5.0: The best of the best. (Pack Rat. Umezawa’s Jitte. Wingmate Roc.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (Butcher of the Horde. Savage Knuckleblade. Crater’s Claws.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Triplicate Spirits. End Hostilities. Necropolis Fiend.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Lightning Strike. Suspension Field.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Debilitating Injury. Mardu Hordechief. Flesh to Dust.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Glacial Stalker. Bitter Revelation. Hunt the Weak.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Dragonscale Boon. Defiant Strike. Cancel.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Scout the Borders. Aeronaut Tinkerer. Ranger’s Guile.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Tusked Colossodon. Bronze Sable. Oppressive Rays.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Naturalize. Feed the Clan. Congregate.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Search the City. Pyxis of Pandemonium.)
Other Dragons of Tarkir Set Reviews
On stats alone, this isn’t a terrible card. It comes out like any other megamorph, and flips for a cheaper cost than most, which can surprise opponents with a bunch of extra damage or with a trade for their 5/5 or 6/6. The ping effect is what really puts it into “good” territory, as it lets you pick up a free card, make combats involving other creatures favorable (your 2/2 now trades for their 3/3), and even lets this trade for a 7-toughness creature. I don’t see myself casting this face up very often.
The stats here are good and the ability is perfect for the keyword. The times when you want Goblin War Drums are when you have a lot of big creatures out, so only being able to activate it under that condition is very reasonable. Don’t overload on 5-drops, but keep this near the top of your list.
This is an incredibly powerful card, but it has a few conditions. You need a lot of creatures, preferably ones with high power-to-cost ratios. You also need to be aggressive, as this does nothing on defense. If you meet those conditions (14+ creatures, ideally many of them costing less than 5), Berserkers’ Onslaught could be the best card in your deck, and it’s worth taking early and trying to make that happen. The nightmare scenario is being creature-light and running into multiple removal spells, as stranding a card like this on the board is an easy way for your opponent to win.
Commune with Lava
I like drawing X cards, but this is significantly worse than that. It’s certainly not terrible, as casting this for 3 or 4 at the end of the opponent’s turn is likely to net you a couple cards (with some selection in there). That just isn’t what every red deck wants to do, and in Limited, most of your cards are going to cost 2+ mana, making this more of a draw-2 than a draw-5 even in the mid-to-late game.
An 0/6 Wall that can take out just about any creature is a good deal. An 0/6 Wall that does all that and sometimes turns into an 8/6 monster is even better, making this a card I’m happy to pick early.
Descent of the Dragons
This seems descent, if not insane. Upgrading all your bad creatures into 4/4 fliers is good, and every now and then you will downgrade an opponent’s creature, but doing all this at sorcery speed for 6 mana puts this on a level lower than a bomb. It’s slow, conditional, and powerful, which is a type of card that tends to get overrated (even by me, if you look at my incredibly optimistic/wrong rating on Hedonist’s Trove yesterday). When this works, it will look incredible, and in a deck full of tokens it is a legit bomb, so if you can pick up a bunch of Take Up Arms* then this could be awesome in your deck.
*Insert non-KTK token-maker here.
Lightning Strike alone is worth this rating, and this is almost just better. Yes, it can’t always go to the face, but Lightning Strike doesn’t do that most of the time, and the 3 free damage when you have a Dragon is a very reasonable advantage. Efficient removal with upside is exactly what you want in Limited, across every format.
Dragon Fodder is surprisingly powerful if you put in a little work, especially given its cost. Mass pump spells and exploit cards are the most common ways to abuse this, though just putting it in your deck and casting it is not awful either. 1/1s block better than they attack, because they can gang up on things, so I’d lean toward including this in defensive decks unless you have good ways to pump the tokens.
How lucky are you that your deck is full of fliers and Dragons!? If you are that lucky, enjoy the luck, and destroy us normal folk with your great cards. I guess if you have a LOT of Dragons maybe this is worth it, but Dragon storm combo seems like an unrealistic deck archetype. Giving fliers haste is similarly ambitious, and I don’t think you will draft a deck with enough fliers to justify this either.
Despite the intense color requirements, this card is quite strong. It attacks for effective damage at any point in the game, and given a board stall, will win you the game outright.
I return to my previous question: how many Dragons are you lucky enough to have?! This at least is a body on its own, and it wouldn’t actually take too many good Dragons before I might play one of these. I think at 2-3 expensive Dragons (possibly Dragonlords), this could justify its place in a controlling deck that wants more blockers.
This is a really cool way for red to get acceleration, and I am looking forward to trying this card. It trades for any 3-drop while ramping out your 5-drop on turn four, which is powerful. Even later in the game, a 3-power creature is good enough that it won’t be a dead draw, so between all these scenarios I think this is a solid card.
