Well, I hope everyone’s had a blast at their prerelease events over the weekend. I have to admit, it was kind of weird format because we all opened so many Fate Reforged packs and very few Khans packs. That was a weird choice by Wizards, but it seemed to work ok. At one point I turned to someone else and said “hey…could you imagine doing this with 4 packs of Dragon’s Maze…that would have been unplayable.” By comparison, Fate Reforged prerelease worked, but there wasn’t the sort of variance that I would truly expect from the sealed format starting next weekend…but it was fun. It wasn’t as grinding as Khans was and that increased explosiveness meant winners and losers were easier to pick…and you could tell if you were on the right path or not.
I played the Two-Headed Giant event on the Sunday evening with my brother. The last time we played at the Khans prerelease we got thoroughly embarrassed and were pretty unimpressed with our results. However, this time we held our own and were in the running until the very last match. I’ll get to how that one got away on us in a bit, but we finished 3-2 and were relatively pleased with our results.
I opted to play Temur for this event and my brother decided he would play Mardu meaning we could bank on having some pretty solid creatures and a pair of aggressive decks…or so we thought. I opened up my pool and I was legitimately shocked. My Temur pool hardly had ANY playable 2 drops…and a very limited number of Morphs. The three drops I had weren’t even in my Clan! What gives? It wasn’t until I hit 4 on my curve that I started getting creatures that felt and played Temur-esque and that was a bad sign. So, my curve was…how do you say…TERRIBLE with very few plays in the opening turns. I was not impressed. The only good news was that my brother had a much more aggressive build and could put some early pressure down to help bridge us to turn 5+ when my deck could roar to life. It wasn’t a great game plan, but it was the best we had with the pools we opened.
In our first game we started off ok and I was holding up my end of the deal with some pretty reasonable removal to try and stave off the threats from our opponents. I Burn Away Dromoka, cast Bathe in Dragonfire on another dragon and felt pretty good about things. But then I drew three straight lands and completely flooded out and our opponents cast Shifting Loyalties on our Brutal Hordechief…which they then followed up with one of their own. You can imagine things took a decidedly downward turn and we were dead shortly after. We felt a little bummed.
Game 2 our opponents had us on the ropes and pretty much dead on board until they misplayed. They had a Daghatar the Adamant on the board with his 4 counters and they cast Hunt the Weak on it to fight something of mine. Then they cast a second Hunt the Weak on Daghatar, but forgot that Daghatar had already been dealt some damage and this second round was going to be lethal. Oops! With Daghatar dead because they goofed we went to town and my trio of Dragons (two Mindscour and one Destructor) went to work. They shortly conceded and we evened our record at 1 and 1.
The next game we came out much more quickly out of the gates, but the game turned when I had 7 mana and Temur Sabretooth on the board. The Sabretooth just stymied our opponents who just could not sequence a profitable attack by the potentially indestructible kitty. To make matters worse, my ultra greedy deck was PACKED with value creatures to abuse with the Sabretooth. When you are bouncing Aven Surveyor in order to give the Sabretooth indestructibility, eating their attacker, and then recasting the Surveyor to out tempo them, the opponents get sad…fast. Oh, the Surveyor isn’t your style? How about Bear’s Companion? Hell yeah! It was undoubtedly our best game and the one where I was able to hold off and to play conservatively and eke out advantage with the cards in play and not rush to dump my hand on the table. Suddenly we were 2-1 and feeling pretty good about ourselves.
Then we had a bye because a team dropped leaving a weird number of teams and we just had a turn to sit. Ok…3-1 it is…and in striking distance of a prize.
The last game we were moving along ok…until we got caught with Tasigur’s Cruelty and it forced us to pitch two cards apiece. Normally, this sort of card would be unplayable, but in Multiplayer it was devastating. I also opted to discard a land and to hold on to some pricey spells. Figures. Next thing I know I’m stranded on 4 mana, can’t hit Burn Away, Aven Surveyor, or ANYTHING…and we die to some pumped up creatures. Grrrr. Oh well. We had a shot and we blew it.
