Bacon’s Great Dragon Breakdown
Howdy everyone, my name is Just Add Bacon and I’ve got a bit of a problem. Many of you know me as the leader of Fox Fang but, I have a second, secret, allegiance. Until today! While Fox Fang may be a pro-aggro organization, I am unable to hide any longer that I am in fact a control player. The greediest control player on ladder, many might “hypothetically” say. So, in light of this and the fact that I have a mostly free week, I have decided to do a breakdown on what are some of the most iconic units in the game: The Elemental Dragons! Eight (Or is it ten?) of the biggest, baddest, most game-changing units around, these great drakes are easily some of my favorite cards in the game. However, due to their majesty and grandeur, I’ve made a bit of a change compared to my normal breakdowns. Starting today, I will be releasing a new breakdown, one for each of the elemental dragons, every day! These dragons are very cool cards to talk about, so running them all in one article wouldn’t do them justice. So, without further adieu, let’s deconstruct some dragons!
The “Queen of Dragons” in some other properties, Tiamat is here packing nothing but molten menace
Threes abound in Tiamat’s design with 3 heads, 3 keywords, 3 damage, 6 attack, 9 cost and health. Yet again, the dev team demonstrates remarkable ability to… count. Honestly, it’s better math than what I can do.
Honestly, I just love this design. It’s a big freakin’ dragon, so when Tiamat goes face she goes face hard. And while it may be vulnerable to hard removal, the guard and banner help offset the risk that comes with the massive potential reward. Oh, and Burn to a Crisp is just sauce on top.
Tiamat is kicking off our list, and even if she wasn’t the first elemental dragon in order I would probably still be opening us off with her ‘cus, honestly, who else could do the honors? Tiamat is the Elemental Dragon of fire, and represents everything a dragon is in this game. First off, Tiamat is an incredibly potent finisher. 9 health and guard makes her tough to deal with, and the wither on her body ensures that even something like a Titanic will be left whimpering after daring to bite into her. However, Tiamat’s main role is not a glorified Titanic bait (although she can perform that role quite well.) In my opinion, Tiamat works best when used offensively as a game ending threat, be it in control decks like Horik or Titus Etherwail decks. Tiamat’s main draw is her Glory ability, which torches enemies for 3 points of wither damage every time she attacks the enemy hero. A one sided aoe that deals 3 damage is already pretty good, take It’s a Trap as a comparison, but put wither on that and few units are going to be able to come out unscaved. And, for those that do, Tiamat’s banner means that anything short of 5 health is liable to being picked clean. And, as a side benefit the wither also reduces the damage you take from that combo. Truly, everything in Tiamat’s arsenal works together.
As for her attached spell, Burn to a Crisp (BtaC) can do several functions, but at the same time I also want to say Tiamat does not need to use BtaC to get her value. Going from 9 to 12 can be a huge task, and sometimes the tempo and banner on turn 9 can be more effective. Even if you don’t use it right away, BtaC can be used to open the path for Tiamat’s glory, and the threat of that happening can force your opponent to make suboptimal plays. For instance, a Tiamat on turn nine can remove a cheap unit with her banner, and if you have board you can trade down your opponent’s board, leaving them in a catch 22. The only Area of Effect (aoe) spells that can handle Tiamat are things like Doomsday, Seal of Doom, Touch the Sky, or Maelstrom. The first three of those are in Wisdom, so if they aren’t in wisdom you’re good on that front while Maelstrom is usually run in aggro decks looking to stuff wide boards, but this option is very valuable and can be baited out. Now, with Tiamat and ally units on board, your opponent basically must remove Tiamat, which can be done with hard removal tools like Germinate, Defragment, Encapsulate, and Mortal Blow. This time the first three of these are in Intelligence, and are also all extremely valuable options, while Mortal Blow is usually already played on smaller, earlier threats. Of course, for this setup to work these cards must either be missing or already baited out. So, granted that the easy answers are out of the way, dealing with Tiamat can still be possible for your opponent, but will necessitate things like a wall of guard units (beat it with Titanic or an aoe like Burninate) or a lot of wither (You still have the attached spell, guard, and a banner, so you are probably still winning on tempo.) But, if Tiamat is addressed, the rest of your board is probably left standing, giving you a free turn to smash your opponent, or use your units to address their guards. On top of this, if Tiamat is addressed suboptimally, she can trade 2 or 3 for one, and eat a lot of removal in the process. This can be used to clear openings for your other units later, such as a greedy Undragon play.
However, all of Tiamat’s strengths are granted on two things. First, she has to live to get any real value. Wisdom has plenty of tools for addressing her, as does Intelligence, and once it is known that Tiamat is in your deck it is sure to be prioritized. One side benefit to this though may be tying up your opponent’s removal. If they need to save it for Tiamat or they lose, key answers can’t be spent on smaller threats like The Beast for example. Secondly, Tiamat needs to actually be able to hit the enemy hero to get her effect off. She has lots of ways to help enable this, but just a Doom Shroom can stop Tiamat cold without help. So, a raw Tiamat turn 9 with no support may be dangerous, but could have been better off with the help.
Altogether, Tiamat is a personal favorite of mine among many other Dragons and Foxes, frequently finding her way into my Horik lists when the meta is appropriate for her. She is an amazing finisher, but carries some serious risks in the wrong list, requiring that she is slotted in intelligently. Despite her prism, Tiamat is not something you can run off of brute force alone. When she is played effectively though, Tiamat will consistently leave your opponents feeling the burn of despair.
Final Grade: A+
Bonus! Synergy Cards
- Avatar of Light: Shield for the banner and Trinity Link turns BtaC into a kill command. Expensive, but strong.
- Opal Golem: If you can loop this effect or use it with Old Fogey, an early Tiamat can leave your opponent shell shocked. Here the mana drain effect becomes especially potent.
- On The Hunt: A very spicy option for Tiamat, here you trade away her BtaC to draw her sooner (if you use OtH’s banner you can go plus one) which can set up other combos. If you are in Horik, you can run this pretty easy with Pyrecrafter, Flame Phoenix, and Brimstone, so I would definitely recommend this as an option. Bonus points if you use it to find an Emberwolf, since another certain dragon I’ll be covering can turn that pawn into a queen.
