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An Early Look at Dragons of Tarkir

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Legacy, Standard

Dragons of Tarkir spoiler season has just started, and I’m excited to see what new toys we’ll be given this time! As I’m writing this, only a dozen cards from the set have been revealed, but I wanted in early on this one. Some of you may remember me covering a couple of cards from Fate Reforged. While that was a positive experience in and of itself, I’ve decided it’s not how I want to go about things, meaning this time I’m trying something different. With Fate Reforged I devoted an entire article to a single card, but ultimately I’ve come to realize that that format fails to accomplish what I want to. The essential part of those articles to me was the underlying ideas. It was the sweet synergies and neat interactions between cards. Back then I diverted too much of the focus by trying to brew up complete lists. I should have settled for theory crafting and talking about the synergies in order to get the general idea across more efficiently. This time around I will instead speak briefly about cards or effects which I find interesting. Sometimes I will be less brief. The point isn’t to come up with a finished list (at least not yet), it’s exploring new possibilities.

This card is very strong. With a decent body and a very powerful ability that gives us a lot of value even if the card should be removed, I would be surprised if this didn’t make it in standard. Sadly, for legacy the mana cost is such a limiting factor. Mana curves are much lower, and more expensive cards are generally cheated into play, not cast. But legacy is a diverse format, meaning there are still decks capable of taking advantage of Sidisi 2.0. At five mana it fits what many Nic Fit decks are trying to accomplish very well, allowing for a toolbox of silver bullets, or functioning as a way to find your biggest win condition that you may not want to have too many copies of. Nic Fit also tends to play a fair amount of creatures perfect for exploiting. I’m thinking of cards like Veteran Explorer and Kitchen Finks here. What has me the most excited however is the fact that the exploit mechanic looks very promising, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some new legacy playable card utilizing the powerful mechanic of sacrificing creatures.

This card is important. Not only because of what it does but because it shows that at least some of the commands will be costed for legacy. So far we have seen two of them, and I expect there to be one for each friendly color pair. I’m hopeful, but for now, let’s focus on Atarka’s Command. The first and second ability makes this a candidate for burn based strategies. Casting Lava Spike is already what that deck wants to be doing, and preventing a Batterskull from stabilizing is a sweet bonus. The question is if this is better than Skullcrack. That would depend on the rest of the abilities. Sadly, I don’t see the third one doing much for Burn, unless you really need that fourth land in order to double Fireblast. The last ability is a lot more interesting. Pumping your creatures for an alpha strike or saving them from opposing removal can be a real blowout for your opponent. I don’t see myself getting the most out of this ability in Burn, but it’s a nice bonus. I wouldn’t splash for this in Burn. The last ability however is really strong in conjunction with Young Pyromancer. Here the reach is also made surprisingly relevant, as it allows you to block an opposing Insectile Aberration with what is now a 2/2 Elemental token. Young Pyromancer decks also tend to be fairly interested in bolting their opponents’ faces, and I think Atarka’s Command could go into an aggressive Young Pyromancer deck. I don’t know exactly what that deck would look like, and I don’t think it will be dominating the format anytime soon, but it’s something to keep in mind. Historically cheap spells with a lot of utility have proven stronger than they seemed at first. I’m not saying this is Golgari Charm, but we shouldn’t underestimate the power of having more options. In standard I could see it being strong in an aggressive red/green deck with Elvish Mystic and Goblin Rabblemaster.

Does Elves! Need a Natural Order target to deal with multiple problematic creatures? I don’t know, but now they have the option. This would certainly be a way to beat an active Goblin Sharpshooter, and it’s pretty cool that she blocks Griselbrand all day. She also beats both Liliana of the Veil and Jace, the Mind Sculptor a lot of the time, so there’s that. Dragonlord Atarka is sweet, but I’m not sure all these scenarios add up to warranting her inclusion. I haven’t played Elves enough to know how often these situations occur.

As always, four mana is a lot in legacy, but this card fills a unique role, so it’s worth looking into. It’s library manipulation in a color that isn’t blue, and in modern it mimics Birthing Pod well enough that I think it will see play there. It loses quite a bit in power due to not always being able to find your one-ofs, but its impact on the board will be felt much sooner if you have enough powerful threats.  I really like the design of Collected Company, so let’s think for a moment and try to figure out what kind of legacy deck would want this.

  1. It has to play a lot of creatures with converted mana cost 3 or less.
  2. It has to play green.
  3. It has to be able to reach four mana with relative consistency.
  4. It’s in the market for a late game source of card advantage and a powerful threat.
  5. It has to be better served by this than something like Sylvan Library.

That last criteria I believe is key. While it’s relatively easy to build a junk deck with a satisfactory number of creatures, you have to have a good reason to want to replace Sylvan Library with a four mana spell. Do we have that reason? We won’t know for sure until we’ve tested the card, but we can speculate on what advantages Collected Company might have over other options.

When you’re digging for a specific card, Collected Company is faster. You don’t have to pay life to get the extra cards, and you get to be more explosive, putting the creatures into play right away. The real blowout potential however comes in the form of creature mirrors. Collected Company being an instant is huge here. Imagine casting this and putting a Knight of the Reliquary and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben into play during combat on your opponent’s turn. That’s a potential four-for-one right there! As long as people aren’t ready for the card, you should be able to steal quite a few games with it.

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Remember what I said about reasonably costed? Yeah, this is without a doubt the strongest of the new commands for legacy thus far. All the modes are useful, and often strong. It fits a grindy red black deck like Jund very nicely, featuring a sweet combination of utility and card advantage. I would estimate the power level of this card is about equal to that of Vindicate, to give you an idea of how good it is. I expect this to see play as maybe a two-of in most Jund decks. If you’re looking for some really sweet synergies you could fit an Eternal Witness in there too, for a repeatable Kolaghan’s Command.

The first mode is great in grindy midrange mirrors, assuming you can deal with their Deathrite Shaman. Getting back a Tarmogoyf is great value and insurance that you still have some gas in hand. The second mode isn’t the flashiest, but it’s a lot better on an instant as you can essentially make them skip a draw step. There are a few artifacts running around the legacy format, and most of them are pretty high impact. The potential of destroying a Batterskull and getting a Tarmogoyf off of this card is reason enough to have my interest. Shock deals with a surprisingly high amount of the creatures in legacy. I feel a lot safer when I have an answer for my opponent’s Delver of Secrets than when it’s hitting me for three a turn. It’s also quite neat that this deals with both halves of Stoneforge Mystic, as well as getting rid of Deathrite Shaman to make the second command better. From what I’ve seen so far out of Dragons of Tarkir, this is the card I find most likely to see real legacy play. Three mana is high enough that you don’t want to jam four copies into whatever red black deck you’re playing, but it could replace Maelstrom Pulse in some lists.

Well, that’s a first look at some of the cards from Fate Reforged. Hopefully the rest of the spoilers will contain even more sweet cards. While I don’t expect most of the cards covered here to see much play in legacy, I find it very refreshing to toy around with new ideas. Once in a while you’ll stumble onto something with potential. If there’s a card from Dragons of Tarkir you’re especially excited about, let me know, and I’ll be sure to give it a closer look!

I’m Sandro Rajalin and you can find me on Facebook an Twitter, email me at RajalinSandroMTG@Gmail.com, or hit me up in the comment section.

Until next time,

Sandro Rajalin.

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