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Against the Odds: Dragon Fling (Standard)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 259 of Against the Odds. Now that our first round of Zendikar Rising Standard bannings is in (with Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath leaving the format), we're heading to Zendikar Rising Standard 2.0 to play some sweet Zendikar Rising jank. Last week on our poll, Leyline Tyrant sneaked out a victory over Angel of Destiny. As such, we're heading to Standard today, not just to play Leyline Tyrant but also to try to win some games by throwing the Dragon at our opponent's face, with the help of Kazuul's Fury! What are the odds that the plan will work? How many Omnath decks will we play against? Is Standard fixed now that Uro is gone? Let's get to the video and find out in today's Against the Odds; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Dragon Fling

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The Deck

Sometimes, on Against the Odds, the challenge is that the card we're building around us so janky that it's hard to make it do anything cool, let alone win with it. Leyline Tyrant doesn't have this problem. In fact, the challenge of building around Leyline Tyrant on Against the Odds is that, as a 4/4 flier for four mana with upside, Leyline Tyrant is a good enough card that you could just slot it into a random Gruul Midrange deck (for example) and maybe stick an Embercleave on it, and it would be solid. Of course, sticking a card into a known deck isn't in the spirit of Against the Odds, so today, we're trying to do something much more fun and spectacular: turn Leyline Tyrant into a game-ending combo piece where we can potentially kill our opponent on the spot by throwing the Dragon at our opponent's face with Kazuul's Fury!

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Leyline Tyrant is a unique card: along with being an on-curve 4/4 flier for four, it allows us to store up our red mana phase after phase and turn after turn. And then, once it dies, we can dump all of our red mana into its death trigger, potentially making it into a weird sort of Banefire. With enough mana, we can deal 20 (or more) damage to our opponent and win the game on the spot. Of course, this power comes with a downside: Leyline Tyrant's damage ability only triggers when it dies, so we don't get the damage if our opponent doesn't kill it, can bounce it with something like Brazen Borrower, or can exile it with something like Elspeth Conquers Death. Because of this, it's important that we have a way to make our Dragon die when we want it to die. While we can technically do this with Thundering Rebuke (which we are playing to kill our opponent's creatures but which can kill our Dragon in a pinch), a much better and more spectacular plan is to sacrifice Leyline Tyrant to Kazuul's Fury and Fling it at our opponent's face for a ton of damage. However, there is a challenge with this plan: Kazuul's Fury sacrificing Leyline Tyrant only deals four damage to our opponent, which means to deal a full 20, we're going to need some extra help, either by making oodles of mana or by finding a way to increase the damage. Thankfully our deck can do both!

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Maybe the easiest way to make our Dragon Fling plan lethal is Fiery Emancipation tripling up our damage. If we have the enchantment on the battlefield when we Fling our Dragon, then we'll get 12 damage from Kazuul's Fury, which means we only need eight more damage for Leyline Tyrant's death trigger for lethal. Since Leyline Tyrant's damage gets tripled too, we only need three extra mana to dump into the death trigger to deal 21 damage to our opponent's face!

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The second way we can make our Dragon Fling plan lethal is by making a bunch of mana. While having 16 extra mana when we Kazuul's Fury our Leyline Tyrant might sound like Magical Christmas Land, since Leyline Tyrant allows us to store up mana turn after turn, it isn't as difficult as it sounds, especially with some additional help. Dryad of the Ilysian Grove and Azusa, Lost but Seeking allow us to play multiple lands each turn, increasing the amount of mana to dump into Leyline Tyrant. (Dryad of the Ilysian Grove also has the upside of making all of our lands into Mountains, among other types, so even our Forests can make red mana for Leyline Tyrant.) As we play our multiple lands each turn, we're also triggering Lotus Cobra, which makes even more red mana that we can store up with Leyline Tyrant. Finally, Radha, Heart of Keld combos with Dryad of the Ilysian Grove and Azusa, Lost but Seeking by allowing us to make land drops from the top of our library, so we can hopefully make multiple land-drops each turn even once we run out of lands in hand. Radha is also a good backup Kazuul's Fury Fling target. If we can get enough lands on the battlefield, we can potentially use Radha to pump itself and then Kazuul's Fury it at our opponent's face for lethal!

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The other reason for all of our extra land drop shenanigans is Valakut Exploration, which, in many ways, is the engine that makes our deck run. Every time we play a land, we essentially get to draw a card (that we can only play for one turn) with Valakut Exploration. If we happen to hit a land with Valakut Exploration, we can play it, which again triggers Valakut Exploration to repeat the process. With cards like Dryad of the Ilysian Grove and Azusa, Lost but Seeking on the battlefield, Valakut Exploration can easily draw us three or four extra cards each turn, which is quite powerful, by helping us dig through our deck to find our Leyline Tyrant and Kazuul's Fury and even more mana to support the combo. We also occasionally get some damage out of Valakut Exploration when the unplayed cards go to our graveyard at the end of our turn, which isn't much by itself but can be devastating if we have a Fiery Emancipation on the battlefield to triple up our damage. Backing up Valakut Exploration for even more card advantage is Escape to the Wilds, which not only draw us five cards but also gives us another extra land drop to keep building our mana for the Dragon Fling kill.

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And that is basically the deck. Apart from our main combo and engine pieces, we have one Phylath, World Sculptor as a backup finisher and some removal in Thundering Rebuke (which, as I mentioned earlier, is also a way to kill Leyline Tyrant in a pinch if we don't draw Kazuul's Fury) and some random MDFCs like Spikefield Hazard, Valakut Awakening, Turntimber Symbiosis, and Shatterskull Smashing for extra value out of our mana base. 

The Matchups

Matchup-wise, aggro decks are tough, in part because they can often run us over before we get our combo online and in part because they usually have removal to kill things like Lotus Cobra and Azusa, Lost but Seeking, to keep us from getting our Valakut Exploration engine online. On the other hand, while I'm not sure we have a good matchup, it did feel like Dragon Fling could go toe to toe with the Omnath decks. The Valakut Exploration engine allows us to keep up on cards, and the Leyline Tyrant / Kazuul's Fury combo kill is a good way to close out the game by surprise in a way that is hard for Omnath decks to interact with. 

The Odds

All in all, we went 3-2 with Dragon Fling (and 3-1 in our video matches after I ended up cutting a third matchup against Omnath, which we lost), going 2-1 with Omnath decks, losing to UB Mill in an absurdly close game, and grinding out Doom Foretold. The deck actually felt pretty solid. We had some sweet Leyline Tyrant / Kazuul's Fury kills, and the Valakut Exploration engine deserves further exploration. Once we get going, the deck can do some pretty absurd things, by drawing tons of cards, making tons of mana, and eventually winning out of the blue with the Dragon Fling combo kill!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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To wrap up our month of Zendikar Rising episodes, let's head to Modern next week! What should we build around? Click here to vote.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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