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Return Of The Ur-Dragon: A Budget Dragon Primer

Commander / EDH Battlecruiser Budget Casual Dragons Flying Haste Midrange Primer



This decklist is also available and being updated on Moxfield: https://www.moxfield.com/decks/Lb57UKphDkS9bPGniSXzGg

"I am the blood of the Ur-Dragon, coursing through all dragonkind".

My interest in Commander (and Magic the Gathering, really) began with dragons, headed by the mighty The Ur-Dragon. The deck was very enjoyable, and won quite a few games, but I realized it was lacking. Among other qualities, it lacked the speed, consistency, and intricacy that opposing commanders tended to field. It didn't take long before I realized my success was primarily due to commander politics, without which my deck would inevitably lose, especially against decks with combo potential and consistent removal.

So I sought power, and my quest for power transformed my original deck into one headed by Scion of the Ur-Dragon. My upgraded Scion of the Ur-Dragon deck was potent, but my newfound power was cursed [1]. My first game scarred my playgroup with the dreaded "30 Damage" combo (Scion of the Ur-Dragon + Scourge of Valkas + Rite of Replication). Stunned by the power spike, I refused to play Scion of the Ur-Dragon until my friends had upgraded their decks. I thought I had the patience to wait, but I couldn't resist: I released Scion of the Ur-Dragon against my unprepared significant other and her kin. After having their life totals reduced by 1 damage increments an essentially infinite number of times (Scion of the Ur-Dragon + Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind + Curiosity) over a game or two or several, my significant other now has an irrational hatred of dragons regardless of whether they be aligned with or against her. Needless to say, I seldom get to play my Scion of the Ur-Dragon deck.

I had alternative decks, but they paled in comparison to Scion of the Ur-Dragon; and more importantly, I missed playing dragons. Realizing my Scion the Win Button deck now had little resemblance to the original Draconic Domination precon it began as, and realizing a desire to return to my roots, I used the dilapidated shell of my original The Ur-Dragon deck to create WAsitora, NeKOru QUEEEN! [2]. I enjoyed using Wasitora, Nekoru Queen and her adorable dragon-kittens, but I couldn't help but notice the deck was inferior to my original The Ur-Dragon deck in every aspect... It was missing something, and I sought to capture the original joy I felt when playing commander. As I sipped upon a fruity boba green tea, I experienced an epiphany, recalling a conversation with a student of mine that revolved around the following quote:

“I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them.” - Andy Bernard

My good old days were spent with me turning a wide yet tall variety of mighty dragons sideways. My good old days were characterized with me casting cost reduced dragons. My good old days were spent creating storms that spawned dragons! I took out The Ur-Dragon from my haphazardly reused matte black Dragon Shield sleeve, I stared at the the primordial essence of all dragonkind... and The Ur-Dragon stared back. Seemingly blind yet penetrative, it pierced through illusion and darkness to reveal a deep truth concealed in a well of infinite time. A faint yet bellowing roar transcended entire planes to echo:

"Burn away the burdens of mortality. Scatter the seeds of devastation and sweep away all opposition! FOR YOU ARE THE BLOOD OF THE UR-DRAGON, COURSING THROUGH ALL DRAGONKIND! [3].

And so I sat down, deconstructed a deck or two, and began shaping a relatively budget deck that would embody the Return Of The Ur-Dragon.

In all seriousness, I forget what adaptations I made to the original precon, but I just wanted to make a good, casual dragon deck within the upper limit of my playgroup's budget. I've come across several lists that seem reputable (many of which are from the EDH Dragon's Lair discord server), but are also far outside of my budget. This deck is an attempt to reconcile budget and efficacy [4-10].

"The fear of dragons is as old and powerful as the fear of death itself".

I do not consider anything I write here to be novel, rather they are common strategies that work in my playgroup that I have accumulated over many games of watching and playing Magic, Hearthstone, and Starcraft.

I see each game as having three broad phases: the early game, the mid game, and the late game. The early game consists of land drops and mana acceleration. The mid game consists of sparring between players as they strive to either win or set up for the late game. And the late game is the stage where each turn can be the game's fiery culmination.

In my playgroup, this deck excels just as the late game begins, but before true control decks can take the reign, so my key to success is to persevere until then. It's challenging to survive against targeted removal or concentrated attacks, so I strive to not be perceived as the most powerful player at the table. Yes, I try to be as efficient as possible, and at least have blockers so as not to be the early game punching bag, but I would hesitate to, for example, use a turn 1 Sol Ring unless I have a clear need for the mana next turn (e.g. ramp).

People have a natural albeit justified fear of dragons, and my playgroup has learned to respect it. Although well earned, this fear of dragons frequently leads to poor threat assessment, so I hesitate to play as many dragons as I can each turn (even if it's mana efficient to do so), unless I can see a short path to victory. Not playing dragons each turn is also useful, because it is too greedy to over commit to a board state where each player can be expected to have board clears and answers. Two exceptions are when I need to summon dragons for card draw (e.g. The Ur-Dragon, Elemental Bond, Garruk's Uprising, or Temur Ascendancy) or have negotiated an attempt to defeat an archenemy.

