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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Mar 10 2015 12:15pm
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  Spoilers for Dragons of Tarkir have begun and I'm quite excited to see each card previewed as it pertains to constructed, but I'm mostly looking forward to seeing the entire set so I can begin doing my set review.

But first, something that's been grinding my gears the last few days.  You know, I figured when the name "Dragons of Tarkir" was spoiled that it would have lots of dragons in it, and figured others would get that impression as well.  Yet, there are people complaining that there are too many dragons in this set.  Well, what did you expect to happen?

Sigh

Dragons of Tarkir Mechanics

With a new set come new mechanics, and I'd like to analyze each of the new mechanics before the set review begins.  Dash and Bolster are returning mechanics and as such I won't be covering them again since they haven't changed.  They're still good mechanics and will see play in Dragons of Tarkir Limited.  Let's start off with an old mechanic that is new (to me).

  • Rebound

Rebound - If you cast this spell from your hand, exile it as it resolves.  At the beginning of your next upkeep, you may cast this card from exile without paying its mana cost.

So rebound gives you two copies of a single spell, but the trick is that they're split between two turns.  For example, let's talk about Staggershock. You deal 2 damage to a creature or player this turn, then next turn you can do it again to a creature or player.  That seems like a pretty good deal! Rebound seems good, but does it have any downside?  For one, the initial effect has to be good.  Sure, you could give me a rebound spell that says "you gain 1 life", but is gaining 2 life worth a card?  Not really.  If you gave me Staggershock I'd be very happy to play that card (thankfully it is not in this set), and I'd be even happier getting another copy next turn.  For starters, you have to be happy playing the card as though it didn't have rebound. After all, why "play" 2 bad spells when you could just play 1 better spell?  Just because something is free doesn't make it a good deal.

Rebound is a mechanic that is a good deal when you read the description, but will vary on playability depending on the card its on.

  • Exploit

Exploit - When this creature enters the battlefield, you may sacrifice a creature.

Normally you wouldn't want to sacrifice a creature, but there are some benefits to doing so.  In Fate Reforged we had the combo of Merciless Executioner and Sultai Emissary to upgrade your measly 1/1 to a 2/2 with potential upside.  Whenever you chump attack/block, you can think of it as sacrificing your creature to gain some advantage whether it be "gaining life" or pushing through damage.

In Dragons of Tarkir, exploit allows you to sacrifice a creature in order to gain some sort of benefit.  For example, Sidisi, Undead Vizier allows you to sacrifice a creature in order to Diabolic Tutor.  That's a pretty great effect!  If I manage my resources correctly, I can use a creature that is no longer useful in order to get something better out of it.  Imagine now sacrificing Sultai Emissary to get a 2/2 manifest creature and tutoring for the best card on that given turn.

Of course, Sidisi is a rare and as such the effect when you exploit at the rare level should be good, so that makes it so that we might get a lesser benefit at common and/or uncommon.  That being said, exploit can still be quite good even the creature and/or effect, so it'll be something we'll have to see and play with before making any judgments.

  • Formidable

Formidable - If creatures you control have total power 8 or higher, X happens.

Like exploit, it's a bit hard to gauge formidable since each card is going to have a different effect, but we can relate this ability to the Temur mechanic ferocious.  In my assessment of the ferocious cards during Khans of Tarkir, I rated them as those the ferocious ability was just upside to the card and not the reason to play the card.  I suspect that the same will occur with formidable, any formidable cards we play we'll want to play because of the body or spell and then have the formidable effect be gravy.

  • Megamorph

Megamorph - You may cast this card face down as a 2/2 creature for 3.  Turn it face up any time for its megamorph cost and put a +1/+1 counter on it.

Megamorph isn't all that different from morph, but it does mean that we're likely to have more expensive unmorph costs and flashier creatures.  I assume that anything that can be said about morph will be said about megamorph, but I do wonder if they'll follow the same rules as they did in Khans.  During Khans, if you played a morph and had it go into combat with another morph, you wouldn't get blown out unless the unmorph cost was 5+ and they had the appropriate amount of mana.  This meant that morphs during turns 3, 4, and sometimes 5 would just trade or bounce off each other.  If this doesn't happen in Dragons, I can see some megamorphs becoming unplayable because they get blown out by the better megamorphs early on.  I sincerely hope this doesn't happen.

