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Paul Hagan's Magic The Gathering Deck Garage
 Casual Dragon Deck


Hey all, and welcome back to the deck garage. Here’s this week’s e-mail…


Thanks for offering your time to the community. We all enjoy advices from pros [Paul’s Note: I’m far from pro, but thanks for the praise :-) . I'm sorry if my english isn't five star, as it is my second language.

First, my deck is made to play casual T1 1on1/chaos or team with 3 other friends mostly and some other random games. I'd like the deck to be fair and fun for everyone while competitive at the same time. It has to have the opponents feel like they can win a game even if they don't start out really great. (ie. isochron scepter + counterspell is not considered fun)

My budget is limited to about the price of the deck (around 290$US I think). So a couple of fancy cards are ok but no > 50$ ones.

I think it is pretty obvious, this is a dragon deck. First, the mana diversity is ok, I don't think I'd need more manafixing, maybe a bit more acceleration but it depends on my first hand.

Second, the combos. The main combo of this deck is to drop buried alive. Now I have 2 choices, bury 3 thralls if I don't have a zombify and a chance to drop a dragon soon (fledgings are good for this), or get bladewing the risen, another situationaly good dragon (vampiric against weenies, kilnmouth against fattier creatures or even kokusho/ryusei) and a thrall. If I chosed the first, I can get 4 creatures as soon as I get a dragon out. For the second, 3 much better creatures and much more versatily.

The terminates coupled with the kilnmouth and vampiric dragon handles the creature control. (I use ryusei against squirrel/token decks or the alikes)

It can also reanimate pretty well after a wrath of god granted I have a zombify. Otherwise I can still bring back the thralls to the board really easily.

I tried to add some draw engine with skullclamps. If I have 1 in hand at start I might get kokusho with bladewing the risen instead, and two thralls, this way I have 2 creatures I can play with that the opponent doesn't want to kill unless necessery.

Gratuitious Violence is mainly a finisher. It can also be used as a combo with the Vampiric dragon to handle tribal decks.

Now on the bad sides, it can't handle enchantment/artifact hate well. With a bad hand I can lose the game to fast decks. It can't really do much against control decks (counterspells...) but I don't intend to take it into tournaments so it might not matter as much (remember, fun is a factor).

The cards I'm not sure about keeping are Dark ritual, Demonic tutor, Gratuitious Violence and Skullclamps. But I'd also switch a few other ones for better options if need be.

If you are still reading this, then, you really love your job! If you can send me some feedbacks via email it would be much appreciated.

4x Bloodstained Mire
1x Maze of Ith
4x Reflecting Pool
4x Badlands
4x Swamp
4x Mountain

Creatures :

2x Bladewing the Risen
4x Bladewing's Thrall
2x Vampiric Dragon
2x Kilnmouth Dragon
4x Dragonspeaker Shaman
2x [], the [] Star // see sideboard
2x Fledging Dragon

Spells :

4x Buried Alive
4x Zombify
4x Terminate
1x Demonic Tutor
2x Skullclamp
4x Dark Ritual
2x Gratuitious Violence

Sideboard : (incomplete)

2x Ryusei, the Falling Star
2x Kokusho, the Evening Star
2x Cremate

Thanks so much in advance.

OK, jumping right into the mix of things, I immediately want to include my all-time favorite dragon, Lightning Dragon. It will help out the speed of the deck, and it is a good card in its own right. Just don’t forget to pay Echo!

+4 Lightning Dragon

Going along with the cheapness of Lightning Dragon, we could probably up the count of Fledgling Dragon to four as well. It will help smooth out the curve, and this deck seems capable of reaching Threshold quickly.

+2 Fledgling Dragon

All is not well in Dragon-Land, though. I’m not a huge fan of Vampiric Dragon or Kilnmouth Dragon, as they both cost a bit too much to be consistent winners. I realize that this deck is utilizing such cards as Dark Ritual and Dragonspeaker Shaman, but by the time they hit the table, Carl should be well on his way to winning the game anyways.

