15 of the Coolest and Most Iconic Dragons in Magic: the Gathering History

which are the most iconic, unique dragons in magic the gathering that also have unique abilities?

15 of the Coolest and Most Iconic Dragons in Magic: the Gathering History

Despite being mythical creatures, dragons sure are prevalent across many cultures and fantasy worlds. Magic: the Gathering is no different, with dragons playing a pivotal role alongside angels and elves both in the lore and gameplay.

We looked through over 320 dragons in Magic’s history, and picked out 15 of the most iconic, many of which come with cool abilities, even if not all of them are the most powerful. Check out how many you recognise, and hopefully that inspires you to play with some dragons in the next game!

Shivan Dragon

It would be rude to not start with the earliest Dragon that set the stage for all of it future brethren. Shivan Dragon was in the original 1993 set Alpha, and has been reprinted dozens of times since.

Shivan Dragon is one of the most iconic and recognisable dragons in MTG history.

Although no longer considered a powerhouse by today’s standards, back in the day it was a scary beast, being a 5/5 Flying Creature that can easily deal more damage with extra Mana spent. Back then there were not many Flying Creatures, and 5/5 was considered top end in terms of Power and Toughness stats.

Despite that, its legacy in Magic is assured, and nothing can take it away as 1 of the most iconic Dragons in the game.

Nicol Bolas, the Ravager

Not long after, the iconic Dragon Nicol Bolas was introduced Magic: the Gathering. And while there’ve been countless versions of the evil villain, the 1 that stands out the most in our books is Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. Its stats are impressive for its cost – 4 Mana with Flying for 4 Mana, plus the opponent has to discard a card.

Nicol Bolas is one of the most iconic, most powerful and recognisable dragons in MTG history.

But that’s not the main reason The Ravager is listed here. It’s also the only Dragon that can transform into Nicol Bolas, the Arisen, a Planeswalker with tremendous abilities that can take over the game. It comes in with 7 Loyalty counters and can either draw cards, get rid of any big Creature or Planeswalker, and can even reanimate either one to do your bidding.

Its ultimate ability -12 also effectively spells game over for your opponent, as they’re down to 1 full turn to win the game, otherwise they run out of cards in their deck.

The Ur-Dragon

The mother of all dragons is an astounding 10/10 Creature that is all colours Magic. Not only that, The Ur-Dragon gives a discount to all your other Dragon Creatures, making them much easier to cast.

The Ur-Dragon is one of the most iconic and recognisable dragons in MTG's Commander format.

The Ur-Dragon is seen almost exclusively in Commander, since that Eminence ability is what players can utilise without even casting it out. Being a 9 Mana cost also makes it difficult to cast, but once it’s on the Battlefield, you not only draw cards but can even a single Permanent onto the table for free.

The Ur-Dragon is also 1 of those iconic dragons that retains a high price in the secondary market, because of limited reprints. It’s likely to remain as 1 of the eminent tribal lords for years to come.

Niv Mizzet, Parun

Famous for being in the Izzet (blue-red) colours, Niv Mizzet is also the head of the city guilds in Ravnica, providing a voice of reason and authority whenever there are disputes. Niv Mizzet, Parun is 1 of the most high profile versions of the character, simply because of its incredibly easy ability to draw cards and deal damage.

As long as any player casts and Instant or Sorcery, you get to draw a card when Niv-Mizzet, Parun is on the Battlefield, and every card drawn means 1 damage to any target. In blue-red decks, stacking your hand full of Instants and Sorceries isn’t out of the norm, and there are a bunch of infinite combos if you have the right cards.

And by the way, Niv Mizzet, Parun is still a 5/5 Flying dragon that can’t be countered, so at the very least it is a capable attacker and blocker. It may not command a high price, but it’s still 1 of the coolest (and fiery) dragons in Magic.

Icing Death, Frost Tyrant

Adopted from the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons, Icing Death, Frost Tyrant is the rare white dragon that has provides a lot of utility, even if not in the traditional burn damage that dragons are known for.

Icingdeath is the only dragon in Magic’s history to be able to create an Equipment card upon its death. While the Icingdeath, Frost Tongue Equipment isn’t all powerful, it is definitely usable, being able to tap down an opponent’s Creature on attack.

