Why am I wrong about these Dragons of Tarkir cards? by Fabrizio Anteri

Why am I wrong about these Dragons of Tarkir cards? by Fabrizio Anteri

Hi everyone,

GP Liverpool is in the books and Dragons of Tarkir is fully spoiled. That leaves me not much will of playing any format right now on Magic Online, but instead to start looking ahead for the next events. Not a small one shows up in the calendar: Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir in Brussels.

A new Draft format and a new Standard format – that’s a lot of work to do! When it comes down to figure out new Draft formats, I couldn’t be happier to be part of Team Cabin Crew. I am really proud of our draft skills and draft performance in the last Pro Tours (and even Grand Prix events). I am confident we will get to the Belgium Capital more than prepared to put up as many 3-0 as possible in the Limited portion.

But right now it is about the new Standard that I want to talk about. Today I am going to ruin the party and explain why I don’t think some cards will be played in Standard – at least not the Standard we’ll be playing the next few months. I am judging cards for their potential in Standard to be part of a REALLY good deck. Top 8 of tournaments worthy. Basically what I ask myself is: Will I play this in the Standard Pro Tour? 

Some of the cards below may actually see some play, but I don’t expect them to be your first choice if what you are looking for is to win a big tournament. 

This is only speculation, of course. I could be partially – or totally – wrong about some or all the cards I am going to mention. Hopefully, my theories are not completely wrong, so testing for the Pro Tour will have a good base to start with.

I am not considering the potential of the cards for other formats: Limited, Modern, Legacy, Commander. It’s pure Standard. So, lets get the ball rolling!


Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit

This looks like a really good creature, but I don’t think she will fit any of the existent decks in the format. RW Aggro or Jeskai Aggro don’t play enough creatures to make her shine and tokens don’t trigger her ability – so forget about Jeskai Tokens or similars. Finally being a double White two-drop makes her unplayable in Abzan Aggro. I don’t think a White Weenie deck would be competitive enough to build a deck around her. Specially considering she is Legendary, so you probably don’t even want four copies – but maybe Craig Wescoe will prove me wrong in Brussels about this. As final point, she is not a Warrior, which is an archetype that may have earn finally enough from the set to be a viable Standard option.

Arashin Foremost

He’s not as powerful as Brimaz, King of Oreskos, which is not seeing much play at the moment, also he looks worse than Fabled Hero. The only hope I can see for this guy would be a WB Warriors deck, but there is already a different three-drop I would like to play in this deck – Blood-Chin Fanatic. I don’t think there will be much space in this deck for extra three-drops.

Hidden Dragonslayer

I think this is a fine two-drop, but not better than Seeker of the Way or Soulfire Grand Master. I find out his ability to be a bit expensive and aggressive decks wouldn’t want to do that investment of mana. Still, I can see this guy as a one-of in some maindecks or sideboards of GW Devotion, if the deck proves itself good enough after people are prepared for it.

Ojutai Exemplars

This is a tough one to judge and I am risking to be called crazy here, but I don’t think this will see play. In an aggressive deck, four mana may be too much and you probably won’t have too many non-creature spells to protect it, with Raise the Alarm being a nice exception. Also, think about all the speculation about Monastery Mentor – which I think it’s a much better creature card to have in a deck with some non-creature spells, but he still ended up not seeing much play.

What about Control decks? It’s not such a big threat by itself and most of the non-creature spells are counter or removal spells. There barely are some cheap cantrips to trigger his abilities.

Finally, as a sideboard card in UW Heroic, I imagine getting to four mana, then untap and then what? Sure, I can attack with him and protect him, but most of your instant spells are protective spells anyway. Defiant Strike is an exception, because you will lose the drawing a card, if there are no more creatures to target (changing play zones erases a memory of being targeted).

Radiant Purge

I honestly can’t think of many targets I want to exile with this that I can’t exile with Glare of Heresy. Then I think of all the targets I get with Glare but I can’t with Purge, and I lose every intention of considering this card anywhere. I don’t think the instant speed is going to make me change my mind about Glare being just better, until Theros block rotates out.