-2 Kilnmouth Dragon
-2 Vampiric Dragon

To fill in the [Blank] the [Blank] Star slot, I really prefer Kokusho the Evening Star over Ryusei. Not only is he an issue that must be dealt with immediately, but you can easily end the game by only swinging once or twice and then finding a way to send him to the graveyard. In fact, I like him enough to up the total count to three.

+3 Kokusho the Evening Star

Moving towards the non-creature spells, I think we can immediately eliminate a few of the cards currently taking up space, namely Gratuitous Violence and Skullclamp. Gratuitous Violence is just a bit over-the-top, especially considering that most of the cards in this deck do a ton of damage already. No need to go overboard!

-2 Gratuitous Violence

Meanwhile, Skullclamp is great in decks with small creatures that are easily killed and that need to see a lot of cards in hand. This deck, however, should be set as soon as it gets one or two creatures of size on the table. No need to go killing your hard-earned dudes!

-2 Skullclamp

As a manner of preference, I think Carl could get rolling on his reanimation strategy by including Exhume in the deck over Zombify. So what if your opponent gets a creature too? Yours are likely bigger and better anyways!

-4 Zombify
+4 Exhume

Finally, just as a minor change, I’d like to use up our final slot (of the sixty) to include a single copy of Vampiric Tutor. I don’t really have a great explanation for that addition, except that Vampiric Tutor is an amazing card and if you can play it, you should.

+1 Vampiric Tutor

Carl said that his mana base is working out well for him in the e-mail, so why don’t we leave it as is? Remember – even if it looks like it might need fixin’, don’t touch it if it’s working for you as is.

Turning our attention to the sideboard, I immediately want to get rid of Ryusei the Falling Star and Kokusho the Evening Star. If I can’t immediately identify the match-up in which these cards would go in, they really don’t need to be hanging out.

-2 Kokusho the Evening Star [SB]
-2 Ryusei the Falling Star [SB]

Next, I’d like to up the count of Cremate to three. If Carl is seeing enough reanimation in his area to include this card in the sideboard, he might as well include a third copy to help the odds of drawing it up.

+1 Cremate [SB]

Carl mentioned that he has difficulty against some of the faster decks, which I would assume have smaller creatures than he does. What could we throw in to solve this problem? Pyroclasm, of course! If the faster decks have a creature-theme to them, such as Goblins or Elves, then you could also swap Pyroclasm out for Engineered Plague.

+3 Pyroclasm [SB]

Carl also said that he has difficulty against decks packing a lot of counter-magic. If that is an issue, it usually comes with Islands. What does red have that can take care of Islands? Boil! They can’t counter if they don’t have mana, right? They could counter Boil, but if you play it at the end of the other player’s turn, then they won’t have access to the mana to counter the important stuff.

+3 Boil [SB]

Another helpful card against the blue decks with counter-magic would be Urza’s Rage. I’m not sure what these decks are using to win, but I’d be willing to bet it is at least somewhat slow – blue tends to be like that. In that case, as long as Carl is getting the opportunity to draw more and more land, he might as well play an uncounterable card that deals either 3 or 10 damage.

+3 Urza’s Rage [SB]

Finally, I want to include Perish. I don’t really have a great reason to include this other than “Read The Card”, and I would assume that someone in Carl’s area is playing green. Teach them the way of the dragon – by wiping out a forest full of green creatures!

+3 Perish [SB]

With that last change, I think we’re all wrapped up. Here’s how the deck turned out…

4 Bladewing’s Thrall
2 Bladewing the Risen
4 Dragonspeaker Shaman
4 Fledgling Dragon
3 Kokusho the Evening Star
4 Lightning Dragon

4 Buried Alive
4 Dark Ritual
1 Demonic Tutor
4 Exhume
4 Terminate
1 Vampiric Tutor

LANDS (21):
4 Badlands
4 Bloodstained Mire
1 Maze of Ith
4 Mountain
4 Reflecting Pool
4 Swamp

3 Boil
3 Cremate
3 Perish
3 Pyroclasm
3 Urza’s Rage

Hope that helps, Carl, and good luck!

I’ll see y’all next week.

-Paul Hagan


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