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By: gwyned, gwyned
Mar 23 2015 12:00pm
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I. Introduction

It's nearly release time for Dragons of Tarkir, our return to this world of ambitious warlords and cunning clans, now transformed by the rebirth of ancient dragons. If you're looking for superb analysis of this set's impact on Limited and Standard, I'm afraid you've clicked the wrong link. Instead, it is the purpose of this article to break down this unique set from the perspective of the Standard Pauper player. This set introduces two new mechanics, two mechanics returning from Fate Reforged, one returning mechanic, and yet another variant on Morph. Confused? It might not be a bad idea to brush up on these mechanics before continuing, as I will assume you understand how all these work. For the purpose of this article, I will be limiting myself to the creatures and spells that make use of these six mechanics. Then, in Part Two, I will analyze all of the reprints as well as the non-mechanic White and Blue Cards before turning to the rest of the Commons in the set in Part Three.

If you've read my previous set reviews, you should be familiar with my methodology. Rather than assigning a particular letter grade, I will instead note each card as a "hit or myth" and discuss why I believe this card will or will not be relevant. My reasoning is simple: unlike in Limited, you will never have an instance where you have to prioritize one card over another in any meaningful way, and thus a letter grade is not that helpful in actual practice. I also make use of a third category - borderline - for those cards that aren't great, but might see some play in the right deck. But enough explanation. On to the cards!

II. Mechanic Commons
A. Bolster

Bolster has yet to see any play in Standard Pauper, probably since Fate Reforged only saw three such cards printed at Common. The effect is fairly meager - typically only a +1/+1 counter on your weakest creature - so it has to be paired with a relatively good card already to be worth playing. And even then, pumping up your smallest creature is not typically an effect you're looking for in Magic.

1. Aven Tactician is one among many expensive White flyers. While a 2/3 Flying makes for a great creature, paying 4W to summon it is pretty bad. So let's consider how Bolster interacts with that. By turn 5, you hopefully have amassed a decent number of creatures, but it's not unreasonable to assume 2 Power at least ties with your weakest creatures. In that case, you get a 3/4 for 5 mana with Flying. But even with the +1/+1 counter having some synergy with other Commons, this still isn't a good deal for you. Indeed, at that point it's a virtual Supply-Line Cranes, a card that hasn't seen any play in the format. For one mana cheaper, this would be playable, but at 5, it won't make the cut.

Verdict: Myth - I'd be have'n better tactics than this if you want to win.

2. Enduring Victory is our Divine Verdict variant for Dragons of Tarkir, with a fairly costed 1 mana Bolster 1 effect tacked on at the end. Once again, the problem with this card is its cost. Bolster just doesn't do enough to affect the board to be worth paying the additional cost for. If this had cost the same as Divine Verdict, or even 2W like Kill Shot, this would almost certainly see play in most White decks. But holding up 4 mana to destroy your opponent's creature is already expensive enough; holding up 5 mana is at least an order of magnitude worse. Perhaps if there was considerably more synergy with +1/+1 counters this might be fringe playable, but as is I don't see any compelling reason to play this.

Verdict: Myth - Enduring your opponent's attacks for this long is not a viable path to victory.

3. Sandcrafter Mage was spoiled early on, and it's easily the best of the Bolster cards at Common. Paying 2W for a 2/2 isn't unreasonable, and most of the time you play this it will be the recipient of the counter, giving you a 3/3 creature for 3 mana, something you typically only see in Green (Centaur Courser being the obvious example). It's also cheap enough that you can instead bolster one of your early flyers or Heroic creatures, giving you a significant edge going forward. This is certainly worth testing out in most of the White Weenie builds, and might even find a spot in the Boros or Azorius Heroic decks that are so popular right now. This card is exactly what I had hoped to see more of from Bolster.

Verdict: Borderline - While not amazing, you can easily craft a scenario to get excellent value from this mage.

