The tyrannical reign of [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] is drawing to a close with the upcoming Standard rotation, leaving everyone’s favorite 5-mana Dragon to terrorize Modern (where, funnily enough, [card]Lingering Souls[/card] is heading as well). I can’t count the number of games where I thought I’d stabilized, only to lose to a Dragon (or two) roaring out of my opponent’s hand.
Those days are over, right? Theros is about gods, monsters, and heroes, not hasty Dragons. That is, unless you count Dragons as monsters, and expect the heroes to slay them...
I have to admit, if there’s slaying to be done, I’ll take the side of the Dragon. Stormbreath Dragon offers a flying hasty punch, now with protection from white and a sick monstrous ability to finish things off.
Let’s start from the top, without even taking into account the Monstrous ability (that being a whole new thing and all).
A 4/4 flying haste Dragon for five is sweet, but still more in Limited territory. Even if we hadn’t been spoiled by Thundermaw Hellkite, that wouldn’t quite cut it. Five really is the break point for awesomeness, and cracking in for four doesn’t quite get there. Luckily, there are a few abilities left on the card, more than enough to breathe life into it. Protection from white is an interesting one. My first thought was that it was yet another way to get past Lingering Souls, but that’s not actually all that relevant anymore, what with Souls rotating out. Even without Souls, there are plenty of white cards around to dodge. We already know of a few:
I’m sure as Theros unfolds we will see plenty more, and dodging those three is quite good on its own. Worst comes to worst, you can always block an Archangel of Thune with this, making attacks not very profitable for the opponent.
So, we have a 4/4 flier with haste that also has a relevant protection ability. That might be enough to see some play, thanks to the combination of aggression and resilience, but there’s one monstrous ability left (literally).
Paying RR5 to transform Stormbreath Dragon into a 7/7 is enticing, especially on turns where you know where it will connect, and combining that with a [card]Storm Seeker[/card] means that Stormbreath Dragon represents upwards of 10 damage if left unchecked. All of a sudden, we are in prime Constructed territory. A hasty threat that demands an answer (once you hit seven mana, of course) is very interesting indeed.
As with Thundermaw Hellkite (and trust me, it’s going to be hard for Stormbreath Dragon to get out from that guy’s shadow, deserved or not), Stormbreath Dragon fits most naturally in the most aggressive red decks. Dealing a ton of damage to the opponent is way more valuable if it combines with what the rest of your deck is doing, and making the initial 4 damage count is especially critical. Decks like that are always looking for good mana sinks, and this certainly provides. Even if you never hit seven mana, you didn’t overpay for the initial body, and that’s exactly how an aggressive deck can get away with playing 24 lands.
As I’ve often bemoaned on Hit or Myth, it’s hard to make really exciting Dragons, but I’ll give you a sneak preview: this hits the mark. Not only does it fly over and terrorize everyone with haste, the monstrous ability does feel truly monstrous, and is what Stormbreath Dragon needed to be a solid hit.