Folks… something got my attention. I found my new favorite casual card and it is awesome. It feels SOOO good to cast this guy. It does everything I want in a Magic card. I have found Gonti, Lord of Luxury and I am pumped!
Let’s get out in front of this: yes, I played at the Kaladesh pre-release and followed all the spoilers so I knew he was good. Heck, I even picked Gonti as one of my top 10 Casual cards in the set. Anyway, I was already aware that the guy was good, but HOW good was he? Oh, he’s awesome.
Let’s fast forward to the other night when I got the nerve to step back into MTGO and draft Kaladesh. Well, my draft was largely uneventful and I had a B/R artifact deck that was no great shake. However, Pack 3 revealed Gonti and I snapped him up. As the draft unfolded he was by far the best card in my deck and was exactly what I wanted to cast every time. I had a Diabolic Tutor in my deck and found myself often searching out Gonti even if I had larger creatures in my deck. Gonti was too good to pass up and was a house for me all league long.
After the event was all finished I sat back and thought about WHY I wanted to cast Gonti with such regularity. I mean, his body isn’t great at 2/3 . He’s not hyper efficient at 4 mana, and double black at that. Deathtouch is usually just an annoyance and rarely a truly defining ability. His ETB ability is interesting but not game breaking… right? Wrong. The ability is EXACTLY what I wanted. His trigger to mess around with your opponent’s deck is just the sort of thing I want.
Gonti, Lord of Luxury, is quietly a 3 for 1 in most instances and leads to nasty stuff that really intrigues me. Wait… yes I said a 3 for 1… at LEAST. Let’s think about it: You cast Gonti and you get a 2/3 body on board, which is certainly a thing. He attacks ok, is a nuisance if your opponent attacks you, and is generally just a solid creature. Next, Gonti lets you look at your opponent’s top 4 cards and exile one and can play it. This often means you get to deprive your opponent of a key resource at the very least, and, at best, have the chance to use it against your opponent yourself. That is a powerful reversal of fortunes if you turn up something like a Gearhulk, Eliminate the Competition, or some other powerful effect. So everyone can admit that, to date, this is a 2 for 1 easily enough because for casting this single card I get two cards worth of value. Getting a 3 for 1 isn’t hard if the card you get off of Gonti trades for 2 cards itself. So a 3 for 1 is pretty easy to get, but I would make the case that you could even get a 4 for 1 out of this scenario if you put a further good card on the bottom of their library further depriving them a chance to play it. This isn’t fool proof if they have a “shuffle” effect, but making them put useful resources on the bottom of their deck is often as good as depriving them of the resource out-right because you are rarely going to have a shot to play a card on the bottom of your library. So, for 4 mana you get pretty close to 4 for 1 and can seriously chop your opponent down to size.
So, Gonti is a ridiculous Limited card. Perhaps fringe playable in Constructed. However, in Casual play the guy is just silly. Let’s face it, in Casual formats people are likely to push for one effect and look to take it to an extreme either because their deck is themed around a given ability or because they enjoy causing their opponents grief. Regardless of what camp you are in, the chance to re-use Gonti’s ability in a Casual format is mind boggling.
In a 60 card casual format you get to play multiples of this guy. That is insane! In Commander, where you can build this sort of card into the theme of your deck, the options are endless, and too appealing to turn up.
So, Gonti is good…Blink him, mill him and re-animate him, make him your commander…and see for yourself. My mind immediately took him to my Smuggler’s Copter Commander deck and he fits in perfectly. Alesha wants to trigger her ability on creatures with power 2 or less and Gonti is a prime target. Triggering Gonti’s ability multiple times in the same game sounds awesome.
Here’s the best part, Gonti is essentially a bulk rare. You can find him at Three King’s Loot for $1.49*. In a set where there are pricier cards like Smuggler’s Copter or Torrential Gearhulk or a Masterpiece, $1.49* feels pretty affordable. You can likely pick one up in trade somewhere reasonably inexpensively making him a great bargain AND a really good addition to your deck.
So, what is the appeal? I’m not 100 % sure WHY I like trying to make Gonti really good, but to me he feels like a slight variation on one of my other pet cards: Villainous Wealth. I just love the idea of playing with my opponent’s deck and anything that let’s me do that is awesome. It feels deliciously filthy to beat them to death with their own things.
As always, thanks for taking the time to stop in and read and please check back again next time for another Casual Encounter.
