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Against the Odds: Dragon's Approach (Modern)

Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 290 of Against the Odds. We had a Modern Against the Odds poll this week, and we had a clear winner, with Dragon's Approach lighting the competition on fire. As such, we're heading to Modern today to see if we can win some games with a deck overflowing with Dragon's Approaches. While our main plan is similar to Dragon's Approach in Standard or Historic—try to get four copies of our namesake sorcery and then resolve one to tutor up a massive game-ending Dragon—being in Modern, we also get a really spicy backup plan thanks to Thrumming Stone! Can Dragon's Approach work in Modern? What are the best Dragons to tutor up? Can we get a Thrumming Stone ripple kill or two? 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's Approach

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The Deck

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In some ways, building a Dragon's Approach deck is easy because nearly half of our non-land cards are copies of Dragon's Approach itself, which limits the number of deck-building decisions we need to make. On the other hand, since we don't have a ton of room for non–Dragon's Approach cards in our deck, the choices we do have to make are magnified in their importance. Our deck has two plans to take advantage of the Strixhaven sorcery. The first is the obvious one: get four copies of Dragon's Approach into our graveyard, either by casting them naturally or discarding them, and then resolve a Dragon's Approach to tutor up a massive Dragon that will (hopefully) win us the game.

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While it is possible to get four copies of Dragon's Approach in our graveyard just by casting them naturally, this plan would be way too slow for Modern, considering that Dragon's Approach costs three mana. Thankfully, our deck doesn't need to cast Dragon's Approach to get it in the graveyard; instead, we can use Burning Inquiry, Cathartic Reunion, Thrilling Discovery, and Seasoned Pyromancer to discard them, while also drawing through our deck to find more copies. With a bit of luck, we can cast a Burning Inquiry on Turn 1, cast a Cathartic Reunion or Thrilling Discovery on Turn 2, and have enough copies of Dragon's Approach in our graveyard that we can cast one on Turn 3 and immediately tutor up a Dragon!

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Our other plan for speeding up Dragon's Approach is a strange one: Locket of Yesterdays. Locket of Yesterdays makes our spells cheaper based on how many copies of the same card we have in our graveyard, making it a perfect way to reduce the cost on Dragon's Approach. If we can get two copies of Dragon's Approach in our graveyard and stick a Locket, all of our future copies of Dragon's Approach will cost just one mana, allowing us to cast several in the same turn, burn our opponent for a bunch of damage, and hopefully end up with a Dragon to finish the game.

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So, let's assume we manage to get four copies of Dragon's Approach in our graveyard and resolve one to tutor up a Dragon. Which Dragons are we slamming onto the battlefield? We have two options. First up is Hellkite Overlord, which is the biggest haste Dragon in Modern, coming down as at least an 8/8 flying, trampling haster, which we also can pump with its firebreathing ability if we have some extra mana. Considering that Dragon's Approach deals three damage and many Modern decks take some amount of damage from their mana base, there's a decent chance that one Hellkite Overlord attack will finish the game, and at worst, Hellkite Overlord should almost always be a two-turn clock. 

If we can't win the game immediately with Hellkite Overlord, we can tutor up Knollspine Dragon, which is sneakily powerful with Dragon's Approach. When Knollspine Dragon enters the battlefield, we can discard our hand and draw cards equal to the amount of damage we dealt our opponent this turn. Thanks to the damage we get from Dragon's Approach itself, the worst-case scenario is that we discard our hand and draw three cards, making Knollspine Dragon into a Dragon Bedlam Reveler or Ox of Agonas. But we often can cast multiple copies of Dragon's Approach before tutoring up Knollspine Dragon, allowing us to draw six or even nine cards. This, in turn, should give us enough action to finish off the game on the following turn, by either attacking with Knollspine Dragon or casting a bunch more copies of Dragon's Approach to burn our opponent out of the game, possibly even tutoring up another Dragon in the process.

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By far the biggest problem with our primary Dragon's Approach plan is that it gets destroyed by graveyard hate, and most Modern decks have a plan for dealing with opposing graveyards. Enter Thrumming Stone, our backup Dragon's Approach plan that doesn't care about the graveyard at all. If we can get a Thrumming Stone on the battlefield and cast a single Dragon's Approach, there's a good chance that we can ripple through our deck, casting all (or most) of our copies of Dragon's Approach for free and burning our opponent out of the game.

When I was building the deck, I mathed out our odds of hitting at least one copy of Dragon's Approach with Thrumming Stones ripple-four ability. With 17 copies in our deck, we have a 74% chance of hitting at least one, and we're more likely to hit two copies than we are to hit zero. While 74% isn't a guaranteed win, more often than not, when we cast a Dragon's Approach with Thrumming Stone on the battlefield, we'll chain together enough copies to burn our opponent out of the game, even if they are at 20 life! 

The Matchups

As we talked about before, the biggest hurdle to overcome with Dragon's Approach is graveyard hate, which most decks will have in their sideboard. As far as specific matchups, we struggle the most against very aggressive and very controlling decks. Dedicated aggro decks usually are fast enough to kill us before we can tutor up a Dragon or stick a Thrumming Stone unless we have our very best draw. Meanwhile, control decks can focus on countering our fifth Dragon's Approach or Thrumming Stone, making it hard for us to close out the game, since without a Dragon or the Thrumming Stone combo, we're mostly left casting three-mana Lava Spikes and hoping that we get our opponent's life total to zero somehow.

The Odds

All in all, we went 2-6 with Dragon's Approach, giving us a 25% match win percentage, which obviously isn't super competitive. On the other hand, we came super close to winning a couple more matches, especially the one against Amulet Titan, where we would have won if we didn't draw both of our Hellkite Overlords, leaving us without a game-ending finisher to tutor up with Dragon's Approach. A lot of our matches also went three games, and it generally felt competitive (unless we were getting blown out by graveyard hate). While Dragon's Approach is a bit too slow and reliant on the graveyard to be truly competitive, it is hilarious when it goes off and is super consistent thanks to all of our looting effects. Most importantly, we managed to beat Jund, keeping the meme alive for another week!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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Tomorrow Historic Anthology V drops on Arena, so let's try some new-to-Historic jank next week. But which card? Click here to vote!


Anyway, that's all for today! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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