With the format starting to take shape it has become clear that Dragon Rulers still reign supreme, with them winning YCS Toronto and the first ARG Online Open Tournament this past weekend. As far as regional results go I’ve seen as many as 7 out of the 8 decks in Top 8 being Dragon variants, the deck is clearly being played in high numbers right now. Even though it hasn’t been that long since the format started, builds of Dragon Rulers have already transformed so much from the early drafts. I want to take a look at the way Dragons have changed from early on and some of the trends you might see in some of the decks.
Not too long ago people were all over Plant Dragons and were testing like crazy on DN with the deck. As YCS Toronto approached, many people saw that cards like Lonefire Blossom, Spore, Foolish Burial, and One for One just didn’t cut it and that there were more optimal and better cards to be run. Quite a few people that I knew came to the same conclusion that the YCS Toronto winner did, that Debris Dragons and Dandylion would suffice without the plant engine. Let’s take a quick look at Edward Kuang’s 1st place list as certain cards in his deck are ran by many players nowadays:
3 Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos
3 Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls
3 Tempest, Dragon Ruler of Storms
3 Redox, Dragon Ruler of Boulders
1 Flamvell Guard
2 Dragunity Corsesca
2 Debris Dragon
2 Card Trooper
2 Maxx "C"
1 Effect Veiler
3 Sacred Sword of Seven Stars
3 Cards of Consonance
2 Dragon Ravine
1 Gold Sarcophagus
1 Mystical Space Typhoon
1 Foolish Burial
1 Dark Hole
1 Return from the Different Dimension
1 Skill Drain
2 Raigeki Break
Lonefire, Spore and others make the deck weaker to hand traps than you want it to be, I mean sure going Lonefire for Dandylion and then Redox’ing back Lonefire for some cool combos might be neat, but it is not necessary. Many people now even cutting Dandylion from their deck. One thing many people probably found odd when first looking at the decklist might have been the 2 Dragunity Corsesca and the 3 Cards of Consonance. Every dragon player wants to see Sacred Sword or a Card Trooper in their opening hand to help them get started, the last thing you need are dead Dragon tuners and Debris Dragons. Cards of Consonance lets you ditch those dead monsters away and help you dig for those key cards faster as well as cards like Maxx “C, Effect Veiler, Ravine, or the “I win button” Return. Discarding a Flamvell Guard away isn’t so bad since you can always revive it with Debris Dragon. The 2 Corsescas go along with the Cards of Consonances making them more consistent as well as giving you another tuner to search using Ravine or Tempest if the other ones are gone.
Dragon’s Ravine is another card that you see 2-3 copies of in many of the non-Dragunity Dragon decks now. Getting stuck with only 1 or 2 Dragons is brutal and can lead to a short game; this is another card which is great to open up with as it helps you put the Dragons you don’t have access to in the graveyard or you can ditch a card to search for Corsesca without using Tempest. Dragon’s Ravine is also very useful in matchups that use field spells, the biggest one being Spellbooks. Getting rid of their Tower by putting your Ravine over it is huge, shutting them out of that 2nd draw while not destroying Tower is great. Next turn they have to get another Tower up and search out a Fate if they don’t have one already to not be left defenseless, and sometimes it can be hard for the Spellbook player to do both in a turn. Even if they chain Spellbook of Fate to get rid of your Ravine, that’s one less Fate that they have to stop your play.
As far as traps go, Raigeki Break is one that has been in nearly every trap lineup I’ve seen in Dragons thus far. The discard for it is negligible since discarding a Dragon Ruler for it isn’t much of a cost. It is very versatile being able to hit big problem cards that Dragons fear like Pleiades, Abyssgaios, Vanity’s Emptiness and Crimson Blader. With more people playing Vanity’s Emptiness, some people have upped the count in their deck to 3 just to see it early and to make sure they don’t get locked down by it or anything else for that matter.
Another huge trap card right now is Vanity’s Emptiness. From Fire Fist all the way to Mermails, you see this card in just about every single deck made at this point including Dragons; this card is looking like the new Royal Oppression right now. The card is just that good right now, it’s made obvious by the $12-15 price tag it’s carrying right now, and it’s a common! Almost every deck right now can get hurt by this card at some point in the game even Spellbooks, I’ve won a few games myself when I flipped this card on a Spellbook of Life or Temperance. This card can just flat out win the Dragon mirror if flipped up at the right time. Nothing is worse than your opponent flipping this card up and turning your formally broken hand into garbage. It’s not all that hard for Dragons to put up a Stardust turn 1 and set Emptiness in the backrow, it’s especially easy for the Dragunity version to do. As long as Dragons see a large amount of play, this card will as well.
Skill Drain is seen as a one of in many Dragon Ruler decks. Skill Drain is a card that is pretty mediocre when facing any Dragon deck that isn’t Dragunites but is great in practically every other matchup. Going into Toronto some players like Bo Tang went into the event with 2-3 Skill Drains in their deck, wanting to be prepared for what they could face since the format wasn’t defined yet. Now it is clear that Dragons are played by a great number of people and that you will most likely face multiples in an event. You don’t really want to see multiple Skill Drains in your opening hand if you’re facing Dragons and with the draw power and deck thinning that Dragons have, hitting cards one ofs isn’t too hard so many players opt to only run 1 Skill Drain for this reason. You might see this card move to the side deck if Dragons get any bigger than they already are.
The last card I want to talk about is a side deck card, Debunk. Dale Bellido covered this card when he topped Toronto and I agree with him fully, this card is one of the best cards you can have in a Dragon side deck. Many players are siding 3 because of what this card does. Stopping hand traps like Maxx “C”, Effect Veiler, and Swift Scarecrow in the mirror is important, negating and banishing your opponent’s Dragon Rulers can be game breaking as well; they also won’t be able to use that Dragon Ruler effect again that turn since the effect was “used” already, using a card effect being different from activating (i.e. Mermail Abysslinde) it so remember that! The card also works in matchups like Mermail, Fire Kings, or Blackwings if you fear Kalut, I’ve even seen it sided in against Prophecy to stop High Priestess though I don’t know if I would recommend that.
That’s about it for this article, it is still early in the format so there any many things that can change. Don’t forget the ARG Circuit in Texas is in 9 days so you might see some new tech cards in main or side decks to adequately prepare for the Dragon-filled format, plan a last minute trip if you can so you can be a part of the first ARG Circuit! There are many cards you can use to shut down Dragons, name some of your favorites that you main or side deck below! Until next time guys!
- Tyree Tinsley
- YCS Rhode 2011 & YCS Meadowlands 2013 Champion