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
The Khan is here! The Khan is here! Ok…maybe not quite…but that’s what I wanted to yell when I finally had a chance to crack some Khans and play with the new shiny toys. Oh boy! Oh Boy! Oh Boy! I’ll spare you waxing poetically about Khans and let’s get to the good stuff.
So, my initial reaction to this pack is BOOOO…nothing crazy sweet in this pack, but it is pretty reasonable and offers some interesting choices for cards and a tough first pick. Having not had a ton of limited experience with this set I’m working a bit in a vacuum, but I still have an idea about where I would go.
Let’s start with the rare and while the Deflecting Palm has proven to be very good in Jeskai tempo decks in Constructed, it is by no means a slam dunk for Draft. It will very likely sit dead in your hand in many games, if you draw it, and even once you do it does little to impact the board. Now, there will absolutely be situations where it is the best card you could have hoped to pull, but most of the time will be unless you’re on the Jeskai game plan and can trigger a load of Prowess triggers. I won’t discount this card from this pack, but it isn’t an automatic slam first pick.
Amongst the uncommons we have a couple of really interesting cards. Let’s start with the Charm because these are all very powerful. All three modes of this are borderline bananas and the sheer versatility of this card makes me want to jump on board. Yes, it is 3 different mana symbols to cast it, but the options this can present are remarkable. Also, with the wide range of mana fixing in this set like the common Refuge cycle, Banners, and Tri-lands (and forget about those fetches) you could easily pull this off.
Sultai Flayer is a 3/4 for 4 mana and is very versatile. While the name claims it is a Sultai creature, it can also synergize very nicely with the Temur clan because of all the 4 toughness creatures it seems to have kicking around. Gaining 4 life is pretty significant and big creatures tend to have a bit of a bulls-eye on them, so you may as well reap a little benefit from it. The 3/4 for 4 mana is also pretty efficient and gives you something to exert some good board presence.
Goblinslide is not something I’m really keen on because I don’t really want to play that has no impact on the board when I cast it, needs other pieces to trigger it (like non-creature spells) and then STILL pay 1 mana to get the Goblin token. It has its applications, but I’m not lining up for this one.
Shambling Attendants gets my attention because a 3/5 with Deathtouch is pretty solid. The casting cost on this one is not ideal, and even with the Delve it makes for a tough sell, but something this large with deathtouch basically shuts down your opponent because they will be unlikely to be keen to trade with the attendant. A little pricey, but will get a good solid look based on the impact it can have on the board.
Archer’s Parapet gets my attention pretty quickly because it is a way to help bust a board stall situation. Two mana for 0/5 is totally doable and gives you a solid barrier to hide behind while you set up your board. The fact that you can use it to deal damage in the later game is a nice bonus. The black activation is not a big drawback due to all the fixing in this set, but it is something to keep in mind as you move through your draft.
Rite of the Serpent. Well, Well…6 mana removal is back. You’ll play this and it will likely get drafted mid-round because removal is always at a premium. The thing that I like most about this card is that you get a sweet bonus of a Snake token if you take out a creature with a +/1+1 counter on it. That’s some nice value, even if it is conditional.
Weave Fate is the Divination for this set, but might be slightly better because it is at instant speed. Blue decks will want this and will be happy to grab it and play it on their opponent’s end step all game long.
Tusked Colossodon is a massive Green fatty for 6 mana. I remember when Craw Wurm was the big dumb Green fatty for 6…this guy is a significant upgrade. You won’t want this guy early but to grab him later in the round as a big defender or just a way to trigger Ferocious will earn this guy his stripes.
Mardu Banner and Swiftwater Cliffs sort of serve the same role of enabling the fixing in this set with so many demands on your mana base. The fact that these are readily available in just about every pack is good news and may mean that both of these are available later in the round. However, don’t be surprised to see these guys start disappearing earlier and earlier as people fight over the mana they want/need.
Swift Kick is an interesting take on the Green “fight” style of removal. Instant speed, and getting +1/+0 could mean you take out their creature, but you are likely working out a trade at best and leaving you down a card because they lose their creature…and you just traded your creature and a spell to do it. Also, 4 mana for this sort of effect is pretty expensive, particularly when Savage Punch is in this same set at 2 mana. This is acceptable and does see play, but it isn’t high on my list of priorities.
Rush of Battle has all the trappings of being just like Sanctified Charge except Charge is an Instant and grants First Strike and not Lifelink. The key is the Instant speed and First strike because they tip the scales and make Sanctified Charge terrific as your whole team just runs over your opponent. Rush of Battle is a sorcery, so needs to be played before combat is declared in order to even have effect, but the LifeLink doesn’t guarantee that your boys win in combat the way that Charge almost certainly ensured it. You will rarely run this and only if you are desperate for playables or ways to trigger Prowess.
Cancel is a perfectly reasonable counter spell in most formats and this set is no different. The problem becomes where do you prioritize it? I would argue that it is a mid-round pick for me, and mostly as insurance to make sure that I am packing some counter magic, but I may find that it slides further down the pick order as the format evolves.
My first pick out of this pack is quite seriously the Sultai Charm because I like the versatility of the spell and all three modes are very strong. The casting cost is a little prohibitive, but there is loads of fixing in every pack and by selecting it first you can craft your deck to support all three colours if that is the route you intend to take. However, even if you don’t play Sultai because the colours aren’t overly open, you are at least assured that you won’t have to face this down as you move through your rounds. I had considered Deflecting Palm and opted for the Charm because it is just more useful in more situations than Deflecting Palm, which is really only good in a couple of situations.
Well, there we have it as we move into the new world that is Khans draft limited and things look sweet. Even with this pack, which is pretty marginal, has a bunch of really interesting options to consider when evaluating the cards in the pack. I’m really excited for what Khans is going to offer the draft environment and help freshen up the Limited environment. I can’t wait to get my first crack at the format and see what the draft feels like to play first hand.
Thanks very much for once again reading this week and I can’t wait to see what Khans offers us as the draft and constructed formats continue to evolve and emerge. Thanks very much and may you open nothing but Mythic 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
KTK card reviews by authors Daniel Crayton and Bruce Gray