Dralnu Doomtide

What is this Deck?

This is an adaptive combo deck modeled after Jeleva/Zur that aims to win the game quickly with Ad Nauseam and Aetherflux Reservoir or Doomsday and Laboratory Maniac. Dralnu is my UB (no "/x") commander of choice because he provides consistent recursion in the later stages of the game that allows the deck to have a better chance at winning if one of its important spells is countered.

Why Dralnu?

Dralnu's ability to recast things from the grave (on your opponents' turns, which differs from new prodigy Kess, Dissident Mage ) allows him to play the grind game with deftness better than his Doomsday/Storm peers ( Zur the Enchanter , Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge , and Kess). Dralnu gains advantage over other storm commanders in games that go long by converting into a control shell, biding its time until it can win. Another reason to play Dralnu is that it is more immune than other storm decks to many non-basic land hate cards like Ruination , Blood Moon , and Back to Basics , all commonly seen in stax decks. Lastly, Dralnu, Lich Lord is usually game-ending with Paradox Engine and/or Dramatic Reversal combo on board.

Playing the Deck

Aetherflux Reservoir

Affectionately dubbed Fishbowl, Reservoir has quickly become the storm win condition of choice for storm players in EDH (over its predecessor Tendrils of Agony ) because of its ability to win the game on far fewer spells. Fishbowl wins are generally the result of Ad Nauseam drawing a huge sum of cards to allow you to cast many spells in a turn, gaining life off of Reservoir, and "laser-beaming" people to death. The easiest way to win with Reservoir is to have mana rocks in play with the Dramatic Reversal + Isochron Scepter, and there are a good many ways to assemble this combo in the deck. More on storm turns and how to set them up later.

Laboratory Maniac

Lab Man wins result from a couple different methods. The first, and most probable, is via Doomsday piling (if you're interested in reading more on this, a link will be provided at the end of the primer). The other ways in which I generally win via Lab Man involve Dramatic Reversal + Isochron Scepter combo and Mind's Desire or Pull from Tomorrow.

Mulliganing is a crucial component of any deck. In general, you want to have 1-2 rocks, 1-3 lands, 1-2 pieces of interaction, and a tutor of sorts. If you cannot get that, you are looking to be heavy in one of those areas with some sort of card advantage spell. I prefer to lean toward interaction and rocks over card advantage if I cannot get an ideal hand as described above. In a combo meta, mulliganing into more interaction is favored, and in a stax meta, you hope to win before the stax pieces can come down, so you prioritize speed (preferably rocks and a wheel or Naus). However, it is also possible to mull into an interactive hand against stax, primarily looking for Cyclonic Rift in those situations. If you don't know what your opponents are on based on their commanders, a clear line to Ad Nauseam with interaction is the go-to line, though any win con can suffice (it's just the easiest to assemble).

The most important part of mulliganing, though, is to have a gameplan. If you are missing some of the elements of the ideal hand described above, how are you going to sculpt your hand to put yourself in a winning position?

Mind Over Matter

MoM is a card seen in many older Dralnu lists. Its absence from this deck is due to its lack of power in comparison to Paradox Engine, and the fact that it hits for 6 off of Ad Nauseam for the aforementioned less powerful effect.

28 lands

While this may seem like a small number of lands for a deck with a 5 cmc commander, 28 lands is the optimal number of lands for this deck for a couple of reasons. First, we have a lot of artifact mana available to us, which allows us to run fewer lands than other decks. Second, lands are dead draws on storm turns. The less dead draws we can have off Naus, the better our chances are of winning. Third, like most Ad Naus decks, the curve is low enough that 28 lands covers the curve with a lesser chance of flooding.

Pull from Tomorrow

Many people will say that "Draw X" cards is not where a UB/x storm deck wants to be, but for Dralnu, I disagree. Unlike Jeleva or Zur, Dralnu doesn't have immediate card advantage in the command zone, so getting fuel is important, and Pull is quite good at that. It also makes heavy artifact ramp hands more keepable. Having an infinite mana outlet is also nice since the deck frequently wins via Iso/Rev combo. At 2cmc, it doesn't hit hard off Naus (like Stroke of Genius ) and we get to see one more card than other "Draw X" spells, which is relevant, and the discard is irrelevant since we can pitch things to Dralnu without worrying and losing a spare land isn't too hard to do.

Jace, Vryn's Prodigy   and Dark Confidant

These are both excellent cards for a game trying to generate incremental value over the course of a longer game. However, both of these cards are dead off Ad Nauseam, and having a card that draws on the combo turn is very important to this deck. In slower metas, it could be feasible to run one of them over Sleight of Hand , but otherwise, they do not provide the deck with optimal lines at enough points in the game to warrant their inclusion.

