Last updated on May 23, 2023
The Ur-Dragon | Illustration by Jaime Jones
I’ve played my share of Commander decks over the years, but nothing hits quite as hard as good ol’ fashioned 5-color dragons. The Ur-Dragon is one of the best dragon commanders ever printed and has revolutionized this strategy. And it uses all the colors of the Magic rainbow!
I’m giving The Ur-Dragon a crack and putting together a super sweet list for you to try out. It has everything from Birds of Paradise to Tiamat and will be one of the most fun and powerful creature decks you’ll ever play.
Let’s get started!
Goldspan Dragon | Illustration by Andrew Mar
Birds of Paradise
Taigam, Ojutai Master
Scion of the Ur-Dragon
Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon
Wrathful Red Dragon
Ancient Copper Dragon
Intet, the Dreamer
Lathliss, Dragon Queen
Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm
Ramos, Dragon Engine
Silumgar, the Drifting Death
Teneb, the Harvester
Ancient Brass Dragon
Ancient Bronze Dragon
Bladewing the Risen
Ancient Silver Dragon
Cavern of Souls
Haven of the Spirit Dragon
Ziatora's Proving Ground
This is your classic big-mana big-creature deck that wants to use The Ur-Dragon’s 1-mana discount to all dragons as much as possible. The deck has a relatively high average mana value (3.95) since that’s dramatically reduced by the commander. It also features 37 lands along with tons of other pieces of acceleration to get you out of the gate with big body fliers as soon as possible.
Dragons are some of the most powerful creatures in Magic, and it won’t take much more than consistently resolving your massive fliers to overrun your opponents. You’ll be very impervious to board wipes and removal since you always have another bomb to play that warrants being removed.
This deck is an excellent choice for players of all skill levels since it’s about as straightforward as you can get with creature strategies. The abilities on your various creatures and enchantments help add some depth to the game beyond casting creature spells.
Your commander, The Ur-Dragon, is one of the most important pieces of this deck’s puzzle. The ever-present 1-mana discount off dragons is so important and powerful. It helps reduce the need for mana ramp or acceleration and gives you consistent turn 3 and 4 plays regardless of your early game situation.
It gets better, because The Ur-Dragon draws you cards whenever a dragon you control attacks and then lets you put a permanent on the battlefield from your hand. This is an incredible ability, especially when that permanent is powerful like Hellkite Tyrant.
While the early game is nothing compared to something like a mono-white weenie deck, there are powerful permanents and spells to be cast in the first few turns. Most dragons are in the 3- to 6-mana range with the discount from The Ur-Dragon, so you don’t need much below that.
Dragonlord's Servant is one of the best early spells you can cast. It’s a 2-drop and another way to cut mana costs on creatures. You use your mana much more efficiently and effectively than your opponents if you have two mana off any creature.
Sol Ring, Chromatic Lantern, and Chrome Mox make up the acceleration side of the early game. The ring is great for obvious reasons, but the Lantern is my artifact of choice for this deck. It’s the best fixing possible while also ramping you out, and you can’t get much better for a 5-color list.
Boy, does this deck run enchantments. It’s not restricted to even just four colors, so there are a few sweet ones to run for great early plays and mid-game value engines.
Another top tier enchantment that doesn’t see nearly enough play is Mirri's Guile. It lets you manipulate the top three cards of your deck every upkeep with no downside. It brings an incredible card advantage that allows you to hit land drops and gives you the best of three every draw step.
Steely Resolve is a great piece of green protection that insulates your dragons from removal or other activated abilities. Nothing feels worse than a Doom Blade shooting down your massive battlecruiser creature, so why let that be a possibility?
Kindred Discovery, Phyrexian Arena, Elemental Bond, and Sylvan Library are the last of the card draw engines, each great in unique ways. Having just one in play can propel you ahead of your opponents and provide enough resources to close out grindy matches.
Every proper Commander deck needs some way to interact with its opponents, even if it’s as simple as Mana Drain. This deck plays five colors and can sprawl out through a master-of-none approach to interaction.
