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Demanding Dragon – A Magic the Gathering Card Review

Demanding Dragon is a rare creature card from Magic the Gathering’s 2019 Core Set. It may surprise you that the five-mana Dragon is former a #1 TCGPlayer bestseller. Besides having five power and toughness, when it enters the battlefield, this Dragon deals five damage to an opponent unless that opponent sacrifices a creature. How good would this ability prove to be, and would it be worth all of the early hype?

Sure, the Demanding Dragon is one Dragon card casual players could get very excited about. While he may be no Thundermaw Hellkite or Stormbreath Dragon, forcing an opponent to sacrifice a creature is always a powerful play. The alternative of five damage is no joke, either. However, is paying five mana for an optional edict effect with significant burn damage worth playing outside of kitchen table Magic?

As powerful as he sounds, Demanding Dragon’s price topped out at $2 USD, and settled below one dollar rather quickly. Despite how well this card reads, it doesn’t scream competitive play. However, this is a creature with a generically powerful effect that could slot into a variety of midrange decks. 

Was Demanding Dragon a Good Card in Standard?

In Standard, Demanding Dragon did see significant play from its release in July 2018 through September 2019. He actually saw play alongside the best Dragon card in Standard at that time, Glorybringer. Fortunately for Demanding Dragon, Glorybringer wouldn’t hang around past October 2018, thanks to Standard rotation. This gave Demanding Dragon a few more opportunities than it may have had otherwise.

Early on, he saw play at a single copy in Rakdos Control decks who played him as a one-of threat in a deck full of Dragons. These decks took advantage of Dragon tribal enablers such as the planeswalker Sarkhan, Fireblood and the artifact Dragon’s Hoard. In August he saw play in Grixis decks, this time at two copies, with both Sarkhan, Fireblood and Chandra, Torch of Defiance to make two free Red mana with their loyalty abilities. 

Later in the year, Demanding Dragon even began to see play at four copies in Red Deck Wins, again thanks to Sarkhan, Fireblood being around to ramp out both Demanding Dragon and Verix Bladewing. A Red/White version of this deck that primarily splashed White for sideboard cards also emerged.

In 2019, Demanding Dragon worked his way into Gruul (Red/Green) decks centered around big creatures with splashy effects. As late as September 2019, Demanding Dragon was still seeing lots of play in decks that would make the top eight, or even top four, of competitive tournaments. 

Should I Care About Demanding Dragon?

After it exited Standard, Demanding Dragon hasn’t since seen competitive play, at least not outside of Commander. Even shortly after release, the Dragon popped up in a few mono-Red EDH Decks, such as Lathliss, Dragon Queen (herself from Magic 2019) and Ilharg, the Raze-Boar. Kaalia, Zenith Seeker from Magic 2020 also invited him into some of her lists, too. With Legendary Dragons being printed more than ever in 2022, Demanding Dragon is still very much in demand (no pun intended). 

Most recently, Demanding Dragon has found a consistent home in Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm. This Legendary Dragon from Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate has an ability that creates a token of any nontoken Dragon that enters the battlefield under your control. This is powerful, since Demanding Dragon’s ability triggers twice if Miirym is in play. Miirym is perhaps best surrounded by other Legendary dragons, since the token isn’t legendary even if the nontoken creature was Legendary. But, Demanding Dragon is certainly a legitimate option for Miirym decks, and as of June 2022, it has shown up in roughly 8 percent of EDHREC lists.

For a Core Set rare dragon, Demanding Dragon has had a pretty nice competitive career. It may be far from the best five-mana Dragon around, but it’s still notable for a long and eventful Standard-legal career and continued play in Dragon Tribal Commander decks.

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Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy. Personal Website: https://www.thephoenixdesertsong.com

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