For Constructed, things work slightly differently. First of all, I don’t review every card in the set, just the ones I think have Constructed applications. If I missed a card you think is awesome, feel free to post it in the comments or ask me about it on Twitter. I try to evaluate cards without using best-case-scenario mentality, but I’ve certainly missed cards in the past, and if you can think of a good reason a card could be great, I would like to hear it.
My other reviews:
Limited Resources Reviews
5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Siege Rhino. Courser of Kruphix. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Stormbreath Dragon. Seeker of the Way.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Chained to the Rocks. Sidisi, Brood Tyrant.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Perilous Vault. Heir of the Wilds.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Naturalize. Savage Knuckleblade. Sandstorm.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. One with Nothing. (I believe it was tech vs. Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)
I don’t think anyone really thought this was going to make a huge splash in Constructed, but I just wanted to mention how funny it is that you can draw as many vanilla 6/6 fliers as you want and it still isn’t very good.
With Skullcrack contained fully within the four options, Atarka’s Command has a very high floor, which is a great place to start. Plenty of decks want Skullcrack, so if we start with those decks, what do the other abilities look like? Giving your team +1/+1 and reach is not bad at all, and may even edge out the life-gain mode as the most common play, which makes this card even better than it first looked, and it first looked good. Atarka’s Command will frequently deal 4-6 damage, or even 3-4 plus save one of your creatures in combat, and both those results are outstanding for 2 mana. The ability to play an extra land will be the least-used option, but it’s basically free, and every now and then you will want to deal 3 to your opponent on turn two and set up a 4-drop on turn three. Atarka’s Command won’t see much play outside of aggressive decks, but within aggressive decks it’s incredible. It is also funny that the worst Command in Limited may be the best one in Constructed.
I completely expected Atarka to be a 5/5 when I first started reading the text, as she would follow in the footsteps of Bogardan Hellkite, a very similar card. Instead, I found out that this Dragonlord is a massive 8/8, which makes sense, given that she costs less mana. Wait, is that how it’s supposed to work? In any case, Atarka is very castable, very powerful, and is exactly what ramp decks want to spend their hard-earned mana on. The synergy with Whip of Erebos is also very good, and I’d be surprised if Atarka didn’t see a good bit of Standard play.
Dromoka is more a Baneslayer Angel than an anti-counterspell measure, but that isn’t a bad thing. She will be strongest against aggressive decks that don’t have an easy way to kill a 7-toughness creature, which makes me think of her more as a sideboard card than a maindeck option. Turning off counterspells isn’t irrelevant, but decks with counterspells often have easy ways to kill big monsters, and Dromoka costs enough mana that you can’t realistically expect to cast her and another powerful card in the same turn except for in the very late game.
Rorix was an amazing card for his time, but Kolaghan may have arrived a little too late to receive the same acclaim (maybe she should hope for an alternate timeline or some kind of temporal manipulation). Paying six mana for a 6/5 flying haste is not quite good enough, and the other two abilities don’t quite make up for the extra mana you are paying compared to the rate on some of the other Dragonlords. Kolaghan is a powerful card, but I don’t see her making a huge splash.
Ojutai may be my favorite card to play with from Dragons, and does everything I want at a price I’m more than willing to pay. Casting Ojutai just feels so safe, and being able to tap out for your threat in a creature-light deck is huge, because the opponent will often have dead removal spells sitting in hand. You aren’t forced to attack, though you certainly can if you have countermagic or your opponent is tapped out, and when you hit the opponent, you get a free Anticipate. Add to that Ojutai’s size, which is big enough to brawl with just about anything, and you have a card that would be interesting at six mana and is incredible at five mana. Ojutai is a huge boon to almost any deck that can cast him, and I foresee myself casting him often.
Sower of Temptation was always a sweet card, though it is a little less imposing than the cards some of the other Dragonlords are similar to. Silumgar costing six is a big deal, but like Sower, if he stays on the board than the game is not going well for your opponent. 5 toughness helps make that more likely, and deathtouch means that if he’s going down, it’s not without a fight. Silumgar is not exactly what a creatureless blue-black deck wants, so I’d look more to sideboard him in against an opponent who presumably is now light on removal, or to play him in a deck like Sultai that has a lot of other creatures floating around and soaking up removal.
This color combination has so many options that Dromoka’s Command faces stiff competition, though it’s strong enough that it will see a good amount of play. Killing a creature and getting a counter for 2 mana is solid, as is having maindeckable ways to deal with enchantments (which are prevalent these days). Negating a burn spell is not going to be the most common use, but the other three abilities pay for Dromoka’s Command, making that the bonus option. Even though you can definitely play this main, it is an awesome value sideboard card, as it will often 2-for-1 opponents who have a lot of enchantments for you to blow up. Fight your Seeker of the Way and make you sacrifice Chained to the Rocks is certainly a sequence that commands my attention.
