Dragons of Tarkir: Playing to your Weaknesses – Red
(NOTE: “Playing to your Weaknesses” is a series of articles I have been doing on my own blog since Avacyn Restored that cover all of the uncommons and commons in a new expansion and which ones I would choose to use as one of the 23 cards in a 40 card limited deck. For those of you uninitiated to limited, it simply means sealed and booster draft, where you open packs and then proceed to make a deck out of them. I’ve purposely left out the rare cards because it is much more likely that you’ll see multiples of uncommon and commons in your packs/pools.)
As for my rating system, I’ll merely state if it’s a high, medium, or low pick in draft. A HIGH pick means that you should take it as soon as you see it (if it’s in your colors of course). HIGH picks are bombs that won’t come around the table a second time. MEDIUM picks are cards that have good synergies with other cards and are great at filling your mana curve or acting as role players. These cards might come around a 2nd time if you pass on them, so if there is another card that ranks higher, take that one and wait for this to come back. LOW picks are cards that are the leftovers. Maybe you need a 23rd card for your deck to round things out – THAT’S what a LOW pick is. You can take these ratings to mean the same for sealed as well. )
Mardu was never a marathon runner back during KTK sealed, but it was able to get out of the gates very quickly and deal some quick damage while most of the other decks were busy setting up morph cards for a powerful late game. Fate Reforged brought Dash with it, further putting the focus on speed, and with Dragons of Tarkir we come full circle. Red in DTK is all about power, speed, and burn. There are quite a few Dash cards, even more burn to make up for the loss of cards like Arc Lightning in KTK, and a lot of combat tricks to put the focus on the creatures. I believe DTK’s red cards will be putting a lot of pressure on people in DTK limited, and after you see the cards I’m talking about today I think you’ll agree. For a run down of my picks from FRF, please follow this link!
Normally I wouldn’t play a 1/1, even with haste, but this little card is going to put mono red back on the map in standard. Not only does it sneak in a point of damage on turn one if you have him, but he can also be a great top deck in the late game. Pay his Dash then pump him up for lethal. It’s also much better in limited than Monastery Swiftspear ever was. I think this would be a very high pick in draft, especially if you’re in two colors playing 8-9 mountains.
This guy is a glass cannon, but your opponent won’t know that until it’s too late if he’s morphed. I think he’s good for a variety of reasons. First off is the ability to deal 6 damage from a megamorph. That’s going to trade with just about anything or deal a lot of damage. Couple it with one of the spells that gives it first strike or trample and you’re getting in there for some points. Another reason I like him is that he activates Ferocious easily, and as part of the new set, Formidable. At both 5 or 6, you’ll pretty much only need one more creature to start activating all sorts of powerful effects. While not an first pick, I’d take him somewhat early. Good in GR and BR I think.
Speaking of Formidable, this card works really good with the Efreet. He’ll become a 4/2 first strike trampling creature, and that’s not something your opponent wants to deal with. I’ve noticed there are quite a few “glass cannon” type creatures in red, meaning it should be somewhat easy to activate this new effect. If you’re playing with 14+ creatures, and half of the requirement is met by this guy, you shouldn’t have a problem. Not a high pick but a roleplayer in BR and GR decks nonetheless.
If you want to be aggressive, this guy will help you do it. Again, his high power makes it rather easy to meet the requirement, but most likely you won’t be activating it until the next turn. His 5 toughness makes him hard to take out barring black removal, so unless your opponent has a lot of creatures on the board he could be staring at an alpha strike for lethal the next turn. This is also a good way for faster aggro decks to get around those big beaters later on in the game.
I really like this guy as my finisher. You most definitely want to megamorph him to get that extra point of power and toughness. He’s good old muscle, and there is nothing wrong with having a 6/6 trampler as your win condition. He can also be splashed if you’re playing a 3rd color, even though you’ll lose that +1/+1 bonus. I’d possibly take him as a first pick if my rare wasn’t too exciting. There are going to be few creatures other than the dragons able to match it.