Lightning Greaves

Greaves and other haste enablers were on the table early in my brewing of this deck, but I pitched the idea very quickly as soon as I realized that they are dead outside of a couple plays. Greaves and other haste enablers see Dralnu as a combo piece rather than a late game value engine. While there are niche cases where the first is true, the latter is usually the case, and viewing Dralnu as a combo piece often leads to misplay of the deck. Also, Greaves does nothing on its own to advance the gameplan or slow others', key components to every other card in the deck, which is why it's a horrible top deck when you need gas or interaction (a much larger portion of the time than when you need to give Dralnu haste).

Ad Nauseam

Playing Ad Nauseam is key to most storm lines (though doing storm without it feels pretty sweet). The hardest part of playing Naus, is knowing when to play it. Generally, you don't want to cast AN at a life total lower than approximately 27. This is flexible depending upon the state of things, but in general, it's a decent rule of thumb. Also, on resolving AN, stopping around 10 life is usually correct unless you have no clear line to victory at that point.

In Dralnu, I have found that the success of main phase Ad Naus is incredibly slim in comparison to Jeleva or Zur (Zur can't whiff with Angel's Grace ). Thus, in most cases, I advise Nausing at the person-to-your-right's endstep. While you can win via main phase AN, the percentage of wins I've had with MPN is much less than that of the other option.

Holding up interaction to protect AN is usually ideal, but use your tells. If another player's spell was just countered, you might have a better chance of resolving AN and might be able to go for an unprotected draw 20 cards.

Key Cards for Infinite Lines

The infinite combos that exist in the deck are Dramatic Reversal + Isochron Scepter and Isochron Scepter + a non instant counter + Paradox Engine. Getting any of these cards is key, so tutors are usually crucial to assembling the combo as are mana rocks that together produce 3 mana (sometimes producing only 2 is okay; more on this later). Muddle the Mixture is a card worth mentioning here as it may be overlooked as an interaction spell, but it tutors for half your combo in these circumstances.

While they rely on similar cards, the two combos are actually very different in how they play out. We'll start with the IsoRev combo. With Iso Rev, you would prefer to have an outlet, like Dralnu, Pull from Tomorrow, Aetherflux Reservoir, or, my personal favorite Mind's Desire . Dralnu offers repeated utility to eventually get enough spells together to win the game (it's hand and gy dependent, so we won't go into it here). Pull and MD allow you to draw your entire deck, allowing you to then win with Fishbowl or Lab Man (generally, starting with Fishbowl is safer, but if you've drawn your deck, safety is usually irrelevant). Aetherflux is, of course, but it's one you'd usually only cast if you had it in hand (if I'm tutoring for one, it's Mind's Desire because it's much harder to counter). Having Fishbowl as an outlet is a scenario in which 2 mana in mana rocks will suffice, however, which makes it the most efficient outlet.

Key Cards for Noninfinite Lines

For noninfinite lines, the key issues to resolve are getting enough mana and having an outlet. Let's start with mana. High Tide , Dramatic Reversal, mana positive rocks ( Mana Vault , Mox Diamond , etc), and Rituals are cards to keep an eye out for. With High Tide, you generally want to have ways of untapping your islands ( Snap , Frantic Search , Candelabra of Tawnos ) in order to generate the most mana. Helm of Awakening is pretty straightforward. Dramatic Reversal is also pretty straightforward (unless you think you can find an infinite line, in which case, see the above paragraph; note: if you cast Dramatic Reversal, you cannot win via Iso/Rev unless you Twister into tutors). Mana Positive rocks are best alongside Helm, but they also partner well with Hurkyl's Recall and Chain of Vapor . These lines help to increase storm count for your outlets. Finally, Rituals are pretty self-explanatory, though note that there are only black-producing rituals in this deck; spending the mana produced by rituals wisely is crucial to playing them.

In terms of outlets, you're looking for Fishbowl, however, you don't always have a tutor for it, so other outlets include Mind's Desire, Yawgmoth's Will , and sometimes, Timetwister . With Aetherflux, the sooner you can get it out in a turn and still be able to storm off, the better. Managing mana to make that possible is sometimes a challenge, but gaining life faster is helpful to killing everyone with Fishbowl lasers. Mind's Desire is probably the best outlet in the deck, hence its inclusion as the only 6 cmc spell. Ideally, you fire MD when storm count is 15+, though at 10, it's still generally advisable if no other lines are available (another reason for low land count: less chance of whiffing of MD). From there, you usually hit some amount of card advantage, tutors, rocks, and sometimes Reservoir, and it's fairly easy to win. Yawg's Will is an outlet that allows you to recycle all of your spells cast throughout the game. It is particularly good with Lion's Eye Diamond (another card to look out for). Usually, at least 1 tutor will be in the graveyard that can find Fishbowl or whatever else you might need to win the game. Twister is one of the more desperate outlets, but if you've exhausted your hand and still cannot win, it can be an out to try to improve your chances. Of course, if you have Notion Thief , its value increases exponentially.

