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Devotion to Dragons in Modern

My last article focused on DragonFolk, but suggested that Silumgar’s Scorn could make it in other shells. Thundermaw Hellkite is a playable Dragon, and there are other decks that run Mutavault (or could if they were given a compelling reason).

Nameless Inversion opens up a lot of brewing space, like how the DragonFolk deck runs Haakon to take advantage of the bizarre shapeshifting instant. One of the downsides to Nameless Inversion is that it double-pumps opposing Tarmogoyfs, but that weakness could be a strength if we run ‘Goyfs of our own.

DragonBUG

As some of you might recall, I did an article on BUG back in February, which you can find here. Then, I was testing whether Stubborn Denial was maindeckable if you had enough sources of ferocious. The Denials were fine, but the deck wasn’t exciting enough to hold my interest.

Here, we have another conditional hard counter, only the satisfying requirements can come from in hand or in play. When you need to buy time to develop, or if you’re trying to force your threat through opposing countermagic, that can make a big difference, and being able to counter creatures is a big factor.

I thought of two different ways to build BUG with Nameless Inversion. The first used Liliana and a few other Pox-type effects to bin Haakon, but it wasn’t the best shell for Silumgar’s Scorn. This second one is more about playing a typical midrange role and then beating down with a giant Tarmogoyf, and Nameless Inversion fits that plan just fine.

Chameleon Colossus ups the Dragon count to 8. Like Icefall Regent in the DragonFolk list, the Colossus wouldn’t be ideal if it weren’t for the Dragon creature type, but in this case that means a lot, and I could see going up to a second copy. In play, Colossus isn’t embarrassing. It dodges some of the format’s removal, matches up well against Siege Rhino, and represents a pile of damage.

Before, I was running Tectonic Edge in the colorless land slot because neither Abrupt Decay nor Maelstrom Pulse interact with opposing manlands. However, Nameless Inversion matches up well against many of the most heavily-played ones like Treetop Village and Inkmoth Nexus. It doesn’t kill Celestial Colonnade, but if those decks were popular we’d be playing Thrun in the sideboard.

And while we’re on the topic of Celestial Colonnade decks, there’s one that’s both proactive enough to survive in the current environment and blue enough to want a hard counter for UU. I’m talking about #TeamGeist.

UWR DragonGeist

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This deck ignores any kind of Nameless Inversion shenanigans and goes for the throat with actual Dragons. Thundermaw Hellkite has already seen a ton of play in this archetype as a way to finish people off, and it’s played over Stormbreath Dragon for its ability to eat Birds of Paradise, Vendilion Clique, and Lingering Souls tokens with its enters-the-battlefield ability. Also, the difference between 4 power and 5 is especially relevant in this burn-focused archetype.

5 mana is a lot in Modern, but at least it’s enabling actual Counterspell while it waits to close out the game.

Thunderbreak Regent would ordinarily be worse than Restoration Angel, but we are getting something for the downgrade. Silumgar’s Scorn, being a hard-counter, will out-perform Remand against ramp-type strategies (Tron, Scapeshift) and grindy matchups that go long (Twin, Junk). Most decks don’t mind recasting the card that kills you.

The downside to playing Regent is that it makes the deck a little more sorcery-speed, but we already have a bit of that with Geist and it’s not like Thunderbreak is bad. Like the Angel, it also lives through Lightning Bolt, and if the opponent has a Path to Exile or a Maelstrom Pulse for it then they’re going to have to take some pain for it. For that matter, its painful shield extends to the other Dragons in the deck as well. Lightning Bolt my Mutavault? Take 3.

The mana base change involves taking out other colorless utility lands like Ghost Quarter, Tectonic Edge, or Moorland Haunt and adding in Mutavault, which seems fine on paper. We bump up to 26 land over 25, but that should work out when 8 of the lands are manlands, and the threat density looks solid.

And speaking of 8 manlands:

DragonFae

While we don’t have any sweet Haakon interactions, this is an intuitive shell for the Nameless Inversion and Silumgar’s Scorn because Faeries has always run a slew of spell-based disruption to buy time for Bitterblossom to go to town. That said, it’s one of the more reactive of the possible shells, and I like to be proactive in Modern. Fighting through Lingering Souls is a big concern (enough to consider Echoing Decay in the sideboard) and Faeries has been historically weak to aggro decks with reach, and Modern has a decent amount of that at the moment.

The sideboard is modeled after Joseph Bernal’s, a friend of the column and grinder who has been working on Faeries. It does a lot of good things, like allow the deck to augment its counterspell and discard package post-board, but the real innovation is in the Trinket Mage package, which gives the deck a way to grind card advantage against Junk and life gain spells against Burn.

Against Junk, the package of 2 Trinket Mage, 1 Engineered Explosives, 1 Relic of Progenitus, and 1 Basilisk Collar looks really good, the Collar allowing random Spellstutter Sprites and Faerie tokens to trade with Tarmogoyfs and Siege Rhinos.

Against Burn, the Collar still comes in, but your Trinket Mages are usually going to be tutoring up Elixir of Immortality. That plan plus the painless discard and hard counters should be enough to grind out a win. It helps that Foul-Tongue Invocation and Sword of Light and Shadow provide some amount of maindeck life gain.

Caleb Durward

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