While Cryogen certainly looks cool, it’s lacking certain other characteristics that make the other dragons feel special. Cryogen is covered in its ice crystals and spikes, but it doesn’t have anything distinguishing other than that in its barren arctic wasteland. If I wasn’t trying to grade it objectively though, I would rate it higher.
Again, while it works, it’s a bit hard to piece out the flavor in Cryogen. It’s spell freezes and it freezes, but why this massive dragon has stealth or armor is a bit beyond me. Mechanically though…
For the intelligence prism, this is what I imagine a finisher should look like. It’s big, it’s expensive, it’s technical, and ooooohhhh boy does it pack an ability. Freezing everything on sunrise is a massive blow to the enemy, blasting away things like fate and hero attachments. The real boon though is opening up things to removal so you can pound massive damage into the enemy face. Once things are frozen, Cryogen’s removal spell becomes equivalent to Tiamat’s glory effect barring things like lead, which means you are sure to make an impact.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from Tiamat sits Cryogen, the cool, collective, and utterly cruel Elemental Dragon of water. Cryogen also serves as a finisher similar to Tiamat, but in a slightly different order. While Tiamat has Guard Banner and Wither to make an impact on the turn she comes down and force your opponent to interact with her, Crogen holds the brutal Stealth and Armor combination, instead asking to be left alone. Leaving Cryogen alone would be a critical mistake however, as once she wakes up from her nap nothing will be left to bother her. Cryogen’s sunrise effect attaches the frozen enchantment to each enemy, increasing all the damage they take by 2 (for armor units they take 1 more damage.) This magnification is actually crazy good since 3 is the most common breakpoint for health and damage in the game, and now 1 damage procs, like your hero attack, can now remove a majority of units from the game! Pairing this freeze with things like zap, mulch, or bigger spells like It’s a Trap can remove an even larger range of units, essentially deleting the tempo your opponent would have gotten for them. What’s especially powerful about this is that since it is a Sunrise, it will trigger after your opponent has played all of their units and before they can do anything about it. This means that once Cryogen goes off, her value is cemented.
However, it wouldn’t be right to talk about the Elemental Dragon of Water without discussing one of the most important water spells in the game, Floodwater. If you are like me and hold cards in hand like an actual dragon’s hoard, then you should already know this card is everything one wants in a greedy card. While there is a deck-building requirement, cards like Angler, Bubbles, Shell Officer, and Krakus are all solid cards in the right hands, with Shell Officer and Krakus being powerful cards in their own right. Combine these cards with Cryogen and Floodwater, and it can be nigh impossible to stop your waves of value as you replay must-answer threats multiple times in a game. And even if the usual dragon answers are employed, nothing short of Encapsulate or Touch the Sky will permanently solve the problem, barring some other kind of dusting. In my opinion, this is a massively overlooked late game strategy, as this type of greed with Manage Memory is easily on level with Horik and Axel control, and could potentially even overwhelm them as Floodwater has the side benefit of negating some ood damage.
As for implementing a strategy around Cryogen, one could go either the Banjo or Sitti route, and both have their pros and cons. Banjo brings the mighty Octavian to the table, some strong ramping and removal options (Wisdom and Int removal cover blind spots) and valuable healing. Sitti on the other hand misses Octavian and the quality of Wisdom removal, but I think she more than makes up for it. First off, Unfollow can be a massive speed boost turn one, and getting to open with something like Krystal or Crypto can be very good for filling out your curve. Secondly, Sitti carries a couple of more helpful water cards like Chill and Trident True which help fill out your early game much more proactively than Banjo aiming for a removal pile strategy. But what I think really makes Sitti the better hero for this strategy is having access to all of Heart’s anti-aggro tools. Funeral Moon is just good, no ifs, ands, or buts, and Angler digging for Chill makes it reliable and brutal. Impale is ruthlessly efficient against Intelligence based aggro, since most of their units are either 2 or 3 health. Buckler Up into an Earth Golem is probably the best defensive wall in the game, and Intelligence’s Cross Reference makes it all the more reliable. Additionally, Second Chance pairs very well with things like Bubbles and Angler, and with Bubbles in particular it can turn things into monstrous threats. Mind Control is also a sleeper in my opinion, being a massive swing on an enemy World Tree or Gemini’d unit, or you can even use it to steal key water units from other prisms. Stealing a second Krystal can be solid if your opponent relies on an Unfallow engine, while sniping Scooter (a common water card for Intelligence based aggro) can choke your opponent’s draw.
However, it must be stated that Cryogen comes with a decent bit more risk than Tiamat. For starters, nothing like guard means that it can’t directly stop your opponent from hitting you in the face. If you are struggling for the board, this card probably doesn’t help. Secondly, Cryogen’s armor and stealth means it has a lower statpool than the other Elemental Dragons. This means it can end up being more prone to some removal options, such as Sunder, or spells that apply chains. Chains in particular dramatically hampers the survivability of this card, since things like Deep Xlice and Coal Dozer’s chain toss are not infrequent options. If it is chained, consider the card removal fodder. Secondly, compared to other dragons Cyrogen doesn’t generate much value at all when played, since it’s attached spell is really only good for combos with it’s effect. 13 mana is way too much to spend to do 3 damage to a unit, so Cryogen needs to stay on board to make it worth it. But, this means that Cryogen can easily get picked off by a removal spell, leaving you down on tempo. That’s not to say it can’t ever work though, just that other bait options need to be played, which usually also require you giving up some tempo to enable the Cryogen turn later.
Cryogen is certainly a dominant finisher for Intelligence, and serves as a very well designed payoff card for Floodwater. However, its passiveness may lead it to being unhelpful at fighting for board as the time spent playing it could at best be matched by your opponent removing it and at worst blown through while your hero takes more damage. Overall though, it’s a very cool card I’m excited to see dominate games whenever it shows up.
Final Grade: A-
Bonus! Synergy Cards
- Floodwater: It’s just greed, plain and simple. If you are playing Cryogen, you might as well play it twice.
- Salvage: In an etherwail list Banjo can really get a lot by cheating this out early. Running this with a salvage to follow up can obliterate the enemy’s health and leave them with no board at a very cheap price.
