How to Train Your (Elder) Dragon

How to Train Your (Elder) Dragon

Now before we get too far into this, I want to take a moment to point out that Micheal McClure was the person who initially wanted to write this article. So, let’s take a second to understand why Micheal would pass on such an interesting topic. Besides being labeled the dragon overlord by some of the play group, when it comes to dragons there is no greater authority within the area than myself when it comes to our scaled, flying friends. I have been fortunate enough to make people’s lives miserable with giant fire breathing lizards in the past, and I will do so many more times in the future. They have taken me to a 10th place finish at the SCG Open in Indianapolis, and a top 64 finish in Chicago. All of these have caused an obsession that David Koon probably deems unhealthy*.

*Editor’s note: He certainly does

For more proof of my draconic pedigree, take a quick second to appreciate the below clip:

Now you may be asking why this is relevant. Well the new Core 2019 set is looming, and so are the dragons of old. We know of Ugin, and Nicol Bolas, but did you know their older, bigger siblings are here to play too? This past week spoilers came to an end, and it brought about five of the biggest headaches people will have to deal with for the foreseeable future, (and yes, I mean BIG). I am no professional by any means, but here are my thoughts of the lords of the skies*.

*Editor’s note: He’s totally a professional

Where should we even start with this fella? 4/4 flyer for four mana? That’s a good rate nowadays, but wait it even has a relevant enters the battlefield ability? Now we are talking! I haven’t been this excited for a discard effect stapled onto a card since I forced Kolaghan’s Command in standard. This bad boy is big enough to cause issues with removal spells, blanking Lightning Strike, Abrade, Cast Down, and requires extra effort to be hit by Harnessed Lightning or Fatal Push. It’s even immune to Glorybringer (remember, he can’t roast his fellow dragons) The only exceptions are Vraska’s Contempt (and literal gods can’t even handle that card, just ask Hazoret), and Chandra, Torch of Defiance, who will be leaving us very soon. On top of how solid a four mana, 4/4 flyer + discard spell is on its own, if you are fortunate enough to flip this tiny guy the game is probably a lock for you. All abilities seem backbreaking in a game. Draw two cards for a +2 when starting at nine loyalty is awesome. -3 to take a planeswalker or creature and chuck it right off the battlefield? Even better. -4 to take the thing you just machine gunned down and throw it back on the battlefield under your own control? Yes please. Then the ultimate is something that no opponent will even let you get the pleasure of doing. Just say -12 and smile at your opponent and cherish the look of misery on their face.

The one downfall to the card, which was probably to ensure it was not unstoppable, is that he does not exile himself when you pay the seven mana to transform him. This gives the opponent the opportunity to kill him before he flips, but after you have sunk seven mana into it. This scenario seems like it will be the worst feel bad story of feel bad stories, but regardless this card is very good, and it’s understandable why preorder pricing is $30.

Up next is the bigger/older brother of both Ugin and Bolas. Chromium is an interesting card, and one I myself am very excited to try. For seven mana this guy better have the stats to back up his high cost, and boy does he ever. 7/7 with flash is pretty sweet, and control players have used cards like this as a win con before with cards like Pearl Lake Ancient. However, he can’t be countered, still flies (as all dragons should), and then there is the small paragraph of words on the bottom. You can give him HEXPROOF!!! But wait Matt you have to discard a card to activate that ability, isn’t that bad?!!? Not as bad as watching your big investment get killed by a chupicabra. I can only imagine watching a chihuahua biting the ankle of a dragon and watching the dragon go down and that just angers me. Some sacrifices must be made to our flying gods, and if one card saves this gigantic overlord then so be it. Being able to protect itself, along with having flash, and being uncounterable is very appealing. Being in three colors makes it less desirable, but that is fine, not many people enjoy playing control (and even fewer enjoy playing against it). For the ones that do, this card will add to the misery of your opponent as they try to deal with Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, and this big guy.

Shivan Dragon is the dragon that people have seen since Beta, and we have finally evolved past that scaly winged abomination. Palladia-Mors is exactly what we expect out of our dragons. Hungry, angry, and BIG. Yes, 6/6 is the going rate for good six drop creatures, but this gal has some extra umph behind her. While her siblings have to worry about removal, she has protection from that issue thanks to hexproof until she deals damage. Note: Once she deals damage in any way, her hexproof is gone for the remainder of her time on the field, unless you play a second Palladia-Mors. Flying, vigilance, and trample are exactly what we want from our big mama here. Nothing will want to block her early, and if it does chances are she eats it in combat; no that wasn’t a joke either.

Ahhh yes Vaevictis Asmadi, how I have awaited your arrival for so long. I have heard about you from tales of old from great wizards. Wait, hold on, give me a second……Nope never mind, I was wrong. Sorry, I got you mixed up for someone else apparently. I thought you were going to do so much more like your siblings. Don’t get me wrong, the ability to get rid of permanents that are annoying is great, but having to wait to attack to do so? Plus having to sacrifice one of my own permanents is something I am not a fan of. If this giant fella had haste it would have been acceptable, but alas he does nothing but fly. I hope someone comes up for a home for him because the ability is neat, but not good enough for me to try to figure out.*

*Editor’s note: I give it four weeks until he tries to figure it out.

Well, isn’t this big guy interesting? And slightly terrifying to look at. I mean, how does he even fly with those wings? Any who, 5/4 for five mana is not terrible, and he has recursion. Pay five mana and exile seven cards from the graveyard? Hmmm, seems excessive, but dragons are notorious for being greedy. Just ask Silumgar, from Tarkir, or Smaug from the Hobbit. This guy might make a home somewhere as a 1-2 of in black based midrange decks. Still a cool design from WOTC.

This guy seems so lack luster at first glance that you end up just skimming over him without a second thought. However, this sleeper of a card will either be the inspiration for interesting, yet probably doomed to fail decks, or he will be the best elder dragon to come out of the set. Picture this shall we. Turn one you play a one mana 2/3 defender. Turn two play a two mana 0/4 defender. Turn 3 play any defender you may have. Then boom on turn four you drop the big daddy, and turn cardboard sideways. If there is anyone who knows how to turn things sideways it’s this guy right here (see the above clip; we’re sorry Chris).

Wrapping up here, these dragon lords of Dominaria are some of the more interesting cards to come out in a while. Some key pieces are missing that the old Mardu dragons had access to such as the dragon synergistic removal, but with some creativity, and pure greed, we can come up with a home for all these guys. If you are interested in seeing some deck lists for any of these dargons please feel free to leave a comment or stop in the Dragons Realm and talk to me. I will come up with something for everyone interested. Lastly, when the set drops on MTGO in a few weeks I will be streaming any brews people have. Feel free to send me any lists for modern or standard that you want to see played, and follow me on twitch at to watch and learn. Thanks for reading this poorly typed article and remember: pay homage to our dragon lords!

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Matt enjoys both Modern and Standard, and has experienced success in both formats, taking down top 16 finishes in both formats in Starcity Games Opens. Matt is a beginning streamer who plays quite a bit of Magic Online, even though he has been attending tournaments for several years now. Matt is an excellent example of how to balance friendliness and fun alongside playing at a high level, as evidenced by the smiles and laughter one can expect to find on the faces of his opponent’s as you walk up to his games, whether they are at 20 or 1 life. Matt’s accomplishments include multiple SCG Open day 2s, including the aforementioned two top 16 finishes, multiple appearances at the Starcity Games’ Invitational tournament, a penchant for finishing 9th across all levels of competition, and the occasional epic, on camera take down.

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