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Variations on Standard Dragons


Hello everyone. Champions of Kamigawa had a cycle of rare legendary Dragons, so it's possible we'll see another cycle. In the few previews we've already gotten of Kamigawa: Neon Destiny, we've seen Atsushi, the Blazing Sky, so other Dragons are a possibility. This week, I have a few decks for you that are focused on Dragons. Let's get started.

Izzet Dragons

We start with what is likely the most common version of a Dragon deck in Standard, Izzet Dragons. Let's take a look at the deck.

Smoldering Egg // Ashmouth Dragon

Dragons are generally expensive creatures, so you'll want to have some sort of plan in place to keep you alive until you're able to cast your big guns. With this deck, that plan is to control the battlefield with your instant spells. Start off by acting like a typical control deck, countering your opponent's spells with Saw it Coming. When your opponent taps out to play a big threat, send it back to their hand with Divide by Zero and force them to use that mana a second time if they want that creature. Once they get threats in play, destroy them by casting Dragon's Fire, Frost Bite, and even Prismari Command. All of these instant spells get even better if you're able to lead off with a copy of Smoldering Egg // Ashmouth Dragon first. By 'hatching' this egg into Ashmouth Dragon, you'll be able to deal quite a bit of damage when you cast future spells.

Once you have enough mana available, you can begin casting your Dragon threats. A pair of Dragons you have work wonderfully with each other. Goldspan Dragon creates a Treasure token whenever it attacks or becomes the target of a spell. Those Treasure tokens can also be sacrificed for two mana instead of the usual one while Goldspan Dragon is on the battlefield. With all of that extra mana, you can pump up the power of Inferno of the Star Mounts. While it's unlikely that you'll be able to pump its power all the way to 20, simply boosting its power can allow you to deal lethal damage to your opponent in no time.

While Goldspan Dragon will often be your best creature to cast, Manaform Hellkite is another Dragon you won't want to overlook. When it is in play, whenever you cast a noncreature spell, you'll create a Dragon Illusion creature token whose power and toughness are equal to the amount of mana spent to cast that spell. Since these tokens have flying and haste, you can foil our opponent's plan while simultaneously dealing additional damage. Plus, this spell works great in conjunction with Standard's most powerful spell, Alrund's Epiphany.

Gruul Dragons

Next, I have a deck that is willing to sacrifice its own creatures in order to achieve victory. Let's take a look at the deck.

Inferno of the Star Mounts
Much like the previous deck, you'll want to control things on your opponent's side of the battlefield while you're building up to be able to play your powerful Dragons. Dragon's Fire, Flame-Blessed Bolt, and Rending Flame will help with this, as they all deal various amounts of damage to a target creature or planeswalker your opponent controls. Keeping the battlefield free of flying blockers is very important, as once you're able to bring your Dragons online, you can quickly decimate your opponent's life total. That becomes much more difficult when your opponent has flying creatures they can chump block with.

Similar to the previous deck, this deck pairs up Goldspan Dragon alongside Inferno of the Star Mounts. The possibility to pump up Inferno of the Star Mounts power to 20 is much more likely in this deck, though. That's thanks to the addition of another Dragon, Leyline Tyrant. When Leyline Tyrant is on the battlefield, any Red mana you're able to create won't disappear at the end of steps and phases. Basically, you'll be able to keep any unspent Red mana indefinitely, as long as Leyline Tyrant is on the battlefield. Make sure to tap any untapped Red sources at the end of your opponent's turn in order to maximize the amount of mana you have.

Even if you're not able to pump Inferno of the Star Mounts' power to 20, you can still finish games off quickly with it. By increasing its power as much as possible, while saving 3 mana for later on, and then attacking, you can often take a huge chunk of your opponent's life total away. Next, you'll use that three mana you saved to cast Kazuul's Fury // Kazuul's Cliffs, sacrificing Inferno of the Star Mounts as part of the casting cost. You'll then be able to deal damage to any target equal to the power that Inferno of the Star Mounts had before you sacrificed it. Attacking for 10 damage and then dealing 10 additional points of damage with Kazuul's Fury results in your opponent's defeat.

Mono-Red Dragons (Alchemy)

My final deck this week is a Mono-Red deck. If you're looking to get in to Magic Arena's Alchemy format, you might want to check this one out.

Fearsome Whelp
The Alchemy format on Magic Arena allows Wizard of the Coast (WotC) to rebalance specific cards. This deck includes a couple of those (Goldspan Dragon and Faceless Haven). It also includes some cards that are only playable in Magic Arena, and are not available in paper. I'll go over these cards as we take a look at this deck, but one key thing to keep in mind is that this deck will play similarly to the previous pair of decks. Control things early on with your non-creature spells so you live long enough to get enough mana to play your Dragons. Much of the strategy for this deck is the same as the previous decks, but the Arena-only cards do offer some changes.

First, let's talk about Fearsome Whelp. This tiny 1/1 Dragon is very helpful in allowing you to cast your bigger threats more quickly. Each turn Fearsome Whelp is in play, your other Dragons that are in your hand lose one colorless mana in their mana value. This is a permanent change to their casting cost, so you'll want to keep Fearsome Whelp in play as long as possible.

The other Arena-only card is Town-razer Tyrant. When this Dragon enters the battlefield, it removes any non-mana abilities from one of your opponent's lands. That land will also deal your opponent two points of damage at the beginning of your upkeep unless they decide to sacrifice it. With Red decks, every point of damage you deal to your opponent is valuable, so even if they only take damage from their land for a single turn, that could be the difference you need to get a quick victory. Plus, you can potentially lock your opponent out of one color of mana they might need, especially if they're just splashing a color for a few powerful cards.

Wrapping Up

Dragons are a fan favorite type of creature. As such, you can expect WotC to keep making powerful Dragons in each upcoming set. This makes playing a Dragon tribal deck possible at nearly any time.

What do you think of these decks? Do you have any suggestions for improvements? Let me know by leaving a comment below. Also, feel free to share this article with your friends anywhere on social media. And be sure to join me here again next week as I continue my search for innovative decks in Standard. I'll see you then!

-Mike Likes

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