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Preparing for the Dragons of Tarkir Prerelease

The whole Dragons of Tarkir set has now been revealed, which means it’s time to start preparing for the prerelease. I’ve always liked how prereleases bring competitive and casual players together to have fun playing with cool, new cards for the first time. Still, I always try to get a leg up by trying to figure things out about the format ahead of time.

Ultimate Price
Having access to removal spells is an important factor in building a Sealed deck, and one of the first things that struck me about this set was that cheap removal is back. At uncommon, we have efficient removal spells in the form of Ultimate Price, Roast, and Silkwrap. Ultimate Price can’t kill everything, such as the gold Dragons and face-down creatures, but it is the perfect answer to your opponent un-megamorphing a creature. Roast also doesn’t kill Dragons, but it kills just about anything else, and along with Silkwrap, it gives you a good, 2-mana answer to a megamorph creature.

At common, we have the triumphant return of Pacifism as well as Defeat in black, Twin Bolt in red, and Epic Confrontation in green, all strong, cheap removal spells. I’m glad to see that Wizards of the Coast is bringing back better removal, and it will probably mean that fewer games come down to who played the best creature.

The prerelease is a unique event in that it’s the only time you have some influence over what cards you open in Sealed. As in the last two prereleases, you are able to choose your clan, and you receive a promo and seeded pack with cards from that clan. In this case, the options are Ojutai (W/U), Silumgar (U/B), Kolaghan (B/R), Atarka (R/G), and Dromoka (G/W). You also open four packs of Dragons of Tarkir and one pack of Fate Reforged.

I think the best way to decide which clan to choose is to look at the commons in each color. Because you know which colors you’ll be playing when you choose a clan, you can be pretty sure which commons are going to end up in your pool. Let’s see what each color has to offer.

White

Pacifism
Aven Tactician Anyone who played a lot of Theros block Draft knows how good Supply-Line Cranes was. While this card isn’t quite as good on its own, this set has a +1/+1 counter theme, making the ability more important.

Dromoka Dunecaster It’s been a while since we had such a cheap tapper. This doesn’t work on Dragons, but I’ll take whatever kind of Blinding Mage I can find.

Enduring Victory This is a bit on the expensive side, but in Sealed, it’s especially important to have a good catch-all answer like this. The bolster effect is just gravy.

Misthoof Kirin This is a Wind Drake when you need it, and later in the game, it can grow bigger. It’s important to remember that small flyers could be trumped by Dragons later in the game, but with enough bolster effects, you can easily bring this guy up to 4 power.

Pacifism At long last, good old Pacifism is back. They just don’t make good removal like this at common anymore, and this is the best answer in the set for your opponent’s bomb rares. This card is almost enough to make me want to play white by itself.

Overall, white looks very strong, with great removal spells and some good flyers. Bolster is also a strong mechanic for Sealed deck, as it ensures that your small creatures stay relevant in a long game. At uncommon, you have cards like Great Teacher's Decree and Strongarm Monk, both of which can be game-winning cards.

Blue

Cephalid Looter
Anticipate This is a good way to smooth your draws, making sure you hit that all-important third land in the early game—and that you draw a powerful card in the late game.

Ojutai Interceptor A 3-power flyer for 4 is great, and if you unmorph it, it can tangle with most of the Dragons. This is a good reason to be blue.

Palace Familiar On its own, this card is a bit unexciting, but it’s the best exploit enabler in the set. It comes down and deals a few points of damage, and then you can sacrifice it to gain value when it’s no longer relevant.

Reduce in Stature Blue doesn’t usually have hard removal like this. It doesn’t turn off abilities, but it will turn the opponent’s biggest creature into a chump-blocker.

Zephyr Scribe I thought Ojutai Interceptor was the best blue common, and then I saw this guy. With rebound in the set, Zephyr Scribe is going to be doing a lot of work. Cephalid Looter was arguably the best common in Odyssey, and this guy is about as good.

Blue also looks pretty good, as it has good flyers and ways to generate value. One problem I see with blue in this set, though, is that it has two themes that go in very different directions. It has rebound spells and cards that trigger from casting noncreature spells, and it also has exploit creatures, which require you to have creatures in play to sacrifice. Cards like Ojutai's Summons and Skywise Teachings can fit in either strategy, but in Sealed, you’ll probably have to go one way or the other depending on which clan you choose.

