Drafting Dragons

Posted in PRO TOUR DRAGONS OF TARKIR on April 10, 2015

By Craig Jones

Welcome to Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir! We're at the third Pro Tour set in the plane of Tarkir, and things have changed a bit. After a little timeline meddling, the khans are no more, and dragons have returned to dominate the skies. This is the backstory to the Tarkir block, but how will it play out for the players here at the Pro Tour today?

First up, we have Limited Magic in the form of booster draft. In the past, the third set in a block has either joined the first two in a full block Draft, or been a standalone Draft format. Tarkir block is unusual in that Dragons of Tarkir will be drafted with second set Fate Reforged, but without any Khans of Tarkir.

Limited Dragons of Tarkir is a completely different animal compared to Khans of Tarkir. Gone are the three-color wedges centered round Khans and in are traditional allied-color pairs centered round Elder Dragons. Some mechanics return from Fate Reforged (dash, bolster) while others are new additions to the block (rebound, exploit, formidable). Face-down creatures will still play a part with new morph variant megamorph making a debut. The new format will be a mixture of the familiar and the new, and it will be especially interesting to see how Dragons of Tarkir changes the evaluation of Fate Reforged cards.

One aspect that hasn't changed is face-down creatures. 5 mana is again the critical number. Creatures with megamorph costs lower than that only have a base toughness of 1, which means they can be blocked by other morphs and 2-power critters without the player worrying they're going to be blown out by a face-down creature unmorphing into something monstrous. At five or more mana, it gets a little trickier. That face-down 2/2 might just be a Dragon in disguise...

From my own experiences (caveat—as a player I was not exactly renowned for my Draft skills), Dragons of Tarkir seems like a faster Limited format. Starting a curve at three with face-down 2/2s might be a little slow as there are a few useful "bears" (two mana 2/2's) in the format. There will be a lot of Dragons duking it out in the skies, but also expect some bear-on-bear violence in the early turns as well.

Atarka Beastbreaker is just one example of good "bears" in this format that can give a player the advantage in a format full of face-down 3 mana 2/2s.

My guess is also that the common, successful archetypes will revolve around the allied color pairs. Blue-black in particular seems very strong, with cards like Shambling Goblin, Jeskai Sage, and Palace Familiar providing plenty of useful fodder for exploit cards.

Fate Reforged being moved to the third booster is also a big change. As some joked last night, we might actually see some of the Fate Reforged rares get passed. With the sieges and dragon legends, Fate Reforged has plenty of fantastic cards. If a player correctly reads the signals and stays out of his neighbor's colors, the payoff could be two or three potent Fate Reforged cards instead of one. Who doesn't like receiving Citadel Siege fourth pick?

After two rounds, the general consensus seems to be that black is the color players would like to be in. Black-red is fast and aggressive while blue-black offers lot of synergistic interactions around the exploit mechanic.

And Dragons...well, Dragons have an impact on games too.