Dragons of Tarkir Set Review – Black
Holy cow! It’s set review time already? Yup, Dragons is all done spoiler season and this weekend is the set pre-release, next weekend is release, and then in two weeks we have the online release for MTGO. As with the release of Fate Reforged I’m skipping the paper pre-release and release events of the set and saving up for the MTGO releases. If all goes according to plan I’ll be doing a twenty-four hour stream of Swiss drafts live on Twitch.tv. If I get enough in donations between now and then I’ll be upgrading to doing sealed deck instead.
That all said, here’s my thoughts on the set for everyone to think about. As always I’ll be going card by card talking about just the formats of wear I think the cards are going to find homes. Also making comments on the cards I think are the most flavorful. So let’s go see how our game is getting updated and changed all around with the new cards.
Remember this fall when we hit the new rotation this is going to be the only Tarkir set in Standard. Also with the release of this set the draft format is switching to Dragons-Dragons–Fate. So it’s really important for everyone that we take a really good look at this set. If anyone has any cards they disagree with me on, please comment below. Only by having a dialog about the cards will we truly understand them. Okay, now let’s start the review.
Acid-Spewer Dragon – 5B – Creature – Dragon – U – Flying, deathtouch. Megamorph 3B. (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.) When Acid-Spewer Dragon is turned face up, put a +1/+1 counter on each other Dragon you control. 3/3. Yup, second favorite in the cycle. As when it’s face up it can trade for any other dragon in Limited. Still the cycle is very cool for getting all those other dragons pumped up and ready to attack.
Ambuscade Shaman – 2B – Creature – Orc Shaman – U – Whenever Ambuscade Shaman or another creature enters the battlefield under your control, that creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn. Dash 3B (You may cast this spell for its dash cost. If you do, it gains haste, and it’s returned from the battlefield to it’s owner’s hand at the beginning of the next end step. 2/2. This is the first uncommon I would pick over any rare I’ve seen. Dash Lord is awesome. In Limited were you aren’t’ going to see a ton of removal in decks you can safely cast him on turn three then just dash out all the attackers. Getting tow of these in draft is the dream.
Blood-Chin Fanatic – 1BB – Creature – Orc Warrior – R – 1B, Sacrifice another Warrior creature: Target player loses X life and you gain X life, where X is the sacrificed creature’s power. 3/3. Okay, we are so back on the take the rare plan when we see this pack one. Just draft mono-warriors and once you get your opponent to the sweet spot of a life total just sac your team for the win. This is also going to be in the BW Warriors deck that will be a budget fun brew for Standard.
Blood-Chin Rager – 1B – Creature – Human Warrior – U – Whenever Blood-Chin Rager attack, each warrior creature you control can’t be blocked this turn except by two or more creatures. 2/2. Okay so Black/White Warriors is so going to be a thing in Draft and at Standard FNMs around the world. Force all the damage through blockers.
Butcher’s Glee – 2B – Instant – C – Target creature gets +3/+0 and gains lifelink until end of turn. Regenerate it. Every black deck in Limited is going to want two of these. Just a great combat trick.
Coat with Venom – B – Instant – C – Target creature gets +1/+2 and gains deathtouch until end of turn. It’s a good combat trick for Limited. Just block, pump, and kill.
Corpseweft – 2B – Enchantment – R – 1B, exile one or more creature cards from your graveyard: Put an X/X black Zombie Horror creature token onto the battlefield tapped, where X is twice the number of card exiled this way. This is the rare that tells you to draft Exploit.dec. On your turn you cast your Exploit dudes, then during your opponent’s end step you just make a dude, and attack with it on your turn, then cast another exploit dude. Just keep chaining them until your opponent scoops up their cards. With all the enchantment hate in Standard this is just a bulk rare.
