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Insider: Dragons of Tarkir – Mythics & More

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Like I was saying last week, the mythics in a set are the foundation on which an entire set's value is built.

A set with lower priced mythics will generally be less popular and push up the prices of playable rares over time because fewer are entering the market. While Dragons of Tarkir is less likely to experience this effect because dragons have always been extremely popular, there will be less incentive for retailers to open large quantities of this product going forward.

Since Dragons of Tarkir is leaning so heavily on the dragon aspect of the set, we have a five card cycle of dragons at mythic rare. Looking at these cards, I see a failed opportunity on Wizards' part to create something worthwhile. We could have had a powerful cycle of relevant creatures like the Titan cycle in core sets--those cards were all playable in constructed and held a decent monetary value throughout their standard lifespans.

Going forward, any five card cycle of mythic rares is going to be compared to the Titans, and the dragons just don't hold up.

Dragonlord Silumgar

Dragonlord Silumgar is arguably less powerful than his former self, Silumgar, the Drifting Death. The ability to temporarily steal a planeswalker or creature is powerful, but the fragility and high mana cost of Silumgar in this scenario doesn't make him constructed playable. Sower of Temptation he is not. In a format that is filled to the brim with spot removal, Silumgar's six mana buy-in is just too much.

Dragonlord Atarka

Dragonlord Atarka... well, that's another story. The first iteration of Atarka wasn't playable, and this one isn't either. Even in a world of mana ramp and See the Unwritten, this card is not something that is going to see any real constructed play. This is the Borborygmos Enraged of Tarkir, except it'll probably never show up in a sweet Modern deck.

Dragonlord Ojutai

Ojutai, Soul of Winter was basically unplayable at seven mana, and her newest iteration Dragonlord Ojutai is a little less expensive and has a fairly relevant ability. I'm not sure if this is the creature control decks will want as a finisher, but the abilities to sit pretty the turn it's cast followed by digging deep for countermagic to protect it are pretty nice.

Ojutai is a lot of what we pretended Prognostic Sphinx was going to be. The biggest weakness for Ojutai is six more months of Stoke the Flames being a popular card. Four toughness just might not be enough.

Dragonlord Dromoka

 

Dromoka, the Eternal was not a terrible card, but bolster was hardly an inspiring ability outside of limited.

Dragonlord Dromoka gives you four abilities in addition to a large body. Being uncounterable and shutting off your opponent's spells during your turn are the two abilities that give Dromoka the push he needs to be on the cusp of constructed relevance. Dromoka's success in standard is going to depend heavily on the speed of the format and the viability of G/W decks. There's a decent chance that Dromoka breaks into some Abzan lists as they try to go larger and outclass the other Abzan midrange decks.

Dragonlord Kolaghan

Of the entire Dragonlord cycle, I like Dragonlord Kolaghan the most, mostly because he's arbitrarily large and grants haste to your entire team. The secondary ability is likely to be about as relevant as Ob Nixilis, Unshackled's, but recasting creatures in the late game is much harder to avoid than cracking an errant fetch.

Kolaghan is ironically the only dragon in this cycle that I feel has a genuine chance of seeing play in constructed (likely in a Jund or Mardu deck) and the one preselling for the lowest amount ($3.99). Even at $3.99, I think Kolaghan is a gamble at best.

History

So how do you evaluate a cycle of mythics that's unlikely to see constructed play from a financial perspective?

The closest analog I could find was the angels from Avacyn Restored. Legendary creatures at mythic rare have typically done poorly from the financial side. Sure we have Geist of Saint Traft and Griselbrand on one end of the spectrum, but on the other we have cards like Bruna, Light of Alabaster.

Bruna Graph

Bruna's price is propped up by a build-around Commander ability and a huge casual appeal for angels. If I remember correctly,
Bruna started off around $8 and began a slow downward spiral immediately, losing about a dollar a week until it reached the $2-3 range it's hovering at now.

As a long-term pickup, you can see that a legendary mythic with a mediocre ability doesn't have a good forecast for #value.

Any dragons you can get rid of at (pre)release should be shipped immediately. Even if they do make it into constructed as finishers, they'll be closer to a Pearl Lake Ancient than a Stormbreath Dragon.

Onto some non-dragon mythics.

