Modern: Red Deck Wins (Now with More Dragons)

The deck I’d like to discuss today is not really Red Deck Wins. Well, not in the traditional sense, anyway… it is certainly red (mono-red) and it does win, but this isn’t a traditional red aggro deck. It’s actually more of an aggressive, midrange, go-over-the-top, pseudo-ramp control deck (with some prison elements).

It’s a red Dragon deck and it’s straight-up baller.

Rather than vaguely describe the various elements of the deck, let’s just start with the list, since it pretty much speaks for itself:

Mono-Red Dragons

OSPANKYO, 1st place in a Competitive Modern League

I did a little bit of research on the deck before I threw it together and started playing games with it. The archetype goes by many names: Mono-Red Dragons, Snow Dragons, Dragon Blitz, and even Dragon Stompy.

A deck with 20 Snow-Covered Mountains and a ton of Dragons? Feels like a missed opportunity to name the deck Song of Ice and Fire.

The deck itself is really unique. It does remind me a little bit of a Legacy Dragon Stompy deck in the sense that it has prison and control elements, and goes over the top with big threats. The similarities drop off abruptly. Unlike Dragon Stompy decks, this deck doesn’t have access to “Sol lands” like Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors to leverage mana, and Chalice of the Void as the ideal turn-1 play.

Mono-Red Dragons plays more or less “fair” Magic in the first few turns by keeping the board clear with cheap but efficient 1-for-1 removal and Anger of the Gods.

The removal is key to protecting the engine of the deck: the red planeswalkers.

The planeswalkers play a unique role in this deck. Yeah, they gain traction and generate card advantage when unchecked, but both of these planeswalkers also ramp mana for positive loyalty. The ramping attribute is really important in facilitating the trademark threats, the Dragons.

The deck plays a range of Dragons. It obviously makes sense to play Dragons with various mana costs, 4 and 5, for flexibility in game play. The designer of the deck also mixes up which Dragons they play as well.

At the 5-drop spots all Dragons have redundancy in the sense that they fly and have haste, but each one does something different and powerful. It’s also nice insulation against cards like Meddling Mage and Runed Halo to mix up the payoff cards like this.

Aside from the swath of efficient removal, card advantage/rampy planeswalkers, and giant Dragons, the deck also attacks opponents on the mana angle via Blood Moon. I can’t argue the logic of Blood Moon in a deck with 20 Mountains. It is impressive that the deck can generate and press advantage on these four different, but synergistic, axes.

“No one can defeat the quad laser.”

Psh. Some people can’t defeat just Blood Moon all by itself! But I see your point, Ignignokt.

Blood Moon is one of those cards that simply steals games for no good reason and I love its inclusion in this deck. There are very few decks slamming a Moon won’t at least slow down, which plays right into the hands of a deck with efficient removal and powerful threats.

Obviously, the archetype is new and just picking up steam. It’s designed around a recent Core Set 2019 printing. It’s not a hard-and-fast archetype, being that it is so new. The main deck looks really strong to me, at least in the sense that all of the pieces make sense and appear to have synergy.

There are a few places in the sideboard where I would have made a few different choices, but everything makes sense to me. The sideboard covers the major bases:

Artifact hate:

Graveyard hate:

Land destruction:

Plan for “bad matchup” Burn:

There are a few spots where I’d like to see a few other cards added into the mix. I’d really like to see Shattering Spree in the sideboard over Shatterstorm.

The flexibility for one or two seems pretty decent to me.

A deck like this could also face problems against hyper-fast combo decks like Storm, so perhaps Sphere effects could be utilized. I don’t mean to be overly critical. I think the sideboard is well thought out. The deck has the ability to board out removal for Relic of Progenitus and Molten Rain in hopes of making combo stumble.

I like that the deck has versatile sideboard cards that are aces against specific decks and applicable elsewhere, but I would probably play at least one or two dedicated anti-combo cards like Damping Sphere.

All week long I’ve been hearing about this “crazy red Dragon deck” at various local tournaments, but nobody really seemed to know much about it other than the basics (20 Snow-Covered Mountains). It was certainly one I had to know more about and share with you readers, because it truly is a sweet deck.

At the very least, you’ll know what you’re up against, just in case you play against it. At the best, perhaps you’ll sleeve it up and give it a try. I know it kind of looks a little “gimmicky,” but as far as gimmick decks go, this one has some teeth—and fiery breath. It’s got some real play to it.


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