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By: CalmLittleBuddy, Christopher M. Dansereau
Apr 12 2015 4:38pm
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 Oh ho ho! Last week was an unmitigated disaster. Work, life, computer and game explosions all around. I'd swear, but truck that ship, I'm better than that! Let's finish looking at some cards from Dragons of Tarkir. Remember, this is all opinion and only in regards to Standard Constructed. And due to time constraints only the really relevant cards are being looked at.


The color of moss, minty candy and green metal stuff. Everybody likes Green because Green likes everybody. Green is such a poser!

Ghetto Sage

We all know this is Reclamation Sage's more expensive little brother. More expensive? But he's only 2 mana! No. You have to play him as a morph for 3, then flip him for 2. Now, if you're manifesting stuff anyways, then he's cheaper. But even then, just casting Reclamation Sage is better unless you are the GW Mastery of the Unseen deck, because Rec Sage's effect does not trigger when you flip it up, but this guy does.

You know, I guess this is kinda okay with Ugin, The Spirit Dragon too, because you can play it as a morph on a turn, bluff it's a fat bomb, then drop your Ugin and have enchantment hate back up already in play for 2, but it sure does seem like a lot of work. When Reclamation Sage rotates out, this will most likely be his replacement. Although who really plays Rec Sage but Green X devotion decks?



People are dogging this card but I really really like turning my Sylvan Caryatids into mana making 3/3's with hexproof. It's a two mana enchantment and we all saw what 2 mana enchantments can do to change a format. For an extra Green mana, my Caryatid can attack. If I don't have any Caryatids, my Siege Rhinos become 5/5 and can pump for one Green plus two colorless mana. This card is just very versatile in the right deck. Taking a dead draw late game like Sylvan Caryatid and breathing some life into it as a win condition sounds like Abzan Control's dream, and it's one of the first things I'm going to try.



A nice 2 drop for Green Devotion. The counter thingy maybe is relevant. In its specific role a B+. In general, not really playable.\



Boom goes the dynamite. Aggro decks with lots of creatures and Green mana rejoice! Your card is here! Look at the top six and throw down two creatures of 3 mana cost or less? Get right out of town! Powerful. This, plus a few other extremely aggressive Green Aggro cards is going to make us a new Tier 1 deck. Mark the words down.


speaking of...

Here's the top end of the Green Aggro deck. Sure it dies to any blocks, but that's about all it dies to. It trades with Rhino for equal mana cost if necessary. This card is junk without the hexproof. It's an all-star for 3 mana, but it doesn't cost 3 mana. It costs 4, so...



I'm not on board with Greenix. That is a clever word play on Green Phoenix if you're just waking up, or hate me. Or both. A 3 mana 3/3 is passable. The return for free when you flip up a permanent makes it super great in many archetypes that involve graveyard and manifest/morph. Mill 4 of these to your graveyard, flip up a cheap morph and you have an instant army. Again, how much work is that? How long does that take? What can you be doing that's better than that in the same amount of time?

I am strongly disagreeing with the experts.



Green ramp decks play Hornet Queen all the time at 7 mana, so this has to be at least a consideration. What does Green Devotion have for flying besides Hornet Queen at all? Plus we do have a few green 'Fight' decks that could use this. Would I build around it? No. But I'm not playing Green Ramp.



New art anyone? Any. One.




It's going to happen to you sooner or later, so I wanted to talk to you about it now, before you heard about it from your friends. Sure it costs 4 mana, two of which are green, but any time I see a combat trick that affects two creatures, I pay attention. This is a horrible horrible blowout if you don't see it coming. Solution: don't attack into 4 open Green-ish mana unless you've calculated this card's +2/2 on up to two target creatures. I'm glad we had this talk.



Another double Green two drop for Devotion. Hooray! Bleh..... You need to be playing close to 8 dragons to make this really shine. I'm not planning on that many dragons, and if I was, I'm not sure I want or need this.


pee pee

Someone is going to play this. It's a 2/3 that makes 2 mana of any color for 3 mana. Sure it dies, but that's okay. Make your opponent waste the removal. The formidable is a pipe dream, and doesn't do much but win games you're most likely winning. You'll never get there. But 2 mana of any color is always nice. Allows Green to splash some extra cards. Probably a beast in Limited.


Yes I'm skipping Surrak, the Hunt Caller. Another drop for Green Devo/Ramp decks. He's a fine card. The end.


The color of apples. Bloody, eviscerated apples. And those wax covered cheeses!


