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Apr 04 2015

Top 10 Dragons of Tarkir Cards for EDH Commander

Hey folks, welcome back to MTGCasualPlay.com and my Top 10 Dragons of Tarkir Cards for Commander! As always, my rankings take into account new cards (no reprints) and playability with regards to fitting into a wide range of decks as opposed to niche, corner-case goodness. For each card I will include a FOR ME… section to indicate how I would personally use the card in my existing or future decklists.

I have put a great deal of thought into this article but I can guarantee that I excluded at least one card that you believe should be listed here. That’s cool, let me where you agree or disagree and tell me what card makes your Top 10 list. What would you rank higher (or lower)? Please comment and leave feedback in the section below!

Before we get started, I want to share a couple of thoughts with you:

  1. With the Tarkir block Wizards has given us new names to reference wedge colors. No more Dega or RUG, but rather Mardu and Temur. What I find funny about many of us using the new terminology set in place by Khans of Tarkir is, in present day Tarkir, that world no longer exists! The clan wedge names were erased from existence when Sarkhan altered the history of Tarkir.
  2. I have seen a lot of forum posts where players are confused on the gender of the Elder Dragons. Took me a bit of research, but I found the Planeswalker Guide to Dragons of Tarkir that clears things up. Long story short, Silumgar and Ojutai are guy dragons while Kolaghan, Dramoka, and Atarka are female dragons.

Be sure to check back every once in a while for my other Commander (and Tiny Leader) articles. I am definitely looking forward to my Top 10 list for MTG Origins, due out in June 2015!

Honorable Mentions

Best Command in Dragons of Tarkir
Dromoka’s Command: For two mana and relevant abilities, this is my favorite Command of the set. The removal aspects are obvious forcing an opponent to sacrifice an enchantment or putting two creatures in the boxing ring. But the prevent damage is also relevant to protect our board from Blasphemous Act. Bravo to the development team for the new command cycle, but definitely not as good as the originals. My rankings from best to worse are: Dromoka’s, Kolaghan’s, Silumgar’s, Ojutai’s and Atarka’s.

Mirror Mockery Offense or Defense? ETB effects. There is a ton of potential for this card, in the right deck.

Volcanic Vision: A 7 mana Regrowth that could provide a one-sided boardwipe. Super good when retrieving Blasphemous Act from your graveyard.

Myth Realized: Could be a win condition in a wrath heavy control deck or enchantress build. Turn one drop get some counters, wrath the board and swing in Gideon Jura style!

Enough of the “honorables”. You came here for a Top 10 List, so let’s get to it!

Top 10 Dragons of Tarkir Cards for EDH Commander

#10 – Profaner of the Dead

Archfiend of Depravity in EDH Commander

Returning permanents to owners hands can provide a tactical advantage to jar an opponents tempo, set up a win condition, or save your own ass when an army of evilness is swinging in for lethal. Even better than “bouncing” creatures or permanents to their owners hands is a one sided bounce effect that only effects opponents. This is what makes Cyclonic Rift arguable one of the best blue staples in Commander. Combining the effects of a one-sided Rift and Evacuation is Profaner of the Dead. When Profaner hits our playmat we may trigger his Exploit ability and sacrifice a creature. If we do, all of our opponent’s creatures with toughness less than the sacrificed creatures’s toughness get returned to their owners hands. If need be, Profaner of the Dead can sacrifice himself with exploit. This results in all permanents with toughness 2 or less being bounced.

I have seen some misconception in forums that Profaner of the Dead kills tokens. This is both true and false. If he sacrifices himself he could wipe out some 0/1 kobolds or 1/1 goblins, but, since the bounce effect is measured off of toughness rather than casting cost, bigger tokens could live through the exploitation. While toughness is less than casting cost in relation to awesomeness, I still believe their is a good amount of untapped potential and momentum shifts to warrant a slot in EDH decks.

Here are some possible scenarios where I can see Profaner being very effective. Mono-Blue cast Profaner and sacrifice Keiga, the Tide Star. This results in all opponents creatures with toughness less than 5 going back to their hand AND Keiga allows us to take a big fatty that may still be on the board. Putting Profaner on a Mimic Vat or used in conjunction with flicker effects (Conjurer’s Closet) is another way to abuse exploit triggers and obtain value. Red threaten and Blue steal effects can snag an opposing creature to be the sacrificial lamb. Profaner with Polymorphist’s Jest can ensure an opposing army of beaters hop off of the battlefield.

