June 4, 2020
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
The Elder Dragons were among the first cards in Magic that made people sit up and say “Wow!” I’m not even giving you the full extent of it – I think people in 1994 probably would have used more exclamation points than that. Look at those stats! Look at those abilities! Look at all the colored mana symbols! Unfortunately, they came at a time when large creatures in Magic were not pushed, to use the jargon. Those high, specific mana costs were hard to reach and there were upkeep costs on top of that – how much damage are you really going to get out of them?
Palladia-Mors, like the other green Elders, has an inherent advantage from being in the same part of the color pie as Birds of Paradise, but having to pay to keep her around didn’t feel great even in 90s Type 1. They all did have a lifeline, though, in the form of what we used to call “trick decks”. Legends also gave us Eureka and Concordant Crossroads, meaning that you could easily drop a Keldon ton of dragon kings on your opponent way too early (though the deck had a natural enemy in Dark Ritual-fueled discard spells).
Overall, the Elder Dragons are more cool than powerful. But they’re a key part of Magic’s history – not just as some of Legends marquee cards, but for being Nicol Bolas’ original rivals in his bid to dominate the multiverse. I’m really happy that they returned in updated form for M19.
One of the original Elder Dragons, the original Palladia-Mors is…not very exciting, truth be told. A 7/7 with flying and trample is okay for eight mana, and it was certainly among the most imposing creatures for its time, but evasive trample is a bit redundant, and the upkeep cost definitely is irksome. This isn’t to say she’s useless, but most of the Elder Dragons from Legends tended towards more coolness than utility (Nicol Bolas being an exception, thanks to a brutal on-hit effect). A nice curiosity, but her mediocre retrain in Core Set 2019 makes this one look like the fossil it is.
Constructed: 1.25 (good luck doing anything with her)
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