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Much Abrew: Mono-Red Dragons (Pioneer, Magic Online)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. As many of you know, I have a long and spotty history with Crucible of the Spirit Dragon, as I infamously bought 45 copies when it first came out, expecting it to see heavy play a few months later when Dragons of Tarkir was released. But the printing of Haven of the Spirit Dragon fizzled the dream. Recently, I signed and gave away all of the copies I had left to stream viewers. Fast forward a few weeks, and Crucible of the Spirit Dragon is finally in a winning list: Mono-Red Dragons for Pioneer!

Considering my history with Crucible, I couldn't resist a chance to actually play it in a real constructed format. So today, we're heading to Pioneer to take Mono-Red Dragons out for a spin. Not only does the deck have Crucible of the Spirit Dragon, but it also contains some seemingly casual Dragon payoffs like Crucible of Fire and Dragon Tempest, to power up all-star Dragons like Dragon Hatchling and Dragon Egg. Can this janky build of Mono-Red Dragons actually compete in Pioneer? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: Mono-Red Dragons

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  • Somehow, we ended up going 4-1 in our five matches with Mono-Red Dragons. While the deck looks incredibly janky on paper, it actually played surprisingly well.
  • Sadly, Crucible of the Spirit Dragon didn't actually do much. While it is a necessary piece of our deck to help cast a couple of off-color Dragons in Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury and Dragonlord Atarka, it seems like Crucible might not actually be that good...still.
  • Our casual Dragon enchantments were surprisingly good. The original build of the deck had one copy of Dragon Tempest, and we went up to two, but it might actually be correct to play more. We had some games where we won just by shooting down all of our opponent's creatures with Dragon Tempest damage, and hasting in big Dragons like Dragonlord Atarka and Thunderbreak Regent is a good way to close out the game. Meanwhile, Crucible of Fire was actually pretty insane in our deck. It's most important with our small, underpowered Dragons like Dragon Hatchling, but even pumping bigger Dragons like Thunderbreak Regent and Glorybringer into 7/7s was helpful in allowing us to close out the game more quickly. It feels weird saying this, but cards might be playable in more than just casual Dragon Commander decks. We wanted to draw both of them in most games.
  • Dragon-wise, the most questionable of the bunch are definitely Dragon Hatchling and Dragon Egg. Both are pretty bad on their own but become quite powerful once we get Dragon Tempest and / or Crucible of Fire on the battlefield. They are part of the reason I want more copies of Dragon Tempest. It gets much better when Dragon Hatchling is a removal spell rather than just a 0/1 with flying and firebreathing. 
  • I'm not sure it's actually worth splashing for Dragonlord Atarka and Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury. While both cards are powerful, we only have four Sarkhan, Fireblood, four Haven of the Spirit Dragon, and one Crucible of the Spirit Dragon to make the off-color mana we need to cast them. In some games, this left us in the awkward position of having really powerful cards in hand but not being able to deploy them in a timely manner. Next time I play the deck, I'm planning on cutting both for more copies of surprise all-star Dragon Tempest while also finding room for a fourth Dragon Egg
  • Otherwise, the deck felt surprisingly good. It's overflowing with ways to deal with creatures, while the big, often hasty Dragons give us a fast clock against more controlling decks. Add in a sideboard that offers answers to hard-to-interact-with decks like Lotus Field (with Alpine Moon), and Mono-Red Dragons felt like a fairly competitive option for the Pioneer format, especially considering how janky it looks on paper.
  • The other upside of the deck is that its basically budget-friendly, coming in at just $132 in paper. If you turn Wild Slash into Shock (which isn't much of a loss, even if Wild Slash is technically better) and drop the one Chandra, Torch of Defiance from the sideboard, it's pretty easy to get the deck down under $100. 
  • So, should you play Mono-Red Dragons in Pioneer? Oddly, I think the answer is yes. The deck looks weird, but it played well and is pretty accessible. I could certainly see it performing well at an FNM-level event, and it already managed to go 5-0 in at least one league on Magic Online. If you're a Dragon fan, especially one on a tight budget, Mono-Red Dragons feels like a solid at least semi-competitive option for Pioneer!


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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