Days of Future Future: Dragons of Tarkir

Posted in Latest Developments on April 24, 2015

By Sam Stoddard

Sam Stoddard came to Wizards of the Coast as an intern in May 2012. He is currently a game designer working on final design and development for Magic: The Gathering.

It's time once again for Days of Future Future, the time when I revisit some of our Future Future League Standard testing focusing on cards from Dragons of Tarkir.

As always, when doing a Future Future League article, keep in mind that many of these decks are not tuned. They are also full of cards that were stronger than they are now, and often are missing real-world cards that were changed later in development. They are also reacting to a slightly different metagame than what the real world has come up with, so don't expect to take these to your local tournament and demolish it. The goal of every deck isn't to be the strongest deck in the environment, it's to try and learn something. While we do occasionally hold tournaments that give us an idea of what the strongest deck is, we have found that getting a feel for what is possible and how good the individual cards are leads to a better Standard environment.

I'm sharing these decks to help give some insights into what we were thinking, and maybe show off some cool cards that haven't made it into the real world just yet. I've also left off some decks that we were playing a lot of, like the Abzan midrange decks, that didn't change much with the release of Dragons of Tarkir.

With that disclaimer out of the way, on to the decks.

The first deck is one of the ones we felt was the strongest coming out of gates. This deck was heavily rewarded by getting both a two-mana, card-filtering spell in Anticipate; and a great way to kill everything from the cheap mono-red creatures to Monastery Mentor with Ultimate Price.

UB Control

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One of the very exciting things about Dragons was that it added a new slant on making control decks, due to the addition of the "Dragons matters" cards in both white and blue.

WU Dragon Control

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But White-Blue Dragons was far from the only Dragons control deck the FFL built. Another very popular one was Blue-Red Control using similar Dragon matters cards.

UR Dragon Control

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Of course, not every Dragon deck we had was a control one. There were ample other opportunities to create dragon decks of the more usual ramp variety, in what would be more traditionally thought of as a "Dragon deck."

RG Dragons

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Why just ramp into Dragons, though, when you can ramp into a dragon maker? Sarkhan Unbroken is a hard card to cast, but we found it incredibly powerful once you did. Hence, our ramp decks would try to quickly hit five mana for it, Stormbreath Dragon, and Whisperwood Elemental.

Temur Midrange

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We added a lot of dragons in the aptly named Dragons of Tarkir, but that's not the only thing we were ramping into. Shaman of Forgotten Ways provided a great creature that could not only ramp things out in much the same way that Somberwald Sage did in earlier Standard environments, but it also added the option to use Nykthos to generate a lot of extra mana, and to use the Biorhythm ability to help take your opponent out of the game.

Mono-Green Devotion

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We had a lot more decks than just ramp and dragon decks, though. One of the many abilities Dragons of Tarkir added to Standard was rebound, which works perfectly in a deck focused on prowess and one of the new pseudo-prowess creatures, such as Ojutai Exemplars.

Mentor Tempo

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Besides just adding rebound, we also got the best rebounder of all, Narset. Much like the deck above, the goal of the deck was to protect your Monastery Mentor or Ojutai Exemplars with a number of instants, and eventually overcome your opponent with the tempo and card advantage.

WU Narset

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Lots of new decks, but what about one of the old favorites? Mono-Red is a pretty omnipresent deck in Standard, and one that we knew Dragons of Tarkir added a lot to.

Red Aggro

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But we also had a lot of aggressive decks that weren't mono-red. Black had a lot of great cards to add to the aggressive strategies, and we had one we were pretty happy with by the time Dragons of Tarkir rolled around:

BR Aggro

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A deck that was hugely popular in Standard this time last year, but fell out of favor due to the loss of cards like Nightveil Specter, was Mono-Blue Devotion. It was a deck that we were interested in giving a shot in the arm, so we did some tweaking.

Mono-Blue Devotion

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Finally, another one of our most enjoyable decks was to just play all of the planeswalkers. Because our FFL was a little more heavy on Banishing Light than Hero's Downfall, we were playing main-deck Reclamation Sage to deal with all of the Lights, as well as Coursers and Suspension Fields/Silkwraps.

Multicolor Superfriends

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I hope you enjoyed those decks. While they look different than a lot of what the real world came up with, we are happy to see how well the real world Standard environment is doing. Our goal isn't to make sure that we know exactly what people will do, but make sure that the things people can do are fun. Generally, to make for a good Standard environment for as many people as possible.

That's it for this week. Join me next week as I discuss one of my favorite sets of all time—Tempest.

Until next time,

Sam Stoddard (@samstod)

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