For this to make a significant impact, you have to both be very aggressive and have a ton of token-making, an overlap which I suspect will not happen very often. The amount of work it takes for it to deal even 4 damage is daunting, and it’s one of the worst topdecks imaginable. That said, people are going to play this card, and I can and will blame them for it.
As with the rest of this cycle, Ire Shaman is an efficient creature with evasion that provides a 2-for-1. That’s just good clean value.
There are enough good combat tricks in this set that I hope to not play this all the time, though it’s not the worst if you do. It’s at least cheap, and there are matchups where the creature sizes are such that it’s going to be very good for you.
The ability here is cute (and an unpleasant surprise for those who don’t read cards close enough), making this slightly better than your average 2/1. Not every deck wants your average 2/1, and there are a good amount of 2/2s in the set, so I don’t expect to always play this or pick it early.
It’s not that hard to make this a 3/3, at which point it’s a solid addition to any beatdown deck. Assuming you can assemble 16+ creatures in your deck, it becomes very strong, and dashing this out in the late game is going to take a lot of people by surprise. Having a potential 5-plus-power haste creature with trample in your deck is always nice, and this does that and more. It requires you to draft around it, and I don’t think I’d snap it up too early as a result.
A megamorph that caps out at 2/2 isn’t exciting enough for me to play in just any deck, but the haste ability is powerful enough that most decks will want it. Even decks that aren’t strictly aggressive won’t mind a 2/2 that lets you attack with a 5/5 out of nowhere, and worst comes to worst this is 3R for a 2/2 haste (not mentioning the 1/1 mode because that is by far the least likely way to play this).
One of the rare (uncommon?) cards where its Constructed applications outpace its Limited ones, Lightning Berserker is a fine card but not shockingly good or anything. It will trade for anything, and games of Limited feature enough creatures that this won’t get through all that often. Your mana base is also unlikely to be all Mountains, so if it does hit them, it will be for 3-4 max.
I’d much rather this be called “Lose Control,” in honor of Paul Cheon’s stream, but I’m not getting worked up for it. The card is good in a deck full of attackers, though the extra mana above Act of Treason does make it harder to assemble exploit combos (likely on purpose). You really need to be beatdown before you want this kind of effect, so you are likely to pick this up pretty late.
Much like Lose Calm, this helps win the game if you are heavily invested in attacking them. The first one of these can be very good in some matchups, particularly the ones where the opponent has blockers instead of removal, so I want access to one in all of my beatdown decks.
Qal Sisma Behemoth
Two mana is a lot, making this a pricey card to play before turn five or six, but once it gets rolling it is very strong. If you have enough 2-drops, you can also just play this on turn three and attack plus play a 2-drop on turn four, making aggressive decks happy for multiple reasons. Creatures this large are worth the effort, and I’ll pay two mana to bash my opponent. Keeping this on defense is less enticing, so take this with the plan of bashing.
The volley of sideboard cards continues. As with the others, this is quite strong when you have cause to bring it in.
Even at sorcery speed, this is efficient enough that it gets the nod above most commons and uncommons (and some rares even). Killing even large creatures for 2 mana is something red almost never gets to do, making this a strong option indeed.
I’m not in love with the idea of my 4-drop trading for the average 2-drop, but there are a few things to make this ride more pleasant. First, you can wait until you have formidable before attacking. That’s fine, but if that’s your only plan, it’s not super exciting. The route that I think you want to take in addition to the formidable plan is to have good combat tricks and removal, and plan on using those for a turn or two before assembling a larger force. Kindled Fury and Coat with Venom in particular both work very well with this card, and if you are a defensive deck, blocking to trade up is also a fine option.
It’s somewhat painful to pay 5 mana and 2 life to kill a creature, but removal is removal. That this doubles as player removal is relevant, and you will play this almost all the time as a result. It’s better if you happen to have a Dragon in play, but I’m evaluating it as if that is never the case, so consider yourself fortunate if you do end up in that spot. This is also a common that can cause games to draw, so I imagine the number of draws is going to go up noticeably now.
Not only do you need at least two Dragons to make this playable, one of them has to be quite good before it’s worth spending an extra 3 mana to find it. If you do have a Dragonlord and another Dragon, this is likely worth it, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable playing this without a backup target. The chance of missing becomes too high, and drawing a literal blank is disaster.
I like a 2/3 for 3 slightly less than a 2/2 for 2, and that’s compounded by the aggressive ability on this card. It’s not great at defending or beating down, so it’s mostly a filler card if you really need another body.