Bankruptcy Cruise is here!!!! Now Red can finally draw cards! Or, exile them and maybe play them. Or, not have the mana to buy a ham sammich. Just play Outpost Siege. You don't want this card. Trust me. The best part about it, and I use the term 'best' only to mean better than crap, is that you could hit a land that might help you play one of the cards. This is just not good. I feature it because someone out there is thinking it's good right now. Stop. Just stop.

F--- (three minus signs)


Bear with me on this one. defending isn't always what you want to be doing with Red, but this has a few applications. It stone walls most fat ground pounders, and can kill a 4 toughness creature when its usefulness pays off. Now here's my thought. We saw Assault Formation before up in Green Land. Ha? Ha? You feeling it? It doesn't say 'Defender' anywhere so no need to even use the one green clause in Assault Formation!

Okay it's mostly not the card you want. Except when it is.



I'm thinking the best Dragon decks are going to have red, because the best Dragon in Standard is Red: Stormbreath Dragon. So this card may be reasonable in a deck with 10 or more dragons. Stormbreath already is a 4 of in that deck, so you just need to find 6 more, and a way to cast them. I have visions of a RG Dragons featuring Xenagos, the Reveler.



It's what it does for what it does. It's two more goblins for 2 mana. It's free if you were planning on casting Stoke the Flames anyways this turn. It's the correct 2 drop for Jeskai Tokens and maybe Mardu Tokens and maybe even a Red Burn deck. Plays nice with Goblin Rabblemaster and is one mana cheaper than Hordeling Outburst which is more relevant than you think. Meow.


Let's save me some time and say that anything involving a Dragon card gets a decent grade in a Dragon's deck with 10 or more Dragons. You figure out why. I'm not going into any more Dragon specific Red cards unless they have other applications.


It's being overlooked, but it's cheap. Make some tokens. Throw down some 1 drops. Whatever. Red Aggro can't get through the last 5 points? Well with this on the battlefield, they sure will. All they have to do is stay afloat one more turn. I'm not saying it's the second coming. But's it's the second coming, Okay, no it's not.


I'm showing this card because the experts say it's shockingly good. I'll take their word for it.


Anything with dash gets a look. This could do some serious damage. It's just too expensive for my tastes.


Lightning Berserker sings I'm the One You Hate to you while you are trying to sleep at night. Dash and the 'firebreath' ability make this a 4 of in super aggressive red decks. I don't have to explain it too much. It can dash out, do 5 damage and be home in time for cornflakes before a sweeper can get it.


Quick, name a powerful creature without Blue or White in it! Half of you went... uhhhh Stormbreath Dragon? The other people don't play Red. Can't be countered and hits Blue and White. This is your sideboard card against soft contol-ish multi colored decks. It's not helping versus full on Beef Control. But if you know that Jeskai player has counters, here's your play.



Nine times out of ten you're playing Lightning Strike as removal. This is more like Lightning Bolt (pay attention, this is the 1 mana lightning we don't know about in Standard) is in Modern, except of course it does not go the face, or into the air. Now, in Modern that's a drawback. In Standard, 5 damage to a ground creature for 1 mana is sick. I could stand on the corner shouting 'boobies' and get less attention than Roast is going to get in Standard. There's always one card per set that is severely under-costed. This is that card. Two mana. TWO MANA. This kills Siege Rhino for ONE MANA! Let's do the math.


I cast Siege Rhino on turn 3 with my awesome Abzan draw, and am tapped out. Turn 4 starts and I'm tapped out. You burn my Rhino for one red mana and can still play Goblin Rabblemaster or Hordeling Outburst. My 4 mana got me 3 life and 3 damage to you. Your mana removed my threat, and played a threat of your own for the same price. I'm going to say it even more blunt than that.

Siege Rhino is the best value creature in Standard. Roast is the equalizer and makes Siege Rhino much less dominant. It does that to quite a few creatures! Roast is the equalizer. If you can play Red cards, you're putting this somewhere in your 75 or you're extremely stupid. This is the only card that is off my ratings scale in this set. Grade:

XXX because it's FILTHY!

It has Dash. For two mana.



More dash but just out of reach in playability for fast fast decks.



Some folks like this cat for double Red at 4 mana. Meh. I think there's much better things to do with 4 mana, but I LOVE the art!


