Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir is nearly upon us. Coverage has already started and goes all weekend. Also, StarCityGames is running their State Championships this weekend. So whether you’re queued for the Pro Tour, watching at home, or playing in other tournaments, there’s lots of Magic on hand this weekend.
Dragons of Tarkir has only been legal for a few weeks now, but it’s managed to shake up the format with a few key cards. I compiled the numbers from the Top 8s of the recent major tournaments to give you an idea of what Dragons of Tarkir cards you can expect to see. It turns out you should probably be playing, or be prepared to play against, Red.
Honorable Mention – [mtg_card=Roast] 10
While [mtg_card=Roast] didn’t quite make the list, when combined with the sideboard numbers it reaches a staggering 30 count, which makes it worth an honorable mention. Sure, it can’t hit flying creatures and is pretty dead against control, but five damage kills pretty much every other creature on the ground. It’s just an extremely efficient way to answer creatures like [mtg_card=Siege Rhino] or [mtg_card=Courser of Kruphix], which have such high toughness that direct damage red spells typically have trouble dealing with.
5. [mtg_card=Dromoka’s Command] – 12
Well the numbers are in and [mtg_card=Dromoka’s Command] has taken the gold for the most played in the Dragons of Tarkir command cycle. [mtg_card=Atarka’s Command] wasn’t too far behind, though [mtg_card=Dromoka’s Command] could pick up a few more from the sideboard numbers as well. [mtg_card=Dromoka’s Command] gets the distinction of being the only non-Red card on this list. If you caught some of the early coverage R&D admitted that they added [mtg_card=Dromoka’s Command] as tournament level enchantment removal to push out some of the Theros block cards. It also adds decent creature removal to a color pairing that doesn’t normally get it. On top of all that the blowout potential is just really high on this one. If you can blank a [mtg_card=Stoke the Flames] and fight a creature, I’m not sure how you lose that game.
4. [mtg_card=Dragon Fodder] 13
Red got some nice new tools in Dragons of Tarkir, though to be fair [mtg_card=Dragon Fodder] is an old reprint first showing up in Shards of Alara. These goblins are really only getting devoured in flavor rather than an actual mechanic, but there are still plenty of Red decks that want to go wide. [mtg_card=Dragon Fodder] helps to insulate against cards like [mtg_card=Wild Slash] that might otherwise be really good at exchanging with your Red aggro deck. It can also synergize nicely with [mtg_card=Jeskai Ascendancy] and [mtg_card=Goblin Rabblemaster]. One real drawback however is that if you’re also running [mtg_card=Hordling Outburst] you start to open yourself up for some savage [mtg_card=Bile Blight]s.
3. [mtg_card=Zurgo Bellstriker] 13
I talked about this in my article on Red one drops, but I find it quite hilarious that Zurgo’s wimpy form after time travel is way more playable than his roided out former self. Red decks, especially aggressive ones, have had a long history of playing two power one drops. The toughness also shouldn’t be overlooked, it means that [mtg_card=Zurgo Bellstriker] doesn’t trade with [mtg_card=Elvish Mystic], tokens, or spells dealing one damage, [mtg_card=Arc Lightning]. And in the late game, [mtg_card=Zurgo Bellstriker] is much less of a dead draw since you can start simply dashing him into play. A very efficient card all around, which only real drawback is that it’s legendary.
2. [mtg_card=Draconic Roar] 14
Killing a creature while still hitting your opponent for damage is an extremely valuable effect for many lists, especially if you get to push even more damage by clearing a blocker. We’ve seen [mtg_card=Searing Blaze] and [mtg_card=Searing Blood] in various amounts of play across formats, usually out of Burn decks cooking little elves, [mtg_card=Delver of Secrets], and [mtg_card=Stoneforge Mystic]s. [mtg_card=Draconic Roar] makes the player damage a little more situational, but in exchange it’s more straight forward on the creature damage side of things. No landfall or other hoops to jump, just a [mtg_card=Lightning Strike] that can’t be pointed directly at players.
1. [mtg_card= Thunderbreak Regent] 27
Whelp, the big bad dragon to make a splash out of Dragons of Tarkir wasn’t some mythic Dragonlord, it was a comparatively humble [mtg_card= Thunderbreak Regent]. Granted, [mtg_card= Thunderbreak Regent] might not have the stats of some of the Dragonlords or other beefy rare dragon cousins, but its a nice little package at a very efficient mana cost. As a 4/4 flyer for four it’s got a decent body, though that alone wouldn’t necessarily warrant Standard play. It’s ability however is what makes it truly worth considering ensuring that you get some value out of it even if it’s instantly removed from play. In this way [mtg_card= Thunderbreak Regent] gets to play a little like a psuedo-haste threat. And if you never get that extra damage in then you’re probably just killing them.
So far the decks in coverage seems to be as expected, though it’s great to see a few obscure things like [mtg_card=Strength of the Fallen] and [mtg_card=Soulflayer]/[mtg_card=Chromanticore].