When preparing for Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir there were a number of different decks which Team TCGplayer worked on that were not public knowledge, but I now would like to share some of the ones which I had a hand in working on. I was very close to playing multiple of these decks at the Pro Tour, so in my opinion they are ready for competitive play.
Let me lead off with the deck I put the most work into and that is Grixis Dragons. Esper Dragons is a thing, so why not go Grixis? There are two different versions of Grixis Dragons, here is a look at the first one:
Originally there was an idea to make a Black/Red Dragon deck which is able to utilize the red dragons, and all of the strong black cards to boot. Foul-Tongue Invocation is very, very good in this format as it answers essentially all of the most troublesome creatures coming out of the control decks. This deck doesn't just stop at eight dragons, it actually goes ahead and splashes blue for Silumgar, the Drifting Death. Adding a dragon that is a different color to the deck actually doesn't hurt too much, because there are going to be Haven of the Spirit Dragons anyway. The cost of adding a couple blue scry lands is minimal. Silumgar, the Drifting Death is also one of the best win conditions in the format, and makes it so that even though the other dragons can die to spot removal, you still will have enough win conditions.
This deck is on the border between midrange and control. The dragons present a clock that is typical of a midrange deck but the spells suggest more of a controlling game plan. The most important spell in the deck is Anger of the Gods. While it is true that in some matchups Anger of the Gods is a dead card, it is absolutely the best card against many more decks. Permanently killing threats like Deathmist Raptor or Ashcloud Phoenix is huge. Of course versus any deck which looks to Overload on creatures like Monored or Green Devotion variants Anger of the Gods can win the game single handedly.
As one should expect out of a black/red controllish deck, there should be a host of removal spells. Outside of a playset of Foul-Tongue Invocations and Anger of the Gods there is Bile Blight, Hero's Downfall, and Ultimate Price. This deck plays out in a similar way to Monoblack Devotion from the previous Standard format. Game one there are a bunch of removal spells for whatever opposing threats you may run into, and then after board you take out the majority of the removal versus control; by the way, this deck does actually have a good control matchup.
Rounding out the deck are the other utility cards. The one Chandra, Pyromaster is actually better than Outpost Siege here, because it doesn't die to enchantment removal, and we are already overloading the opponents Hero's Downfalls, with all of the red dragons. The existence of Outpost Siege has certainly prevented Chandra, Pyromaster from seeing much play, but here she makes a lot of sense. This deck doesn't have access to cards like Dig Through Time, which is a mainstay in most blue control decks, but we can make do with Read the Bones and the odd Tormenting Voice. For the grindy matchups Read the Bones is nothing short of spectacular. Lastly, what would this deck be without Thoughtseize? Having a catch-all utility spell for one mana is perfect.
This sideboard is geared towards transforming into being more proactive versus control after board. They usually take out some removal, and then in comes Goblin Rabblemaster. Not only are there Goblin Rabblemasters but there are also Risen Executioners, which is one of my favorite cards to play versus any control deck with one-for-one removal spells. The Self-Inflicted Wound, Empty the Pits, and Duress come in against control as well. While the sideboard is geared toward beating control that is only because the aggro matchups are already quite favorable. The cards that do come in against control can also come in versus other strategies too, as the Goblin Rabblemasters are so good on the play, you can bring them in against most decks.
While this version of Grixis Dragons is quite strong, there is another version which aims to add a bit more blue and play Treasure Cruise, while completely changing the dragon element by playing just Silumgar, the Drifting Death. This is more of the true control version of the archetype:
Here the Risen Executioners have been moved to the main to provide another super difficult to deal with threat, as there are decks that will have access to edict effects to kill Silumgar, the Drifting Death. The deck has changed in that now there are very few red cards in it. The Tormenting Voices are good to help enable Treasure Cruise, and discarding a Risen Executioner is essentially just drawing two cards, for two mana. The Anger of the Gods though are still super important, so they are the main reason for the need for red. It may seem weird to have Crux of Fate in this version of the deck and not the other one, but, without the additional creatures, the one sided wrath is more important here. The downside with this version is that there is less of a dragon element.