On its own, Icingdeath, Frost Tyrant is a respectable 4/3 Flying dragon with Vigilance. Vigilance is almost not seen on dragons, so to have 1 that can attack while doing double duty in defense is invaluable. That, and its cool name, makes Icingdeath 1 of the most iconic dragons in Magic.

Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon

Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon stands alone as the only dragon among over 300 in Magic’s history, as it comes in built with Infect. Because of Infect, it deals damage to a player in the form of Poison counters. Once a players has 10 Poison counter, he or she loses the game. So it doesn’t matter if a player has 50 or 500 life points, Skithiryx can beat the player with 3 hits.

Skithiryx is one of the most iconic and recognisable dragons in MTG history as it's the only one with Infect.

What makes Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon even scarier is that you can grant it Haste for a black Mana, meaning it can attack on the same turn it enters play. Dragons fly, and makes it even trickier to block. Even if the opponent has some damage or destroy spells in hand, you also have the ability to Regenerate Skithiryx, as long as you have 2 black Mana.

Almost all players fear losing by Poison counters, and as such Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon always leaves an unforgettable mark in their minds.

Goldspan Dragon

Goldspan Dragon is so strong and applicable in many formats that there’s hardly a player who doesn’t know its name, despite it being a very new card from 2021. Not only is it a 5/5 Flying dragon with Haste, it creates Treasure tokens whenever it attacks or is targeted by a spell.

Goldspan Dragon is not only iconic, it's also 1 of the most powerful in all of MTG's history.

Assuming the opponent has no flying blockers, you’re guaranteed at least a Treasure or 2 even if it gets targeted by a removal spell later on.

Its 2nd ability is where the game goes onto a higher gear and makes Goldspan Dragon 1 of the coolest yet terrifying dragons in Magic history. Now all your Treasures generate 2 Mana instead of 1, allowing you to cast bigger spells faster and get ahead of your opponent. A single Treasure can now cast a Counterspell, and 4 such tokens can even cast a Ruinous Ultimatum at a whim.

Arcades, the Strategist

If dragons are historically perceived to proud, arrogant beings, then Arcades, the Strategist breaks all stereotypes. In this version, Arcades is a champion for Defender Creatures. These Defenders cannot usually attack, but thanks to Arcades’ ability can attack and deal damage equal to their Toughness.

Although it didn’t make an appearance during its run in Standard, it’s found a nice home in Commander where players have built tribal themes revolving around Defender. Arcades, the Strategist is a strong leader on that front, being a 3/5 dragon for only 4 Mana, and comes with Vigilance and of course, Flying.

You are even able to draw a card for each new Defender that comes into the Battlefield, making sure your hand is filled with options. It’s certainly nice to see big, menacing dragons leading the charge for Defenders that very rarely get attention, thus making Arcades, the Strategist 1 of the coolest dragons around.

Lightning Dragon

Some of you might think: this isn’t that good of a dragon in Magic! You would be right, as the Echo cost makes this essentially an 8-Mana card for a weaker version of Shivan Dragon. However, Lightning Dragon is iconic for 1 very special reason: it was the very 1st foil card in Magic.

The first ever foil card in Magic the Gathering is a dragon card

It was given away during the prerelease event of Urza’s Saga way back in 1998, even though the main set had no foil cards yet. It was in the subsequent set Urza’s Legacy where all cards in the set had a foil version.

Lightning Dragon may be an underwhelming card in power and abilities, but like the Shivan Dragon will always have a place in the history books.

Korvold, Fae-Cursed King

Originally found in a preconstructed Brawl deck from Throne of Eldraine, Korvold, Fae-Cursed King has since emerged to be 1 of the strongest dragon Commanders in that format. Its triple colours are very useful, and in a Sacrifice theme lets Korvold grow to a massive flying dragon that can quickly deal 21 Commander damage.

Korvold’s ability to draw a card is also immensely powerful, since even sacrificing a Treasure or Clue token lets you grow your hand and find the combo pieces that you need. Korvold, Fae-Cursed King is such a strong enabler in Commander that it has become a top tier, competitive choice in the format.

Triggered abilities like Korvold’s often take a dragon’s power to the next level, as we’ll see in the next couple that have combat-related triggers.

Balefire Dragon

Balefire Dragon costs a hefty 7 Mana to cast, even for a 6/6 Flying Creature. However, if it can connect with an opponent during combat, it serves as a back breaking, one-sided board wipe.