Black

Throttle
Defeat This may not be as good as Debilitating Injury, but it’s pretty close. It’s a cheap answer to megamorph creatures, so you should play every one of these that you can get.

Flatten Throttle is back, but cheaper. It was fine before, and in a set with 4/4 Dragons everywhere, this is exactly what you want.

Hand of Silumgar This is a solid creature that stays relevant in the late game, which is what I look for in a 2-drop in Sealed.

Silumgar Butcher This is a good way to generate value while sacrificing an outclassed creature. This would be a lot better if it gave -4/-4 though.

Vulturous Aven A solid flying body plus drawing cards seems good to me.

Black has some good removal and value cards, but it seems a bit shallow. Flatten is very good, but overall, the commons are a bit weaker than white’s and blue’s. As usual, black has unexciting creatures but good removal, including Death Wind and Ultimate Price at uncommon.

Red

Soul's Fire
Atarka Efreet Canyon Lurkers was a decent card, and this is a big upgrade. If you play it face down, it’s both bigger and cheaper to turn face up, and it can sometimes pick off a small creature.

Sabertooth Outrider This is a lot like Bloodfire Enforcers, but it’s much easier to turn on. Cards like this are going to be the bread and butter of the formidable deck.

Sarkhan's Rage Here’s a solid, if expensive, answer to your opponent’s bombs.

Tail Slash It’s a slightly worse Soul's Fire, but this is still pretty good. Just try not to play this when your opponent has a lot of open mana.

Twin Bolt This is another great answer to megamorphs that can sometimes generate you value.

Red is typically underpowered in Sealed, as its creatures are smaller, and red often struggles to deal with the opponent’s threats. Red does have a fair amount of removal in this set, including Draconic Roar, Roast, and Seismic Rupture, but none of those cards can answer a Dragon.

Green

Wing Snare
Aerie Bowmasters In most formats, a 3/4 for 4 with reach would be great, but in this format, you really want a 4/5. I recommend playing this guy face down almost every time—that extra +1/+1 makes a huge difference. Your opponents will have to think twice before attacking into 6 mana, and if an opponent doesn’t, he or she going to be blown out.

Atarka Beastbreaker This is exactly the kind of 2-drop you want in Sealed: a card that puts you on board early in the game but stays relevant later on.

Epic Confrontation This is about as good as Savage Punch, which was the best green common in Khans of Tarkir.

Pinion Feast This is an expensive Wing Snare, but in a format where it’s never been better. Add the fact that it’s basically a two-for-one, and you can see how great this card is.

Stampeding Elk Herd A 5/5 for 5 is great on its own, as it’s bigger than a lot of Dragons. The formidable ability is also a great way to finish off your opponent. #TeamElmer

Green looks very good in this set. Bolster and formidable play very well together, and they will help you take over in the late game. At uncommon, you have Scaleguard Sentinels and Salt Road Quartermasters, which matchup very well against face-down creatures. With good creatures and ways to deal with flyers, green has everything I’m looking for in this format.

 


In conclusion, white and green stand out as the best colors. Blue also looks solid, and it is probably the third-best color. Black and red both have some decent removal, but their creatures are below average.

Ranking the Clans

Since white and green are the best colors, I think Dromoka is the best clan, and it’ll probably the one I’ll be choosing at the prerelease. Blue is good, too, though, so Ojutai is a pretty strong choice. Here’s how I would rank the clans:

  • Dromoka
  • Ojutai
  • Silumgar
  • Atarka
  • Kolaghan

Silumgar, like Sultai, gives you a lot of ways to grind out value, which makes it a good choice for Sealed. Atarka could be decent, but the removal in the set is good enough that it might be harder to bring formidable online than you might think. Kolaghan is probably the worst clan since dash really isn’t well-suited to Sealed, and it seems at a disadvantage in a longer game.

I’d recommend sticking to two colors in this format. If you have enough fixing, splashing for a bomb is fine, but otherwise, I don’t think it’s worth it. This means you can now play seventeen lands in some decks, although if you have a lot of megamorphs, you might want to go with eighteen lands.

I hope this article has given you some insight into Dragons of Tarkir Sealed. Best of luck at the prerelease!


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