The Dragons of Tarkir Pre-release is this weekend, and the set looks to be a lot of fun. We’ve got the new mechanics of exploit, formidable and megamorph along with the returning rebound to give our games a change up. We also have the Dragons taking over from the Khans, which should shake up a Limited format we’ve just gotten used to.
Exploit is going to allow creatures – that in the late game have become outclassed by [card]Woolly Loxodon[/card]s and the like – to take part in an effect useful for its controller. Having a sacrifice outlet almost always adds value to a deck, allowing synergies with any [card]Act of Treason[/card] effects and token makers, whilst making enchantment-based removal worse. Seeing as it is based in Blue and Black (Silumgar), there aren’t many token generators, but with cards like [card]Dutiful Attendant[/card] and [card]Palace Familiar[/card], I’m sure you’ll be able to build around it slightly to make it work really well. One thing to note – if you control no creatures, then cast a creature with exploit and your opponent removes it in response to the trigger, you won’t be able to get any exploit value.
Formidable is going to play out very similarly to ferocious back in a time, because it also cares about power of controlled creatures. This mechanic is going to work very well in games that have become stalled, allowing you to gain an advantage there. Most creatures with it have a high power themselves, so they don’t need much more to be active. Also, this is the Red-Green (Atarka) mechanic, which are colours known to have the biggest creatures, getting formidable active shouldn’t be too hard. One thing to note – if you go below eight power before a formidable trigger resolves, you won’t be getting the effect of the trigger. This can cause serious problems if it’s a ‘When this creature attacks’ trigger, so watch out for ‘Target creature gets -X/-X’ or ‘Attacking creatures get -X/-0’ instants.
Megamorph is the newest face down mechanic variant. Morph is a way to get creatures on the battlefield for less mana than their casting cost by playing them face-down first. Megamorph is a way to get them on the battlefield usually for more mana than their casting cost, but with a +1/+1 counter thrown in for your trouble. Just like morph, megamorph allows you to play spells early on in the game or if you’re stuck on mana, whilst giving you something extra to do with any extra mana later in the game. One thing to note – a manifested creature will only get the +1/+1 counter if it’s flipped face up with its megamorph cost.
Rebound allows you to get a free, time-delayed copy of some instants and sorceries, so each such card brings extra value beyond the first casting. It’ll fit in nicely into the prowess decks that may arise by allowing you to trigger ‘When you cast a noncreature spell’ abilities on creatures twice. As this creates a delayed (non-immediate) trigger, I’d recommend that you put a die or some other counter on top of your library to make sure that you don’t miss it – just like you did for a scry trigger of [card]Thassa, God of the Sea[/card].
With the losing of Khans and the gaining of Dragons, I feel that this new Limited format is going to head towards a longer game than before. It’s also going to mean that two-colour decks will make up the majority of decks with a possible light splash, due to losing of two packs with a lot of colour fixing as well as a lot of three colour cards. The removal suite of cards in Dragons is very good, as is the overall power level, so games are going to feel a little back and forth, and making bombs more beatable.
[card]Artful Maneuver[/card] and [card]Center Soul[/card] are two cards that have very similar applications. As combat tricks, Artful Maneuver is going to help a creature win a combat it was losing (not die and/or kill a blocking creature) it was losing, whilst Center Soul can help only survive the damage without killing the blocker. As instants during main phases, Artful Maneuver will help protect a creature from removal based on damage or toughness lowering but not from point destroy effects, whilst Center Soul will save it from all coloured point removal, including enchantment-based removal already on it. They both will help you get in a little bit of extra damage on the rebound. Both of these cards are very good, and I would play them both in pretty much every deck that could cast them. My choice between the two for which I would play above the other would depend solely on the type of removal my opponent was playing.
[card]Aven Sunstriker[/card] can deal a lot of damage as a megamorphed 2/2 flier with double strike. Being able to deal four damage allows it to take down dragons, as well as hold back a lot of early game creatures. This is also a card just begging to be boosted with bolster or auras to maximise its power.