I was a bit hesitant to put Profaner in my top 10, but I think his value as a sac outlet with extra oomph will prove play worthy.

FOR ME… Honestly, it took me a great deal of meditation in my drive back and forth to work to escalate my like for this guy. I was initially soured on his usability when he didn’t auto-wipe token armies, but have gradually increased my desire to give him a playtest. First up, we may playtest in my Gwendlyn bounce/discard or Lazav reanimate/milldeck and see how it goes.

#9 – Sunscorch Regent

Sunscorch Regent is quite simply a beatstick in white with a little bit of life gain. Each time an opponent casts a spell it gains a +1/+1 counter and its controller gains a life. Simple and efficient. While there are a tons of ways in commander to deal with creatures and yes, this guy dies to removal, if we put him in a deck with Lightning Greaves, Whispersilk Cloak, or Swiftfoot Boots this drastically reduces the effectiveness of said removal.

FOR ME… My buddy CDogg suited this guy up with a Whispersilk Cloak and proceeded to beat us in the face with him until a Cyclonic Rift finally came to the rescue. Thank goodness I was able to hide behind a pillow fort. This guy can be a win-con in white. I will be sliding him into my Eight-and-a-Half-Tails where I can protect him and possibly add a second copy to my Oloro lifegain deck.

#8 – Savage Ventmaw

It’s hard not to include Savage Ventmaw in my top 10 list. When he attacks we get to add to our mana pool and have it float through combat into our 2nd main phase until our end step. From my experiences with Bear Umbra and Sword of Feast and Famine I can conclude that having extra mana to spend in our 2nd main phase can help increase our board state exponentially. Play this in conjunction with Frontier Siege or the before mentioned Umbra or Sword and we’ll have mana for days! Better get some card draw ready!

What puts the Savage Manamaw into my top 10 list is his ability to set off infinite attack phases when incorporated with Aggravated Assault or at least several attack phases if used in conjunction with Hellkite Charger. Gruul players should relish in the fact that they now have a potential game ending combo. Include a City of Solitude and become unstoppable! Final thought, Prossh players can add this as an alternate combo-win next to Food Chain.

FOR ME… Setting up the Ventmaw/Assault combo in my two new dragon tribal decks, Prossh and Surrack.

#7 – Shaman of Forgotten Ways

Shaman of the Forgotten Ways in EDH

Although it is normally not my cup of tea, I know a lot of Commander players run mana dorks as their selected source of ramp. Let us compare the newest dork, Shaman of Forgotten Ways, to a similar card, Somberwald Sage. Both cards are the same with regards to casting cost and the fact that the mana they produce can only be used to cast creature spells. Their mana production differs slightly in that the Sage spits out three mana of one color and the Shaman only spits out two (although it can be any combination of colors). Finally, the Shaman of Forgotten Ways is a 2/3 while the Somberwald Sage is a measly 0/1. In the wake of an Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite or a Massacre Wurm hitting the table, their is a world of difference between 1 and 3 toughness.

Just with the facts presented here, if I were to guess, commander players would select the Shaman of Forgotten Ways 80% of the time. However, there is one more ability that puts the newest dork at the front of the class. It has another ability that reads:

“Formidable — , Tap: Each player’s life total becomes the number of creatures he or she controls. Activate this ability only if creatures you control have total power 8 or greater.” Say what?

For those of you not familiar with the EDH banlist there is a card on it called Biorhythm. Biorhythm is banned because for this card says if an opponent has no creatures on the battlefield, they lose the game. Incorporating a banned card into the ability of a creature has caught many players attention, including the EDH Rules Committee. RC member Sheldon Menery even felt it necessary to issue a statement with regards to Shaman of Forgotten Ways in a March 2015 Star City Games article. Summarizing, Sheldon indicated that this is one of two cards from Dragons of Tarkir that are not candidates for emergency banning despite the great deal of discussion generated online. You can find a link to his article at the bottom of this page.

