Dragons of Tarkir Limited Set Review – Black

5.0: The best of the best. (Pack Rat. Umezawa’s Jitte. Wingmate Roc.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (Butcher of the Horde. Savage Knuckleblade. Crater’s Claws.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Triplicate Spirits. End Hostilities. Necropolis Fiend.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Lightning Strike. Suspension Field.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Debilitating Injury. Mardu Hordechief. Flesh to Dust.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Glacial Stalker. Bitter Revelation. Hunt the Weak.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Dragonscale Boon. Defiant Strike. Cancel.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Scout the Borders. Aeronaut Tinkerer. Ranger’s Guile.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Tusked Colossodon. Bronze Sable. Oppressive Rays.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Naturalize. Feed the Clan. Congregate.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Search the City. Pyxis of Pandemonium.)

Other Dragons of Tarkir Set Reviews



Acid-Spewer Dragon

Limited: 2.5

Acid-Spewer Dragon is a notch behind some of the other Dragons in this cycle, mostly because deathtouch is kind of a spew on a 4/4 flier. It’s still a playable megamorph, so if you are lacking in high end, you could do worse.

Ambuscade Shaman

Limited: 2.0

Even the cards without megamorph or exploit come in multiple modes, and this is a prime example. You can cast it as a 2/2 or dash it as a 4/4, both of which are passable. It gets more interesting once it starts boosting your other dash creatures (or creating a sick blocking combo with Take Up Arms), and most aggressive decks won’t mind playing this. They like attacking for 4 and often have other dash cards running around, so the Shaman pulls its weight.

Blood-Chin Fanatic

Limited: 3.0

As a hard-to-cast Nessian Courser, this starts out in a good spot, and offering the ability to drain the opponent for 5-6 damage in the late game makes it impossible to resist. You don’t need Warriors to play this, just 9+ Swamps, but once you’ve drafted this, picking up Warriors sounds like a fanatic idea.

Blood-Chin Rager

Limited: 3.0

Your opponent will take it on the chin from this a few times if it comes out on turn two, and in the late game this can set up some pretty savage attacks. All those possibilities combined for only two mana is a steal, and this is one of the cards that pushes you in the aggressive direction.

Butcher’s Glee

Limited: 2.5

I really like filling a combat trick slot with one of these. You can’t afford to play too many, as it does cost 3, but the thought of gaining 6 life and trading for a creature fills me with glee. It’s just a good solid swing, and the life gain makes up for the fact that you will often spend a turn’s worth of mana on the exchange. Not every deck wants combat tricks, but those that do won’t mind one of these.

Coat with Venom

Limited: 3.0

Not only is this one of the most efficient combat tricks around, it always finishes the job (barring direct removal). Getting to win a fight by paying one mana is awesome, and worst comes to worst, you can trade a 1/1 for a 5/5 with this. I am not usually the biggest fan of combat tricks, but this one is on another level, and even decks that normally aren’t in the market for such things should play this. Efficiency + power is a great combination, and Coat With Venom does not ask much from you besides playing random creatures. Getting to trade one mana for their 3-drop when you attack on turn four lets you play another 3-drop, at which point you are almost a full turn ahead, and well on your way to winning the game.


Limited: 3.5

Turning your dead creatures into X/X worth of Zombie is an incredible engine, and this doesn’t take that much mana to get going. If you traded off creatures on turns three and four, dropping this on five and making a 4/4 is already good, and it gives you a ton of implied value as the game goes on.

Damnable Pact

Limited: 3.5

As a Fireball/Braingeyser split card (the best name I’ve heard is “Draingeyser”), this card is rarely going to be bad. It’s good in games where you are ahead or at parity, as drawing 3-5 cards can break those open, and it’s good in a race, where it can deal 5 damage to the opponent. It is horrendous when you are getting beat down, but it’s powerful enough in all the other situations that it seems like a good card. It is much better in aggro, as those decks can afford to pay the life and want to Fireball the opponent, making it one of the few card-drawing X spells that pushes you in that direction.

