Release the Grem… er… DWARVES!

Hello everyone! I’m so excited today because I’m off to a week-long vacation to Seoul next week. That means I won’t be writing any blogs for the next 5 days but rest assured I will still be cooking up some deck techs in between kimchi making and barbecuing.

Today, after much thought, I present to you a tribal dwarves deck for Ixalan standard. I have been playing around this idea but I got my confirmation after Wilson Hunter and Philip Braverman piloted a mono-white vampire list at Protour Ixalan that went 5-1 which is fuckin’ hilarious for a dark vampire deck.

You can find their article right here along with their deck list.

My key take-away from their list is the crazy interaction between Aviary Mechanic and Oketra’s Monument.

Aviary MechanicOketra's Monument

Basically if you get to draw two copies of Aviary Mechanic and have an Oketra’s monument out – each white mana you can produce converts into a 1/1 White Warrior token with Vigilance. You basically loop 2 Aviary Mechanics for 1 mana, thanks to Monument’s discount, and trigger Monument’s token generation bouncing one Aviary with another. Sweet? Yes! Broken? Yes!

Seeing how absurd Aviary Mechanic was, I explored which dwarves from Kaladesh are actually good for competitive play and we actually have a lot!

Toolcraft Exemplar

Starting with the 1 drops we have Toolcraft Exemplar – an awesome one drop because we will be playing quite a number of artifacts in this deck including Oketra’s Monument. The ability to swing in for 3 on turn 2 is awesome considering we’re not playing Ramunap Red.

Heart of KiranMetallic Mimic

On 2-drops we have Heart of Kiran because why not? We’re playing dwarves, we’re playing Toolcraft, so there is no reason not to play Standard’s premier vehicle. Metallic Mimic is also a fantastic two drop because it allows us to beef up our board with each dwarf we play after it.  We can also name Warrior so each tokens we produce with Oketra’s Monument come out as 2/2s.

Veteran Motorist

Veteran Motorist may not be an artifact but he’s the best pilot for Heart of Kiran. He also smooths out our draws which is nice especially late in the game when we need more gas, or early if we need to make our land drops.

Depala, Pilot Exemplar

What I think makes Dwarves slightly better than Vampires is their lord. The Vampires deck utilizes Angel of Invention as its lord spreading +1/+1 all around. While both come into play earliest by turn 4, the advantage of the Angel is that it helps make your board wider thanks to Servos. However, pound for pound, I think Depala is better as the game goes long. The ability to refill your hand with cards is great – you don’t need to attack with Depala to tap it because you can also crew with it. In our deck, we’ll also play Angel because why play 1 lord if  you can have 2?

Fairgrounds Warden

I also want to play Fairgrounds Warden because it does a great job at exiling Gods. I know he’s not the best God-warden but even outside Gods he is great at removing creatures against decks that don’t have much removal. Even if he gets removed, he did his part of drawing a removal on himself and saving your other dudes.

For noncreature spells, we want all the reach we can get. I am not so comfortable running a mono-white list and rely on Ixalan’s Binding or Cast Out as my primary removal. Don’t get me wrong, these cards are pretty powerful but I prefer to have some cards that can deal the last point of damage before the opponent can recover.

ShockLightning Strike

We will play some copies of Shock since we don’t really have other turn 1 plays other than Toolcraft Exemplar. Lightning Strike is our all around removal and burn spell. It may not be able to kill a Longtusk Cub that went crazy but it kills almost everything else within curves one and two.

So here’s how my RW dwarves deck looks like!

Artifact: 4

4 Oketra’s Monument
4 Heart of Kiran

Creatures: 25

4 Toolcraft Exemplar
4 Aviary Mechanic
4 Veteran Motorist
4 Metallic Mimic
3 Depala, Pilot Exemplar
3 Fairgrounds Warden
3 Angel of Invention

Spells: 7

3 Shocks
4 Lightning Strike

Planeswalker: 1

1 Gideon of the Trials

Lands: 23

4 Inspiring Vantage
4 Unclaimed Territory
4 Ramunap Ruins
4 Shefet Dunes
7 Plains

Sideboard: 15

4 Solemnity
2 Gideon’s Intervention
4 Glory-Bound Initiate
3 Dusk//Dawn
2 Desert’s Hold

Gideon of the Trials

To cap off the mainboard I included a single copy of Gideon of the Trials. If you are able to play it on turn 3 with a Heart of Kiran out in turn 2, you are gold. Ticking up to nerf a blocker/attacker, tick down to ride HoK, then swing for 4 brutal. It’s also a good 1-off to avoid losing against Approach decks after the opponent has dished out all the stops against your dwarves and begin to run out of counters mid-game.

Glory-Bound Initiate

For the sideboard, I borrowed the Vampire’s tech with Glory-Bound Initiate because it’s an awesome card against Ramunap Red or even Energy decks to some degree. The life gain and the amount of aggression that it delivers is nothing to be scoff about.


With so much success in and outside the professional scene, energy decks are a powerhouse and I am so glad Dwarves and Solemnity are in the same color. This directly swaps in for Metallic Mimic post board because they are counter intuitive.

Desert's Hold

The reason for running deserts is primarily to throw them for 2 damage via Ramunap Ruins. Post board they serve another purpose of disabling problematic creatures including Scarab Gods, Rhonas, Pummeler, Longtusk Cubs while gaining a bit of life.

Dusk // Dawn

And for the long games, I like how we can play underneath Dusk while getting almost full value with Dawn. The only thing we can’t get back is Motorist and Depala but aside from that, the ability to kill Gearhulks, Dinosaurs, Hydras and Dragons are a must have for an army that stands 4 feet off the ground.

That’s it for tonight – I’ll see you all back here on November 11th! Till then, do throw me a message on decks you want made so I’ll have ideas to play around with while travelling!

Bye for now!


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