While Biorhythm deserves to be banned, I feel that the Shaman will be just fine. Unlike Biorhythm, you can see a player beginning to set up the Shaman for the win, so have your removal ready. If you don’t? Win condition met, shuffle and play another game. The Shaman seems like a neat trick and win condition for an Elf tribal or Token mana ramp deck. If anything else, it provides ramp into bigger creatures. Not bad.

FOR ME… I’m not too sure I want to play this guy, but if I did, I would slot him into my Sliver Queen deck for the Cyclonic Rift trick or in my new Surrack deck.

#6 – Narset Transcendent

Narset Transcendent in EDH Commander

I have to admit, when this card was first spoiled I felt like I cheated on my fantasy sweetheart Liliana of the Veil. After a few moments I realized that Lilly wasn’t the jealous type and it would be okay to pursue Tarkir’s glowing-eyed beauty, Narset Transendent. Honestly though, hats off to MTG artist Magali Villeneuve on an exquisite and eye-striking rendition of our newest blue/white lady planeswalker.

Narset ranks a little lower on my Top 10 list primarily because she is a bit limited to the number of deck archetypes that could utilize her abilities. Obviously her Blue/White color identity already restricts her to those two particular slices of the color wheel, but her abilities also dictate her usability. Both her +1 and her -2 abilities are geared towards non-creature spells. This makes our Tarkiran planeswalker best suited for control or combo builds that rely on instants and sorceries with a relatively low creature count. With that being said, she will be an absolute powerhouse in blue/white decks that exploit those strategies. Let’s take a closer look!

+1: Look at the top card of your library. If it’s a noncreature, nonland card, you may reveal it and put it into your hand.

Based on a 37 land count EDH deck running zero creatures (and if my arithmetic is correct) this ability will net you a card 62% of the time. If this deck runs about 10 creatures? 52%. If it includes 20 creatures? 42%. Hmm. Not very good odds for the +1 to generate value. However, with the appropriate library manipulation in a control deck, those percentages jump considerably. Sensei’s Divining Top, Brainstorm, Scroll Rack, Scry abilities and things of that nature.

-2: When you cast your next instant or sorcery spell from your hand this turn, it gains rebound.
Giving a Swords to Plowshares or Fact or Fiction rebound? This is where Narset is hot awesome and, I believe, will be her bread and butter play. Two things before we continue. First, a couple of rule interactions I was interested in. I did some research on rebound and found out that if you rebound an spell, the rebounded spell will set X equal to 0. If you rebound an overloaded Cyclonic Rift, the Rift will not be overloaded when rebounded.

The second thing I would like to mention is planeswalker Narset -2 should be used responsibly for value. Don’t be that guy to use her in conjunction with Time Warp shenanigans. I have seen the evil that pre-spark Narset, Enlightened Master commander decks bring to the table. Nasty, nasty take a gazillion turns and attack steps. Including Narset in Narset is solitaire. Don’t do it.

-9: You get an emblem with “Your opponents can’t cast noncreature spells.”
Um, Wally D., are you going to tell me that Narset’s emblem is okay right after you just stepped off your soapbox about her -2? Yes. Yes I am.

FOR ME… I am tempted to pay the presale ransom of $35.00 for Narset. In fact, If I could get her in foil, I would be giddy as a Tarkiran school girl. I cannot wait for her to join my Hanna, Ship’s Navigator Iron Maiden Combo deck. In Hanna, Narset will be able to increase the effectiveness of her +1 and -2 due to the extremely low creature count in the deck. With all of my pillow fort and board wipe shenanigans, I should have no problem getting a Narset emblem within a few turns. Other than Hanna, I do not have any other decks that can utilize Lady Tarkir’s skill set. Well, maybe Oloro combo, but definitely not Brago. Really excited to get her onto my side of the battlefield. Oh, and no worries, I will use her responsibly.

UPDATE: Pulled Narset in a Fat Pack. Put her in my Hanna Pillow Fort Deck. Rebounded a Merchant scroll, drew some cards from the +1, AND even though I felt a little dirty for doing so, I was able to use her ultimate and acquired the emblem. She is soooo good. So Good.

