Dragonstorm in Time Spiral Standard

Get ready for Magic the Gathering Champs!
In the new Time Spiral Standard, it seems that the combo deck of choice involved ramping to nine mana and casting Dragonstorm. Today’s Champs article sees Constructed specialist Stuart Wright take a long look at the archetype in question, analysing possible cards for the deck and producing two decklists that are both strong and durable. Are you planning to cook up a Storm this weekend? If so, this article is for you!

Whenever new sets leave and others enter, players need to build new decks. Normally you look to Block Constructed to see what people are likely to play… however, this time it’s different. Without a block PTQ season, and with a bigger set packed powerful cards, people have little idea on what to play. This gives an advantage to people who are able to build new decks, with most players being unsure on how to combat unexpected cards. Of course, surprise isn’t everything… you need a good deck to start with. Luckily, we have a lot of new, powerful cards to play.

The cards I’m going to be building around today are Dragonstorm and Bogardan Hellkite. The basic game-plan is to cast a number of spells that make mana, and then storm out 4 Bogardan Hellkites. Each deals five damage to target opponent (in this case), and that’s all she wrote. Against aggro, fewer dragons is fine — You can clear their board and swing with the dragons — and against control you have plenty of time to build up a big storm count.

Here is an example of a typical four-turn sequence:

Turn 1: suspend Lotus Bloom
Turn 2: Izzet Signet
Turn 3: Compulsive Research
Turn 4: Sleight of Hand, Seething Song, Lotus Bloom, Dragonstorm

Card Options

Mana Creation

Rite of Flame
The first one adds only one extra Red mana, and while more copies become stronger they still don’t add much. You might want a few more copies of this type of card, but having to play four of this to gain a noticeable effect is rather limiting.

Seething Song
This is a little better, adding two Red, making it the standard card to run; it does the job you want.

Lotus Bloom
This card gives a lot more mana, but it comes with the restrictive time delay. With card selection spells such as Compulsive Research, you can take this early and later discard it. A three-turn delay is fine against control decks, and you need the extra speed this gives you (when played early) against aggro.

Izzet Signet
This helps fix your colors, and gives you another spell to storm up with if you have plenty of mana to spare. Other Signets are not quite as good, but you do still have a lot of Red sources anyway.

Urza’s Tower and the rest
These lands don’t provide fast mana, but sometimes you will draw all of them. While you are searching for the other pieces of the combo, you will often able to assemble a full ‘Tron set almost by accident. Against control, having a full set gives you a massive mana advantage, negating their ability to counter your other mana sources effectively. The cost of twelve colourless lands isn’t that high, and the main thing you lose is Gigadrowse, which seems replaceable.

Calciform Pools
These lands gives you another option, and let you build up huge reserves against control decks. They are, however, a bit slow against control, and you can’t run them with a ‘Tron set as well.

Card Selection

To enable us to have the right mixture of mana and combo pieces, we need to be to control what we draw. Blue has a lot of effects like this, and this makes it very important for building most combo decks in this format.

Sleight of Hand
Cheap and efficient. It being a sorcery doesn’t matter too much, as we don’t have space for many reactive cards. The main problem is having a Blue source on turn 1 – if we want to play twelve colorless lands then we can only have twelve Blue sources for the crucial turn. As this spell is so cheap we can still afford to cast it later, even potentially storming up spells.

Telling Time
This card is only slightly better than Sleight of Hand, the net effect being the ability to look at the top three cards and put one on the bottom, over the two cards seen from the one-mana sorcery. This doesn’t seem worth twice as much mana, and the instant nature of the spell is not very helpful in this case.

Truth or Tale
This card greatly varies depending on how good your opponent is, or on what they know. If they pick the right pile you get the second-best card, and most people won’t let you have a Dragonstorm. This card is better than Telling Time, but I would still rather play Sleight of Hand.

Compulsive Research
This card is a staple in a lot of other decks for a reason: it is simply the best card-drawing spell out there. It can help you recover from disruption and dig for what you need.

Ancestral Vision
Another suspend spell similar to Lotus Bloom, in that you need it early to be useful. In this case we have more options, and we don’t need more inconsistent cards. We want card selection effects to make the deck more consistent, rather than card drawing in the abstract.

Careful Consideration or Tidings
Both of these cards do a similar job, and both are a little too expensive for a fast combo deck. You could have a few of these in your sideboard against decks with lots of discard, as a way to recover.

