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Arena Boys Deck Guide: Drake Hotline Fling

While people are wasting time slogging away with Golos and Field of the Dead, the Arena Boys are looking for a speedier and more expeditious way to end games of Magic. Hour-long Golos mirrors? Ain’t nobody got time for that. We’re in the market for some one-turn kills, and with Throne of Eldraine bringing Fling back to Standard, it’s time to dome some fools for twenty.

Fling

Alert viewer InDifferent sent in a scorcher of a list, combining Crackling Drake and Invade the City with Fling to generate some fatal one-shots. Load your graveyard up with instants and sorceries, slam down a huge Drake or Zombie army, and do your very best not to misclick while resolving Fling!

Drake – Hotline Fling in Standard

6 Island (335)
4 Mountain (343)
4 Steam Vents
3 Temple of Epiphany
1 Castle Vantress
1 Fabled Passage
1 Watery Grave
1 Blood Crypt
4 Crackling Drake
1 Irencrag Pyromancer
4 Opt
1 Maximize Velocity
4 Shock
4 Discovery/Dispersal
3 Fling
2 Scorching Dragonfire
1 Lava Coil
4 Thrill of Possibility
1 Beacon Bolt
4 Invade the City
2 The Royal Scions
1 Ral, Storm Conduit
2 Expansion/Explosion
1 Finale of Promise

Card Choices

We’ve seen lists with Crackling Drake as the centerpiece before, and this isn’t too wide of that mark. Cards such as Opt, Discovery // Dispersal, and the new Thrill of Possibility–a welcome upgrade to Tormenting Voice–are no-brainers, as they help to churn through the deck, fill up the graveyard, and get those Drakes nice and big. The same goes for Invade the City–while markedly worse than Crackling Drake, it still gets very big, very quickly.

There are some useful new utility cards from Throne of Eldraine, first and foremost amongst them being The Royal Scions. Having a repeatable looting effect is perfect for this deck, and the other ability that grants first strike is also very useful in forcing through damage with the sometimes-fragile Crackling Drake. Irencrag Pyromancer was also very impressive, and it might be worth including extra copies.

We included the Ral plus Expansion combo as an afterthought. Ral is a useful card in this deck, but we’re not playing him for the combo. Expansion, however, is an incredibly useful card, as you can use it to copy Fling in order to hit lethal. Outside of that, copying Thrill of Possibility or even just Discovery is still excellent value, not to mention its uses as a disruptive spell–you can counter opposing counterspells, or copy removal.

Speaking of interaction, there’s a bit of room left over for some burn spells. They’re in dire need of adjustment with the way the format has changed since we recorded, but the takeaway here is that this “combo” deck still has space for interaction, which is always very welcome.

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Gameplay

The Plan A of this deck is, of course, putting enough instants and sorceries in your graveyard to have a Drake or a Zombie Army that is bigger than your opponent’s life total, then Fling it right at the dome. Alternatively, a 10-power creature and Fling plus either Expansion or a Ral downtick will do it–Fling often comes out of nowhere, catching opponents unaware when they thought they had at least one more turn.

The Plan B, however, is still very robust. Attacking with Crackling Drake–sometimes with haste, thanks to Maximize Velocity–is still a pretty effective gameplan. There aren’t a lot of great answers to Crackling Drake seeing widespread play, and it sails over the heads of 2/2 Zombies with ease. I’m not saying the Golos matchup is a walk in the park, but you win games that most other decks wouldn’t be able to.

There are a few things to keep in mind while playing this list. First of all, keep the pace up. You see so many cards and must make so many decisions that a quick pace of play is essential to avoid roping (as we showed in the video, oops). Fortunately, however, the deck isn’t too punishing to mistakes, as again the raw velocity of the cards in the list means you can recover by digging quickly to the answer or threat you need.

Secondly, remember the key differences between Crackling Drake and Invade the City. Crackling Drake is better early, as its power increases with more instants and sorceries in the bin, while Invade the City creates Zombie Army tokens with static power and toughness. Conversely, however, multiple copies of Invade the City create one giant monster, while Crackling Drakes don’t stack–this is very important when you’ve only got a single copy of Fling, as in that situation double-Invade the City is better than double-Drake.

Finally, and while I had fun playing this deck with Jamin and Toffel, this list requires a fair bit of forethought and planning, something that definitely isn’t a strength of mine. If you like solving puzzles and playing combo decks, you’ll have a great time. If you like playing sorcery-speed Magic and hitting “attack all,” this deck might not be for you.

Moving Forward

As discussed previously, there are some pretty clear-cut decisions we can make here to improve this deck, removing underperforming cards to make room for those that did some real work. Additionally, we can also update the suite of interaction to better suit the current state of Standard.

Drake – Hotline Fling (Remix)

6 Island (335)
4 Mountain (343)
4 Steam Vents
3 Temple of Epiphany
1 Castle Vantress
1 Fabled Passage
1 Watery Grave
1 Blood Crypt
4 Crackling Drake
2 Irencrag Pyromancer
4 Opt
1 Maximize Velocity
4 Shock
4 Discovery/Dispersal
3 Fling
3 Flame Sweep
3 Thrill of Possibility
1 Beacon Bolt
4 Invade the City
3 The Royal Scions
3 Expansion/Explosion

Ral and Finale of Promise make room for an extra The Royal Scions as well as another Expansion // Explosion. Ral doesn’t match up well against the creature-heavy Standard format and is usually just a much more expensive copy effect, so we may as well play Expansion. Finale of Promise, without all that many sorceries, is often just a weird Mission Briefing-type card, and without Arclight Phoenix, doesn’t do its best work.

On the other hand, I’m interested to see Irencrag Pyromancer in action, and so we bump up to a second copy. The card felt very strong and gives the deck an extra dimension against removal-light strategies. Plus, four toughness is the perfect number, as Lava Coil is at an all-time low.

Finally, we get rid of the point removal spells to instead include Flame Sweep. This will often buy us a critical turn against Golos, while also being very effective against go-wide decks full of Knights or Edgewall Innkeeper. It also doesn’t kill any of our own creatures, which is always welcome!

That’s it for this week–as usual, we’re always looking for deck submissions! If you’ve got a spicy number you’ve been working on, be sure to send it in–Twitter is the best place to do so.

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