Here’s my decklist
Some of the cards that shone in our matches were not the ones I was expecting.
Pilgrim of the Fires: The 7 mana golem was about our best friend all day. Sure, he’s 7 mana and you don’t run him out there any too quickly, but the truth is, he likely wins just about any combat he ends up in. And by 7 mana, your opponents have already fired off just about all their best removal that can handle this guy…so the NEED to rely on combat. Well, with this guy being just a house we made short work of a number of opponents and were very impressed with him.
Temur Sabretooth: This kitty can do some work. The ability to be indestructible is very potent and can make combat a real nightmare. What’s more, it is super fun to bounce value creatures and then reap the rewards all over again. This one looks like the real deal and likely a real player in Limited.
Wild Slash: Premium Red removal…yeah…it’s good. It did work all day long.
Aven Surveyor: I know the guys on LR were pretty stoked for this card, and I like it too because it did do work…but I’m not convinced it is as super as people think it is. 5 mana is a big investment for a bounce effect, particularly when there are lots of powerful things to do at 5 mana. It was a big tool in my deck as I was packing loads of bounce effects, but users must be wary because he’s expensive.
Bathe in Dragonfire: Relatively inexpensive and useful removal to take out those nagging creatures. This likely over performed a little for me because it took out all sorts of things including a number of Dragons of varying sizes and descriptions as well as pesky Morphs. A good utility card.
Jesaki Infiltrator: This guy was a bust. A 2/1 unblockable creature SOUNDED good, but then he immediately Manifests a buddy…and loses the Unblockability. That’s kind of junk. Tested this guy out once and was immediately underwhelmed. Out he came and in went more burn.
Enhanced Awareness: What I would have given for a Weave Fate…or Treasure Cruise…or just about ANYTHING. This one is 5 mana…and it is an awkward one to jam. I got it off once, but wasn’t hugely impressed. Most of the time it was a 5 mana brick in my hand. It feels far more situational than Jace’s Ingenuity or even Opportunity and in a format where there are likely to be lots of other things to do with your mana that isn’t good news. As much as this COULD be good, it wasn’t. We’ll have to see if that trend continues.
Dragons: The 6 mana 4/4 dragons are playable, but hardly scary. I found the Mindscour Dragon cute because the Mill effect was handy. The only catch is having to watch that you don’t mill someone with Delve cards because you’re fueling their Treasure Cruise. I ran three of these just to see what they can do and while they are kind of neat, I wouldn’t hold my breath for them.
Runemarks: These are as awful as I feared they would be. Most of them seemed totally unplayable and not at all what I was interested in doing…so they all got left behind in favour of actual cards that did stuff.
Well, guys…I feel like we’re coming to an end of my Fate Reforged prerelease experience. I’d love to hear about what you experienced and how you fared. Let me know by leaving a comment or finding me on Twitter.
Thanks for reading…and until next time keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it casual.
By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters @bgray8791 on Twitter
by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
Well, things are starting to pick up with Khans limited and we’re starting to get a feel for what things look. Many of the podcasts and experts in these regards are raving about the format and the variety that it offers. So, I thought this week we’d dive back into the realm of Khans limited and Draft and bust open a pack and have a look. Let’s see what we’ve got this week!
Well, this week this is pretty much a slam dunk. The moment a fetch land shows in your draft pack you’re pretty well going to grab it based on value alone. However, in this pack there are still some interesting cards…but they will all be pick 2 or worse through out the pack.
So, there are a number of interesting cards, but Mardu Warshrieker is quite possibly the most attractive card in this pack. A 4 mana 3/3 is nice, but it is the Raid triggered “ritual” effect of ramping out a dump load of mana that is ridiculous. You don’t really have a 4 mana turn…you’re basically looking at a 7 mana turn…and the options get wild. Aggro decks just love this guy.
Burn Away is pretty terrific as far as removal goes because it is a sure way to deal with Blood Soaked Champion, exile the yard, and then reap the benefits. Yes, it is a steep spell to cast, but pricey removal is the flavour du jour and in the much slower Khans limited format is totally manageable. Everyone fights removal in Draft and this is pretty much premium removal.