In the last section we talked about key cards for storm turns, for both infinite and non-infinite lines. Now it is important to talk about how to set up and plan for storm turns, and then how to plan within the storm turn after some event happens.

Prior to the storm turn, you will likely need to tutor of Ad Nauseam because AN provides you with the largest opportunity to draw into any number of win cons. Vampiric Tutor and Demonic Tutor are the best ways to find Naus based on cmc, timing of the spell, and masking what you search for, but most tutors in the list are able to find Naus fairly well. Choosing what to Mystical Tutor for can be a challenge. I highly recommend Mystical -> another tutor lines if you can't draw the Naus before waiting a turn cycle. This is particularly relevant because of the deck's desire to Naus in someone else's end step (thus, mystical in upkeep is less viable). Frantic Search or other "free" draw spells are your best bet for setting up a Mystical Tutor Naus.

After you resolve AN, if you draw additional tutors, your decision tree branches out into whether to attempt an infinite win or one of the non-infinite type. If you can, attempting an infinite win is usually the easiest on the brain. Generally, people will counter the AN, so you can feel somewhat safe in going for Iso/Rev unless you're worried about Chain of Vapor or Nature's Claim . With an infinite win, you need some manner of getting a win con: Sensei's Divining Top , Mind's Desire, Pull, Fishbowl, or an additional tutor spell to find any one of those things.

The hardest part of the storm turn is usually mathing out the mana possibilities and making sure you have enough to do what you want to do. The best thing to do is count, recount, then recount again before performing any action whatsoever. While the entirety of whatever line you are attempting may not be apparent immediately (because maybe you need to Ponder or something and there are some unknown cards), you need to be looking at an end goal, say Mind's Desire, and how you can get there with the highest storm count (more on this later) and with enough mana to cast it and preferably have some left over.

One important thing about mana is to know for what you're looking. Most of these things are mentioned in the Storm Turns thread. For instance, building mana is easier with High Tide if you have something with which to untap your Islands. Simple things like finding ways to not tap Islands to cast High Tide are also useful in building up mana. Looking for ways to increase your mana count as much as possible is ideal, obviously. One way to do that is to examine options, and count through all of them (cannot stress that enough).

In terms of setting up your storm turn, the opener is the first crucial gas card (by gas, we mean a card that "fuels" your hand by giving you more cards. As we've noted throughout, Ad Nauseam is the easiest and most efficient way to do that. However, it is not the only valid opener. Other cards that might open well include Necropotence and Windfall , and sometimes, you might be able to Timetwister into a great hand. Necro is primarily used to sculpt a winning hand the turn before storming off (also has uses in DD piles). Windfall is a decent opener, especially if you have a lot of mana and you can draw 5+ cards. Finally, a Pull from Tomorrow is an excellent storm opener at someone's end step if the game has gone late, and you have a lot of mana.

During the storm turn, Mind's Desire is often a major gas card if you have no tutors left and no card draw. We mentioned earlier that you might have an "end goal" for your storm count, and MD occupies that slot as well as the slot of a huge engine. Generally speaking, you want to cast as many spells as possible into MD before casting it. I usually want to hit a storm count of at least 10 before casting MD, but sometimes it's all you have, so you have to take a risk (not fun nor advisable). Aside from MD, Windfall is the biggest draw spell you have access to (if you're Twistering post AN, you've exhausted your resources and are praying for a miracle, except this deck doesn't run them). Pull from Tomorrow on the storm turn is usually ill-advised, and is highly likely to fail. The other spells you run for gas on your storm turn are either tutors partnered with cheap cantrips (Preordain, Brainstorm, etc) or mana neutral (and sometimes positive) effects like Frantic Search, Gush, etc.

Sometimes during a storm turn, some event happens that causes you to change course. This event can be that someone kills a mana rock during your upkeep or that you draw Doomsday off a Brainstorm. The best method for weighing options is to go back through the aforementioned panels in your mind. Do I have the mana to change route? If I'm in the DD situation, for instance, do I have triple black readily available to me? Do I have gas or tutors available to me to change course? In the DD switch situation, do I have a pile opener that leaves me with enough mana to play out the pile? All these questions are more easily answered over time, which leads us to our next panel...

