As promised in our last blog Dragons of Tarkir Top 8 Picks, we’re giving the dragon lord cards their spotlight review. Back again to review these cards is competitive Gryphon’s player Nick Jensen. Let’s hop right into it!
The dragon clan lore shapes not only the actions and ideals of the clan, but dictates what abilities are card will have. Atarka’s aspect is savagery as seen in their dragon claws clan symbol. The clan exists to fulfill Atarka’s insatiable hunger. This nomadic clan lives for the thrill of the hunt as they move through the land searching for prey. They care little for conquering territories and merely devour the land of its inhabitants before proceeding to new hunting grounds. The clan would most likely drift apart if they were not motivated to bring offerings to the great devourer Atarka.
Dragonlord Atarka Card Review
This card is close to fitting into Standard play but may fall a little short in competitive play. She can easily blow up Planeswalkers and other dragons, but lacks the ability to target the opponent player directly. She’s big body that’ll do tons of damage to creatures, but there are a lot of cards that can remove big creatures in Standard, making the decision to pay 7 mana not quite as effective for that cost. For example Hero’s Downfall, Murderous Cut, Encase in Ice, Banishing Light, etc. are all seeing quite a bit of play in Standard, this is not including the amount of disruptive spells like Thoughtseize and Silumgar’s Scorn. So overall, Atarka is still a strong, big body that’s going to reek some havoc on the board, but depending on the deck your against she could be removed rather easily and cost you a lot of mana for limited playability.
Good Decks for Dragonlord Atarka
Mono green devotion decks will like this devouring giant in their regiment. Dragonlord Atarka will find her best fit in a mono green deck that splashes red. These decks can pump out absurd amounts of mana to play big creatures quickly making the seven mana cost on Atarka no problem. Dragonlord Atarka is an all-star against green based and red/green based decks. Her enter the battlefield ability kills most planeswalkers and is great at taking down cards like Polukranos and Surrak, as well as other dragons.
Dragonlord Atarka will also do really well in a red green monsters/dragons deck as a mirror breaker. She blows up something when she comes down, and having a power and toughness of eight, makes her very hard to kill and attack through. Red/Green decks don’t usually have the hard removal to deal with giant creatures because they are also trying to beat you down with the size of their creatures. Their best answer to Dragonlord Atarka is Crater’s Claws, which, at best, they will need to pay seven mana (if they have ferocious) in order to kill her.
Dragons in the Ojutai clan believe they are higher beings that can offer wisdom to devoted lesser beings like humans. They view their followers as disciples rather than slaves, that they must guide. Followers of the great dragonlord see him as a god and teacher rather than a dictator as most other dragonlords are. Human followers seek to gain wisdom from the dragons while also accepting the limitations of their short lives. Ojutai’s clan aspect is cunning for their focus on wisdom and attaining knowledge – exemplified in the dragon eye symbol.
“The Ojutai respect age, wisdom, and martial strength—traits that humanoids might possess, but that dragons exemplify.”
Clan members believe that you can rise in the ranks of life through reincarnation, but it is rare that any human could reincarnate into a dragon let alone be recognized for the wisdom of a dragon. This is what makes Ojutai’s interest in Narset so extraordinary.
Dragonlord Ojutai Card Review
Dragonlord Ojutai is a very powerful card and will be hard to kill. His greatest value is in attacking opponent and putting cards into your hand. This is a double edged sword though because while attacking he looses his hexproof ability making him vulnerable.
To overcome that vulnerability and reach Ojutai’s true potential, Nick recommends finding a way to give him vigilance. Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of competitively played cards in Standard right now besides a card like Heliod, God of the Sun. That being said Dragonlord Ojutai is still a very strong card by himself and will see play in Standard. Outside of Standard he probably won’t see much play in other formats.
Good Decks for Dragonlord Ojutai
Based on his card design, Ojutai fits into two deck types really well. First will be any blue white based tempo decks. Tempo decks are all about setting your opponents back a few turns by keeping their creatures off the board, while you get to slowly beat down with a couple of your own creatures. Dragonlord Ojutai is a nice threat to round out your curve and put your opponent in an awkward situation – Does your opponent push more creatures into the board to try and stabilize and risk getting hit by Ojutai? Or, do they leave mana open to try and answer Ojutai when he attacks you? Either way they are going to fall farther behind.
Dragonlord Ojutai is also a card that could fit very well inside control decks. He is a fast clock that is hard to kill. On top of that, he can generate card advantage by drawing you cards. There is a new control deck that is making a lot of waves in the Magic community right now. It’s called Esper Dragons. This deck uses a control shell adding cards like Silumgar, The Drifting Death, Crux of Fate, as well as Dragonlord Ojutai. The idea of the deck is pretty simple. Play dragons with hexproof and broad sweepers that don’t kill your dragons, like Crux of Fate. This deck well be a standard power house and seems like the most logical home for Dragonlord Ojutai.
Dragonlord Kolaghan is reckless, impulsive and thinks words are unnecessary. Her greatest pleasure comes from watching the world burn. She’s hellbent on taking territories just for the thrill of battle.