Damnable Pact – XBB – Sorcery – R – Target player draws X cards and loses X life. More like Signed in Blood Ball. Totally another snap keep rare in Draft that might just end up being a finisher in Blue/Black Control for Standard. See the key is that “target player” in the text box. “Oh, you’re at six life? I’ll make you lose six life and draw six cards. Was the card that would have won you the game the first one? Sorry, bro.” Yeah, the greifer in me so wants to cast this card in Limited and Standard.
Deadly Wanderings – 3BB – Enchantment – U – As long as you control exactly one creature that creature gets +2/+0 and has deathtouch and lifelink. Not a fan of this at all. Is it worth having only one dude for all those bonuses? I don’t think so… not when your opponent can drop some removal on it. I”l play this in Sealed if I need a 23rd card just to make my opponent not want leave me with only one dude.
Death Ward – XB – Instant – U – Target creature gets -X/-X until end of turn. Not a bad removal/combat trick for Limited.
Deathbringer Regent – 5BB – Creature – Dragon – R – Flying. When Deathbringer Regent enters the battlefield, if you cast if from your hand and there are five or more other creatures on the battlefield, destroy all other creatures. Get your foils when you see theme in Draft because this is going to have a high foil price because it’s going to be a commander staple. In Limited you will be happy you drafted it because this just rests any flooded board in your favor. Yeah, the New Draft Order, take the rares.
Defeat – 1B – Sorcery – C – Destroy target creature with power 2 or less. Ah, the smell of defeat, like roasted weenies. It’s a good late pick removal, but all the megamorphs blank this once they flip and the dragons start off too big for this. So I’m not going to value this too high.
Duress – B – Sorcery – C – Target opponent reveals his or her hand. You choose a noncreature, nonland card from it. That player discards that card. Yes, Duress is back in Standard. I can stop playing Brain Maggot in Mono Black. I’m finally back to full power with that deck in a few weeks. Time to rule all the Standard 5-3-2-2’s. As for Limited, I always main deck these in Sealed, and will draft two of them, if I’m in black. Sure it doesn’t make them discard creatures, but that’s why you take removal cards. Also like Negate I think this being in this set means it wont be in Origins this summer to free up design space.
Dutiful Attendant – 2B – Creature – Human Warrior – C – When Dutiful Attendant deis, return another target creature card from your graveyard to your hand. ½. Not bad dude to late pick for Limited. Chump blocks to get you bomb or evasion dude back that died to removal, but that’s about it.
Flatten – 3B – Instant – C – Target creature gets -4/-4 until end of turn. Seeing how outside of the bombs 4 is the magic toughness in this Limited format this is a great removal. Costing four means you can wait on it till you have the best target for it.
Foul Renewal – 3B – Instant – R – Return target creature card from you graveyard to your hand. Target creature gets -X/-X until end of turn, where X is the toughness of the card returned this way. Nemesis of Mortals please return to the Standard format waiting room, your planeswalker is waiting to sleeve you up. There is not enough self mill in the format to really make this a bomb in Limited, but with deathtouch and removal being used on fatties, this can just get there in the late game. Still I think this is going to be the removal spell of choice for casual Dredge decks in Standard.
Foul-Tongue Invocation – 2B – Instant – U – As an additional cost to cast, Foul-Tongue Invocation, you may reveal a Dragon card from your hand. Target player sacrifices a creature. If you revealed a Dragon card or controlled a Dragon as you cast Foul-Tongue Invocation, you gain 4 life. Perfect Edict effect for Limited that gets better when you either have or flash them a dragon.
Foul-Tongue Shriek – B – Instant – C – Target opponent loses 1 life for each attacking creature you control. You gain that much life. Good bit of life drain for Limited decks. If you have a copy of in your deck then this plus Secure the Waste will win games.
Gravepurge – 2B – Instant – C – Put any number of target creatures cards from your graveyard on top of your library. Draw a card. Just a way to get back lost dudes in Limited. Also helps step a nice manifest in the late game. I’ll play it in Sealed if I’m low on creatures.