#5 – Clone Legion

EDH is full of epic interactions, moments and board states; the shift of power swinging from one moment to the next. At nine mana, Clone Legion can become an integral part of these legendary kitchen table battles and spring forth a fountain of “remember when” stories. Sure, this nine mana bomb could sit in our hand useless from time to time, but the potential for a game crushing tidal wave of clones is quite enough to get me on board with its raw power.

We have all seen a player set up an aggro win condition with an insurmountable army of creatures protected by Avacyn, Angel of Hope or a tide-changing Rise of the Dark Realms bringing to life dozens of goodies from each graveyard. With Clone Legion in hand, we can now match this players boardstate and possibly shift the momentum into our favor with an explosive amount of enter the battlefield effects.

“For each creature target player controls, put a token onto the battlefield that’s a copy of that creature.”

This also copies tokens. So good. What if we are the one with the best creature boardstate? Well it does say “target player” so, in that case, copy everything we have, resolve our triggers, and accept the gracioius “gg” from our opponents.

Wizards has already updated the Gatherer page for Clone Legion with a slew of rulings, so I recommend checking out some of these rules before incorporating this into your game plan.

FOR ME… What can I say? I’m a sucker for clones and this is the most epic and powerful copy effect I have ever seen. An immediate inclusion in my multi-player Wrexial, the Risen Deep Copy/Steal deck.

#4 – Commune with Lava

Commune with Lava Chandraw

Once upon a time there was a planeswalker named Chandra. She lived in a land full of wheels and looting but was barren of other card drawing resources. You see, in this section of the color pie world it was forbidden to simply draw cards. Feeling sorry for the inhabitants of the red kingdom, Chandra, Pyromancer taught the mages a new way of pseudo card draw. Simply remove a few cards from the top of your library, you can cast them, but if you don’t they will be exiled forever. The mages have crafted this art over the past few years and today they present their greatest accomplishment, Commune with Lava.

This new pseudo-card draw is here to stay folks. I’m not sure if it has a name already, so let’s give it one. How about we name this mechanic after the planeswalker that developed the craft and call it chandraw?. You like it? Tweet it! #chandraw #communewithlava @wallyd2. Chandraw is an ability that red sorely needed and it is great to see Wizards continuing to develop this on more cards.

SO… Commune with Lava lets us tap at instant speed to exile that many cards from the top of our library. We have until our next end step to play these cards as if they were in our hand. This means that we will get another turn and untap step allowing us full access to our resources to exploit the exiled cards. This “extra time” is what makes Commune top 10 material and hot-awesome in any red deck needing the extra oomph of chandraw.

FOR ME… Making a cut to jam this into my mono red Purphoros deck may be a daunting task, but I’m gonna do it! I’m also thinking my Aurelia Angel deck may benefit from chandraw. However, since this deck has a lot of higher casting cost spells, I can easily see casting Commune with = 3 so I’m able to cast most of what I exile. Great card!

#3 – Sarkhan Unbroken

Sarkhan Unbroken Dragons of Tarkir Top 10

Most of us were expecting to see a new Sarkhan planeswalker in the altered Tarkir timeline but did anyone else have a “WTF” moment when they seen the blue mana in his casting cost? I was expecting Sarkhan Unbroken to return to Green/Red, or at the very least, G/R/B. I’m sure there is a perfect Vorthos explanation for this. If I were to guess, he has blue now because of time travel. Time travel is a very blue thing to do. Doesn’t matter, it is what it is. Let us move on and evaluate Sarkhan 4.0 shall we?

+1: Draw a card, then add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

So by ticking Sarkhan’s loyalty up by one we get to draw a card AND add one mana of any color to our mana pool? Incredible value. I would play Sarkhan for this ability alone.

−2: Put a 4/4 red Dragon creature token with flying onto the battlefield.

Common rule of thumb for planeswalkers in commander is that they need to be able to protect themselves. For -2 loyalty Sarkhan summons a red 4/4 flying dragon to shield him from an attacker. Checkpoint met.

−8: Search your library for any number of Dragon creature cards and put them onto the battlefield. Then shuffle your library.

