Of all the decks I’ve worked on so far, Standard Prismari Dragons is by far my favorite. I think this deck is legit, which maybe shouldn’t come as a surprise because Izzet Flash was pretty good before. The deck got a lot of new tools, which I’ve spent a few days exploring now. You can read about my first draft of the deck, prior to Strixhaven release here.
Here’s my updated list:
Standard Dragon Treasure Island by Huey Jensen
Here are the most important things I’ve learned so far.
This was a card that I tried in numbers from none to two. I felt this card ended up being a “win-more” card. What a win-more is, to anyone who doesn’t understand the terminology, is that it’s a card that’s good when you’re winning, but it doesn’t really help you get into a winning position. In this case, I felt like it often hindered my game plan. I found the best use for this card was to play it plus a Magma Opus in an opponent’s end step to overpower countermagic, but it’s definitely not worth a slot in the deck.
This was easily the most disappointing card I tried – it’s an overall dreadful card. None of the modes are particularly good, and slapping two on to the same card didn’t help. Sure, it was okay to kill a two-drop and make a Treasure, but I think virtually any removal spell in Standard is better – Fire Prophecy, Scorching Dragonfire, Frost Bite, Stomp, anything. I quickly went to zero copies of this card and I’m confident in that decision.
This card wasn’t too bad just because the effect of the card is decent. That being said, the deck actually plays more like a control deck or Izzet Flash/tempo type of deck, and really this is just not what you need. It’s good to play Goldspan Dragon on the fourth turn, certainly, but this is a bit clunky and expensive.
This is a fine card, but it became clear very quickly that in terms of expensive cards, this deck would be more interested in max copies of Magma Opus.
This card impressed me to no end. At first, I thought I’d try a copy and at eight mana it would be okay, maybe play two. After playing five or 10 matches, this card was really shining.
There’s an interesting dynamic in playing with this card. Against decks like Sultai, the games play in a way where both players are able to develop their mana and make land drops. Their big threat is a seven mana sorcery, so they can be hesitant to jam it into open mana. The worry, of course, is that you counter it, untap, play Goldspan Dragon, attack and have mana to play Alrund’s Epiphany or something. This causes your opponent to leave mana up. When you have a card like Magma Opus that can actually force your opponent to tap mana on their own turn, this allows you to potentially present the same kind of threat of Dragon/Time Walk against tapped mana on our own turn anyway.
The interesting part, which I did not expect, was that Magma Opus tended to also be really good against the aggressive decks. There are a couple reasons for this. First of all, those decks usually have fewer ways to interact with Goldspan Dragon. Furthermore, when they do have those ways, let’s say Giant Killer, they aren’t usually going to just pass every turn with three mana up – they just can’t. They have to continue to present threats and develop their board.
Therefore, you’re often able to attack, more so than against midrange or control decks, and untap with the Dragon. After that, when you actually cast Magma Opus, the effect is way stronger. You’re often casting a card that kills two creatures, taps a land and an attacker, makes a 4/4 which will be hard to get through on a subsequent turn and draws two cards. Also, because of more powerful Dragons, the cost of discarding a copy to make a Treasure to force out a Dragon is a bit lower.
So it turned out, in my experience, that Magma Opus was great against various archetypes, albeit for different reasons. It’s still not ideal to draw multiple copies in your opening hand, but it’s a cost of doing business. I quickly went to four copies and have been happy there. In fact, this card was so strong, I even tried a Temur version of the deck with Cultivate, Wolfwillow Haven and Eureka Moment, but the deck was too clunky and I quickly scrapped it.
This card is not good enough. Red sweepers also aren’t that good, in general, as it’s going to be hard to kill a Lovestruck Beast or Elder Gargaroth consistently, but this one required way too much setup. I tried it as both a main deck and sideboard card and it just didn’t make the cut.
This card is okay. I think the third copy in the main deck right now is potentially the weakest card in the deck. Amassing Treasures and developing mana to get to cast Magma Opus is strong and this is a decent blocker to be able to throw into play against aggro decks. However, it’s just not all that powerful. I’ll stay at three for now, but if I ever feel like things are developing in a way where I need one more counter or one more removal spell and this will be next on the chopping block.