*Editor’s note: All prices are subject to change according to the whims of the multiverse.
Being a budget brewer is usually a tough proposition. The mana base for most decks is usually so prohibitively expensive that it is very difficult to make a deck for a reasonable cost. However, the beauty part with Khans of Tarkir is the inclusion of the Refuge Lands. These inexpensive, common lands are super important to helping to keep the cost of your deck in line. Since they are also in all 10 colour pairs, it makes for an opportunity to really build some interesting decks without breaking the bank.
One of the most interesting mechanics that came out of Khans has been Delve. It has allowed Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time to see play in virtually every format because the reduction in cost created by the Delve mechanic is hilarious and disgusting all at once. I wanted to take my own stab at a Sultai deck powered by Delve and the common cycle of Refuge lands to provide a budget conscious deck that is capable of some ridiculous game states and power. Let’s see what I’ve got cooking.
The lands cover off your bases as well as possible. Opulent Palace ensures access to all three colours and run about a $1 a card. The other Refuge lands are all pretty inexpensive additions as well and the basics fill out the land requirements for this deck relatively effectively and cheaply. Nice deal. This land base runs you under $10 bucks but still gives you access to the colours you need!
The creature package isn’t as large as I usually run, but the ones that I do run are important.
Let’s start with the 3 Satyr Wayfinders in this list. These little guys are ridiculously useful because they fill your yard for your Delve spells and fetch you land. The best part with the Wayfinder is that if you hit ANY land card you can pick it, not just basics. In a deck running so few basics and so many dual and tri coloured land that distinction is huge. At roughly a dime a card these are cheap, effective, and very useful.
Nyx Weaver is a vital part of the deck because it also helps to fill your yard, and by consequence power out those Delve spells even faster. However, sac this little guy and regrow that important resource you just milled away. Nothing is funnier than recasting that Villainous Wealth you just burned, getting your Kiora or Jace back, or finding that blocker you need to try and stem the tide. Also, at a mere $0.40 a card they are a bargain for something so useful.
Sagu Mauler: Why not? He’s huge, hard to handle, and requires an immediate answer or you die to the ridiculous 6/6 trampler with Hexproof. Also, at $0.50 a card he’s a steal.
Chasm Skulker: This is legitimately an experiment. I feel like this card could be very good, particularly with the amount of cards I can draw off things like Treasure Cruise, Dig and Interpret the Signs. He produces value if he gets killed and is otherwise just a growing bomb to dismantle your opponent. He’s also very cheap, meaning he also helps keep the cost of the deck down.
Rakshasa Vizier: Honestly, a pair of feels fine in this deck to reap the ridiculous benefits of Delving away loads of cards and making a huge behemoth. Also, a 4/4 for 5 is just fine base stats anyway. Oh, and it’s cheap…so…Budget Brew away.
Necropolis Fiend: This is the big finisher in this deck. A 4/5 with Flying is pretty awesome…but the ability to repeatedly take care of creatures with its tap ability is huge. The casting cost has no real bearing because of the ridiculous Delve potential with this deck meaning it can hit the table without much trouble and at $0.30 a card you can’t go wrong.
With all the budget cards we’ve played in the lands and creatures there is lots of room to splash around with fancy spells.
Jace, the Living Guildpact: Did anyone notice that Jace’s new first ability jives with Delve incredibly well? I haven’t seen him in any lists at all so far and I’m wondering why not? His second ability is very relevant as well and totally protects you or him if used properly. Yes, his ultimate might curtail your plan somewhat, but wrecking your opponent’s hand and you drawing 7 is ridiculous. This could be the best $4 card in the deck.
Kiora, The Crashing Wave: Wow, has the value of Kiora plummeted recently. What was once a $20 card is now $8.50…and she’s amazing for this deck. Her first ability is very useful because she nullifies their best creature every turn. The second ability is amazing to draw yet MORE cards and then dump extra land to ramp to Dig, Villainous Wealth, or Necropolis Fiend. Her ultimate is an inevitable win condition. She’s pretty sweet.
Villainous Wealth: I want a full playset of these guys because I think this card could be the real deal. It’s an absolute game breaking spell. Yes, it’s greedy, yes it’s expensive…but you only need to hit one and the game just about ends on the spot because it attacks them on an axis that they likely aren’t expecting. Look at the deck…it looks like it wants to beat down with the Vizier, the Mauler, or the Fiends, but one of these for 6 or 7 totally changes the perception of the game. Add in the fact that it is about $0.50 a card as well and you have a budget all-star.
