Hello everyone, and welcome to this week’s Tribal Tuesday!
Last episode we finally had a good reason to run a Wurm Tribal Tuesday, and it had been a long time coming! Honestly, Wurms have been flpating on the to-do list for quite some time, ready for the spotlight and I’m glad I could finally give it to them. The decks feels like it would play really well as well, Wurms have such a variety within their tribe that Commander was the best shout for them. For this week’s Tribal Tuesday, once again we’re heading for standard! I’m not sure if it’s the amount of MTG Arena I’ve been playing recently but I’ve been able to come up with some super sweet tribal deck in standard once again! The deck that I’ve most been looking forward to sharing for this week, is Dragons!
A quick reminder for anyone new to the series, Tribal Tuesday is all about checking out some of the overlooked tribes in magic history and having some fun brewing in different formats. Now, I hope you’re ready for some Dragons!
It seems quite fitting for Dragons to follow on from Wurms in regards to their story. If you remember from last episode, the Elder Dragons that were defeated were striped of their power, limbs, and wings, thereby becoming the Elder Land Wurms.
Dragons have some of the most deep and interesting lore in Magic: The Gathering, with hundreds of different kinds and have featured in many sets. In fact, dragon is the iconic creature for the color red, and at least one red Dragon has appeared in every core set.
The Ur-Dragon is the essence of all Dragons. You may have heard of powerful Elder Dragons? Well these Dragons were born from the storms caused by its wings and then went on to become the ancestors of all Dragons and Drakes. So as you can see, Dragons are a big thing in Magic history.
So unlike a lot of Tribal Tuesday episodes, there’s a good chance you may have played with or against some kind of Dragon deck, it isn’t one of the obscure tribes we usually cover. However, Dragons in standard currently isn’t being recognised as much as I’d like, and I want to change that!
Dragons got a lot of attention around the time of M19 with the release of Sarkhan, Fireblood when someone combined this with the skred red archetype in modern performed very well. This however, once again, was not in standard, it was modern and I thought “Sarkhan is still legal in standard, let’s make a dragon deck” and that’s where this deck came from!
- 4x Skirk Prospector
- 4x Wily Goblin
- 2x Rekindling Phoenix
- 1x Verix Bladewing
- 4x Demanding Dragon
- 2x Lathliss, Dragon Queen
- 2x Volcanic Dragon
- 4x Lightning Strike
- 4x Spit Flame
- 3x Lava Coil
- 2x Dragon’s Hoard
- 4x Sarkhan, Fireblood
- 24x Mountain
The best place to start for this deck tech, is strangely enough, not the Dragons. Dragons have very high mana costs, and as such we usually can’t wait to reach the required number on lands, so we need to ramp. Sadly, we’re mono red. There aren’t many ways to ramp in red, but by recruiting some goblins, it’s possible.
We run 4 copies of both Skirk Prospector and Wily Goblin for this purpose. Wily Goblin comes down and makes a treasure which we could use on a later turn for a 1 mana boost which is often enough to start getting threats down. The explosive turns really happen when we combine this with the Prospector. At worst, its another one mana boost by sacrificing himself, but with the 2 goblins, its a 3 mana boost with the treasure and two goblins to sacrifice, this definitely helps to constantly drop dragons.
The other non-dragon creature we’re playing is Rekindling Phoenix, I wish there was an interesting explanation as to why this card helps with our dragon plan, but it doesn’t. It’s just a crazy good card.
Other Dragon Help!
Dragon’s Hoard is another card that helps with our dragon plan whilst also being on theme. Mono Red struggles with a lot of things, and one of them things is card advantage. Quite often we have no cards in hand and are at the mercy of the Top deck. Dragon’s Hoard relieves some of this pressure. 1, It’s more mana ramp helping us cast dragons earlier. 2, It turns each dragon we play into another draw in the future, this helps a ton when we’re in the late game and drawing another land would be a huge tempo loss!
Now we have the card I mentioned at the beginning, Sarkhan, Fireblood. This is the card that makes everything work. Without it, Dragons wouldn’t be able to touch tiered decks in standard. His +1 ability allows us to discard extra land drops or unnecessary removal spells and (hopefully) turns them into more relevant cards.
He also has a second +1 ability, this one allows the user to add 2 mana, of any colour, to your mana pool to help cast Dragon spells. So not only can he help us set up for future turns by finding Dragon cards, he can also help us cast them whilst still upticking towards that ultimate. Sarkhan really is the engine for the deck.
Sarkhan’s ultimate, creating four 5/5 Dragons often remains a dream, but if we do ever reach this stage, it’ll often mean game over for the opponent.
Now, onto the actual Dragons! Demanding Dragon is probably the highest rated dragon we have. At 5 mana, it’s not super difficult to hard cast him with 5 lands, which is important, but there earlier we play him the better. In the early game, he’s often a flying dragon with a piece of burn attached to him, but late game, when they can’t afford to take the extra damage, those pesky creatures will have to be sacrificed. I usually find opponents will take the 5 damage and then become surprised with how quickly we beat them down.
Lathliss, Dragon Queen however, is my favourite Dragon in the deck. Whilst not directly a Lord in the traditional sense, it does give all other Dragons the firebreathing ability. It also doubles the amount of Dragons by creating a 5/5 whenever another non-token Dragon enters the battlefield. If Lathliss doesn’t get answered and you can follow up with another Dragon, it’s often game. I’d love to play 4 copies, but drawing multiple whilst it’s legendary is very risky.
Verix Bladewing, whilst just a one-of, is super versatile. In the early game, if we draw it early, it becomes our cheapest Dragon, allowing us to get something meaningful on the board. Late game, we can use our mana more effectively, kicking it, meaning it comes in with a 4/4 friend! This versatility means we don’t mind having one copy, as it doesn’t matter at what point during the game we draw it.
Volcanic Dragon is typically the finisher in the deck. If we’re struggling to amass an army of Dragons, but we’ve managed to get the life total low with Demanding Dragons and burn, sometimes a 4/4 flying haste creature will close the game out. The damage really does come out of nowhere.
The Wrap Up!
I’ve been playing this deck a bunch on MTG Arena recently, and whilst it’s not a top tiered deck, it does hold it’s own against a number of decks on ladder and you’ll do perfectly fine with this deck if you want to climb. If you’re a fan of Big Red style decks, you should definitely check it out.
Currently, the best Dragon in standard right now is Niv-Mizzet, Parun. If I wanted to improve the deck slightly, I might look for a way to include this guy into the deck (without becoming too close to a U/R drake deck) but that’s a thought for another time!
Would you guys be interested in seeing Dragons again in other formats? In a less traditional sense? I’m looking at you Dragonstorm! If yes, let me know!
As always, thanks for taking the time to read, anything I missed? And as always, what tribe should we cover next, got any underloved favourites? Let us know!