4. No matter how often Wizards tries, they never seem to print a better Plummet, and Pinion Feast is just another such example. Like Enduring Victory, paying 5 mana to destroy one of your opponent's creatures is simply too expensive. Yes, in this case you get two +1/+1 counters, which is certainly a significant boost to your weakest creature. But if you been taking beats from your opponent's fliers for several rounds waiting to get to 5 mana, it's probably too little too late. Given how often Wizards pushes the mechanic Commons, I am disappointed that all of the Bolster cards are so fairly costed, since it relegates an interesting ability to the sidelines. Just stick with Plummet if you want this type of effect.

Verdict: Myth - Once there was a feast of removal; now, it's more like a famine.

5. Under what circumstances would you want to pay 5 mana for a 2/2, especially in Green? At that cost, it had better take over the board, destroy another creature, or have some amazing activated ability. Instead, Sandsteppe Scavenger offers you two +1/+1 counters, which you have to place on your weakest creature. If it's your only creature, you're only getting a 4/4, which is terribly lackluster. If you really want to upgrade one of your creatures by +2/+2, Dragonscale Boon already offers you that for one mana cheaper, and at Instant speed. Hate to keep repeating myself, but Bolster simply isn't good enough to pay full price for. This is not a card Green will have any interest in playing.

Verdict: Myth - Even in the sand you should be able to scavenge something better than this.

B. Rebound

While only two Commons with Rebound had been printed prior to Dragons of Tarkir, both saw a considerable amount of play in Standard Pauper. Rebound is a powerful effect for a Common, effectively giving you an automatic two-for-one, which violates the design constraints of New World Order. Even a somewhat marginal effect can be quite good when you get it twice for only one card. With four such new Commons in Dragons of Tarkir, will these prove to be just as good as this mechanic was previously?

1. Probably the stereotypical White combat trick is gaining +2/+2 until end of turn, and so attaching Rebound to this effect in the card Artful Maneuver seems a clear design choice. In its initial casting, it's strong enough to dodge most Red removal spells and/or allow the creature to tussle with a bigger creature and survive. The second casting won't be as good, since you have to cast it during your upkeep, allowing your opponent to respond with Instants of her own. But given the preponderance of Heroic strategies in Standard Pauper right now, the value of targeting two different creatures with one card is quite high. I expect this card will see play in most aggressive strategies that use White. However, it faces some stiff competition in the next card.

Verdict: Borderline - It won't take too much maneuvering to get your value out of this card.

2. Center Soul enters a format already crowded with White protection spells - Gods Willing, Feat of Resistance, and even Ajani's Presence. But what sets it apart is the fact that you can get two activations out of it thanks to Rebound. Once again, however, the second casting will not be as strong as the first. In fact, most of the time the second activation will essentially give the creature unblockable, or at least dramatically decrease your opponent's potential blockers. However, in the Heroic deck, this may prove even better than Artful Maneuver, since you not only get two Heroic activations but also get to strike in unopposed for a massive hit on your opponent. At this point, I'd be hard pressed to decide which of these two cards will prove to be better. 

Verdict: Borderline - With this card slot is crowded, keep this card in the center of your sights.

3. Ojutai's Breath is surprisingly similar to Crippling Chill, save that the card you draw is instead a "free" second copy of Crippling Chill. It's not strictly better, but almost. After all, while there certainly may be times when you'd prefer a random draw off the top of your deck, most decks that want this effect would prefer Ojutai's Breath over the Chill, since the tempo gain of tapping down a second for free is pretty high. And if you have any Prowess creatures or abilities that trigger from non-creature spells (perhaps like the excellent Zephyr Scribe which I will review in Part 2), this card is quite strong. It won't see play in every Blue deck, but it will probably be an all-star in decks that want it.

Verdict: Borderline - Don't hold your breath, but this might even be good enough to call a hit.

4. Ojutai's Summons immediately brings to mind Rise of Eagles, which for one mana extra creates both tokens right away and gives you Scry 1 in addition. Since this card is a Sorcery and not an Instant, your opponent will actually get a whole turn before you receive the second 2/2 flying token, which is a significant disadvantage. On the other hand, being able to cast this a whole turn earlier is a noticeable upgrade, since even in a dedicated Control archetype there can be a big gap between having access to 5 and 6 mana. Right now both Izzet and Mono Blue Control lists are running Rise of Eagles, and since the latter lacks access to the similar Flurry of Horns, Ojutai's Summons would probably slot into the Mono Blue deck pretty easily.