Dig Through Time: Well, this let’s you assemble EXACTLY that piece you were missing. What more needs to be said. It is an awesome card. It is not cheap at $7.50 to $15 a card…but it is well worth it.
Interpret the Signs: I have to admit, I stumbled across this and love it. With all the very high casting costs in this deck you can hit this for 6, 7, 8 or even 9 cards without much trouble! That’s bonkers. And at a mere $0.15 a card is just perfect mass card draw for this sort of deck.
Sultai Charm: Ummm…Removal. Nuff said.
Scout the Borders: This acts as card filtering AND as a ritual type effect because it dumps itself and 4 more cards in your yard…meaning that you are most of the way to casting Treasure Cruise by turn 3 and turning things up to high gear. You don’t need too many of them, but a pair seems like the right number.
If you are really keen on playing this deck it would be mighty easy to get a few more pricey treats for this deck. Currently the price tag for this deck is running somewhere shy of $75…but there are lots of pricey treats to sub in that will drive the price tag way up.
The obvious place to start is with 4 Polluted Delta. That’s $80 in Delta’s. Sure, they thin your deck, feed your Delve and are generally pretty useful, they are hardly key lynch pins in the strategy. That said, I would love to have a playset of these guys to rock in the deck.
Yavimaya Coast and some more Scry Temples might also be considerations for this deck help improve the mana situation. I’m less convinced on these guys, but the added value of the free scry or more untapped lands might be really helpful.
I would be prepared to entertain a discussion about NOT running the Dig Through Time, not because it is a bad card, but because Interpret the Signs might be the better spell. This deck is usually looking for just mass card draw and Interpret the Signs is a sleeper pickup that could be insane. I would need to test both options.
I could TOTALLY make a case to sub out the Viziers for a pair of Sidisi…and with her bring in a couple of Whip of Erebos as well and emulate the Sidisi Whip decks out there. There is no doubt that it would be a powered down version, because it lacks the Hornet Queen or the Soul of Innistrad, but it could be pretty potent.
There are a number of treats from Fate Reforged that I might be prepared to try out in this deck but there aren’t an over-abundance of them. I would be willing to splash around with Temporal Trespass because any time you can grab an extra turn it seems busted. Also, Torrent Elemental can totally be game breaking because of its ridiculous ability AND the fact that it can be cast from exile if you Delved it away. While the rest of the Sultai cards look interesting they don’t really do what this deck wants to do and so these will be about the only things I would be looking to experiment with.
You can’t afford to be too cautious with this deck. As much as this deck wants to get to the later stages of the game to try and use more of its resources, you are in a race, not with your opponent, but with yourself. The fact remains that you could be in real danger of decking yourself without much effort, so once you get a foothold and can leverage out some heavy hitters you need to make good and close out the game. Your graveyard is absolutely a resource that is there to be utilized so don’t hesitate, but you need to be mindful of how quickly you burn through your cards. Otherwise, the deck is super fun and able to do some truly ridiculous things and accelerate to get to some mighty powerful spells.
So, if you are looking for something pretty fringe to try at a FNM, or just kicking around with your buddies around the Kitchen table, this sort of Budget Sultai brew might be right down your alley.
Thanks for reading…and as always keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it casual.
By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters @bgray8791 on Twitter
As someone who really enjoys playing Limited games of Magic I was pretty excited to have a relatively free weekend not all that long ago where I could go and play a couple of drafts and try out some new and different things. I know that there are many players out there who play Magic online through MTGO, but I am not one of those guys. I have an account, and have played a few games here and there, but I prefer the live experience of sitting down with other players and actually playing the game. This means I am likely to get far fewer opportunities than an online player because I need to make time in my schedule to make it to a store and draft instead on just firing up the old computer and grinding out a few matches when it is convenient. Don’t get me wrong…I’d likely enjoy the online experience too, but it is just not something I’m prepared to get too heavily involved in when my budget for playing the game is as limited as it is.
Anyway, back to the point, I was prepared to hit two drafts in two nights and was really excited for it. However, after the two nights I left slightly disheartened because I didn’t do very well. I was 2-2 on the first night and was 0-2 and had to drop on account of a family emergency on the second night leaving me 2-4 for the weekend. That’s not a particularly good record and had me wondering what the heck I was doing. I was really questioning my own ability to play and more importantly, why was I trying to write anything about my experiences when I couldn’t even manage to go 3-3? What was I offering to the community if I am below the “Mendoza line” and simply stinking out the joint? Well, I took a little time off and thought about where I fit and why I feel like I have some valid contributions to make to those who read my material here on Three Kings Loot (or anywhere else for that matter).