Deadly Wanderings

Limited: 2.0

This card is very interesting, and I’m looking forward to trying to make it work. It looks powerful enough to be a legitimate engine, though you can’t warp your deck too much to accommodate it when you only have one copy. Where I think this will work best is in a 10-12 creature deck, which can provide a steady stream of creatures without getting flooded with them. The life gain from Deadly Wanderings reduces the risk of only playing one creature greatly, because if you can get one solid hit in, you are safe even if you do run into a removal spell later. If your opponent is in a position where they just keep trading creatures, you end up pretty far ahead. Once you have this, I’d prioritize value creatures, but if we are being honest, I was already doing that.

Death Wind

Limited: 3.0

Death Wind is solid removal that pays for its flexibility by being inefficient at any cost. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I can’t ever imagine cutting this card.

Deathbringer Regent

Limited: 4.0

One of the big drawbacks of 7-drops is that you are often behind by the time you cast them. With this card, that’s much less of an issue, and even if there aren’t five creatures in play, Deathbringer Regent is large enough to stop almost anything on stats alone. If you are beating down, you won’t always be able to play this, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make to get a giant Dragon that wraths the opponent into my deck.


Limited: 3.0

Killing megamorphs is important enough to make this a valuable addition to any deck, even if you will have to side it out on some matchups. This also gets worse in multiples, and unlike Debilitating Injury, if they flip their megamorph in response, you get completely owned.


Limited: 0.5

Unlike Negate, Duress should start out in your sideboard. The problem is that you don’t know if you are going to hit when you cast it, so you are going to miss an unacceptably high percentage of the time. Negate is still fine against a deck with 3-4 targets, because you get to counter them eventually, whereas Duress is unplayable in that matchup.

Dutiful Attendant

Limited: 2.5

I don’t mind digging deep for a little card advantage, and this certainly delivers. You get a 1/2 body and a Raise Dead, which opens the door for all sorts of exploits. At worst, chump blocking and getting back something good is solid, and the only times when I wouldn’t want this is if my deck was very creature-light. It’s also cool if you can set up the perma-blocking loop with two of these, which will come up from time to time.


Limited: 3.0

Much like being a worse Mulldrifter still leaves plenty of room for greatness, being a better Throttle doesn’t mean you are automatically awesome. Still, Flatten is much stronger, and I’m now happy to first-pick it, but the power level of removal in this set is high enough that this isn’t insane. I can’t see cutting this, and you will never be sad to have as many as you can get. The difference between 4 and 5 is that big, and this lands on the side of efficient now.

Foul Renewal

Limited: 3.5

Even if you can’t always cast this the instant you draw it, one of your creatures will die at some point. Once one does, this is a quick and dirty 2-for-1, and at a very affordable cost. Drawing a good card and killing a creature is a fantastic deal for 4 mana, and at instant speed to boot.

Foul-Tongue Invocation

Limited: 2.5

I have rarely found myself cutting edicts in Limited, though with exploit in the format more decks will have natural sacrifice fodder. That makes this good but not untouchable, and I’d lean toward starting this but being ready to pull it at any hint of weakness. The Dragon kicker is a nice bonus, but that won’t usually be the deciding factor as to whether I want this in my deck. My opponent’s creatures will be, and if I see a couple value creatures that foil this, it’s gone.

Foul-Tongue Shriek

Limited: 0.0

If this ever drains them for a lot, you are probably winning already. Win-more cards are suspect to begin with, and low-powered ones like this are particularly foul. I’d avoid this.


Limited: 1.5

This effect is always mediocre. It’s playable in grindy matchups, or in decks that have a few high-quality creatures, but overall it’s never going to be fantastic.

Hand of Silumgar

Limited: 3.0

Even if this dies whenever it gets in a fight, it guarantees that whatever it’s fighting suffers the same fate. Plus, it has the quality I’m looking for in every 2-drop, which is that it’s good early and good late, making it a reliably strong card. It’s even cheap enough to be efficient but has enough power that your opponent can’t ignore it if you attack, unlike Typhoid Rats.

Hedonist’s Trove

Limited: 3.0

This may be slow, but drawing your opponent’s entire graveyard, lands and all, is not a weak effect. This looks like an extremely plausible finisher to me, and even if you have to build your deck around it, that is worth it. If you are unlucky enough to play against the one player at the table with multiple delve cards, my excitement level fades rapidly, but past that this should get the job done.

Kolaghan Skirmisher

Limited: 2.0

A 2-drop Warrior that has a little extra utility in the late game sounds fine to me, and if there is a dash deck, this gets even better. Non-aggro decks won’t want this, but it’s a solid filler card for those that are interested in attacking.