I think there are enough Dash cards in both FRF and DTK to make playing Warbringer worth it. He’s a decent card by himself; a 3/3 for 4 mana with Dash. But if you’re drafting a BR Dash deck he becomes pretty damn awesome. Most Dash abilities cost about 2 or 3 mana total, which means you drop him then play 3 more creatures the following turn with Dash. This can make for some huge swings in tempo. In sealed I think it depends on what you get. If you have 3-4 Dash Creatures I think that warrants him being part of your 23 cards. To summarize, it’s great in the right draft deck and good in sealed.
5/4 haste for 4 mana is good. Keep him until the time is right and then sprint him onto the battlefield. He won’t be blocking anything, but he’ll create some unfavorable blocking situations for your opponent. His power level also helps Formidable/Ferocious which is something to think about. If your deck needs bigger creatures to act both on offense and defense he’s probably not your guy, but in Dash decks he’s a great top end. Warbringer makes him even better, letting you Dash him for 2 mana!
Another sweet Dash card. The problem with Dash is that you have to return the cards to your hand which wouldn’t make him that great in an aggressive deck. You’d want to play him in a more balanced Red/x deck that assures you’ll have 2-3 creatures on the battlefield. It works good with a card like Dragon Fodder or Secure the Wastes. I would love to play Secure the Wastes for 6 mana then attack with him the next turn for 11 damage (including the Warrior tokens). If you have him in your hand, make sure you’re setting him up correctly for a bit hit and raise your own numbers high. I also like him on a stalled board.
I really don’t think you’ll have a problem after turn 3 of paying 2 mana on either defense or offense to activate him. Three mana for a 5/5 creature is insane, and since you’re going to be playing 17+ lands in your deck, you should have no problem drawing your mana. I think you’ll want to play him in a low curve, aggressive deck that doesn’t eat up your mana so you’ll always be able to threaten your opponent with him.
And if your opponent is threatening you with a big creature of their own? Well, put those glass cannons to good use. You should have no problem dealing 4 damage on average with this card if you’re playing GR or BR. I think it’s decent removal, but it does depend on what creatures you are playing so sometimes it could be a 3 mana 2 damage spell as well. I’d still take it in draft though after a few turns.
It doesn’t hit those pesky dragons and it’s sorcery speed, but 5 damage will take out just about everything on the ground and it’s only 2 mana. High pick in draft, especially if your strategy is to go with red.
So it’s a Lightning Strike with an upside if you have a dragon. I can dig that. Pretty high pick in draft and a must play in your sealed deck I think. There are a lot of 3 toughness creatures in this set, as well as 2 toughness. You’ll probably have at least 2-3 Dragons in your pool, so make use of them and deal that extra 3 damage to the player.
Other Cards that Might See Play
- Dragon Fodder – Good on your curve, 2 creatures for one card, and good for aggressive decks. It’d be part of my 23 card deck.
- Summit Prowler – vanilla beater, good to activate Formidable with.
- Screamreach Brawler – seems like a good card on the curve, probably a roleplayer. Fills up your last few spots in the deck.
- Rending Volley – Good sideboard card against white and blue.
- Hardened Berserker – should probably be above with the other cards. Interesting card that acts as ramp in red. Plays ANY spell for one less, including creatures.
- Dragonlord’s Servant – if you can draft a lot of these and a few dragons, they should earn their keep.
Coming Up Next
I know I said I would have all of the colors up in time for the pre-release this time, but poor time management, travel, and an addiction to Puca Trade has slowed down my writing this week. I should still have green out tomorrow for all of you playing on Saturday and Sunday though.
What do you think of red? It’s pretty aggressive, isn’t it. I think BR is going to be pretty popular in draft, thought it might be hard to put all the pieces together in a sealed deck. Never hurts to try though! If you have any other combos or ideas you’d like to add to this article, please leave a comment down below. See you next time!