Today I wanted to take a moment and share some of my other random thoughts that I’ve had since I last sat down to write. I’ll be honest, getting back into the grind of the school year has been a challenge and left me without too many chances to sit down and play Magic, let alone write. However, I’ve had lots of thoughts and ideas and finally had a chance to collect some of those thoughts. So, I apologize if my ideas jump around a little, but that’s the stage I’m at this point in my playing.
So, I wanted to share just how excited I was the other day when I opened up my email and was notified that apparently I was selected to win one of Garruk’s Axes from the M15 pre-releases. SWEET! My brother and I took a terrible photo at our pre-release event and were certain we’d never win. However, when there were only 22 entries from across Canada and 16 potential axes to win, the odds were pretty good. So, when the email landed in my inbox I was pumped. Sure, the odds were pretty much in my favor, but it is still neat to be selected. I can hardly wait for the axe to arrive at my house because it is going to be hilarious. My wife is going to ask why there is a giant foam axe at my house and just roll her eyes! Just priceless. Also, it will get carted to every Casual card night we play as just another ridiculous MTG thing in my collection. I can hardly wait.
So, as the fallout from my brother and I placing second at our Two-Headed Giant pre-release in July we had something extra nice come our way. The Local Game Store we go to holds an invitational tournament for all players who finish in the top 4 of a “premier event”. Basically, any “premiere event” (as defined by the store) is an event played on the Weekend such as a GP trial, Game Day, or even a Pre-release. So…my brother and I, for inadvertently placing second at the Pre-release got invited to play at another event. Sweet!! The issue becomes this…I’m more of a Casual/Limited sort of guy and this event, which is hosted October 11th in conjunction with Canadian Thanksgiving, will be a Constructed event. That leaves me in a bit of a quandary. I don’t have the deepest of pockets and can’t spring for cases of Khans…so I’m, in a bit of a tough spot rolling into the new Standard environment with only a few weeks to brew and get set up. Also, I sort of pride myself on the home brew/budget approach to playing Magic but am concerned that my deck building skills won’t be up to that sort of a test.
With that said I think I’m on to something that could be pretty useful. I’ve been struck with the combination of aggressive creatures and controlling nature of the Abzan clan from Khans and feel like they might lead to something in the upcoming Standard format. Basically, I like the ground and pound game the Abzan provide and immediately said “there’s my boys”. That means I’ll need to learn to play some Black for a change, but that is likely healthy for me in order to continue to grow and develop as a player. Here’s what I’ve got as an early decklist.
This game plan is actually pretty straightforward. Sylvan Caryatid and Courser come down early to play some early D and help you ramp up to some of your more expensive things. The fact that half the mana base comes in tapped is an issue so the ramp could be pretty key. Fleecemane is pretty beast as a 3/3 for 2 mana that is even better once Monstruous. Anafenza comes down as a 4/4 for 3 mana and hates out graveyards pretty hard. Polukranos is just about the best thing you can do for 4 mana and then can act as a Pit Fight if you need it. Dawnbringer Charioteer is a disgusting 2/4 with Heroic, Flying, and Lifelink. I feel like this is a card that is a little under utilized, but could be just what this sort of deck wants and needs to gain back a little life, and if you can trigger the Heroic ability things could get out of hand…fast. Siege Rhino is just another efficient fatty and enters with a gross Enter the Battlefield trigger. Nylea is an automatic because she could just tip the scales in your favour so badly. The High Sentinels synergize nicely with all the creatures that make +1/+1 counters through a number of methods and can just be a killer. The last piece is the Abzan Falconer, because nothing is scarier than when all your creatures with +1/+1 counters take to the skies and can overload the air born defense of your opponent.
The removal package is pretty robust. Abzan Charm has three relevant modes including an exile mode for other creature with power 3 or greater. Banishing Light is a nice catch all, and Hero’s Downfall just crushes just about anything. The Abzan Ascendancy is a nice addition because it can dump counters on all your creatures to enable the Falconer (or just pump your team), but the second mode, that of making 1/1 flying spirits is pretty useful and could totally enable a plan B approach with Pharika (out of the sideboard) to flood the board with tokens. Reap What is Sown again enables all sorts of Counters and Heroic stuff. Elspeth and Lili are just too powerful to overlook for a number of reasons and I’m sad I can only squeeze in a pair.