Since Balefire Dragon‘s default Power is 6, that means each of the defending player’s Creatures get dealt 6 damage, effectively wiping out all but the toughest of them. If Balefire Dragon isn’t dealt with immediately, it will simply control the field in a 1-v-1 matchup.

A similar dragon – Terror of the Peaks – deals damage whenever another of your Creatures Enter the Battlefield. Both are cool dragons, but Balefire Dragon might be the more devastating, even though it costs 2 Mana more.

Ancient Copper Dragon

The most sought after dragon from Commander Legends: Battle at Baldur’s Gate is the red Ancient Copper Dragon, for its jaw dropping potential to create up to 20 Treasure tokens when it hits an enemy player.

Ancient Copper Dragon is also cheaper to cast than its counterparts in the set, such as Ancient Silver Dragon and Ancient Gold Dragon. Arguably, Treasures are the most flexible in terms of utility, though drawing cards is also a great asset.

It’s also the 1st time that Magic placed such high payouts for a die-rolling trigger on a dragon, and as such Ancient Copper Dragon has become the most iconic of its cycle and also the most expensive card in Baldur’s Gate.

Tanazir Quandrix

Tanazir Quandrix not only has a difficult name to pronounce, it’s also the one you’re least likely to have heard of. Tanazir is the dragon master of the wizard school Quandrix, 1st introduced in the Strixhaven set. Also part of a cycle of 5 dragons/schools, Tanazir wasn’t the most player, but has 2 unique abilities that make it very iconic.

5 Mana for a 4/4 dragon with Flying and Trample is already decent stats, but it also automatically doubles the number of +1/+1 counters on any Creature you control. That could easily mean an additional +2/+2 or +3/+3 boost, making Tanazir already great value for its cost.

It’s Tanazir Quandrix‘s 2nd ability that makes it doubly cool. In a tokens deck with lots of 1/1 or 2/2 Creatures, with Tanazir you can have all of them be 4/4, creating a massive force that will be difficult to stop.

While its peer Beledros Witherbloom is also a veritable powerhouse in Commander, it doesn’t have the same explosive impact as Tanazir since Beledros creates a 1/1 token per turn and the 7 Mana cost is rather steep.

Dragonlord Dromoka

Although green and white colour combinations are often known for tokens and “go-wide” strategies, there’s a formidable and iconic dragon in those very same colours, in the form of Dragonlord Dromoka. For 6 Mana, you get a 5/7 Flying dragon with Lifelink, but that’s not why Dromoka is on this list.

Dragonlord Dromoka is one of the most iconic dragons with cool abilities in MTG history.

The best part about Dragonlord Dromoka is its pseudo stax ability, similar to Grand Abolisher, which is a key card in many competitive Commander builds. Sure you likely won’t find Dromoka is top tier decks, but it’s the only dragon in Magic that stops opponents from casting spells during your turn. This leaves you free to carry out your own sequence of spells without interruption.

Drakuseth, Maw of Flames

Our last cool dragon on this list will leave you thirsting for some water. Drakuseth, Maw of Flames can deal a maximum of 10 damage just by attacking, clearing the way of blockers, and also dealing damage directly to the opponent.

The 7-Mana casting cost is on the high end, but seeing you get a 7/7 Flying Creature, it even towers over other dragons of the same cost. The only downside to its ability is that each target for damage (4+3+3) has to be unique, so you can’t send all 10 damage to an opponent, for example.

Drakuseth, Maw of Flames can easily turn the tide of the game if the opponent has no way to deal with it. If you’re able to somehow give it Haste through spells or Equipment, it’ll be a quick victory.

End Step

Which dragons have been your personal favourites? There were definitely many in the run up, like Old Gnawbone and Terror of the Peaks that are incredibly powerful but perhaps just somewhat less iconic than others (in this case Ancient Copper Dragon and Balefire Dragon).

If you’re planning to build a dragon deck, whether for casual or competitive play, do take a closer look at these dragons as they represent Magic: the Gathering in more ways than one, and are sure to bring lots of fun to the table.

After playing from Tempest to Urza's Saga block, Ted took a 20 year break from the game before returning to the classic Plane of Dominaria in 2018. His favourite formats are Commander, Draft, and, grudgingly, Standard.

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