Mana Drain is the only counterspell, but you’d be hard pressed to find a better one to include.
Cyclonic Rift is an auto-include since you’re in blue. It’s easy to cast with just one blue mana pip and always results either in your opponents conceding or in them being tortured through a much longer game.
Finally, the fun part! Lots of powerful dragons feature in the list, so let’s start with the best.
Ancient Copper Dragon is the newest epic threat. It’s a red elder dragon from Battle for Baldur’s Gate and can create up two twenty Treasure tokens when it connects for damage to another player. That’s more Treasure than you’ll probably ever get from a single Smothering Tithe.
Ancient Bronze Dragon is the +1/+1 counter version of its copper sibling. It’s still wicked powerful, but a little bit of a let down from the previous dragon. What wouldn’t be?
Dragonlord Dromoka is a heavily underrated dragon. It gets a bad rap for having little abilities, but that stax effect shutting down your opponents’ interaction nearly guarantees your haste creatures an uninterrupted attack.
Similar to Dromoka, Dragonlord Kolaghan shows its power by giving all your dragons haste. While this makes them much more threatening and makes their triggered abilities easier to resolve, Kolaghan’s triggered ability won’t be useful in a singleton format.
The Mana Base
A set of 14 basic lands and 23 nonbasics make up the mana base. You might find 37 a high number of lands to play (especially if you’re coming from cEDH), but it’s needed here. The deck has a high mana curve with only a handful of 1- and 2-drops, with double and even triple pip mana costs in every color.
As a result, lands make up a big portion of the deck’s budget.
The Ur-Dragon is very intuitive. Benefit from its cost reduction and then play it as a late-game bomb. Most of these dragons don’t interact with each other despite the many dragon synergies in the deck. They’re just big mana fliers that have game-impacting abilities.
Counterspells and board wipes doubtlessly get you flustered, but the phrase “beat your head against a wall and you’ll eventually see a crack” comes to mind. Any one of your late-game threats can turn the tide of a match if left unanswered, which is something you can (and sometimes will) heavily rely on.
Combos and Interactions
Rule 0 Violations Check
This deck has a few minor Rule 0 violations. Some play groups or game stores don’t like specific cards, either banning them outright or classifying decks with them in a specific category to avoid pubstomping.
The major hitters in this list are the tutors, specifically Demonic Tutor and Grim Tutor. These are two non-specific and efficient tutors that can signal alarms in a casual player’s mind. Tutors are only as good as the combo you’re assembling, but they can still be overbearing if you’re going to tutor up the best possible card in a given situation (you are).
Mana Drain becomes a bigger topic of discussion. It’s the best non-free counterspell in the game, and it has a big target on its back considering how much this deck uses colorless mana.
Cyclonic Rift, while not a super powerful tutor or free mana, is still a very salt-inducing and game-ruining card for your opponents. I’ve actually seen playgroups kick this card out of the group occasionally. It just makes for a better creature-based experience.
This deck is a little pricey, no bones about it. Most of that comes from playing nearly 30 mythic creatures, but there’s plenty of cuts along the way to help ease the pain of buying so many singles.
Mana Drain is my first pick to leave. Replace it with Counterspell and enjoy the cash saved. You can also axe Chrome Mox. It’s overpriced and made redundant by this deck’s other fixing, so throw in Arcane Signet instead.
Mirri's Guile is a great enchantment, but it’s also pricey. Any of your favorite other card advantage engines is fine here, or even just a simple cantrip. And Cavern of Souls has a great effect but is still pricey even after the Double Masters 2022 reprint.
There isn’t really a better way to play The Ur-Dragon. It’s dragons all the way down.
Crux of Fate | Illustration by Michael Komarck
I love dragon tribal in Commander, and I put some serious thought into each of the choices in this deck. It was truly brewed with love, but that love may not be as strong as Brian Kibler’s.
What do you think of my list? Are there any inclusions that you’re excited to test out in your own brew, or maybe some choices you think are questionable? Let me know down in the comments or over in the official Draftsim Discord.
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