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Budget Magic: $81 (60 tix) Standard UR Dragons


Mɔkɔm, Budget Magic lovers! It's that time again. While we are waiting for Eldritch Moon to release, along with it's Zombies, Vampires, Spirits, and Horrors, this week, we are heading to Standard to play a deck built around a tribe that's been floating around in the format for quite a while now: Dragons! I've mentioned before that many of the best decks in Standard are really weak to efficient fliers, so what happens when you run a deck that is exclusively evasive creatures, backed up by a handful of burn spells and some Dragons-matter cards like Silumgar's Scorn and Draconic Roar? You Si a deck that's not only cheap but fun to play and surprisingly effective against the top tier of the format!

Let's get to the videos; then, we'll break down UR Dragons. A quick reminder: if you enjoy the Budget Magic series and the other video content on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube Channel to keep up on all the latest and greatest.

UR Dragons: Deck Tech

UR Dragons vs. Bant Human Company

UR Dragons vs. UW Fliers

UR Dragons vs. Four-Color Rites

UR Dragons vs. GR Eldrazi Ramp

UR Dragons vs. Wr Humans

The Deck

To really understand the power of UR Dragons, we need to briefly look at the Standard metegame. While Eldritch Moon will (hopefully) shake things up in a couple of weeks, right now, the top tier of the format is pretty much set in stone. Bant Company and Bant Human Company make up about 30% of the meta, GW Tokens makes up 16% of the meta, and Mono-White Humans (or Wr Humans) makes up another 12%. What this means is that about 60% of the time, you'll be playing against one of these three decks, all of which are removal light and focused on valuing opponents out with efficient ground threats like Sylvan Advocate, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, and Tireless Tracker. As a result, it's a really good time to be attacking in the air, especially when you can back up creature beats with burn spells. 

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Thunderbreak Regent is still one of the most efficient, evasive threats in Standard. As a 4/4 flier for four mana, it comes down fairly early, pressures opposing planeswalkers, and closes out games quickly. Plus, its triggered ability means that, even in the worst case (for example, we cast Thunderbreak Regent, our opponent untaps and casts Ruinous Path), we are still getting in three damage. In the late game, this ability often puts an opponent in a lose-lose position. If they don't kill the Thunderbreak Regent, they will die to our 4/4 flier, but if they do kill the Thunderbreak Regent, they'll die to the three-damage trigger. 

Icefall Regent, on the other hand, is extremely powerful when it's tapping down something like Sylvan Advocate, while also offering us some sort of out to a World Breaker or Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. A lot of games with UR Dragons come down to a race. We don't really want to block, because trading a flier for an equally powerful ground creature is usually a bad idea, and most of our opponents literally cannot block, since all of our creatures have flying. As a result, we play a lot of close games, where both players are attacking and hoping to get their opponent to zero before they die. In these situations, if we can use Icefall Regent to tap down our opponent's best threat (or a flying blocker like Archangel Avacyn) for just a turn or two, it's often enough to shift the race in our favor. 

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Since we're running seven dragons, we get to take advantage of some really powerful Dragons-matter cards in Silumgar's Scorn and Draconic Roar. After playing a bunch of matches with the deck, I admit that there are quite a few situations when we don't have a Dragon in our hand or on the battlefield to power up these spells, but thankfully we can still get some amount of value from, both even without a Dragon. 

Silumgar's Scorn is fine in the early game even without a Dragon, since most decks are looking to play on curve, which means that quite often we can counter something in Force Spike mode, and then in the late game, it's usually just Counterspell, since sooner or later, we are going to draw a Dragon. Draconic Roar, on the other hand, is always fine with or without a Dragon. While the no-Dragon mode is a little bit more expensive than a card like Fiery Impulse, paying two mana to kill a Sylvan Advocate or Duskwatch Recruiter on Turn 2 is still great, and when we do have a Dragon, it turns into a Searing Blaze—a Modern staple—that doesn't require landfall. 

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The rest of the creatures in our deck are pretty much all 2/1 fliers with some sort of upside (with the exception of a single Pia and Kiran Nalaar, which technically makes two power worth of fliers when it enters the battlefield). Both Stratus Dancer and Silumgar Sorcerer allow us to counter a spell. Stratus Dancer is especially helpful against Collected Company but can also hit a sweeper or a targeted removal spell like Declaration in Stone). Meanwhile, Silumgar Sorcerer lets us counter a creature and works especially well with our next 2/1 flier:

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Eldrazi Skyspawner is one of the most important cards in the deck. While it does give us a 1/1 Eldrazi Scion token that we can sacrifice to Silumgar Sorcerer's exploit ability, the real power of the card is that it gives us an evasive threat and a chump blocker. As I mentioned a minute ago, we play a lot of close games, and similar to how tapping down a creature for just a turn or two with Icefall Regent can swing the race in our favor, getting a single chump block from the Eldrazi Scion token can do the same thing. Remember: since the Scion can also be sacrificed to add a mana, Eldrazi Skyspawner really only costs two mana (since we can immediately sacrifice the Scion to play something else), which puts it on par with some of the most efficient flying threats in the format. 

