Last week, I shared some thoughts on a few choice cards from the initial Dragon’s of Tarkir spoilers. Narset Transcendent then got spoiled the next day, and so I whipped up a few decks ideas built around her. Since then WotC has been showering us in spoilers, with the usual assortment coming out each day along with a few doled out during GP Miami. If you missed the coverage, GP Miami gave us this thing of beauty. And no, Commander didn’t suddenly become a GP format.

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GW Devotion was the break out deck over the weekend, with two decks making it into the Top 8 and [mtg_card=Mastery of the Unseen] went from .20 cents to like $4-5, but it turns out the mirror match is miserable. Luckily if that match was boring you to death there were plenty of newly spoiled cards to get excited about. It needs to be said, but the power level of Dragons of Tarkir is really high. Every day there seems to be some crazy good card getting spoiled. It helps that this is a large set, the last few block have had small third sets, but it seems like WotC is trying to make this final third set a send off before we switch to the new block structure. Any ways, here are the latest few Dragon of Tarkir cards I’m excited about.

Anticipate

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While many folks will remember [mtg_card=Delver of Secrets] reign in Standard, it’s arguably that the real backbone of the Delver decks was the cheap interaction, like [mtg_card=Mana Leak], and the decks ability to dig for answers or setup the top of the deck with [mtg_card=Ponder]. With [mtg_card=Ponder] going on to be banned in Modern and Restricted in Vintage, perhaps WotC has been a bit gun shy about printing any good cantrips lately, but at long last we’ve finally been graced with a new one. Older players with recognize Anticipate as a slightly nerfed [mtg_card=Impulse]. Cantrips like [mtg_card=Impulse] and Anticipate are not ideal since if you flip several good cards you’re still forced to send all but one to the bottom, but in Standard and Modern we are kind of are forced to work with what we got. A few places where you might see Anticipate pop up are in Control or Tempo-oriented decks to start. Most control decks are just a stack of interchangeable removal, counter spells, and a few win conditions so sending redundant cards away isn’t a problem, and by having an instant speed cantrip they can dig for the right answer while holding up their counter spells. This often means you can shave back on the numbers of each card and run a more diverse suite, since you can more reliably go find them – which also helps for sideboarded games. Combo decks are also interested in anything that can help them find the pieces they needs, though as mentioned it’s especially awkward to push combo pieces to the bottom if say you need to make a land drop.

Atarka’s Command

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In Magic cheaper casting cost is better, in general. You don’t want to fall behind your opponent and many match-up come down to who can start making more than one action a turn. Though cheap doesn’t always mean good, *cough* *cough* [mtg_card=Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded]. However at two mana, Atarka’s Command was virtually assured a certain threshold as long as the effects we decent since it makes two actions for one spell so cheaply. ‘Your opponents can’t gain life this turn.’and ‘Atarka’s Command deals 3 damage to each opponent.’ make the floor for Atarka’s Command to be basically [mtg_card=Skullcrack]. Note that it doesn’t have [mtg_card=Skullcrack]’s damage prevention clause though, which is sometimes relevant. The instant speed mana ramping might help you to surprise an opponent with a crucial spell, but the ‘You may put a land card from your hand onto the battlefield.’ effect is pretty weak and out of place with the other more aggressively oriented ones. This isn’t [mtg_card=Rampant Growth], it doesn’t get you the land. At best it’s an [mtg_card=Explore] and the second card is always one of these other effects. ‘Creatures you control get +1/+1 and gain reach until end of turn.’ is the last one and is decent enough as combat tricks go. Where Atarka’s Command is likely to make waves is in the very aggressive or burn decks. For instance, in Modern Burn, which is already sometimes splashing for [mtg_card=Destructive Revelry], it’s essentially a more versatile [mtg_card=Skullcrack]. If you have a creature in play you get to effectively make Atarka’s Command into a 4 damage burn spell, provided the creature connects. This gets even better if your creatures have prowess or cards that make more than one body. Maybe we’ll see a super aggressive RG deck in Standard with Atarka’s Command, [mtg_card=Goblin Rabblemaster] and [mtg_card=Monastery Swiftspear].

