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Dragon Ballin’: Over 9000 Precon Upgrades

Greetings, ground dwellers. Have you ever dreamed of soaring the majestic skies? Of feeling the breeze on your radiant wings?

Of burning your enemies to the ground?

Well, you’re in luck. Today I am discussing the Draconic Domination precon deck from Commander 2017. While there are countless directions you can take your Commander decks (it is a format about creativity, after all), I will focus on upgrades that will make your deck more powerful and streamlined without breaking the bank. I will point out cards that I feel don’t hold their weight, and provide suggestions for replacement cards.

In the Feline Ferocity article, I separated the preconstructed deck into Arahbo, Roar of the World and Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith. I didn’t feel like Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist was worth building a deck around because her ability is only relevant in combat. I don’t find combat to be terribly relevant in Commander, but by all means you are welcome to give her a shot.

For this article I will focus on The Ur-Dragon alone. Why is that? Let’s look at the other two generals from the precon first.

Ramos, Dragon Engine is a fun but complex, general and likely the second best of the two. I can foresee a Storm player using Ramos as a huge source of mana on their critical turn, but that seems a bit too advanced for an initial precon upgrade.

For downsides, Ramos relies on staying in play for full turn cycles, only triggers on your own spells, and is weak to artifact removal. Additionally, he requires you to play multicolored spells to be more than mediocre and requires you to have payoff spells for his activated ability. I am not in love with this card, but I do believe someone out there will make a sweet Ramos deck. Feel free to leave a link in the comments if you have a sweet deck.

I dislike O-Kagachi because it is an expensive, conditional, rattlesnake general that does this job worse than Child of Alara. While it may be a playable inclusion in the 99-card deck, this is not who I want at the helm.

I think the only 5-color general that gives The Ur-Dragon a run for its money is… Scion of the Ur-Dragon! Scion has combo potential and having a quasi-tutor attached to your general is powerful.

Now that we know where we are headed, no use in dragon it on any longer—let’s get into it.

Draconic Domination

The first thing that stands out about this deck is that it’s 5-colors. Consistent mana is a tall order for a precon. The basic-heavy mana base provided here is functional, but asking for trouble as you continue playing games with the deck. In many games I tested with Draconic Domination, I was able to assemble all 5 colors of mana with relative ease. But the math doesn’t add up in the end and over a protracted period you will have color issues.

If you have a limited budget, my biggest recommendation is to upgrade the mana base with lands that produce multiple colors. You don’t need duals, fetches, and shocklands to have a passable mana base in Commander. But for a deck with such heavy mana requirements, you will want to get to work on fixing this any way you can.

The Ur-Dragon

The eminence ability, in general, is insane. Having access to an effect at all times before even casting your general is a great way to hit the ground running, and The Ur-Dragon gives you a virtual resource in the form of mana. Reducing the cost of your Dragons is like having a mana rock in play at all times. It’s better in the sense you can use it more than once a turn, but worse in the sense that it is confined to Dragon spells.

Additionally, when it’s on the battlefield, The Ur-Dragon has a potentially game-ending ability that rewards you for its hefty mana investment. Overall, The Ur-Dragon packs a punch and rewards you for attacking. That’s everything you could want in a tribal deck from our fiery friends.

Add

Hellkite Tyrant

The biggest strike against this card is its mana cost. A 6-mana card better have a huge payoff, and without haste it is often easy to thwart this strategy. The main artifact hoarder at the table should be aware they are first on this Dragon’s lunch menu and will do their best to dispose of it. At 5 mana, Hellkite Tyrant can hopefully come down a turn earlier and get under some of the more clunky removal or sweepers.

Dragonlord Dromoka

If you have an annoying blue player at the table, this card shuts their shenanigans right off. Coming down for 5 makes this an acceptable rate even if counterspells aren’t running rampant. Additionally, making sure that your opponents don’t have responses to your attacks once The Ur-Dragon is in play in always a nice bonus.

Balefire Dragon

One of my favorite Dragons for beating face, combined with haste, Balefire Dragon can be a surprise sweeper for an opponent who is getting out of control. Wipe their board and their smile at the same time.

Kaalia of the Vast

Kaalia is a great general in her own right, but she surely has a home in this deck. You will have dozens of Dragons to power out in the early game and any removal used on her won’t be there to deal with your larger threats on the following turns.