When Kolaghan decides to do something her clan will follow her blindly, embodying her bloodlust and eagerness for battle. The only goal of the clan is to spill blood at any cost. The clan’s symbol is the dragon’s wing glorifying the aspect of speed. Her clan members will often charge into battle with such haste to stay ahead of their dragonlord so they don’t end up as an accidental casualty in her wake of destruction.
Dragonlord Kolaghan Card Review
Compared to similar cards in the format like Stormbreath Dragon, Kolaghan has a rather expensive 6 mana cost. The difference is that she’s able to give haste, her strongest ability, to other creatures too. In an ideal situation she could be a menace on the board. In a perfect world, if you’re able to utilize Sarkhan’s ultimate ability to grab Kolaghan and a handful of other dragons, you could essentially one shot your opponent with a bunch of haste dragons. Beyond this scenario there isn’t really a better way to use that ability to its maximum potential.
Kolaghan’s last ability “Whenever an opponent casts a creature or planeswalker spell with the same name as a card in his or her graveyard, that player looses 10 life.” doesn’t punish any decks in Standard and she’s a little to costly to punish any decks outside of Standard. So while it’s a brutal ability you’re not going to use it often enough to give this card more value.
She’s not a bad card, but as mentioned before there are better mana priced cards already in the format that are probably better picks for Standard play. Modern format faces a similar result – she’s good but there are probably better cards available.
Good Decks for Dragonlord Kolaghan
Dragonlord Kolaghan will best fit into a Jund or Mardu style decks that are very aggressive and curve out oriented. The deck might see a card order that is something like Thunderbreak Regent into Stormbreath Dragon into Dragonlord Kolaghan.
The Dromaka clan is known for their endurace, symbolized by the dragon scale. The clan is focused on survival, which they believe is best achieved through cooperation between dragons and humans. For Dromoka maintaining her community is the most important endeavor.
The proud dragonlord believes that all other clans will eventually wither away and die due to their recklessness and uncontrollable bloodshed, while hers will endure through cooperation.
Of all the dragonlords she is the most involved in her clan, patrolling the skies and surveying her territory for weak points to re-fortify.
“The dragonlord Dromoka is, in equal measure, a merciful and imperious leader”
Dragonlord Dromoka Card Review
Dromoka is a stabilizer card, meaning that if you have a deck that can give you enough time to get Dromoka on the board and she doesn’t get blown up immediately, she’ll do a lot of work to get you back in the game with her lifelink ability. She won’t be easily answered by aggressive decks because of her size, and will perform decently against midrange decks for the same reason.
She’s a little misleading when paired up against control decks. Her abilities that say she “…can’t be countered” and “your opponents can’t cast spells during your turn” may give the impression she’ll have the upper hand against control decks, but she can be out shined by cards like Hero’s Downfall, Encase in Ice and Murderous Cut just to name a few. Ultimately Dromoka will see play but mostly as an anti-aggro card.
Good Decks for Dragonlord Dromoka
Dragonlord Dromoka will fit into pretty much any green white deck being played right now. You could put her in green white aggro, green white devotion, abzan aggro, abzan midrange and abzan control and expect her perform well. If you struggle to beat aggro decks, adding Dromoka to your deck list will help even your odds.
Silumgar is a brilliant, greedy mastermind always plotting ways to take new territories and treasures. He is clever at playing his cards, making friends with enemies and always getting what he wants, but at the price of extreme paranoia. In the wake of his constant manipulation and susceptibility to boredom, he fears his power being taken away, mainly by his rival Kolaghan.
“Once he is in the throes of delusion, it is nearly impossible for any to reach him. He has slaughtered masses of his own followers in fits of angst. To avoid this fatal outcome, his subjects have invented grim festivals and bloody rituals—anything to distract, soothe, or delight their dragonlord.”
The Silumgar clan has the largest army but the fewest living followers mainly because the majority are undead due to Silumgar’s morbid habits. The clan is clever and value power. Their aspect is ruthlessness as represented by the dragon’s fang symbol.
Dragonlord Silumgar Card Review
Being a decent sized body that can dodge red removal spells, Silumgar is a pretty powerful card by himself. His ability to take control of a creature or planeswalker will quickly swing a game in your favor. He is weak against black white removal spells though. Silumgar is also a little tricky in that you want him to stay alive and in play in order to secure the advantage you gain by controlling an enemy creature or planeswalker when he enters the battlefield. This advantage can be easily taken away by a single removal spell, instantly putting you at a disadvantage.
Good Decks for Dragonlord Silumgar
Silumgar is going to fit in well with any deck that can apply pressure like midrange decks able to put threats on the board and run you opponents out of viable removal. Ideally by the time you bring him out onto the board your opponent won’t have any answers to deal with him and Silumgar can easily take control of their important creatures or planeswalkers.
Silumgar could also see play in a Sultai reannimator/whip deck. This deck centers around bringing back cards from the graveyard that have “come into play” abilities. Since Silumgar does just that, he’ll add a lot of value to this deck in that his ability lets the deck attack from another angle that it couldn’t before.
So what do you guys think, will you be adding any of the dragonlords to your deck? Do you have any clever deck builds you think one of the dragonlords will fit well in? Don’t forget to check out our Dragons of Tarkir Top 8 Picks if you haven’t read it already.
Sources: Wizards of the Coast