[card]Dromoka Captain[/card] is a card that truly shines in the early game. Having first strike and getting two power on its first attack makes this essentially unblockable for the first few turns. Its ability to make your smaller creatures bigger too is also good, but your opponent will know what’s getting the bolster counter before blocks, lessening its effectiveness. This is, however, an awful card to draw in the late game. With its base stats of 1/1, it won’t be able to block anything well and will be nothing more than a speed bump.
[card]Dromoka Dunecaster[/card]’s tap ability is not one we see too often, and its never been this good for a long time. Being able to hold down the ground is a very powerful effect. Because you can change your target every time, it can really help you make games go long. Its over-application is to tap down not one but two blockers, allowing you to get in for serious damage: you can tap one on your opponent’s turn, and then the second on your turn right before attack.
[card]Enduring Victory[/card] is a nice piece of removal that will allow you to sometimes be able to get a two-for-one, if you work out your blocks well. Its high mana cost can be an issue, and seeing as it is situational, I wouldn’t see myself playing more than one in a deck.
[card]Great Teacher’s Decree[/card] is one of the best cards I’ve seen for a deck that really wants to go wide. It allows you to hit in for massive damage one turn and then do so again on the rebound before the dust has truly settled. When it does come off of the rebound, your opponent will know about it, so can set up for it, but it’ll be more for weathering the storm than trying to beat it back.
[card]Misthoof Kirin[/card] is very much like its brother from another timeline [card]Alabaster Kirin[/card]. It’s got a greater power so can hit in for more damage, but unlike the Alabaster Kirin, it won’t be able to survive battles with any morphs. It won’t be as good at holding your opponent back from attacking. The three power it has can quickly close out a game, or take down a bigger creature, but still it is smaller than most of the dragons in the block.
[card]Pacifism[/card] is one of the best pieces of removal that white has access to nowadays, and I’d be more than happy to have it in a White deck. That said, it isn’t a permanent removal and as an enchantment it suffers from some downsides. It can be removed with [card]Naturalize[/card] effects, doesn’t shut off activated or triggered abilities, the creature can be returned to hand and it gives your opponent a creature that they wouldn’t mind exploiting.
[card]Strongarm Monk[/card] is another card that works very well in a go-wide deck. It can make your army large very quickly, especially later on in the game if you’re able to cast two noncreature spells in one turn. Being able to trigger this at instant is also a big game, completely changing the combat maths your opponent may have done. This also works really well with any rebound spells, and is best friends with [card]Great Teacher’s Decree[/card].
[card]Silkwrap[/card] is similar to [card]Pacifism[/card], but trades some restrictions to get rid of the downsides. This can hit any unflipped morphs, but if it’s turned face up in response to the trigger, that creature may become safe – you’ve wasted a card. One more thing to note – if you do get a morph with this, and then Silkwrap is removed, the morph will be returned to the battlefield face-up. So, maybe use it on your own creature?
[card]Sandcrafter Mage[/card] is a neat way on doing a 3/3 creature for three mana. The +1/+1 counter can be relevant to the cards that care about that, and having the choice of making another creature bigger is only an upside to the card.
[card]Gudul Lurker[/card] is not a card that I ever want to play face-up, but may have to – to block an X/1 creature when I’m attacked from the off. What I would like to do is make it into a two-powered, unblockable attacker, which will put up a quick clock that your opponent WILL have to deal with at some point.
I get the feeling that [card]Dance of the Skywise[/card] is going to play out somewhat like a combat trick. The effect of this card is definitely maximised in a deck filled with smaller creatures, going down in value very sharply the greater your creatures are, even making some of them worse than they are.
[card]Gurmag Drowner[/card] is a card that can be used in many different ways. As a 2/4 for four mana, it blocks well if needed. As a slightly more expensive [card]Forbidden Alchemy[/card], it can help you dig to a card that you need, whilst also filling your graveyard for things like delve or [card]Foul Renewal[/card].
