5 Dragons You Might Meet on the Battlefield

Dracarys! Despite their typical casting cost being midrange and beyond, Dragons always find a way to show up in decks of all kinds. Their current situation across the formats is not too shabby, and not just in red-based builds. Here’s a selection of the flying terrors all the cool kids are playing.

Since Shivan Dragon came to be part of Limited Edition Alpha, Dragon has arguably been the most popular creature type in the game, one of those that more explicitly speak to the fantasy roots of Magic: The Gathering. This has resulted over the years in 172 different creature cards bearing the Dragon subtype, and an entire set devoted to and named after them. In fact, there’s been at least one Dragon in every single block since Mirage, at least until Ixalan was too busy with a whole other kind of reptilian monster.

The tribe saw a lot of powerful members, some of them getting their moment in the sun at specific times, like Bogardan Hellkite (the old centerpiece of that marvelous oddity that are Dragonstorm decks) or Yosei, the Morning Star (the finishing move of the World Champion’s winner in 2005, still occasionally seen in some Modern Gifts Ungiven builds). But what’s more likely to fly around and breathe fire (or other deadly stuff) throughout today’s battlefields?

1. Stormbreath Dragon

Stormbreath Dragon

First Appearance: September 2013, Theros.

Printed little more than one year after the similarly designed Thundermaw Hellkite, Stormbreath Dragon would end up obscuring its more direct cousin, despite a smaller body and no ETB trigger. All it took was “protection from Path to Exile” in Modern. The fact that it can turn into a 7/7 in the late game, while dealing some direct damage in the process, is just gravy. The First Rule of Fatties states: When you commit mana to your prospective finisher, you better make sure it’ll stick around. And Stormbreath Dragon sticks around more than most of its brethren. This makes it a good candidate for a prime finisher in Modern midrange decks that can afford double red, which admittedly aren’t that many at the moment. But Blood Moon lists like Ponza are among those, as seen in the following example, where Stormbreath is accompanied by its larger, even more intimidating sibling Dragonlord Atarka (which in turn makes for a great Natural Order target in Legacy).

G/R Land Destruction
Format: Modern

2. Glorybringer


First Appearance: April 2017, Amonkhet.

The exert posterboy Glorybringer has been a steady presence in Standard for the past year and a star in Temur Energy builds. We’re bound to see it shine until the next rotation, when it will have to contend with the Modern haste Dragons for a niche. So far, its removal capability every other turn wasn’t deemed Eternal material, though.

Grixis Energy by Fastfake
Format: Standard


3. Steel Hellkite

Steel Hellkite

First Appearance: October 2010, Scars of Mirrodin.

Steel Hellkite’s greatest defeat has been to come into existence at the same time as Wurmcoil Engine i.e., the best 6-mana colorless creature ever printed. Our mecha-dragon can’t compete with the Wurm’s lifegain and virtual resilience, but it has some tricks of its own, chief being the fact that it can destroy any permanent, even hexproof/shroud ones, and potentially more than one per turn. Combine this with evasion and the ability to dump excess mana into pumping, and it’ll start to look like the formidable killing machine that it is, even while being entirely contingent on successfully connecting with the opponent, which of course is never a given. There are decks that took notice of its great potential though, even some noble ones like Stax in Vintage.

Format: Vintage


4. Dragonlord Ojutai

Dragonlord Ojutai

First Appearance: March 2015, Dragons of Tarkir.

The Dragonlord cycle of Dragons of Tarkir was generally strong, but Dragonlord Ojutai was always going to be the easiest to find a home for, what with the (partial) hexproof and the Anticipate upon connecting. Several UW Control decks love to include him among their starting 60.

U/W Control by Curryvore
Format: Modern

5. Dragonlord Kolaghan

Dragonlord Kolaghan

First Appearance: March 2015, Dragons of Tarkir.

This is sort of a surprise: Dragonlord Kolaghan in Vintage Dredge! At least she was spotted there for a while, as a replacement to Flame-Kin Zealot. The latter’s advantage, however, is to be able to provide the alpha strike-fueling universal haste even if it gets removed right away, whereas Kolaghan has to remain on the board for her first ability to apply to her teammates. While her second ability can situationally be a headache for the opponent, it’s not guaranteed to affect the game. Still, Kolaghan is more or less a strictly better Rorix Bladewing, and her relevance shouldn’t be underestimated.

Unmask Dredge
Format: Vintage

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