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Owen’s Pick of the Week – Esper Dragons

It would be a shame if I didn’t use my Pick of the Week on Alexander Hayne’s Esper Dragons list he used to win Grand Prix Krakow. With six Dragon-themed decks in the Top 8 of that event and the full 4 copies of Silumgar’s Scorn in each, I think it’s safe to say that Silumgar’s Scorn is going to be a pillar of the Standard format moving forward, and this is the deck I would play if I were competing in a Standard event tomorrow:

Esper Dragons

I single out Silumgar’s Scorn here as the defining card of the deck since it’s the card that every Dragon deck chooses to play 4 copies of regardless of color combination or any other adjustments to the deck. It’s the card that makes this deck tick and at the same time it’s the most interesting card to examine.

Silumgar’s Scorn is often referred to as a Force Spike, which is an obvious comparison to make, but seems to me like it casts the card in an unflattering light. People know Force Spike is a high variance card but in my opinion Force Spike is totally awesome. In Cube I take Force Spike highly and always play it—it’s just a great card. Paying an additional mana is a bit lame but it’s still almost a playable card.

A huge part of any non-control deck’s strategy against a blue control deck is to try to get a fast draw and deploy threats quickly to sneak them under a counter wall, force the opponent to tap out for a sweeper, and then resolve a more resilient threat like a planeswalker. It’s a simple, straightforward way to beat control, tried and true for as long as planeswalkers have existed. It’s a winning formula in modern Magic. Silumgar’s Scorn provides the best defense in the format against a fast hand while also having late-­game staying power. People would just play Stymied Hopes if it weren’t horrible in the late game.

The coolest part about this card is that  it’s impossible to play around. When I run my Abzan deck against Silumgar’s Scorn decks I find that I’m encouraged to play out my Courser of Kruphix before I play a land since I’d like to get a free land off the top of my library, but that makes it especially weak to the Force Spike mode of this card. I have so many enters-the-battlefield-tapped lands that I can’t smoothly have 1 extra available. It’s all complicated by the fact that they could just have a Dragon in hand anyway! It makes the rewards of playing around it too small—now you’re a turn behind—and the cost too high if they have it. There’s also a huge amount of variance involved in slowplaying your hand to play around it and having them draw into a Dragon making all your effort for nothing.

I’ve played my fair share of UB control in the past, and I’m happy to see it back against with a cool Esper Dragon twist. I’m sad to see a lack of Perilous Vault, a pet card of mine, but the format just doesn’t seem right for it. I’ll be keeping an eye on that card and I won’t be afraid to break it out again. Until then I can safely recommend this build of the deck since it’s clearly great and that’s what makes it my Pick of the Week.

Owen Turtenwald
qazwsxedcrfvtgbyhnuj on Magic Online

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