Dragonlord Ojutai

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We now know all five of the dragonlords, which are the mythic powered up versions of the rather lackluster Fate Reforged cycle. All of the dragonlords certainly have the [mtg_card=Baneslayer Angel] quality of being these huge threats that might die to removal, but they also inversely force you to have that removal. Of the five Dragonlord Ojutai is my favorite, and the one I expect to have the greatest impact. Again, it’s simply cheaper than the others – see Atarka’s Command and [mtg_card=Thassa, God of the Sea]. This doesn’t sell it on its own, but it helps. Unlike the other dragonlords, Dragonlord Ojutai has some built in protection with hexproof keeping it safe from your opponent’s targeted removal. You’ll need to give up that protection in order to swing, though notice that it’s only when it’s untapped not simply while attacking. If you find a way to give Dragonlord Ojutai vigilance or something to untap it in response to removal it gets hexproof again. Not only do you get to smack your opponent for five damage when you connect – a nice four turn clock, but you get to start Anticipate-ing for free. So even if your opponent manages to deal with Dragonlord Ojutai later you’ve gotten to replace it with one or two of the best cards from the top of your deck. Dragonlord Ojutai may end up playing a similar role that we’ve seen [mtg_card=Prognostic Sphinx], though I suspect we might have to wait to see Dragonlord Ojutai mature into the next format change. Its casting post, power, and toughness don’t stack up super well against [mtg_card=Elspeth, Sun’s Champion], [mtg_card=Stoke the Flames], or blocking [mtg_card=Siege Rhino] profitably. Also keep an eye on Dragonlord Atarka, she’s expensive but she has an immediate board impact, potentially sweeping up a creature and/or planeswalker or two and then leaving behind a flying trample 8/8.

Mirror Mockery

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I’m not 100% sure what kind of deck wants it, but Mirror Mockery is the kind of card that’s just sending out all the right signals. It has way too many good interactions for it to sit around in the junk bin. Here are just a few to think about. You could slap it on your opponent’s [mtg_card=Siege Rhino] and make it a decently effective removal spell. They can’t really attack you any more with that creature. Even if it’s a creature that does trade with itself, you’re still buying yourself a removal spell and a bunch of time since they can’t really attack with any of their smaller creatures either. If you’re not at a low life total, you can just start eating their team until you finally need to trade off for the big one. Granted it’s a little more risky to suit your own stuff, but how about suiting up your own [mtg_card=Snapcaster Mage] for free flashbacks? It works pretty well with any enter the battlefield abilities, like say the titans. [mtg_card=Sun Titan] can even recur the Mirror Mockery itself. Mirror Mockery is also a card that screams potential for a combo. I don’t know what it is yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone break this card.

Sarkhan Unbroken

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I pretty sure most folk’s first response to seeing Sarkhan Unbroken was to make some form of guttural grunt or yelp of satisfaction. Sarkhan has come a long way since [mtg_card=Sarkhan Vol] and [mtg_card=Sarkhan the Mad]. Heck, his most recent showing as [mtg_card=Sarkhan the Dragonspeaker] was pretty good, but this card blows them all away. Granted we are talking about a three color planeswalker, [mtg_card=Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker] was the first and previously only one, so Magic card design would somewhat dictate that he’d be good – the harder to cast the better it can be. Sarkhan Unbroken’s major selling point is that he ticks off all the little boxes for being a good planeswalker. If your opponent has a board presence, you can tick him down and put a 4/4 dragon into play to protect him. This does leave him a little fragile, but you’re probably still eating a creature with your 4/4 and absorbing a fair bit of damage if they are alpha attacking to finish him. If the board is empty and you’re not worried about putting pressure on the game, you can simply +1 him for cards. Even if your opponent has a removal spell, you’re still ahead on that exchange. These are the bread and butter interactions that make planeswalkers valuable. If Sarkhan Unbroken does have a weakness it’s that the his ultimate isn’t that good. You could certainly build a deck around maximizing it, but often the baseline for the truly great planeswalkers is that their ultimate can win the game on its own. Sarkhan Unbroken colors do lend itself to having dragons in your deck, but it’s entirely likely to take over games simply by alternating his plus and minus abilities and never threaten the ultimate.

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