ANOTHER DRAGON ARTICLE?! OMG!!! NUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!
That's what you're thinking, right? Well...we are in a dragon's format, and all these dragons are pretty sweet and very good. Like Sarkhan Unbroken said, "We fly with dragons, boys and girls, and this is another dragon article, so get EXCITE and HYPE! And listen to the greatest planeswalker that's every walked this magnificent multiverse, Ali."
...or something to that extent. Don't worry though this isn't another Esper Dragon article. Don't get me wrong though: just because we are playing a dragon deck that's not Esper doesn't mean it's not good. On the contrary, I believe this deck is fantastic and I've been sitting on it for a while. It's what I've been playing any time I play in any Standard format and I've been dominating with it. One tournament I played in I dropped no games until I played Tom Ross in the finals and lost in a match of three. The games I lost were extremely close; I just died the turn before I would wipe his board with an Atarka. I know I'm known for brewing and playing rogue decks, and most of them tend to be a lot of fun but not always super competitive. This one is different. I highly recommend everyone giving this deck a whirl if it's your type of strategy or something you like to do.
Without further ado, I introduce Naya Dragons.
The original list was given to me by Daryl Donaldson. Some cards were changed around and this is where I ended up with the list. Fun fact: Dromoka and Atarka are both female dragons. They are also the two biggest Dragonlords, and we all know that bigger is better, right? So be confident when playing this deck, because according to our logic, you're playing the best dragons! Seriously though Dromoka is so underrated. She is a
beast dragon! She's insane against control because she can't be countered and if they don't Remove her, nothing else can be either. Every spell from there on out is going to resolve. Against aggro she has a huge butt and just gains you life all day. She's the type of mom that works all day then comes home and cooks and cleans. She protects her brood and you. It's an amazing feeling to untap with her and just know that you're safe behind Mother Dromoka; you can do whatever you want and your opponents can't do anything about it. She does it all. She's super mom. Happy Mother's day indeed, momma dragon.
Atarka on the other doesn't care about playing defensive too much. She just wants to Annihilate your opponent's creatures and planeswalkers. Then, after she's done doing that, she's going to Annihilate your opponent's face. Atarka believes the best defense is an amazing offense, and you know what? She's right. Mothers usually are though; I'm sure we are all used to that. And if you have a Xenagos, God of Revels in play...I feel bad for your opponent, because they're almost assuredly just dead. Xenagos loves parties, and his favorite are Mother's Day parties. Such a sly dog.
Now you may think this deck is mindless to play, but you're wrong. "Ali, you just ramp and cast dragons, then attack face. What's so hard about that?" Well...let me tell you. You don't always do that. Against other green decks, sure, that's fine. But against aggro decks, sometimes you gotta use your Elvish Mystic as a Hornet Sting. Especially if you can still successfully ramp after it. You just need time, and sometimes sacrificing an Elvish Mystic for the Greater Good is okay. Now I'm not saying to just bust your Elvish Mystic to a 1/1 Foundry Street Denizen, but if that sucker is a 3/1, then Think Twice about it. I also do the same with Rattleclaw Mystic. I am almost always okay with trading my Rattleclaw Mystic for a Goblin Rabblemaster. Now there are times you don't need to do it or want to do it, especially if you're casting a dragon next turn or if your life total is very high, otherwise I use my mana dorks as cheap removal spells. Also don't have your Sylvan Caryatid get blown up by a 2/2 because your opponent cast Atarka's Command. If they have Atarka mana up, they almost always have it. They're playing Atarka Red for Heaven's sake; they are the luckiest people on earth, especially when they beat you.
Against control decks you don't just jam all your guys and hope for the best, that might work sometimes, but we don't put all our eggs into one basket unless it's a last ditch effort. Play around Bile Blight, try not to have two creatures with the same name out if you can help it. Remember, a Rattleclaw Mystic facedown doesn't have the same name as one face up. Also your mana dorks have toughness and, contrary to popular belief, power. Get them into the red zone (in before "but Sylvan Caryatid can't attack"). Play around Silumgar's Scorn when possible, obviously if they have a dragon, you can't. But if you have five mana and are holding Whisperwood Elemental and Xenagos, the Reveler, then play Xenagos and hold back your mana dork. If it resolves then make a token and get your mana guy into the red zone too. Whisperwood Elemental and Xenagos, God of Revels are both huge threats that most control decks have a problem dealing with. Even the mighty Ugin, the Spirit Dragon can't take down an army of manifested creatures. Another thing: when someone casts Crux of Fate they have to name what mode they want. Just keep that in mind when you have a Whisperwood Elemental out and a Dragon.