Now, I am absolutely aware that this is not a Budget deck…heck, the mana base alone ensures that it isn’t a budget deck. However, there are some interesting options to help bring the budget factor of the deck down. The Fleecemane Lions can totally be subbed out and replaced with the Ajani Pridemate. The Pridemate is very realistically a 3/3 for the same two mana…but likely a turn later. The way this works is you drop some of the Temples and replace them with the Refuge lands from Khans and every time you gain a life when they enter the Pridemate grabs a counter. So, turn 1 drop a land…turn 2 is better if your land is untapped and cast Pridemate. Turn 3 drop a Refuge land and your Pridemate is now a 3/3 and you are basically on par with the Lion. Siege Rhino can be dropped in favour of the Reaper of the Wilds and there are lots of other options at the 4 slot to play perfectly viable creatures instead of Nylea. There are really no alternatives to the Caryatid or the Courser, but things like Voyaging Satyr or Golden Hind can do reasonable approximations of these all-stars but at a fraction of the cost.
The sideboard is whole other issue that I’m not sure about. I’m not 100% sure I know what the meta will be playing, and seeing as I am only dabbling in Constructed I’m likely pretty screwed so I might just pack a sideboard full of removal and some Ajani’s Presence…and some Nyx-Fleece Ram to put the crews to Burn decks everywhere. It isn’t a perfect fix, and I’m open to suggestions from anyone out there in the community.
Well, there we have another week. The good news, I’ve picked up some Khans boosters and some Crack a packs are on the way for those who love to draft. For those out there with a penchant for Constructed, let me know what you think about my deck for the Invitational. Do you have some suggestions? I’m all ears. Let me know because I at least want to put up a reasonable result (i.e. not embarrass myself). And we’ve got a Casual night coming up complete with a Fresh Hobo deck to share with all of you. Lots to come, that’s for sure.
Until next time, keep it safe, keep it fun…keep it casual.by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters @bgray8791 on Twitter
|Set Name||Khans of Tarkir|
|Block||Set 1 of 3 in the Khans of Tarkir block|
|Number of Cards||269|
|Prerelease Events||September 20-21, 2014|
|Release Date||September 26, 2014|
|Launch Weekend||September 26-28, 2014|
|Game Day||October 18-19, 2014|
|Magic Online Prerelease Events||October 3-6, 2014|
|Magic Online Release Date||October 6, 2014|
|Magic Online Release Events||October 6-22, 2014|
|Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir||October 10–12, 2014|
|Pro Tour Khans of TarkirLocation||Honolulu, Hawaii, USA|
|Pro Tour Khans of TarkirFormats||Swiss:
|Official Three-Letter Code||KTK|
|Initial Concept and Game Design||Mark Rosewater (lead)
Mark L. Gottlieb
and Ken Nagle
|Final Game Design and Development||Erik Lauer (lead)
and Adam Prosak
with contributions from Matt Tabak
|Languages||English, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish|
|Available in||Booster Packs, Intro Packs*, Event Deck*, Fat Pack*
(* – Not available in all languages)
(Magic Online only available in English.)
Khans of Tarkir is going to be a large set—small set—large set block structure (like Innistrad, Dark Ascension, and Avacyn Restored, with a special consideration for Limited and “a time travel element” yet to be revealed.
Tarkir itself is a plane of five warring clans, each worships a different aspect of the plane’s (now extinct) dragons.
Abzan Houses – , Aspect: Endurance, Khan: Anafenza, Symbol: Scales, Theme: Control
Jeskai Way – , Aspect: Cunning, Khan: Narset, Symbol: Eye, Theme: Tricks
Mardu Horde – , Aspect: Speed, Khan: Zurgo Helmsmasher, Symbol: Wings, Theme: Aggro
Sultai Brood – , Aspect: Ruthlessness, Khan: Sidisi, Symbol: Fang, Theme: Resource manipulation
Temur Frontier – , Aspect: Savagery, Khan: Surrak Dragonclaw, Symbol: Claws, Theme: Midrange fatties