"A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct. This every sister of the Bene Gesserit knows. To begin your study of the life of Muad'Dib, then, take care that you first place him in his time: born in the 57th year of the Padishah Emperor, Shaddam IV. And take the most special care that you locate Muad'Dib in his place: the planet Arrakis. Do not be deceived by the fact that he was born on Caladan and lived his first fifteen years there. Arrakis, the planet known as Dune, is forever his place."

Frank Herbert, Dune (1965)

This is the deck that got me into Magic. I built it with my friend/MTG guru, Mike, full of inspiration from a fresh reading of a series of books very near to my heart. There are some specific nods to the novels, but the deck also tries to allude more generally to themes of politics, power, humanism, natural order, mortality, and other concepts so brilliantly explored in Herbert's Science Fiction Masterwork.

In his best moments, Hazezon plays the role of Paul, rising from the desert with a fearsome army at his back, crushing his enemies then disappearing back into the sands. Token overrun is the obvious line of play with Hazeon and a reasonable portion of the deck supports this strategy. In keeping with the themes of the book, however, the deck hides another sinister purpose: choking opponents for resources and squeezing value from the environment. I have always found Lands to be the most interesting design space within Magic, and this deck explores some of their strangest applications: animating, cycling, regrowing, and yes, even occasionally blowing them up en masse. Despite the moral abiguity, however, this deck is my least consistent and least powerful, and it is usually the first I reach for when playing at a new store or with an unknown playgroup.

In honor of the funky old Legends general, this deck's card choices defer to the old card frame wherever possible, but otherwise it's foil all the way! My deck also boasts the beautiful below-pictured custom alter from Dustin Brossard of Painthammer Studios, and custom-altered Unglued Soldier tokens and a themed playmat complete the Dune experience. In a final subtle nod to Herbert's work, this deck also includes several promos with real-world literary flavor text, one of my favorite stylistic choices ever included on a Magic card. Anyhow, thanks for checking out the deck. Upvotes, discussion, and advice are always appreciated! And remember, Planeswalk without rhythym and you won't attract the Worm!

Gathered below are some of the more specific connections to the books. Beware: Dune Spoilers Ahead!

Hazezon Tamar is obviously our stand-in for Paul Atreides here, returned from the desert, trained in the weirding way and full of terrible purpose. His Mother Jessica is represented (on Caladan) by Elspeth, Sun's Champion, and his prescient young sister, Alia of the Knife, by Nahiri, the Harbinger. Captain Sisay is our Leto Atreides (never mind the gender swap!), and his Ducal House Major is represented by Coat of Arms, Knight of the Reliquary, Eladamri's Call, Heroic Intervention, and Akroma's Memorial. The shining city of Arrakeen is depicted in my treasured JSS Promo City of Brass
The desert-dwelling natives of Arrakis are represented by many of the decks green utility creatures, including Oracle of Mul Daya, Wood Elves and Reclamation Sage. Their militant, deeply religious and carefully adapted society is referenced by cards like Cavern of Souls, Gaea's Cradle, Ashnod's & Phyrexian Altar, March of the Multitudes, Martial Coup and Secure the Wastes. Garruk, Primal Hunter and Sarkhan Vol are our Stillgar and Liet Kynes, and as Stilgar's tribe helped Paul drive the Harkonnen from Arakeen, these 'walkers support the deck's most straightforward win-con, token overrun/combat damage. At their most powerful, the Fremen can even summon the Old Grandfather of the Desert himself. Though it doesn't happen too often, Garruk's ultimate is one of the most flavorful ways to close out a game.
Academy Rector, Arena Rector and Enlightened Tutor ("I do not teach. I simply reveal") are meant to explicitly portray the Bene Gesserit, but in fitting with their carefully concealed machinations, most of the references to them are more subtle, reflected in some of the most "Dune-y" flavor text spread amongst the deck. Harmonize reads, "Life's greatest lessons don't come from focus or concentration. They come from breathing and simply noticing", a line that could have been plucked straight from Herbert's decription of Prana Bindu. Eternal Witness reads, She remembers every word spoken, from the hero's oath to the baby's cry.", a fitting description of the Bene Gesserit prescience that the Waters of Life awaken in both Jessica and the womb-bound Alia. Even Ajani's quote on Silence, a card I associate with the voice, could have been spoken by an incensed Reverend Mother.
The eponymous desert planet itself is of course a central inspiration of this deck. Dune's unforgiving desert is represented by much of the deck's decidedly non-optimized but truly beautiful mana base, including Endless Sands, Scavenger Grounds, Wasteland, Flagstones of Trokair, Dust Bowl, Strip Mine, Scattered Groves, Sheltered Thicket, and of course card:1x Desert (TSB) F. The struggle of man to tame the earth and the relentless brutality of nature is ingrained in Herbert's writing (and a theme I personally find particularly profound in Dune), and this concept is symbolized by Avenger of Zendikar and Living Plane. The mighty Sandworms are Herbert's most direct allegorical reference to this concept, and in the deck Shai Hulud is represented by Worldspine Wurm, Ulvenwald Hydra, and the the infuriatingly illogical, unnecessarily overcosted but totally fun Sandwurm Convergence.
The homages in this deck stretch beyond the timeline of Dune, and several cards are direct references to events from later books. Solemn Simulacrum is Hayt, Idaho's endlessly reborn ghola self. Beastmaster Ascension depicts the assassination plot hatched by Wensicia against young Leto II and Ghanima (card:Nahiri, the Harbringer (SOI) F) in Children of Dune, and Deserted Temple Shuloch, where Leto flees afterwards. Ramunap Excavator is meant to represent Leto in his Sandtrout Armor, midway through his terrible transformation, and Wrenn and Six his monstrous final form as the God-Emperor. Both Purphoros, God of the Forge and Wrath of God reference Leto II's immense power and deified status in a more abstract sense. Lovisa Coldeyes and Grand Abolisher are Leto II's Fishspeakers and Samut, Voice of Dissent is my stand-in for Siona Atreides. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite plays the part of Great Honored Matre Dama, the Spider Queen, and Urabrask the Hidden her unnamed pet Futar, and Crucible of Worlds is meant to represent the much alluded-to but barely-described planet-destroying superweapon that the Honored Matres have terrorized the universe with since their return from the Scattering.


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