Here’s an Awesome Dragon from Magic 2013
June 27, 2012 | Posted by Dee
It’s tough to be a red mage these days in Standard. Red just doesn’t have as many good cards compared to the other colors.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s a decent secondary color if you want to play Huntmaster of the Fells, Bonfire of the Damned, Zealous Conscripts, or Falkenrath Aristocrat. But you definitely don’t see a lot of top decks with red as the main color.
The power level of red cards is just not very high. Plus, you’ve got all those hate cards like Timely Reinforcements, Sword of War and Peace, and Celestial Purge.
Fortunately, it looks like Wizards wants red to be good again by designing powerful red cards in Magic 2013. We’ve already seen some good Goblin cards. And earlier this week, Mark Rosewater spoiled an awesome red dragon.
Say hello to Thundermaw Hellkite, one of the best cards in Magic 2013.
How good is this card? I did a Gatherer search of all the creatures with flying and haste that cost five mana and had five power or more.
There were only two results.
One was Demigod of Revenge, which saw a lot of play when it was legal in Standard. Thundermaw Hellkite is better because it has higher toughness and it’s a lot easier to cast.
The other was Hunted Dragon, which is a 6/6 but it has a huge drawback. It gives your opponent three 2/2 first strike creatures.
Therefore, Thundermaw Hellkite is very much undercosted at five mana. Flying and haste are two of the best creature abilities and 5/5 is huge for five mana.
And that’s not all.
This dragon would be awesome without any other abilities, yet it has another one that’s very relevant for Standard.
When it enters the battlefield, it deals one damage to every flyer your opponent controls and taps them.
There are a good number of one toughness flyers that see play in Standard. You’ve got Lingering Souls, Birds of Paradise, and Spirit tokens from Moorland Haunt. Killing any of these creatures while dropping a big hasty flyer is a really powerful play.
Thundermaw Hellkite taps all flyers so in most situations it’s going to hit your opponent for five damage. Thundermaw Hellkite will be tapping flipped Delver of Secrets and Restoration Angels to clear the sky of blockers.
Sometimes your opponent will be able to cast Restoration Angel or activate Moorland Haunt to chump block. That’s okay though. At least you get to kill one of his creatures.
The tap ability is huge because it gives you an opportunity to alpha strike. For example, Restoration Angel is a great blocker because of her 3/4 body. She can keep decks with a lot of small creatures from attacking profitably.
But once Thundermaw Hellkite hits the battlefield, Restoration Angel will be unable to block. That means you’re free to attack with creatures like small Goblins, Chandra’s Phoenix, Stromkirk Noble, Borderland Ranger, Strangleroot Geist, Wolfir Avenger, and Blade Splicer.
The ability happens whenever Thundermaw Hellkite enters the battlefield so Vapor Snag will not be as effective against it. The dragon goes back to your hand, but flyers still get tapped. You could still have an opening to attack profitably.
The same thing happens if your opponent Doom Blades it. His flyers still get tapped.
Birthing Pod is a deck with a lot of small creatures so it sometimes struggles against Restoration Angel. Thundermaw Hellkite combos with Pod at the five-drop spot and helps you break through creature stalls caused by Restoration Angel. Not to mention, you can blink the dragon with your own Restoration Angel to tap your opponent’s flyers again.
Thundermaw Hellkite is an excellent card against planeswalkers. It clears the way of flying blockers so you can attack walkers and make them lose a whopping five loyalty.
Even flyers equipped with Sword of War and Peace don’t escape being tapped by Thundermaw Hellkite. The one damage is prevented but they still get tapped because the ability doesn’t target. Here’s the ruling from a level three judge.
Thundermaw Hellkite is so good, I could see it being played in a wide variety of builds. Of course, it fits well in just about any mono red deck, from aggro to midrange, possibly even a controllish build with a lot of removal and boardwipe spells.
It’s not a Goblin but Goblin decks will love this card. It gives them another angle of attack that your opponent may not be able to deal with.
Red/Green Aggro and Naya Aggro are both decent decks for the dragon. Borderland Ranger helps a lot with fixing mana.
Even control decks could use this big flyer. Thundermaw Hellkite is huge for its mana cost and it kills quickly so it could be a finisher in a control deck like Grixis or Blue/Red.