Commander on a Budget: Rith, the Awakener


The Ur-Dragon is definitely the ultimate Dragon tribal commander. However, if you are playing on a budget, it's not the only option. Here's how Dragons can be effective, even when they are missing two colors. Check out this Naya Dragon tribal Commander deck led by Rith, the Awakener.

Rith, the Awakener

Dragons have been around since the very first set of Magic. They represent primal power and can be found on all planes of the multiverse in all colors of the color pie. In 2017 we got the ultimate Dragon commander The Ur-Dragon, although it's absolutely possible to play Dragon tribal using different commanders too. In this article I want to look at a primeval Dragon from the plane of Dominaria, Rith, the Awakener. Naya colors give us many options, red for dragons, green for ramp, and white for some protection.

But the most underrated aspect of Rith is the triggered ability. We want to be attacking with our Dragons, which sometimes leaves us vulnerable to other players swinging into us. However, with Rith we can create a bunch of 1/1 Saprolings to use as blockers. The strategy is simple, try to accelerate our mana production to pay for the Dragons, cast the Dragons, and kill opponents with the Dragons. Rith will help us create a defense force or a small army to overwhelm our opponents.

rith, the awakener

Let's Look at the Stats

For this deck I want to try something different from my usual articles. I want to look at the numbers and the stats of the deck to see if we need to improve in any area. When it comes to Commander deck building, there are certain guidelines that a deck needs to meet to function and execute its strategy. A typical deck requires ramp, draw, and removal. But in what ratios? I like to use the 10/10/5/5 split.

  • Draw: 10
  • Ramp: 10
  • Spot removal: 5
  • Mass removal: 5

Sidenote on Ramp

Having said that, I have decided to impose a budget restriction of not using cards that cost more than two euros. On top of that, I like to build decks that have a synergistic theme. Since we are building a Dragon tribal deck, I will include the Monument cycle from Dragons of Tarkir as mana rocks, even though I would not run these elsewhere. Dromoka Monument and Atarka Monument are artifacts that tap for mana but can also change into Dragons.

dromoka monument hazoret's monument

As we have around twelve green and eighteen red creatures, I will also include the Monuments from Amonkhet. Hazoret's Monument and Rhonas's Monument are legendary artifacts that reduce the cost of red and green creatures respectively by one mana. The first also provides some card selection while the second can give a creature +2/+2 and trample whenever we cast a creature of the specified color. Cards like Dragonlord's Servant and Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma reduce the cost of our creatures as well, which technically counts as ramp.

The Deck

Commander: Rith, the Awakener

What Do the Numbers Say?

  • Draw: 10
  • Ramp: 18
  • Spot removal: 7
  • Mass removal: 5

Looking at the stats, we can see that we have a strong ramp package and that the other areas are doing fine. These numbers do not include Dragons with an effect that fits these categories, as these aren't always reliable. For example, Destructor Dragon can destroy a nonland permanent when it dies, which could count as removal, though it does not trigger if it gets exiled; or Dragon Mage can be seen as card draw, but it only works if it deals damage to an opponent and so it's not a dependable source of extra cards. There are more examples of Dragons on whose abilities we cannot rely. We require other, more consistent cards that are always able to do the job.

If we take a look at the mana curve of the deck we find that the average converted mana cost of the spells comes in at around 4, which justifies having a lot of ramp. After all, we need to be able to cast our large creatures earlier than usual.

mana curve

Since this is mostly a creature deck, we also have to pay attention to what kind of Wrath effect we put in the deck. Ideally we want to be able to wipe our opponents stuff while ours sticks around. Cards like Earthquake, Storm's Wrath, and Ryusei, the Falling Star have a high chance of affecting our opponents' board more than our large Dragons.

Some Notable Cards

Any Dragon tribal deck needs to have a Dragon Tempest. This card can do a lot of damage if we control a board full of Dragons and also gives haste to them. Sarkhan the Masterless can be a deterrent for opponents wishing to attack us. For example, if we control four Dragons and a creature attacks us, those Dragons will each deal 1 damage to that creature, for a total of 4! Especially in multiplayer, people should be able to find someone else to attack then. Sarkhan's Triumph is a tutor that lets us grab any dragon from the deck thus making it easy to find the right dragon for the job at hand.

sarkhan the masterless sylvia brightspear mirror of the forebears

By Force is a severely underplayed card that can decimate most of our opponent's artifacts. As we will be generating a lot of mana, it is very easy to wipe our opponents artifact, slowing them down or disrupting their strategies for our Dragons to attack. Sylvia Brightspear can win games out of nowhere when we play Sylvia immediately before going to combat. Mirror of the Forebears is a cheap way to make a copy of any Dragon, thus maximizing damage or utility.

In Conclusion …

This is a fun deck that can be quite powerful. After all, Dragons are primeval forces of nature and a favorite among many players. Such a tribal deck does not have to break the bank either. Much of what I used for the deck comes from trade binders and my personal collection. This reflects in specific card choices over others. Having said that, I managed to find all cards needed to build the deck from scratch on Cardmarket without exceeding the €2-per-card budget restriction. The total comes in at around €35.

What do you think of the deck? Are there other ways you would build Rith, the Awakener? Let us know in the comment section below!

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.


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infornication(27.08.2020 20:01)(Edited: 27.08.2020 20:01)

Nice article! Rith was one of my very first rares I ever pulled from a booster - almost 2 decades ago - so I had to read this article ;-)

You decided to embrace the dragon nature of Rith which seems to be viable. A totally different take on Rith. Dec would be to rely way more on his triggered ability and build some sort of saproling tribal - and ofc add some saproling synergies.

n21lv(05.08.2020 20:01)

How is it that Descent of the Dragons is not in this deck with all that token generation? I would also consider putting Furious Rise and Order//Chaos in this deck. The former is a great draw source, and if you somehow manage to blink/bounce it, you can cast the exiled card later at any time; the latter can act both as spot removal and late game finisher, especially when combined with Descent of the Dragons and Dragon Tempest on the battlefield.

rsci1(05.08.2020 21:32)

N21lv Both solid suggestions. Should try them out, since probably I don't own a copy this might explain how I missed them ;)

Vimozahr(29.07.2020 17:56)

Nice Deck, i think Skullclamp works perfect here. Its broken and cheap.

What you think?

rsci1(30.07.2020 06:57)

Vimozahr True, I didn't even think about using the saprolings for card draw. Good Call :)

HaeuptlingJD(16.06.2020 13:19)

Nice article. Dragon-Decks are always very flavorful. Noteable Cheap Cards are also Dragonspeaker Shaman, Spit Flame, Dragon's Hoard. I know those may not be in your collection, just my 2 cent if someone thinks about building a Dragon deck...

rsci1(16.06.2020 16:50)

HaeuptlingJD Yes definitely good additions :)