Verdict: Borderline - It's interesting, but I can summon several reasons why you might not want this in your deck.

5. Apparently Distortion Strike was judged too powerful to be at Common, for Taigan's Strike is a significant downgrade for a very similar effect. For three extra mana, you get only an additional +1 to Power. While this boost is useful, Aqueous Form makes a creature unblockable permanently, and only costs a single Blue mana. You do get two activations out of this of course, both of which can trigger both Prowess and Heroic, but overall I don't think there's enough here for this to warrant a slot in your deck. At four mana, it's simply too expensive for what you're getting, particularly since decks that want this type of effect already have cheaper and/or more effective ways of accomplishing the same thing.

Verdict: Myth - Taigan struck out this time.

C. Exploit

Exploit is our first new mechanic for Dragons of Tarkir, and one that packs a ton of value into a simple concept. These cards essentially ask you to make a choice between getting either get a vanilla creature or a Sorcery speed spell effect. This flexibility is quite valuable. And even better, if you have a creature with an ability that triggers on dying, or just one that has been rendered irrelevant, you can sacrifice it instead and get both halves of the Exploit card.

1. Gurmog Drowner harkens back to one of my favorite cards, Forbidden Alchemy. While it costs an extra mana, and is Sorcery speed as well, this is still a powerful effect, especially given the extra synergy you get from placing the other cards in your Graveyard with Delve. A 2/4 for 3U is decent, but not that exciting; such cards (like the Gatekeepers from Return to Ravnica block) typically only see play with a relevant ability. In a dedicated Delve deck, this probably slots right in, giving you the spell ability most of the time, but also a 2/4 when you need it. Or, if you have tokens or other abilities that trigger on death, this is also well worth considering. As such, it should see some play in the right decks.

Verdict: Borderline - Having your opponent play this card against you can be quite the drowner.

2. Sidisi's Faithful is the perfect example of the flexibility of Exploit. Against an aggressive archetype, the ability to drop a 0/4 on the first turn is pretty strong, providing some great early defense. Or, later in the game, it instead can be used as a Sorcery speed Unsummon, perhaps getting your opponent's best creature out of play. While you can't use it to dodge most forms of removal, it does allow you to get rid of pesky Auras or get a blocker out of the way prior to swinging in for the win. While neither the creature nor the ability are amazing, at worst this is a great Sideboard option against aggressive decks. In that spot, it might even be better than Voyage's End against hyper-aggressive decks.

Verdict: Borderline - It may not be flashy, but it will faithfully do its job again and again.

3. Qarsi Sadist is similar in design, giving you either a 1/3 for 1B or a Drain Life effect that can only target your opponent. In this case, however, neither function is worth a card. At best, a 1/3 can block an opponent's 2/2, but rarely will be able to even trade with one of your opponent's creatures. And while the ability does give you some incidental Lifegain, the fact that it doesn't target creature is a major downside. Most decks playing Black are already running both Typhoid Rats and Pharika's Cure, which are much better at doing what this card is trying to do, even if they do take up multiple card slots instead of just one. So while the flexibility here is nice, in this case it isn't enough to make this card worth playing.

Verdict: Myth - If you play this card, you're only hurting yourself.

4. Silumgar Butcher was spoiled early on, giving us our first glimpse at the potential for Exploit at Common. At 4B, both a 3/3 creature and dealing -3/-3 is overcosted by one mana, so you're definitely paying extra for the flexibility here. Lash of the Whip has not seen much play in Standard Pauper, since if you're paying that much for removal you want less conditional removal like Flesh to Dust, even if it is a bit more expensive. However, if Black can find enough creatures with relevant 'enters the graveyard' abilities, it shouldn't be too difficult to get both sides of this card. And in that scenario, this card is quite strong. As such, this should see play in decks with these type of effects.

