by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
Fresh of my weekend of playing entirely too much Magic at an event, and getting a bonus chance to draft the Khans format, I was all excited this week to sit down and crack a pack and see what we find. The format is super fun and I can’t wait to get another crack at it, but in the meantime this will need to suffice for me. Let’s crack open our pack and see what we find this week!
Wow, just my luck. This is a tough pack to work with because there are so few creatures. There are only two creatures to look at in this pack and neither of them are super noteworthy. Are they bad creatures? No. But you certainly aren’t going to First pick either of them. So, you are going to prioritize things slightly different in this pack.
Our rare today is How of the Horde. I’ve been kind of down on this card for a while now because it just feels like a bad Fork spell. I got spoiled by Fork as a young player…and Reverberate was very similar. Both of those were 2 mana (granted double Red) and at Instant speed. This is 3 mana and a sorcery meaning it is significantly less versatile and much slower. Now, it could combo off something crazy with some Jeskai Prowess triggers (unless I have misunderstood how this copy effect works) but I would like to look at it in the context of this pack. This COULD copy such things as the Take Up Arms and net you 6 tokens. Or it could copy the Rush of Battle or Swift Kick you some added value. All of these cards could wheel and might make this a valuable pick, but I’m not overly fond of going this route because it takes a lot of set up to make this card good. I’m more likely to pass on it and move to something else.
The card that actually drew my attention first was Nomad Outpost. The reason it got my attention is because I learned from my experience, and watching a few other drafters play on Twitch, that mana fixing is huge in this format and that prioritizing land early in the draft is fairly key. This Nomad Outpost enables you to go the Mardu route, but it also enables Jeskai as well, meaning that it could be a very useful addition in this pack. Besides, you have the remaining 3 full packs to try and find spells to cast and if this pack is a bit on the weak side it might be the best play just to grab the land and work on building the consistency of the deck.
Debilitating Injury grabs my attention next because of what it offers. It is inexpensive, reliable, removal that just crushes Morph cards. It may as well read “Morph Hate” on the text line. With the high number of Morphs circulating around in the format it is a good idea to have a couple of these handy to take them out before they flip and really cause trouble. It can also shrink down something much large down to a manageable size so you can block it more profitably. This isn’t idea, but may be your only way of dealing with something big like an Abzan Guide or something.
Stubborn Denial is a super-efficient counter spell that will most likely become relevant in some sort of Constructed format because it costs 1 mana. Spell Pierce was the same some way and has become a staple in Modern. However, you are much less likely to have the 4 power creature on board to trigger the Ferocious on this to counter something out-right in your draft deck making this somewhat conditional, but still very good.
I haven’t given up on Take Up Arms. I know it isn’t Raise the Alarm or Triplicate Spirits, but I have hope that any card that produces three tokens is a strong addition to a deck. It could synergize nicely with some of the other tribal Warrior cards. It might be a trap because it might be too slow to be overly relevant, but if Hordling Outburst can be good, I feel like this could be good too.
Leaping Master is a “Bear” that can gain flying if you get stuck. He’s a little underwhelming but could be tricky to cope with if you can make him a little bigger and then pay to make his fly each turn. Flying isn’t overly prevalent in this set and the fact that this card gets some measure of evasion really makes this guy’s stock climb.
Disdainful Stroke lets you counter their most relevant spells for a mere two mana. You KNOW this is Constructed worthy because it pretty well hits every Planeswalker currently in Standard and most of the most relevant spells. Now, an Aggro or Burn deck can make this useless quite readily, but in Limited the logic still applies. Most of the biggest bombs your opponent wants to play are 4+ mana and the ability to set them back for a mere 2 mana is very appealing.
Rush of Battle could be kind of funny if you can grab the Take Up Arms early, and then find this late to capitalize on the synergy between the warrior tokens and this spell. It is still kind of slow and clunky at 4 mana and Sorcery speed, but you might not care.
Sagu Archer is a very reasonable creature that is actually quite valuable because it also packs Morph. That makes it very versatile and a very real play to make on turn 3 to build your board presence. The Reach is relevant as well once it flips but is otherwise fairly vanilla.
Swift Kick is Instant speed removal…sort of…and I still don’t like it. It’s 4 mana and the fact that it doesn’t boost the toughness of your creature makes it kind of unappealing. I would look at this very late in the round.
Naturalize is 100% a sideboard card. Enough said.
Jungle Hollow and Tranquil Cove are both very appealing for the same sort of reasons as the Nomad Outpost. Access to the correct combination of mana is hugely important and has started to push the relative value of these cards in Draft quite a bit higher. The fact that there are two in this pack alone shows just how prevalent these lands are, and consequently how relevant they are to your deck. Don’t overlook these guys.
Jeskai Banner. Pass. Slow. Not good enough. End of discussion.
So, this pack has lead me to an interesting choice where the Rare doesn’t really figure in the equation. Do I want the cheap and efficient Morph Killer, or the land to build options and consistency? I feel like I want the land for the sake of consistency and the options it affords. Injury is a good card but I can assure you I’ll see a few more copies of that before the draft is over so I had better grab the land and make use of it to ease the mana burden on the deck and build in some inherent consistency. These sorts of packs always make for the most difficult choices because I could conceivable go a number of different directions quite happily but I feel like the Outpost is the safest, most reliable options afforded out of this pack.
Well there we have another pack of Khans and another very tough choice. What are you guys finding? Is drafting the lands as crucial as I seem to think or do you routinely stumble into the cards and mana you need on your own as the draft progresses? Would you have grabbed the Rare in this pack? Would you have picked something else entirely? Shoot me a tweet and let me know so we can all help each other start to sort out this very tricky draft format.
Thanks very much for reading again this week…and until next time may you open nothing but mythic bomb rares.by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters @bgray8791 on Twitter