Crack a Pack MTG Khans of Tarkir with Bruce (4th)By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
It feels like it has been a long time since I’ve sat down and played much in the way of Magic recently. There are times when playing Magic is largely inconsequential and events in the world around us put things in perspective. For those of you who don’t know I live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and our community was recently touched by a tragic act of violence. I won’t recap what happened because you can find all that relevant information online if you’re interested. However, as a result of the events on October 22nd , 2014 we have been trying to put things back to normal and get things back to the way they were. However, when events like what happened in Ottawa take place it makes playing Magic seem very trivial. What really matters is ensuring that your friends and family are all safe and that you value your time with all of them. If you haven’t done so recently, pick up your phone and call your friends and family and just have a chat with them and be sure to tell them how much they mean to you.
From my end, I am teacher. The events of Oct 22nd were extra scary because I was organizing a soccer tournament. We had 300 plus 9 and 10 year olds out playing soccer and had to stop our tournament on account of what happened and find some place safe to go and shelter until we got the signal that things were all clear. It was a very stressful day for all the coaches and students but everyone handled the situation very well. However, as the guy who is organizing the tournament I have spent much of my time since trying to organize a chance to re-play our tournament, on short notice, before the snow flies. Needless to say, I have been busy.
But today I wanted to take some time and go back to Magic, crack a pack, and allow Magic to be the diversion that it is, even if only for a little while. Let’s bust open a pack and see what we’ve got!
So…Siege Rhino? As my rare? Well, that is a snap first pick if I’ve ever seen one. 4/5 for 4 mana? Sweet enter the battlefield trigger? Trample? Hell YEAH ! This wins on every metric I can find. The card is efficiently costed, a huge beater, comes with a sweet upside in terms of an enter the battlefield trigger and is even worth a pretty penny on the secondary market. This is a slam dunk.
Swiftwater Cliffs actually gets my attention because in draft 5 colour Morph decks are a thing. You need all the fixing you can find to pull it off, but the potential power level is through the roof. I’ve watched a number of players draft the 5 colour morph deck and it looks sweet and very potent (and surprisingly reliable). I would be seriously eye-balling this card.
Sultai Scavenger is a pretty nice 3/3 flier. The Delve on this is what makes it very viable because it makes this so much cheaper to play. The single Black mana in the casting cost makes it very splashable, but the real treat is a 3/3 flier. Flying is crazy relevant in this format because fliers are hard to come by and the evasion allows you to bust up a board stall really quickly. This is a super solid common and something that really gets my attention and a solid push to play Black.
Sultai Flayer is still a solid 3/4 for 4 mana and comes with a solid upside. I wrote about this card a couple of weeks back and I’m still a fan. I think it brings enough presence and pressure to the board, has a relevant upside to help your position and is just an efficient creature to slide in your deck. I’m on board.
Scaldkin is another creature that gets my attention, but I’m not really sold on it yet. It’s a little pricey for a flying 2/2, but the flying really helps restore this creature. The fact that it can also be used as a Shock to handle those pesky Morphs is useful and relevant and makes this a nice mid-round pick.
Dragon Grip is kind of spicy, but the issue I have with it is that it doesn’t add any toughness to my creature. Think about it, Hammerhand and Titan’s Strength at least pump your creature a little in the toughness department so that it can rumble a little more effectively than it could before. Inferno Fist, another recent enchantment, allows you to clear the path with a “Shock” and remove something. This simply gets used as a pricey combat trick to pile on the damage, but then leaves your creature no better able to stave off dying because the toughness hasn’t taken a boost (and leaves you open to a 2 for 1 later). Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE me some flash, but I’ll likely take this mid to late round because I’m not big on it.
Shambling Attendants. These guys are everywhere in these packs. They are solid, but unexciting and expensive. I’ve spoken about this in previous weeks…go check them out here on Three Kings Loot to read my thoughts.
Glacial Stalker and Canyon Lurker are both nice Morph cards that I’m likely to prioritize. They can be played in any deck and if you can Morph them back then you get to seriously ambush your opponent and smash face. I’m a fan…and I’m increasingly a fan of the 5 colour Morph deck so I might prioritize these higher than some other cards.
Salt Road Patrol is another nice card that is relatively inexpensive and outlasts nicely. Unexciting and a tad clunky, but if you can get a +1/+1 counter on it you are likely laughing because fighting through a 3/6 (or better) is really tough..
Tusked Colossodon is another curve topper and is a pretty healthy fatty to play. I would put this down near the bottom of my selection pile, but can still be serviceable. I usually figure that for the 7 mana I spend on this guy that I would rather do a number of more impactful things, but if you need a big body, this fella will do nicely.
Alpine Grizzly is another reasonable 4/2 for 3 mana. I’m not excited for it, but I won’t be sad to see this either because it trigger Ferocious…plus 4 power is nothing to sneeze at.
Awaken the bear…umm…no thanks…
Top 5 cards
So, once again this week, it is really a non-issue. My first pick is quite clearly Siege Rhino because it outclasses everything else in this pack by a fair margin. Efficient and devastating is nice…and the Enter the Battlefield trigger is a nice addition as well. It’s hard to argue with this card and when it sees extensive play in Constructed formats you know it has to be good.
The other cards on this list are other efficient critters or provide useful upside…and Swiftwater Cliffs enables a whole ton of interesting deck options if you go down the 5 colour deck road. One of the interesting pieces I’ve started to see in these decks is that when there are no really good choices for you to draft and you can opt to take a land card, you’ll grab the land. If this becomes an early strategy in Pack 1 you have opened the door for a deck where the upwards power level is extremely high because you can honestly select the most powerful you see at every pick from there on afterwards, making a very reliable strategy. Now, this will likely dry up as more people get on board this and get wise to the ploy, but at this relatively early stage of things it feels like a perfectly viable strategy and route to success.
Well, there we go. We have another pretty diverse Khans pack and a nice new Siege Rhino to rumble with. Sweet! I’ll keep crossing my fingers for a few other sweet treats to come my way, but on the whole this was a nice pack and well worth the time to sit down and have look at it.
Until next week, may you open nothing but Mythic Rares…have a great one ladies and gents!
By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters @bgray8791 on Twitter