Marang River Skeleton

Limited: 3.0

Don’t let the comparison to Kin-Tree Warden fool you—this is a much stronger card. It’s cheaper to regenerate, which is well worth the extra mana to cast, and it’s a relevant size when you turn it face up, which is also worth the extra mana. I don’t imagine you will run it out on turn two very often, since the +1/+1 counter is very relevant, and as a megamorph this does everything I’m looking for except interact with fliers.

Marsh Hulk

Limited: 3.0

Ah, the old Marsh Hulk Sutcliffe. Solid in any deck, and always gets the job done. 7 mana is a lot, but this is fine to play on 3, on 6, or to flip on 7. Filling all those spots on your curve makes this a fine card.

Mind Rot

Limited: 1.5

It’s hard to tell if a format is a Mind Rot format before playing it, because Mind Rot is good in some and mediocre in others. My guess is that it’s fine here, but not a whole lot more than that. As with many cards of this type, I don’t mind having it in my deck after board, but my inclination is not to maindeck it in every deck. I would definitely run it in Sealed, as card advantage of this sort is always welcome there.

Minister of Pain

Limited: 3.0

While this isn’t quite Plague Wind, a targeted Shrivel with upside is a fine card, and having the Hurloon Minotaur option is nice as well. Some decks will be very vulnerable to this, and it isn’t that hard to set up a turn where you get value by playing this postcombat, so overall this is a card that should always make your deck. Like many of the situational cards in the set, keep this in mind when sideboarding. Just because a card is a good maindeck option does not mean you shouldn’t consider siding this out, and against a deck full of 3/3s and larger I’m not really interested in bringing the pain.

Pitiless Horde

Limited: 4.0

I really like the design on this card. When you draw it early, you can cast it without worrying too much about the life loss, and when you draw it late, dashing it neatly gets around the drawback. That sounds like good clean fun, and this is powerful no matter when it shows up. The trickiest is when you draw it on turn five or six, which is early enough where you may not have the mana to dash every turn but late enough that casting it is kind of risky. It’s probably obvious, but this only reaches its full potential in an aggressive deck, and quite mediocre if you aren’t planning on attacking your opponent’s life total. Also, don’t get this Pacifism’d.

Qarsi Sadist

Limited: 1.0

A deck that wants to drain for 2 doesn’t want a 1/3, and vice versa. This is low power level regardless of which half you end up using, and the only time I’m really interested in casting this is after board against a deck full of 2/2s and 2/1s.

Rakshasa Gravecaller

Limited: 3.5

Now this is what I call a 5-drop. It’s good to cast, good as a spell that makes two 2/2s, and great if you can sacrifice a low-value creature (or even a medium-value creature, given how good a deal this is). It’s even easily splashable, making it a low-risk early pick in draft and a card worth stretching your mana for in Sealed.

Reckless Imp

Limited: 2.5

Cheap evasion with good topdeck utility is exactly what aggro decks want, and this delivers. The only reason this isn’t a 3.0 is because of how aggressive it is. Being unable to block is a serious drawback, and there are a lot of decks that can’t afford to play such a one-dimensional card. This is powerful enough to make it great in beatdown decks and solid in midrange decks, so I don’t mind picking it in the first half of the pack and seeing if I end up able to play it.

Risen Executioner

Limited: 3.5

If you ever play this on turn four, it’s a huge beating. It attacks without fear, costs only four to bring back, and may even pump a stray Zombie or two. The later the game gets, the worse the can’t-block clause is and the more expensive it is to bring back, so it’s not a full-on bomb. It’s powerful enough that I’d lean toward playing it in all but the most defensive decks, as even a creature-light deck won’t mind using this to close out games, and it at least is cheaper to buy back in a deck with not many other potential corpses.

Self-Inflicted Wound

Limited: 0.5

That this isn’t targeted makes it a little less exciting, but the restriction on what the opponent can sacrifice can secretly be an upside, assuming they have any green or white creatures to begin with. If they have two face-down creatures and an awesome green creature, they have no choice but to sacrifice their best creature. Given that this is basically a good removal spell against the decks it hits, I’d draft it above replacement-level maindeck cards. I don’t think you will end up scrabbling for playables, so having a 3.5 to bring in out of the board is worth passing a 2.0.

