Magic the Gathering Arena Grixis Dragons Deck

by Clet_

With the advent of Magic Arena and the recently announced Mythic Championship qualifier format, my spike spark has been reignited after a 3 years hiatus from any sort of Magic. I don’t know why, but Nicol Bolas tickles my fancy and I try to play it as much as possible. I’ve hit mythic last season with Shahar Shenhar’s Grixis Control list with mainboard Thiefs, but the recent rise of Wilderness Reclamation decks made it really hard for the control archetype with no answers to a resolved reclamation.

With that being said, I still didn’t give up on Grixis since it’s just a fun color combination and I wanted a more pro-active gameplan and be the guy requiring the answers from my opponent instead of me. I’ve tried the recent Midrange lists form the 5-0 dumps, but they aren’t running my boy Nicky B. They’re good, but it’s not what I want to be doing right now.

This season, after scraping the bottom of Platinum 4 with Grixis Control, I tried to brew a Grixis Dragons deck, since it looked fun, but I had a feeling it wasn’t competitive in the current meta. To my surprise, it has been performing considerably well, having positive matchups against decks I thought I’d be the underdog, namely Esper and Reclamation.

Edit : Proof of Top 100. I’ve lost a few ranks between the write-up and the actual screen grab.https://imgur.com/nEGV63P

I want to post my list to gather feedback and start a discussion on a very under-representated archetype in the meta, but one I had great success with. So here’s my list: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/1715106#arena

Creatures (12)

4 Nicol Bolas, the Ravager

2 Niv-Mizzet, Parun

2 Verix Bladewing

4 Skarrgan Hellkite

Planeswalkers (3)

3 Sarkhan, Fireblood

Instants (5)

2 Bedevil

3 Cast Down

Sorceries (10)

3 Lava Coil

4 Thought Erasure

3 Ritual of Soot

Artifacts (6)

3 Treasure Map

3 Dragon’s Hoard

Lands (24)

4 Blood Crypt

4 Dragonskull Summit

4 Steam Vents

4 Watery Grave

4 Sulfur Falls

4 Drowned Catacomb

Sideboard (15)

3 Duress

3 Negate

2 Cry of the Carnarium

4 Legion Warboss

3 Moment of Craving

Cards choice–

Dragon package

4 Nicol Bolas

Nicol Bolas is a built-in 2-for-1. A very decent body against aggro and a remarkable threat in long games. I tried running 3, but the redundancy is good. It tends to get removed pretty quickly with the amount of lava coil and Mortify running, but it means you can get another 2-for-1 out of the next one.

4 Skarrgan Hellkite

I ran 2 initially because having a 5 mana threat answered with Cast down felt really bad, but it feels like cast down has been out of flavour recently. I bumped it up to 4 since it’s a great haste threat, that can either snipe down Planeswalker or apply more pressure. Or be an excellent stabilizer against aggro when you summon it with a counter.

2 Niv-Mizzet, Parun

With such a top heavy deck, we can’t afford to run more than 2. It still is a threat that straight up wins the game if you untap with it and with the amount of must-answer threats preceding it, it often goes unaswered when resolved, since Bolas and friends baited all of the opponent’s removal beforehand. We don’t have a lot of low mana cards to make its ability really shine like in Phoenix/Drakes deck, but we have enough card draw from artifacts that it’s still relevant.

2 Verix Bladewing

The lesser of the bunch, Verix is normally a 4 mana 4/4 flyer, which is still decent. It rarely gets kicked, since we have a lot of other stuff to do with 7 mana. Eitherway, it’s still a great option to stabilize a wide board or generate a lot of card draw with a Dragon’s Hoard in play.

3 Sarkhan, Fireblood

The planeswalker of choice in any dragons deck. It helps turbo summon every threat in our deck and can kick Verix more reliably. It’s rummaging +1 allows to smooth our hand and adapt to the current situation while digging for threats/answers. It’s ultimate is really relevant in slow matchups. Our threats tend to attract Vraska’s Contempt which leaves Sarkhan untouched. With a Dragon’s Hoard in play, it’s insane card advantage.

Removal/Disruption Package

3 Cast Down, 3 Lava Coil

This is the classic 2-mana removal suite, with a 3-3 split. We need a lot of 2 mana removal to help resolve a Sarkhan on 3. Coming down with 4 loyalty after his +1 needs all the help it can get to generate value along the way. I used to run 2-4 split, but Phoenixes have fallen out of flavour a bit and the instant speed felt more desirable than the exile clause.

