Stacking the Deck: Big Dumb Dragons in Dragons of Tarkir
Dragons of Tarkir promised to be a Dragon centered set and it didn't disappoint. This set has the most dragons in any set ever (25), and we're going to cover every single one of them.
First we're going to talk about the mono colored, uncommon dragons of the set. All of these cards are the same except for their color and one key word, and all of them are lackluster. Besides flying, they come with either trample, hexproof, lifelink, first strike or deathtouch. They're all 3/3's that cost five colorless and one of their color to cast. They can all be played as a morph and then megamorphed for five colorless and two of their color. When you flip any of them face up, they put +1/+1 counters on other dragons you control. Unless you make a five color dragons deck in limited and draft all of these dragons, they're all very lackluster. I know flying and another keyword is pretty good, but casting them all for six mana or using ten mana total to megamorph them is just too expensive for my mana curve. Like I said, they're all certifiable bombs in limited, but it seems like they'd struggle in any other formats. The only other format I could see them active in is Commander, and that's only in a dragon based deck.
Next comes the rare, mono colored dragons. They're all different enough and strong enough to have their own section. The first of them is Sunscorch Regent. It's a 4/3 that costs three colorless and two white. When an opponent casts a spell, put a +1/+1 counter on it and you gain a life. Are you kidding me? Basically when your opponent does anything except playing a land, it gets stronger and you gain life. This card is ridiculous in any deck. This rotation of dragons is promising due to the fact that they're strong without needing any other dragons around it. This card is splashable in any deck that plays white in any format. Fantastic start to the cycle.
Next is the mono red dragon, Thunderbreak Regent. It's a 4/4 that costs two colorless and two red. If its stats aren't good enough for you have the ability that whenever one of your dragons gets targeted by an opponent's spell or ability, it deals three damage to that opponent. I know I just said that these dragons don't rely on other dragons, and I'm still correct. This means that when the Regent himself gets targeted by, let's say, hero's downfall or any other removal spell, he deals damage right back. You're giving your opponent the choice to either let a 4/4 flying dragon run around or take three damage to kill it. Just like the Sunscorch Regent, it's playable in red decks in any format.
Next is Deathbringer Regent. It's a 5/6 that you cast for five colorless and two black. If you cast if from your hand and if there are five or more other creatures on the battlefield, destroy all other creatures. Deathrbringer is an understatement, this card is insane. You'll quickly get over the high mana cost when you realize that it's a black End Hostilities that comes with a 5/6 flying dragon. Do I hear the sound of Blue/Black Control players waiting in anticipation for the set to get dropped?
The next Regent is Foe-Razer Regent. Cast it for five colorless and two green and it's a 4/5. When it enters the battlefield, you can make it fight another creature. When a creature you control fights, it gets two +1/+1 counters at the next end step. I don't know what a Foe-Razer is, but it sounds powerful. The second it hits the battlefield, it picks a fight and then it gets stronger at the end step. Cast a 4/5 flyer, kill a creature and then end the turn with a 6/7 flying dragon. For seven mana? That's completely fair.
The final Regent, is Icefall Regent. It's a 4/3 that you cast for three colorless and two blue. When it enters the battlefield, you tap an opponent's creature and it doesn't untap during it's next untap step. Spells your opponent casts that targets it costs two colorless more to cast. It's entering the battlefield ability is good enough, but making anything that points at it two colorless to casts is hilarious. Lightning Strike now costs four mana. Hero's Downfall costs five mana. You tap down the biggest blocker and if your opponent wants to kill you, you make them run the risk of tapping out for the turn. Definitely a control based card but it could have a home in various blue aggressive decks.
Who saw this coming? More dragons! There's a line of Uncommon and Rare multi colored dragons. The Uncommon dragons are all 4/4 dragons and cast for four colorless and the two colors of their clan. The first Uncommon dragon is Enduring Scalelord. When another creature you control gets at least one +1/+1 counter, you can put a +1/+1 counter on it. Talk about spreading the wealth. Worry about getting your other creatures +1/+1 counters and the Scalelord will reap the benefits. This fits perfectly in the Dromoka clan. With the keyword, Bolster being a thing and creatures with Outlast still floating around, this card will get multiple counters per game.