Hand of Silumgar – 1B – Creature – Human Warrior – C – Deathtouch. 2/1. Sometimes you just need a deathtouch dude to gum up the board in Limited. This is that dude. Also works in the Warrior draft deck.
Hedonist’s Trove – 5UU – Enchantment – R – When Hedonist’s Trove enters the battlefield, exile all cards from target opponent’s graveyard. You may play land cards exiled with Hedonist’ Trove. You may cast nonland cards exiled with Hedonist’ Trove. You can’t cast more than one spell this way each turn. Until rotation I think this is going to be a bulk rare then spike for once weekend, before dropping again. Other than that called shot, this is just a good rare in Sealed for Control decks when you have gone really long. Like really, really long. Still we need to have one jank rare for each color after all that was just here for the flavor.
Kolaghan Skirmisher – 1B – Creature – Human Warrior – C – Dash 2B. 2/2. Just a 2/2 with dash for the dash deck in draft, moving on.
Marang River Skeleton – 1B – Creature – Skeleton – U – B: Regenerate Marang River Skeleton. Megamorph 3B. 1/1. Seems things didn’t turn out that good for the Marang River Prowlers. Still a regenerating megamorph was going to need to be someone for this set.
Marsh Hulk – 4BB – Creature – Zombie Ogre – C – Megamorph 6B. 4/6. Just a big fatty with megamorph for Limited.
Mind Rot – 2B – Sorcery – C – Target player discards two cards. Woot, Mind Rot is back in Limited. Honestly, I’m a big fan of the card and will normally take it to be my 21 to 23rd card in my draft decks. Also, if I’m in black and have any copies in my pool I run them in Sealed. It just forces your opponent to either discard lands they need to cast big spells on time, or it forces them to discard big spells that they can’t cast for a number of turns. Either way it’s card advantage when you cast this on turn three to five before you opponent has emptied their hand. Having this, Duress, and Dark Deal in the Draft format might make you want to play with Hedonist’s Trove after all. Dang it, why can’t I just call a rare bad and not have to take it back a few cards later. It’s almost like I need to make a web diagram of each rare in the set and what decks you can draft around them at this point. Also this card hates on the Dash deck so hard.
Minister of Pain – 2B – Creature – Human Shaman – U – Exploit. When Minister of Pain exploits a creature, creatures your opponents control get -1/-1 until end of turn. 2/3. Okay, in this Limited format we do have a large number of X/1’s running around so I’t not that bad, but outclassed in all other formats.
Pitiless Horde – 2B – Creature – Orc Berserker – R – At the beginning of your upkeep, you lose 2 life. Dash 2BB. 5/3. Okay, we get the message this is a dash card and isn’t meant to be used for blocking. Still what a nice card for Dash.dec.
Qarsi Sadist – 1B – Creature – Human Cleric – C – Exploit. When Qarsi Sadist exploits a creature, target opponent loses 2 life and you gain 2 life. 1/3. Just a little life drain for Limited.
Rakshasa Gravecaller – 4B – Creature – Cat Demon – U – Exploit. When Rakshasa Gravecaller exploits a creature, put two 2/2 black Zombie creature tokens onto the battlefield. 3/6. It’s got a big but and it makes more dudes, I would say it’s playable in Limited.
Reckless Imp – 2B – Creature – Imp – C – Flying. Reckless Imp can’t block. Dash 1B. 2/2. Good Dash flying for the deck.
Risen Executioner – 2BB – Creature – Zombie Warrior – M – Risen Executioner can’t block. Other Zombie creatures you control get +1/+1. You may cast Risen Executioner from your graveyard, if you pay 1 more to cast it for each other creature card in your graveyard. 4/3. This plus Empty the Pits might be the start of a budget deck in Standard. With the Zombie token theme in the set this is okay for Limited, but I just feel will be best in Sealed were you can have more Delve cards.
