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Standard with Elder Dragons


Hello everyone. When the previews of Strixhaven: School of Mages were happening, a certain cycle of cards caught my eye. That cycle was the new Elder Dragons. These big, flashy creatures are sure to make an impact in Commander play, where they're likely best suited. Can they also make an impact on Standard? Can decks be created to include these powerful Dragons that can compete with other proven Standard decks? This week, we'll find out, because I have five decks for you that each feature one of these new Elder Dragons. Let's get started.

Tanazir Quandrix

We'll start with a Simic-colored deck featuring Tanazir Quandrix that focuses on +1/+1 counters and big Fractals. Let's take a look at it.

In order for this deck to run smoothly, you'll want to get a copy of Thassa, Deep-Dwelling into play. With Thassa, at the beginning of your end step, you'll be able to exile another creature you have in play, and then return it to the battlefield. This allows you to trigger that creature's ability that happens when it enters the battlefield again. With the help of a few cards, this is what will allow you to amass a large amount of +1/+1 counters and Fractal creature tokens.

Two great targets for Thassa's ability are Biomathematician and Manifestation Sage. Each of these creatures will create a Fractal creature token when they enter the battlefield. Manifestation Sage allows you to create one large Fractal, while Biomathematician creates a smaller one, but also boosts all of your other Fractals with a +1/+1 counter. The best target for Thassa's ability is Tanazir Quandrix. Whenever this Legendary Elder Dragon enters the battlefield, you can double the number of +1/+1 counters on a creature you control. With this ability, you'll turn a Fractal that has four +1/+1 counters into a massive threat in just a couple of turns.

In order to ensure that your hard work in creating all of those +1/+1 counters doesn't go to waste in the event that your opponent plays a removal spell targeting your massive Fractal, you can rely on The Ozolith. This Legendary Artifact will gain any counters a creature of yours has on it when it leaves the battlefield. Then at the beginning of combat on your turn, you can move the counters stored on The Ozolith onto another target creature. This allows you to continually keep a large Fractal in play more easily.

Velomachus Lorehold

The next deck I have for you features Velomachus Lorehold and attempts to cheat him into play. Let's check it out.

When you begin a match with this deck, you'll often feel like you're playing a control deck. This deck includes numerous spells that you can use to destroy an opponent's creatures. Rip Apart can deal three damage to target creature or planeswalker. Fire Prophecy can also deal three damage to target creature. Draconic Intervention has the potential to deal up to seven damage to each non-Dragon creature. Finally, if things get too out of hand, you have Shatter the Sky which will destroy all creatures in play.

Controlling the battlefield is great, but if you have no creatures in play, you'll find it hard to win. You might have noticed that the only creature spells in this deck are the playset of Velomachus Lorehold. Since Velomachus Lorehold is tied with Beledros Witherbloom as the Elder Dragon with the highest mana value in Strixhaven, you'll probably be dead before you have enough mana in play to cast him. That means you'll usually want to try to cheat him into play.

To do this, you'll need to get some creature tokens in play. This can be done with Forbidden Friendship, Omen of the Sun, or Rally for the Throne. Each of these spells will create a pair of creature tokens. You can then cast Transmogrify, exiling one of your creature tokens in order to put a copy of Velomachus Lorehold into play. Alternatively, you can use the -2 loyalty ability of Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast to cheat Velomachus into play in a similar manner. Once you have Velomachus Lorehold in play, it should be easy enough to win the game by attacking, thanks to his flying, vigilance, and haste abilities.

Shadrix Silverquill

The next deck I have for you features Shadrix Silverquill in the midst of a horde of flying creatures. Let's take a look at it.

This deck has one main route to victory, and that route is through the air. Every creature in this deck, save one, has flying. This allows all of your creatures to attack with evasion, and it may be difficult for your opponent to block effectively. The lone creature that doesn't naturally have flying is Thunderous Orator. However, as long as you control another creature with flying, Thunderous Orator gains flying when it attacks. It also has the ability to gain a number of other combat-oriented abilities, depending on what abilities your other creatures have. This works wonderfully with Shadrix Silverquill, who has flying and double strike.

This deck also includes the card created, in part, by World Champion, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa. Elite Spellbinder acts as both a great attacker, and as a means of removal. When Elite Spellbinder enters the battlefield, you get to look at your opponent's hand and exile a nonland card from it. That card's owner can cast it for an additional two mana for as long as it remains exiled. That allows you to remove a potential threat from your opponent's hand and ensure that it stays out of play for a couple of turns longer. You also gain the knowledge of what other cards your opponent has in their hand.

While Shadrix Silverquill might have a mana value of five, making it come in late to the party, having it in play will definitely have an impact. At the beginning of combat on your turn, you have the option to choose two effects, one which will affect you and one which will affect your opponent. These effects are varied and include creating a 2/1 Inkling creature token with flying, drawing a card and losing one point of life, and putting a +1/+1 counter on each creature that player controls. Often, since your creatures will be difficult to block, you'll want to choose to put a +1/+1 counter on each of your creatures, while giving your opponent a 2/1 Inkling token that they can use to chump block with.

Two More To Go...

While there are five Elder Dragons in Strixhaven, I only have enough time this week to look at decks featuring three of them. The other two will have to wait until next week. Be sure to come back then to see a pair of decks featuring Beledros Witherbloom and Galazeth Prismari.

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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