Because of how well this theme was designed around during this set, we have one of the more solid Intro Packs of the bunch with the red/blue “Flames of the Dragon” list. This Intro Pack was released in July 2014 and features two rare dragons: Hoarding Dragon and Siege Dragon.
To wit, the list:
3 Bronze Sable
2 Welkin Tern
1 Rummaging Goblin
3 Aeronaut Tinkerer
2 Krenko’s Enforcer
2 Wall of Frost
3 Scrapyard Mongrel
1 Hoarding Dragon
2 Glacial Crasher
1 Siege Dragon
1 Rogue’s Gloves
1 Sacred Armory
1 Tyrant’s Machine
1 Shrapnel Blast
2 Ensoul Artifact
1 Brawler’s Plate
1 Staff of the Flame Magus
1 Staff of the Mind Magus
2 Lava Axe
1 Darksteel Citadel
First, we’ll take a look at the two rare dragons.
Hoarding Dragon is a reprint from the Magic 2011 Core Set. When he enters the battlefield, you may search your library for an artifact card, exile it, then shuffle your library. When he dies, you may put that exiled artifact into its owner’s hand. This sounds like a nifty tutoring effect, and a 4/4 flying dragon for 3RR sounds decent enough on top of that.
The trick is to make sure that the Hoarding Dragon actually dies. If he’s removed from the field in any other way, whether he’s returned to the hand, returned to the deck or exiled, that artifact you searched out is gone forever. You have to ensure that he dies. If you manage to get that artifact to your hand, then he’s good. Otherwise, he’s just a 4/4 flyer that just cost you an artifact from your deck. Still, like Siege Dragon, he has a good enough effect that he sees a good deal of casual play, especially in the Commander format.
The rest of the creatures are a mix of artifact creatures and some creatures that are helped by the presence of other artifacts. Ornithopter, which we haven’t seen in quite awhile, is a 0-drop 0/2 flyer. Free-to-play creatures are awesome, especially when it’s combined with another card in this deck, but we’ll get to that in the non-creature spells. There are also 3 copies of Bronze Sable in the deck, a 2/1 artifact creature that costs two colorless mana to cast. While they seem rather vanilla, they are cost effective and give you artifacts that help with the overall theme of the deck.
The next two-drop in the deck is Welkin Tern, which is a 2/1 flyer for 1U that can only block creatures with flying. It’s a fairly standard Core Set common creature. Not much more to say about it other than it’s an early evasive creature. There are two of those in the deck.
Next we have a Rummaging Goblin. He costs 2R to cast for a 1/1 Goblin Rogue, but he has a useful tap ability. It’s what’s often called the “looter” effect, draw a card, then discard a card. There’s a blue card in the set, Research Assistant, that does something similar, but at the cost of 3U per “loot.” Rummaging Goblin is strictly better in that sense, but on a much more fragile body, where the Assistant is a 1/3 for 1U.
Aeronaut Tinkerer is a new card from Magic 2015. He costs 2U to cast for a 2/3 that gains flying as long as you control an artifact. Considering that controlling an artifact will not be hard in this deck, he’s a very good card at common. There are 3 copies of him in the deck.
Next, we have two copies of Krenko’s Enforcer. He costs 1RR to cast for a 2/2 with Intimidate, meaning he can only be blocked by red creatures or artifact creatures. While he’s not really on theme, he’s aggressive.
Already, we have a ton of evasive creatures, some with flying, others than can gain flying, and a couple with Intimidate. This is looking like a very solid creature line-up so far! So who will hold the ground?
To help with that, the deck has 2 copies of Wall of Frost. It’s a 0/7 (!) Defender for 1UU and whenever it blocks a creature, that creature can’t untap during its controller’s next untap step. It’s one of the better walls out there.
We then have two copies of a classic artifact creature: Juggernaut, a 5/3 for 4 that must attack every turn. It does have the nifty ability to be able to not be blocked by Walls, which is definitely a “thing” in this Core Set. He has been a great card in the past and even sees play in Vintage, so he’s not to be underestimated!
We then have three copies of Scrapyard Mongrel, another new common card from Magic 2015. He’s a 3/3 for 3R which is sort of mediocre, but as long as you control any artifact, he gains +2/+0 and gains trample. Suddenly, he’s a very aggressive creature.