Despite my attempts not to be perceived as the #1 most dangerous player at the table, becoming #1 in both name and reality is inevitable. Ideally this happens just after a group effort to dethrone an archenemy, after which I can cinch a win by out-valuing my opponents through card advantage and high yield spells (i.e. Dragons!). Furthermore, I can rely on using one of the particularly powerful synergies listed in the Deck Synergies section to (re)build a board, apply pressure, or go for the win. It's important to prioritize knocking out players at this point over spreading out damage.

Meta side note: Interestingly enough, I have noticed that the first archenemy almost never wins in my playgroup. So many of my wins have anecdotally taken place just after a group effort to dethrone an archenemy that I actively try not to become the first archenemy unless it cannot be helped (everyone else has a slower deck or has a bad start). In fact, I frequently try to help other players become the first archenemy while ingratiating myself with the group and while preserving my most threatening cards (leaving enough in hand and off the board so that I am not the archenemy) so that I can be in a stronger position after the archenemy is dethroned.

"If it comes for you, die boldly or die swiftly--for die you will".

My primary means of attaining victory in the late game are to, simply put, beat down my opponent life totals down to zero with massive dragons. Summoning dragons and turning them sideways with a beaming smile is why I made this deck. Yes, I could fit in more efficient win conditions, but I've walked down that path before in my original dragon deck. That said, there are some notable synergies that are highlighted below, many of which I encouraged to be combined.

  1. Attacking with Utvara Hellkite while Scourge of Valkas and/or Dragon Tempest and/or Terror of the Peaks are on the battlefield can establish a board full of dragons that can grow exponentially. Left unchecked, Utvara Hellkite can get out of hand quickly. More importantly, Scourge of Valkas and/or Dragon Tempest can deal an amount of indirect damage to opponents proportional to the number of dragons we can generate with Utvara Hellkite.

  2. Using Living Death or Patriarch's Bidding while Dragonlord Kolaghan is in the graveyard or another haste enabler (e.g. Temur Ascendancy) is on the battlefield, while a large number of dragons are in the graveyard, can revitalize our board with hasted dragons that can deal a nontrivial amount of combat damage.

  3. Using Living Death or Patriarch's Bidding while Dragon Tempest is in in play and/or Scourge of Valkas/Terror of the Peaks is in the graveyard, while many of dragons are also in the graveyard, can generate a surprising amount of indirect damage. The damage this synergy can deal can be overwhelming in the late game, making it our most powerful win condition if we can set it up. If only Scourge of Valkas or Dragon Tempest is available, then we can calculate the amount of indirect damage we can deal through the equation P = D x D where P is the amount of indirect damage possible and D is the number of dragons in our graveyard. For example, resurrecting 7 dragons (D = 7) can deal 49 damage (P = 49) indirectly, enough to KO an opponent from 40 to 0 with extra damage to spare. If both Scourge of Valkas and Dragon Tempest can be online, then we can calculate the amount of damage possible through the equation P = D x D x 2. Using our second equation, we need only 5 dragons (D = 5) to deal 50 damage (P = 50) indirectly with extra damage to spare. In the late stage of the game, I can easily have >5 dragons in the graveyard, and life totals are low enough that ~50 damage can end games on the spot if optimally distributed. The damage Terror of the Peaks can deal is dependent on the creatures summoned, but it is more than capable of dealing a considerable amount of damage.

  4. Using Sneak Attack while we have Elemental Bond, Garruk's Uprising, or Temur Ascendancy is out will enable us to have a very powerful swing turn. Being able to summon any dragon in our hand for only one mana is advantageous, because of the number of combat based triggers the our dragon synergies rely on. While losing our board presence and card advantage for short term gain can be detrimental over the long run, it would be worthwhile if we have a way to draw cards or want to quickly fill our graveyard for reanimation shenanigans (e.g. Living Death, Patriarch's Bidding). That said, I would advise against doing this if you lack a way to follow up on this (holding dragons in reserve to summon normally and maintain board presence or have reanimation spells). Losing your hand for one bursty swing turn may not be worthwhile if you lack a way to refill your hand and/or cannot thoroughly crippled your opponents.

  5. While having any card draw engine out is synergistic, using Sneak Attack while Greater Good is out is so acutely synergistic that it deserves its own point. Sneak Attack overperforms if we have Greater Good on the board, because we can sacrifice sneak attack'd creatures that are as good as dead to Greater Good to draw many cards (hopefully more creatures that we can summon to continue digging deep through our deck). The amount of cards we can draw through this synergy is gratuitous, and if we are fortunate enough to draw the cards needed to enable Synergy 3 in this list, then this ascends from a synergy into a winning combo line (see Synergy 3). To clarify, the winning combo line involves drawing into key reanimation cards (e.g Living Death, Patriarch's Bidding) and key protection spells (Stubborn Denial, An Offer You Can't Refuse); during our discard phase we will fill our graveyard with key dragons (e.g. Terror of the Peaks, Scourge of Valkas) to enable Synergy 3 on this list next turn. All this is before we even attack with our sneak attack'd dragons. If we are able to summon Old Gnawbone before combat then we can produce an absurd amount of treasures to continue the Sneak Attack feedback loop. Furthermore, if we are able to summon Knollspine Dragon after combat then we can continue to draw an exorbitant amount of cards (to again hopefully enable Synergy 3). The Synergy 3 winning combo line is a turn delayed (because we rely on the discard phase to fill our graveyard) graveyard dependent combo, however, so it is relatively fragile; but the fact that it doesn't rely on the combat phase also makes it immune to fog effects and niche board states.

