By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
Well, I’m back at it trying to work through some pick selections and I’ve got another crack a pack MTG with a fresh Khans booster. This format is showing lots of variances with loads of tough choices…and what makes it doubly difficult is that there are a number of ridiculous Bombs that are obvious first picks, but aside from that there are a wide variety of picks that can all be considered depending on what style of game you like to play. So, let’s bust open this pack, take a peak, and see what we’ve got.
Well, this pack is very uninspiring. The Rare is a pretty big dud, the uncommons are reasonable but hardly insane, and the commons leave me wanting more. Ok…so where do I begin? I know. Let’s start with the LEAST desirable card in this pack and move from there. The card I want least from this pack is Lens of Clarity. This is a do nothing artifact that is completely useless. If I see this in my pack I want nothing to do with it and would rather take a land, even a basic, over it because it is just that poor. No thanks. Forget this one and move on. And don’t be that guy who plays it to be cute…it’s a sign that you drafted garbage and are likely ripe for a beat down.
The Rare is Hardened Scales and while this seems like a neat card, it is likely of little or no value to you unless you are really keen to be in on the Abzan game plan. Regardless, you aren’t taking this first. I actually see this being more of an EDH or Casual card rather than an actual Draft or Constructed card. It just doesn’t have enough of an impact to make it worth the first pick…or even an early pick for that matter unless you have set your path to your deck and are committed to play counters in a big way.
Frontier Bivouac actually gets a fair amount of attention because the Tri lands are very good. Initially I wasn’t overly impressed, but they offer so much flexibility to your mana that they are well worth an early pick. Also, since they hardly EVER wheel, you had better grab it now or it will be gone…particularly with how poor this pack is. I’m not excited to consider this as my first pick, but it might be something that makes sense.
I’ve started to hear whispers that there is a Goblinslide/Quiet Contemplation deck out there but I’m not going to jump on this little treat until I get a couple of picks deep and start to see that it is still available. Also, the deck feels pretty unreliable so I think that this card may be something I pass along and try another direction unless I start seeing multiple Slides floating around.
Pine Walker is a very nice creature with a very powerful ability. Really, are you going to complain about a 5/5 for 5 mana, has Morph, and a relevant triggered ability? No. Didn’t think so. This would be very reasonable as a first pick.
War Behemoth, Glacial Stalker, Canyon Lurkers, and Kin-Tree Warden all fill the same sort of void in your deck. They are perfectly viable Morphs depending on your deck and can ambush an unsuspecting opponent pretty easily. Am I in love with any of these? No. But will I play them? Absolutely. Just not as a first pick.
Bloodfire Mentor is something that is quite interesting and is pretty overlooked but it can be a very aggressive creature. A 3/1 with Prowess can be very powerful if you can fire off a non-creature spell to hit your triggers and watch the damage start to pile up. Sure, it isn’t very good on Defence as a blocker (apart from as a speed bump), but it is quite a strong aggressive creature that at least bears some consideration in the mid round of the draft if you are in Red and have any ability to trigger that Prowess.
Bitter Revelation is a fine card for a mid-round pickup and can do a fine job of enabling Delve and still netting you a card or two. You will likely only want 1 of these in your deck but you are unlikely to regret the choice. It’s just a solid utility card that does what it needs to do quite well and is nice addition to decks playing Black.
Smite the Monstrous is a very nice removal spell to wipe out fatties. This includes pretty much the ENTIRE Temur deck and many of the dudes in Abzan colours meaning you have a fairly high ratio of targets. I’d take this as an insurance policy once I’m committed to being White, but there is no way I’m picking this first.
Singing Bell Strike is generally good removal to just tap down a pesky critter but does have an unintended drawback against Abzan decks. Since the board state tends to stall out there will be lots of chances for your opponent to play a load of land and then untap a creature with Outlast and then use the Singing Bell Strike to effectively Outlast the creature numerous times on the same turn, provided they have the mana. I have seen this happen to me and seen my plan brutally backfire and then face down a massive Outlasted creature. Ouch. So, I’m generally pretty pleased with this one, but be wary.