Self-Inflicted Wound – 1B – Sorcery – U – Target opponent sacrifices a green or white creature. If that player does, he or she loses 2 life. Another in the uncommon enemy color hate cards. I think this is going to find a home in Standard to force players to sacrifice Rhinos and Caryatids. Also a good hate card to have in the board in Limited.
Shambling Goblin – B – Creature – Zombie Goblin – C – When Shambling Goblin dies, target creature an opponent controls gets -1/-1 until end of turn. 1/1. Trades with any face down creature in combat. I’ll play this in Limited.
Sibsig Icebreakers – 2B – Creature – Zombie – C – When Sibsig Icebreakers enters the battlefield, each player discard a card. 2/3. Yup, you”l be taking these after you take Hedonist’s Trove. Also a good card to pair with Waste Not in Standard as part of a casual discard deck.
Sidisi, Undead Vizier – 3BB – Legendary Creature – Zombie Naga – R – Deathtouch. Exploit. When Sidisi, Undead Vizier exploits a creature, you may search your library for a card, put it into your hand, then shuffle your library. 4/6. So he is either a Diabolic Tutor or you get a tutor plus a 4/6 if you have a token to sacrifice. Yeah, this is going to be a go to general for Black Commander decks until it gets banned. Might also become a Cube staple. That said, I’m going to play it in Limited all day.
Silumgar Assassin – 1B – Creature – Human Assassin – R – Creatures with power greater than Silumgar Assassin’s power can’t block it. Megamorph 2B. When Silumgar Assassin is turned face up, destroy target creature with power 3 or less an opponent controls. 2/1. Another good rare first pick. Either you get a 2/1 that forces weenies and face down blockers, or you get a 3/2 with the same effect on top of a smother. Yup, awesome card.
Silumgar Butcher – 4B – Creature – Zombie Djinn – C – Exploit. When Silumgar Butcher exploits a creature, target creature gets -3/-3 until end of turn. 3/3. Either you get a creature or a removal spell, still a good removal for Limited if you don’t just want the dork.
Ukud Cobra – 3B – Creature – Snake – U – Deathtouch. 2/5. Just a big deathtouch dork for Limited, moving on.
Ultimate Price – 1B – Instant – U – Destroy target monocolored creature. Until we hit rotation Bile Blight is just the better two-drop removal spell to have in the main deck. I’m sure that some number of these belong in the sideboard fo black decks until rotation. Then once we lose all the over powered multicolored creatures we can shift these back to the main deck.
Virulent Plague – 2B – Enchantment – U – Creature tokens get -2/-2. Yes, I’m so dropping a few copies of this into my mono-black devotion deck’s sideboard. Mardu and Jeskai tokens both get bent over by this card in Standard. In Limited it’s just a good sideboard tech card verse any kind of token deck you might see. So I’d late pick at least one of these. Wait, I completely forgot, we’re going back to Zendikar this fall. This completely hoses the spawn tokens. This is going to be the sweet tech for next Standard season as well.
Vulturous Aven – 3B – Creature – Bird Shaman – C – Flying. Exploit. When Vulturous Aven exploits a creature, you draw two cards and you lose 2 life. 2/3. In Limited this is good as you either get a 2/3 flier or you can sign in blood yourself. Got a way to make tokens and you can do both.
Wandering Tombshell – 3B – Creature – Zombie Turtle – C – 1/6. In another time-line this was once Durtle MacTurtle the largest butt of Standard. A 5/9 that we all thought would be broken with Whip, but in the end Silumgar just killed it and let it wander around. Still this has a large butt and works great with Butt Fight, Grim Contest, in Limited. That’s about it.
Black is just looking good for post-rotation Standard with the Black/White Warriors deck. The rest of this is just okay limited cards. I’m just seeing a theme of balanced Limited format with lost of first pick cool rares, and the commons an uncommons are all there to support them. Now it’s time to look at Red. This has been…
Jeffrey Carmichael II
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