  6. While Sneak Attack and Greater Good is arguably one of our most potent synergies, the addition of Ganax, Astral Hunter turns this synergy into a winning combo line. As mentioned in Synergy 5, Sneak Attack and Greater Good allow us to draw deep into our deck and summon any creature in our hand for . As liberating as this is, we can limited by the amount of we have at our disposal. Ganax, Astral Hunter removes this limitation by producing 1 treasure token for each dragon that we sneak attack out. Now that we are not limited by mana, we can essentially draw our entire deck and summon each dragon in it with Sneak Attack and Greater Good. Because you can draw into and summon every dragon from your deck, you will eventually be able to summon enough indirect damage dealing dragons (e.g. Scourge of Valkas, Terror of the Peaks) to win off triggers alone. And if necessary, we can still cast net a positive amount of mana through Goldspan Dragon (which allows each treasure to be worth two mana) to cast key noncreature spells like Dragon Tempest to still win off indirect damage or Patriarch's Bidding if key dragons are in the graveyard instead of your deck/hand. Furthermore, this synergy allows us to draw into all the counterspells necessary to protect itself. One caveat to this synergy, however, is that it can fail if you not unfortunate enough to not draw into any dragons that you can continue to summon and sacrifice. However, odds are likely that you will be able to draw into and sneak attack out token producing dragons (e.g. Lathliss, Dragon Queen, Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm) that you can sacrifice instead before combat begins.

  7. Dealing combat damage to an opponent with Ancient Gold Dragon while Dragon Tempest, Scourge of Valkas, or Terror of the Peaks is out can produce a nontrivial amount of dragon tokens that can deal damage proportional to the number of dragons produced. This damage can be distributed as optimally as needed depending on the number of dragons produced. This synergy is so potent, that it can end games on the spot if we high roll enough to produce enough dragon tokens. Assuming that opponents are at 40 health each just prior to combat damage from Ancient Gold Dragon alone, we would need to produce at least 12 dragon tokens to defeat each opponent. At the stages of the game that Ancient Gold Dragon can be summoned, however, it is not unreasonable to assume that less than 10 dragon tokens would need to be produced, and you easily would have a >50% chance of winning the game on the spot. Even if you low roll or have Terror of the Peaks out instead of Dragon Tempest or Scourge of Valkas, you the amount of damage produced has the potential to clear the board of key creatures as needed.

  8. Summoning Hellkite Courser while Old Gnawbone is in your hand can produce a lot of mana that will facilitate many synergies. Summoning Hellkite Courser will allow us to summon and attack with The Ur-Dragon for the turn. After declaring attacks, we can have The Ur-Dragon place down Old Gnawbone as our free permanent, which will produce at least 10 treasures as The Ur-Dragon deals combat damage. This synergy becomes even more potent if we had previously set up dragons in advance to capitalize on The Ur-Dragon's effect, and this synergy becomes gratuitous if Hellkite Courser was summoned through Sneak Attack. Finally, this synergy is potent enough that I would consider Old Gnawbone and Hellkite Courser to be among the best dragons to tutor for in any scenario, especially if mana is not a concern.

  9. Summoning Hellkite Courser while Greater Good is in your hand can allow us to draw many cards, and hopefully find cards to enable other key synergies. Summoning Hellkite Courser will allow us to summon and attack with The Ur-Dragon for the turn. After declaring attacks, we can have The Ur-Dragon place down Great Good as our free permanent. The Ur-Dragon will return to the command zone regardless, so we can sacrifice it to Greater Good after The Ur-Dragon deals combat damage to draw at least 10 cards. If necessary or possible, we can sacrifice other dragons to continue drawing cards that can enable other synergies.

  10. Summoning Hellkite Courser while Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm on the battlefield allows us to create a free The Ur-Dragon token that we keep and enjoy two The Ur-Dragon triggers. This is very useful even on an empty board, because we can draw twice the amount of cards we normally would've drawn and place down two permanents.

  11. Summoning Knollspine Dragon after dealing a lot of damage to an opponent can draw a gratuitous amount of cards. While this is possible after any combat phase, this synergy becomes a lot more potent when combined with other damage dealing synergies listed in this section. The high mana value of Knollspine Dragon makes it hard to cast, but having Monster Manual or Sneak Attack out makes this synergy accessible enough that Knollspine dragon is worth tutoring for in the right circumstances.

