DTK/FRF: Dragons

Dragons of Tarkir has more Dragons than most sets. But does it have enough to merit drafting either Dragon Tempest or Dragonlord’s Servant? And do the tribal abilities on some of the Dragons in the set affect their value? Probably not, but let’s double check.

All the Dragons in Dragons of Tarkir and Fate Reforged are either monocolor or in an allied color pair.

  • Common: Fate Reforged has Lightning Shrieker, which is usually only played as a Lava Axe in very aggressive decks.
  • Uncommon: Dragons of Tarkir has a cycle of monocolored 3/3 Dragons for 5C (they can also be played face down and have a megamorph cost of 5CC), and a cycle of 4/4 allied color Dragons that costs 4CD. There’s the colorless Scion of Ugin, which rarely sees play but might be playable in a Dragons tribal deck. And Fate Reforged has a cycle of monocolored 4/4 Dragons for 4CC.
  • Rare: Dragons of Tarkir has a cycle of monocolored Dragons, and another cycle of allied color Dragons. Fate Reforged has a cycle of allied color legendary Dragons.
  • Mythic: Dragons of Tarkir has the allied color Elder Dragon cycle.

If we exclude the mostly unplayable Lightning Shrieker, all colors have access to the same number of Dragons as each other, and all allied color pairs have access to the same number of Dragons as each other. There are an average of 0.9 allied color Dragons in each allied color pair, 1.6 monocolored Dragons in each color, and 0.6 Scions of Ugin in an 8-person draft. Consequently, a monocolor deck has access to 2.2 Dragons, an enemy color deck has access to 3.8 Dragons, and an allied color deck has access to 4.7 Dragons. However, you’re unlikely to be passed a mythic or rare Dragon in the first pack of Dragons of Tarkir, and even the uncommon allied color Dragons won’t make it very far, so in practice you’re unlikely to see more than 2-3 Dragons in your colors if you draft an allied color deck.

That’s enough to make it worth playing Dragonlord’s Servant in a slower R/X deck (U/R control or R/G ramp), since it’s still a 1/3 for 2 mana and so can also help you survive until you can start casting Dragons. However, it’s difficult to justify playing Dragon Tempest if you only have 2-3 Dragons, so you probably shouldn’t bother drafting it, even on the wheel. And the Dragon tribal effects will rarely be relevant, so you don’t want to value those cards any higher than usual.

Are any of these cards more valuable in a 3+ color deck? A 3-color shard deck has access to an average of 7.2 Dragons, a 4-color deck has access to an average of 9.7 Dragons, and a 5-color deck has access to all 13 Dragons in a typical 8-person draft. Most decks wouldn’t want to run more than a few, but you’re drafting a 3+ color control deck that runs red, Dragonlord’s Servant should go up in your pick order. However, so much needs to go right for Dragon Tempest to be even somewhat decent that you’re still better off passing under most circumstances.

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M14: Dragons

The only other tribal effect in M14 is Scourge of Valkas, which is a bomb even if it is the only Dragon in your deck, so let’s focus on whether it’s worth trying to draft additional Dragons if you already have a Scourge of Valkas.

M14 has 4 Dragons, 1 at each rarity: Dragon Hatchling at common, Dragon Egg at uncommon (note that it also triggers Scourge of Valkas’s ability when it dies), Shivan Dragon at rare, and Scourge of Valkas at mythic. Obviously, you take all the rare and mythic Dragons you see if you are in red. The uncommon is also great if your deck is not particularly aggressive since it can buy you time to draw and play your rare/mythic Dragon(s), and can serve as a threat if your opponent attacks into it or if you have a sacrifice effect. It is also great in the aggro mirror since it either stops their ground offense or fogs their largest creature for a turn and gives you another threat.

The common is less exciting since it doesn’t do any damage in combat unless you have red mana to spare, and since all the other Dragons in the format (and any creatures enchanted with Shiv’s Embrace) also have firebreathing. Also, every color other than red has multiple flyers or creatures with reach that can trade with it in combat. While it can be scary if enchanted with Lightning Talons, there are several removal spells that can kill 1-toughness creatures, so I consider Dragon Hatchling filler and will only play it if I really need additional creatures or a potential finisher. While it is better if you also draw Scourge of Valkas, I prefer to play creatures that are good on their own even if I don’t draw Scourge of Valkas since I should already be in good shape in most cases where I draw and play a bomb.

While an average 8-person draft will have 4.2 Dragons, 2.4 of those will typically be Dragon Hatchlings and the rare/mythic Dragons are unlikely to get passed very far, so it’s not likely that you will have multiple other Dragons to go with a Scourge of Valkas. But he’s still a bomb so you should draft him and hope you get to kill a Dragon Hatchling on the other side of the table when he comes into play.