- Cast In Chrome: Learning your out of deck cards is very important and Cryogen is part of why. Cast in Chrome has very good odds to hit Cryogen (using Sitti for example it’s either Cryogen or Hydrex at 9) and a Cryogen with lead is nigh impossible to remove. You may be trading away the attached spell, but the insurance in avoiding something like Encapsulate or Touch the Sky is well worth it
While the other dragons express themselves in either a fiery rage or a cold complexion, Amaruath holds a pose that bears a much more regal complexion. Additionally, Amaruath’s art leaves not a single spot fallow as literally every feature is dripping with flavor. His horns and spines are branches while mushrooms grow in odd but realistic intervals. Stray blades of grass are even sprouting from his wings. Truely, Amaruath is one with his domain
The first of our dragons with a defensive effect, Amaruath utilizes his element’s enchantment much more creatively than Cryogen. Attaching roots to units as soon as they are played feels incredibly powerful, and is a massive shutdown for a lot of cards, befitting the power of a Dragon. As for stats, sharing the highest healthpool among the dragons with Dracomantium feels very proper considering his earth element.
Amaruath faces a similar problem to the other dragons in being big removal bait, but it’s attached spell being cheap helps remedy this. On top of that, if it isn’t removed Amaruath can simply end games before it even attacks, since removing enemy attachments negates value on pretty much every important unit. Even if you don’t remove an attachment you will still create a tempo skew. Additionally, it’s guard, prism identity, and element suit it well to Etherwail strategies.
Representing the earth element and our first of the 3 wisdom dragons, Amaruath is a different type of finisher from most of the other dragons on this list. Why? Well, Amaruath is what I like to call a “stun” card. A stun card is any card that can passively disrupt your opponent’s strategy, usually requiring specific answers to deal with. This definition may be vague, but that’s because a lot of cards can perform the role of disrupting the opponent’s plays. Something like Gato can disrupt your opponent’s hand, while things like Flame Phoenix more passively stun the opponent by forcing them to either use one of their limited dust options or lose board. Amaruath falls into a category of hard stun (like Leonitus) since overwriting attachments can remove the value from many units in the game. Against Intelligence aggro for example, Orion loses it’s trinity link, Mother Ethera loses Nature’s Grasp, and Curious loses shroud. Against more control oriented decks, things like Undragon or Octavian basically can’t function if they lose their attachment. What’s even better is the body it’s stacked onto. 10 Health is absolutely massive, and with Amaruath’s effect patchwork answers involving multiple cards may fall apart as spells are removed from the game. Guard is also always good on a big unit, and 6 power is enough to kill most units Amaruath would be clashing with. Combine this with its attached spell, a simple 2c deal 3 and add roots, and Amaruath is a perfect finisher for decks that want to stuff a lot of cheap enemy units against a wall.
Where this gets really interesting is when you consider the prism that Amaruath dwells in: Wisdom. Wisdom contains some of the most potent ramping, healing, and removal tools in the game, and functionally Amaruath sits well on a throne of removal. This can also be paired with the ground shaking Etherwail, notorious for ripping powerful units out of the deck way sooner than when most decks are prepared to handle. Amaruath is easily the prime target for this spell since it has guard for board presence, a massively disruptive effect, and even the earth element to keep its removal spell. However, you don’t just play Amaruath early, Etherwail drags two units onto the board. So, consider a deck that hits Amaruath and Tiamat together on something like turn 7 or maybe 6. Amaruath turns off a lot of ways to answer cards, while a secondary threat like Tiamat can threaten to shut your opponent out of the game in an entirely different way. Or, consider Amaruath and Eldest, or really any other massive threat you can rip alongside Amaruath. Thanks to its combination of prism, element, and attached spell, Amaruath can get the most out of its effect in very powerful decks.
However, there’s always a catch. First off, being in the Wisdom prism does pose some problems for our King. First off, Wisdom is generally lacking “bait” units until it gets very high in the curve, which means that if your opponent has the removal to deal with Amaruath, they probably have it by the time he comes down. This can be remedied by another prism, but most of the cards that demand the removal that would remove Amaruath are also big and expensive, defeating the point. Additionally, if one aims for an Etherwail strategy, there are a good number of risks that come with it. First, since the number of units that you play is normally pretty low, you can turn your opponent’s removal cards into dead draws since their removal has no target. But, that all goes to the wayside when you play something like Amaruath and suddenly get cleaned out by a 3 cost Defragment onto your 9 cost unit. Playing more units can remedy this, but then you reduce Etherwail consistency, and also beg the question of why run Etherwail at all. Finally, going for an Etherwail strategy can quickly be found out by an opponent after the third turn of no units being played. This serves to telegraph the play to your opponent, giving them time and a heads up that they don’t get against something like a Tiamat or Cryogen.
Overall, Amaruath serves as a great example of both a stun card and a defensive finisher, with its unique combination of attributes making it a key player in any deck it’s in. Additionally, it helps solidify the identity of the Wisdom prism very well by emphasizing its defensive and control heavy style of play. Certainly, he is a master of his kingdom.
Final Grade: A
- Etherwail: Plays the card sometimes (even if it misses it’s a lot of value) and sets up checkmate scenarios. Can be searched for with Gift of Aya and Call to Mind
- Hope + Ancients Rise: I only put this here in the hope that somebody can pull this off (clean the discard pile with Grave Roil.) If you do, your opponent basically has 2 options: Wisdom removal or perish. In either case, somebody is laughing extremely hard, and that somebody will always include me
- Twist and Turn: Notorious Dog Pound member and one of my many rivals HanooStreet is infamous for his use of Twist and Turn alongside cards like Amaruath as a type of pseudo-Etherwail. Cheap earth units are plentiful (and usually not bad) in cards like Charmling or Elderwoods, which can be generated from things like Savage Garden.
Gusto as a card has very good art if you only look at the head and don’t examine it in whole. I don’t like informing people, but he has bird hands that in my opinion, do not under any circumstance belong on a dragon (and they don’t even look dangerous, such a shame.) Additionally, while something like Amaruath has his mushrooms and Cryogen has her glacial spikes Gusto has… whisps? I feel like this card could be a lot more, perhaps something more befitting a “Storm Dragon” than a “Clear and Sunny Day Wyrm.”
Again, it’s partially the art holding the card back here, but it recovers some points for its use of its element’s enchantments. Shroud stealth and silence with its return to hand effect combine basically all of the typical air attributes in a very cohesive way, turning it into an elusive monster that blows away whatever would stand in its way. And if that wasn’t enough, the target is even left as speechless as your opponent will be. This is how a dragon should dominate the board.