  12. Making combat damage more efficient by giving dragons double strike with Atarka, World Render or Sylvia Brightspear. Although I may prioritize more mana efficient spells by the time we can do this, summoning Sylvia Brightspear with a The Ur-Dragon trigger can surprise opponents with double strike'd dragons when they least expect it.

  13. Ganax, Astral Hunter synergizes extremely well with token producing dragons such as Dragon Broodmother, Utvara Hellkite, Lathliss, Dragon Queen, Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm, and Ancient Gold Dragon. Dragon Broodmother would enable Ganax, Astral Hunter to produce at least 4 treasures each turn cycle. Ganax, Astral Hunter essentially turns Ancient Gold Dragon into Ancient Copper Dragon. And of course just about any dragon synergizes extremely well with Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm, but that is especially true here. As honorable mentions, Goldspan Dragon will also notably make each of our treasures worth 2 mana. And Gadrak, the Crown-Scourge can be turned online with Ganax, Astral Hunter too.

  14. Drawing a lot of cards with Dragonborn Champion is easily accomplished with many of our dragons. Scourge of Valkas, Terror of the Peaks, Dragon Tempest are notable ways to draw cards through Dragonborn Champion that are not combat dependent. Furthermore, it's possible to drop Dragonborn Champion as our The Ur-Dragon trigger to unexpectedly draw a nontrivial number of cards.

  15. Summoning dragons while Lathliss, Dragon Queen or Lozhan, Dragons' Legacy and Scourge of Valkas or Terror of the Peaks or Dragon Tempest is out can produce a lot of indirect damage.

  16. Having Dragon Broodmother create dragon tokens to serve as blockers or synergize with Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury, Dromoka, the Eternal, or The Ur-Dragon attack triggers.

  17. Summoning key dragons while Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm is in play can produce a powerful board state that augments the potency that all of the above synergies provide very quickly and dramatically. For example, Synergy 1 listed above becomes exponentially more powerful if the dragons were summoned while Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm is already in play.

Cut Synergies

  1. Attacking with Hellkite Charger and Savage Ventmaw allows for an additional number of combat phases equivalent to the amount of available mana we have. This works by having Savage Ventmaw generate upon declaring attack, which we can use with one additional mana to fuel Hellkite Charger's ability to create additional combat phases at the cost of . This synergy can be even more powerful if we have enough dragons with haste on the battlefield to deal lethal damage, especially if we capitalize on the attrack triggers of dragons like Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury, Dromoka, the Eternal, or The Ur-Dragon. The primary problem is the mana investment and the lack of haste on Savage Ventmaw, which can be circumvented by summoning Savage Ventmaw the turn prior.

  2. Using Sarkhan the Mad's -4 ability with enough dragons on the battlefield to KO an opponent with indirect damage. This has actually been an out for me from board states where I never would have been able to win through conventional damage (e.g. endless fog effects).

  3. Summoning Bladewing the Risen while Lathliss, Dragon Queen or Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm is in play can rebuild a board state very quickly. Assuming Bladewing the Risen can resurrect another dragon, we can create a board of 5 dragons from just 2.

  4. Having Dragonlord Dromoka out on the battlefield can protect any of these synergies from spells your opponents may be preserving.

  5. Having Scion of the Ur-Dragon tutor for any dragon can expedite any of the above synergies.

"Death Arrives on tattered wings and stolen bones"

Budget vs Actual Tutors

If budget were not a concern, then the most obvious inclusion in any deck would be the best of tutors magic can offer (Vampiric Tutor, Demonic Tutor, Grim Tutor, Enlightened Tutor). Budget is a concern in this budget primer, however, so the only tutors we run are Sarkhan's Triumph, Eladamri's Call, and possibly Diabolic Tutor. This raises an important question, however: what do we tutor for? Firstly, there’s not really a wrong choice depending on your play style. That said, the most optimal tutor depends greatly on the information we have on our opponents and the stage of the game we are in. I outline below some common scenarios below you may find yourself in and solid creatures to tutor for:

Land Tutors/Ramp

Land ramp is so ubiquitous that they may not be considered tutors for the purposes of deck building, but they are still technically tutors. More importantly, land is one pillar of deckbuilding I've compromised on in order to make the most of the budget limitations I've placed upon this deck. Because we've compromised on land so much, it's necessary to optimize land tutoring to smooth out our mana base in game.

We run the classic basic green ramp package of Sakura-Tribe Elder, Rampant Growth, Cultivate, and Kodama's Reach. We have 1 copy of Plains, Island, and Swamp and several copies of Forest and Mountain. Because of this, it's worth noting that we will be unable to use these ramp spells to search for 2 copies of Plains or Swamps that may be needed for Farewell and/or Crux of Fate. That said, we will mostly be using these ramp spells to primarily search for mountains, because most of our spells and abilities (especially Sneak Attack) require or are limited to red mana.