There are two reasons that I write. The first one is entirely self-serving. As someone who doesn’t get too many chances to play, but still really enjoys to play Limited, the best way for me to try and improve my skills is to spend my time thinking about drafting and thinking critically about card choices and evaluation. The writing here on Three Kings Loot helps me to try and stay as sharp as possible and to be thinking in preparation of my draft opportunities to make the most of them. For a guy with only 3 official drafts of the Khans format under his belt, I lack the repetition that many players have but I feel like I can make up for SOME of this with my preparation. There is still no substitute for the experience, but preparation can go a long way to helping to shrink that gap.
The second reason is something I heard on a podcast. The hosts were going on about how it is important to gather up as much aggregate data as you can in order to gain a sense for what works, what doesn’t and why. If you only ever used your own experience you would come to many of the same conclusions, but it would take you far longer to gather the evidence you need to make that conclusion. However, by using the relevant experiences of others, including mistakes and misplays, you can improve your game and learn from their mistakes more quickly. This is my more significant contribution. Yes, you could go and read or watch about the experiences of a professional player and watch as they don’t misplay and have got the card selection narrowed down very finely, but you haven’t seen the leg work that they have put in to get to those decisions that they have been refining off camera for weeks. By reading about the mistakes of others who DO misplay and make HORRIBLE pick errors, you can see some of the work leading to those conclusions and accelerate your learning for your next limited experience.
With that sort of thought freshly in my mind I feel better about my drafts. I feel like in both situations I drafted very viable decks that were quite reasonable. Now, the 1st draft (Thursday Cheap night) was my better deck on a number of levels starting right from the 1st pick in pack 1, but I don’t regret either deck. On the Thursday I drafted a Sultai deck that I felt had all the bits and pieces to really hang with the big boys. The ceiling on the power level was quite high, I had a very solid curve with a number of very solid Morphs that could come down by turn 3 and start plugging up the ground, and even had enough mana fixing to support a 3 colour deck. On the whole it felt pretty good. On the Friday at FNM I started down the path of Temur, but as we progressed through the draft the deck changed and took on more of a 5 colour feel. I was happy to explore the 5 colour deck for something relatively unique that I have never tried before, but the power level just wasn’t high enough to really warrant such a deck. Let’s have a look at those deck lists.
For this Draft I was excited to play Sultai because my first pick was Villainous Wealth. I won’t go on too much about it here, but the card was really good for me. As we kept moving through the draft there was a pretty solid Sultai deck coming my way and what clinched it was a Rakshasa Vizier who is a rare card that is marginal in most decks, but in a deck with a couple of Delve outlets could be a real game breaker. The Vizier was passed to me late and I jumped on it, really sealing the fate of the deck. However, the deck felt very solid and I was pretty pleased.
Match 1 went my way with a 2-0 win including an awesome Villainous Wealth for 5 that flipped over and Arrow Storm for lethal in game 1. Game two was the Mystic of the Hidden Way show and the Abomination of Gudul playing second fiddle to get the job done.
Round 2 saw me sit down and play a ridiculous Abzan deck. In game one he curved into Abzan Falconer, Tuskguard Captain, Armament Corps on turns 3,4 and 5…leaving me essentially dead on board. I did manage to stabilize and remove the biggest threats, only to be blown out by Duneblast. Game 2 was somewhat better because he got out to an early lead again, but I fought back and Villainous Wealthed him for 6 turning up 5 permanents I could play…only to see the Duneblast a second time rendering me dead on board all over again.
Round 3 saw me grind out a super long match where I ended up decking myself in game 1 and going to extra turns in game 2, only to lose the match because I lost game 1. It felt pretty yucky, but what can you do? My deck hung in there and I just couldn’t squeeze through enough to close the deal despite being in the driver’s seat for most of the game.
Round 4 was the Bye, and while I am loath to count it, the computer seems to think I won a match and I’ll take it. I would have much rather had a chance to play, but those are the breaks.