It will take a lot of games before we figure out exactly where this fits in the format, though the power level is high enough that I’d be inclined to start by assuming it is good. If there are a lot of boards with 2-toughness creatures just hanging out, this could rupture them wide open, but if this rarely gets more than one creature (while potentially hitting yours) it could be much worse. It may be the case that this doesn’t fit into most decks very well, so this is one to keep an eye on and see how it plays. Death Frenzy was good when Fate Reforged entered the format, and this is much better than that, so we have some kind of baseline to draw from (even if Khans is switching to Dragons).
I don’t know what your plan is with 5/4s, but mine is to attack as often as I can (if able). This delivers a beating when cast or dashed, and the drawback is manageable, making it well worth the cost. It even gives you a turn of blocking when you cast it, so it’s an acceptable card in almost any deck, not just the aggressive ones.
This is the quintessential megamorph, perhaps even the platonic idea of such. It’s a well-costed 5/5 trample face up, a 3-drop 2/2, and it flips into a 6/6 trample for a very reasonable sum of mana. It’s everything you want in terms of price and flexibility, even if it isn’t so efficient that I would call it a bomb.
First strike is another keyword that’s a step below lifelink or hexproof, so I’ve marked Stormwing Dragon down accordingly.
I wanted to run back the same review for this one, but it’s a decent amount better now that it lives in a 2-color format. Once you know you are running heavy red, this should move up in your pick order, as it’s one of the best P/T-to-cost ratios you can get at common. Also, it now has a Dragon on it.
The best kind of fight is when the enemy doesn’t fight back. You are still exposing yourself to a 2-for-1 against removal spells, but this should do what you want it to almost all the time, especially if you have a couple 4-plus-power creatures.
A 4/4 flier for 4 that throws a Lightning Bolt at your opponent whenever they dare target it (or any other Dragon you control)? I’ll take three, please.
Unless you plan on curving out perfectly, it seems tough to leave this out of your deck. Knowing you could draw two cards at the low, low cost of two mana and a card has to torment you if you do, and I’d say that most red-based decks will be happy to purchase a little bit of flood (or screw) insurance. Look, a Dragon.
Given that you won’t get a 2-for-1 all that often with this, I’d still rather have a vanilla 3-point burn spell. This is still one of the better commons, and realistically is ahead of most 3s but behind the 3.5s.
Expensive land destruction and/or artifact kill is not really what I’m looking for. If they have an awesome artifact, siding this in is fine, especially because it has the ability to go after their land if they don’t draw the artifact and are missing land drops.
Red is getting a lot of conditional finishers, which both makes them better and lower priority. They are better because the decks they go into can be drafted with higher confidence, meaning it is safer to take cards that work with Volcanic Rush or Magmatic Chasm, but at the same time it is less of a priority to take the finishers themselves. There are enough floating around that you should be able to pick one up, and it isn’t until later in the draft that you have to decide which works best in your deck. Volcanic Rush obviously has token synergy, though granting trample makes it interesting in a deck with larger monsters, so it’s more than just a Trumpet Blast.
I may have pulled the trigger a little early (and violently) on Hedonist’s Trove, but this 7-cost card looks great to me. I have visions of returning Enhanced Awareness, but even returning a 3-mana spells is a big swing, and if you have a Volcanic Vision you surely can draft a deck with a good amount of 4- and 5-drop spells in it. Casting those spells could even keep you alive long enough to cast Volcanic Vision, at which point your opponent’s board disappears and you draw an extra card.
This is Alesha’s Vanguard by itself, which is not a card I’m enamored of. In a dash deck, which is really just a normal deck with 3+ other dash creatures, this does get scary, and I think that is quite achievable. Setting up turns with multiple dash creatures is not that hard with Warbringer, and if one of those creatures happens to be Goblin Heelcutter, that’s probably just game.
I’m going to make a bellringing noise every time I cast this, but that alone doesn’t make it a bomb (a gong, on the other hand…). Hyper-efficient 1-drops are good in Limited but the difference between 1 and 2 mana is not nearly as huge as it is in Constructed, where I expect Zurgo to make a lot of noise. I’m more than happy to play this in my aggressive-to-midrange decks, though I’m still not taking it over a great piece of removal. Sometimes you draw these cards on turn seven, and Zurgo is nothing special then.
Top 5 Red Commons
Red is way deeper than it usually is, with multiple good commons not cracking the Top 5. These cards are also all very close together, and I can see taking these in completely different order based on what you already have. In pack 2, you may even take cards like Volcanic Rush over some of these, depending on where your deck is heading. Red looks mainly aggressive, but I’m sure there are controlling red decks just waiting to be drafted.