Gusto provides a desperately needed finisher for the Agility prism, while also demonstrating very nicely what an Aggro finisher looks like in this game: Disruptive, effect on summon, and hard to answer.
The storm dragon Great Gusto is the sole dragon of the Agility prism, but oh boy does he show off in his prism. Being an Aggro oriented dragon is hard, since aggro cards generally need to be cheap or cost efficient, but Gusto isn’t really either of these. He’s cheap among the dragons sure, but Kah Met and Menglong are usually cheaper. At the same time, Gusto does not bring the bulky body we’ve seen from the other dragons so far, 5 health is pretty easy to remove and is on rate with some 5 and 6 cost units. So, why is Gusto like this? Well, in true draconic fashion, Gusto is a card that is tooled towards one thing: Storming the board and dominating tempo.
Return effects are a tricky business, especially in a game like Skyweaver. Since the number of cards you can draw in a game is hypothetically infinite from ood mechanics, card draw in this game is best thought of as a velocity of cards rather than how soon you access resources in a game like Hearthstone. Due to this logic, cards like Sudden Gust and Whisk Away generate a good deal more value than they first appear to, since they go one for one on the initial play but also deny your opponent a potential draw on a future turn. If this doesn’t make sense, imagine instead of shuffling it into your opponent’s deck if you put it on top. Your opponent effectively loses a turn of card draw since they just get back what they already had.
On the other hand, effects that return to hand like Gusto present a more unique value challenge. First off, if you just return a unit to hand, it is free to reuse it’s attachment, since the card will be returned to a base form. This is part of the risk of a card like Whisk Away. However, return effects that change the card, like Gusto adding silence, can negate that value. Additionally, theres always a tempo element to return effects. When a unit is played, the mana spent for it represents an opportunity cost for something else that could’ve been played. Here, let’s say it’s a vanilla 4c unit. That 4 mana could’ve been spent playing a removal spell, drawing, playing other units, ect. So, now consider a card that returns it to hand. If the card is 4c, you and your opponent trade equal amounts of mana, but now you are just down one card (this type of play is called a -1 or “going minus one”.) However, whenever they play that card again, they’ve spent 8 mana altogether, albeit across two turns. Theoretically, you could just be up 4 mana, which could be big if you already have board and they had none, or basically nothing if you are late in the game. The point here is that return to hand effects are by nature volatile and situational.
What makes Gusto cool though is that in its design it answers basically all these problems with return effects. It’s 8c sure, but consider it’s mana cost equal to double the unit it hits. If you hit a 4c unit on an otherwise empty board, you both go even on mana spent, except the exchange ends with you having an 8 power dragon on board ready to wreck stuff. Additionally, if you’re in the late game, consider this 10 mana exchange. Opponent plays a 1c or 2c unit then hits it with Gemini. You play Sunder onto Gemini and bounce the other unit. This is a very picturesque scenario, but this can be managed with other combinations of removal or units to trade on board. Agility has lots of cheap removal and banner options like Grim Reprisal, Mecharai, and Fire Rune, so keep these cards in mind. If you are in heatwave Fox, Strike Down is probably the ideal card. The key point for Gusto though is this: Empty the enemy board so you have the big spooky dragon. The shroud and stealth combination is very hard to deal with, since very few aoe hits Gusto’s highwater mark of 5 hp, and while units can of course attack and trade into it, that is usually difficult for your opponent to do if they have no units.
As with any dragon, Gusto does have some banes, although he takes care to avoid the most dangerous ones. First off, most of the dragon-slaying aoe will still work on gusto, and actually end up turning Gusto’s against himself since he spares a unit from the aoe’s wrath (albeit permanently speechless at the dragon’s mercy.) Additionally, non-targeted removal is surprisingly common. Cards like Backstab, Lightning Vial, Pair of Jacks/Yellowjacket, Judgement, Waterline, and the fearsome Titanic can all blow through the relatively weak Gusto. Overmind also gets points here for being able to daze the unit and remove its shroud, meaning you can remove it then or wait and let your opponent waste the mana handling dazed. Finally, a lot of Gusto’s value hinges on being able to establish it onto a board that can support it. This may become difficult if you draw Gusto too soon and end up playing down a card for several turns. Instead, drawing it later would give you the resources you need to develop it.
Gusto is easily the best dragon in agility. But more importantly (and more impressively) Gusto is what I think constitutes the best designed aggro dragon. He’s got a massive attack stat, he’s threatening, and he generates his value on play and continues to be a threat, something every good aggro card does. At the same time though, Gusto’s danger doesn’t come for free and rewards good setup. Tomorrow I’m covering Meng’long and… well not gonna lie this one haunts my dreams. Stay tuned, or it’ll be your worst nightmare!
Final Grade: A-
- Head in the Clouds: Hey, ya know that big scary air dragon that just wrecks stuff on turn 8? What if we did that sooner and more often? Oh, and we draw Huntaro too.
- Yellowjacks: Hey, ya know that draw card that makes the big scary dragon bigger and scarier? These guys love eating up that cost reduction, and also make a great way to pick off smaller threats after Gusto’s wild winds whisk away a larger threat.
- Sky Keeper: Gusto is probably the ideal card for giving something a permanent shroud, and Sky Keeper’s cost and element makes that pretty easy to do. Make sure to play it second so it can cover against things like Backstab, unless you want to eat the hex from a Fly Guy (which will not trigger due to Sky Keeper’s effect). Truly the knight of a dragon.
I don’t want to rate it highly, but I have to. For those of you who haven’t noticed yet, start at Meng’long’s tail and work your way up. Notice anything… strange? If you don’t see it, I’ll leave you to find it. I don’t want to think about it, it genuinely makes me shiver. The gold aspects are cool though
The effect is cool… but why? Why does this mind unit that’s a dragon care about the elements of things? Why cards in hand? Why does it randomly have guard and banner? I just don’t get it. Waking Dream is cool, and also does not relate to anything the card is doing at all except for “dream.” This card would be a 5/10 without the attachment.
Ok this card is good. This card is stuuuuuuuupid good. 4-6 mana 6/6 with guard and banner and an attachment that randomly turns it into a very angry Zoomie. Compare this to Demon Pact and the Beast. Yah, and Wisdom gets Hydrate and Salvage.
