Skyline Despot

Posted in Card Preview on August 18, 2016

By Meghan Wolff

Meghan is one half of the podcast Magic the Amateuring and an adjunct professor at Tolarian Community College. She loves Limited, likes Modern, and dips her toes into each Standard season. She's decidedly blue and is the #1 hater of Siege Rhino in the Multiverse.

I have some good news, and I have some bad news.

The bad news is that there's no established name for a group of Dragons. While suggestions abound (herd, flock, flight, clan), none of them have that satisfying seal of official-ness.

The good news is that with Skyline Despot in play, you'll have both a group of Dragons and the authority to call them anything you'd like.

I usually prefer to start my analysis of a new card with a look at its baseline stats: what I'm spending, and the minimum I'll get in exchange. With a card like Skyline Despot, however, even the baseline is multifaceted and value-rich. This Dragon is so much more than just another tyrant of the skies.

In the worst circumstances, Skyline Despot is a 5/5 flier for seven mana that nets you a bit of card advantage. When Skyline Despot enters the battlefield, you become the monarch, and when you're the monarch, you make the rules.

Okay, not exactly, but being the monarch does come with a few perks that will help you keep your throne.

Even if one of your opponents kills Skyline Despot as soon as it hits the table, you're still the game's monarch. As such, you'll draw a card on your end step. In this scenario, you've gotten a prime removal spell out of your opponent's hand while putting yourself up a card—a recipe for success that doesn't require your Dragon to stick around.

Of course, if Skyline Despot does stay on the battlefield, it'll help you maintain your new power. If by luck or by force you're still monarch when your next turn arrives, things will begin to look increasingly grim for your opponents as more and more 5/5 Dragons join the...flight.

If another player has the audacity to play a card that makes them the monarch, it had better come with a way to protect them from Skyline Despot. This Dragon doesn't take kindly to sharing authority, and the Skyline Despot is its own best tool for maintaining authority. Big fliers aren't too shabby at dealing the damage necessary to regain your crown.

Cards that care about the monarch also play well with other cards that care about the monarch, so long as the two spells agree on which player at the table ought to rule. If you have an earlier play that has a monarch bonus attached to it and your opponents rudely dethrone you by force or by trickery, later monarch-driven cards like Skyline Despot will help you take back the throne without the pesky necessity of attacking. On your next upkeep, you could find yourself enjoying two or more sweet perks of being monarch.

And, of course, we can't overlook the fact that you might've stolen the throne right out from under another player.

Skyline Despot
Skyline Despot | Art by Lucas Graciano

Because Skyline Despot is such a multifaceted card, your opponents have to take a multifaceted approach to beating it. It's not enough to get the Dragon off the battlefield—if you have other cards that care about the monarch, opponents will be pressured into attacking you in order to rob you of your title. The extra card you draw on your end step will likely be enough to persuade them to attempt to dethrone you, and if they're not convinced, you can bury them in card advantage, the next best thing after a...flock...of Dragons.

Some might call it cunning, others might call it manipulation, but Skyline Despot understands that on the battlefield, brute force isn't always the best the way to achieve victory. Sometimes you can pressure your opponents into making rash or non-ideal decisions, and then capitalize on their mistakes.

Sure, ruling a kingdom is so dangerous that not even a ghost is safe from assassination, but with cards like Skyline Despot adding so much value to the monarchy, I just can't wait to be king.

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