We round out the creature line-up with 2 copies of Glacial Crasher. It’s a 5/5 Elemental with Trample for 4UU. However, it can’t attack unless there is a Mountain on the battlefield. That should never be a problem with this list, though, since it is a red/blue list, and that Mountain can be on the opponent’s side of the battlefield, as well. It’s not the most exciting big beater in the world, but it’s only a common, so you can only ask so much.
The creature line-up in this Intro Pack is actually fairly strong compared to its counterparts. It only gets better when you see how they synergize with the non-creature spells.
The first non-creature spell is actually an equipment: Rogue’s Gloves, new for Magic 2015. It costs only 2 to cast and 2 to equip. Whenever the creature it’s equipped to deals combat damage to a player, you may draw a card. Considering how many flyers there are in this deck and all of the trample that’s in this deck, having this card equipped to one of them could give you some nifty card advantage. I’m a big fan of this uncommon Equipment. Plus, it’s an artifact.
Next, we have another artifact, Sacred Armory, also new to Magic 2015. It costs 2 to cast and gives a target creature “firebreathing” (+1/+0 until end of turn) for the cost of 2 colorless mana per activation. It’s especially good in a Limited context, but in Constructed it’s just a nice way to pump extra mana into dealing a bit more damage. But the fact that it’s an artifact gives it other reasons to be included, too.
Yet another artifact, Tyrant’s Machine costs 2 to cast, and provides a way to tap down opposing creatures for the cost of 4 colorless mana. While it’s not the most cost-effective card, again, it’s an artifact to provide fuel for the theme.
The onslaught of new artifacts continues with the Equipment, Brawler’s Plate. It costs 3 to cast, but 4 to equip. It gives the equipped creature +2/+2 and trample. That seems pretty nifty, even if 4 is a bit pricey for an equip cost. Whatever, it’s an artifact.
To round out the artifacts we have the Staves for red and blue: Staff of the Flame Magus and Staff of the Mind Magus, respectively. These cards allow you to gain 1 life each time a Red or Blue spell is cast, or a Mountain or Island enters play under your control. It’s nice for tempo reasons, but again, they are also artifacts.
The last three cards in the deck are your big finishers: one copy of Shrapnel Blast and two copies of Ensoul Artifact.
The other card is one of my personal favorite cards in the entire Core Set: Ensoul Artifact. Making an artifact into a creature with base power and toughness 5/5 in addition to everything else that it does is pretty ridiculous. Making a 0/2 Ornithopter into a 5/5 that can still fly for only two mana is pretty ridiculous. It even allows you to make your Equipments and utility artifacts into creatures. It’s another card that I wish there were a full playset of in the deck. This card has a lot of potential to do a lot of silly things.
The other card that Ensoul Artifact happens to be very good with is Darksteel Citadel. It’s been reprinted in a duel deck since its first inclusion in Darksteel (as a common, no less!) but it is now being bumped up to uncommon. (Interestingly enough, the Citadel was reprinted again at common in Modern Masters 2015 soon afterwards!) Darksteel Citadel is an indestructible artifact land. This is relevant because it’s yet another target for your Ensoul Artifact. It may be the best target outside of Ornithopter. There’s only one in the deck, so if you want to take this deck to the next level, there should definitely be a full four copies.
The list is rounded out by 24 basic lands: 12 Mountains and 12 Islands.
As far as Intro Packs go, “Flames of the Dragon” definitely provided one of the better shells around which to build a Standard deck around the time of Magic 2015. The forced red/blue artifact theme in the set is especially interesting. If you were to cut some of the weaker cards in the deck and add in a couple more Ornithopters, max out the Shrapnel Blasts, Ensoul Artifacts, and Darksteel Citadels, you have the start of a fairly decent deck.
As constructed, I’d have to give this deck a B as an intro product. Compared to its other Intro Pack counterparts, it’s a very aggressive list with plenty of evasive creatures and a very strong theme. The only issue is that you have to be extremely picky when to use the best two cards in the deck. Of course, the point is to provide a shell, and there’s a pretty strong one here. It’s definitely in contention for the best of the Magic 2015 Core Set Intro Packs.
Just a couple years later, this is one of the more expensive Intro Packs to still buy sealed. I’m not sure why anyone would pay $25 or more for this deck and 2 Magic 2015 booster packs. Yes, Ensoul Artifact is a $1 uncommon, but that’s really the only money card in the deck! Really, it’s that expensive because of how popular this deck was at the time. Also, Magic 2015 was a set full of good cards, so two lottery tickets was a nice bonus. All in all, I wouldn’t buy this deck sealed. But if you want to build a deck like it, I would definitely recommend this archetype as a way to go.