Stacking the Deck: Going Green in Dragons of Tarkir
Last but certainly not least in the mono color train for Dragons of Tarkir is Green. This is in my opinion the best color of the set based on the amount of playable cards there are that are mono green, hence why we're covering the most cards in this article to date. Anyway, time to Go Green!
We're starting with probably the most epic artwork in the set. Epic Confrontation is a solid card and the artwork just screams play me. Surrak went from bear punching in the old timeline to punching dragons, and winning! Giving a creature +1/+2 and making it fight another creature is really good for two mana. It's at sorcery speed, but who cares? I have one more thing to say about the artwork though. It looks like Surrak still isn't one to pull punches.
Sheltered Aerie is a strange card. Pay three mana to enchant a land, it can tap for two mana of any color. I could see this card work, but only if you are able to get this card early. Mana ramping is always popular, just look at Sylvan Caryatid and Elvish Mystic. However, mana ramping with your land itself seems too awkward for Standard play. This card is more than welcomed in Commander due to the long term games.
Shape the Sands is a fantastic defensive card in the a format that will be flooded with dragons. Whether in Limited or in a dragon deck in Standard, this card is a great surprise card when you're getting swung at by a big dragon. One green mana for +0/+5 is good enough, throwing in reach is massive.
Tread Upon is another example of an unnecessarily good common. Two mana to give target creature +2/+2 and trample at instant speed is a really good combat trick to end games. Swing in with a Shaman of the Great Hunt that's been pumped up to a 6/5. Your opponent chump blocks because Shaman's lethal. Spring this combat trick to make it an 8/7 and trample over for game. That seems like something that'll happen a lot in multiple formats. It's a bomb in limited and could be a secret tech to steal games and possibly matches in Standard.
The first uncommon of the day is Display of Dominance. Remember the color specific removal spells? This is the best one. It has two modes to either destroy a blue or black noncreature, or prevent your permanents to be targeted by blue or black spells. Blow up Jeskai Ascendency, Temur Ascendency, Citadel or Palace Siege, or Whip of Erebos. Prevent targeting by Throttle, Bile Blight, Retraction Helix, Crippling Chill and a lot more obscure cards. Sideable in Limited and Standard for certain matchups.
There are two creatures in this set that cost two green and are very playable. The first one is Scaleguard Sentinals. You can reveal a dragon as a cost. If you do or if you control a dragon, it gets a +1/+1 counter. This means you cast a 3/4 on turn two. That's ridiculous! Turn one Elvish Mystic. Turn two Caryatid into Scaleguard Sentinals. Two mana creatures and a 3/4 on turn 2 is you have a dragon in your hand? That sounds pretty good to me. Not to mention that they eat up morph creatures for days and keeps your opponent's Courser of Kruphix's away from the red zone.
Ainok Survivalist is the Green Stratus Dancer. Play it as a morph and megaphorph it for two mana. It becomes a 3/2 and you can destroy an Ascendency or Whip of Erebos. Honestly, it sounds like a really good trade off to me. While Stratus Dancer is more favorable because you can counter any spell, Ainok Survivalist will have a home in any green player's sideboard. It's on par with Reclaimation Sage because of it's higher stats alone. The Sage just needs to enter the battlefield to blow up an enchantment, but I like the bigger body and the surprise factor by megamorphing the Survivalist.
Inspiring Call is a blowout card for any deck with +1/+1 counters. It gives you a draw for every creature with a +1/+1 counter and makes them indestructible until the end of turn. The Dromoka brood and any Heroic strategy that can play green will make fantastic use of this card. Limited and Commander welcome this card and if a counter based deck is Standard playable, this card will definitely make the deck.
Sight of the Scalelords is a blowout card to say the least. During each combat, creatures you control with four toughness or more gets +2/+2 and vigilance. This screams Abzan. Courser of Kruphix, Doomwake Giant, Wingmate Roc, Anafenza, and the coup de grâce Siege Rhino. I don't know about you, but the thought of a 6/7 Siege Rhino with vigilance sounds like the most intimidating thing in Standard. This also goes into any Dragon based deck, especially if you're mana ramping in green.
The first Rare card is one of the more insane cards of the set. Collected Company is an instant for four mana that lets you look at the top six cards your library and put any two creature with a converted mana cost of three or less onto the battlefield. This is the most ridiculous card I've seen in a while especially with all of the good low cost green cards floating around Standard. Just to name a few, Elvish Mystic, Sylvan Caryatid, Rattleclaw Mystic, Satyr Wayfinder and Courser of Kruphix. Hit any of them, let alone two, and you get a massive amount of value for four mana.
Avatar of the Resolute is the other creature that casts for two green in this set. It's a 3/2 for two mana with reach and trample which is great as it is. It also gets a +1/+1 counter for each of your creatures with a +1/+1 counter. Once again, counter based strategies are even more legit now. Daghatar has a new best friend and it's whenever any copies of this card enters the battlefield. Cast Daghatar and he gets four +1/+1 counters. Distribute them and then cast Avatar of the Resolute and he gets multiple +1/+1 counters. Rinse and repeat the process until you win the game.
Den Protector is a bomb rare in Limited and a possible powerhouse in Standard. Creatures with a power lower than her can't block her. Megamorph her and return a creature from your graveyard to your hand. If your megamorph her, she can't be blocked by any creature power two or less, which includes morphs, and you add back a combo piece like your Coursers or Caryatids. In Limited, you can add back Scaleguard Sentinals, Ainok Survivalists, Avatar of the Resolute, Dromoka (if you pick the Dromoka brood or draft her) and also our final rare in the article.
This is what we've been waiting for. Mr. Bear/Dragon Puncher himself. Surrak, the Hunt Caller. While he's no longer Surrak, Dragonclaw, he's still a top notch predator in my book. He's a 5/4 that you cast for four mana and if you have creatures with a combined power of 8, you give all of your creatures haste until end of turn. Formidable is very easy to trigger with Surrak due to him having a power of five by himself. He triggers Formidable for himself to give everything haste and everything else with Formidable and Ferocious will trigger because of his own power. Surrak is the rightful head to the Temur/Atarka clans and has the makings of a very powerful General in Commander.
The last two cards are Mythic Rares. The first of these two are Deathmist Raptor. This card is so versatile it's not even funny. You can hard cast it as a 3/3 deathtoucher for three mana. If it's in your graveyard when a permanent is turned face up, you can return it to the battlefield face up or face down. You can cast it facedown and megamorph it for five mana. When it flips, it becomes a 4/4 deathtoucher. With all of the good morph creatures in this set, this card should have a place in a morph based deck. Regenerating it whenever a permanent flips is fantastic. This card is a certified bomb in limited due to the amount of morphs. This card has a home in any green devotion deck in any format due to it giving two devotion by itself. Be prepared when the raptors strike.
The final card of the day is Shaman of the Forgotten Ways. A 2/3 that casts for three mana. You add two mana of any combination to cast a creature spell. It has Formidable that allows you to tap eleven, yes eleven, mana to make each player's life total equal to the number of creatures you control. Mana ramping is always great, especially when it's on a 2/3 body. This card is hilarious due to the ridiculous win condition it comes with. If you wipe out your opponent's board, even if they still have life to spare, they lose if you have the mana open. Commander players beware, the Shaman is coming for you. This card has a home in Green/Red Monsters and any other deck that need mana ramping until the end of time.
The mono colored train is finished except for the big, dumb dragons. Speaking of which, next time we cover all of the big, dumb dragons of the set from the Uncommon cycle to the Dragonlords themselves. I hope you're looking forward to it as much as I am.