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Khans of Tarkir: First Thoughts September 13, 2014

Posted by James in : all, reviews, previews , trackback

Khans of Tarkir has the five shards that were not in Shards of Alara (or “wedges” as Wizards of the Coast calls them). It has a three color theme — there are five main themes, which each involve three colors. One tradition is to have a keyword ability for every theme in a set (like how every guild in Ravnica has a different keyword ability). That means Wizards of the Coast developers thought of some commonality found in every single color of each three color theme. Did they do a good job with that? Did they give us sufficient mana fixing to allow for three color decks in limited events? Let’s take a look.

The five wedges

Abzan (White, Black, & Green)

ainok bond kin

Abzan has the outlast mechanic. It seems different than anything I’ve seen before, and the main idea seems to be that you can stall the game out and take advantage of the situation. None of the cards seem incredible, but I imagine that it could be an interesting theme in limited events.

Jeskai (Blue, Red, White)

monastery swiftspear

Jeskai has the prowess mechanic, and a “noncreature spell” theme. I have no idea how that could be interesting, and the prowess mechanic seems to be best on the idea of making an aggressive deck that keeps attacking. I also don’t feel like this is necessarily the right mechanic for these three colors, but it isn’t against the color pie either.

Sultai (Black, Green, & Blue)

treasure cruise

Sultai has the delve mechanic (which was also in Timespiral black several years ago). It also has a familiar theme, which we’ve seen in Golgari and flashback-themed decks — putting cards in your graveyard. I approve. I think it can be fun, and it was done very well in Innistrad (one of the best Magic sets ever made). I think this mechanic and theme could end up being useful in constructed formats, but time will tell.

Mardu (Red, White, & Black)

bloodsoaked champion

Mardu has Raid, which is pretty much just an additional restriction on comes into play effects (but it also appears on some noncreature spells). I don’t feel like it is necessarily the mechanic that best represents these three colors and it doesn’t seem particularly interesting. It is easier to get working than bloodthirst, but there’s a huge variation of what to expect from it.

Temur (Green, Blue, & Red)

see the unwritten

Temur gets ferocious. It is unpredictable in a similar way to Raid, but what exactly Ferocious does is very random. It is pretty much a threshold ability for creatures with 4+ power. It’s not very interesting, it doesn’t seem to really represent the three colors very well, and we’ve seen something very similar in Shards of Alara already. This theme is almost identical with Naya — getting big creatures. I feel like we are pretty much just getting Naya again, and that seems like a bad idea. Naya was never especially popular or good. It doesn’t look like it is any better this time around either. There’s no Woolly Thocar or anything that interests me in this theme.

Mana fixing

One wonderful thing about Khans of Tarkir is that the mana fixing is way better than it was in Shards of Alara. The only mana fixing I liked in Shards of Alara were the tri-lands. Everyone could predict that this set would have very similar tri-lands, but there’s much more than that.

There are four main types of mana fixing this time around:


abzan banner

The Banners are like Obelisks, but slightly better. I hate them and will not use them. I pretty much never used Obelisks or any other three cost artifact that produces one mana.

Common dual lands

bloodfell caves

There are ten common dual lands — every two color combination. I like them. They are better than Guild Gates, and identical lands were in Zendikar as uncommons. The enters the battlefield tapped drawback is being done to death in this set, but I don’t mind too much.


frontier bivouac

There’s five more tri-lands. I like them quite a bit.

Onslaught Fetch Lands

polluted delta

The biggest selling point in the set is the Onslaught fetch land reprints. Polluted Delta was worth around $100 at one point. It’s value has been severely hit, but it will be worth quite a bit of money money in within the next five to ten years. And they will be worth something now as well. I had four Polluted Deltas and several other fetch lands from Onslaught already, so I am not super happy knowing the value has been decreased, but I knew it would probably happen sooner or later.

More can be said about Khans of Tarkir, but I think this is enough for now. I am looking forward to playing it and hoarding as many fetch lands as possible.


crazier eights

I self-published my own fantasy card game called Crazier Eights and it is up for sale. It is based on Crazy Eights (the game Uno is based on), but every card can be used for an effect. It is up for sale. Go here to take a look.


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