponent. Jinxed Idol really doesn’t shine until you have both Darien and Warden in play. So while you’re waiting to either find or cast Darien, use the Idol to sneak in some damage against your opponent. Otherwise, Jinxed Idol is almost like casting Diabolic Edict on your opponent every turn so long as you can afford to sacrifice one of your own creatures to give it back to your opponent.
Jinxed Idol aside, the deck performs like a tribal Soldier deck should – with lots of Soldiers. Catapult Squad, Deftblade Elite and Whipcorder are all efficient Soldier drops that give you a little control in the early game. They are still efficient in the late game too. Consider this, it’s mid game and you have about 20 Soldiers thanks to King Darien. Should one of your opponent’s creatures attack or block, just tap out a bunch of Soldiers to deal lethal damage to that creature with Catapult Squad.
Because of the higher number of Soldiers in the deck that are actually cards, Field Marshal has a more important role than the last deck. Combined with a few copies of Glorious Anthem, your deck should perform like a white weenie deck in the beginning while you’re waiting to drop King Darien. And with Darien in play, the Field Marshal will still give your tokens a boost to turn this deck into a mean beatdown deck. Does white have an Overrun?
A little note about Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker: she doesn’t combo with anything in the deck. She does, however, have some nice synergy. A deck with King Darien wants your opponent to attack you or at the very least, throw some direct damage your way. The ultimate goal, after all, is bringing your opponent down to zero life or less. With Michiko in play, you get a double-edged sword. King Darien will generate some tokens AND Michiko will make your opponent sacrifice a permanent. Let’s hope they aren’t playing some WG token deck. I thought she was a cool inclusion in the deck, but remember that this is just my concept. Replace her with another Field Marshal if you like.
Some other cards in the deck, like Privileged Position, offer some protection against your opponent’s removals spells. In the case of Slate of Ancestry, this card can provide some card drawing/advantage while you have lots of Soldiers in play. I originally played around with the inclusion of Raise the Alarm, but decided that Disenchant was needed with all of the new cool and exciting artifacts and enchantments running amok in casual Magic.
Lastly, the mana base is interesting. I have 18 basic Plains, two Ancient Tombs, some Nomad Stadiums and a lone Daru Encampment. Both the Nomad Stadium and the Ancient Tomb provide some synergy with Darien. Also, the Ancient Tombs can help power out a quick Privileged Position or even a quick Darien! I even have Noble Templar in the main decklist to help search out your Plains in case you’re experiencing either a mana screw or lack of lands to cast a Darien. Noble Templar also makes for an efficient blocker and a worthy attacker with vigilance.
I had considered some other Soldiers for the deck like Soltari Emissary, Aven Farseer, Longbow Archer and Daru Warchief. Soltari Emissary would have been nice with his gift of shadow walking, but I ended up using Catapult Squad in his place. Longbow Archer would have also been nice with his ability to block fliers but I was trying to stay away from Soldiers that already had first strike since Field Marshal grants it while in play. Daru Warchief would have also been a great inclusion but I already had Field Marshal in the deck and most of the cards in this deck don’t cost a whole lot. I would encourage you to try some other Soldiers out to fit this deck to your liking.
This deck, while not perfect, should give you a good idea of how Darien performs in a tribal Soldier deck. While I encourage you to try this deck out, I also encourage you to make this deck list your own with any additions you think are better.
Time for the King to Eat Dinner
Well, it’s time for King Darien to eat some Auroch Stroganoff and Roasted Ronom Hulk. That’s about all for today’s look into one of the Lords of Coldsnap. I plan to do another feature on Lovisa Coldeyes next time around. I may even feature some of the non-Lords of Coldsnap that sure act like Lords (or at least my concept of them).
Whatever you do, do it casual. At least, do it casual once in a while. There’s more to Magic than the hum-drum of tournament play and chase rares.
Streetz, webmaster of www.magicdeckvortex.com