The Elemental Dragon of Mind, Meng’long is everything crazy about the wisdom prism in one unit. Its stats are solid, it’s got great keywords, and it also randomly cheats itself onto the board turn two every fifth game. In addition to that, Meng’long is perfectly positioned to work as a type of aggro/stun card against a wide variety of decks. But to understand why, we first need to understand the Wisdom prism.
The Wisdom prism is predicated on a defensive mentality. Cards in this prism respond to your opponent; you spells remove their units, your units stop your opponent from doing things. Additionally, many Wisdom cards feature secondary effects or conditions that make them quite complex. The dragonbane spell Seal of Doom exists here and is an amazing example of a well designed Wisdom spell. However, Meng’long simply ignores all of that. While some Wisdom cards like Hydrate require you to be very smart in how you use them, Meng’long simply asks for a deckbuilding requirement that isn’t really a requirement so much as it is a safety valve. In exchange for this non-risk Meng’long serves as a payoff for doing your strategy well, that is if your strategy is holding a lot of cards. As well all know, daunting feat for the prism designed to have the best card draw in the entire game. If you don’t believe me, look at cards like Skychannel and Turn The Tide. So, once Meng’long is in hand, its effect will activate reducing its cost by 1 for each unique element in your hand. Provided you can do basic counting while building your deck this dragon comes down far sooner than any of others. For the deckbuilders out there, I believe the proper rainbow ratio is about 3 for each element. On a side note, if you are going full rainbow, short light and water since you have Salvage, Mana Potion from the start of the game, and Sky Phoenix with its attached spell. Once Meng’long is on board it controls space and does so ruthlessly. Unlike the other behemoths it’s not some wall that will never be removed. Options like Sunder are common enough and will usually hit this dragon if they are available. Cards like Pair of Jacks can also provide a solid answer. But, playing Meng’long you probably don’t care, or are actually happy to see those cards gone. When Meng’long is strong it’s a 4 mana or maybe even 3 mana card. The best answer possible to it, Sunder, is a 2 mana spell. Oh, and also that’s like one of the only cards that can answer something like Kha Met, Hive, Gemini, or any other big dangerous wall. Here is Meng’long’s beauty: even when it is immediately removed, because it is so cheap and provides banner, you are probably still winning. Yes, I am of the opinion that this dragon is simply that good. Now, if only its art didn’t give me nightmares.
Unfortunately, I am required by my editor to go over the downsides of all these dragons or I will not be fed tonight. So… all of Meng’long’s strengths are predicated on one thing: cost. Being in the wisdom prism, I fail to see how any competent player couldn’t get this thing down to at least 6 mana, but if one is desperately behind Meng’long is probably the worst dragon to draw, right next to Cryogen. While it does have guard and banner, at 9 mana this card is just awful and gets removed by a lot of things, like his fellow dragon Great Gusto. Additionally, while it isn’t an issue with the card itself, Meng’long can only be played in a subset of certain decks. If an Iris aggro deck wants to go heavy into fire synergies, or an Axel deck wants to play with a lot of light and dark cards, Meng’long can’t be played. Whether or not this limitation is relevant with balancing though… well, that could be a different story.
Of all the dragons, Meng’long is certainly the most odd. He doesn’t follow any of the other norms of dragons, and yet is probably the best one. Does this mean the card should be nerfed or changed? Well, let’s just say that for what I think is mechanically the most broken and overpowered dragon, I don’t think it needs any sympathy. Maybe in its dreams.
Final Grade: A+
Bonus! Synergy Cards
- Hydrate: Gives new meaning to Hydrate or Diedrate. Or, in this case, both for your opponent. Only issue is you might add a removal answer to their hand, but they were going to draw that anyways.
- Salvage: Same thing as Hydrate, except this is more expensive. Make sure you are actually adding new elements to your hand though
I originally wasn’t as big a fan of this version compared to a previous iteration until I noticed his smile. That smug, know-it-all grin is just pure gold, and I love it every time I see it. Also, if you look closely, Dracomantium’s wings are not actually part of its body, they are added appendages held together by nuts and bolts. I guarantee y’all there’s a story here.
He’s the other defensive dragon and oh, ohh, ohhh does he do it justice. Guard as we have on every big drake (and Meng’long for some reason?) along with lifesteal makes Dracomantium a must answer threat. Now consider what I can only understand as Dracomantium sacrificing himself to become your armor as he dusts himself upon death(!!!) and its easy to see why Dracomanitum is simultaneously both the most lively and metal of all the dragons.
So this card is my perfect example of “just a good card.” The metal requirement adds a layer of elemental synergy this game currently doesn’t have much of along with a mandatory deck building requirement that helps justify its amazing effect. However, being the only dragon with no attachment limits the value it has as a finisher, and since its effect triggers on death it can be incredibly prone to silence and dust effects, especially if they know its coming.
I don’t think it’s any secret, but to make sure we’re all on the same page, Dracomantium is my favorite dragon. First off, it is 70% just that smug grin. Literally every other dragon has some expression of feral ferocity. Heck, even the vast majority of units are just animals in one way or another, some anthropomorphic while others are just given a fantasy element. But Dracomantium? He’s here, smiling. In a sea of mighty, powerful creatures, Dracomantium doesn’t need to prove anything or try to look cool. He’s just vibing, and I think that’s an incredibly unique design angle for a dragon. They are usually depicted as intelligent creatures after all.
Now that I’m done waxing poetic, Dracomantium is probably the most versatile dragon in that he can be played in a number of decks. First, and what I am most familiar with, is Horik Control, which has a large number of viable metal units and spells to help fuel his ravenous death effect. Vialet, Suit Up, Impale, Eclipse (if you are desperate or not running Grave Roil,) Buckler Up, and of course Crystal Cache. Buckler Up gets special props here since it turns what is normally a good albeit risky finisher (why not just play Hydrex or Moltenous? Or Titanic?) into a fully-plated disaster waiting to happen for your opponent. Dracomantium shares its spot at the top of the healthpool with the other defensive dragon, Amaruath, but slapping armor on top of that makes it functionally impossible to get through via normal means. For reference, the spell in the game that does the most (non-variable) damage is the aptly named Gusto’s Retort, which does 8 damage. With armor, Dracomantium takes 7 damage and still has 3 armored health, WHICH IS STILL ABOVE THE BREAK POINT FOR MOST COMMON REMOVAL SPELLS!!! Even the mighty Titanic can face issue here. While it does chew through, the damage is only exactly enough, and a single instance of Bad Dreams leaves an armored Draco with 1 health still alive and also stops Titanic from attacking the rest of your board. Yet again, what a G.O.A.T of a dragon.