This guy is a better option at 4 mana. Cheap for a 4/4 flyer with some protection for itself in tight games. I think he fits in well with a Mono Red deck that has a low land count, maybe as a 2 of for late game heroics. Or in the sideboard. He's decent as a 5th and 6th Stormbreath Dragon in Red White or Red Green or Temur. At 4 mana, why not?


Great card. Don't like the art. BLECK!!!!

C- because of the art. Play the one with the screaming guy!

Any time I see land destruction I sit up straight. This comes with artifact destruction too. It's expensive as hell, but maybe in a RG ramp deck this becomes a decent sideboard option for any decks you face with artifacts such as Perilous Vault. You could, in theory, play this turn 3 and put a serious cramp on the mana flow across the table, but unless you get the artifact, there's better things to do for 5 mana. Sorry. Not close enough.


I'm just mentioning this card because making all your dash guys cost essentially 1 mana (most cost around 3 total for dashy smashy) could be interesting. You'd need a very specific sort of deck, but it has the potential.


He is Zurgo! Okay, a 1 mana 2/2 with dash. We don't care that he can't block much. We didn't hire him to block! Be careful of the Legendary clause. Only one can play at a time, BECAUSE HE IS ZURGO! At one mana this guy is a flat out bargain. BUT, what you see is what you get. No heroic shenanigans, no haste (unless you dash him). It's a fine turn 1 play, and a fine addition to a Foundry Street Denizen if you've got one on the board, but it doesn't have haste. He can dash, for sure. Maybe that's what you want to be doing. People are making a fuss, but a 1 mana 2/2 isn't going to change the world we live in. He'll make it a little faster. That's all.



The color of, well, gold. And apple juice. Possibly of a properly cooked turkey. Gold is not a mana color, of course, but it is a color of card. Towards the end I'll throw in any relevant colorless cards, if I can find any. Anyways, on to the parade of Dragons and Dragon Named Stuff!

The Command Cycle:

I believe this is where the heart and soul of the set lies. The Commands have a big impact for a low cost. Like the Charm Cycle, they all have multiple 'modes' (effects) they are capable of, but instead of only getting one, you can pick two. When I consider a card that has two effects, I feel like it's a full card plus one half of a card. When I see a card that has multiple modes, I also feel like it's a card and a half. With multiple modes and getting to pick two, the commands are legitimate two for ones when played correctly and in the proper situation.

I'd go as far as saying playing a full set of 4 is almost like having an extra 3 to 4 cards in your deck without the cost of the extra 3 to 4 slots. You are playing essentially 79 cards rather than the usual 75, but still getting the same draw percentages for your cards as you always do. Proper slotting and use of the Command Cycle will give players an edge over those who don't play them, or mishandle them.

They are not auto-includes just because you have the color mana to cast them. Like any other non-permanent spell, you can't just jam them into a box of crayons and scream "MAGIC"! Some decks will be better playing zero Commands. Unfortunately for those decks, they will be behind the curve when compared to decks that have them slotted, and can make the best use of them in game.

Okay, blabba blabber lablah.

These are being graded against each other. All are pretty great. I think all are playable. Probably all are in the A range within the set itself. here's how they stack up against each other.

Atarka's Command

Skullcrack plus 1. There's the damage, the anti-lifegain abilities which sets the value of the card. The land drop ability is cool. The +1/1 and reach is an afterthought, probably only played when you need one ability but don't have the desire for any of the others, or when it wins on the spot. At two mana this card is insane. It should be locked up. It's evident how good this card is for Modern, but is it as good in Standard? With Wooded Foothills I'm pretty sure Reb Aggro/Burn can splash green with little risk, but probably this card finds a home in RG or Temur aggressive decks. I don't think having a dead card in a hand of seven is what you want for an aggressive Red deck. The card is still sick.


Dromoka's Command

This card is just as bonkers. Two mana lets you sample from some tasty stuff. I think that this beats most other enchantment hate cards by a mile. Nothing beats having a card that can remove an enchantment but isn't dead if there's no enchantment to remove. It's a sacrifice effect so, we don't get to choose if there's multiple enchantments, but usually if an opponent has two enchantments, we'd be glad to see either gone. The other intriguing one is the +1/1 counter. That's a permanent +1/1. Some fool casts Stoke the Flames at your Courser of Kruphix. You can prevent the damage and throw a +1/1 onto the Courser, forever taking it out of Stoke range. The fight mode always has interesting applications especially with Assault Formation and a +1/1 counter. 