Savage Punch is yet more removal and is inexpensive to boot. The Ferocious trigger makes this awesome because your stupid Alpine Grizzly (A vanilla 4/2) totally drops just about everything when it gets +2/+2. Really…what survives getting punched for 6? Not much in this format. This is yet more premium removal and is highly sought after.
Mer-ek Nightblade seems like it could get pretty crazy in the Abzan style builds to enable a ridiculous amount of deathtouchers. It is a solid card, but the Outlast mechanic is a little slow, but at least this one is relatively efficient to Outlast. I like it, but I’m not crazy for it.
Rotting Mastodon is a HUGE blocker that can really help a deck get its shields up and get prepared for the long game because there aren’t many spells that can take this one out and most creatures can’t attack profitably though it. I’m not thrilled that it is a 5 mana spell when I want a little more mustard behind a 5 drop, but if I need a big body to give me a little breathing room, this may be a good choice.
Erase and Naturalize are perfectly decent sideboard options, but they aren’t early picks and won’t be main decked. If I find one much later in the draft I’ll be happy because I’m unlikely to use an early pick on these cards.
Taigam’s Scheming could be a useful Delve enabler, but it mostly does nothing. It doesn’t put a card in your hand, it doesn’t impact the board, and it just filters your deck a little. I’m not really keen on it and would rather select a number of other cards before I get to this. If this were an instant I would be more inclined to run it so I can fix my card draw on my next draw step…but sadly this is a sorcery and is likely a bust.
The Banner and the Tranquil Cove are fixing. These are nice cards, but are more or less mid-round picks to enable splashing and ease the mana strains. The land would be my preferred option in most instances, but the banner could be relevant to help you draw a card in the late game and dig a little deeper into your deck.
Shambling Attendants is once again a pretty reasonable card, but like last week it’s pricey even with the Delve. Deathtouch helps to redeem this a touch, but it’s still a tough pill to swallow. Sure, it shuts a lot of attacks, but it just feels slow, ponderous, and not overly useful at some huge fat mana cost.
Oh…and Barrage of Boulders. I’m not a fan, but if you can trigger the ferocious on it, it could be a good way to force through some damage. I’m not sure it is really worth a card slot because at sorcery speed it really isn’t that flexible or impactful but I guess if you need it for Prowess or something I guess it’s an option…but I’m leaving this until late.
Secret plans…I’m not sold on this because a 2/3 morph is…ok? Sort of? Sometimes? The card to be drawn off the triggered ability is more useful, but it feels hard to trigger and not overly relevant unless I have a bunch of Morphs. You COULD be running a bunch and that card draw could really help fuel you through your deck. If you don’t…well…it’s a dead card. That’s a lot of uncertainty for a card that you want to use to abuse the Morph mechanic. I might take a chance on this once I’ve established that I’ve got some Morph creatures, otherwise I might just let this one slide.
The first pick is easy. Flooded Strand is very good value and allows you to pay for draft all by itself. It’s freaking Modern playable, will be run in Standard for the time being too, and is generally just a star. If you are drafting and you open one of these, grab it, and don’t worry about it because you have the rest of your picks to help you set the rest of your deck.
With Flooded Strand aside, I would quite seriously be looking at the Burn Away as the next best card in this pack. It is instant speed creature removal and can kill just about anything with the 6 damage. It is also serves as some serious graveyard hate to hamstring any Delve strategy meaning that it can play a secondary role to disrupt an opponent. What isn’t to like about this card (except the 5 mana to cast it).
Well, that pack seemed anti-climatic. Sure, I’m glad I pulled a Fetch land, but it sort of makes the whole exercise rather academic and not overly relevant. I still enjoy the chance to go through the cards and perform my Limited format assessment, but it just feels a little “bad” because none of it really matters thanks to the Fetch. Oh well…maybe next week’s Crack a pack MTG will be different.
Until next time may you open nothing but mythic bomb rares!
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