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Dragons of Tarkir Spoiler Limited Review for March 6


There are a whopping twenty-three new spoilers to review today including the second ever three-color Planeswalker. Before we start, take a look at the grading scale, keeping in mind that this is all from a Limited standpoint.

Grading Scale

A: This card will often be the best card in one's deck. I'd consider splashing it where possible. (Duneblast, Citadel Siege)
B: This card is rarely cut from a deck that can cast it. In draft, it signals that a color or archetype is open. (Icefeather Aven, Abzan Beastmaster)
C: Cards like this make up the majority of limited decks. You're neither excited nor embarrassed to have them in your deck. (Sagu Archer, Soul Summons)
D: I'm not putting this in my main deck unless I have a specific reason or I'm low on playables. (Firehoof Cavalry, Abzan Advantage)
F: This card will have little or no impact on the game if I draw it or is strictly sideboard-material. If I cast this card, please stage an intervention for me. (Lens of Clarity, Crucible of the Spirit Dragon)

Commons and Uncommons

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

This uncommon dragon is on par with Sultai Scavenger from Khans of Tarkir. It loses the Warrior synergy and cost reduction and gains deathtouch and a Megamorph option. The deathtouch will be useful for trading up with scarier dragons on your opponent's side, and the option to cast face down will help when you need to play a creature before turn six. The cost to unmorph is pretty significant for a triggered ability that often won't do anything, but turning up a flyer to attack and not be blocked, or a deathtoucher to ambush a large creature are both useful effects and this Dragon comes with both of those keywords.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

For being a two-mana instant speed removal spell, Ultimate Price leaves something to be desired. This doesn't hit morphs and doesn't hit half of the Dragons from Dragons of Tarkir, which are two pretty severe marks against it. However, Reach of Shadows in Fate Reforged was still a good card despite also not hitting morphs, and I'm happy paying three less mana for the downside of needing another removal spell for some of my opponents' Dragons. If a cycle or two of common gold cards is revealed, this spell's rating will obviously dip down a bit.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

This is the furthest that Red creature removal has been pushed since Flame Slash because Red isn't supposed to be able to deal with high toughness creatures so easily. Despite the numerous winged beasts roaming about, I prefer this card to Bathe in Dragonfire against an unknown opponent. Since Bathe was already a great spell in Khans/Fate Reforged, I expect it to pull its weight in the new format. Like Ultimate Price, this spell does leave you needing to pick up some additional Dragon insurance.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

This is apparently part of a cycle with Acid-Spewer Dragon, and I believe I prefer the black version. Red decks are generally more aggressive and less likely to want a 6-drop morph that needs seven mana to flip. If you do manage to get this face up, the first strike will admittedly do more work than the deathtouch of Acid-Spewer Dragon a good portion of the time. Put my bet in as vigilance, hexproof, and trample being the other three keywords for this cycle.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

Most people know the joy of Savage Punching in Khans of Tarkir with Ferocious turned on. This spell hedges your bets by being better when you don't have Ferocious and slightly worse when you do. I believe Epic Confrontation to be the better spell since you can use it as early as turn four to fight morph on morph. This version of the fight spell also doesn't require you to use high picks on Alpine Grizzly, or rather whatever the Grizzly equivalent will be in Dragons of Tarkir.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-      B      B      B-      B-

This cycle of Dragons is extremely similar to the one in Fate Reforged. Each has five 4/4 Dragons for six-mana with flying and another ability. These dragons all have the downside of being in two colors, but their abilities are better on average than their Fate Reforged counterparts. As the ratings show, my preferred two of the cycle are Cunning Breezedancer with its double Prowess ability that helps it while attacking or blocking, and Ruthless Deathfang which just works so well with the Silumgar guild's keyword Exploit.

Rares and Mythics

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A-

Part of a cycle with Den Protector (discussed later in this article) and Silumgar Assassin, I greatly prefer this white card of the cycle. The triggered ability is more valuable by far and is almost always able to kill your opponent's best creature on the board. In the unlikely event that your opponent is beating you down with a bunch of smaller creatures, running this out for two mana and having a creature with lifelink is still going to be great. When possible, I'd recommend not playing this creature face down until your opponent has a target on the board, since if this gets hit with Douse in Gloom before you can turn it up for value, it's going to feel like a blowout. 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

I obviously spoke too soon in a previous article when I predicted Silumgar Assassin to be cast face down more than any other morph. At triple blue in the mana cost, this will be very difficult for a Limited deck to be able to cast normally unless you're on mono-blue, which has the obvious downside of having to play mono-blue. Being difficult to cast normally and expensive to unmorph, this creature will have a high setup cost. Once you have this creature face up though, it will will do a lot of work on offense or defense being able to dodge removal and range in stats from an 0/8 to a 7/1 depending on what the situation calls for.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

Another hard-to-cast 3/3, Blood-Chin Fanatic is also a creature with high upside and low downside. At worst, it can threaten to block a morph and may get in for three damage once or twice. At best, this lets you all-out attack and then Fling your blocked Warriors at your opponent's face for a pseudo-Barrage of Boulders effect. If you're not able to completely finish your opponent off in one round of sacrifices and attacks, the life gain provides a nice buffer so that you won't die on the backswing.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