This is pretty much a 1UU tutor for Dragonstorm — limited, but it will always find it, making it useful for making the deck more consistent.

The Combo Itself

Dragonstorm and Bogardan Hellkite
These two cards together provide our kill. Even just hard-casting one Bogardan Hellkite is a threat against most decks, and a lot of decks can’t win even if you only storm out two Bogardan Hellkites.

Hunted Dragon
Quite often you will draw a Bogardan Hellkite, so you want to have another option to kill your opponent straight away. You can, of course, just cast the Bogardan Hellkite you have in your hand to finish them anyway, so only one Hunted Dragon seems fine and no other dragons are useful enough to play.


While it would be nice to just ignore the opposite side of the table, this combo deck just isn’t fast enough for that. Plus we can play some very powerful cards that slow our opponent down and help us beat control decks.

Apparently Remand wasn’t good enough before Time Spiral, so Wizards printed a whole bunch of cards to make it better. Given that it was one the best cards before, now you need a really good reason not to run it in any Blue deck. It buys you extra time and forces through key spells.

Volcanic Awakening
This card is a back-up play for when you are playing against control decks. If you don’t have plenty of mana they can counter your Seething Songs and the like. However, it then lets you storm this spell and wreak them. It depends on the metagame as to whether this should be maindeck, but it does overwhelm control decks.

This card is like Remand, in that it slows the opponent down and cycles – a little better against aggro, but a lot worse against control. After not being able to cycle it a few times, I gave up and tried something else.

This card can be simply cycled against control, but it is a little slow. Aggro decks aren’t that bothered by this, and it is only really good against something like B/W decks.

To be able to play this you need a lot of Blue sources. For that cost you get a very powerful anti-control card that is still useful against aggro. I feel that the ‘Tron is generally better, but I can see why other people want to play this card.

Sideboard Cards

Defense Grid
This deals with most of the problem cards other people can bring in to stop you, such as Trickbind or Shadow of Doubt. Five mana is really too much to sit on, and you can still back up your spells with Remand. Other decks using Urza lands can pay the extra three, so you have other sideboard cards that help against them (such as Annex).

Ignorant Bliss
This card protects you from Persecute, and also helps against decks full of Ravenous Rats and the like. You can just cycle this card too, but make sure you don’t do at the end of their turn if you want your hand back.


There are a few options on how to assemble the final decklist. I’m going to start with the one I like best, and then show another option.

This deck has a simple game plan: find mana, then have a big turn where you generate nine or more mana, and cast Dragonstorm. There are two modes of play: either they are an aggro deck and you are just racing them, or they are a control deck and you have more time to set up but they have more answers. Some aggro decks have counters, but their clocks still mean you have kill them quickly. Luckily, these sorts of decks tend to lose to two – or even one – dragon. Therefore, even if all you can do is Seething Song into Dragonstorm, this is often enough to win.

With more controlling decks you have more time, but you need to play around their defences. This means waiting and setting up a big turn where they can’t counter enough of your mana producers to stop you getting to nine mana. The Urzatron helps a lot with this, giving you a lot of mana, so their counters just help storm up your spells and let you cast Volcanic Awakening and a Dragonstorm in the same turn. Bogardan Hellkite is a pretty big man, and as he has flash you can “end-step cast” him to reduce their mana for your big turn.

This is a second version without the Urzatron. With the mana being better you can afford some Gemstone Caverns and storage lands. This deck loses the explosive power of having the Urzatron, and I don’t think it is worth the sacrifice.

Other Options

This deck isn’t that far off just being a normal U/R ‘Tron deck, so if you wanted to you could just sideboard into that deck or transform the other way. There are other ways this deck could be built with more colors – such as adding White to be a full-on control deck with Wrath of God, and the combo as a finisher. This sort structure seems better when you need White in your deck anyway, such as when you’re running an Enduring Renewal combo deck.


This deck isn’t perfect, and quick pressure backed up with countermagic can be hard to face, but even getting through one dragon is often enough against those decks. I feel that matchup is pretty good against control, where you have plenty of time to set up the perfect hand. This deck isn’t insane broken tech, but it is competitive, and it’s only one good card short of being broken.

If people want me to write about any particular decks, let me know and I will see what I can do.

Good luck at Champs.