Alara Reborn – Spellbound Dragon

A king in Jund, a serf in Esper, a review of Alara Reborn Rare Spellbound Dragon.

First of all let’s look at that flavor text…

“A king in Jund, a serf in Esper.”

I love that flavor text!

Most of you don’t know this about me but I actively avoided drafting Black and to a lesser degree Red in Planeshift simply because I didn’t like the art (Bob Maher used to ask me if I had actually read what the Black and Red cards did); my favorite card flavor-wise is Form of the Dragon. I have always thought they did a fantabulous job of making you feel like you had transformed yourself into a dragon* (plus a good card).

Looping back to this card’s flavor text, you can see how a flyer like this one (which is obviously native to Grixis) might rule the sky in Jund… But is kind of a mope holding the bag in Esper where everyone is drawing cards, returing cards, and, you know, keeping ’em.

Okay. Game play. So how is this supposed to work?

Red for Dragon, Blue for Looter.

From the Dragon side, it isn’t much of a stretch for this to be 5/5 or better. After all you are playing cards like Spellbound Dragon, so 8/5 or so on offense is not much of a stretch.

The potentially counterproductive side is that typically “Looter” effects are meant to improve your hand… When you are chucking spells for damage, you are probably doing the opposite (you have already demonstrated five or more mana so what you are looking for is probably more action, not hoarding extra lands which is what is inevitably going to happen when you start chucking your Cryptic Commands to get in for seven). Then again, how long is the game going to last when you’re clocking with such a Dragon? The notion of relative hand improvement might therefore intersect with our as-yet unfinished explorations of How Card Advantage Works due to the opponent being up against a clock.

Interesting thing is that you of course have options. No reason (other than flash, flair, and probably clock) that you can’t call the Spellbound Dragon your lead and use the Looter half to hold said lead… Just that most of the time that is going to be at odds with the desire for damage.

All in all I really like this card…

But I’m not sure what deck I would play it in.

Where can I see this fitting in?
Well I kind of just said… I don’t know who wants a Spellbound Dragon. There is no present Standard deck that can cast it that would really want it. Interestingly this card defends pretty well against the Standard-standard Broodmate Dragon, but on balance can’t really attack into one unless you are willing to pitch a five (or you have say a Cryptic Command you plan to resolve).

Aesthetically I think the card is built for sky racing (think tap out Blue)… I think it could be reasonable in that kind of a deck but for the fact that that kind of deck is so clearly out-classed at this stage by Quick’N’Toast style Reflecting Pool Control.

One thing I didn’t mention that is quite obvious is that if you can toss cards like Reckless Wurm and Fiery Temper you look like a rock star and bonk like a porn star… But I doubt that is any kind of a real deck.

Hell of a first pick though… But that should be obvious from the intersection of card type and rarity.

Snap Judgment Rating: It’s not Constructed Unplayable, won’t be a Staple or any kind of a format defining card, so I guess that leaves Role Player. I would be very interested to see Spellbound Dragon producing maybe a year from now when the Quick’N’Toast / Reflecting Pool Control competition dies down. Seems like it would be good friends with Volcanic Fallout (provided control decks still want to play that in a post-Faeries format).


* This is basically 100% random but the idea of turning yourself into a dragon reminded me of this Troy Denning book I read back in high school. When I was in high school — close to 20 years ago — I was a big time dice-thrower (you know, before Magic: The Gathering I played me some Advanced Dungeons & Dragons). So I was all into the novels for some of their product releases.

The book I remembered involved some sorcerer-transforming-himself-into-a-dragon action and I recall it being pretty compelling (especially for the genre).

It is by Troy Denning who is actually an excellent writer, one of the best who puts out Star Wars and other licensed properties paperbacks. I did some digging and if you are in the market for some paperback Dungeons & Dragons-style SiFi / Fantasy, I remember enjoying The Verdant Passage.

I did some digging on ye ole and found Verdant Passage for a penny plus shipping

The Verdant Passage, new & used

So if you can afford, um, a penny, I think you’d enjoy the book (provided you like, you know, dragons).

Have fun everyone gaming on tomorrow! (Unfortunately I have to miss… again 🙁 )

All Alara Reborn

facebook comments:


#1 wrongwaygoback on 04.10.09 at 6:13 pm

There are two mechanics it would work well with; madness and dredge. While I don’t expect madness to reappear any time soon, dredge may one day. Plus, dredge is a perfectly acceptable Jund ability!

#2 KZipple on 04.10.09 at 6:40 pm

I doubt either will make a significant reappearance in anything but the distant future…madness is a little to narrow in flavor, and I doubt that R&D wants to mess with Dredge again.

I bet this guy will be a hit once Blue decks aren’t also either Faeries or GRB decks. Also, imagine this guy with a Nicol Bolas. Boom!

#3 The American Nightmare on 04.11.09 at 7:50 am

If nothing else, its an excuse to dust off Squee, Goblin Nabob or pick up some 10th edition ones.

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