The other more premium and useful ramp spells we run are Farseek, Nature's Lore, and Three Visits. When using these ramp spells, we usually want to search for Ziatora's Proving Ground, Ketria Triome, or Indatha Triome depending on what cards we have in hand. Some spells to keep in mind are any dragons that require 3 pips of red mana (e.g. Dragon Broodmother, Scourge of Valkas) and board clears like Farewell and Crux of Fate. If we desperately need the mana, however, we can simply tutor for our one shock land, Stomping Ground. Investing more in shock land and fetch lands would obviously be optimal and void this section, but it's challenging if not impossible to create a budget decklist that simultaneously includes the best of dragons, fetch lands, and shock lands.

"The bane of countless shattered weapons, each a failure to slay her" - Daghatar, the Adamant.

Attacking with The Ur-Dragon out on the battlefield is advantageous for obvious reasons, but I consider it important enough to highlight. The ideal hand consists of a healthy amount of ramp that seamlessly transitions into summoning relatively cheap dragons to serve as blockers and disincentivize attacks. After using most of my cards to ramp from the early game to mid game, however, I usually only have a few cards in hand to enter the mid game with. At this stage, my priority is card draw so that we can set up for our time to shine: the late game. If I have Temur Ascendancy, Garruk's Uprising, Elemental Bond, or Greater Good then I continue enjoying the game. At times that I unfortunately lack card draw, however, I must rely on The Ur-Dragon to compensate in what I call The Ur-Dragon Turn.

The Ur-Dragon Turn is the turn where I summon The Ur-Dragon with the primary purpose being to draw cards and the secondary purpose being to deal damage with it. The high cost of The Ur-Dragon means it will likely be the only significant spell you can cast this turn, so it is critical to make the most of this turn by spending the prior turn setting up at least 2 dragons on the board to capitalize on The Ur-Dragon's effect. Setting up for The Ur-Dragon Turn to maximize the likelihood that The Ur-Dragon can draw a respectable number of cards (at least 2) is another reason why I attempt to preserve the number of dragons in my hand or board. Summoning The Ur-Dragon onto an empty board just to have it die to single target removal is one of the worst feelings in the world. The Ur-Dragon is an understandably non-discreet target, however, so I am willing to rely on a reasonable amount of commander politics to preserve its presence so that I can maintain some means of card draw (e.g. promising not to attack with it or letting other players "control" what my dragon(s) do next). That said, I seldom expect The Ur-Dragon to survive a turn, so I am content drawing at least a couple cards to occupy me while I set up for the next The Ur-Dragon Turn, which ideally includes some form of reanimation (e.g. Whip of Erebos).

While The Ur-Dragon Turn can be a watershed moment in many games, I begin each game under the assumption that I will never be able to execute it for several reasons:

  • The main benefit of The Ur-Dragon is its eminence ability. If everything is going well, I really should be able to win the game purely with cost reduced dragons.

  • My meta is relatively slow, but commander games can still end quickly enough that I may never get to cast a meaningful 9 CMC spell.

  • The Ur-Dragon Turn as I've described above is largely a means of card draw (and desperate card draw at that). Outside of that, The Ur-Dragon is more likely to be a spell I cast to win more or a spell to cast when I'm truly desperate.

"The dragon has no false pretense of compassion, no false mask of civilization--just hunger, heat, and need" - Sarkhan Vol.

"No Machinations, no puppet strings. Just pure, sweeping death" - Tasigur, the Golden Fang.

A list of cards that I realized were integral to the deck, or regretted cutting at one point, and/or over performed follow. My eyes light up whenever I draw these cards.

  • Glorybringer - I only included Glorybringer because I needed dragons to fill my list initially. I knew Glorybringer was good when it was in standard, but I was skeptical about how powerful it would be in commander. I didn't think 4 damage on a body would be sufficient, but I was always happy to draw Glorybringer, because this decklist lacks targeted removal in a format where there are a plethora of good targets to take out. Yes, we could always add more removal, but we want as many of our our cards to advance our game plan as possible, and Glorybringer does just that while simultaneously being a form of removal.

  • Utvara Hellkite - Utvara Hellkite is a straight up win condition if it can remain on the board uncontested due to its ability to increase the number of dragons we have exponentially. Depending on the stage of the game, drawing Utvara Hellkite makes me instantly change my mindset and short term strategy from survival to victory.

  • Farewell - Farewell is critical in games with artifact heavy decks and it can be a clutch board wipe. The versatility of Farewell makes me always happy to have it just in case things go south for us.

  • Dragon Tempest - Dragon Tempest is probably the best card in our deck, because it provides our dragons haste for a low CMC, and it enables our dragons to gain powerful ETB removal effects. In the right situations, it can also become our win condition. There's so many things going for Dragon Tempest, that I begin to think of my path to victory as soon as I draw it.

  • Temur Ascendancy - Temur Ascendancy is repeatable card draw and haste in one low CMC card. It's an ideal card for our deck.