This mythic is a threat that just won't stay dead but its inability to block keeps it from being incredible. Having to recast this threat when it dies can be expensive and it takes a turn to start attacking again. Additionally, it gets brick walled by a 3/5 creature or larger, which isn't terribly hard to find. Sultai Emissary and Gurmag Angler are the only good common/uncommon Zombies in Fate Reforged and Silumgar Butcher is the only one revealed so far from Dragons of Tarkir, so hopefully more are revealed in the days to come. All that said, being an attacker that doesn't go away easily and an excellent creature to repeatedly Exploit is a pretty big deal.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B+

Upgrading your team into 4/4 flyers is a huge play that will often enable you to attack unblocked for the win on the following turn. Occasionally this may even allow you to downgrade an opponent's Elder Dragon into one that is just a vanilla 4/4. To make the most out of this card, you'll want to have ways to play lots of creatures to the board (Dragon Fodder sounds great) and not trade off too many of your creatures early in the game. Don't even get me started on how absurd this is with Dragon Tempest, but good luck picking up a specific Mythic and a specific Rare in the same draft.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

D

This is probably a decent card for some Constructed deck like Legacy Elves or Modern Podless Pod, but I don't think it will typically be good in Limited. This block has generally been a slow format that has punished playing a ton of cheap creatures unless you're on a red all-in aggro plan. Running the numbers, you need eight targets to have a 75% chance of hitting one creature and ten targets to have a 50% chance of hitting two creatures, and that's really not the kind of curve you typically want to have in a Limited deck. This is especially true if the format is going to be dominated by five and six-drop dragons that will outclass your entire team as soon as they enter the battlefield.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

A Nessian Courser with upside is a sweet deal. While this creature can't interact with the iconic Dragons of the set, it can face down almost any creature on the ground. If you trade it off in combat early, you also have a decent shot of getting it back for free with its triggered ability. Unless you have a lot of mana to spare, I'd usually recommend bringing this back face up so that it will be ready to get back into combat right away.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

Like the other cards in its cycle, this creature incentivizes you to cast it face down and not flip it up until you can get value out of its triggered ability. On the other hand, Den Protector attacks really well in to morphs if you turn it up on turn four. Whether you want to wait until you have a card in your graveyard or start beating down on turn four will depend on the overall speed of your deck. My favorite target will probably be Evolving Wilds; it goes to the graveyard on its own and does a good job of fixing your mana.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B+

If you play one creature (let's say a morph), then cast this on turn four, you'll get four or five +1/+1 counters on it depending on whether you're on the play or on the draw. Attacking with a 6/6 or 7/7 trampler on turn four is pretty insane, and I expect this card to lead to a lot of blowouts. If you rip this card as a topdeck, it gets a lot worse, but the insane upside of a large creature this early in the game is enough for me to label this a bomb. Obviously a Force Away would ruin your day, so be careful running this out if you think your opponent may be able to interact with it.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A

This is probably my favorite Dragonlord (although Dragonlord Dromoka discussed in the March 5 article is sweet too). Having hexproof is great against the removal that people are going to be packing against the Dragons this set named after. It shuts down a ton of attacks while on defense, and as soon as you feel brave or have a counterspell or protection spell to keep it safe, it hits for five on offense. It also lets you Anticipate whenever you hit your opponent, helping you find the gas needed to put the game away.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

This card might as well only have three options in Limited, but those three are good enough by themselves to make this card very good. The mini-Throttle will be the most commonly chosen of the four and getting the additional upside of countering a spell or bouncing something will generally be worth the restriction of having to pay two colors.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A

Like Deathbringer Regent and Foe-Razer Regent, this card is a seven-mana Dragon that is going to blow some stuff up when it hits the board. Although Dragonlord Ojutai is my favorite Elder Dragon, I think Dragonlord Atarka is the most powerful. She's more consistent than the black Regent and bigger than the green Regent. It only costs two mana more than Pyrotechnics for the upside of doing an additional point of damage (none of it being able to hit your opponent though) and coming on an 8/8 trampling flying body. As with those two Regents, getting to seven mana is going to be your only problem with this card.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A+

The second ever three-color Planeswalker, Sarkhan Unbroken does not disappoint. At the worst, it's a five-mana 4/4 flying Dragon that will gain you a bit of life when your opponent attacks and kills him the next turn. At best, he's a card drawing and mana ramping engine that will provide you with enough advantage to put your opponent away. In Limited, the ultimate ability won't often be a better choice than the -2 ability unless you get somewhat lucky with the amount of Dragons you manage to pick up. If you have three expensive Dragons in your deck and Sarkhan Unbroken, you're probably be better off lowering your mana curve so that Sarkhan survives more often. The three color mana cost is almost enough to bring him back down to "just" an A, but I think the payoff is worth it and the mana fixing available will be good enough to make it work.

Conclusion

I continue to get the feeling that instead of being bomb-driven like Fate Reforged, this format is going to be Dragon-driven. Whoever casts the first Dragon that isn't answered or met is going to run away with the game. Please join me next week when spoilers resume and look over my previous four articles from this week if you missed any of them. Until then, you can contact me in the comments below or on Twitter @JakeStilesMTG with any and all comments you may have.


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