Clone Legion

This is purely a Commander card, and not incredibly exciting. If this card somehow strikes an emotional chord in Commander, you'll have plenty of time to pick these up for a dollar or so and stockpile them for the couple of years it's going to take for the price to start climbing.

This is the bulkiest of the bulk, so get your groans ready for every time you open one.

Ojutai Exemplars

If Ojutai Exemplars has any problem, it's that it does too much. Cards like this can be hard for players to parse and play correctly, making their play value hard to determine simply by looking at it.

The Exemplars slot in nicely right alongside Monastery Mentor and Seeker of the Way and will be exceptionally hard to deal with when played by a skilled and patient pilot.

The viability of the Exemplars will be pretty apparent within the first couple weeks of release, with the Pro Tour cementing its place in Standard. If this card sticks, I can see it climbing to the $20-25 range. If not, expect it to creep lower akin to what we saw with Prophetic Flamespeaker.

I'm not excited about this card as a $10 buy-in, but if I open any from packs, I'll hold onto them to see which way the wind is blowing on it.

Shaman of Forgotten Ways

Well, this is a thing that exists. The best way to begin evaluating this card is ignoring the second ability all-together.

Would you pay three mana for a 2/3 creature that taps for two mana that can only be used to cast creatures? Mul Daya Channelers saw absolutely zero play when it existed in Standard and that's somewhat similar.

There is a sweet curve with Elvish Mystic into Shaman of Forgotten Ways into a six mana creature on turn three, which sounds pretty sweet, right? But then there's Rattleclaw Mystic offering us a similar scenario with the option to cast anything, rather than just creatures, and Rattleclaw is seeing little play...

Alright, what about this! Shaman is a great finisher in the Temur Ascendancy deck because you have so many mana dorks to reach the eleven mana threshold needed to activate him. Or you could just cast Chord of Calling instead and search for whatever you need to end the game.

Any time this card would be good outside of Commander, it's already a "win more" card.

As far as I can tell, this card is garbage. Maybe we'll end up in a format where all we do is cast giant creatures and smash them into each other, but I'm not going to hold my breath and I'm not going to play that format. This card is preselling for $7.99 and I'm of the belief that you would have to be crazy to pay that much for it.

Dragon Whisperer

Dragon Whisperer is probably the easiest card to evaluate of this set's mythics - it's everything a red deck needs right now.

It's an efficient creature with two solid mana sinks and one that has the potential to be significant in the late game. Dragon Whisperer is one of two creatures (Lightning Berserker is the other) in Dragons that fills gaps in mono-red decks and enables Flamewake Pheonix to come back into play.

As a utility creature more than a splashy mythic, Dragon Whisperer isn't likely to gain a ton in value and is likely overpriced at the $7.99 preorder price that Star City has it listed for.

The Score

For those keeping score at home, that's only 2-5 of the fifteen mythics in this set that I feel are constructed viable, and that's including Deathmist Raptor purely because some folks see something in it that I'm missing (currently sold out at $7.99 on SCG).

With so little #value apparent in the mythics, and no cycle of rare lands to help bolster it, I'm probably going to forgo picking up any boxes of this set at release. I'm expecting most of those preorder prices to crash hard as soon as the set is released--the downside effect to SCG's "preorder guarantee."

2 thoughts on “Insider: Dragons of Tarkir – Mythics & More

  1. thanks- glad to see I wasn’t the only one underwhelmed on these mythics….I will say for a dragon set and with lots of dragons…I was at least expecting another ‘like’ storm breath’ perhaps in another color or something along those power-lines…oh well..

    1. The fact that we had [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card] and [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] back to back shows us that they CAN make a constructed playable dragon, they just chose not to. This set has an overwhelming stink of low effort on Wizard’s part and it makes me skeptical to the idea that there are good things in the pipeline.

      The designers will all tell you the same thing: not every card was designed for every person, but they’ve been spending a lot of time leaning heavily on that sentiment and very little time creating cards that are compelling to play in addition to emotionally compelling.

      Even just looking at the Liliana spoiled for Magic Origins has me completely unexcited for what that set’s going to bring. For the first five minutes, I looked at that card and said “yeah, that’s neat … it kinda tells a whole story.” After that card spends five minutes telling me a compelling narrative it needs to be compelling enough to play for 18 months, and it’s just not.

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