Verdict: Borderline - Getting a creature and butchering another is amazing value if you can get it.

5. Vulturous Aven might be even stronger, giving you both a 2/3 Flyer in Black and a Sign in Blood effect, although you're paying a considerable premium on the spell-effect. Black rarely sees high Toughness in Flying creatures, so even without the Exploit ability, this card is already borderline playable. As such, you will almost never want to Exploit itself to trigger the Sign in Blood ability. But in combination with cheap creatures like Typhoid Rats or enters the graveyard effects like Black Cat (or the newly released Dutiful Attendant), you have the potential to get some phenomenal value out of this card. If you're playing Black, you should probably be playing this card.

Verdict: Hit - I'm already circling, waiting to get my hands on this card.

D. Dash

Dash was one of the new mechanics in Fate Reforged, and hasn't really made any impact in Standard Pauper as of yet. We got a mere 4 cards at Common with this mechanic, and their release coincided with a drop in players running Red Deck Wins style decks. But by and large the Fate Reforged Dash Commons weren't very good anyway. It will be interesting to see if Dragons of Tarkir can make this mechanic more viable.

1. Kolaghan Skirmisher is an odd example of a Dash card, since its Dash cost is actually higher than its normal casting cost, and you don't get any real benefit from casting it with Dash. A vanilla 2/2 for 2 has never been good enough to see play in the format, and a 2/2 Haste for 2B isn't much better. This would need some sort of enters the battlefield type effect to be even worth considering, perhaps putting a -1 / -1 counter on target creature. Having such an effect on a creature that could reenter the battlefield each turn would be a great incentive to utilize the Dash mechanic. But as is, this is just unplayable. Even the Dash cards from Fate Reforged are better than this!

Verdict: Myth - Running away is about all this is good for.

2. Reckless Imp is our first Dash creature with Evasion, and it's surprising how much of an upgrade that really is. Unlike the other Dash creatures, your odds of this actually dealing damage are pretty high. In Black, even a vanilla 2/2 for 2B with Flying is borderline playable, even if it can't block. But against a lot of decks in the format right now, being able to swing in for 2 in the air with Haste, and then protect the creature from Sorcery speed removal by returning it to your hand, is actually pretty good. Currently, an aggressive Rakdos-style deck hasn't seen any play, but if such a deck is actually viable in the current metagame, this card would definitely warrant a slot.

Verdict: Borderline - Don't be reckless in choosing when and where to play this imp.

3. Screamreach Brawler is more in line with what we've come to expect from Dash. A 2/3 for 3 isn't the worst, and the option to Dash it in unexpectedly is certainly worth something. Of course, if you're actually playing this card in Standard Pauper, you're doing so for the Dash ability, which means the Toughness should be fairly irrelevant most of the time. And if that's the case, Mardu Scout is probably superior to this, since it has an identical Dash cost but one extra point of Power. Unless a dedicated RDW Dash decklist becomes viable, this probably won't see play. Once again, for this to be playable, you would want some sort of enters the battlefield type effect to make it worth your while.

Verdict: Myth - Scream all you want, but I'm not crazy about this card.

4. Lava Axe, anyone? It's a shame that Sprinting Warbrute doesn't have Trample, but even so it can almost function like a 5 point burn spell for 4, using it to finish off an opponent when he or she is down to just a few Life from an aggressive start. Even better, having 4 Toughness means that even if your opponent is able to block this, it will often survive to return to your hand at the end of your turn. I don't think I would want to cast this normally almost ever, which also helps sidestep its 'attack each turn' disadvantage. On the whole though, if you're not playing a deck that wants Lava Axe, you probably don't want this card either. I don't think this will see much if any play.

Verdict: Myth - It may be fast and brutish, but that doesn't make it good.

E. Formidable

Formidable is our other new mechanic for Dragons of Tarkir (not counting the Morph variant), and one that I am personally very surprised to see at Common. A major tenet of New World Order is to avoid unnecessary complexity at Common, and having a mechanic that requires you to not only know the sum total of all your creatures' Power on the board, but also how that total might change from Instant speed effects, is exactly the kind of complexity New World Order was supposed to eliminate. While I appreciate how it evokes Ferocious, I would still argue that Wizards should have come up with something else.