  • Living Death and Patriarch's Bidding - These mass reanimation cards allows us to return all our dragons back to the board for a huge tempo play. Being a tribal deck, Living Death and Patriarch's Bidding usually benefits us more than our opponents. More importantly, Living Death and Patriarch's bidding can become our win conditions, if the right dragons are in the graveyard. And to top it off, Living Death can be an emergency board wipe when all else fails.

  • Crux of Fate - Crux of Fate is a low CMC, one sided board wipe. There isn't much not to like about this card, especially when our deck needs board wipes to persevere through the early stages of the game and set up for our dragon's triumphant arrivals in the mid to late game.

  • Sneak Attack - The main disadvantage and obstacle to our dragons and their synergies are their high CMC. Sneak Attack fortunately allows us to circumvent their high CMC to enable synergies that normally would not be feasible without an unrealistic amount of mana. Games where I draw Sneak Attack are vastly different from games where I don't draw Sneak Attack; in fact they are different enough the first thing II would add if this weren't a budget primer would be enchantment tutors specifically for Sneak Attack.

  • Greater Good - Greater Good is such a good draw engine for us, especially as insurance for slain dragons, that I immediately begin to think about whether it's worth sacrificing dragons to risk drawing into win conditions like Sneak Attack and Living Death or Patriarch's Bidding. The fact that I can even consider such a risk highlights how valuable Greater good is as a means of card draw. Being able to synergize so well with Sneak Attack is a massive bonus.

  • Ganax, Astral Hunter - I was skeptical of how useful this card would be when it was first spoiled, but I planned to try it out as I do most dragons, and I am glad I did. Ganax is similar to Dragonlord's Servant in that it essentially discounts all our dragons by 1 mana, but it is far superior in that it is a dragon itself. While a discount is not the same a rebate (which is what Ganax essentially provides), the treasures produced can be saved for future turns unlike cost reducers. Furthermore, the treasures can be augmented with Goldspan Dragon and the treasures can be produced in absurd amounts with token producing dragons in play. I still didn't think too much of it, however, until I realized that I began tutoring for it when mana was a problem and when presented with the option to enable Synergy 6.

Cut Cards

  • Scion of the Ur-Dragon - Scion of the Ur-Dragon is so powerful that it can replace The Ur-Dragon as our commander, and make the deck more powerful as a result [2]. Scion of the Ur-Dragon can become any of our best dragons and simultaneously entomb them for reanimation shenanigans later down the road.

  • Rishkar's Expertise - Our deck lacks card draw and ways to cheat things into the field. Rishkar's Expertise does both at the late stage of the game when we need it most.

  • Keiga, the Tide Star - Keiga's ability is conditional which can make him seem too situational to justify. But what I've found is that his ability becomes relevant far more often than expected in the outrageous and unique commander games I enjoy. Keiga doubles as a deterrent, which we desperately need, and serves as an out to board states which may be too stacked to conventionally dismantle. For example, we can use Keiga to steal a problematic and/or low CMC commander (e.g. Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons, Najeela, the Blade-Blossom) when that player is poised to win through a combo. Furthermore, Keiga's conditional ability to steal any creature can make commander politics a necessity to kill Keiga, which is thoroughly enjoyable for me to negotiate when rallying players against an archenemy. Keiga is also a dragon we can tutor for with Scion of the Ur-Dragon when our opponents least expect it.

  • Gadrak, the Crown-Scourge - This deck list lacks the sheer number of artifacts needed to use Gadrak to its full potential. Nevertheless, this is an extremely CMC efficient (in terms of raw CMC and pips) dragon that serves a critical role: being a respectable blocker in the early game. If needed, I can tutor for Gadrak and summon it on the same turn; this is a feat that is normally very unlikely to occur in the early and mid game.

"The justice of dragons demands more than just an eye for an eye".

  • Shivan Devastator - Having a hasted dragon that can fall on curve is a very attractive option, especially if we want to lean into an aggressive tempo-centric playstyle. However, the fact that Shivan Devastator enters the battlefield as a 0/0 limits the synergy provided by Temur Ascendancy, Garruk's Uprising and Elemental Bond in this decklist.

  • Two-Headed Hellkite - I really enjoy everything this card provides, especially it's flavor text. However, the color intensive mana cost this card makes me hesitant to use it, especially considering that this budget deck runs a budget mana base. I would strongly consider including this dragon if I also ran Morophon, the Boundless, however. Overall, I certainly like Two-Headed Hellkite, but I think we have other cards that synergize just slightly better.

  • Scion of the Ur-Dragon - Scion of the Ur-Dragon was a favored card of mine for the longest time, but I ultimately realized that it was a pet card that underperformed. Because we don't take advantage of our graveyard the vast majority of the game, Scion of the Ur-Dragon is in many ways a 5 to 7 mana tutor at minimum. Five mana (of each color too) is a nontrivial mana investment required set up a heavily restricted tutor. Even when using Scion of the Ur-Dragon's ability optimally, a healthy understanding of the stack can still render Scion of the Ur-Dragon vulnerable to removal. When playing it, I realized that it did too little too late for too much. In comparison, something like Monster Manual is able to cheat in dragons far more effectively and permanently, albeit only from hand.