Dragonlord Kolaghan

I like having Dragons with haste. Is that so wrong of me? Saving 1 mana and attacking the turn they come into play lets you apply the pressure fast. This helps take some of the “clunkiness” out of Draconic Domination.

Dragonmaster Outcast

In a deck full of high cost spells, it’s nice to have a cheap card to deploy that can be a threat all on its own. If you are playing ramp spells along the lines of Kodama’s Reach and Explosive Vegetation instead of Signets or other rocks, you can make this late-game finisher ferociously finish foes faster.

Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund

Hey Karrthus, press R. Anybody?

Just like Dragonlord Kolaghan, I am a fan of giving your creatures haste. There are dozens of Commander decks that play haste-granting permanents such as Concordant Crossroads, Mass Hysteria, Hammer of Purphoros, and Fervor. But I think playing more cards that provide pressure, in addition to the powerful haste effect, make the deck operate better overall, despite costing more.

Sarkhan’s Triumph

Dragon tutor is sweet. Okay, you have access to Vampiric Tutor, Demonic Tutor, Worldly Tutor, Sylvan Tutor, Imperial Seal, Grim Tutor, and more with access to 5 colors. But come on, Dragon tutor!

Explosive Vegetation or Skyshroud Claim

Normally, I like Skyshroud Claim more than Explosive Vegetation since the lands come into play untapped. But I only suggest Skyshroud Claim if you have access to multiple Forest dual lands. Otherwise, grabbing basic Forests doesn’t help. Explosive Vegetation does mostly the same thing for budget builds, but I don’t suggest running both.

Patriarch’s Bidding

A powerful and fun spell to add to your aerial arsenal. I would enlist the Patriarch to do your bidding if you expect a table full of board wipes. Be careful not to accidentally get blown out by other tribal decks by letting them returnq their goodies to play as well. Rise of the Dark Realms is also a great alternative.

Urza’s Incubator

I actually believe the Incubator to be somewhat of a trap card for tribal decks. Only the most dedicated tribal decks should use this card because it does provide card disadvantage if you can’t get immense use out of the discount. Luckily for The Ur-Dragon, almost all of the Dragons in this deck can be reduced by the full amount offered by Urza’s Incubator and pack enough of a wallop to compensate for taking the turn off to cast this. Many decks I see running this card would have been better off with a Coalition Relic (another nice addition for this deck).

Sarkhan Unbroken

Well hello there ultimate! This planeswalker never really cut it in Standard, but is perfectly serviceable in this deck. Both abilities that aren’t the ultimate are solid, but the -8 on this card is living the dream. Death to the table!

Sarkhan the Mad

A great way to finish someone off. Sadly, with such a high average mana cost in your deck, it isn’t likely to draw you many cards. This card isn’t necessarily tier 1, but it is a lot of fun and has great artwork. Also, in Spanish this card is called “Sarkhan el loco.” Talk about a sweet piece of cardboard.

Temur Ascendancy

With access to all 5 colors, you get the oft-overlooked Temur Ascendancy. The card gives haste to your team and recoups card advantage to make up for casting it, which sells it to me.

Ugin the Spirit Dragon

Ugin can be a bit pricey on your wallet and your mana, but his effect is worth every bit of it. A great card to put into play off of The Ur-Dragon, Ugin makes for a flavorful and potent sweeper. Sadly, he doesn’t see a cost reduction from your general.

Mirari’s Wake and Gilded Lotus

I love these powerful mana accelerants and they are the only 5-mana spells of this type I’d look to include. Be careful about getting inundated on higher end non-Dragon spells, or your mana will be far too taxed to play efficient Magic. The ability to cast your general as soon as you untap with these two permanents is the reason to warrant their inclusion here.

Mana Confluence and City of Brass

The cost of using these lands, even multiple times per game, is reduced in a 40 life format. They both provide vital ways of producing all colors at all times and are relatively cheap to purchase.

Cuts

Dragonlord’s Servant

This card is deceptive. It comes down early and reduces the cost of a large portion of your deck. Cost reduction stacks well in Magic, so why doesn’t this guy deserve a spot? Frankly, I think this card is significantly worse than a mana rock. The Servant doesn’t provide you any colors of fixing, is vulnerable to sweepers, and isn’t a Dragon itself. Not the kind of conditional card I am looking to have in my almighty Dragon deck.

