How They Brew It – Dash Dancing

Michael Celani • September 6, 2021

Vadrok, Apex of Thunder by Zack Stella

They have the skill. They have the power. Now, they’re all competing in the sporting event of the season for a chance to make their dreams become reality. That’s right: every five years, the best of the best line up to compete in the legendary hundred-rod dash. It’s a punishing test of endurance that lasts six full days, as none of the planners knew how long a rod is. The challenge ahead is daunting even for the pros, but they’re not complaining. Each athlete has literally poured their blood, sweat and tears into the ceremonial cauldron that appeases the beast that lives underneath the stadium. Which runner will go home with the gold?


Vadrok and Roll

My name is Michael Celani, and I’m addicted to speed. The quinquennial is upon us, and I’m finally eligible to represent my native country of Las Vegas. I’ve been training for the hundred-rod dash basically since I was born, and if all my hard work and effort culminates in a silver medal I will shoot a man.

As an athlete, my job is very important, but I can spare some time for those of you out there who want to start running races yourselves. Step one is to learn the basics about dashing. Creatures with dash have an alternate casting cost that’s typically cheaper than normal. You can cast them for their dash cost, and if you do, they’ll gain haste, but they’ll also return to their owner’s hand at the beginning of the next end step.

When Vadrok, Apex of Thunder mutates onto a creature, you can cast a noncreature spell with mana value 3 or less from your graveyard for free. If you were to mutate Vadrok onto a dash creature, the whole creature stack including Vadrok will return to your hand at the beginning of the next end step, allowing you to do it again next turn!

Rather Dashing

My experience in running from the law after downloading cars has kept me in top shape, but it’s always best to know your enemy. After all, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and I’m not good at making friends usually, so I just make a bunch of enemies and it all works out. Here are the sprint champions we’ll be mutating Vadrok onto:

  • Zurgo Bellstriker is the original dashing legend. It only costs two mana to dump him onto the field, and since he’s an orc and not a human, he’s a valid target for Vadrok to mutate onto.
  • Of course, a lot of dash creatures are human, so we have to get creative. Viashino Sandscout has Great Value-brand dash, and so does Viashino Sandsprinter — though I think that particular lizard is more interested in a different racing sport.
  • My original Warriors character Glitterfang also makes it into the deck and he’s the cheapest sprinter yet at only one red mana.
  • If you prefer to pace yourself, there are other creatures that can bounce themselves whenever you choose. Grinning Ignus essentially refunds its cost with its ability and Rootha, Mercurial Artist plagiarizes a spell for you.
  • If you find yourself unable to target a creature with inherent skill, don’t worry: you can make Vadrok Run Away Together with a real athlete or just pump him full of Crystal Shard steroids to get the job done.

Drawing a Blank

Of course, a well-stocked graveyard is the key to any sporting event, because if you injure the the competition badly enough, you win by default. We want to chuck our powerful spells into the bin as fast as possible, and while we could just cast them, they’re often situational removal that may not be appropriate at all times. Don’t let your cards languish in your hand: recycle them!

    • There’s nothing more iconic than some Faithless Looting after a good football match track meet, and with its new sidekick Faithful Mending, we can clean up any mess our opponents have made of our faces.
    • For a bit of card advantage, try Thrill of Possibility. You’ll still have to pay its additional cost if you cast it from the graveyard, so don’t rely too hard on it once Vadrok is online.
    • Izzet Charm? Yes, it is a way to filter through cards in your hand, and it’s also a soft counterspell or removal in a pinch. You Find the Villains’ Lair is pretty similar for one mana more.
    • If I can’t find my kneepads and jockstrap before big sporting events like the hundred-rod dash or shopping at Target, you better believe I start my Frantic Search. If you cast it from the yard with Vadrok for free, you can even gain mana back!
    • Hazoret’s Monument is golden in this deck. Not only does it reduce the cost of your dashers, it reduces the cost of Vadrok himself. It makes up for this by letting you rummage whenever you cast any creature spell, not just red ones, leaving you with a very powerful hand and graveyard.
      • Pollywog Symbiote works similarly, but only Vadrok need apply. Remember, since it’s a cast trigger, you can pitch the spell you want to cast once Vadrok mutates and it’ll be a valid target as that happens!
    • Don’t forget Geier Reach Sanitarium and Desolate Lighthouse either. They’re great ways to pitch a spell on an opponent’s end step.

Sign My Cast

The best part about competitive sports is the licensing and branding deals you get once you win. I’ve always wanted to have my own flavored cereal, by which I mean I would be on the cover of a box of flavored cereal and not that I would produce a cereal flavored like myself. I love corporate synergy, so here’s all the creatures and permanents that synergize with Vadrok’s gameplan:

Priceless Experience

Most Vadrok players would be content with the silver-medal experience of loading up on cast triggers and fighting with a legion of small, flying tokens. But we are the best of the best, and we’re here to blow everyone’s mind.

Yes, you can cast spells that cost one mana, two mana, three mana, or even zero mana from the graveyard with Vadrok. But what about the cards that have no mana cost at all?

With our bevy of rummage and loot effects, we’ll almost never need to suspend these cards to see their effects.

  • Draw three cards from the yard with Ancestral Vision.
  • Steal your competetor’s best creatures using Inevitable Betrayal.
  • Put Restore Balance on the stack and hold priority to cast Teferi’s Protection. It’s an insanely dirty way to knock your opponents down!
  • Wheel of Fate will refill your hand while Narset, Parter of Veils leaves your opponents dry. Don’t forget that since Narset herself is a noncreature spell, she’ll be very difficult to remove permanently as long as Vadrok is around.
  • Once you have enough creature tokens, Glimpse of Tomorrow will pull a spectacular amount of threats onto the battlefield, including dangerous enchantments such as Eldrazi Conscription.
  • If you’d rather just revive all those dangerous enchantments, try Resurgent Belief instead. Remember, if Vadrok is mutated onto a creature with haste such as a dashing creature, he has haste – so Bravado and Corrupted Conscience may be enough to knock someone out of the game entirely!

Old Medalist

Well, it turns out the race was canceled. Evidently, the fifty foot moat in the second leg of the race was contaminated with toxic waste from a nearby power plant, causing all the stocked fish to mutate into terrifying piranhannihilators. That’s okay, though; I’ve been training to fight these fish since the day I was born, and if all my hard work and effort culminates in anything less than the complete control of all piranha-based lifeforms on the planet, I will shoot a man. Wish me luck!


Dash Dancing

Commander (1)
Planeswalkers (2)
Creatures (20)
Sorceries (14)
Instants (9)
Artifacts (11)
Enchantments (8)
Lands (35)

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Newly appointed member of the FDIC and insured up to $150,000 per account, Michael Celani is the member of your playgroup that makes you go "oh no, it's that guy again." He's made a Twitter account @GamesfreakSA as well as other mistakes, and his decks have been featured on places like MTGMuddstah. You can join his Discord at https://discord.gg/xWWqD2G8Fj and vote on which decks you want to see next. In addition to writing, he has a job, other hobbies, and friends.