Ruthless Deathfang truly represents it's clan's new mechanic, Exploit. When you sacrifice a creature, your opponent sacrifices a creature. Exploit a creature and not only trigger an effect, but make your opponent sacrifice a creature. Silumgar's clan truly is ruthless. With cards like Sidisi sacrificing creatures and allowing you to search any card from your deck, not only are you going to gain a massive amount of field presence, but card advantage. This would be a great card if it was an enchantment, let alone a 4/4 flying dragon. It might not be the card for Blue/Black Control, but it will be playable in any Sultai/Silumgar deck that exploits Exploit.
Savage Ventmaw is the epitome of mana ramping. When it attacks, you can add three red and three green mana to your mana pool. The mana generated this way doesn't empy from your pool at the end of turn. Green/Red monsters players are rejoicing. A 4/4 flyer that nets you six floating mana whenever it attacks? The card's playable to no end. Standard, Red/Green Monsters. Limited, any deck that plays red and green. Modern, any variation of Jund. Commander, anything red and green.
Swift Warkite is the epitome of the Dash mechanic. When it enters the battlefield, you can have a creature with a converted mana cost three or less from your hand or graveyard enter the battlefield. It has haste and it returns to your hand at the end of the turn. Two words, Goblin Rabblemaster. If it dies earlier in the game, you can return it to the battlefield, swing in with a goblin token and then bounce it back to recast it next turn. The synergy is ridiculous. Depending on any of your other colors you're playing with, you have unlimited options to revive and dash in. Seeker of the Way Monsatary Swiftspear and Courser of Kruphix, ares some other cards to possibly abuse with this card.
The final uncommon dragon is Cunning Breezedancer. It has what I like to call Mega-Prowess. When you cast a noncreature spell, it gets +2/+2 until the end of turn. Basically, Defiant Strike plus God's Willing equals drawing a card, scrying once and a 10/8 flying dragon with protection from a color of your choice until end of turn. If you feel like messing around with your friends, put this in a White/Blue Heroic deck. Give it Aqueous Form so it's an unblockable 6/6 dragon (at least for the turn) and you scry one. It's not effective, but watching the looks on your friend's faces when you drop a big dragon in a deck full of one and two drops is priceless.
Here comes the next cycle of dragons. Arashin Sovereign is a 6/6 dragon that costs five colorless, a green and a white to cast. When it dies you can put it on the top or bottom of your opponent's library. A big dragon that can keep coming back is pretty cool. It's even better when you can choose whether or not to draw it next turn. You could even let it die only to Whip of Erebos it back in an Abzan deck. The possibilities are endless. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem like the most Standard playable card. It'll be playable in Limited and Commander always welcomes big creatures.
Next is Necromaster Dragon. It's a 4/4 dragon that casts for three colorless, one blue and one black. When it deals combat damage, you can pay two colorless to put a 2/2 Zombie Token onto the battlefield under your control and your opponent mills the top two card of their deck. Except for the mirror match, the card is great. Any Blue/Black deck other than the control deck plays delve cards so you're just fueling their graveyard. Other than that's it's a good card. Two colorless is nothing and making a 2/2 Zombie just for dealing combat damage is less than nothing.
Pristine Skywise is probably my favorite dragon of this cycle. It's a 6/4 dragon that casts for four colorless, one white and one blue. When you cast a noncreature spell, you can untap it and it gains protection from a color of your choice. A dragon with a variant of Jeskai Ascendency built in? It sounds like a very playable card. Swing in for six damage, Defiant Strike when blockers or declared or if they threaten with a removal spell and you get an extra power, a draw and you untap it and is now protected from that spell or blocker. Play any one mana instant and make into a God's WIlling minus the scry, I'll take that anytime.
Harbinger of the Hunt is the perfect anti token creature. It's a 5/3 that casts for three colorless, one red and one green. You can pay two colorless and a red to deal one damage to each creature without flying. You can also pay two colorless and a green to deal one damage to each creature with flying. This card effective kills off Jeskai Tokens and cripples other token based strategies. It also makes it tougher to be blocked. If your opponent meets this card with a dragon of their own, you can make it easier to kill. Depending on how much mana you have left, you can just kill it before it becomes a threat. It's playable in many different formats. It's a Limited bomb, Standard playable in Red/Green Monsters in the main deck or side board, and a possible sweeper in Commander.