  • Bladewing the Risen - Bladewing the Risen was a card that was in my list for a long time. When looking for cuts, however, I realized that Bladewing the Risen is irrelevant most of the early game. And more importantly, I never cared about Bladewing the Risen itself; all I cared about was the dragon permanent it brought back. In comparison to other reanimation spells (e.g. Fearsome Awakening, Unburial Rites), Bladewing the Risen essentially becomes a heavily color restricted ( is a bit much) 2 or 3 CMC 4/4 dragon stapled onto a 4 or 5 CMC reanimation effect. There's a pump effect, yes, but I've never used it once. The dragon is fat attached to the effect we really cared about.

  • Atarka, World Render - Atarka, World Render is a powerful dragon that I included for many years, but I realized that I was never really happy to draw or play it, unless I already had a big board. The double strike upon attack trigger was also upsetting when summoning Atarka after attacks were declared (e.g. The Ur-Dragon, Klauth, Unrivaled Ancient, Old Gnawbone). Other than double strike, which Atarka doesn't even inherently have, it was just a 6/4 beater. Because double strike was the main benefit of Atarka, I opted to replace it with Sylvia Brightspear, which can provide double strike at all times rather than only after combat. If double strike is the priority and you have the room, then including Atarka, World Render in addition to of Sylvia would be ideal.

  • Ancient Silver Dragon - Ancient Silver Dragon has the potential to be an all star dragon in any list, but it will simply take too long to be summoned conventionally. By the time you summon Ancient Silver Dragon, assuming you can attack with it, you may not have enough turns left in the game to capitalize on them. Furthermore, having too many cards in hands isn't really a problem in this deck, and being able to discard to handsize can benefit us when attempting a Patriarch's Bidding or Living Death play. On top of that, being able to connect with Ancient Gold Dragon can offer us the opportunity to win the game through Scourge of Valkas triggers whereas Ancient Silver Dragon prolongs it.

  • Silumgar, the Drifting Death - This dragon was in my list for the longest time, but I ultimately opted to cut it, because I wasn't able to optimize its ability to clear boards as consistently as I would have liked to. While it could help control boards at times, I usually only managed to attack with one or two dragons, and simply wasn't good enough in most cases. If I did have multiple dragons out, I was usually already winning or I would have rather invested the mana into another dragon (e.g. Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury, The Ur-Dragon, Scourge of Valkas) to capitalize on all the dragon triggers.

  • Intet, the Dreamer - I had Intet in my deck originally when I didn't have any better dragons, and what I found was that Intet often just became a big 6/6 beater. I may have used his ability once out of all my games. More often than not, most of our mana is spent during our main phase summoning dragons so we seldom have leftover mana to pay for effects like Intet's, which isn't even guaranteed to trigger. Furthermore, any mana we do have leftover is usually better saved for any instant removal, protection, or counterspells that we may have drawn. Getting Intet's ability to trigger through combat damage is another complication that makes this card not as appealing as our current roster of dragons.

  • Crosis, the Purger - Crosis suffers from the same problem as Intet, the Dreamer. Discarding cards with Crosis' ability also feels bad and can draw the ire of the inflicted player.

  • Steel Hellkite - I initially thought Steel Hellkite was an autoinclude in every deck, but I came to realize that this card suffers from the same problems as Intet, the Dreamer in that his ability only gains traction when you have leftover mana, which we seldom have. While I like Steel Hellkite, I seldom got to use his ability except as a way to remove tokens, and that simply wasn't good enough as I gained access to more powerful dragons.

  • Wasitora, Nekoru Queen - I wanted Wasitora to work, I really did. I wanted Wasitora to work so much that I created an entire deck revolving around her [3]. However, Wasitora also suffers from the same problem as Intet. Furthermore, giving opponents the choice of what to sacrifice diminishes her value, and she almost never gets to create cute tokens (which, to be clear, is the main reason to play Wasitora), because our opponents almost always have something to sacrifice.

  • Boneyard Scourge - I thought Boneyard Scourge was a powerful addition, because it was a low CMC dragon that we could play early which also had the potential to stay relevant in the late game. In practice, however, I seldom drew Boneyard Scourge early enough for it to be useful when it mattered, and I seldom had the leftover mana to make use of its situational abilities in the late game. Whenever I did draw Boneyard Scourge, moreoften than not in the latter half of the game, I wished I had drawn another more impactful dragon instead.

  • Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund - This card seems powerful, and it is especially because haste is so powerful in our deck, but I refuse to play Karrthus for two reason: (1) it is financially expensive and (2) Karrthus makes our deck needlessly susceptible to cloning effects which would hard counter our deck.

  • Ryusei, the Falling Star - The only thing Ryusei brings to our deck is his ability to clear the board which sounds good. The problem is that his board clear is conditional, predictable, and at times insufficient. I would gladly remove this card for more consistently powerful board clears or dragons.

