Last updated on November 30, 2023

Tiamat - Illustration by Tyler Jacobson

Tiamat | Illustration by Tyler Jacobson

When Wizards announced Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, players were hyped to see classic D&D heroes and baddies get the Magic treatment. Some character adaptations failed to live up to expectations (looking at you The Tarrasque), but the dragon queen Tiamat made a glorious five-headed debut!

The Deck

Dragon's Hoard - Illustration by Adam Paquette

Dragon's Hoard | Illustration by Adam Paquette

Commander (1)


Planeswalkers (3)

Sarkhan, Fireblood
Sivitri, Dragon Master
Sarkhan Unbroken

Creatures (36)

Korlessa, Scale Singer
Sylvia Brightspear
Dragonborn Champion
Renari, Merchant of Marvels
Boneyard Scourge
Kyodai, Soul of Kamigawa
Nicol Bolas, the Ravager
Wasitora, Nekoru Queen
Rith, Liberated Primeval
Khorvath Brightflame
Dragonlord Ojutai
Scion of the Ur-Dragon
Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury
Scourge of Valkas
Lozhan, Dragons' Legacy
Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm
Lathliss, Dragon Queen
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Scourge of the Throne
Hellkite Courser
Steel Hellkite
Savage Ventmaw
Dragonlord Dromoka
Dragonlord Silumgar
Silumgar, the Drifting Death
Beledros Witherbloom
Drakuseth, Maw of Flames
Morophon, the Boundless
Atarka, World Render
Bladewing the Risen
Skyline Despot
Sapphire Dragon
Utvara Hellkite
The Ur-Dragon
Scion of Draco

Instants (3)

Goryo's Vengeance
Spit Flame
Sarkhan's Triumph

Sorceries (5)

Kodama's Reach
Patriarch's Bidding
Crux of Fate

Enchantments (5)

Heartless Summoning
Dragon Tempest
Rhythm of the Wild
Shadow in the Warp
Sneak Attack

Artifacts (9)

Sol Ring
Arcane Signet
Fellwar Stone
Orb of Dragonkind
Lightning Greaves
Carnelian Orb of Dragonkind
Herald's Horn
Commander's Sphere
Dragon's Hoard

Lands (38)

Command Tower
Haven of the Spirit Dragon
Crucible of the Spirit Dragon
Temple of the Dragon Queen
Mana Confluence
Unclaimed Territory
Cavern of Souls
Reflecting Pool
Path of Ancestry
Secluded Courtyard
Undergrowth Stadium
Bountiful Promenade
Sea of Clouds
Morphic Pool
Spire Garden
Luxury Suite
Prismatic Vista
Fabled Passage
Godless Shrine
Sacred Foundry
Overgrown Tomb
Temple Garden
Verdant Catacombs
Bloodstained Mire
Wooded Foothills
Raugrin Triome
Ziatora's Proving Ground
Jetmir's Garden
Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Temple of the False God
Ash Barrens
Mountain x2

The Commander


The Ur-Dragon and Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm have a strong foothold on the title of “best dragon tribal commanders,” but Tiamat is a great contender for runner-up.

Tiamat’s color identity opens more deck options than Miirym, and it’s a full two mana cheaper than The Ur-Dragon. It’s hard to give up on The Ur-Dragon’s incredible eminence ability, especially in such a mana-hungry deck, but Tiamat makes up for it with immediate card advantage earlier in the game.

Tiamat is a member of what some like to call “the 3-Hit Club,” so it has the perfect statline to eliminate a player with commander damage after just three hits. Given the sheer number of double strike effects and haste enablers in the deck, commander damage is a viable avenue for victory.

The real headliner is the quintuple dragon tutor Tiamat provides on ETB. With no real restrictions (what do you mean they have to have different names!?), the world is truly your dragon-filled oyster when Tiamat hits the board. There’s no shortage of giant scary death-lizards to make up Tiamat’s toolbox of fetchable dragons.

Your Fire-Breathing Friends

Aside from a pinch of ramp and a touch of interaction, this deck is all dragon, all the time. This list might not have the objectively correct mix of creatures from the 300+ dragons in Magic, but there are some all-stars I wouldn’t leave at home.

There are plenty of obvious includes that specifically synergize with other dragons. Lathliss, Dragon Queen, Utvara Hellkite, Scourge of Valkas, and Atarka, World Render are all household names for dragon-themed decks.

Korlessa, Scale Singer, Dragonborn Champion, Dragonlord Ojutai, and Skyline Despot are extra sources of card advantage for situations when Tiamat gets too expensive or risky to cast.

The deck doesn’t include much interaction in the way of noncreature spells, so Wasitora, Nekoru Queen, Drakuseth, Maw of Flames, Lozhan, Dragons' Legacy, and Steel Hellkite help interact with the board.

Khorvath Brightflame Sylvia Brightspear

Khorvath Brightflame is functionally a second copy of Sylvia Brightspear, the only non-dragon creature in the deck that earns its keep by making all your dragons twice as threatening.