[card]Monastery Loremaster[/card] is a whole bunch of value. Being able to get back your best removal spell from the graveyard is a great ability, and leaving behind a 4/3 as well is a great deal. This card gets even better if you have a deck that does a lot of things in your opponent’s turn, so you can use this when you have the time to and better utilise your mana.
As a 4/2 with flying, megamorphed [card]Ojutai Interceptor[/card] is a fantastic creature. It can tussle with most dragons and, if uncontested in the skies, can do a lot of damage very quickly. It does have a low toughness, so it’s not coming out of any fights unscathed.
[card]Ojutai’s Breath[/card] is a great way to tempo out your opponent. It can tap down their biggest threat before it can attack and then tap down something else on the rebound, allowing you to get two lots of attacks in. It can also be used to help keep the pressure and buy you a couple of turns to stabilise, whilst also lessening the impact of cards like [card]Great Teacher’s Decree[/card].
[card]Palace Familiar[/card] and [card]Youthful Scholar[/card] are probably the best cards to exploit, replacing themselves whilst also getting a nice effect to go with it. Palace Familiar having flying means that it can attack in for a little bit of damage if you don’t need to keep it back, whilst Youthful Scholar can take morphs or X-2s down with it, leaving you up a card overall. I can see these two slotting right into any grindier decks just looking for some nice value.
[card]Reduce in Stature[/card] has the same downsides that [card]Pacifism[/card] does, but with a few extras. It doesn’t remove it from combat, and with the way the power/toughness works, any counters or other pump effects can still make the creature relevant. However, this is one of the few ways that blue can more permanently deal with annoying creatures, so it’s still a card I’d play – whilst keeping the downsides in mind.
[card]Sight Beyond Sight[/card] feels very much like [card]Divination[/card], but the ability to choose which card you get makes it better in most situations. Only getting one card at a time only really affects the really late game, when you have a lot of mana open – but otherwise, shouldn’t have too much of an effect.
[card]Silumgar Sorcerer[/card] is a very nice card. A two-powered flier is always going to be a fine creature at three mana, and giving it flash only makes it better. Having the ability to have counter spell up and still being able to cast a creature is great, and using this as a way to stop your opponent’s bombs is even better.
[card]Silumgar Spell-Eater[/card] is a another great reason to be able to do things in your opponent’s turn. Being able to have counter effects on creatures is great, especially one that works best on expensive spells. Also, having it become a 3/4 means that it’s a great creature to have on blocks.
[card]Skywise Teachings[/card] is a Dragons of Tarkir’s version of [card]Goblinslide[/card]. It’s much better, because 2/2 fliers are just better than 1/1s on the ground. Also, the power level of the noncreature spells has increased, making this sort of strategy more viable, especially seeing as you can make two creatures off of any rebound spell. I can see myself drafting this early and then picking up any good removal later on and absolutely dominating games.
Having a looting-type effect in a deck like [card]Zephyr Scribe[/card] always seems to boost its consistency, being able to discard any extra lands you draw, or finding them if you’re a little stuck. The untap ability is nice, but it’s very unlikely that you’re going to ‘go off’ with it. Having it there just adds a little bit of tricksyness to the card. Also, having two power allows it to trade for any morphs, which is something that you’re sure to do at some point.
The creatures that [card]Ojutai’s Summons[/card] summons may not be able to take down dragons on the attack, but together, can take one down in blocks. Being able to put four power in the air is very powerful, but you’ll be getting them on consecutive turns. You won’t be able to maximise the damage you can deal quickly, but the final outcome is going to be worth it.
[card]Ambuscade Shaman[/card] is a creature that rewards you for filling your deck with creatures with either dash or haste. I see two main ways to use this card: as a 4/4 with haste that you cast every turn, or as a 2/2 ‘enchantment’ that will boost every other creature you dash. Outside of a deck with a lot of these types of these creatures, this card is not great, and wouldn’t fit any slower deck.
[card]Butcher’s Glee[/card] is a great way to either win combat, protect your creatures from damage or destroy removal (but not -X toughness), deal some extra damage or pad your life total a little. The multiple ways that this card can be used allow this card to fit into many deck, and I’d pretty much always want one in a deck that can cast it reliably. Also, that extra three power will definitely help any creature take out something much bigger than itself and live to tell the tale.
