Who knew that when Wizards of the Coast released an alternate-art version of Form of the Dragon in FTV: Dragons, they were foreshadowing one of Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker’s abilities: TURNING INTO A DRAGON!! And not just any dragon, but a hasty, indestructible one at that! While this new Sarkhan is certainly fearsome, he’s not invincible.
One of the ways you can deal with Tarkir’s own poster boy is a popular card from the previous block: Hero’s Downfall. There’s some nuance to timing this, though. First of all, realize that no matter whether Sarkhan is a not-a-Dragon planeswalker, or a DRAGON!! not-a-planeswalker, he’s still a legal target for Hero’s Downfall because at all times he’s either a planeswalker or a creature. The important part involves the abilities that come alongside his dragonic transformation: if you let the ability resolve, Sarkhan will be indestructible, which means “destroy” effects like Hero’s Downfall can’t touch him. Don’t think you can use a burn spell to reduce his loyalty to 0, either — since DRAGON!! Sarkhan is no longer a planeswalker for the turn, damage-dealing effects won’t reduce his loyalty.
However, if you try either of these methods in response to the +1 ability (after the counter is added, before it resolves), Sarkhan in his still-vulnerable planeswalker form will be swiftly sent to the grave. The ability will still resolve, but with no living Sarkhan to DRAGON!!ify, it will simply fail to do anything.
Today’s Rules Tip written by Jen Wong