Drana, Liberator of Malakir – Battle for Zendikar
Date Reviewed: December 9, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 3.33
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I suppose Drana’s stats and general layout are intended to recall Vampire Nighthawk: same mana cost, same stats, multiple keywords (including flying in both cases). They do play quite differently, of course, as the Nighthawk is an individual threat greater than a simple assessment of its size would suggest, and Drana is more of a team player. Black has its own set of +1/+1 counter interactions to take advantage of, and the more attackers you have, the faster things turn into an avalanche. Flying and first strike help Drana get through blockers and get that avalanche started, and while you always have to be careful of her sometime fragility and of sweepers, there’s no reason why she wouldn’t do the same in casual formats today.
The second version of Drana played quite interestingly, slotting in with Allies (a popular creature type in the first two trips to the plane of adventure) and with go-wide strategies. Pumping your entire board is a nice bit of upside for getting through…and that first strike does matter, since it means she’ll bolster the rest of your board on a successful hit. Evasion also helps, and a couple of turns with Drana, Liberator of Malakir leading the charge will end a game quickly.
The downside is a fairly clear one: she has no haste and only 3 toughness. This wasn’t a problem as much in Standard, but it is one in deeper formats, which have few issues killing a three-toughness creature without protection, even one that does fly. She’s certainly a threat if unanswered, but cards that need time to get going had better get going quickly, and she just asks for a bit more support than most decks can supply in Modern and deeper formats.
Constructed: 2.5 (might work as rogue tech in Modern, but she has a lot of hurdles to get over)
Limited: 4.5 (she’s mythic for good reason, even in the weird hellscape that was Battle for Zendikar Limited)
Drana, Liberator of Malakir
Wonderful card but not in the deck you think, this card works best in ally creature type decks! Commander, eternal formats, casual, etc. anything running ally creatures with black, will only have more of an advantage if this card is in your deck. There are countless ways to make this unblockable which will only make your creatures stronger. Let’s be real for a hot minute, putting +1/+1 counters on creatures on all of your creatures is fantastic and this card almost does that (they all have to be attacking) but why wouldn’t you want to attack with a pumped up Hada Freeblade? The first strike ability helps pesky blockers and help keep Drana alive but you need to deal combat damage to your opponent to get the full effect, hence the balance. A fun and well balanced card this is indeed!
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