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
Well…HAPPY NEW YEARS magic players! Fate Reforged spoilers have started and dear LORD am I excited. We have only started to see the sweet new treats coming our way, but they look awesome already! I mean…Ugin?! Sure, he’s pricey…but he’s mighty sweet. Old Nicol Bolas may have bitten off more than he could chew here. And Soulfire Grand Master looks RIDICULOUS! Jeskai Burn/Wins decks just got an all-star to hit Clean-up…and dear lord does he pack a punch! I mean, lifelink on all your burn spells? That’s insane. Oh…and if you find yourself with a bunch of extra mana why not cast your spell and have it return to your hand? No biggie. That’s totally fair…and not the least bit suspect when you can also trigger Jeskai Ascendancy. No, that’s not broken at all. However, I digress…here at Three Kings Loot we are working on our previews as well, but what got me started today was one little word.
Yup. That one word BLEW my mind because it meant that Morph was going to continue to be a thing in this second set. We saw some sweet Morph creatures in Khans of Tarkir and some really amazing enablers to push them. However, I was really worried that the Morphs were going to disappear in the follow up sets meaning that they really only had a place in Limited and a few super Casual brews. However, with the support of the Manifest mechanic in Fate Reforged there is the very real possibility to push Morph decks from the realm of Limited to Fringe Constructed play. Here is where my mind is going.
We saw very early in the Khans Limited format that Secret Plans was a very powerful engine in the 5 colour Morph deck…or really any Morph deck. It allowed your Morphs to outclass those of your opposition, could chain you into more cards (replacing the need for more narrow card draw spells in the later stages of the game) and generally allowing you to out card advantage your opponent as you closed in for the kill. I also had an up-close look at Trail of Mystery and have decided that it is the real deal too. It may not pump your Morphs right now, but it does filter your deck, ramp your land, and then lead to blow out central when you start un-Morphing your creatures later on. These two powerful engines can really make Morph decks go. So, the logic being that if they are good in Limited, there is an outside chance, with some additional support, that they could start to be reasonable to see some fringe constructed play at FNM or some low pressure constructed events.
What are the new treats you ask? Well, the two that REALLY got my attention were Ethereal Ambush and Whisperwood Elemental. These two cards come with the Manifest mechanic and can totally enable further some gross things. They just enable you to chain more Morphs together into more cards and lands…and then full on going off. It does rely on synergy to get ahead and can be easily disrupted, but you should be able to pull it together once in a while and with devastating effect.
Now, I was debating what colours to use when building the deck, but the obvious starting point is U/G/X…and the X is totally up for debate. Yes, yes, I could go 5 colour, but that is just full on greedy and if the intent is to create something that is at least feasible in a competitive arena then 5 colour is NOT the way to go. So, we’re back to 3 colour build. Let’s see what we can do here.
My first reaction is to slide in Red for the Temur Morph deck, and looking at the other cards that have been spoiled, this feels pretty normal. Now, the nice thing with a Morph deck is that your actual curve is quite flat…because everything you play is really a Morph and you don’t much care about the actual casting cost. You DO care about the Morph cost, but hey…at least you should have things on board early on.
With the inclusion of Ethereal Ambush and the Whisperwood Elementals you aren’t rewarded for spells with the Manifest ability because lands and non-permanent spells simply become a 2/2 until they die. That is not overly useful in lots of regards. So, packing a deck full of spells is a bit foolish. So, as you may be able to see, most of the things in this deck are the two engines (Trail of Mystery and Secret Plans) or are creatures with a Morph ability anyway. The real trick is finding creatures that can Morph relatively inexpensively but yet are still useful. Sagu Mauler and Ashcloud Phoenix are obvious auto-includes and a couple of Thousand Winds could prove very effective at washing away your opponent. The other Morphs are all cheap to un-Morph and all of them have a solid ability. The Flock is just a big old flying wall to ensure you don’t get shredded from above. The Mystic of the Hidden Way ensures inevitability because it just can’t be blocked. The Icefeather Aven is a fun bounce effect. And the Rattleclaw Mystic is unadulterated ramp. The other spells are all useful, but if you lose one or two to being Manifested (Is that going to be the Term? I guess we should figure that out) by the Whisperwood Elemental or a stray Ethereal Ambush, but hey, that’s ok.
Your ideal opening hand has you playing Trail of Mystery on Turn 2, a Morph on Turn 3 to fetch a basic land, another Morph on Turn 4 to hit your 5th land drop…and you are off to the races. By the 5th Land drop you could cast Ethereal Ambush on your opponent’s End Step, Manifest 2 face down creatures, search up 2 more lands and well and truly be set cast your whole deck. Sneak in a Secret Plans as you go and you have a card engine to match your land filter engine…and all the mana you need to pay those Morph costs. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me and could lead to all sorts of ridiculous things.
Now, I have been toying around with some of the other colours as well. For a while everything I touched turned Bant…so U/G/W…and this could very well lead me to doing exactly the same. Here’s the build I’ve been toying with.
The deck functions very similarly to the Temur version but is somewhat less obviously powerful with no Phoenixes or direct burn. Instead you have Watcher of the Roost and Master of Pearls as the replacements and a couple of Feat of Resistance to make combat truly miserable. The trick here is that when you Morph your Watcher of the Roost for Free (Provided you still have a white card in your hand) the Trail of Mystery triggers making it now a 4/3 flier. Pump it again with a Master of Pearls as it Morphs and it is now a 6/5 until end of turn and likely making combat truly awful. Now, this is absolutely living in a fantasy land where I can do as I please and have all the pieces to the combo set up, but I can clearly see that this deck has more “moving parts” in order to generate the sort of explosive damage I want and can be derailed more easily. I feel like the Temur build is the better option, but I still like the idea of blowing out an opponent with Master of Pearls and a couple of Watcher of the Roost.
The options in Black if I wanted this to be a Sultai deck are less appealing with only the Ruthless Ripper and Grim Haruspex as desirable targets to Morph, but it does offer a lot of really interesting spells that I would love to have access to. Villainous Wealth and Murderous Cut being the first two most obvious choices, but there are others including Dead Drop. Archfiend of Depravity is also highly entertaining but none of these cards play into the Morph deck idea. Heck, the Villainous Wealth deck is already a thing on the fringe of Constructed standard. No, unless there are some higher quality black Morph cards coming in Fate Reforged the Sultai version would just be Sultai good stuff and not so much a Morph deck looking to abuse Trail of Mystery and Secret Plans. So, I think I’ll pass.
Well, there we have few new ideas to go about what Fate Reforged has to offer. And I just scratched the surface because I can see loads of other great pieces that will make many of the best decks even better, and will allow for some newer decks to start taking shape. Needless to say, we will be in for a treat in a few weeks when we all get to crack Fate Reforged and see what it has to offer up close and personal at the Pre-releases. I can hardly wait.
Anyway, thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to read my ramblings. As always, keep it fun, keep it safe…and 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