[card]Coat with Venom[/card] is a much less flexible card than [card]Butcher’s Glee[/card], but has some similar applications. It trades that flexibility into allowing a creature to take out any creature and a lower mana cost. It won’t be difficult to find a way to cast this whilst also casting another spell every turn. So long as your creature isn’t removed before it deals damage, it’ll always get the job done.
As a removal spell, [card]Death Wind[/card] isn’t the most efficient, but it’ll always be able to scale to whatever creature you want to use it on. As an instant, you can use it to supplement combat, allowing you to kill creatures with toughness greater than X whilst saving your creature, or to drop its power to less than the toughness of the creature it’s fighting.
[card]Defeat[/card] is a card that I wouldn’t want to main deck too often. Whilst it does have the great words of ‘Destroy target creature’, it comes with very big restriction that leaves it unusable against decks using bigger creatures. I’d always want to board it in if my opponent is playing a deck chock full of morphs, manifests or is playing a lot of smaller creatures.
[card]Dutiful Attendant[/card], like the other ‘When it dies’ creatures, works very well with any exploit cards. However, to get the most value from this card, you’ll want it to die later on in the game, which is a downside compared to [card]Palace Familiar[/card]. The upside is that so long as you have a creature card in your graveyard, you’ll always get a creature. One final note on this – it has Warrior subtype, which remains relevant for Dragons of Tarkir Limited.
[card]Throttle[/card] was a card that we played in Khans of Tarkir, and [card]Flatten[/card] is just a better version of that. On its own it kills most creatures in the format, and combined with combat damage kills pretty much anything. Also, four mana casting cost isn’t prohibitive like it was five mana for Throttle, so you’re much more likely to be able to cast it when you want/need to.
[card]Foul-Tongue Invocation[/card] is a [cardDiabolic Edict[/card] effect that we don’t see too often. It isn’t as good as [card]Merciless Executioner[/card] as the ability to ‘upgrade’ a creature into a 3/1 is much better than the possibility of gaining four life. Even with this, I’m unlikely to cut this from a deck unless I’m playing against a deck full of token makers or with creatures that do things when they die.
[card]Hand of Silumgar[/card] having two power allows to get in some damage early. Its deathtouch makes it relevant in the late game too, being able to take down any ground based creature. Also, it has Warrior subtype, which allows it to slot in nicely into decks where that is relevant.
[card]Rakshasa Gravecaller[/card] is another exploit card that definitely feels very modal. If you need to block, have a 3/6 is great at that, if you need to go wide, having two 2/2s is great and being able to sacrifice an irrelevant creature to get both of those is even better. All around this card is fantastic, and I’m looking forward to being able to play it to its fullest.
[card]Ukud Cobra[/card] is a creature that’s going to be very difficult to deal with. Five toughness means it doesn’t die from fighting one-on-one with most of early creatures, and its deathtouch makes any double-blocks hell.
Being able to draw two cards is always good, which is what [card]Vulturous Aven[/card] allows you to do with just a small payment of one creature. Having that effect attached to a 2/3 flier bumps it way up as it can block morphs and can get it in for damage very often.
As on the best new removal spells we’ve had in the last few years, [card]Ultimate Price[/card] is going to be my top Black removal choice for Limited. Losing the mass of multicoloured cards from Khans and replacing them with all of the monocoloured creatures in Dragons makes this card fantastic. Three quarters of all of the multicoloured creatures are rare or mythic, so this Ultimate Price is going to be able to take care of most creatures that you come across.
Continuing on with my love of the exploit cards, [card]Silumgar Butcher[/card] is another creature that feeds my affection. At five mana and only giving -3/-3, it’s definitely a worse [card]Flatten[/card], but seeing as you won’t always be sacrificing it to itself, you’ll often be getting better value than just that. Also, unlike Flatten, you can use it block creatures that you otherwise couldn’t deal with, such as [card]Conifer Strider[/card].