The final dragon in this cycle is Boltwing Marauder. It's a 5/4 that casts for three colorless, one red and one black. Whenever another creature enters the battlefield under your control, target creature gets +2/+0 until end of turn. Best dragon yet! This card singlehandedly breaks the Dash mechanic. Dash something in and give it +2/+0 in order to hit even harder. It's even better because it says "target creature", which means that you can give Boltwing Marauder himself +2/+0. Play a bunch of low cost creatures and before you know it, you have a 12/4 in the air. This card is playable in any Black/Red deck, especially decks that revolve around Dash and Raid. Dash stuff out to make them stronger and since you attacked, trigger Raid and get even more effects. Rinse and repeat until you win.
The moment we've been waiting for is here. The kings of the Big Dumb Dragons are here, the Dragonlords. We're starting with the most sinister of them all, Dragonlord Silumgar. It's a 3/5 dragon with flying and deathtouch with a mana cost of four colorless, one blue and one black. When it enters the battlefield, you gain control of target creature or planeswalker for as long as you control this card. Let me get this straight, not only do I get a flying deathtoucher, but I can steal anything. This is the epitome of control. Stealing an opponent's Rabblemaster or Courser of Kruphix is one thing, but when you're stealing Sorin, Solemn Visitor or Elspeth, Sun's Champion because you can, that's where I draw the line. This card is fantastic and will surely be a thorn in anyone's side.
Dragonlord Dromoka is a 5/7 dragon with flying and lifelink that costs four colorless, a green and a white. It can't be countered and your opponent can't cast spells during your turn. No longer do you have to worry about your opponent pulling off any shenanigans during your turn. When they end their turn, you have the green light to go off. What's even better (or worse depending on how you look at it) is that this card is tough to kill. The seven toughness means it's well out of burn range and it can't be taken down by Hero's Downfall or Murderous Cut on your turn. This card changes your opponent's play style by itself which makes it a massive threat in any Abzan or Green/White Devotion deck.
Dragonlord Kolaghan is a 6/5 dragon that costs four colorless, one red and one black with flying and haste. She gives your other creatures haste. When your opponent casts a creature or planeswalker with the same name as a card in their graveyard, they lose ten life. This card is brutal! A 6/5 flyer with haste that gives other things haste is great enough. Let alone a card that hurts your opponent for casting a second copy of a creature. Unless your opponent is delving all of their extra creatures out of their graveyard, they'll just burn themselves out. Play this in any Mardu deck in Standard or a Jund deck in Modern. If you like the haste enabling ability, you can play it in Commander. Unfortunately, you'll never trigger the last ability.
Dragonlord Atarka is the beefiest of the dragons. It takes five colorless, one red and one green to cast this 8/8 dragon with flying and trample. If the stats aren't amazing enough, it can deal five damage among any number of creatures of planeswalkers your opponent controls. Let's see, summon an 8/8 dragon and kill a Siege Rhino. Or a Courser and an Elvish Mystic, or a Rabblemaster and three goblin tokens, or Sarkhan, Chandra, Sorin, and/or Elspeth. The bottom line is that this card is ridiculous. Killing multiple threats with an 8/8 trampling/flying body is amazing, even if it does cost seven mana.
The final dragon is Dragonlord Ojutai. You get a 5/4 dragon with flying for three colorless, one white and one blue. As long as he's untapped, he has hexproof. When he deals combat damage, you can look at the top three cards of your deck and put one of those cards into your hand. The rest go to the bottom of your deck. Blue/white control has a new boss. You can leave him back to block and he's a 5/4 flyer with hexproof. Whenever he deals damage, he allows you to activate Anticipation (the blue common instant) for free. Due to the amount of counterspells in the deck, you should have no trouble getting him through for damage and protecting him when he's tapped. His ability will then allow you to dig through your deck for more counterspells and removal.
Next article if the final article of Dragons of Tarkir. We'll be covering other honorable mentions and the two spicy new planeswalkers in the set. I'm looking forward to is as much as you are.