After game one I almost always board out all my Chord of Callings for Mastery of the Unseen, unless they are also a creature ramp deck. Then it's just a race to Atarka. Here's a quick rundown on how I board against some strategies.
Hyper Red decks
-3 Chord of Calling, -2 Valorous Stance, -2 Dragonlord Atarka, -1 Xenagos, the Reveler, -1 Shaman of the Great Hunt
+3 Mastery of the Unseen, +4 Dromoka's Command, +2 Arc Lighting
Dragon Control decks
-3 Chord of Calling, -3 Dragonlord Atarka
+3 Mastery of the Unseen,+1 Arbor Colossus, +2 Nissa, Worldwaker
RG Dragons or most midrange decks
-3 Chord of Calling, -1 Shaman of the Great Hunt, -1 Ajani, Mentor of Heroes, -1 Xenagos, the Reveler
+3 Mastery of the Unseen, +2 Arbor Colossus, +1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
It's basically the same thing every time: cut the Chords unless they are basically monogreen or can't kill your creatures. If they aren't playing dragons or things you want to kill that have four or more toughness, then Valorous Stance is safe to cut as well. If you're gonna play this deck and want help against a specific matchup, just post in the comments and I'll try and get to you as soon as I can.
Now I've shared this deck with some of my friends. One of them, Justin Parnell, has been doing extremely well with it too. I know he now is playing some number of Den Protectors and Deathmist Raptor between the maindeck and the board to make Mastery a little stronger and Den Protector is just overall a pretty good card. He is still running Chord of Calling maindeck too. I don't have his list, but I have something a little spicier. I've also shared this list with Harlan Firer, and he Top 8ed a 1k then made some changes and won a different 1k with this decklist.
The Chords are gone and instead we are now playing Dragonlord Ojutai and Shaman of Forgotten Ways to help cast all our dragons. Not only that, but we are also playing two copies of the second best dragon in all the multiverse, Ugin. No more Xenagos, God of Revels main is a little disappointing, but at least we have access to two in the board. We've also upped the land count to 25 to help with the jump in the mana curve. I've been jamming this deck and I honestly really enjoy it and feel it's very strong. I personally feel like we're playing the three best Dragonlords, although you could make a case for Dragonlord Silumgar. In this deck though, Ojutai is just better since it fits the curve very well. We now have Dragonlords for five, six, and seven mana. That brings a tear to my eye.
This deck also plays very well against Crux of Fate decks. Not only do we have nine creature dragons, but we also have four Whisperwood Elementals which play very well against any wrath effects in general. Shaman of Forgotten Ways is not only a big mana dork but he can also Threaten to Biorhythm, and against the control decks that can basically just end the game.
Now with this list you're a little more prone to flood out. It's okay though, we have four Haven of the Spirit Dragon. So you just need to draw one or two dragons and you're good to go. Personally I'd rather die of mana flood then Mana Screw, but with nine dragons, Whisperwoods, and Xenagos, the Reveler, it's going to be pretty hard to not draw any threats.
When we look to the sideboard we see that we still have Mastery of the Unseen to combat grindy decks or to just gain some life against aggressive decks. Shaman of Forgotten Ways is in the board to just bring in against decks that just have a lot of spot removal for your mana guys. It's pretty great to have your opponent destroy two mana dorks then you drop a Shaman of Forgotten Ways and untap with it. Shaman of Forgotten Ways also allows for a turn three Dragonlord Dromoka, and that's nothing to scoff at. Keep in mind that now gives us six ways to get Dragonlord Dromoka on turn three. The other way is turn one Elvish Mystic into turn two morphed Rattleclaw Mystic. Followed by a turn three unmorph and tap.
Arashin Cleric is obviously for what I believe our worst matchup is: Monored or Atarka Red. Having a two mana creature that gains some life then hopefully trades with a creature is all we can ask for. One thing I would change in the board is to cut one Xenagos, God of Revels for Keranos, God of Storms. I bring in both against the same type of decks, control or attrition based decks. I personally just never want to have two Xenagos, God of Revels in my deck. The first Xenagos, God of Revels is almost always amazingly good, but I don't want that to fool me. The first Keranos, God of Storms is almost always equally good, better on an empty board that's been wrathed, or an amazing top deck after a wrath. Keranos also gives us a little more reach with the Lightning Bolt ability.
To wrap things up, I think this deck is amazing. Not only is it a "new" or "rogue" deck, but I seriously believe it's one of the best decks in the current metagame. I'll see you guys and gals next week; I should have a spicy one for you by then.
Hope you all had a fantastic Mother's Day!
Happy Mother's Day Atarka and Dromoka,