[card]Draconic Roar[/card] is a nice removal spell in Red. Being able to do three damage is enough to kill a lot of creatures, and being able to sometimes do three damage to a player is just gravy. Being an instant and only costing two means that you’re likely to be able to slot casting it in whenever, and I can see myself always playing at least one in every deck.
What do you want to do when you have a lot of power on the field? Make it difficult for your opponent to block – which is exactly what [card]Atarka Pummeler[/card] does. Being a 4/5 for five is already good, and makes up half of what formidable needs, which is definitely relevant. Oh, and as a little extra, it’s a Warrior too.
Red is not a colour known for its ability to ramp mana too often, so how do we get it here? Attacking, that’s how, and that’s what you’ll be wanting to do with [card]Hardened Berserker[/card]. Being able to cast a five drop a turn earlier is very good, and unlike the usual mana dorks, being attached to a 3/2 body makes it very relevant even without that text on it.
Boosting power without also boosting toughness is exactly how Red likes its combat tricks, and [card]Kindled Fury[/card] is no different. Unlike most combat tricks, this won’t be saving anything from a removal spell. But for its cheap cost, it can absolutely help you win combat, even with its small boost.
[card]Qal Sisma Behemoth[/card] is exactly what it says it is: a behemoth. At 5/5 for just three mana, it has to come with a downside, and it does – but it’s not as bad as you might think it is. Being able to attack for five for the small cost of two mana isn’t much, and just the threat of this guy blocking is definitely worth leaving the two mana up to do so. His existence on the battlefield is going to demand respect, and he can quickly close out a game by himself. Also, his five power can almost qualify him for formidable status by himself, so he has extra value in just sitting there too.
[card]Sabertooth Outrider[/card] truly showcases the power that formidable can bring to a game. As a 4/2 with trample, it’s already a fantastic creature, and being able to gain first Strike can help make it unstoppable. Even if you’re behind, that high power helps him tackle bigger, better creatures, so he also has value there.
[card]Sarkhan’s Rage[/card] is a damage-based removal spell that can deal with most creatures in the format and paying the 2 life to do so is a very small price to do so. The ability to turn this into [card]Lava Axe[/card] is something that cannot be overlooked, being able to help close out a game, or steal it out of nowhere.
[card]Tail Slash[/card] is basically a more expensive [card]Fall of the Hammer[/card]. It was one of the best pieces of removal in the Theros block, so the pedigree is there. Not having the heroic mechanic in the set makes it worse, but this is definitely a card that I want to play. Especially if I’ve paired Red up with Green and so have big creatures to go with it.
There are a lot of one toughness creatures on Tarkir, and [card]Twin Bolt[/card] likes to prey on that fact, being able to take out two of them for two mana. Splitting damage up is always a plus on a card, and it’s still true here. Just like [card]Sarkhan’s Rage[/card], but to a lesser degree, this can also help you get in the last couple points of damage in.
[card]Roast[/card] pretty much kills anything on the ground, which is strange, seeing as heat rises in the art. The five damage is definitely a game changer. For three mana less, we do lose a bit from [card]Sarkhan’s Rage[/card], but being able to kill something big for cheap is a big plus for this card. Not being able to hit fliers is a big downside, so be sure to save your other removal to help cover this card’s shortcomings.
[card]Dragon Fodder[/card] is one of the very few token creators in this set, and its presence is appreciated. Giving massive value to any exploit cards, as well as stopping any X/1s from attacking is a big game for such a small card. It can also grant you a couple of turns in the late game by providing two chump-blockers for you to use.
[card]Salt Road Ambushers[/card] is a neat card that can make any morphs or manifests you have huge. Having a morph flip up with two extra counters is fantastic, but even without a mass of them, he’s serviceable as is, having the standard power and toughness we’d expect for his cost.
[card]Atarka Beastbreaker[/card] is a classic bear, a 2/2 for two, which is practically industry standard at this point. In the early game, he can get in for some damage. Later on in the game, he threats activating his ability, making him tricky to block or attack into. 2/2s that can come down early but still have an effect in the late game are always nice to have in a deck.
