Talking Dragons with Frank Karsten

Posted in GRAND PRIX LIVERPOOL 2015 on March 8, 2015

By Tobi Henke

While our colleagues at Grand Prix Miami get to gather intial impressions of Dragons of Tarkir cards with regards to Standard, over here the order of business is Limited, so we're in the business of talking about the upcoming Dragons of Tarkir/Fate Reforged Limited format. Which, it turns out, is quite hard to do and involves a lot of speculation, since most of the set's commons are as yet still unknown.

One of the players we talked to was Hall of Famer Frank Karsten, whose first reply was: "Well, let me take a look at the commons that we already do know."

Frank Karsten

We did and it didn't take long for Karsten to latch onto something interesting. "Dragon Fodder seems nice! A perfect fit for the format, with synergies with both prowess and exploit," Karsten explained. "Actually, I like exploit quite a bit; it gives lots of options during games, like: Do you even want to exploit? And if so, which creature do you sacrifice? This may also lead to exploit decks being more interested in 2-drops than they otherwise would."

Of course, the set also features new mechanics other than exploit. "Formidable incentivizes a curve rather than the occasional fatty. As such, it may look similar to ferocious but could play very differently," said Karsten. "And rebound … rebound is just rebound. I don't have much to say about it," Karsten blatantly lied. "It rebounded from Rise of the Eldrazi. It was good then, it often generates card advantage, and in the new format, it's going to trigger the occasional prowess creature twice. Which is nice, I guess."

His overall impression was that the commons were all rather expensive. "Although that might be a result of the small sample size. We simply might not have seen the set's Bears yet," Karsten speculated. "As for the draft structure: It's going to be interesting to see whether there's a cycle of color-fixing lands. There may not be one, especially considering the presence of Evolving Wilds, and if everyone is drafting decks in two allied colors, it isn't really needed either. However, then what happens with cards like Harsh Sustenance and Grim Contest in pack three?"

And what card would Frank Karsten most like to first pick out of his first pack in a Dragons of Tarkir/Fate Reforged booster draft? "Descent of the Dragons looks amazing, but I'm more interested in, say, a four-mana card than a six-mana card. The set appears to have more than enough high-cost, high-impact cards," Karsten explained.

"I think I'd be much more happy with a first-pick Thunderbreak Regent. It's cheap which is important, it's only one color, plus it's a Dragon in a set with a Dragon tribal theme. You could even cast it on turn three off Dragonlord's Servant, and that seems positively insane."

Keep your eyes on the Dragons of Tarkir Card Image Gallery to see all of the cards mentioned above and all of the cards still to come!