  • Crucible of Fire - I consider this to be a "win more" card that relies on dragons being on the board when our deck really just needs more ways to get dragons onto the board in the first place. Larger dragons are helpful, yes, but our deck seldom gets the opportunity to go wide in ways that make this card excel. Furthermore, +3/+3 seldom gets our dragons large enough to compete against decks dedicated toward pumping individual creatures very tall.

  • Kaalia of the Vast - This card can be very potent, but it's also very vulnerable to removal, and Kaalia is a removal magnet. The high cost, in both cash and CMC, also makes me hesitant to use Kaalia.

  • Thunderbreak Regent - I see Thunderbreak Regent in many decklists, but I just don't see how it earns its spot. It has a low CMC, yes, but its effect also seems lackluster to me in a format where health is just a resource that people have in abundance. I would reconsider this exclusion, if I wanted to go all in on lowering the CMC curve of the deck to increase power level, but that would involve losing a lot of the high CMC dragons that are the heart and soul of any The Ur-Dragon.

  • Sarkhan Unbroken - Even though Sarkhan, Unbroken's ultimate is potentially game winning, we will never get to reliably use it enough to justify Sarkhan exclusively for his ultimate. Instead, we would use Sarkhan primarily for its +1 and -2 abilities, which are fair for Sarkhan's high cost. Unfortunately, most players tend to look straight at Sarkhan's ultimate and decide to kill it. Sarkhan draws a disproportionate amount of hate/attention towards us and we seldom have a board state powerful enough to protect it.

  • Dragonlord Ojutai - Ojutai is good, but its ability is contingent on its ability to deal combat damage. We cannot reliably deal combat damage, so combat damage reliant effects have to be powerful enough to justify its relatively rare occurrence. Drawing one card, although we can be somewhat selective about it, just isn't good enough compared to all the other dragons we have access to.

  • Birds of Paradise - Birds of Paradise is undoubtedly powerful in more high power or competitive decks that aim for relatively early aggressive or combo wins, but our deck is a battlecruiser deck. We want the game to last long enough that we get to summon dragons in bulk, and mana dorks like Birds of Paradise, despite their versatility, usually don't persevere long enough for my preferences.

  • Darigaaz Reincarnated - Darigaaz looks good because of its built in recursion, but out of all my games I have only been able to take advantage of it twice. And both times Darigaaz came back too late to make a notable difference. Darigaaz is so expensive, and his ability is so delayed, that it comes out too close to the conclusion of the game for its reincarnation to make a meaningful enough impact.

  • Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire - Vaevictis Asmadi is a card I really wanted to include when it was leaked, but I was always hesitant to play him, due to his chaotic nature. It never felt good summoning him, because of his inherent ability to inadvertently compromise my board state or undermine my game plan.

"We trust in the scalelords, bringers of justice, that none can escape" - Urdnan, Dromoka Warrior.

I purchased the original cards in the Draconic Domination pre-con for approximately $100 and I originally intended to upgrade it with about $100 worth of cards over time. The deck's price has clearly exceeded my original budget, and while I do not regret doing so, I do want to offer my insights on making this deck more affordable for those interested in soaring with dragons on a budget. I highlight the more expensive items in this deck and cheaper alternatives to replace them with. Super Budget Return Of The Ur-Dragon is an example of a deck that that has incorporated the following budget cuts.

Any Decent Dragon are hyper budget dragons that are mediocre compared to their recommended counterparts, but useful enough to earn a spot if we simply need to field more dragons. I recommend including any of the following, in order of preference:

Other Budget Cards in no particular order

"The tools of the past will help us forge the future".

[1] https://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/competitive-scion-of-the-win-button-on-a-budget/

[2] http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/11-02-19-fFa-wasitora-nekoru-queen/

[3] https://mtg.gamepedia.com/The_Ur-Dragon#cite_note-1

[4] http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/the-ur-dragon-initiative/

[5] http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/ur-dragons-multiverse-onslaught-primer/

[6] https://www.moxfield.com/decks/FRCYCAR4rki5ASnD0W9y_w

[7] https://www.moxfield.com/decks/oTndvxb8bkqLPK_kANUrkA

[8] https://www.moxfield.com/decks/GHgSjxRm-0OF23SJBnp7gQ

[9] https://www.moxfield.com/decks/E08iDSPaDky3aplE40Unlw

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Updates Add


Revision 15 See all

(1 month ago)

+1 Drakuseth, Maw of Flames main
+1 Ganax, Astral Hunter main
-1 Goldspan Dragon main
-1 Scalelord Reckoner main
Top Ranked
Date added 3 years
Last updated 1 month

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

17 - 0 Mythic Rares

33 - 0 Rares

22 - 0 Uncommons

12 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 4.11
Tokens Copy Clone, Dragon 1/1 RG, Dragon 4/4 R, Dragon 5/5 R, Dragon 6/6 R, Faerie Dragon 1/1 U, Treasure
Folders Uncategorized, Cool Commander Decks, Inspiration, Dragones, dragon commander, Budget EDH, EDH Decks, Decks, Cool decks, EDH Brain Food, See all 41
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