Being huge and irremovable is how [card]Conifer Strider[/card] looks. Whilst he does have that one toughness and can be killed by anything small, he can trade with many bigger and more expensive creatures. Having hexproof it practically begs to be bolstered or buffed by enchantments to be truly unkillable.
Having a regeneration ability on a big creature is always threatening, and that’s what I like about [card]Dragon-Scarred Bear[/card]. With three power for 3 mana, he can make an impact when you drop him. If you have eight power and two mana, this guy becomes virtually unkillable. Being able to attack with impunity and block forever are the makings of a great card.
[card]Dromoka’s Gift[/card] can make any creature huge, but for a high cost. This feels less like a combat trick and more like an enchantment that you can’t [card]Naturalize[/card]. With the way that bolster works, it makes it very difficult for an opponent to kill the creature that would be bolstered with damage-based removal, because the counters will go somewhere else. The main reason I like this card and not [card]Cached Defenses[/card] is that this is an instant, so can be better utilised, and does have that slight combat trick aspect to it too.
It’s very rare that a common creature can set up two-for-one situations, but that is what [card]Guardian Shield-Bearer[/card] can do. Unlike bolster, you get to choose where you put the extra counter, which can definitely have a big effect on combat maths. Becoming a 3/2 is not irrelevant in itself. Another good thing about this card is that you can just cast it for two mana, and block most early game cards to help slow down an aggressive deck.
The ability on [card]Lurking Arynx[/card] can work really well in two ways. It can force smaller creatures to block it, which turns this guy into removal, but it doesn’t stop him from being double-blocked, which can be an issue. It can also be used as [card]Lure[/card] type effect and allow your other creatures to go unblocked. Having this sort of effect on a 3/5 is much better than 1/1s we’re used to see this on, making it much more effective.
With a world full of dragons and other fliers, the text on [card]Pinion Feast[/card] sounds like less of a restriction that what we’re used to. I wouldn’t mind playing this in a main board, but would prefer to play [card]Return to the Earth[/card] if I had it available. The bolster 2 ability attached to it is a huge plus, and can easily help you get a nice two-for-one if you arrange your blockers well.
It’s rare to see a combat trick in Green that affects two creatures, because it’s a bit out of its flavour, but that’s what we have with [card]Press the Advantage[/card]. Being able to swing combat in your favour drastically is a very powerful effect to have, and it giving the creatures trample means that you won’t be wasting any damage.
[card]Salt Road Ambushers[/card] is a nice way to get +1/+1 counters on your creatures outside of bolster. Being a 3/3 for three means that this creature is already fine, and being able to jettison its counters in response to removal is nice. It also works very nicely with bounce cards such as [card]Ancestral Statue[/card], effectively resetting it if you’ve already moved the counters across. One thing to note – just like with [card]Daghatar the Adamant[/card], this guy doesn’t play well with manifest.
[card]Sight of the Scalelords[/card] is a nice way to end a game quickly. Being able to make your bigger creatures even bigger is great, and with bolster making your smaller ones big enough to be affected by this is a nice little synergy. Giving those creatures vigilance as well will make it very hard for an opponent to beat you in a damage race, especially as those creatures are likely to already be good at blocking. The value of this card definitely depends on how easy it is for you to get creatures to reach the four toughness, but I can see you being able to find a slot for it somewhere in most decks.
Being able to destroy artifacts and enchantments is nice, but definitely situational. Attaching that ability to a good creature just gives it extra value, and that’s exactly what [card]Ainok Survivalist[/card] brings to the table. He’s able to tussle well with most creatures, and have a cheap megamorph cost is great. I’d be happy to play him against a deck with no targets for his ability as his stats definitely meet the grade.
[card]Scaleguard Sentinels[/card] as a 2/3 for two is already good value, but being able to be 3/4 for essentially no extra cost is even better. He’s a great creature to play in the early game whilst still being nicely sized for the late game. The GG in its cost may be tricky to pay early on, but this is still a great thing to play on turns three or four.
