Sift Through Sands - Vaevictis and Amareth

Wes Stuckey • April 25, 2022

Dragon Appeasement | Illustrated by Paul Bonner

Topdeck Dragons

Hello and welcome! I'm Wes, and this is Sift Through Sands, an article series where we explore synergy across disparate decks, taking the lessons we learn from one commander and applying them to another. By exploring how certain cards play well together, we can understand their application in multiple decks, helping us build synergy and make unique building decisions. We'll look into the way each deck plays and highlight the stars before we look at the card package present in both that helps lead to their overall success.

Our Picks

Today we're going to be examining two Dragons: Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire and Amareth, the Lustrous.

Both of these Dragons are six-drop, evasive, heavy-hitting value engines with a lot of potential for variety. The potential value from manipulating the top card of our libraries makes both of them exciting. Both cards emphasize permanent-heavy decks, and each can easily be abused with a bit of creative building. Most importantly, we'll be talking about how utilizing utility creatures help these decks succeed and win. Let's look at our Vaevictis list.


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Commander (1)
Creatures (41)
Enchantments (15)
Artifacts (8)
Lands (35)

Playing Vaevictis

Vaevictis is a great way to showcase permanents that have similar effects to instants and sorceries. Since his ability doesn't hit spells, building around him encourages us to look into cards that may fall by the wayside when compared to staples like Cultivate.

The ideal game here is fairly straightforward. We want to get our ramp pieces and our mana rocks out quickly in order to cast Vaevictis as soon as we can. In the meantime, we want to get some of our token-generators and utility cards out, notably Awakening Zone, Gisa, Glorious Resurrector, and Dragon Appeasement (which will net us a lot of cards when timed well).

By the time Vaevictis hits, we want to have at least one or two sacrifice options and ideally some payoffs, like Gadrak, the Crown-Scourge, Mayhem Devil, and Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest. When Vaevictis's trigger sets off, we really want to hit our big bombs, like Living Hive and Darigaaz Reincarnated. To win, we can take out players with commander damage, while being able to set off Vicious Shadows gets us there even faster (the potential damage is ridiculous!). If Vaevictis gets killed often, we have alternate sacrifice outlets, like Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos and Immersturm Predator, to keep us in the game, while Call of the Wild and Etali, Primal Storm allow us to keep cheating things into play.

The core of the deck is based around creatures that imitate utility spells. Ravenous Chupacabra, Yavimaya Elder, and Ruin Grinder all help us get effects that synergize with our overall deck. Each of these cards help focus on our deck's main themes, working as sacrifice fodder as well as providing effects that every deck needs. They each perform well alone and easily become much more powerful when combined with other effects the deck is running.

The Collector

Our Amareth list leans into the Dragon's abilities even more than our Vaevictus list does. I put together a creatures-only list (which was a blast!) with a focus on +1/+1 counters and enters-the-battlefield triggers to help create a beefy army that keeps on coming. I'm not a math expert, but when Amareth is in play, she'll get us creatures when we play creatures an overwhelming majority of the time, so keeping our hand full of them lets this deck succeed. Since we're only running creatures, we can lean into plenty of creature-based strategies, particularly using blink effects to maximize ETB triggers and value.

Amareth and Her Collection of Shiny Men

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Commander (1)
Creatures (64)
Lands (35)

Playing Amareth

The deck is even more straightforward than Vaevictus; we want to play creatures and begin snowballing as Amareth keeps them coming. We have to make sure that we not only have the draw, ramp, and removal every deck needs, but also some protection against board wipes and control strategies that can lock us down by exploiting the weaknesses of a creatures-only deck. We want to hit our mana dorks, like Avacyn's Pilgrim, and start working our way towards cards that make our creatures bigger threats, like Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit and Arcus Acolyte. Getting some protection, like Loxodon Hierarch, will keep us from succumbing to board wipes.

Getting some blink effects on board, like Galepowder Mage, will help set up our payoffs with Amareth and some Evolve creatures (namely Elusive Krasis), and by the time Amareth is in play we can start hitting really hard. Bronzebeak Moa and Kamahl, Heart of Krosa let us go tall or wide, depending on our needs, winning with combat damage quick as we can. Augur of Autumn and Sages of the Anima help imitate our commander and work well in conjunction with her, keeping card advantage and continual creatures coming at our opponents.

Yorion, Sky Nomad (who, if I build this in paper, I'm going to rule zero as a Companion) and Brago, King Eternal are two flicker cards that let us gain massive advantage both by filling our hand with creatures to choose from and letting us trigger multiple ETB effects. Similar to Vaevictis, utility creatures that replace spell effects help the deck succeed despite the focus on creatures, with Mystic Snake, Reflector Mage and Sunblast Angel filling these important roles, giving us responses to changing board states. Each is able to work with our deck's focus and can be abused with the proper setup.

Package Delivered

These decks, as mentioned, succeed with the help of creatures that aren't necessarily exciting, but still perform essential functions. Vaevictis needs permanents to sacrifice and cheat into play, while Amareth loves utility in the permanent type that her list sticks to. In both decks, our basic card package included Acidic Slime, End-Raze Forerunners, Farhaven Elf, Springbloom Druid, and Woodfall Primus. Green is good at what we need for these decks, and many others can benefit from this focus, even outside of sacrifice and ETB effects. Reanimation decks, in particular, can find ways to generate massive value from these cards. Newer legends, like Grolnok, the Omnivore and Old Stickfingers, are particularly fond of this group.

The End-Raze

That's all for now! I hope that the article was enjoyable! Both of these decks were fun to brew and are fun to play, which is all I can ask from this game. Please let me know what some of your favorite utility creatures are, how you would build around these commanders, or what other cards you use that center around permanent based utility! Thanks for reading.

The untenable Wes Stuckey is the jankiest Magic player to roam the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (their first brewed deck was Blind Seer "old cards"). You can find them slinging spells, running campaigns, and listening to music with friends and the cat.