1. Sabertooth Outrider is our only Red Formidable Common, and it certainly seems well at home given the general aggressiveness of Red. As a 4/2 for 3R, it's pretty meager, even combined with Trample, which is quite unusual at Common. On defensive, or in any situation where you don't have Formidable, it will trade down with most two and three drops, which is also quite bad. Granted, on offense, when you're able to activate Formidable, a 4/2 with First Strike and Trample is quite the potent threat, and since this already has 4 Power, you only need a couple more creatures to get there. But the situations where this is good are pretty narrow, and as such I wouldn't play this.

Verdict: Myth - It's already long in the tooth and should be tossed out.

2. In Limited, Atarka Breastbreaker is a great example of a perfectly playable card. It's a 2/2 for 1G which has some additional utility in some narrow situations. But in Standard Pauper, vanilla 2/2s don't make the grade, and that's all this will be the vast majority of the time. The requirements to get value out of its Formidable ability are quite steep. Not only do you have to have another 6 Power worth of creatures, but you also have to spend 5 mana, giving your opponent the chance to respond with Instant speed removal and hitting you with a major tempo loss. Even if the pump was a static ability, this might not see play; but having to achieve Formidable as well dooms this to the virtual cardboard bin.

Verdict: Myth - What this card asks of you is simply backbreaking.

3. Dragon-Scarred Bear suffers from a similar issue. In Green you would expect to get a 3/3 for 2G, so the smaller Toughness is already a downside. Giving it Regeneration for the very reasonable 1G would make this worth consideration in the right deck. But having to first have another 5 Power worth of creatures, then attack or block with it, for the chance that your opponent won't have any Instant speed response, is such a steep requirement. Granted, you can give it the Regeneration shield even before you decide whether to attack or block, which does mitigate this drawback somewhat. But in most Green decks, you simply are better off with a Centaur Courser.

Verdict: Myth - Bear with me as I scar you with yet another bad verdict.

4. Glade Watcher is a Green variant of Returned Phalanx, a card that has seen a fair bit of play in most decks with access to Blue mana. And while it is still a tall order to achieve Formidable, this might actually be worth slotting into an aggressive Green Stompy style deck. The activation cost is low enough that you don't lose much if your opponent responds with bounce or other removal. But even in that deck, you could instead play Swordwise Centaur, which for the same converted mana cost can already attack with 3 Power without having to jump through any hoops. I keep waiting for a big payoff for achieving Formidable, and so far none of these cards have delivered.

Verdict: Myth - I'll be watching this card, but the odds are slim that it will see play.

5. Stampeding Elk Herd was the first Formidable card spoiled, and there's no doubt that it is the best of these Commons. Getting a 5/5 for 5 is playable in the right deck, and since you then only need another 3 Power among your other creatures, you should be able to achieve Formidable much of the time. As I mentioned above, getting Trample at Common isn't widespread, and the ability to grant it to all of your creatures at once is certainly a decent payoff. Sadly, big Green fatties in Standard Pauper have rarely had much of an impact (even the excellent Nessian Asp), so I'm still not optimistic this will see much play. But you could certainly do much worse than including this!

Verdict: Borderline - Don't everybody rush out at once, but this might just get there.

F. Megamorph

Megamorph joins Manifest as another Morph variant in the Khans of Tarkir block. While the name itself is fairly goofy, it is an elegant way to connect the set back to Khans while still doing something new and unique. Thus far I've been disappointed in how little Morph has seen play in Standard Pauper. I suspect there is some unexplored space here for some new decks to emerge into the metagame, and hopefully the addition of these 10 new cards will push things in that direction.

