Khans of Tarkir
Pre-release, September 19th
Official Release, September 26th
It’s Christmas in September for Magic: the Gathering players. This month’s release of Khans of Tarkir sets into motion the beginning of major changes for the game that redefined card games back in 1994. The Khans set will be the final 3 block set Wizards of the Coast releases and, with the reintroduction of the much sought after Fetchlands, is set to be the highest selling set in Magic history.
Khans also returns us to wedges, or themes using 3 of the 5 colors. After taking a 15 year break, I got back into playing after the release of Innistrad. So much has changed since I started playing and the game keeps evolving. My first official tournament wasn’t divided into Standard, Modern, Legacy or Vintage. Back then the Legends set had just come out. It wasn’t unusual to see dual lands and moxes being played hand over fist. At that time, I played what would now be called a mono black deck. After getting my ass handed to me the first round, I traded an Underground Sea for a Nightmare. I cringe now as I think back to that trade but I needed a powerful flyer for my deck.
Flash forward 15 years. The game had evolved beyond anything that any of us could have hoped for. Rules changed. Dozens of mechanics had been introduced, removed and retooled. The tournamant rules changed. Mana Burn went away. Interupts were changed to Sorcery. Players now have to choose which level of play and format they wanted to build a deck in and around; Standard, Modern, Legacy or Vintage. Cards that I would have overlooked back in the day are now key pieces in game winning combos. Every set that comes out has a handful of cards that sees play in every format now.
Obviously the Fetchlands re-introduced will affect the card market and the modern format, and make them more accessible to those of us who shy at the thought of paying upwards of $50 for a card.
Taking all of this into consideration, I’ve put together my own list of what I think will be the top ten game changing cards of the set.
Exile target nonland permanent.
I see a lot of FNM players with BW control decks. Utter End, for 2BW, lets you exile at instant speed. I expect to see lots of decks full of Utter End, Banishing Light and Gild. The easiest way to clear the battlefield of your opponents creatures and make way for your own is to remove their creatures from the game. This card will see play in both the Standard and Modern formats.
When Siege Rhino enters the battlefield, each opponent loses 3 life and you gain 3 life.
Gross. Just gross. Trample is hard for opponents to get around without losing multiple creatures, or one big one. This comined with the fact that, if the spell resolves, you’ll gain life and they’ll lose life makes the rhino one of the best creatures in the Khans block.
You may have Clever Impersonator enter the battlefield as a copy of any nonland permanent on the battlefield.
Here it is, kids. This clone doesn’t just copy creatures, it copies ANY nonland permanent. Now’s your chance to have 5 Jace; the Living Guildpact on the field. At a 4 casting cost, I can see this rarely played in Modern, but every blue deck in Standard will run one or two.
Lens of Clarity
You may look at the top card of your library and at face-down creatures you don’t control. (You may do this at any time.)
The Morph mechanic returns in Khans. Combine the Lens with any scry, and you’ll stack the deck in your favor and keep your opponents from surprising you with a morphed creature. I have so much faith in this card, I pre-ordered a foil playset.
Flying, vigilance, haste
All hail the ‘murica deck! The Mantis Rider will be seen in every RWU deck. A 3/3 flyer is hard to deal with early on in the game, especially one with vigilance and haste. Modern America decks will be running multiple copies of this bug.
Destroy all creatures and all permanents attached to creatures.
This is it. The major kill card of the set. End Hostilities even deals with those annoying Enchantment Creatures bestowed onto your creatures. I doubt it’ll see much play in Modern, but expect to come across atleast 1 copy in every deck that runs white.
Counter target spell unless its controller pays X. Mindswipe deals X damage to that spell’s controller.
Very few counter/damage cards have been printed and this one is a double whamy. Even if the targets spell isn’t countered, you still deal X damage to that spell’s controller. At instant speed, this one will see Modern play and players will run multiple copies in Standard.
Crackling Doom deals 2 damage to each opponent. Each opponent sacrifices a creature with the greatest power among creatures he or she controls.
Need a way to get around Hexproof? Here’s your answer. Nearly every deck that splashed Black in Standard ran a few copies of Devour Flesh, this is America’s answer to dealing with large creatures and those that are indestructible.
The next time a source of your choice would deal damage this turn, prevent that damage. If damage is prevented this way, Deflecting Palm deals that much damage to that source’s controller.
Why just prevent the damage when you can turn that damage back on the spell caster? Definately playable in Modern and will see major play in Standard.
Equipped creature gets +2/+2.
Ghostfire Blade’s Equip ability costs 2 less to activate if it targets a colorless creature.
This artifact is a very interesting one. I see lots of combos built around it’s activation cost. Turn 1, land, Ornithopter. Turn 2, land, Ensoul Artifact on your Ornithopter, making it a 5/5 flyer. Turn 3, Ghostfire Blade and equip it onto your 5/5 Ornithopter making it a 7/7 flyer on turn 3. This card’s activation bonus could also be giving us a hint at what’s to come in the second Khans release. Colorless creatures? This card will see play in numerous Affinity decks.
Whenever Ankle Shanker attacks, creatures you control gain first strike and deathtouch until end of turn.
Goblins. I hate Goblins. I was on the fence about including this annoying card. Remember back in July when you could pick up a Goblin Rabblemaster for under 50 cents? The Rabblemaster is now a $10 card. Now imagine all those goblin tokens with first strike and deathtouch. Goblin decks in all the formats will run multiple copies of the Shanker. Concerned about it’s tri-colored casting cost? That’s what the Painlands and Fetchlands are for.
And there you have it. Adam’s Top 10 list for the Khans of Tarkir release.