Goldfishing is a crucial element to getting acquainted with storm lists. The more time you spend playing through the deck without opponents, the more you can see lines and familiarize yourself with how to use certain cards in the deck, what orders to play things in, etc. Theory is great, but the actual practice of playing the deck is ultimately what will help you play the deck better (and faster). Simple things such as knowing Intuition piles can go a long way in winning games.
In order to play Doomsday effectively, I highly recommend reading this article: http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/the-edh-doomsday-primer/. It is extremely well-written and comprehensively covers how to play the card with success.

Stax

Stax is the hardest matchup for most storm decks. Having interaction for the worst of the hate pieces ( Rule of Law , Ruric Thar, the Unbowed , Null Rod , etc) is crucial to winning this matchup if you aren't able to win before anything terribly detrimental occurs. Generally, winning before they can set up is our best strategy. If that doesn't happen, key cards to get back in the game are Toxic Deluge and Cyclonic Rift in order to rid the board of stax pieces. Hurkyl's Recall can also be decent against the right stax pieces.

Fast Combo

Fast combo tends to be an okay matchup for the deck. If the pod is 3 fast combo decks, the hope is that the decks are interactive combo decks (other storm decks, Tazri, etc). This means you are not the only person capable of countering things at any given moment in the game. If everyone is using resources, Dralnu is better at recurring them than most other commanders, and we should have the edge if a stalemate arises. Racing is generally not a favorable option, though it is possible.

Midrange

Midrange is a decent matchup for Dralnu because Dralnu can convert into control fairly well in these matchups, an archetype that traditionally trumps midrange strategies. It can also convert to fast combo depending on the hand, and just outrace midrange, so it can really defeat these decks on both fronts.

Decklists

If you are on a budget, you might look into this list I created for my own personal budget: http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/budget-dralnu-doomtide/.

Videos:

Special Thanks

Special thanks to AlwaysSleepy, trestian, reversemermaid, iceytko, and everyone else who was a help in the shaping of this deck into what it is now. Rev is the best Jeleva player I know, so if you're looking for a Jelly list, check his out. AlwaysSleepy has a killer Oona deck and one for budget players as well, so consult his list for another take on Dimir Storm in cEDH.

Suggestions

Updates Add

After a long spell of not playing cEDH, I have begun playing again. With that, I've updated this list. These were the swaps

Rhystic Study -> Narset, Parter of Veils

Muddle the Mixture -> Narset's Reversal

Island -> Prismatic Vista

Laboratory Maniac -> Jace, Wielder of Mysteries

Candelabra of Tawnos -> Dark Confidant

Mind's Desire -> Snapcaster Mage

Narset is essentially Dig Through Time strapped to a Leovold for 3 mana, which is pretty wonky. I swapped out Rhystic Study, since they perform similar function in hindering an opposing gameplan while accruing card advantage.

Muddle is probably the worst tutor effect in the deck. Swapping it with Narset's Reversal, which is very similar to a Mana Drain (except you don't even need to cast the spell) is intuitive. I say that it's similar to Mana Drain because it allows you to gain mana advantage by stealing an opposing Ad Naus or something similar. Of course, Drain is better in most circumstances, but this card is just a gas addition.

Island to Prismatic Vista. Pretty self-explanatory.

Lab Man is an excellent card, but I think Jace does the job better. It's harder to kill as it doesn't die to as much spot removal found in cedh, and it draws essentially three cards in your DD pile. He can also be a coercive portal early one, making him less of a dead draw in the early-mid game. I think his ability to draw the turn you play him without outside help improves Consultation lines, helps with many DD piles, and ultimately makes up for the relatively difficult casting cost.

Candelabra is an excellent card and is particularly good in High Tide. This is a swap that may not stay because of that, but I do think that Dark Confidant generating card advantage early on is a great way of getting ahead in the early game. This deck is hungry for a large amount of cards, and Bob is happy to deliver them. I will be looking closely at this change as I do think that Candelabra does shine in this deck where it doesn't in many others.

Mind's Desire is one of my favorite magic cards ever printed in the context of cedh. While it does make a lot of Naus piles easier and smooth out some storm turns, I think that it may be a little win-more. Adding in Snapcaster Mage smooths out some Consultation lines (as we won't always have Dralnu in play) while also providing some utility in the storm turn. This is another change I'll be looking at closely because I think that Mind's Desire is a good enough card to warrant a 6 cmc slot, and it gives a lot of outs to medium storm piles from a Naus (though doming you for 6 is often the reason your pile is medium).

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Date added 3 years
Last updated 1 year
Legality

This deck is not Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

7 - 0 Mythic Rares

41 - 0 Rares

18 - 0 Uncommons

23 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 1.94
Tokens 2/2 Bird, 3/3 Ape
Folders edh, EDH Ideas, cEDH, Competitive EDH, Intersting High Powered EDH Ideas, Uncategorized, Cool Decks, To Build, Commander, cEDH, See all 20
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