Volatile Stormdrake
Volatile Stormdrake

Volatile Stormdrake – Modern Horizons III

Date Reviewed:  June 21, 2024

Constructed: 4.00
Casual: 4.13
Limited: 4.25
Multiplayer: 3.88
Commander [EDH]: 4.00

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.

Reviews Below: 


You’ll note from the image above that Volatile Stormdrake is one of the Modern Horizonscards that got a retro frame version. It might feel strange to some people to have a retro-styled card refer to energy counters, but I think this is probably still an improvement over Gilded Drake. If you go and look up how that famous card’s errata has changed over the years and how hard the designers had to work to get it to function as intended, you’ll see what I mean. Even its most current version has words that I don’t want to see in a Magic card’s text box.

I do think they have one notable similarity, though, in that opponents are never going to quite know what to expect when you cast Volatile Stormdrake. You can use it as intended, working around its restrictions or saving it for late game when you might have more energy counters – it’s worth noting that Gilded Drake was used in comparable ways, adjusted for the card pools of the time. You can also use it as a variant of Rapid Hybridization, a card that’s still capable of some really demoralizing sequences. I wasn’t initially sure why the Stormdrake has that particular hexproof variant, at first thinking that it was a reference to how people used to use Despotic Scepter on Gilded Drakes. Less speculatively, though, any kind of defensive ability is good, and it will catch people off guard plenty of times. I think this will turn out to be a surprisingly exploitable card – note that four energy counters steals a lot of threats in formats like Legacy, and incentivizes accelerated monstrosities like Sheoldred and Tasigur.

Constructed: 4
Casual: 4
Limited: 4
Multiplayer: 4
Commander [EDH]: 4

 James H. 


Another member of the “energy-based retrains of Reserved List cards”, Volatile Stormdrake is meant as a reined-in version of Gilded Drake, the fun and exciting way for blue to mess with opponents. Volatile Stormdrake is a slightly different angle, but it’s an interesting one, so let’s talk about it.

In practice, it’s still a good way to make an opponent lose a threatening creature: they get a 3/2 with flying, while you either keep their big thing or just bin it. For two mana, and in a color that can have issues permanently getting rid of permanents, that can be quite a good deal! The energy boost can either help you keep the thing or just be used as a roundabout removal spell with nefarious energy uses later. Either way, both are useful ways to come out ahead, so there’s that.

One other thing, though, is that Volatile Stormdrake isn’t a dead creature in hand if your opponents don’t have anything. If you cast this into an empty board, it just sits there as a 3/2 with flying, which actually is a good deal for 2 mana, even now. The hexproof is interesting enough: it’s unlikely to matter a ton, but there are a couple of notable things it can blank, like planeswalker abilities and evoked creature triggers.

In all, Volatile Stormdrake is an interesting spin on a classic, and I’d say that, while it’s not out and out better, there are definitely things this does that its forebear doesn’t (and vice-versa), and it helps to underscore how swooping is, indeed, bad.

Constructed: 4
Casual: 4.25
Limited: 4.5
Multiplayer: 3.75
Commander [EDH]: 4

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