Right from the beginning I didn’t feel as if this draft was going my way. Pick 1 Pack 1 was Meandering Towershell (a.k.a The Durdle Turtle). That’s not really the sort of card you want to take first, but I feel, based on the strength in the rest of the pack and that Green is generally a pretty strong colour that it was the best pick to make in that pack. One thing I did remember from the night before was the possibility of a board stall and so I made sure to pick up a Roar of Challenge to try and set up a ridiculous alpha strike to close out a game. As we kept moving through the draft I was noticing that there was loads of mana fixing available and that there were a number of Gold cards floating around. I started making a point to grab some of these and to take a stab at the 5 colour deck. As you can see, I had the mana base for it, but what I lacked was the relative power level in the deck. What I had were Gold cards that didn’t impact the board overly much like Temur and Sultai Ascendancy but could be splashy. That ended up putting a lot of pressure on my creatures, many of which were just average creatures like Mardu Blazebringer and Riverwheel Aerialists, to carry the load of breaking down the board stall and getting me a win. They couldn’t quite manage it and I ended up stalling.
I won’t recap the matches I played because I only played a pair of them because I ended up having to leave on account of a family emergency. However, once again, board stalls were the order of the day and one of the matches went to extra turns and I came out of the wrong end of that exchange again.
Villainous Wealth: This over performed in my estimation. Any time you can fire off one spell and net 3 or 4 cards off it is just pure evil. It breaks a board stall wide open and can absolutely warp a game. Yes, it takes some set up, and sure you need a fair pile of mana to make it worth it, but if you can stabilize the board you can likely make this one work for you because of the regular board stall situation in the game. I will be making a point of grabbing this one and using it the next time I see it.
Mystic of the Hidden Way: Again, a great way to bust open a board stall was to have an unblockable creature. He’s not flashy, but good lord is he effective to just chip away at a life total while letting you keep your shields up. This guy is a star and well worth the pickup to ensure you can get through.
Heir of the Wilds: He’s just unfair. He’s really a 3/3 with Deathtouch in many decks and just provides enough insurance because nobody is keen to tussle with this guy. Perhaps the best 2 drop in the format.
Riverwheel Aerialists: A 4/5 with Flying and Prowess is a pretty stacked creature. This was a menace and my opponents quickly opted to take it out rather than dealing with the humungous flier buzzing around.
Monastery Flock: You know what deals with fliers really well? The Flock. A- it is cheap to cast B- very little can fight its was through an 0/5 flier and C- no one ever thinks to use removal on a 0/5…c’mon…what sort of threat is that? So, needless to say, this is just an all-star blocker. Put this is a Secret Plans deck, net the cards off the Cheap Morph, and enjoy your big blocker!
Durdle Turtle: I was not a fan of this…I even got passed the stupid Temur Ascendancy and I wanted to live the dream of having the Turtle trigger the extra card draw on the Ascendancy. Instead I got a big, dumb, slow creature that routinely died to Kill Shot or Smite the Monstrous. Yuck.
Bouce effects: Ok…I’m not calling these a bust…because they straight up blew me out on two occasions…but they wrecked me and left me fuming because of something as simple as Force Away. My spells fizzled ALL THE TIME…particularly Roar of Challenge as I set up an Alpha strike. Grrr! Good cards…but irritating to play!
5 colour decks- These are just not all that good compared to more reliable decks. The upswing in power doesn’t always trade off well against the much poorer mana. Also, unless you grab a ridiculous Gold bomb early (Duneblast, Villainous Wealth etc) that facilitates you forcing 5 colour, you are unlikely to have enough benefit to really take advantage of you forcing 5 colours. I was listening to a podcast and they were discussing the relative success of the 5 colour deck and found that it was quite low. Either the deck performed amazing or it just whiffed. I tend to agree…the deck was somewhat underpowered and really not as good as I had hoped. I have a feeling I will try to avoid it in the future.
Banners: I was mildly disgusted with myself for having to play a banner and it was just a bust. I would have much rather done all sorts of things instead of playing it. I would avoid it in the future because I would rather have had a creature, any creature, instead of it. Card slots matter in this format, particularly when many decks are sacrificing picks to select lands and are opting for 22 cards and 18 land, and this is a waste of a card.
Well, there we have it. This has been a fairly lengthy article, but hopefully it helps someone out there. I can’t wait to take another crack at a draft, but that may need to wait a few weeks with Christmas looming and family obligations pending. Oh well…hopefully these lessons continue to bear fruit into the Fate Reforged/Khans format that will follow early in the New Year.
Thanks for reading this week and 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