Can we Build Around the Kamigawa Dragons?

Explore deck-building strategies centered around the powerful Kamigawa Dragons in Magic: The Gathering. Learn how to use their abilities and create decks!

Why is this Deck?

For today’s build, I need to look to the dragon cycle from Kamigawa Neon Dynasty. These cards were all amazing in draft, but didn’t quite see much competitive play aside from Ao, the Dawn Sky in some white shells from past standards. These dragons have respectable stat lines, meaningful keywords, and powerful death triggers that can swing a game if given the chance to go off.

So why weren’t they metagame players previously? The short answer is exile removal. Cards like Farewell, Sunfall, Leyline Binding, and The Wandering Emperor being so common have kept them in check by denying their board presence as well as their death triggers. Builders need to keep that in mind when building anything with these dragons and have a way to deal with it. So, I decided to create a deck that aims to put them in the graveyard manually without relying on combat damage, while also recurring them out of the graveyard for value.

Total Cards:

The Main Line

Our primary goal is to fill our graveyard using Brass’s Tunnel Grinder and Collector’s Vault. Since we have Collector’s Vault in the mix, we’ll be creating treasure tokens as well which means we can aim for a mass reanimation by way of Lich-Knights’ Conquest. If we’ve done our yard work, we can effectively transform our utility artifacts and treasure tokens into scary dragons our opponent will have to answer. With any luck, these dragons can deliver the kill shot through the air in a turn or two.

Magic the Gathering Card - Collector's Vault - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Lich-Knights' Conquest - MTG Circle

This deck is Mardu because it gives us access to three of the best Kamigawa dragons in Atsushi, the Blazing Sky, Ao, the Dawn Sky, and Junji, the Midnight Sky. Atsushi being cheaper than the other dragons is fantastic because it lets us get a board state by turn four that needs to be addressed and if it is killed can provide more treasure for the Lich Knight’s Conquest, being both a setup piece and the payoff. Ao and Junji both provide five power in the air and death triggers that can help progress the gameplan or stimy our opponent’s plans if answered. Tip: for Junji’s death trigger, you will almost always want to force the discard unless your opponent has milled an Atraxa, Grand Unifier or Etali, Primal Conqueror. Given that the deck isn’t gaining life, the two life loss from Junji is a real cost.

Additional Synergies

Looking through the list, you’ll notice we have a lot of other pieces that don’t appear to facilitate that gameplan, but they absolutely do. Ratadrabik of Urborg is an incredibly powerful card in any deck that sees legendary creatures dying and it becomes even more powerful in multiples as it can copy itself after a legend rule sacrifice. Roaming Throne can name dragons and let us double-dip on each death trigger or name zombie and super-chart Ratadrabik of Urborg. Bartolomé del Presidio gives us control over when our dragons die which can also result in Ratadrabik triggers. Even a Farewell or Sunfall can’t deny the death triggers if Bart is on the field.

Magic the Gathering Card - Ratadrabik of Urborg - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Roaming Throne - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Bartolomé del Presidio - MTG Circle

Sacrifice Trickery

One of the keys with this deck is getting Bartolomé del Presidio onto the battlefield and leverage the dragon death triggers as though they were spells in your hand. The most powerful use of this is alongside Ao, the Dawn Sky when you’re going for an attack, and it gets even nastier if you have at least one Ratadrabik online. After you declare attackers and your opponent declares blockers, you can sacrifice Ao to give two +1/+1 counters to your team. If you have Ratadrabik online, this will also produce at least one token copy of Ao that can be sacrificed to do this again. All of your creatures getting a surprise +4/+4 buff is often enough to win the game outright and you see how this scales with multiple Ratadrabiks or Roaming Thrones. Sacrificing Atsushi, the Blazing Sky in this way can also provide card draw or treasure tokens, whichever is better in the given situation.

The Interaction Suite and Sideboard

You’ll notice this deck runs Invasion of Tarkir, which may seem odd since it sees practically no play elsewhere. There are a number of synergies that make this card our premier removal piece.

Magic the Gathering Card - Invasion of Tarkir - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Invasion of Tarkir - MTG Circle

Given that we’re running twelve dragons, we’ll often have them in our hand to boost damage and if we can manage to flip it, the Defiant Thundermaw will help us assert dominance and slam the door shut on our opponents. Additionally, it synergizes with the second chapter of The Restoration of Eiganjo because we can pitch it and freely reanimate it for maximum value. In our sideboard, you’ll also notice we have three copies of Temporary Lockdown. This card is excellent against Herd Migration out of the domain deck, but also most of the threats in the dimir tempo lists such as Subterranean Schooner. If an Invasion of Tarkir finds its way under a Temporary Lockdown and the lockdown is removed or sacrificed, we get the invasion back, again, for free.

Magic the Gathering Card - Temporary Lockdown - MTG Circle

Be wary of bringing in the Temporary Lockdowns, however, because they do present a threat to the deck’s early setup, especially Collector’s Vault as it exiles the vault but also the treasure it generates. If you side in the lockdowns, you may wish to reduce the number of Collector’s Vault and increase the number of Invasion of Tarkirs.

Magic the Gathering Card - Duress - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Lord Skitter, Sewer King - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Chimil, The Inner Sun - MTG Circle

The sideboard also contains Lord Skitter, Sewer King and Duress for when hand and graveyard hate is required. Lord Skitter is the preferred graveyard hater because the rat tokens can also power up Lich-Knights’ Conquest. Chimil, The Inner Sun is also here to come in during more controlling matchups when its ability to hose counterspells is relevant. If you wanted to build a version of this that had Chimil in the main, however, you wouldn’t be wrong because this deck has excellent utility at the five-mana and below spot. If you Discover 5 into an Ao, the Dawn Sky, for example, you’re having a good end step.

The Bottom Line

This deck is a fun build because it focuses on a lot of underappreciated synergies between cards that independently aren’t quite good enough to get there. Additionally, the rise of red aggressive decks and Golgari midrange helps this strategy a bit because more removal is damage or destroy that allows the dragons to tangle in combat and get their death triggers even if we don’t get Bart online. I don’t anticipate this deck is going to spike any pro tours in the near future, it was a fun exercise to build and I hope this breakdown helps inspire creativity as you look for this many cross-synergies in your next deck build!

Happy brewing!

Graham, also known as HamHocks42 on the internet, is a Twitch streamer who adores Magic: the Gathering in all its forms and tries to find the fun, even in the most competitive and sweaty environments.

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