Tuesday, 31 March 2015

MTG: 11 Intriguing Casual Cards from Dragons of Tarkir

Due to some real life events, and the fact that Fate Reforged came out not *that* long ago, I haven't really gotten into Dragons of Tarkir as much as I would normally do for any new set.

One rant before I begin: Where are all the frickin' baby dragons?

WOTC's official answer was that the Dragon Tempest only gives 'birth' to fully-grown dragons, and baby dragons don't exist on Tarkir. Pbbbbbttt!

What a load of junk! Seriously, Dragon decks have been craving lower-drops for years, and this was the perfect set to do it.

What do we get? A bunch of durdly 6-drops :(


Now, after playing in a release tournament, and getting to look through the player's guide (aka Bathroom Reading), I've finally started to get excited about some of the new goodies.

What's inspiring this casual player? In a totally random order...

1. Rakshasa Gravecaller

My allegiance has now shifted to the Silumgar brood, as they reward cunning and resourcefulness. I favour decks that win on grinding resource advantage, as my opponents slowly find the game slipping out of their hands.

Now, the Gravecaller is one of the most powerful cards in the set, especially in a Draft or Sealed environment. How many cards, especially UNCOMMONS, offer 7 power and 10 toughness for the price of one (well, plus another) card? This card could have been rare, and that would have been fair.

This card was a definite MVP for my winning Silumgar deck at the release tournament. I don't often win, so I might as well brag a little ;)

2. Assault Formation

Harkoning back to Doran, the Siege Tower, Assault Formation is a great 'build around me' card that turns your 0/5 walls into brutal attackers. Most high toughness creatures are fairly cheap to cast, as is this card.

Thankfully, I already have a deck pre-made for this beauty. My Arachnophobia deck is full of spiders with big asses and not much power. (Sir Mixalot would approve!) This enchantment will turn any 2/4 into a literal 4/4, and give the whole team a big papa pump.

3. Palace Familiar

Yes, a 1/1 owl for two mana hardly seems exciting, but if you need fodder for your exploitations, this feathery friend will ensure that you don't face card disadvantage.

This dude also makes an amazing chump blocker, since it replaces itself. Don't need to block? Just peck your opponent in the eyes or poop on their head until you need it as a sacrificial fowl. 

4. Deathmist Raptor

It seems the Predator is done with earthlings and decided to visit Tarkir.

Besides being a powerful creature in its' own right (it's already seeing Standard play), the fact that you can get it back over and over again in a deck with Morphs is one reason why this card was turned into a mythic rare.

5. Youthful Scholar

When this card came out, I joked that it was the perfect Magic representation of myself: I'm not dumb, and, while I am smart, I am not a high achiever.

Best to keep expectations low and pleasantly surprise people :)

On it's own, it's almost Mulldrifter-level in terms of power. If you need an Exploit target, this is the very best.

6. Dragon Whisperer

On the other hand, this card is a great Magical representation of my wife: She really is the Dragon Whisperer, and this is one of the few low drops that will actually make it into a Dragon deck.

7. Sarkhan Unbroken

Sarkhan has finally shed the madness that has consumed him, and has found happiness in a plane ruled by dragons.

As for this card, how can you not love a card that poops out dragons? At the very worst, he 'gains' you 5 life and draws you a card.

As for the Limit Break? Well, I have a dream where my wife ultimates Sarkhan Unbroken, only for me to Wrath the board the very next turn.

8. Sidisi, Undead Vizier

We hardly ever get any Demonic Tutor type cards these days, and now we have one that is built into a 4/6 deathtouch monster! It pays to serve Silumgar.

Yeah, I'll gladly turn my dorky 1/1 into the most powerful card in my deck.

Deathtouch creatures tend to be purely defensive in nature, but 4 power? Talk about an offensive powerhouse. Your opponents are going to have to put something beefy in front of her to actually kill her, or will be afraid to block her at all.

9. Silumgar's Command

Of all of the commands, this is the most likely to produce 2-for-1s.

Now, five mana makes it a very expensive spell, especially since the other commands are all cheaper. You don't want to be stuck with 3-4 of these in your hand.

On the other hand, any card that can outright kill annoying Planeswalkers is going to get top marks from me. It's a pain in the arse to have to devote so many creature attacks to kill an opposing planeswalker, after all.

The first three modes will see the most play, for sure, but all of them provide a load of value and tempo.

10. Dragonlord Silumgar

The big daddy himself! Yeah, he's gotten a bit lazy in his old age, but he will still *steal* the show.

If you are desperate for exploit fodder, and/or want to get rid of your opponents most annoying creature, just borrow it and exploit it for profit.

(I feel so much like a Wall Street banker *giggle*)

11. Silumgar Sorcerer

If you had a spell that read "Choose one - Counter target creature spell or put a 2/1 flying wizard into play", you would most certainly put that card into any blue deck.

Silumgar Sorcerer is great in that it offers so much flexibility, and you don't need to decide between a Remove Soul or a flashy flyer for the last spot in your deck.

Granted, this card can't counter more annoying removal spells and planeswalkers, but it's still a deceptively powerful creature that can go into even non-Exploit decks.

12. Sunscorch Regent

Remember this bullish creature?

Taurean Mauler is one of the more annoying cards to face off against in multiplayer, since it just keeps growing...and growing...

Well, Sunscorch Regent is the dragonic version of Mrs. Mauler, destined to make all of your opponents groan in resignation.

Now, the Regent isn't quite as good as the Mauler in two respects: a. The Mauler comes down much earlier, and is will get much larger much earlier, and b. the Mauler has any and all creature types... yes, even a dragon :)

Still, the Regent has a nice bit of evasion, and will also gain you some life for all of the work your opponents are doing.

13. Swift Warkite

Welcome to Valuetown, population: Swift Warkite.

Of all of the uncommon gold dragons in the set, this is, by far, my favourite.

Besides having decent stats, the reanimating clause can bring back a bevy of valuable creatures onto the battlefield for another go.

Don't want to lose the creature you just reanimated? Don't attack! At the end of turn, it will bounce safely back into your welcome bosoms.

I think the Warkite combos very nicely with something like Bone Shredder. Then, it reads as a 4/4 dragon with Terror attached.

So, while Dragons of Tarkir might not have any cards that make me nerdgasm (Villainous Wealth), or any real big combo enablers, the set will inspire me to make a new deck based around the Exploit mechanic.

What cards are you looking forward to getting?