1. White Flying creatures seem to make an impact time and time again, and Misthoof Kirin seems another reasonable candidate. A 2/1 for 2W with Flying isn't very good, and the low Toughness more or less sidesteps the utility of having Vigilance, since you will rarely want to block with it. On the other hand, playing it face down on Turn 3, then flipping it up for 1W on Turn 4, swinging in with it for 3, and playing another 2 drop, is quite good. And in a typical White Weenie style deck, this is a fairly normal turn of events. A 3/2 still isn't a great blocker, but it's certainly much better than a 2/1. Assuming this sees play, the times when it gets cast face-up will probably be few and far between.

Verdict: Borderline - If you're kirin about my opinion, hopefully you don't mist my enthusiasm.

2. Sandstorm Charger seems like it's in the wrong color to me. White typically gets low Power and high Toughness creatures at this casting cost, and while a vanilla 3/4 for 5 mana would be terrible in Green, it certainly seems a better fit for this sort of creature. That objection notwithstanding, playing this face down on Turn 3, then flipping it up on Turn 5 as a 4/5, is a reasonable if not exciting line of play. The problem is that White usually wants to play cheap, efficient creatures, and Sandstorm Charger is really neither of those. Probably the closest analog is War Behemoth, which has seen absolutely no play as of yet. And while this is better, I still don't have high hopes for this card.

Verdict: Myth - Better get the sand out of your eyes if you're looking to include this in your deck.

3. Dirgur Nemesis is our Sea Monster variant for Dragons of Tarkir, and it's even more mediocre than the original. While its Power and Toughness are impressive, the fact that it can never be used on offensive is just atrocious. For the same cost, you could instead play Benthic Giant, which is only missing 1 point of both Power and Toughness and not only attacks, but is impervious to your opponent's spells thanks to Hexproof. Who cares that you can make a 7/6 on turn 7 if all such a massive creature does is sit on defense the rest of the game. And even if it could attack, it's still just a huge, dumb beater that comes down way too late to make much of a difference. Pass.

Verdict: Myth - If this is your nemesis, you don't have much to worry about.

4. Step aside, Archaeomancer and Mnemonic Wall, there's a new contender for your slot. Monastery Loremaster is a fairly unassuming 3/2 for 3U. But casting it as a Morph, then flipping it over on Turn 6 to reveal a 4/3, and getting a Sorcery or Instant back into your hand is quite the value play. While still vulnerable to most forms of removal, and slow to replay if it gets bounced, this card is still a threat your opponent can't ignore. And getting a card back from your Graveyard makes it all the better! The fact that most of the time you can't pull this off until at least Turn 6 means this will only fit in heavy Control decks, but this card is easily the best we've seen of this type of effect tied to a creature.

Verdict: Hit - If I understand the lore correctly, this belongs in your deck, not in the monastery.

5. Ojutai Interceptor is another interesting case. Getting 3 Power with Flying for less than 5 mana is pretty decent at Common, but the low Toughness means that this will only be useful when your opponent lacks any means to deal with evasion. Once again, the best case for this card is to play it face down on turn 3, then flip it up the following turn and swing in with a 4/2 Flying creature. If you can protect it, attacking in the air for 4 each turn ends the game pretty quickly, so the potential is there for this card to be quite strong. On the other hand, even as a Megamorph, it is still quite fragile, and that definitely limits how strong this card will end up being in the metagame.

Verdict: Borderline - I had to intercept my enthusiasm for this card, but it's at least playable.

6. Marsh Hulk, in contrast, is quite boring. Either as a 4/6 for 4BB, or a 5/7 for 6B, it's just a big dumb creature that your opponent can probably chump block long enough to finish you off. While it is interesting to see such a high Power and Toughness creature in Black, it's just too expensive to be worth the cost. Yes, the flexibility of getting to play it as a facedown Morph on Turn 3 is nice, but most of the time the game won't go long enough for you to get much return on that investment. In the late game, Black wants to be playing Gray Merchant of Asphodel, returning three creatures with Font of Return, or some other big flashy effect. Playing a 5/7 just doesn't cut it.

Verdict: Myth - Throw that hulk back in the water.