Farewell, Fate/Khans Limited

Fate/Khans might be leaving us soon, but given how my writing schedule looks like for the next few weeks, this is my goodbye to Fate/Khans.

  • Why would I draft 3 colors?

Fate/Khans was dominately a 2 color drafting environment even though 2/3rds of the packs had multicolored wedge cards in them.  The reason there was a push from 3 color strategies to 2 color strategies was that there was no incentive to be 2 colors when you were in pack 1.  You didn't have to draft clans in pack 1 and the multicolored cards in Fate were only 2 colors, so that made it more likely that you were just 2 colors coming out of pack 1.  Because you were only 2 colors, it didn't make sense for you to draft a 3rd color right away if you drafted an enemy colored pair since if you were RW you could just as easily be Mardu as opposed to Jeskai.  Going along with that, there were still strong mono colored options in Khans that still made it attractive to be 2 colors and have a consistent deck/manabase.  

  • Jeskai is open, but where are my lands?

If you drafted 3 colors, you could tell when a clan was open as the gold cards would come to you later than they normally would in triple Khans, but you'd hardly get manafixing.  The problem with drafting a powerful 3 color deck was that once you knew you were 3 colors, it was a little late to draft the lands early in pack 2 since you were taking the powerful cards instead.  Once you got into pack 3, the lands would get taken early and you'd have to hope to get lucky in getting passed dual lands, otherwise you'd be stuck with a terrible manabase.  The flip side to all this was that if you knew you were in a clan very early in pack 2, you could prioritize the lands much more highly and end up with absurd picks in pack 3 to make a powerful deck.

  • P1P1, oh just take the rare

Fate Reforged had a lot of good quality rares that made P1P1 kind of not the best Limited exercise as it normally is.  You can view that as a bad thing, but it meant that the set had powerful cards and skilled drafters would be able to find ways to beat these cards if they wanted to succeed. It also meant that each deck had a better chance at being at the same power level, which made it more likely that the better player would win.  Outside the rares, there were a lot of good cards that I would be happy taking early like Aven Surveyor, Douse in Gloom, Sandsteppe Outcast, Pyrotechnics, Valorous Stance, etc.  

  • Where are the morphs?

Fate made it so that the drafts were less morph-centric as they had been in triple Khans.  The fact that you could draft a consistent 2 color deck along with the fact that there were actual 2 drops to be had meant that games started a turn earlier than normal.  This didn't mean that morphs were bad, it just meant that it was harder to rely on your morphs being your first play of the game since you'd already be under pressure from 2 drops.

  • Goodbye Khans

With Dragons of Tarkir coming out, it means that the next draft format will be Dragons/Fate, not Dragons/Fate/Khans.  We won't be saying goodbye to Fate just yet, but this will almost assuredly be farewell for Khans of Tarkir.  It'll be weird not seeing gold 3 colored cards or trilands, as well as no longer having the option of drafting a wedge/clan.  I liked the clans of Khans and found myself drafting Jeskai more than anything else, but that's probably because of my irrational love for Efreet Weaponmaster.  Khans of Tarkir was a sweet set with tons of powerful cards and mechanics, and it's a shame to see that go.

Fate/Khans 8-4 Drafts

Conclusion

2 drafts, 2 Rally the Ancesters P1P1 (which we didn't take), and somehow I'm only ahead by 2 tickets.  The first draft I got a little too narrow minded and tried to force BW Warriors to very little effect.  Instead of being open and looking for powerful cards I decided to force an archetype and ended up with a deck full of relatively little power.  So naturally I learned my lesson and did the same thing again in the second draft!  At least this time I knew I should have been Abzan, but dipped very lightly into green so that I wouldn't be stuck with a bad manabase if I didn't get any dual/trilands.  I still can't believe I won that draft, but better lucky than good right?

Next week should be the sealed set review and the week after I'll be talking about the paper Prerelease and my first impression of Dragons of Tarkir.  If you have any comments, questions, or concerns leave them in the comments section below.

Thanks for reading/watching!