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We've played this package before in our UW Clue Flash deck, and the ability to flash in 2/1 fliers at the end of our opponent's turn is just as good in this deck. These cards allow us to leave up Silumgar's Scorn or Draconic Roar and, if we don't need to cast a counter or removal spell, still get some value by flashing in Rattlechains or Dimensional Infiltrator at the end of our opponent's turn, dodging sorcery-speed removal. They are also key to the primary plan of the deck. Basically, we want to overload the board with evasive threats, eventually resolve a Dragon or two, and disrupt our opponent just enough that we stay alive until we can win by beating down in the air, or with one of our burn spells. 

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Pia and Kiran Nalaar does two things for our deck. First, it gives us some reach, since we can sacrifice the Thopter tokens to deal two damage directly to our opponent. Second, it makes a lot of blockers to help keep us alive while we are winning with our mass of fliers. Exquisite Firecraft, on the other hand, is mostly a way to shorten the game. While we do occasionally use it in the early game as a creature removal spell, most of the time, we try to save it to finish off our opponent with direct damage. Just like chumping with a Scion token or tapping something with Icefall Regent, being able to blast our opponent for four damage often cuts an entire turn off of the game, which is sometimes the difference between winning and losing to our opponent's powerful ground creatures. It also has additional benefits against control decks, since in the late game, it will often be uncounterable thanks to spell mastery. 

Sideboard

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Fevered Visions and Negate are primarily in the deck to help against slower, more controlling builds. Fevered Visions, in particular, is a control-deck destroyer. In fact, there are a lot of times when playing this on Turn 3 against a deck like Esper, WB Control, or Seasons Past is just game over. Meanwhile, Negate can help fight through removal or keep planeswalkers off the battlefield. 

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Against more aggressive decks, we can cut cards like Silumgar's Scorn and bring in a bunch more removal. Seismic Rupture is to decks with all fliers what Whipflare is to Modern Affinity: essentially a one-sided Pyroclasm. Roast can take down just about any ground creature in the format, and is especially helpful against a Thalia's Lieutenant or Tireless Tracker that is starting to get built up with counters. Finally, Rending Volley is the Archangel Avacyn assassin, although it's good against pretty much any aggressive deck playing a bunch of white creatures. 

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Last but not least, we have Eldrazi Obligator, which is great against a deck like GR Eldrazi Ramp, since stealing an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger or Dragonlord Atarka for one turn is often enough to close out the game. I could also see brining it in against some midrange builds, especially against decks that are playing big fliers, since the Threaten effect will hopefully let us get in one last big attack to bring our opponent's life total to zero. 

Ultra-Budget UR Dragons

Making an ultra-budget build of UR Dragons ended up being harder than I thought, mostly because Rattlechains tripled in price over the last few days. As a result, we had to cut it from the list and replace it with an additional copy of Stratus Dancer and a couple more Silumgar Sorcerers. Otherwise, we switch Pia and Kiran Nalaar to Whirler Rogue, which means we lose out on some reach, but Whirler Rogues are just as good at making chump blockers and 1/1 fliers. We also lose most of the dual lands from the mana base, while gaining a few more basics and everyone favorite fixer—Evolving Wilds. All in all, I think the ultra-budget list is playable, but losing Rattlechains really hurts the consistency of the deck. While I think this build is probably fine for casual play, I'd look to make some upgrades if you are planning on taking this to a tournament.

Non-Budget UR Dragons

The great thing about UR Dragons is that the version we play in the videos is pretty much the optimal list. While some people include Jace, Vryn's Prodigy (see: the build above), most people do not, instead playing a deck that looks very much like the one we played in the videos. Every once and a while this happens—where a deck is both optimal and cheap—and when it does, it's awesome. People have been having real tournament success with the UR Dragons archetype (it 5-0ed a Magic Online league recently, as well as going 6-1 in a PTQ and 8-1 in the Magic Online Championship Series); it just happens to also be cheap! 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Overall, we went 3-2 in games, but we really should have been at least 4-1 (we lost our match against Four-Color Rites because we kept a two lander in game three, never drew a third land, and ended up dying with our opponent at four life and multiple copies of Exquisite Firecraft in hand). Better yet, we ran into a lot of the top-tier matchups, which suggests that UR Dragons is actually pretty good in our current Standard format. More importantly, it's a lot of fun to play, so if you are looking for something different, competitive, and cheap while you're waiting for Eldritch Moon to release, give it a shot!

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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