Some experts are saying it's not useful in midrange/control lists. They'll change their minds. It's not off the chats but it's as good as Atarka's Command


Kolaghan's Command

When I look at this I can't see why it costs 3 mana, and the first two Commands cost only 2. The graveyard return is useful no doubt. 2 damage is good. A discard is great. Destroy target artifact is extremely limited. The abilities have very little synergy with each other. This is a fine card if all the Commands cost 3, but seems like Mardu got hosed.


Ojutai's Command

Okay, now this one costs more but definitely deserves to cost more. Draws a card. Counters a creature. Returns a dork to the battlefield. Gains 4 life. Any of those two combined is well worth the investment. In a less creature heavy format, the value drops by a lot. In the current Standard, this is a gold card that's... great!


Silumgar's Command

5 mana is just too expensive, except in match ups where you know you'll need two of those effects almost always. I can totally see killing a Planeswalker and a 3 toughness creature being useful, or bouncing something particularly troublesome while also countering an instant. I see it. 5 mana is a lot. Whenever I get to 5 mana I always want to know I'm doing the best thing I can for 5 mana. That will not always be Silumgar's Command. Pure control could play a few, but so many of those abilities get blanked in a lot of popular match ups for control. If Bile Blight, Negate, and Hero's Downfall had a three way in a bouncy house, we get this card.


The Dragonlords

What's left after the commands? Dragons. Lots of Dragons. I'm not going to even try to untangle all the possible Dragon interactions. I'm only going to look at the big ones.

RG decks can get here. If they can, this card will end most games. This thing is an 8/8 hand shake. It's not going to get down every game, but when it does it's power power power.


This is definitely one of my favorites. It is vulnerable to some removal, but it can't be countered, it shuts down the opponent's game on your turns. It has lifelink. If they don't kill it immediately, it's a huge huge swing. Plus they have to waste mana on their turn instead of killing it on our end step. It's just a brutal game ender, and at 6 mana will find its way to the table and eat your meatballs.


What's Black and Red and ends games? THIS GUY! ha ha. ha ha. Mardu humor.. Subtle text indicates that this does NOT stop an opponent from Whip of Erebos-ing creatures back. It says 'casts'. That being said, good luck late game against this deck if you're playing fair. If there were no Delve this would be a very hurtful thing to do to another player. As it is, it's still a 6 power flying haste creature that gives other creatures haste for only 6 mana. Listen to me! This format is so slow, I can say things like 'only six mana' and not sound like an idiot. Amazing.


Ojutai is a bad dude. The card filtering is better than Prognostic Sphinx. The hexproof while untapped makes it a decent defender. Flying gives it some evasion, but there's a heck of a lot of flying in the format now. This Dragon Lord does not win on a full board instantly, but if you can clear everything out and get it in play, it can be devastating. I expect to see this in many of the new Control lists. It's so close to being the go-to finisher that it will see a lot of play in the following weeks. Ultimately, I think there are better choices, but this is so close that it doesn't matter. If you need a Dragon in your control list, this one certainly gets consideration if not preference.


If you can play this while there's something juicy to steal, it's game over. Stealing a planeswalker before ultimate sounds sweet. Stealing an opponent's win condition is pretty dashing as well. The biggest problem is timing. If your opponent has mana and cards, they could remove it before the steal pays off. You have to play it on your turn, and at six mana, you're probably not leaving a ton of wiggle room for single turn winning plays. You'll need to have counter back up to let it stick. I'm interested to see how often this pays off. It's too powerful to grade out lower than the other Dragons, but something tells me this one may be disappointing.


The Rest

There's plenty of other Gold Magic to play with. Look:

Jeskai's Dragon. A bit on the pricey side, but I can see this being a popular one of in some Jeskai lists, or UW Control, if that gains traction.


Another mana sink for RG ramp decks. Xenagos, the Reveler makes this a sweeper once both are in play for a turn.


Broken. I have a feeling someone has already made the shell for this deck, but won't reveal it until the first big Standard event. 7 loyalty after the first activation for +1, or heck, minus 2 and still have 4 loyalty! The ultimate is not great against every deck, but totally destroys control mirrors. With all the 'cast a non creature spell, gain x' effects out there I can totally see a deck with zero creatures plus 4 of these. Planeswalkers always look broken on first glance, but I really hate this card. I see it as forcing the meta away from the diversity it has now into a world where we all warp to accommodate either playing this card or beating this card. Paired with Ugin and enough control, this is trouble. I'm surprised it isn't Jace Transcendent..


