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Much Abrew: Five-Color Elder Dragons (Standard)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Next week, we'll get back to playing Instant Deck Tech decks, I promise, but for this week, we have another special Core Set 2019 episode! One of the highlights of Core Set 2019 is a bunch of powerful Elder Dragons along with some good Dragon support cards like Sarkhan, Fireblood and Dragon's Hoard. What happens when you jam all of these cards together into a deck that's overflowing with powerful cards and good removal? You end up with Five-Color Elder Dragons, of course! The basic plan of our deck is simple: we kill things in the early game, hopefully ramp on Turn 3 with Sarkhan, Fireblood or Dragon's Hoard, and then spend the rest of the game casting Dragon after Dragon. Can the plan work in Core Set 2019 Standard? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: Five-Color Elder Dragons (Standard)

Discussion

  • First off, the record: we ended up going 4-1 in our league, with our only loss being our second match against RB Aggro, where we got severely punished for our risky mana base. Otherwise, the deck ran smoothly and was extremely powerful.
  • Let's talk Elder Dragons: Nicol Bolas, the Ravager is the foundation of our deck. Not only is it powerful, but it's also only four mana, which is huge for our curve (since most of our Dragons are five and six mana). The surprise all-star of the deck was Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire. A 6/6 flyer for six is already a fine deal, and its attack trigger was extremely helpful in getting out of some sticky situations, killing things like God-Pharaoh's Gift (and occasionally throwing massive Dragons into play from the top of our deck for free). Meanwhile, Palladia-Mors, the Ruiner didn't really do much in our matches. While it has solid stats, because it's a one-of, we just didn't happen to draw it in a situation where it was good. Finally, Chromium, the Mutable is a great sideboard option for control matchups, but we didn't run into any true control deck in our league, so we didn't really need to bring it in. There's some argument for playing it in the main deck, but it puts a lot of pressure on our mana, since we don't have any white lands, which means we're relying on Unclaimed Territory, Dragon's Hoard, and Sarkhan, Fireblood to cast it. 
  • Even beyond the Elder Dragons, we have a bunch of other Dragons in the deck. Lathliss, Dragon Queen was a lot better than I expected. It's more than worth the cost if we can make just a single Dragon token, and we even won a game by using its Dragon-pumping ability. Meanwhile, Glorybringer is still great, offering haste damage and the ability to kill annoying creatures, while Demanding Dragon is basically a backup Glorybringer
  • The most important part of the deck is our ramp spells. The basic theory of the deck is simple: we kill something on Turn 2 and play a Sarkhan, Fireblood or Dragon's Hoard on Turn 3, giving us either five or six mana on Turn 4, which is enough to start casting Dragons. Then, we cast Dragons for the next couple of turns and hope that they are good enough to win the game, which they often are.
  • Sarkhan, Fireblood is weird. It's either the best card in our deck or does nothing. One thing we learned during our matches is that Sarkhan, Fireblood is much better on the play than on the draw. On the play, we can Abrade our opponent's Turn 2 play and then follow up with Sarkhan, Fireblood on Turn 3 on an empty board, which makes it much more likely to survive the turn and allow us to start playing Dragons on Turn 4 using its mana-generating +1. On the draw, our opponent often has at least two creatures, which means Sarkhan, Fireblood often dies immediately after rummaging once, which isn't a very good deal for three mana. Still, the upside of Sarkhan, Fireblood is immense both because it allows us to cast any Dragon in our main deck on Turn 4 and because if it sticks on the battlefield, the ability to discard random lands to find more Dragons quickly takes over the game. Plus, against control, the ultimate is especially a real threat to win the game, since it's fairly easy to sneak Sarkhan, Fireblood in under counterspells on Turn 3. 
  • Meanwhile, Dragon's Hoard is basically a slightly less explosive but more resilient version of Sarkhan. While it doesn't get us to six mana on Turn 4, it does get us to five, which is enough to cast Glorybringer, Demanding Dragon, or Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. Plus, it doesn't die to a board full of creatures (although it does die to Abrade, which is annoying, since Abrade isn't very good against the rest of our deck). The most surprising aspect of Dragon's Hoard is how easily it can take over the game with its card-draw ability if it sticks on the battlefield. In the late game, we can often cast a Dragon to get a counter on Dragon's Hoard and then use Dragon's Hoard to draw a card (often another Dragon), which allows us to repeat the process again the next turn. This makes Dragon's Hoard much better than most mana rocks, which typically lose value in the late game when you have a bunch of mana.
  • Otherwise, the combo of Treasure Map and Karn, Scion of Urza gives us a steady source of card advantage throughout the game. While these cards are great against midrange and control, it might be worth adding in some more early-game removal like Fatal Push and Magma Spray to fight against aggro. While we did go 1-1 against RB Aggro in our league, if our opponent gets to play first, it's pretty easy to get run over if our opponent curves out in the early game. Still, if the game goes long, Treasure Map and Karn, Scion of Urza give us great card-draw engines.
  • As for the removal, apart from adding a one-mana removal spell, Struggle // Survive is the surprise all-star of the deck. While it isn't that efficient as a removal spell, the ability to shuffle graveyards back into libraries gives us a way to deal with The Scarab God, Rekindling Phoenix, and God-Pharaoh's Gift. There were a couple of games that we almost certainly would have lost if it weren't for the incidental graveyard hate of Struggle // Survive
  • All in all, Five-Color Elder Dragons felt great. While I'm sure the deck can be improved as people continue to work on it, even in its current form, it seems fairly competitive and has a ton of raw power. Sometimes, just slamming a huge Dragon every turn is good enough!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck by liking, commenting on, and subscribing to Instant Deck Tech videos! 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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