Sapphire Dragon

Sapphire Dragon is a personal favorite. I’ve taken a more casual approach to building this deck, so it’s lighter on interaction and permission than a more competitive build. It has a built-in Negate as an adventure, making it a counterspell that you can tutor for with Tiamat.

Hellkite Courser

I’d also never exclude Hellkite Courser from my dragon deck. It cheats Tiamat into play for a turn, which is helpful if your commander gets too expensive to cast.

The Ramp Suite

The Ur-Dragon provides passive ramp from the command zone thanks to its eminence ability, but Tiamat doesn’t have that luxury. This deck has 14 dedicated ramp pieces that cost between one and three mana.

Sol Ring Arcane Signet

You have your usual Sol Ring and Arcane Signet, but there's also a few dragon-centric accelerators.

Orb of Dragonkind, Carnelian Orb of Dragonkind, and Dragon's Hoard are thematic ramp pieces that get your dragons on board sooner while providing extra bonuses.

Sarkhan, Fireblood

Sarkhan, Fireblood gives you a big mana boost for dragons and filters cards when you don’t need the mana.

Herald's Horn and Shadow in the Warp also shave some mana off your expensive creatures while providing other benefits.

Heartless Summoning

Heartless Summoning is a criminally underrated pet card for giant creature decks like this. The difference between 5/5 dragons and 6/6 dragons is negligible, but the difference between casting them for four or five mana instead of six or seven mana each is phenomenal. Your creatures are still sizable threats with Heartless Summoning on board, and they’ll be much easier to cast.

Savage Ventmaw, Beledros Witherbloom, Morophon, the Boundless, and Sarkhan Unbroken are extra forms of mana acceleration that sit higher up on the curve.

Odds & Ends

Most of the deck slots are dedicated to dragons or cards that make casting dragons easier, but there’s a small amount of room for interaction and recursion.

Patriarch's Bidding MH2

Patriarch's Bidding is a mass reanimation spell that hopefully puts you in a winning spot by reanimating every dragon from your graveyard.

Goryo's Vengeance

Goryo's Vengeance temporarily grabs a legendary dragon from your graveyard for two mana. Nothing feels better than casting this on Bladewing the Risen and pulling another dragon out of the graveyard.

Spit Flame

Spit Flame keeps coming back as you cast more dragons, making it a recyclable form of interaction in a deck that lacks single-target removal.

Crux of Fate

Crux of Fate does a great Plague Wind impression in this deck. It’s a risky include, though, since an effect like Memory Plunder can reverse the effect onto you.

Lightning Greaves Rhythm of the Wild

Lightning Greaves and Rhythm of the Wild are here as haste enablers with built-in protection.

The Mana Base

Beware the Blood Moons and Back to Basics of the world: you’re running a 5-color mana base with only a handful of basics.

There’s at least one of each basic to fetch with Fabled Passage, Ash Barrens, and Prismatic Vista.

Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

This mana base skews heavily towards Jund () colors, so there’s a suite of fetches in those colors as well as Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth to ensure you can cast the majority of your spells.

You need white and blue mana, but they don’t need to be a prominent part of the mana base. Most of your fetchable lands should provide at least one primary color (red, black, or green) and one of the secondary colors (white or blue). For example, Bloodstained Mire can fetch Jetmir's Garden, which gives you red and green but also that touch of white when you need it.

Morphic Pool Luxury Suite

This deck doesn’t have an optimized land base and consists of what I own, so feel free to play whatever original dual lands you have. I find the Battlebond duals like Morphic Pool and Luxury Suite work well enough, even if they can’t be fetched.

Some players lean towards the “10 fetches & 10 shocks” approach to 5-color mana bases, but I don’t believe the full package is necessary. You have access to multicolor fixers like Cavern of Souls, Temple of the Dragon Queen, Haven of the Spirit Dragon, Unclaimed Territory, and so on. The mana is consistent without running too many fetch lands and definitely skews towards certain colors more than others.

The Strategy

You know what you sign up for when you choose Tiamat as your commander. Play big dumb dragons and then smashy smashy to your heart’s content. That’s not to say there isn’t some nuance to the way to play the deck.

You want to spend the early stages of the game ramping, setting up haste enablers like Rhythm of the Wild, and developing your mana to have access to all five colors. Your commander shouldn’t be on your radar most games until your need to refill your hand. Deploy your setup pieces, run out your threats, and finish with Tiamat to draw a new hand of dragons.

A creature-heavy deck like this can be soft to a few targeted stax pieces. I’ve encountered cards like Overwhelming Splendor and Sandwurm Convergence with virtually no way to circumvent them. Splendor is an especially heinous card against you, but you have a backup plan against most hate pieces.

Your next best option if attacking won’t get the job done is to win with non-combat damage. Dragon Tempest and Scourge of Valkas can kill opponents just by playing your creatures. Lozhan, Dragons' Legacy and Kokusho, the Evening Star can finish off opponents who let their life total dip too low.