7. It's definitely great to see some abilities tied to turning a Morph face up at Common. But Atarka Efreet isn't exactly the kind of card I want to see them on. If you manage to play it as a Morph Turn 3, you can cast it as a 6/2 on the very next turn, and get an additional 1 point of damage as a bonus. At that point, though, you've invested 6 mana over two turns for a creature that will probably just trade with any other creature on the board, assuming your opponent doesn't have any other way to deal with it. Yes, you might get as much as seven damage when you flip it up. But on the other hand, if your opponent instead chump blocks it, you've pretty much wasted your investment.

Verdict: Myth - This efreet won't have much effect.

8. Kolaghan Stormsinger suffers from a similar problem. A 1/1 for R with Haste still isn't good enough to see play, even in a highly aggressive Red or Boros deck. It's actually better as a 2/2 for 3. Giving another creature Haste the turn you flip it up is a nice thought, but typically it's going to be pretty marginal, especially since you have to use your mana to cast a creature as well. Interestingly enough, this is the only Morph creature that has the same Power and Toughness whether face up or face down. It's also highly ironic that a creature with an ability called Megamorph will never be bigger than a base 2/2. But while this might be notable trivia, it's no reason to play this card.

Verdict: Myth - Please ask him to stop singing.

9. Aerie Bowmasters is surprisingly reminiscent of Nessian Asp. For one mana cheaper, you get one less Power and Toughness, at least at its normal casting cost. Instead, you can choose to invest additional mana by first casting it face down for 3 and then pay an additional 6 mana to boost it up to the same stats as the aforementioned Asp. About the only advantage this has over Nessian Asp is the ability to ambush a flyer when you turn it face up, but that's pretty meager compared to the massive boost you get with Monstrosity. Perhaps once Theros Block rotates out this might find a home, but for now it is clearly worse than Nessian Asp in almost every situation. That doesn't make it unplayable, but it probably won't make the cut most of the time.

Verdict: Borderline - It's hardly a mastery level card, but in the future it might be worth fetching.

10. Would you play a 3/2 for 3G that lets you place a +1/+1 counter on another target creature when it enters the battlefield? What if you could place that counter at Instant speed? This is essentially how Guardian Shield-Bearer should play out. The effect is pretty fairly priced, paying the extra 1 mana premium for the counter. Of course, you also have to invest an initial 3 mana to first play it face down. This is another case where you will rarely, if ever, want to play this card for its casting cost, since a 2/1 for 1G isn't good enough to make the cut. In a deck where counters matter, this would have excellent synergy. But outside of that, I don't think this is what Green is looking for.

Verdict: Borderline - I wanted to shield you from the truth, but it's almost unbearable.

11. Craw Wurm returns as Segmented Krotiq, with an easier casting cost and an extra point of Toughness to boot. And like any Morph, it also has the ability to enter play earlier as a 2/2, then later flip it over as an impressive 7/6. However, while it might be a big improvement on the original Craw Wurm, that's hardly a ringing endorsement. Big green fatties without Trample or some other form of evasion typically don't see play in Standard Pauper for the simple reason that they are fairly easy to chump block, bounce, or otherwise delay it while spending much less mana than you did to cast your expensive beast. While those answers are hard to find at Limited, in the current metagame this doesn't do enough to warrant a spot.

Verdict: Myth - In this segment, I make another goofy pun about this card.

III. Conclusion

So that's my first look at the mechanic Commons in Dragons of Tarkir. In closing, let me remind you that you can check out all of my previous articles here on PureMTGO by clicking here. I also publish over on my blog on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and encourage you to keep up with all my projects there. You can get a sneak peek at any of my videos before they go live here at over on Simply search for "gwyned42," select one of my videocasts, and click the Subscribe button. You can keep up with everything I'm doing on Twitter at the username gwyned42; check out my profile here and click on Follow. Finally, I am the host of Monday Pauper Deck Challenge, which is a weekly PRE featuring a Swiss tournament in the Standard Pauper format, with prizes awarded for the Top 8 finishers thanks to the sponsorship of MTGOTraders. As always, if you've never checked out MPDC, I encourage you to browse over to for all the information and then come join us at 2:00pm EST / 6:00pm GMT in the /join MPDC room.