[card]Epic Confrontation[/card] is pretty much just a better [card]Savage Punch[/card] as fighting a dragon is much harder than fighting a bear. Always getting +1/+2 is much better than a situational +2/+2, especially as it allows your morph to kill theirs on turn four with no extra help. I feel that this is one of the better fight effects we’ve seen in a while, and is one of the best removal spells that Green has access to.
As a 5/5, [card]Stampeding Elk Herd[/card] doesn’t need much help to get its formidable ability to trigger. Giving trample to all of your creatures isn’t the best ability, but being in Green and attached to a 5/5 allows you to maximise its effect.
[card]Aerie Bowmasters[/card] is one of the best ways to deal with fliers in the block. Being able to ambush an attacker as a 4/5 means that you’ll likely be able to remove a creature for essentially free. You’ll also be able to use this as a great wall, stopping a lot of attacks across the board, which is great as in Green, you’re likely to be following this up with other big creatures.
[card]Scion of Ugin[/card] is a nice creature in a pinch, but in the set that we have many bigger and better dragons, so this goes down in value. Being colourless allows you to fit into any colour combination and will happily fill a void, if you missed out on picking up a top end to your deck.
The monument cycle of cards, e.g. [card]Dromoka Monument[/card], are much better than the banner cycle was in Khans. Being able to ramp and colour fix in the early game and then being a threat in the late game means I’m likely to play an on-colour one in my Sealed and Draft decks.
[card]Vial of Dragonfire[/card] is a slow, clunky piece of removal, but it is still removal. The two damage it deals can be relevant as it deals with morphs, but it quickly becomes outclassed later on in the game. In a deck light on removal, this may be something that you want, but with the amount we have now in Dragons, this is many tiers below the rest.
[card]Ancestral Statue[/card] is a big creature with a downside that we can utilise to good effect. It can remove any enchantment based removal from your creatures, reset a creature that enters with counters or allow you to re-use an enter-the-battlefield ability. If I’m not running many cards of those last two, I wouldn’t want to play it in a deck, but being able to undo some removal with the possibility of other upsides means that this is unique card that I can find a place for.
[card]Dragonloft Idol[/card] as a 3/3 for four isn’t awful, but it also isn’t great. However, if you happen to happen to have a lot of dragons in your deck, (good job), then this will happily join them in the skies. Becoming a 4/4 flier is very good, but I wouldn’t rely on it happening too often.
The loss of Khans means the loss of two packs chocked full of fetchlands, duallands, trilands. We have to fill that void with [card]Evolving Wilds[/card]. It’s a nice card to have in a deck, but not one that you’re going to prioritise, like people did with the duallands before. One nice thing about it is that it does play nicely with delve and it can really help you with a light splash.
I did want to touch on the enemy colour hate cycle, e.g. [card]Surge of Righteousness[/card]. They’re not what you want to have in your main deck, but they are archetypical sideboard cards, becoming very good if your opponent is playing both colours that it hates on. [card]Display of Dominance[/card] is my least favourite of the cycle, but I think the other four are all very good, and will have a great impact against the right deck.
You may have also noticed that I didn’t talk about the monocoloured and dualcoloured dragons in the set. That was mostly because as big flying creatures, they are all very good and will happily fit in at the top end of any deck. The dualcoloured ones work exceptionally well in the decks that their two colours are trying to build, whilst the monocoloured ones are probably worse that the cycle in Fate Reforged.
On the colours, I think the removal suite in Red is very good. But the creatures to go alongside it are a little lacklustre, so you’ll want to pair it up with another colour to fill that gap. Black also has some very nice removal, (probably even better than Red’s), but its creatures required you to work a bit harder to get them at their best. Blue has lots of evasive threats and also has the ability to tempo out your opponents with its noncreatures spells – but lacks a more permanent way to deal with threats. Green has some fantastic creatures with some nice removal to go beside it. Finally, White has some very nice early creatures and some great pieces of removal and tricks, but it feels like it lacks a truly good late game.