This isn’t a political deck in the slightest. Players know from the second you sit down and reveal Tiamat as your commander that you’re trying to deploy scary monsters and attack everyone to death. You should attack when you have the opportunity and grant your opponents a swift Death by Dragons.

Combos and Interactions

Most of the interactions in this deck are straightforward dragon synergies, but there are a few niche scenarios to keep in mind.

Beledros Witherbloom

One involves Beledros Witherbloom, which lets you pay 10 life to untap all your lands. Make sure you float any excess mana before you activate this ability to maximize its effect. For example, if you have 10 lands on the battlefield and you used seven to cast Beledros, you can tap the remaining three lands for mana, activate Beledros to untap 10 lands, then tap them all again to have a total of 13 mana.

Scion of the Ur-Dragon has long been usurped as the best dragon commander, but it still has a home in the 99 of decks like this. It can be a tricky graveyard enabler since you can activate it multiple times to set up a big Patriarch's Bidding or find a silver-bullet target to reanimate with Goryo's Vengeance. Turning Scion into Dragonlord Dromoka can catch players off guard by locking them out of casting spells when they weren’t expecting it.

Sneak Attack Scourge of Valkas

Don’t be scared to stockpile creatures for a big Sneak Attack turn. Scourge of Valkas is especially potent with Sneak Attack since you can keep responding to Scourge’s trigger by cheating in more creatures to boost the damage. Sneak Attack can potentially end a game on the spot with the right pile of Tiamat tutors.

Budget Options

Did I mention there are over 300 dragons in Magic? There are plenty other scaley beasts to take its place if something’s out of your price range. Cards like Sunscorch Regent, Broodmate Dragon, and O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami hold their own and cost less than a buck a piece. You’re bound to get another cycle of flashy mythic rare dragons in an upcoming set if you don’t find something you like.

If you’re looking to up the ante you can add beaters like Terror of the Peaks and Old Gnawbone, which I left out due to personal availability.

The mana base can be tricky since it’s full of fetch lands, Triomes, and untapped duals. It might slow you down a bit, but playing tri-lands like Sandsteppe Citadel and Savage Lands still gets the job done if you can’t budget in more powerful options. A stray Evolving Wilds or Terramorphic Expanse goes a long way in a budget mana base.

Other Builds

Dragon tribal isn’t the most-open ended theme in the world, but there are some tweaks that can make it feel fresh.

One approach would be a more dedicated reanimator-style version. You could lean heavily into this with cards like Living Death and Haunting Voyage. Tiamat actually fuels this strategy quite well since adding five dragons to your hand often puts you over the seven card hand size limit, allowing you to discard for turn and stock up the graveyard.

Legends matter” is another approach you can take to this deck. Something like Goryo's Vengeance works well because so many dragons happen to be legendary. You could capitalize on this with cards like Relic of Legends and Heroes' Podium, or some niche payoffs like Piru, the Volatile and Crystal Dragon.

If you’re looking for a competitive edge, Tiamat is a viable Food Chain commander. Food Chain combos create infinite mana by cycling through creatures like Eternal Scourge. Commanders like Tiamat sit in the command zone until you’ve achieved this combo and then turn that mana into a win by providing a mana sink or tutoring up specific combo pieces. It’s not too hard to figure out a win once you have infinite mana and access to any five dragons in your deck.

There’s tons of room for customization if you want to focus on the dragon-type aspect of the cube. Some players are keen on the Battle for Baldur’s Gate ancient metal dragons. This deck is the perfect fit if you’ve been itching for a place to play your Ancient Copper Dragon.

Our Five-Headed Finale

Temple of the Dragon Queen - Illustration by Cliff Childs

Temple of the Dragon Queen | Illustration by Cliff Childs

Dragon tribal is a tried-and-true casual EDH archetype, and it’s only going to get better with time considering WotC’s tendency to print new dragons. The real question you want to ask if you’re taking your first crack at a deck like this is which commander to go with and which dragons to play. Tiamat might not be the absolute best in a vacuum, but the dragon queen definitely makes her mark on a game.

Do you have any interesting Tiamat tech? Which dragons do you tutor up when it hits the board? Let me know in the comments below or over in the Draftsim Discord.

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  • Avatar
    KimJongNuke February 22, 2023 2:28 am

    My first ever commander, it’s a really cool Timmy dragon tribal deck ! There is another combo chain available with Dream Halls, allowing you to discard any colored card to cast Tiamat, fetching Scourge of Valkas/Terror of the Peaks, Moritte of the Frost and Bladewing the Risen to create an infinite damage loop.

    One minor mistake in the article, Tiamat’s ETB does not trigger when cheated out by Hellkite Courser, as Tiamat is put on the battlefield but not cast

    • Nikki
      Nikki February 22, 2023 2:02 pm

      Ooh that sounds like a fun combo for sure!

      And thanks for pointing that out, fixed it 🙂

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