Untaps and gets protection from a color when you cast a non-creature spell. Another Jeskai late game toy.


Expensive, but useful. Not a big enough body for the price, but I think it could see some play.


Yeah. Not sure. It's a powerful Planeswalker. Not sure. It's good but how good? Good enough to be totally payable, but not sure it's better than some of the walkers we already have. I think what makes this special is that Temur gets its very own Planeswalker which is pretty darn cool! I've always wanted Temur to be good. Maybe this makes it top tier.


The problem with this is that if you're ramping into this, then ramping with this, by the time you get everything all set up, you may not have much left to do with that mana from his ability. Sometimes it will be a huge bonus, sometimes your hand will be empty. Even if you've got a mana sink in play, this might be 'win more'. It's still a freaking fun idea.


Complicated. So many good things to do with this card! So many expensive cards in this format. Such a slow format that this might be worthwhile. It's a dash effect from your hand or the graveyard, plusa decent flyer. if we could find cheap ways to blink this guy, wow. I like it.



The color of dust, gray corduroy pants and storm clouds. Are there any colorless cards worth mentioning?

Maybe. Card draw is always attractive. Could be a broken mechanic in the format somewhere that makes this hum.



I dream of playing 4 copies of each, with 4 Radiant Fountains, the dragon lands, on of each basic plus 4 Evolving Wilds, and one copy of each Dragon. Just for the L of the O of the L. In all seriousness, paying 3 mana for a dual land that can attack or block late somehow doesn't seem completely worthless. If there is a way to cheat one into play consistently, even one turn early, I think they're playable. I love the idea. Not sure the application is there quite yet.



Kudos to R&D for creating a format in which Dragons are fun to play with, and competitive. I will totally bust my bank and buy an entirely new $400 Standard deck before June is there's a Tier 1 dragon deck that emerges. I love dragons and always have since I was a child. The fact that I get to play at least 1 in a tournament viable deck makes me squee like a kid in a mud puddle.

The format is going to be a thunderstorm. Fast Red decks are going to rise for a while, eliminating some of the lazy minded mid-range ideas out there. Control will become the other end of the spectrum. Abzan will continue to be the most popular deck. RG may be the new way over the top deck. It's going to be fun, and probably the best Standard we have seen in years!

Before I go, I would like to revise one card I reviewed last article.

I said this card was 'strictly worse' than Drown in Sorrow. I amend that. This is an enchantment. With the rising threat of Narset Tokens, this is a necessary evil in the sideboard until Tokens dies a horrible death. Maybe one of these and two Drown in Sorrow. I think one is necessary because it's instant win in the opening hand versus Tokens. Tokens can't afford enchantment removal. With Black having two viable ways to tutor this card up, I think it earns a spot.

Okay, that's about all I can write for one week. next week, back to Tournament Time!

Until the next time.



Before anyone comments by CalmLittleBuddy at Fri, 04/10/2015 - 16:05
CalmLittleBuddy's picture

As pointed out above I messed up on Roast. An edit has been submitted. It's obviously two mana. I was overly excited. My review still stands as stated. I knew it was two mana when I wrote all those nice things, but my fingers sometime don't listen to my brain. Then as revenge my brain misses obvious rewrites.

I strongly disagree with your by Paul Leicht at Fri, 04/10/2015 - 18:25
Paul Leicht's picture

I strongly disagree with your assessment of Commune with Lava. The idea is to hold it and wait for the end of your opponent's turn and then cast it. You get a whole turn of X mana worth of stuff to play. F--- is extremely negative. It certainly isn't an A+ for the spikes since it requires some work to be interesting but it isn't a F---.

Hyperbole by CalmLittleBuddy at Sat, 04/11/2015 - 19:27
CalmLittleBuddy's picture

It's my business to completely over react. I also gave Roast a triple x for a rating.

Grading cards is kinda silly as is so I took it beyond. There are at least 10 cards waaayyyy worse than commune with lava. They're just not as fun to be over the top negative about.

Again, I tend to be reactionary and sensational. its probably fine in the right deck.

What's the over under of AJ by ScionOfJustice at Fri, 04/10/2015 - 18:47
ScionOfJustice's picture

What's the over under of AJ Impy putting Harbinger of the Hunt in a dragon tribal deck with Basikisk Collar in the next month and boasting about it on Freed from the Reel?

I would say pretty high! by JXClaytor at Sun, 04/12/2015 - 16:39
JXClaytor's picture

I would say pretty high!