Any number of dragons? Onto the battlefield? Oh, my. With a haste enabler Fervor/Anger this should be end of game via draconic air assault. Not enough? Well I’m sure that if you are playing that many dragons then Scourge of Valkas or Dragon Tempest should help seal the deal.

Not into dragons? No problem. Sarkhan Unbroken’s first two abilities provide more than enough value to run in any Temur deck.

FOR ME… I like this card so much I started constructing a Surrack Dragonclaw EDH deck with a dragon subtheme, just so I can run Sarkhan Unbroken!

#2 – Dragonlord Dromoka

I definitely can not deny that Grand Abolisher is one of my favorite cards in Commander/EDH. Being able to cast spells and use abilities during my turn without opponents meddling in my affairs gives me a warm cozy feeling. Way too often, however, I have seen the Abolisher crumple to an Elesh Norn or never see play due to a blue mage with an itchy counterspell trigger. Dragonlord Dromoka addresses these issues and more as she presents herself as a powerful ally of the Green/White mage.

While Dragonlord Dromoka lacks the “activate abilities” phrase printed on Grand Abolisher, she still provides a Silence effect which is definitely enough to get my attention. During our turn, Dromoka more or less states, all opponents instant spells can only be played as a sorcery. Having this elder dragon on our side allows us to Tooth and Nail for the win or alpha strike without fear of a Cyclonic Rift.

Dromoka also presents herself as a hate bear dragon of blue magic. Being able to enter the battlefield without the fear of being Spell Crumpled to the bottom of our library is quite calming. Finally, let’s take a look at Dromoka’s combat stats. A 5/7 with Flying and Lifelink? That alone is worth every bit of her casting cost.

Dromoka is the embodiment of an Elder Dragon and will oversee the protection of your EDH deck. I would not hesitate to include her services as one of the 99 in most Green/White/x commander builds or as the draconic leader of a Green/White hate bear or Selesnya good stuff deck.

FOR ME… Dromoka will be an auto include in my Sigarda Enchantress deck. If there are blue mages at the table, getting this dragonlord into play will ensure that Sigarda has a safe path to the battlezone. One of Sigarda’s main weaknesses is always counterspells. I may playtest her in my Sliver Queen deck as well. I considered her for my Uril 1v1 deck, but she is a little too overcosted to run alongside Grand Abolisher.

#1 – Sidisi, Undead Vizier

One of the most powerful effects in all of Magic is a spell or ability that allows us to search our library for a card. These type of spells are referred to as “tutors” in honor of our first card finder printed in 1993’s original Magic the Gathering Alpha Set, Demonic Tutor. In Elder Dragon Highlander, we have 99 cards in our deck. This massive amount of spells and resources help Commander games achieve randomness. By including “tutors” in our deck we can bend the randomness and add an ingredient of consistency to help unlock our deck’s answers and win conditions. When you put a tutor ability on a creature, there is the potential to abuse this effect and use it over and over again. For years, Rune-Scarred Demon has graced many decklists but today let me introduce you to our newest option, Sidisi, Undead Vizier.

Sidisi, Undead Vizier is and as a 4/6 Zombie Naga with deathtouch, very playable for her combat stats alone. However, she also has the Exploit mechanic allowing us the option to sacrifice a creature when she comes into play. If we do, we get to search our library for a card and put it into our hand. If she simply sacrificed herself to trigger exploit, at worst, she pulls off an expensive Diabolic Tutor impression. But she is a mono black card and black is shenanigan land for sacrifice effects.

Obviously the most common exploit for Queen Sidisi will be to eliminate a random 2/2 zombie or other meaningless creature laying around. But black has a ton of cards that want to go to the graveyard. For this, Sidisi provides tutor+sac outlet. Picture this scenario. We cast Sidisi sacrificing Kokusho, the Evening Star with a Dictate of Erebos in play. So, for five mana each opponent sacrifices a creature and loses five life while we gain life and search our library for a card and put it in our hand.

Sidisi can also be abused with flicker effects in an Esper build as long as we have sacrifice targets or with reanimation effects like Sheoldred, Whispering One. How about putting her on a Mimic Vat? Groovy. Decks like Chainer, Dementia Master and Karador, Ghost Chieftain will most definitely find ways to exploit the tutor queen and imagine the possibilities if we built a mono black good stuff deck with Sidisi at the helm?