Besides going the Horik route, Dracomantium can also find homes in Etherwail decks and Mira Metal decks more on the control side. Titus gets to cheat with Dracomantium a little, since running Niko essentially reduces Dracomantium’s fuel costs by 1, while Salvage and Crystal Cache just make it hilariously easy. Dracomantium is also a prime Etherwail target, since his big guarding body and lifesteal can help him run away with games from time to time. As for Mira decks, some may use Dracomantium and his armor as a way to supplement Strength’s and Intelligence’s rather lackluster healing, with cards like Soul Forge providing the lead that this Dragon craves. Mira Floodwater also really enjoys splashing in some metal for Dracomantium, since the armor reduction in addition to a lack of ood damage gives Mira a very proactive way to burn and grind at the same time in the super late game.
Dracomantium’s glory does not come without a price though, as all of his goodness is stapled onto a very expensive, unleaded, and predictable body. If a deck plays Crystal Cache and is not aggro, you can bet 100% of the time that Dracomantium is also in that deck. And, as a 9c unit with no attached spell, or summon effect, getting dusted hurts like crazy. And it will happen a lot more than what you would expect to be reasonable or even within the bounds of reality. Without fail this card will be addressed without generating value if you do not do something to carry it in. That may be playing something like Flame Phoenix or Hydrex to bait the dusting, or that may mean that this card is the bait to ensure something like Amaruath sticks, but you can not effectively run this card without also running some support. Additionally, 5 attack means it is more vulnerable to wither than one would think, which matters a lot more here than with other dragon’s since a lot of Dracomantium’s value comes from it’s lifesteal. Options like Pair of Jacks can tear this card apart if he isn’t armored up, so always be careful about dropping this card aggressively.
I hope I’ve made a good case for why this card is my favorite dragon. I love them all, even Meng’long, but Dracomantium just does everything. He fulfils the classic dragon mythos of power, but also comes with a lot of unique character that is brough out very well in his design, both art and mechanics. Indeed, the Elemental Dragon of metal is, at least in my eyes, nothing but pure gold.
Final Grade: S
Bonus! Synergy Cards
- Buckler Up: It’s cheap, it’s lead. Need I say more? Oh wait, armor too? It’s free real estate.
- Crystal Cache: You’ll find your metal cards much more reliably with this 0 mana draw tool. Bonus points if you hit Dracomantium and Buckler Up with this. Sure, you spent 4 mana to do nothing now, but on turn seven you can kinda just stop thinking when your full metal draco comes down and magically adds 30 health to your game. Unless it gets hit by Gusto. Then we cry.
- Temple Watch: What? Yah, this card is amazing with Dracomantium. Lead may be impossible to cleanse, but you can clear chains on your own hero to find metal cards for it, including finding the dragon himself. Where might those hero chains come from? Well how about Chain Storm, one of the best aoe spells in the game, conveniently situated in the same prism and is a metal card. It just works.
The design on the dragon is just simply cool. Kha Meht is striking a highly aggressive pose befitting a dragon, while the crumbling pillar it is wrapped around evokes an air of danger. Terrifying!
Having an attached spell named after it helps a lot, and Kah’s Wrath certainly feels like a signature card. Lining up on so many levels (sharing the relevant keywords and damage equalling Kha’s attack) makes it feel unique and epic for the card.
While I personally really like this card, it has trouble A. competing with Meng’long for the same job and B. having a board it is able to come down on without immediately being traded into. Whenever it sticks though, he puts in serious work
The elemental dragon of light, Kha Meht is the other rainbow dragon of the Wisdom prism, balancing out Meng’long’s mystique with fierce and righteous light. What makes Kha Meht interesting though is the shadow of Meng’long it lives in. A bit of a downer? Well… I’ll ignore that for now then. Kha Meht serves the Wisdom prism well as an aggressive wall, threat, and stun card vs aggro decks, utilizing heavy board presence to tear into the opponent. It’s combination of wither, lifesteal, and guard with its amazing 3/9 statline makes it a dangerous unit in the early game, and its ability to trap opponents is nearly unrivaled. However, all of this is somewhat negated by the fact that it is in the Wisdom prism, where Meng’long is kinda just a better choice.
To review, the Wisdom prism is predicated on defense and reaction. Your spells kill enemy units efficiently, you draw well, you can heal, and your units are occasionally tough to deal with. However, included in this design are, as with every prism, flaws. For this Wisdom prism, this includes a double-edged nature to many spells like Take Root, Turn the Tide, and Doomsday. Additionally, while not generally lacking in stats, Wisdom units are usually not the best when it comes to aggressive play. Nomad is the only unit relevant unit with glory, it’s top end threats are generally slow balls of stats, and its cheaper units rarely have more than one attack. So, given an aggro mirror (we’ll assume Wisdom and Agility vs Strength and Agility) it’s generally safe to say that your opponent’s units will just have more stats than you. That can be overcome with Wisdom’s amazing removal spells like Incinerate and Moonbeam, but that’s not a good way to develop tempo. Keep this in mind because for Kha Meht to be good you need to have board control.
Despite these setbacks, Kha Meht can still be an amazing player for aggressive Wisdom decks, but it takes a bit of a trick. Since Wisdom units are generally not good at holding the board, the best aggressive Wisdom deck simply doesn’t run many of them, and instead leans more heavily into the units of it’s partner prism. For Kha Meht, the conventional Wisdom is leaning heavily into Agility units, which have some pretty great synergy with the dragon. Many solid one drops like Fox Familiar, Mecharai, Kook Book, and Huntaro populate the Agility prism, which help reduce Kha’s cost reliably so it can come down blindingly fast. Flurry also deserves mention here since it produces 3 elements on board, banner, AND cycles into another 1c unit for Kha Meht. The Agility prism also carries with it a lot of great 1c removal in cards like Grim Reprisal and Backstab, helping carry Kha Meht in tempo the same way it helps carry Great Gusto. Speaking of which, Great Gusto makes an amazing partner in the top end for Kha Meht, since a Kha on board can threaten wrath, making a wide response risky. At the same time, if they go for a large guard unit like a Doom Shroom, Gusto can come down and open the path for face, saving wrath to clear the board the next turn.