Dismal Backwater is yet more solid fixing and something that I generally like because the format offers so much flexibility if you are prepared to select it. I like this as a solid mid-round pick and would be prepared to pick this up likely a little higher than many other players.
In a marginal pack like this the first pick is very tough. I’m honestly torn between taking the very solid creature (Pine Walker) or going for the mana fixing (Frontier Bivouac). My sense at this point is to go for the Bivouac because creatures are readily available and can be somewhat more interchangeable whereas the land could be at a premium. That is by no means a slight on the Pine Walker and I could make a really strong argument to select it first, but I still think taking the land is the more prudent play and will net you more benefit in the long run.
It isn’t exciting is it? However, I think it is the better choice considering what is in this pack. Well…there we have a pretty unexciting pack. If I actually opened this at a draft I would feel pretty sad because they was very little to get jazzed about. We did get to see just about the least playable card in the set, which is always a nice treat to see which poor chump ends up having it forced on them. But, as for the rest of the pack, the best word to describe it is lackluster.
Thanks for reading once again this week. If you have some ideas of your own or experience that would lead to a different first pick, by all means let me know. Fire me a Tweet or leave a comment down below. I love having an honest discussion with players and sharing ideas and points of view to help make us all better players. Until next time, may you open nothing but Mythic Bombs.
By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters @bgray8791 on Twitter
I’m trying to get things back in order and get back into a routine of writing for you guys. It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and done much in the way of writing, but I have been tinkering with some decks some more and have some ideas that I am prepared to share with you guys, however not today. Today I’m going to bust open another pack of Khans and see what we get because this weekend I’m actually going to get a chance to draft some of this stuff. I’m pretty excited and hope that my preparation (such as writing here on Three Kings Loot) and watching a number of other guys stream their draft videos will help me to a decent record in my upcoming events. Let’s open up our pack and see what we find.
Well, this pack has a number of solid commons, a high profile Rare, and bunch of lousy uncommons so it makes for a number of interesting selections. Let’s start with the Rare. Crater’s Claws is a pretty awesome ‘Fireball’ that is just really versatile. It’s even better if you can trip the Ferocious trigger on this little treat that makes this a shock at worst, and just insane from there on. Seeing as this can serve as removal if you need it, or as a form of inevitability to just burn out an opponent to the ‘dome’ this makes for a pretty excellent spell to pick and one that your opponent is unlikely to play around or expect. This is a nice spell and will be a high priority in this pack for me.
Seek the Horizon and Goblinslide are spells that I don’t much care for. Seek the Horizon is a pretty marginal ramp spell that can be useful if you need the fixing, but it eats up a slot at 3 mana on your curve. You know what else takes 3 mana on your curve? Only every Morph in the format is what. You would rather be playing a Morph at 3 mana and not durdling for more land. So, Seek the Horizon is likely to be cut in favor of creatures and spells that have more impact. Goblinslide takes a fair amount of set up and then you STILL need to pay for it. I can imagine a Jeskai sort of deck with lots of non-creature spells that would be interested in this, but honestly, if you WANT to run this card it is because you want the comedic value of trying to bury your opponent under a pile of Goblins. However, I am generally not that motivated by this one either because I would rather be doing some other things with my mana.
Watcher of the Roost is the other uncommon in this pack and I’m pretty okay with it, but I would not be taking this early. Sure, it comes down as a Morph and can flip essentially for free if you reveal a White spell, gives you two life and even has flying. These are all relevant things to do. However, a 2/1 with Flying is…how to put this…slightly disappointing. I will happily play this but I won’t be taking it early because I maintain that there are better things and select.
