Dragons Incoming

Posted in PRO TOUR DRAGONS OF TARKIR on April 10, 2015

By Tobi Henke

"What's your guess as to the number of Dragons in the Top 8 on Sunday?"

I overheard Hall of Famer Olle Råde put this question to a number of people at registration on Thursday. He set the baseline of 40. It's quite an ambitious number to be sure, and most players did indeed pick a number that was under that. But then again, Råde had been preparing with Team Revolution for the event, and they had built a Jeskai deck with a total of ten Dragons in the main deck, even though only three from the team ended up playing it.

In any case, the question did seem like an appropriate starting point for a discussion of the new Dragon-infused Standard. Platinum pro Martin Jůza's first guess was twelve Dragons, although he quickly did some mental calculations and decided against that. "No, that's too low," he corrected. "24, maybe? Let's say somewhere between twelve and 24." Jůza also mentioned that he expected Red-Green to be the most popular deck in the field, an archetype which typically runs eight and potentially up to ten Dragons itself.

I was able to talk to Platinum pro Patrick Dickmann, apparently the driving force behind Revolution's ten-Dragon Jeskai deck. Naturally, he didn't find the estimate of 40 Dragons in the Top 8 to be an outrageous claim, and he was practically swooning over several of the new ones, particularly Dragonlord Ojutai.

As one of the champions of Dragons on his team, Platinum pro Patrick Dickmann had no qualms in expecting to see many on Sunday.

"Ojutai is insanely strong," he said. "If you connect with it once—and between hexproof, Silumgar's Scorn, and Stubborn Denial, you usually do—victory is almost guaranteed." Of course, the presence of Dragons can be felt even when none actually sit on the battlefield. "With so many in the deck, Silumgar's Scorn is a full Counterspell most of the time," said Dickmann. "And Counterspell is quite good, I hear."

Another player whose opinion on the topic we obviously needed was Brian Kibler, veteran of five Pro Tour Top 8s, member of the Hall of Fame, and known as "the Dragonmaster" ever since he rode Rith, the Awakener all the way to the Top 8 at Pro Tour Chicago back in 2000.

It's borderline criminal to not include Brian "The Dragonmaster" Kibler in a discussion about Dragons in Magic.

What was the Dragonmaster's Dragon estimate? After short deliberation, Kibler went with 30. And how many can be found in his own deck?

"Guess," Kibler replied with one of his trademark grins. Clearly, there would be many, right?

"Nope. Not a single Dragon in my deck," he said and made a sad face. "I considered putting one in the sideboard, but space there is really tight."

At the time of writing this, the debate was still going on, of course. But one thing was for certain: with estimates ranging from twelve to 40, Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir might just feature one of the Dragon-heaviest environments of all time. We will hold our (dragon's) breath and anxiously await the weekend's results.

Patrick Dickmann's Jeskai Dragons

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Brian Kibler's G/W Aggro

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