Icefall Regent

I have mixed feelings about this. I think it’s a really good card overall, but it’s not as good threat and not as good removal. I don’t think I want this in any of the current decks in Standard. It would shine in a midrange deck, but 5 mana cost is a really busy slot in many colors. My prediction is to say no for now to this Dragon.

Shorecrasher Elemental

A lot of speculation about this one. As a card I think it’s better than Ashcloud Phoenix, but in Blue it doesn’t have the same impact. Everyone is talking about a come back of Mono-Blue Devotion. That’s a deck I surely want to consider, but my first thought is that is not going to be good enough.

Let me explain why. There are not good enough one and two drops like there were before, Mutavault is no longer Standard-legal, there are more answers now to the two biggest threats of the deck. Erase and Utter End are quite common these days and they answer Thassa, God of the Sea perfectly. Black removal sees way more play than Red removal, so Master of Waves is not that big deal.

Stratus Dancer

This has a cute effect, but I can’t see any deck that would like to have it. If there is a new deck for it, it will likely have Icefall Regent from above on it as well.


Damnable Pact

Standard offers some really nice card engines at the moment, all better than this. Particularly in Black I don’t think I would like to play this before Read the Bones or Sign in Blood. Having the option of killing your opponent is nice, but that will rarely happen and I wouldn’t justify playing this only for that possibility.

Pitiless Horde

This is a good card, but it doesn’t really have a home to go and it’s the wrong moment to be printed. Five power is where you want to be, but three toughness is not good enough for the job. Some new decks may want to have the option of dashing this guy in their sideboard, but I can’t figure out yet a good deck that wants to do that.


Ire Shaman

If playing a morph would cost two, I would try this guy in Red aggressive decks. Sadly, as a three-drop it doesn’t do much. Cast face up is not so bad and Mono-Red was lagging in two-drops department, but with Dragon Whisperer in the set I doubt this Shaman will get there.


Assault Formation

Please, just don’t do it. If you want to win that PTQQ, just don’t do it. If you want to have fun in the FNM then yes, please DO IT – and then tell me how it went.

Den Protector

Once again I am not satisfied enough with this cycle of megamorph two-drops. This one at least is in the right color, so it could be played as a one-of anywhere in the 75 of Devotion decks. However, I am still more impressed with the White one – Hidden Dragonslayer from above – and will probably have two of those before the first one of this one.


Sarkhan Unbroken

Not a fan at all of this one. His mana cost force him only in one deck, so instead of making a deck good he is forcing a deck to exist for him to be good. Then the deck actually has to prefer this version of Sarkhan and not the Dragonspeaker, since they both cost 5 mana cmc. I don’t say this is completely unplayable, but there are many conditions for it to happen. If you normally like having completely Standard sets of playables, then go for it and get it, but I’m more inclined to wait until it doesn’t see enough play and the price drops.



As you may noticed, I only evaluated rares and mythics, because I think we will end up having multiple copies of commons and uncommons anyway.

Once again, I want to remind you that these are my personal thoughts, Pro Tour-focused. They could be completely wrong. You should always try out some cards, enjoy your brewing, have fun with them. I do not want to discourage you from getting the cards, actually I encourage you to go for it! The more new cards you can put in a deck, the more interesting it can be.

I think you can easily deduce the cards that I actually consider are going to be good enough to see play in Standard. I can’t really talk much about them now, because the Pro Tour is coming soon and my teammates will kill me if I happen to have a really good idea and just share it here.

Once the Pro Tour is over, I will have a much better knowledge of the new Standard, I will know how right or wrong I was about this list of cards and I will be able to share with you more insightful information about decks of the format.

Community Question: Why am I wrong about these Dragons of Tarkir card evaluations?

Why am I wrong about these Dragons of Tarkir card evaluations

Thanks for reading!


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