Kha Meht is personally a dragon that I really enjoy, which makes it all the harder for me to acknowledge that it’s generally just an inferior version of Meng’long. Both cards are great, don’t get me wrong. Honestly, my biggest piece of advice for running either dragon is to also run the partner, since they fulfill similar roles and require similar removal. However, barring some unique scenarios, Kha Meht is just a tad weaker. First off, having 3 power means that it is easily in wither range. Pair of Jacks/Yellowjacket, Vlad, Three Lashes, and even its own Kha’s Wrath all negate this card quite efficiently. While the efficiency of a trade is hard to approximate, I’m assuming Kha is around 4-6 mana when played, or about 1-3 units on board. This to me seems reasonable since one unit is usually a given for an aggro deck in the mid game and a 1c unit could be held to play with it. A second issue however is that this gets harder if your opponent expects Kha Meht. Given that Kha Meht is pretty much one of the best aggressive Wisdom cards, and that Meng’long will almost always come down sooner, the other rainbow dragon shouldn’t be a surprise. Once they see it coming, removing board will be a priority. This puts the Kha player in trouble since, as we’ve discussed, the Wisdom prism is usually hard pressed to hold board with its units, leaving Kha Meht stuck in the hand more frequently than one would like. All of this begs the question of why not run Meng’long instead? It’s usually cheaper, has a more dangerous body, and is generally just more reliable. My only response is to run both.
Kha Meht is an incredibly cool payoff card for Rainbow strategies. While it lacks the staying power something like Sky Phoenix can have, its tempo and board presence make it a truly terrifying presence. However, its prism doesn’t suit its strengths well, and it is somewhat outclassed by other cards. Nevertheless, Kha Meht is far beyond a Kha Meh, and is a unit to be respected and feared at all times. Certainly, avoid his wrath at all costs!
Final Grade: A-
Bonus! Synergy Cards
- Nomad: It’s just a good body. Lifesteal makes it tricky to remove since 3 damage is the most common breakpoint, but your opponent punching into this will heal you. In an aggro mirror, that 3 health is a very nice return. Drawing Kha Meht early is also crucial to playing it early, and it can even find a 1c to go with it.
- Flurry: The synergy with this card and Kha Meht can’t be understated. On turn 8, Flurry + Kah Meht comes online and is an amazing swing if you trade units in before the play. Or, even having those units on board can help make the trade very explosive since just one unit opens up the space for something like Grim Reprisal. Also, don’t forget that the Zomboid’s damage to face can be used to pop stealth, feeding Kha Meht a tasty songbird snack!
- World Tree: You’re already playing a lot of cheap, short lived units of different elements, you might as well play the card that works with them. World Tree is also unique because it eats the same removal as Kha Meht while cycling into a 1c to bring Kha Meht on board. If it isn’t removed, Earth is a rarer unit for agility units, and the banner helps maintain tempo while you drop dragons.
Before we get to the dragon that can not be named, I’d like to briefly discuss one other unit often mistaken for being one of the elemental dragons
Visually its hard to compete with Meng’long, (as are most competitions with Meng’long) but Castus gives it a good shot. Jagged edges and yellow lines are objectively visually striking. It also helps that he has a better background.
He casts a spell when played. Well, what did you expect, his name is Castus? This is a perfectly simple, yet subtly powerful effect. For the mind element, it also fits very well, given its involvement with spells and cost reduction, two mind themes.
Subtle is the best word for this card, cus this card is secretly very good. The biggest issue of playing a large unit is alleviated by its effect, which is also mathematically very hard to beat on value or mana.
In my humble, but eternally correct, opinion, Castus should be the elemental dragon of mind, not Meng’long. The card is tied much better to the mind element with its summon effect (rainbow is generally a light theme, not mind) and is much more interesting than Meng’long’s simple numbers game. Suppose whatever spell you draw has its cost reduced from Castus’s ie. Drawing Dual Boot is equivalent to playing a 4c castus and a 4c Dual Boot. But, Dual Boot was drawn, so there’s essentially a 0c draw here, or a 1c draw and a 3c Castus, or however you want to think about it. Playing Mortal Blow onto Castus takes 4 mana, essentially equivalent to Castus’s cost in this play. But, at the same time Castus has already drawn a card to replace itself. This value changes based on the pull. Mass Confuse is the dream, but Illusion back onto Castus can also set up high value with recursion. Even if you don’t have recursion, playing Illusion onto Castus essentially makes an 5c Castus with a 0c draw into 3c Illusion into a 2/2 Castus into a 0c draw into another mind spell. So, if the spell is something like a mass confuse, you can get up to 18 mana worth of cards off of an 8c unit, and thin your deck by 2 cards. Oh, and it has guard, which is always a bonus.
Final Grade A+
Bonus! Mind Spell Tier List for Castus
C Tier: Seer’s Mask, Puppet Strings, Mind Rune, Eldritch Lore
B Tier: Arcane Ray, Bad Dreams, Cross Reference, Identity Crisis, Teleport, Think Twice, Thought Leader, Card Sling, Dream’s Undrempt, Hyper Beam, Mad Vibes, Twist and Turn
A Tier: Doubling Cube (Generally as an ood), Mind Control
S Tier: Ilusion (it could be anything, even another mind spell!) Overmind, Dual Boot, Manage Memory, Mass Confuse
But now, the dragon of dragons…
IT’S A DRAGON BEYOND THE CONCEPT OF LIFE AND DEATH!!! This is just great, I wish Dracomantium’s art was as realized as this card’s, as literally every part here is utilized. The gaps in the flesh evoke a terrifying state of undeath, while its ghastly bone spikes can only be said to inspire horror. Its attached spell further brings out the quality of Undragon’s art, showing some poor soul in its outstretched hand, demonstrating a terrifying scale. God I wish that was me.
Upon entering battle, the first thing Undragon does is raise its own unpaid interns from the dead. While I am personally envious of that ability, it should also be said that Undragon’s summon combines beautifully with its attached spell, Unliving Pact. This summon ability and attached spell demonstrate on thing loud and clear: Undragon is the true master of life and death, and the fact that he chooses to serve anyone is a blessing.