Moving on the commons there are some very reasonable spells and creatures to weigh. The first one that gets my attention is Alabaster Kirin. It’s a 2/3 with flying and vigilance which makes it a pretty solid attacker that can also play defence. The 3 toughness makes it a very reliable blocker to handle all those Mardu aggro creatures or Warrior tokens. It isn’t flashy but very effective. It is also nice because it dodges stuff like Suspension Field and Smite the Monstrous making it a surprisingly difficult to creature to handle.
Abomination of Gudul is another very solid Morph and among the best of the Gold common cycle of Morphs because it packs flying and lets you ‘Loot” once you get through for damage. It dodges Smite the Monstrous which is also a thing, but sadly still gets caught by Suspension Field. I like this one too, but it falls behind the Kirin for me because the mana requirements are pretty tough to meet.
Mystic of the Hidden Way is another very reliable Morph that provides good inevitability because you can’t just block it. It’s a very solid, Morphs for cheap and is just a stud to wreck an opponent. The part I like best about this card is that it isn’t as broken as Invisible Stalker was, but it is still a tricky creature to contain because of the evasion it has. It’s a pretty solid mid-round pick up.
Mardu Hateblade is a solid 1 drop that can pack deathtouch. If you are Abzan, or Mardu, or even the Warrior deck you want this guy because he is just a reliable creature that is major deterrent to your opponent because nobody wants to have the feel bad of having your better creature die on a 1/1 deathtoucher. He’s a nice pickup, but Ruthless Ripper and Heir of the Wilds are better choices because you don’t have to activate the deathtouch ability. Sadly, they are both uncommons and you are far more likely to find this guy in your pack than either of those.
Kin-tree Warden is yet another solid Morph that is a resilient defender that helps a Abzan deck get to the late game by regenerating for the ridiculously cheap cost of 2 mana. Honestly, I miss the days of cheap regeneration cost and this guy is as close as you are likely to get. I like it and would be prepared to grab this as a mid round pick.
Rugged Highlands is pretty solid because the common Refuge lands are lynch pins in any multi colour deck and even MORE crucial if you are rocking the 5 colour Morph deck with all the flashy spells you can grab. It isn’t an exciting pick, but in this format, with a lack of obvious pick you grab a land and fix your mana to do something more powerful than you would otherwise do in a regular 2 colour deck.
Rotting Mastodon is a big dumb wall. 5 mana 2/8’s or huge to fight through and make solid ways to get your shields up while you Outlast your Abzan dudes. I’m not a huge fan but can see the role this fatty can play.
Cancel is acceptable counter magic that is an insurance policy. If you play Blue, you’ll want one of these just to be sure you can counter their biggest threat or that key piece they are looking for, but otherwise you don’t really want this too highly.
Barrage of Boulders is not something I want. It doesn’t do enough for me and to trigger the “unable to block” feature means you need to have the Ferocious online. I don’t know…I might give it a try this weekend to see if I can make this lead to a blow out, but I’m not big on this guy at this point.
Lastly, Summit Prowler is a just another dude in your deck. You aren’t excited about this guy at all.
First pick is pretty easy this week. Crater’s Claws is most obviously the first pick in this pack but there are a number of very solid creatures and Morphs available. The hope is that you can wheel at least one of them when the pack comes back, but the relative depth of this pack is pretty low meaning that you might get this pack back with nothing but junk left in it. That’s a shame. However, Crater’s Claws offers you, like I said, a bad shock at worst, or a way to close out a game out of nowhere. The potential ceiling on this card is extremely high and you will absolutely grab this and make a point of playing it. Not to mention, you will not be sad to draw this at just about any point in your match. It may not be worth all that much on the secondary market, but the relative impact this can have in a game is huge and well worth the risk.
Thanks very for taking the time to join me this week as we go through yet another pack. Things are looking pretty spicy and the format looks like a lot of fun with a ton of variance meaning that there are a number of successful archetypes and strategies to win with. I hoping to be able to return next week, after my weekend of getting a number of drafts in, and be able to pass along a little more to you guys.
Thanks again and until next week may you open nothing but Mythic bombs.
By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters@bgray8791 on Twitter