Fan Favorite Friday #8: Arcades, the Strategist

Hello everybody, and happy Friday! As you may have seen, this week was all about the butts (toughness, naturally). We had the classic Commander standby Doran, the Siege Tower facing off against the new version of one of the original elder dragons – Arcades, the Strategist. Doran had some stalwart fans standing in his corner, but the new Arcades built up the hype and won with 62% of the votes.

Poor Doran…

Before we get started, I want to congratulate Austin Snodgrass for winning the foil Deathrite Shaman from last week! Congratulations! I know you’re a local, so stop on by for the card!

And don’t forget, you could win an Arcades, the Strategist this week! All you have to do is go to our Facebook, and:

  • like the ABU Games Facebook Page
  • like the post announcing the giveaway
  • comment on said post with what deck you would put Arcades, the Strategist
  • share the post

There’s been a lot of buzz about Arcades’ new card around the shop lately. It feels like everyone and their dog has been brewing up sweet new commander lists, and it’s been fun to see the joy in our commander players’ faces as they sit at my counter and discuss their big, defender-based plans for the future.

This elder dragon is back with a vengeance, and he means business. Let’s get to it!



Arcades is one of the original Elder Dragons, and hoo boy there is some complicated history surrounding them (as you Vorthos in the audience are probably aware). If I had the time to do adequate research, I’m sure there could be an entire column based just around the history surrounding these legendary dragons, but we’ll just cover some Arcades trivia briefly and leave the history lesson for later (Spoiler alert, we’ll be having a lore series debuting on the site soon! Keep an eye out for that!)

Arcades’ first card debut was as Arcades Sabboth in the Legends set alongside Nicol Bolas, Chromium, Palladia-Mors, and Vaevictis Asmadi. He was rocking awesome art from Edward Beard, Jr. and some odd but pretty cool abilities.

Lore-wise, Arcades seems pretty impressive. He was the first of the Elder Dragons to name himself. As a youth, he became obsessed by human culture and ended up living in a human society being worshipped by the humans and trying to guide them on a better path.

Magic historians seem to be split on whether or not Arcades survived a particular story element, but maybe this new version of him will put that to rest?


Why is This Card So Good?

This dragon costs one colorless and Bant, is a 3/5, and has Vigilance and Flying. That alone isn’t anything to scoff at, but the rest of the text is where all of the hype is coming from.

“Whenever a creature with defender enters the battlefield under your control, draw a card.”

Card draw is good, right? Right, but this only happens with defenders. Why would you want to run a deck full of defenders? Well, that’s where the next block of text comes in:

“Each creature you control with defender assigns combat damage equal to its toughness rather than its power and can attack as though it didn’t have defender.”

How cool is that? Those defenders with giant toughness values now draw you cards, get to assign combat damage equal to their toughness, AND attack as if they didn’t have defender. That sounds like a fun strategy to build around.

What Formats is this Card Played In?

Well, this new version just became legal in paper today, so it isn’t actually seeing that much play right this second, but I can guarantee that he will see immense play in Commander. Will we see him in Standard? I’m not sure, but I think it would be cool to see Arcades flying around with his few defender pals at FNM!

Speaking of playing him in Commander, I spoke with one of my friends in our Buylist department, Tyler, about why he was so excited for Arcades and what his plans were for him in Commander.

“I’m into Arcades because he’s random, stupid and weird. He’s also a card draw engine on top of having a weird mechanic that shouldn’t work the way it does. It’s like if you took Doran and made him good! Doran requires a lot of extra stuff to make him do what Arcades does. You have all sorts of flying wall defenders to pair with him, which is going to be sweet. Arcades has all these small components of fun archetypes, and you get to roll it all up into one fun commander. My favorite cards to run are probably going to be Ensnaring Bridge, Angelic Chorus, Meekstone, or Dragon Throne of Tarkir.”

Here is Tyler’s current Arcades List – Thanks Tyler!

In Conclusion:

Well folks, there you have it! Arcades, the Strategist is super cool and will likely be showing up in all of the Commander pods in your area for awhile. What do you think? Are you going to be running an Arcades list?

Don’t forget – you’ll be able to win an Arcades, the Strategist this week! If you have good ideas for upcoming Fan Favorite Fridays, let me know in the comments! Take care, and I’ll see you next week!

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Joe Davidson is the Content Production Manager at ABU Games. When he's not playing Modern, Legacy, or following around Team ABU with a camera he's pursuing a BFA in Fiction at Boise State University. He loves Goblins, casting burn spells, and writing about Magic. You can find him on Twitter @MTGJoeD.