2 Bedevil

This is the emergency button removal. It is there to have an out against Lyra, Niv and enemy planeswalker, but can be used as an ineffective cast down in a pinch. The casting cost rarely is an issue due to our diverse but painful manabase.

3 Ritual of Soot

Used as a 1 sided board wipe apart from Verix’s token, and reset button. I feel it’s better than Cry of the Carnarium in the mainboard, since it hits more targets than it’s 3 mana counterpart. White Weenies gets harder in the exchange, but decent threat sizes helps mitigate that. It is really great in the Gruul Matchups which has become more prevalent in the past weeks and it still kills 80% of Sultai threats.

4 Thought Erasure

Thought Erasure is good, really good, really really good. I initially didn’t ran any to focus on a more midrange strategy, but it was missed in every matchups and made Esper and reclamation matchups atrocious.

Utility package

3 Treasure Map

Filters our draws, Fixes our mana, Ramps, Built-in card advantages. This card does a lot. It shines in control matchups, since artifact removal is almost non-existant. It’s worse in aggro matchups, but the filtering still can come up handy to find Soots or Bolas to help stabilize.

3 Dragon’s Hoard

I used to think this card was casual fun, but I was pleasantly surprised by its real life applications. Ramping into Skarrgan Hellkite is great to stabilize, and it generate card advantages along the way, since every threat we play reads Kicker 1, draw a card basically. It is back breaking against Esper, since they can’t answer it, and can’t afford to minus Teferi on it due to the threat our creatures present.

Lands

We go 24 dual lands. Simple. We need all the colored pips we can get at the expanse of a few life points. Treasure Maps and Dragon’s Hoard help along the way too. The no basic hurt against Field of Ruins and Assassin’s Trophy, but they rarely see plays anyway. I never felt the need to go up to 25 lands with the amount of filtering and ramps we get out of Treasure Maps, Hoard and Sarkhan.

Sideboard

3 Duress, 3 Negate

All-stars in the Control/Combo matchup, can come in against aggro to snap off Frenzy or Conclave Tribunal or burn spells. straightforward answers against Planeswalker, either pro-actively, or reactively.

4 Legion Warboss

Classic sideboard switcheroo. It has won me games more times than I am comfortable admitting. I side in all 4 on the play against Control/Combo, and 3 on the draw. It is a wincon all by itself and a fast one. I prefer it over Thief of Sanity, because it closes game. Thief is really good, but you still have to grind through the matchups, and these decks are usually better equipped to do that.

2 Cry of the Carnarium

For the WW and occasional tokens matchups.

3 Moment of Craving

For the aggro matchups in general

Sideboard Guide

Esper Control / Simic Nexus / Temur Reclamation / Any Slow decks
+3 Duress

+3 Negate
+4 Legion Warboss (+3 on the draw)
-3 Ritual of Soot
-3 Lava Coil
-1 Cast Down
-1 Verix Bladewing

-2 Sarkhan (-1 on the draw)

Temur Reclamation

I treat it separately, because their sideboard options forces us to respect Phoenixes

+3 Duress

+3 Negate
+4 Legion Warboss (+3 on the draw)
-3 Ritual of Soot
-1 Lava Coil
-2 Cast Down
-1 Verix Bladewing

-2 Sarkhan (-1 on the draw)

-1 Dragon’s Hoard

Mono U

+3 Duress

+3 Moment of Craving

+2 Cry of the Carnarium

-3 Sarkhan

-3 Treasure Map

-2 Dragon’s Hoard

Mono R / White Weenies

+3 Moment of Craving

+2 Cry of the Carnarium

+2 Negate

+2 Duress

-3 Treasure Map

-3 Dragon’s Hoard

-3 Sarkhan

Sultai

+2 Duress (+3 on the draw)

+2 Negate

-2 Verix Bladewing

-2 Sarkhan (-3 on the draw)

Izzet Phoenix

+2 Cry of the Carnarium

+2 Moment of Craving

+3 Duress

+1 Negate

-3 Ritual of Soot

-3 Sarkhan

-1 Treasure Map

-1 Dragon’s Hoard

Izzet Drakes

+3 Duress

+2 Negate

-3 Ritual of Soot

-2 Sarkhan

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