Shambling Goblin

Limited: 2.0

Between sacrificing this to exploit and the ability to trade for face-down creatures early, I have no problem with running Shambling Goblin. There are a couple good 1-toughness creatures to pick off, such as the (common) Zephyr Scribe, and this usually overperforms for the mana spent. It’s no Typhoid Rats, but it does the trick. I wouldn’t recommend playing too many of these, as some decks just won’t care about them, though the more exploit cards you have the more Goblins you can afford to put on the payroll.

Sibsig Icebreakers

Limited: 1.5

I guess this is one way to break the ice. Given that you aren’t getting a particular advantage by having each player discard, this isn’t exciting, and even the prospect of playing this as my last card doesn’t really do it for me. If you need a 3-drop, a 2/3 is playable, but that’s about it.

Sidisi, Undead Vizier

Limited: 4.0

Sidisi is huge, so I can’t imagine sacrificing her in order to search for a card unless you are dead to a flier or something like that. As a 4/6 deathtouch, she’d be a great pick even without the exploit ability, and turning your worst creature in play into the best card in your deck is a very good option. I have to say, I love it when bomb rares look like this instead of Citadel Siege, and I’m optimistic that more will follow in Sidisi’s footsteps. I like my bombs to be awesome, game-changing, but still beatable, and Sidisi fits all those criteria.

Silumgar Assassin

Limited: 4.0

The weird evasion aside, this card is quite powerful. It’s one of the easiest 2-for-1s you can ever pick up, asking only that you pay 3 + 3 mana, and not even on the same turn. Playing this face up is more of a last resort, because the opponent can just block with a random 2/2, so I’ll just content myself with a Flametongue Kavu. It can’t kill huge things, but it’s still a great card.

Silumgar Butcher

Limited: 3.0

This is one of the exploit workhorses, where the combination of a 5-mana 3/3 and a 5-mana -3/-3 is just barely greater than the sum of its parts. I assume you will be able to sac a 2/2 to this much of the time, so if you do better than that, this starts getting interesting. It does cost 5, so don’t draft a bunch of these, even if the first is fine.

Ukud Cobra

Limited: 3.5

2/5 deathtouch is massive, and this will rule the battlefield for many turns when it comes out on turn four. Even later, it’s really hard for your opponent to get away with only trading one card for this, making this a solid snake at any point in the game. This rating may seem high, but these stats and deathtouch for this cost is truly a fantastic deal, making this another powerful and efficient card.

Ultimate Price

Limited: 3.5

I welcome our new uncommon Doom Blade overlords with open arms, and Ultimate Price is the perfect example. Paying two mana to kill almost anything (though not many of the Dragons or face-down creatures) is excellent, and this will ultimately be a high pick.

Virulent Plague

Limited: 0.5

When this card is good, you will know it. I doubt it will ever be good for most people, though someone might face the all-Ojutai’s Summons deck at some point.

Vulturous Aven

Limited: 3.0

A 2/3 flier for 4 is a very solid deal, and having the option to cash in a creature and 2 life for two cards is a very strong kicker. Any time you can draw cards while adding to your board (say, by sacrificing a 1/1 of some kind), you have a good card on your hands.

Wandering Tombshell

Limited: 1.5

As Rotting Mastodon has shown us, sometimes you just need to turtle up and block. Decks that want to do that will be able to grab one of these, as most decks aren’t going to be in the market.

Top 5 Black Commons

5.  Silumgar Butcher

4. Hand of Silumgar

3. Coat with Venom

2. Vulturous Aven

1. Flatten

Black can certainly kill things. Between Flatten, Coat with Venom, and Butcher, black has access to a ton of removal spells, and some of it is starting to look dangerously efficient. There are inklings of an aggro deck here, but the control cards look like they are a little better, so it will be interesting to see how the color ends up getting drafted.

3 thoughts on “<i>Dragons of Tarkir</i> Limited Set Review – Black”

  1. Pingback: Dragons of Tarkir Limited Review – Black | Quiet Speculation - Learn. Trade. Profit.

  2. Pingback: » Dragons of Tarkir Limited Set Review – Green

  3. Pingback: » Dragons of Tarkir Constructed Review – Green

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top