Orator of Ojutai

A glorified Wall of Omens doesn’t really make the cut in EDH. It doesn’t block much, isn’t a Dragon, and is an awful topdeck on an empty board.

Savage Ventmaw

There will be times where this card gives you a great deal of mana that can be useful. Most of the time, however, Savage Ventmaw’s mana is a little too awkward to use. There are better Dragons out there for The Ur-Dragon, but I think he warrants inclusion in a Ramos deck because you can cast your general with the mana.

Tyrant’s Familiar

A cool looking Dragon, but ultimately not up to snuff. You get a fine ability if you have your general out, but that is pretty insignificant compared to The Ur-Dragon’s ability anyway.

Rain of Thorns

I have no idea why this card was put in this deck, but removing expensive and unwieldy spells from should be steps 1, 2, and 3.

Fist of Suns

Fist of Suns is a fine card at times, but it doesn’t synergize with The-Ur Dragon’s eminence ability. Most of your Dragons will cost 5 mana or less anyways, and only the most pricey and consistent mana bases can afford all 5 colors guaranteed on turn 5. Pass.

Dreamstone Hedron

Expensive? Check. Clunky? Check. Doesn’t fix mana in your 5-color deck? Check. Three strikes and you’re out!

Curse of Opulence, Verbosity, and Bounty

I understand why these cards appear to be fun. I am an advocate of fun, and of course you are welcome to play these, but here on ChannelFireball.com I will always advocate stepping up your game. Your EDH decks will be better without these curses from Commander 2017 in them.

Boneyard Scourge

This card is a lot of work for a relatively small reward. The 4/3 body doesn’t apply pressure and leaving mana open to recur him at a specific time is a no-go.

Taigam, Ojutai Master

This is one of my favorite cards from Commander 2017. That doesn’t mean I can justify his inclusion in this deck—I would stick to Dragonlord Dromoka instead. But keep an eye out for a future article where I break down this guy and build a deck around him as a general!

Territorial Hellkite

“The only morality in a cruel world is chance.”

While the quote is good, the card is not. While this card comes into play blisteringly fast and pumps up the jam right away, not being able to choose who you attack is awkward. Hitting different players is just playing with your food. If you want an undercosted beatstick, I’d recommend Serra Ascendant. Territorial Hellkite can’t even attack a planeswalker and the more I look at this card, the less I like it.

Fortunate Few

The discussion around this card’s inclusion feels like it went a little like this:

“Oh, we have this new card to add to Commander 2017. Where do we throw it?”

“The Dragon deck. Yeah, it’s five colors.”

“Sold.”

Yeah, not selling it to me you aren’t. The card is 50% political, 50% clunky, and 100% mediocre.

Kindred Discovery

I’ll preface this by saying that I think this is one of the top 10 tribal cards ever created for EDH. It provides value when you are topdecking creatures one by one and when you have a board full of attackers. It allows you to draw cards without overcommitting to the board and synergizes with itself by continuing to provide fuel.

That being said, Kindred Discovery doesn’t belong in a Dragon deck. Why? Because it costs a lot of mana, doesn’t impact the board immediately, and it takes a long time to recover from the card and tempo loss. In an Elf or Merfolk deck, spending 5 mana and taking a turn off for this is rewarded when you trigger it a dozen times in the coming turns. In a Dragon deck, you will have to spend something like 20+ mana playing and attacking with enough creatures to recoup the disadvantage you put yourself in from playing this card. It’s hardly better than Tidings in this deck, but feel free to throw your copy in other tribal decks that can support it.

Basic Lands

The number of basic lands to cut from this deck is entirely dependent on how many dual lands you have at your disposal. Eventually, I will write a guide on building mana bases for different budget levels but for now, stick to what you can afford. Basic lands aren’t very good and at the very least you can throw in a Terramorphic Expanse, Evolving Wilds, and Ash Barrens.

And that concludes this article on Draconic Domination. Look not to it as the end, but as the beginning. Upgrading your EDH decks takes time and resources but it is such a rewarding feeling. The biggest strike against this precon is its mana base and once you fix that, your Dragons can really pack a punch. What changes have you made to the deck? Do you have additional suggestions for making this precon as deadly as possible? Thanks so much for reading and until next time, may your tablemates be reduced to ashes.

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