Upon entering battle, Undragon’s voice line ought to be “This is your end.” This is to reference the fact that Undragon is a being which will have no end, and the fact that Undragon is the best uber-lategame unit in the game, bar none. The existence and strength of this card determine how far a late-game strategy needs to plan, and its applications define entire decks.
Ending our breakdown with the most appropriate dragon possible, the Elemental Dragon of Dark is a true herald of the end times, both for our article and for your opponents. While Undragon on its own may not have a great rate at 10 mana, nor will its summon decisively end the game, Undragon is the master of attrition, exemplifying the best aspects of the Heart prism. And while the closing to this article may make me appear to be some cultist of Undragon (I am,) I am committed to showing here why Undragon is the best realized dragon in Skyweaver. But, to do that, we must first examine its home prism.
In my opinion, the Heart Prism is the most interesting prism in the game. Originally designed as a support prism, Heart doesn’t have any standout strengths. It doesn’t have the early threats of Agility, the raw stats of Strength, or the incredible removal of the Intelligence or Wisdom prisms. But, what sets Heart apart is its access to recursion tools, allowing it to replay powerful units multiple times in a single game. Cards like Evermore, Unfallow, and Phoenix Plume add value to a deck without necessarily drawing from it, a rare feat. This is often overlooked, but very important, since it means Heart can get a lot of gas out of cards without speeding towards ood draws. This also means that the quality of its draws can be volatile, as evermore can hit a Vialet as easily as a Titanic if used carelessly. However, this value comes at a price, as what Heart can recycle is vulnerable to disruption. Cards can be dusted, much of Heart’s strength is in slow death effects, and none of its removal or draw tools are exceptional.
With this value game in mind, it may suddenly become clear just how good Undragon is. It is incredibly expensive sure, 10 at base is a tad insane, but the ability to on command resummon a unit can not be overlooked. Secretly, even at base, Undragon has the best stats of any dragon in the game as a 9/12, but when you factor in a resummon it becomes huge. Doom Shroom is probably the best generic target for Undragon, given its wither, guard, death effect, and good stats. On turn 13, Undragon + Pact into Doom Shroom is 16 health on board. Additionally, the guard on the unit helps compensate for the lack of guard on Undragon, which in turn helps justify lifesteal on a massive 7/8 body. Where Undragon gets truly terrifying though is its synergies. First off, if you want to just play dragons, Undragon is mandatory. The reason is that Undragon has more dracosynergy than any other dragon with its effect. Want a Tiamat? On the Hunt is already with it, and can ood a 1c Emberwolf for the effect. Cryogen gets Krystal from Unfallow, Amaruath has Charmling or Fun Guy, ect. Some dragons like Dracomantium or Gusto obviously don’t enjoy this as much, but the value of 14 mana for two dragons at such a discount can be game ending. Consider my personal forte of Undragon + Elderwood/Opal Golem for a second Titanic. The stats on board from just that play are in the twenties. Furthermore, how do most decks handle that type of play? Wisdom needs to drop Doomsday or Touch the Sky, not even seal of doom cancels the value here. Intellect can use options like Subjugate, or Extenction Event if they haven’t already been forced out, but there’s more. Undragon is a summon unit, while the Zomboids it makes are death units. It is fairly doable to fill a deck with only death units, then use Grave Roil to clean the graveyard so Undragon can be fetched easily with Heart’s easy recursion tools. A second Undragon has a second pact, a second set of zomboids cleaning up cheap units, and a second round of the summon target getting its effects. Undragon is perfectly designed to bury you alive in value, and he will do so without hesitation every game if given the chance.
While Undragon has some limitations, I don’t think of them as weaknesses so much as they are saving graces. First off, this card is incredibly expensive. It can’t be said enough, but cost is huge, and often means this dragon is coming down with no spell support. Of course, Heart cards like Wed Dead and Old Fogey can help alleviate this, but running too many -1 cards can be dangerous alongside expensive dragons. Secondly, and perhaps more a weakness of relying on others than a weakness of Undragon himself, recursion strategies are always open to disruption. No unit is immune to be dusted in the discard pile, and very few if any good Undragon targets come with the lead to ensure the deal. Yet again though, Heart has tools to remedy this issue. Buckler Up can be used (and is also just a good buff spell,) but that may be difficult for control that wants to save it for Earth Golem. Secondary targets may be an option, such as running Forest Hart along side Titanic as a backup, but this also necessitates the existence of good secondary targets. Finally, Undragon itself can be fickle to recur, as it may occasionally decide you aren’t worth its time and die before a zomboid, locking itself away under a useless 1/2 body. When this happens, my only advice is for one to make sure all of their candles are lit and their incense is proper. Outside of that, there is not much one can do.
Personally, Dracomantium is my favorite dragon. But at a very close second, and by objective measures in first, Undragon is the true dragon of Skyweaver. Everything about the card works well, it embodies the truth of what a dragon should be, and even in death it may still come back to haunt you opponent. Never overlook Undragon, lest your deaths become a monument to ignorance.
Final Grade: S+
Bonus! Synergy Cards
- Unfallow: This card is incredibly crucial to finding cheap targets for Undragon’s Pact. With Grave Roil you can run non-death 1c units and this to reliably pull targets in the uber-late game, or you can just use it at any point in the game given your 1c units remain worthwhile draws.
- Earwig: Similar to Tiamat and On The Hunt, Undragon may occasionally face the problem of being a large unit that just dies to removal (although he does remedy this somewhat with his pact.) At the cost of the pact, earwig helps solve this by giving Undragon fate, essentially guaranteeing a card of draw off of it when it dies. Is this worth it? Well, while Tiamat doesn’t care about her Burn to a Crisp too much, Undragon may get far more than a card of value from Pact. So, look at it as a tradeoff of tempo vs value
Important Undragon Targets
Titanic: Largest Possible Statblock
Maw Worm: Biggest Burst of Healing
- Targets: Zomboid
Scorpio: Most value post-wipe
- Targets: Zomboid
Cryogen/Krakus/Shell Officer: Threatens lethal, Controls Board, Reliable backup card with lead.
Octavian: Massive Guard with draw
- Krystal, Thanite
Amaruath: Massive Guard with removal and stun
- Charmling, Fun Guy
Final Tier Listing
While we may all know who’s first here, that shouldn’t discount just how great the art is on all the dragons. These all hold truly evocative designs and are great representations of their element.