Jugan, the Rising Star – Champions of Kamigawa
Date Reviewed: March 24, 2022
Commander [EDH]: 3.75
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Jugan definitely didn’t fit very well into constructed decks when he first came out – remember, we’re not surprised to see the words “+1/+1 counter” on every card nowadays, but in 2004, the use of +1/+1 counters in both design and deckbuilding was much less sophisticated than it is now. On top of that, all the other Champions of Kamigawa dragons have death triggers that don’t require you to have other creatures in play to get their benefit. Back then, you had to contend with Wrath of God in Standard – sometimes on the third turn, courtesy of cards like Talisman of Progress.
Still, I maintain that the problem was not that Jugan was truly bad, but rather that the environment was bad (in the sense of not being fun). Now that casual formats are deeper and color abilities are broader, you can do things like sacrifice him with any number of instant-speed options, distribute the counters among creatures like Herd Baloth and Lightwalker, then use them to fuel an ability like Novijen Sages. Some cards get attention right away; others, like Jugan, just have to wait until the stars are right.
Commander [EDH]: 4/5
Unofficial Dragon Week calls for a thematic throwback, and Jugan certainly fits the bill, right? Widely considered the weakest of the five original Spirit Dragon cycle, Jugan is unfortunately the least powerful of the bunch…though he’s not completely useless, thanks to some things worth noting.
Let’s start at the top: green dragon. Green rarely gets fliers, much less ones with competitive rates of return, and Jugan was actually as strong as the other four dragons in Champions of Kamigawa. The downside is that his triple-green casting cost is quite restrictive and makes him a hard sell outside of mono-green or green-heavy decks. The other downside is that his death trigger, while not bad, is probably the worst of the five and is fairly lackluster overall. It definitely has places where it can shine, and you’re still giving a total of 5 more power and toughness to your board, but it’s definitely a lot weaker than Yosei’s board freeze, to give an example.
All that said, Jugan is fine. His heavy green casting cost makes him a hard sell unless you’re already green to begin with, but he offers green decks something they tend to have in short supply (good flying creatures). He’s a house in Limited and not awful in Commander, but he definitely won’t be making waves in Modern any time soon.
Constructed: 1.5 (if you’re going to commit to a dragon or a green creature, Jugan is not going to be your first choice)
Commander [EDH]: 3.75
The weaker of the five spirit dragons, Jugan is a solid flyer for green with a pretty great death ability. The cost is a little high but in a format like commander it is pretty easy to ramp to that by turn four to have a 5/5 flyer is pretty rad. The cherry on top though is the death ability to distribute five +1/+1 counters however you choose onto any number of target creatures. This could make your opponents second guess wanting to kill the dragon in order for that infect or deathtouch creature to not get any bigger. Commander and Limited is where this card will shine, it is too slow for other constructed formats.
Commander [EDH]: 3.5/5
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