By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
Well, I’m back after having spent a lovely holiday season with my family. Santa was very generous to my little guy and there are now plenty of trucks and farm animals to scatter around on the floor. The only real unfortunate part about the holidays is that I don’t get much chance to sit down and play much Magic. Sure, I can sneak a little bit of time here and there, but I would like to pour a little more time into it and really sink my teeth into a few things…building decks, playing, or drafting. So, now that things have settled down a little I can take a few minutes and take one last kick at Khans of Tarkir pack before we have Fate Reforged arrive on the scene and force us all to adapt pretty heavily. So, let’s crack a pack and see what we get!
Well, let’s start with the rare in this pack. Rakshasa Vizier…hmmm…I really like this guy and feel like he could be an absolute menace. A 4/4 for 5 mana isn’t a bad stat line and if you have any Delve sources things will get pretty out of control as you just have a pretty big beat stick. However, I’m not a big fan of taking him with my first pick in pack one because of the fact that it forces me into playing three colours right off the hop. It’s just too many colours too early in the draft. I’ll let this guy go and see where my picks lead me.
Hordeling Outburst: This is a premium spell and generates effectively a 3 for 1. Whether you are Jeskai, Mardu or just a 2 colour Red deck, Outburst is the sort of spell you want to be running all day and all night. This would get thumbed straight to the front of the pack for sure.
Abzan Guide and Ponyback Brigade: These are both first rate Morphs in this set and can really turn the tide of battle for you, but just like the Vizier, they are too many colours too early in the draft. So, I’ll need to let these go and establish my colours…and THEN see if these wheel around and give me the chance to grab either one of them.
Swarm of Bloodflies: This is a very strong creature in Limited. It is mono coloured, casts for a single black, is evasive, and has upside. All of these abilities make this a prime target to take first. It gets pulled to the front of the pack along with the Outburst.
Watcher of the Roost: I’m probably higher on this guy than most people, but I feel like creatures that un-Morph very inexpensively (like this guy) can’t be overlooked because of the synergies you can create and extra value your deck can eke out. Also, add in the fact that it is an evasive creature is never a bad addition. My only regret with this guy is that he has 1 toughness, meaning he dies to a stiff breeze. So, while I like him and might be prepared to take him in the first half of the draft round, there is very little chance I’d take this guy first.
Jungle Hollow: We have seen the value of the mana fixing in this set become a high priority…and with good cause. With so many 3, 4, and 5 colour decks the mana needs to be available in order to make those all work. Jungle Hollow is fixing and is very reasonable. Based on the fact this pack is relatively weak, the Hollow would get a good long look too and so I’d probably pull it to the front for consideration.
Savage Punch: Quality, cheap removal in Green. While the art is awesome, the truth is that I will not be taking this first because it isn’t that sort of good. I would be looking to find one of these late in the draft and see what comes from there.
Weave Fate: You might take this in the very late portions of the Draft, but you aren’t happy to do so and you don’t want to run it. You would only play this if you didn’t grab a Treasure Cruise and even then you might opt to leave the 4 mana card draw spell in your sideboard because it just isn’t that good. I’ll keep looking and largely ignore this.
Feed the Clan: Nope. Bad spell. Don’t waste your time.
Barrage of Boulders: We’ve seen that this can do some good work and bust up those board stalls that develop and let you force through the damage you need to close out an opponent. It isn’t a first pick, but if you are in Red you certainly will not mind running 1 or 2 of these in amidst your spells just to open the floodgates and close out the game.
Kheru Dreadmaw: I know this is a 4/4, but really, this feels like a bad card because it is a defender. If only it could attack! I’m not on board taking this even if I am in Black and Green, and I’m certainly NOT taking it first!
Whirlwind Adept: The fact that this guy has Hexproof and Prowess makes him interesting, but with no evasion I’m not really keen on this guy unless I need filler. He is certainly playable, but you likely aren’t happy to do so.
First Pick in this pack is a little dicey, but I figure it really comes down to either the Outburst or the Swarm…and I’m taking the Outburst. I feel like the Outburst and the fact that it produces 3 tokens is super useful and can be used to enable all sorts of things. The Tokens chump block readily in a pinch, can double up and take out a Morph, get Trumpet Blasted to make a mess of your opponent and are just very versatile. The Swarm is good too, but 5 mana for 2/2 initially is not exactly what I want to be doing and it needs work in order for it to be good. I’d rather have the 3 tokens and move on. Also, the Outburst has ramifications for Constructed decks if you want to play Jeskai Tokens or the like, so the double application (much as it really isn’t a consideration for me too frequently) is kind of nice.
Well, there we go. I will be honest, I’m looking forward to mixing up the Draft format a little with Fate Reforged because I have largely stunk at Khans Limited in all its varieties. Maybe, with some fresh cards and a shake-up of the format I will see some more success and better results from my decks.
Thanks very much for taking the time to read. Enjoy your pre-release events and I look forward to opening up some Fate Reforged for you in the not too distant future. 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
|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