Daily Digest: Double Dragon

This is your friendly reminder that Dragons of Tarkir is Standard legal. That means you should be playing more Dragons! Ross Merriam throws a fist pump to one player who still remembers what it’s like to breathe fire!

Yesterday I shamelessly exploited the community’s love of mill. Today I am re-upping on that and exploiting perhaps an even more beloved part of Magic: Dragons.

Everyone loves Dragons. Shivan Dragon used to be worth as much as some of the Power 9 and it wasn’t for playability. Dragons are cool. They’re big. They fly. They breathe fire. What else do you need? There’s a big mythic Dragon in every set now because that’s what the people want.

The problem has been that rarely are Dragons actually good in competitive play. But in recent years that has changed. The coolest tribe in Magic isn’t just for Brian Kibler anymore. Since the days of Thundermaw Hellkite, we have seen many competitive decks whose goal is to land and beat down with big, flying, and usually hasty Dragons. Thundermaw Hellkite gave way to Stormbreath Dragon and G/R and Jund Monsters. Then we got Thunderbreak Regent and Draconic Roar, which enabled Dragon decks in G/R, Mardu, Jeskai, and B/R variants.

Since the loss of Stormbreath Dragon, our fire-breathing friends (or foes, depending on how cool you are) have been put on the back burner (pun intended). But fear not, because someone may have just cracked the code. Goblin Dark-Dwellers is basically a Dragon!

Okay, hear me out.

It’s a beefy midrange creature. Check.

It has evasion. Check.

It flashes back a burn spell (aka it breathes fire). Check.

Yep, it’s a Dragon. You can even use it to Flashback Kolaghan’s Command and get another dragon. That’s what I like to call the Double Dragon (for advanced NES gamers and Pokemon trainers only).

Despite all this talk about Dragons, and you guys are laying it on pretty thick with the Dragon love, the real innovation in the list is Sin Prodder. Past successful Dragon decks have always had a solid way of bridging the gap from their strong early removal to their dragons. G/R lists just rocket over the bridge with mana acceleration, but the other lists have always had a solid threat at that part of the curve, whether Goblin Rabblemaster, Flamewake Phoenix, or Soulfire Grand Master.

These are ideally threats that will take over the game if left unchecked but don’t require a huge commitment up front from you. Sin Prodder is great at this because it will either bury your opponent in card advantage or apply so much pressure to their life total that you can burn them out pretty easily. The fact that it has menace also means that the 3/2 body is hard to block even when it’s your only non-flier.

The one thing it’s bad at is blocking, which is why I like the emphasis on cheap removal in the sideboard so you can ideally play removal spells on turns 1 and 2 and not fall too far behind if you have to cast a Sin Prodder on turn 3. Kozilek’s Return could also be welcome, even though it kills Prodder, since you will likely cast Return first.

Chandra is a great anti-control measure that is surprising to see outside the maindeck until you realize that we have to play Dragonlord Kolaghan because it’s a Dragon and Dragons are awesome. It helps that Dragonlord Kolaghan is huge beating against all the planeswalkers floating around right now and this deck’s aggressive nature actually makes it the better maindeck option.

The rest of the deck is filled with great removal and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, so no complaints there.

The Dragons have been lying dormant for a while, slumbering in their catacombs and calderas, just waiting to make their exalted return to the competitive stage. Khaleesi is going to be so relieved.