This past weekend I descended upon Plano, Texas to win the last WMCQ of the year and join Mike Sigrist, Joel Sadowsky, and Tom Martell to form this year’s Team U.S.A. for the World Magic Cup on December 11-13 in Barcelona. To say I’m excited is a massive understatement. Last year when I attended, I was hoping for a special event, and the WMC delivered. Countries fighting for their national pride and the whole Magic community coming together is truly a special event. Today I’ll detail how I arrived at playing the crazy 5-color Dragons deck I registered, and what I see for the deck post-rotation when the Eldrazi come to take over Standard.
It all started about 2 weeks ago. Sam Pardee had messaged me that the Elf Rally deck that Alexander Hayne won his WMCQ with was absolutely busted. Sam was right. I battled on Magic Online and no one had a clue what was happening. I’d win out of nowhere with Rally the Ancestors, Chord for extra copies of Shaman of the Pack, and of course cast many Siege Rhinos.
Here’s the list I ended up on:
Unfortunately the community quickly caught on and all of a sudden opponents weren’t trading with my creatures. My chump attacks were no longer getting chumped, and players knew to just counter Rally while not dying to my board presence. My win rate went from unbeatable to very average in the span of days. I was a bit distraught. The deck I was so excited to bring to the WMCQ no longer felt like a good choice.
A matchup I repeatedly lost to that seemed like it would be a good matchup on paper was the UW Control deck that started to take over Magic Online. My opponent would just let me resolve a couple 1/1s then counter every relevant spell the rest of the game. If I waited long enough to set up an end of turn Chord/Rally and untap and play a 2nd, they still would both get countered! Even Thoughtseize wasn’t enough since Dig Through Time just provided so much fuel in the late game.
UW Control started to look great to me for the metagame. It crushes other midrange decks, and has ways to stabilize versus the faster decks like Mono-Red and Thopters.
All of a sudden, I realized that I could have that same metagame positioning but also be able to go over the top of the other control decks, which seemed perfect.
Thus I built this version of 5-Color Dragons (updated from Mike Flores’ RPTQ list several months ago):
This deck works similarly to a blue draw-go deck, except that it can just slam a Dragon in the mid-to-late game and stabilize. It makes great use of its extra mana thanks to Hangarback Walker and Crucible of the Spirit Dragon. 5-Color Dragons has the single best late game of any deck in Standard. In one match against Jeskai, I cast two spells game 1 and won easily. They were Dragonlord Dromoka and Dragonlord Silumgar, which I cast in the same turn off two Crucibles to steal an opposing Jace on 9 loyalty that I immediately emblemed. It’s just not reasonable to cast 12 mana worth of spells in a turn, but that happened somewhat frequently throughout the tournament.
Additionally, as long as the board doesn’t get out of control, you’ll be able to stop anything your opponent is doing. Perilous Vault helps with that plan and you can use it at the end of your opponent’s turn and untap with a slew of counterspells. The deck has 12 maindeck counters alongside 4 refueling cards. The Dragonlord’s Prerogative over the 4th Dig Through Time looks a bit strange, but this deck has a bunch of expensive Dragons, so it takes a lot longer before you’re casting a cheap Dig. Finally, the mix of Dragons in the deck lets you get out of any situation. Ojutai is great at applying pressure, while Atarka, Dromoka, and Silumgar are all excellent at stabilizing.
I ended up going undefeated at the WMCQ and I’d like to thank Andrew Baeckstrom and Craig Wescoe for their willingness to discuss sideboarding with me before the Top 8 matches. I’d highly recommend this deck for the current Standard, but of course it is rotating in a couple weeks, so that’s far from useful advice. Instead I want to focus on post-rotation and the good and bad news for this deck:
First, the good news is that most of the deck is Khans of Tarkir Block Constructed. The only maindeck losses are Temple of Enlightenment, Perilous Vault, and Dissolve. Temples can easily be replaced by Prairie Stream and Dissolve gets replaced by Scatter to the Winds which could even be better for the deck. Sadly Perilous Vault will be missed, since the deck couldn’t cast End Hostilities off 13 white sources, and the Vault also deals with problem permanents outside of creatures. However, with fetches being able to find Prairie Stream, the deck could very well support either End Hostilities or Planar Outburst without much trouble now. Stasis Snare also looks like it would be a very strong addition at that point because it plays so well with the draw-go style of the deck. Horribly Awry is an option as another potent 2 mana counterspell.
The bad news is that this deck was built as a metagame deck. It wants to be the biggest thing out there, grinding the game to a halt and then casting a flurry of Dragons. Eldrazi are a lot bigger than Dragons, which could cause problems for this deck. Additionally, 5-Color Dragons relies on its counterspells to control the pace of the game, and the Eldrazi cast triggers can get around that angle of attack to some extent, though countering Ulamog will still be pretty good even if it exiles 2 of your lands in the process. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon also loses quite a lot of value due to a bunch of devoid creatures.
Even if Standard is taken over by Eldrazi, this deck still seems competitive. You have the option of countering ramp spells to prevent the Eldrazi from ever hitting play while bashing with Ojutai to quickly end the game. There may be fewer midrange decks to prey on, but that just means you’ll need to adjust what the deck is trying to do. Lowering the curve to deal with fast aggressive decks while keeping enough answers for the slower decks may be one option, or pushing even harder into a counter-style deck to keep the glacial decks on the backfoot is another. We’ll know more about which directions to push once a new metagame forms, but I’m excited to keep charging my Crucibles and casting my Dragons!
I had an absolute whirlwind of a weekend, from going in nervous and wondering if my brew was actually good enough, followed by the confidence in my deck after making Top 8, to the relief and excitement I felt after winning it all. I’m grateful for the opportunity to play at the World Magic Cup again, and I hope I contribute to a win for America.