I’ve liked this card. I think it’s powerful and also provides interesting decisions. Sometimes you want to play it on the third turn to play a land and draw a card, but other times, you prefer to wait until later in the game to try to put one spell in hand and play another. The upside here is high, but the downside is pretty low. It can be really frustrating to cast this and hope to hit two lands, for instance, and hit zero. That’s true for most cantrips though, and overall, I’ve been impressed.
This card is so much worse than Magma Opus it’s not worth considering.
After playing quite a bit, there were a few glaring problems. First of all, the deck just didn’t interact well enough. It definitely needed ways to stop an Emergent Ultimatum in game one, and it needed something to do about a resolved Elder Gargaroth. The deck also had some problems with being run over.
I decided to adjust the deck to include snow cards, cut some of the two-mana removal and remove a lot of the cards that turned out to be quite clunky in favor of snow lands, Faceless Haven, Frost Bite and some more counterspells. Brazen Borrower was a catch-all that would give you game against random high toughness threats in the first game, and it turned out to be very strong to clear the path for Goldspan Dragon in combination with Alrund’s Epiphany.
Right now, the counter split is 2-2 between Saw It Coming and Mystical Dispute. I go back and forth between a fifth counter. I think Rogues it the toughest matchup for the deck, so that would make me want to add a third Dispute, but the games against Sultai go super long, so another hard counter is also a consideration. I tried a main deck Test of Talents for a little bit, it was fine, but a bit too weak against creature decks and such. I think if I had to make a change right now, it would be the third Saw It Coming for the third Galazeth Prismari. For now though, I’m leaving it as is.
Frost Bite helped a lot because it gave cheaper interaction, but also did it in a way that maximized the deck’s ability to get extra cards off of Expressive Iteration. It’s particularly good on turn three against a Mono-Red for example to cast Interation, and have options. Sometimes you want a land but sometimes you get to do something like put Dragon in your hand, exile Frost Bite, play Mountain from hand and then kill a creature. This sort of selection is noticeable. Also, having a one-mana card to play two spells in turn if you play a turn four Galazeth Prismari was very strong.
I’ve done well against everything except Rogues. I haven’t played the matchup, so I’ll continue to work on it, for sure. Part of the issue is that they’re fast and have counters. It’s hard to even get to eight mana and have Magma Opus be a big threat. They have good answers to Goldspan Dragon and plenty of pressure. I’ve also had trouble with sideboarding. Often the Ox of Agonas is not that good in the deck because it has counters, expensive cards and other things you may be holding on to. I think next I’d try a strategy with having a ton of cheap red removal, three Oxes and maybe only a few Mystical Dispute as counters in the deck.
I like the Sultai matchup. The big problem I’ve had is people who have Koma, Cosmos Serpent. I added an Ashiok’s Erasure to the sideboard just for Koma, but the card isn’t that strong and can be really clunky to try to use to deal with other things. The Akroan War is actually not that bad against Kona either, but has better applications elsewhere, so it might be okay just to leave it at that. Having Petty Theft up against Koma can also be alright.
I’ve done very well in the creature matchups though and I’m relatively happy with the deck in that area.
The sideboard has some extra counters. Test of Talents can hit key cards sometimes so I think it’s decent to play as a one-of.
One word: Rogues. You’ll need these.
There’s not a lot of good answers to Koma, but this seems like the best option here, as discussed.
I’ve been boarding these in against a lot of decks. Against green creature decks, they’ve been good, and they’ve even been performing well for me against Sultai as well.
This is good against Sultai and potentially against decks with The Great Henge and Embercleave. I did have the experience of playing Galazeth Prismari and using the Treasure to cast Annul on Binding the Old Gods. In particular though, I like the prospect of being able to Annul a Wolfwillow Haven on turn one on the draw in order to not far too far behind.
Here’s a brief sideboard guide for some of the established decks.
I’m happiest with Standard Prismari Dragons of all my brews so far, and I think there’s still room to improve. I’ll continue to work on it and report back. Good luck if you decide to try it, and let me know what you think!