Harbinger of the Hunt
The stats here are weak enough (3 toughness being the biggest problem) that this looks like more of an anti-tokens sideboard card than something you’d just jam into the main deck. I don’t get the sense that this is big enough or efficient enough to see much play, but repeatable board-wiping power is worth considering.
I don’t know if I’ve seen an easier 2-for-1 outside of casting Divination, and Kolaghan’s Command actually affects the board, something even Divination can’t claim. Some combination of Shock, discard a card, and Raise Dead is going to account for 90%+ of the uses, making this the third Command so far that has 3 frequent uses and 1 rare one. None of the effects here are earth-shattering, but the value adds up, and if you can kill something reliably with this, it is going to be a good card. If the metagame trends toward too many decks without small creatures, Kolaghan’s Command is not where you want to be, as 2 damage + 1 card is not Blightning, and getting a random Raise Dead or Shatter here and there doesn’t change that. If there are a lot of targets, this is the perfect way to get ahead in a Mardu Midrange deck.
Narset may be one of the few rare (mythic?) planeswalkers to both be good and unable to protect itself. She does that by starting with 7 loyalty, which is no small amount, and you have a very good shot of untapping with Narset when you cast her, at which point you can do all sorts of awesome stuff. Her +1 should be about 40-50% to draw you a card, assuming you have built a deck with her in mind, and her -2 can let you double Dig, double End Hostilities, or even just double Anticipate for decent value. She goes into very specific kinds of decks, given that her top two abilities require a high density of spells to be good, but if you can provide that density Narset is a very powerful card. I’ve liked playing with her so far, and she seems like a good inclusion to any spell-based control deck or even in a Jeskai Tokens shell. All she does is draw you extra cards, essentially, but with a low casting cast and high loyalty, she does a good job of that.
I’m less excited about Ojutai’s Command than I was before playing with it. It is a fine card, don’t get me wrong, but Cryptic Command it is not. Maybe that was obvious (was), but even my lower expectations were not met, and this ended up feeling more like a role-player more than an engine. I do like that it gives you card advantage while dealing with creatures in the mid-to-late game, as well as providing a source of life gain to lock things up, but I would rather be playing 1-2 than 3-4. I’m still going to play this in blue/white control, but it doesn’t pull me as strongly towards those colors as I’d hoped.
Sarkhan is most certainly not broken, though he is pretty solid. Now that this color combination has Roast it no longer lives in mortal fear of Siege Rhino, though it is yet to be seen if that’s enough to give Temur legs. What Sarkhan is good at doing is getting value against removal, as he either replaces himself immediately or leaves a Dragon behind, and I like both those results.
If -3/-3 could more reliably kill a creature, I’d be much more impressed with Silumgar’s Command. Negate + kill a planeswalker is a good amount of late-game protection, but the other two abilities lag a little far behind, and this is the most expensive of the Commands. It can cover enough bases that it can play well as a 1-of, but control decks are already full to bursting with slow and powerful cards, and I think the ratio of those two qualities is a little off on this card. Silumgar will have to settle for having the best Dragon and one of the better Dragonlords, even if his Command is not quite at the same level.
This is another card that feels almost evergreen, and one I really like having around. Tapped mana-fixing at this rate is always welcome and never overpowered.
Haven of the Spirit Dragon
I like value lands, and playing Haven of the Spirit Dragon in decks with good mana sounds like a deal to me. It can draw you a good card later in the game, and the only price you pay is slight mana inconsistency. I’d try one of these over a Radiant Fountain in some control decks, and definitely like the idea in 2-color aggressive decks that aren’t playing a ton of 1-drops.
Top 3 Multicolored Cards for Constructed
Two control cards and a beatdown card, just as Garfield intended. The gold cards in this set are awesome, and there are many more that are good, so I’m curious to see what colors end up being played in Constructed as a whole. There are a ton of ways to take advantage of these powerful cards, and 3-color decks are quite clearly one of those ways.
Top 10 Constructed Cards in Dragons of Tarkir
10. Ultimate Price
The fact that I had a strong Top 10 and there were plenty of good cards left off shows how impactful Dragons is going to be for Constructed. It’s full to the brim with powerful cards, and these cards enable all sorts of different decks. I’ve moved cards up or down this list based on my experiences with them recently, so there may be some that ended up in different spots than when I initially looked at them (Thunderbreak Regent, for example). This list also shows the breadth of the set, as it’s made up of a mix of powerful threats, cheap removal, card filtering, value creatures, and even a counterspell and a planeswalker. That’s fantastic news for deck diversity and interesting deckbuilding, and I hope that’s what we see at the Pro Tour.
Well, I survived (mostly) another set review season, and I look forward to seeing how wrong I was about cards come the next couple tournaments.