The Haven of the Spirit Dragons have been cut since there is a need for blue sources that can actually cast Treasure Cruise and Silumgar, the Drifting Death rarely dies. Going down from ten dragons to only three also means that the Foul-Tongue Invocations are less likely to gain you four life, which can be relevant. Overall though the lategame is better in this version because of the Treasure Cruises, so there is a give and take. The sideboard contains a bunch of four-ofs which shore up some holes in different matchups. Self-Inflicted Wound is great against decks like Heroic and Abzan Aggro, while Duress is great versus Control. I like both versions of the deck and am honestly not sure if one is better than the other. I am going to be working on Grixis Dragons for Grand Prix Toronto, and may try to combine elements of both versions.
Okay let's talk about another deck. The story behind this one starts at the draft table. One of my teammates started exclaiming that he thought Hero's Blade was good in draft, and then another asked what about Constructed? Well it just so happens that there are quite a few legendary creatures which can work wonders with a Hero's Blade attached to them. We didn't put a ton of work into the deck so there isn't a sideboard, but that doesn't mean it's not good! Take a look:
This is an extremely explosive aggro deck, which only needs to have a single creature in play to win. The only creatures which aren't legendary are the mana accelerants. This deck isn't going out of its way to play bad cards in order to make Hero's Blade effective either. Hero's Blade is awesome with say a dashed Zurgo Bellstriker which is suddenly a 5/4 or a Surrak the Hunt Caller which becomes an automatic 8/6 creature with haste. The creatures will Crush any opponent that can't immediately deal with them.
The Become Immense plus Temur Battle Rage combo provides another angle of attack, versus decks which can provide lots of blockers. The creatures in this deck are huge, but don't have evasion, which is why the trample from Temur Battle Rage makes a big difference. Overall this deck still needs a little work, but it plays some awesome legendary creatures, and it could even be worth exploring legendary creatures in other colors. For players looking for a little more than small red creatures and burn spells, this deck is one aggressive approach that is definitely worth taking a look at.
Alright there is one more deck I have to share, and this one is full of heavy hitters. The deck is Naya Dragon Ramp and boy is the deck fun to play with. Here it is:
There haven't been too many ramp decks which have popped up recently, but this is a ramp deck at heart. The deck is essentially monogreen splashing both red and white. Dragonlord Atarka is the most obvious dragon this deck wants, but it wants Dragonlord Dromoka just as much. First of all Dragonlord Dromoka is one less mana, and there are decks that will have problems removing this dragon. The lifelink makes it almost impossible for an aggro deck to beat you once Dragonlord Dromoka is involved in combat. Dragonlord Atarka shouldn't need much explanation at this point, the card is bonkers, and most of the time it is just killing a Siege Rhino or an Elspeth, Sun's Champion versus the Abzan decks. Yes, it is correct to play four of both Dragonlords.
The other big threat is Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. This is the card that you can ramp into quickly and reset the board to take out annoying non-creature permanents. The key to all these threats is that Haven of the Spirit Dragon can bring them back from the graveyard. Haven of the Spirit Dragon ties the deck together and Satyr Wayfinder helps you find Haven of the Spirit Dragon while milling away threats you can bring back. There are of course the necessary ramp cards in Elvish Mystic, Sylvan Caryatid, and Frontier Siege but there are also midrange creatures and planeswalkers which play important roles too.
With all the fetchlands to go along with Satyr Wayfinder adding four copies of Courser of Kruphix to the deck is automatic. Xenagos, the Reveler plays the role of both a threat and a mana accelerator as necessary. The Xenagos, God of Revels is actually extremely good in conjunction with Dragonlord Dromoka. Simply cast Dragonlord Dromoka with a Xenagos, God of Revels in play and your opponent is helpless. They won't be able to kill Dragonlord Dromoka until you have dealt them ten points of lifelink damage.
The sideboard gives you more game versus control with Nissa Worldwaker adding to the mix of threats. You don't want to dilute the deck too much as there are only so many cards you can take out. It is fine to have a few white and red cards in the board as removal spells for annoying creatures, but it is important to not have too many, as the mana can't support that. Overall Naya Dragon Ramp is not only an enjoyable deck to play it is secretly very good and I recommend picking it up; give the deck a chance, you won't be disappointed!
Thanks for reading,