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Dragonkin Berserker – A Magic the Gathering Card Review

Dragonkin Berserker is a two-mana Human Berserker creature card from Magic the Gathering’s Kaldheim set. At first glance, Dragonkin Berserker reminds long-time Magic players of a couple other creatures who create Dragon creature tokens, namely Dragon Whisperer and Dragonmaster Outcast. Neither of those creatures panned out the way many players expected them to, although the Outcast has since become a Commander favorite. 

The Dragonkin Berserker has the Boast ability, which can only be activated if the creature has attacked that turn and only once per turn. His ability costs 1 generic mana less for each Dragon you control. Otherwise it naturally costs 4R (4 generic, 1 Red) to activate to create a 5/5 Dragon creature token with flying. Overall, in a Standard format that would soon be littered with playable Dragons, you’d see an argument for this guy seeing play.

But, the arguments against this card early on were notable, centered around not being able to produce 5 mana consistently in an aggressive deck. This would seem to push the Berserker into being included more in mid-range strategies, playing for the long game than simply attacking out right. It’s notable that you can activate a Boast ability after attackers have been declared, much like the Dwarf Legendary Creature Arni Brokenbow and his Boast ability to swap power with another creature you control. “Mana sinks” like this are more valuable than they often first appear. Unfortunately, like Arni, Dragonkin Berserker wouldn’t see much play at all in Standard or other competitive Magic formats.

Strangely enough, Dragonkin Berserker on paper is better than another aggressive Dragon-related card, Dragon Whisperer. Not only did the Whisperer’s ability cost 4RR (4 generic, 2 Red) to activate, but it also required that you controlled creatures with a total power of 8 or more. That Dragon token also was just a 4/4 creature. The Whisperer does have a “firebreathing” ability in that you can boost his power by 1 point for each 2 mana (1 generic, 1 Red) you put into him. In Dragonkin’s case, not only do you get a better token for less mana, but that activated ability has fewer restrictions. Yes, the Dragon Whisperer could have its ability activated more than once in a turn, but how often are you going to do that, even in Commander?

Dragonmaster Outcast is the best of these three cards we’ve mentioned thus far, costing just a single mana to cast. It creates 5/5 flying Dragon tokens at the beginning of your upkeep if you control 6 or more lands. This creature was actually somewhat playable during Zendikar Standard, as well as Battle for Zendikar Standard where it was reprinted and still pops up over the years in various formats. The problem is, it’s just a 1/1 creature, making it extremely fragile. Still, that’s a ton of value for a one-mana creature, especially in the late game where most one-drops are nigh useless.

On paper, Dragonkin Berserker seems to be even better overall than either the Whisperer or the Outcast. A two-mana 2/2 creature is typically only good in the early game, but since he has that Boast ability, he’s a great play as long as you can manage to attack with him. The Berserker doesn’t have to survive in order for you to activate the ability, as long as you activate the Boast ability before he’s destroyed by combat during the damage step.

Despite Dragonkin Berserker looking like an extremely playable card, though, he found a home in just one deck, Red Deck Wins. While not all Red decks would play him, some Dragon-centered decks would play a single copy just for his Token creation ability. With Goldspan Dragon and Opportunistic Dragon being very playable after Kaldheim’s release in February 2021, the Berserker’s ability cost suddenly becomes quite cheap. 

Unfortunately, with Opportunistic Dragon and many other Red Deck Wins staples evaporating with the Standard rotation in September 2021, his play has dropped precipitously. This is odd considering that there are more playable Dragons in Standard, especially with Adventures of the Forgotten Realms, with more incoming with Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. There’s also Tiamat, who focuses entirely on Dragons, yet Dragonkin Berserker pops up very rarely. There’s still a chance he sneaks back into Standard with the Spirit Dragons of Neon Dynasty, however.

Unlike his predecessor Dragonmaster Outcast, Dragonkin Berserker hasn’t found the same love in Commander, going the way of Dragon Whisperer. On the other hand, the Cube community has actually found room for the powerful two-drop. According to CubeCobra, it’s found in just 2.5 percent of all Cubes, but it’s good to see that there are players happy for it to take up a slot in their draft cubes. 

Dragonkin Berserker’s Standard fortunes haven’t been bad, honestly, with more possibilities coming up in 2022. He may not ever do much outside of Standard, but just knowing people will be drafting with him in years to come, he’s already done much more than many niche creatures ever could hope to do.

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Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy. Personal Website: https://www.thephoenixdesertsong.com

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