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Deck of the Day – Esper Dragons

Not many people are high on Esper Dragons right now. What was one of the best decks before the rotation has to undergo a bit of a facelift, but it’s still putting up results.

What Did It Keep?

Dragonlord Ojutai and Dragonlord Silumgar are still awesome. They are great finishers, control the board, and can turn the corner to win the game in the air quickly. They’re still the centerpieces.

Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy lost a step, but it’s still great in a deck filled with spells. He gives you the option to flashback alongside a powerful defensive planeswalker, and keeps your opponent honest with their removal spells that will be dead against everything else in the deck.

Silumgar’s Scorn is the best counterspell in Standard when it’s active. When you don’t have a Dragon, it can still be solid in a tempo format. It’s more important to have a Dragon when you cast Foul-Tongue Invocation, but its floor is still a removal spell.

You still have removal in Grasp of Darkness, a sweeper in Languish, and some card draw in Painful Truths. Ojutai’s Command can also be removal, life gain, card advantage, or a Jace.

You also still have some solid dual land options in Prairie Stream, Sunken Hollow, and the always powerful Shambling Vent.

What Did It Lose?

Dig Through Time was a huge card for this archetype. Painful Truths is still solid, but the life cost is a problem and sorcery speed is a big downgrade.

The biggest loss, however, is Polluted Delta and Flooded Strand. Esper Dragons had near perfect mana, and while the lands in the graveyard for delve don’t matter anymore without Dig, they still hurt Jace big time.

What Did It Gain?

Well, you have some additional dual lands. Building a functional mana base in a world without fetchlands is a challenge, but Choked Estuary goes a long way. I don’t know if this will be consistent enough, especially since you need to play Shambling Vents and Evolving Wilds to enable your mana, but it helps. Estuary also gets to come in untapped with either a Prairie Stream or Sunken Hollow in hand, as well as Swamp or Island.

You also get Anguished Unmaking. It’s another costly card as far as your life total is concerned, but the 1-mana upgrade on Utter End is huge. In a tempo-based format, being able to cast this a turn earlier could save you more than 3 life.

Finally, there’s Sorin, Grim Nemesis. Another expensive card in a clunky deck can be rough, but Sorin changes the game. He lets you kill a creature, gain a bunch of life, and then provides a card advantage win condition. Sorin can win singlehandedly, but it slots in nicely for a deck already looking to control the board and that desperately wants life gain.

Esper Dragons was already a bit on the slow and clunky side when it had perfect mana and that has taken a hit, but it’s still a powerful deck with some incredible cards. It’s also a favorite of many players and plays almost all of the cards from old Standard (meaning you don’t need to buy quite as many new cards).

Esper Dragons

Ali Aintrazi, 15th place in a Standard Open

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