In addition to the #8 card on my list, Shaman of Forgotten Ways, Sidisi, Undead Vizier is the other creature that rules committee member Sheldon Menery felt it necessary to issue a statement on whether or not there would be an emergency banning. Here is the statement he issued in this Star City Games article:

I’d like to talk about two cards which have already generated a great deal of online chatter: Sidisi, Undead Vizier and Shaman of Forgotten Ways. The first thing I’ll say is a shoutout to the late, great Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Neither card is a candidate for emergency or pre-emptive banning.

I did see an article by Sheldon after the fact, however, where he will be playtesting Sidisi in his Halloween With Karador. Slightly against the grain from his anti-tutor stance, but good to see that he will be playtesting my #1 pick from the set.

FOR ME… I’m going to cram this into every black deck I can. So much value and awesomeness. Chainer and my Vhati -1/-1 counter/Deathtouch deck will be the first to enjoy!

Summary

So there you have it folks, my Top 10 Dragons of Tarkir Cards for EDH/Commander. It was a little long-winded, almost a novel, but I appreciate you hanging around to the end! What do you agree with? What didn’t you like? Please comment in the section below!

Ah, Before I go, here are a few other cards that I will be playtesting/adding to my existing EDH decks. These cards did not make the Top 10, but I thought I would note that I may give them a try.

OTHER CARDS I MAY PLAYTEST

My new “Prossh Dragon Tribal Token Food” deck will be including just about every Green/Red/Black dragon available from Dragons of Tarkir, but also Descent of the Dragons, Sarkhan’s Triumph, Dragon Tempest, Dragonlord’s Servant Haven of the Spirit Dragon, Impact Tremors and possibly Foul-Tongue Shriek and Tail Slash.

Descent of the Dragons & Impact Tremors: In addition to Prossh, these are gonna be dragon nutz in my Purphoros token deck.

Inspiring Call: An auto include for my Vorel of the Hull Clade. Instant Speed, all of my creatures are indestructible until end of turn AND draw a ton of cards? Not just an auto include but a powerful staple for any deck that has a +1/+1 counter theme. Nice!

Myth Realized: An honorable mention that I am considering for Sigarda and Hanna.

Hedonist’s Trove: Will try in Lazav. Gives me graveyard hate, plus, with all of the mill going on I’m guaranteed land drops and maybe some artifacts I can cast. Outside of a mill deck, I don’t really like this card.

Volcanic Vision: An honorable mention that will see its way into Jhoira for playtesting.

Sheltered Aerie: Since I don’t use rocks or spells, this is another form of ramp for Sigarda Enchantress.

Profound Journey: Should fit into Oloro and Eight-and-a-Half-Tails. Two decks that NEED some recursion!

Anticipate: Evaluating as a second Impulse for some of my Blue Decks.

Learn from the Past: I need more graveyard hate in Lazav and Gwendlyn. This should do the trick. Thanks for the Draw Card!

Damnable Pact: As budget card draw option for possibly Chainer, Lazav and/or Vhati.

Dragonlord Silumgar: Considering this for my Wrexial copy/steal deck so I can snag a planeswalker that is prime for an ultimate and crush some dreams!

On to the next!
—wallyd


2 comments

  1. Kuchisama

    Ha, I tried to do a Top 10 as well, and guess what? I gave up! From a casual perspective, this set is so full of goodies I wouldn’t know where to begin. I actually sold two of my Damnations just to get a really huge stack of new things!
    (Yes, I know, I’m probably going to regret that… Even though I could imagine Damnation getting reprinted in the upcoming Eldrazi block. If so, you read it here first, he!)
    Sidisi, Dromoka, Kolaghan, Sarkhan, Ventmaw, Thunderbreak, Orator, Learn from the Past, Descent of Dragons, Living Lore etc.
    Ah, so much cool stuff!

  2. Dodo Bird Commander (@dodobirdlives)

    You make a good comparison between Profaner of the Dead and Cyclonic Rift. One-sided bouncers are incredible in multiplayer Magic–it’s just a matter of finding a deck that wants to sacrifice a reasonably sizable body.

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