Sarkhan the Masterless
– War of the Spark
March 16, 2020
Commander [EDH]: 3.92
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Sarkhan’s free . . . free flying. His static ability is rather eye-catching, because we’re used to thinking of dragons as a tribe that wants to attack rather than defend, unless you’re using one as a control win condition. But they also tend to be expensive, and you may have lost quite a bit of life by the time you get a couple of dragons into play; an ability like his will make it harder for an opponent to finish you off with small creatures. Of course, his second “tribe” is planeswalkers, and he makes for a very explosive and amusing finish in the superfriends style of deck. Such decks can sometimes be a little slow when it comes time to actually end a game, and Sarkhan helps considerably with that.
And speaking of free, Sarkhan appears in one of the upcoming Challenger decks alongside a card that makes every other card about as free as it’s possible to be. More on that in a couple of days, though!
As is his wont, Sarkhan the Masterless is a bit of support for Dragons overall, as Dragons are very much his Thing. In particular, his passive is a really strong deterrent to attacking creatures if you have Dragons already on board; even one is a good way to dissuade a horde of X/1 creatures from attacking, and any Dragons with deathtouch (or wither or infect) will make for a very good time. And speaking of Dragons, he has two other teicks up his sleeve that involve everyone’s favorite swooping friends.
His -3 makes a dragon, which is nice for triggering his passive, and his +1 turns your entire planeswalker army into a menacing horde of swooping dragons. There are ways for his +1 to backfire somewhat; your planeswalkers are now more vulnerable to kill spells and to dying in combat (though they cease being planeswalkers for the turn, so they don’t lose loyalty through combat), and popping it early locks you out of popping their abilities after it. But given that War of the Spark was rife with planeswalkers that would sit around and do little after using their minus abilities, this is a good way to get one last bit of value out of them.
Five mana is a bit awkward, particularly for a Dragon curve, and his play has been sparing as a result of that and his not having a lot of Dragon friends in the recent sets. His effects are quite potent overall, though, and they offer red and Dragon decks some tools with which they can attack the game a bit differently.
Constructed: 3.25 (reliant on Dragons, but he’s a bit slow for the formats with all the good Dragons…and Dragons are also a bit slow but who cares)
Hello everyone and welcome to Pojo’s Card of the Day! I hope you all are taking care of yourselves and if you’re stuck in quarantine, be safe and wash your hands lots. That said we’re taking a look at one of my favorite cards from the Planeswalker Themed Set, Sarkhan the Masterless.
This guy is quite incredible. For the most part Planeswalkers are judged by three metrics.
1. Can they protect themselves?
This guy does all three, and two of them off one ability. When he plops on the board he can immediately generate a 4/4 Flying Dragon, and with his static ability he can ping a bunch of small dudes as well if that Dragon is still on the board when they go to attack. Also if Sarkhan dies, you’re still left with a 4/4 Flying Dragon. So that’s 1 and 2 in one shot!
Now this is the weird one, his +1 ability is the one that allows you to win the game, it turns each planeswalker you control into a 4/4 dragon with flying until end of turn. Sure it gets better with the more planeswalkers you have, but the good news is that there’s plenty of great walkers that would love to be a 4/4 flier! (T3feri I’m looking at you!)
So where does this guy fit in the formats?
Well in Standard he’s a powerhouse in a few decks like Jeskai Control and Jeskai Fires which makes great use of the multitude of planeswalkers you can drop down turn after turn. And as great as he is in Standard, unfortunately his usage outside of that format is quite sparse.
In Limited this guy is the definition of bomb, there’s plenty of planeswalkers to be had in that format if you pick them high enough and he can simply drop down as a big ol’ overrun effect. This guy is super first pickable!
In EDH, it’s his +1 that really makes him stand out, turning your Planeswalkers into damage dealing weapons is a great way to start to close out the game. And if your deck is particularly dragon based his static ability can be a few layers of caltrops that stops the Krenko Red Decks in their tracks!
In Cube this guy has shined so bright, the other Sarkhan is great and all but the other Sarkhan Ultimate isn’t as great unless you’re in mono red. They play in a similar space which means they’re both cube-worthy since they’re a smidge different, but I really like this one over the other.
Standard 3/5 – In the decks you want him in, he’s really good, but he’s not strong enough on his own to pose a threat in a random deck.
Limited 5/5 – You want this. You must have this. Pick this. Win with this.
Commander 4/5 – There’s a lot of planeswalkers in this format and he can turn them all into dragons. And isn’t that just fun?
Cube 3.5/5 – A very solid pick here, not first pickable but if you’re angling in UR or URB then he’s a solid pickup.
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