With all of the hullabaloo about Khans of Tarkir being a “bad” set, it was time I finally sit down and put the issue to rest. Is Khans of Tarkir a “bad” set? It depends on how you look at it. I personally don’t like the set very much, but as Head Designer Mark Rosewater has been saying, a lot of it will make more sense as the Block continues.

I’m technically still on hiatus, but I just had to write about my impressions of how Khans of Tarkir has done so far. Maybe it’s not quite as bad as some of thought.

And while I’m not at all interested in Standard or Modern or the other competitive formats really right now, let’s look at the Pros of this set:

mantis-riderrattleclaw-mystic

I shouldn’t have to tell you that Mantis Rider is a good card. 3 mana for a 3/3 flyer with Vigilance and Haste is very, very good. Sure, pushing into three colors can be tricky, but this guy is totally worth it, which is why his price has been skyrocketing. He hasn’t really made his voice heard in Standard just yet, but he will. He’s too good not to be played.

Rattleclaw Mystic is as good as advertised, too. I’m happy about that. The other three color creatures haven’t really made an impact yet, though.

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sarkhan-the-dragonspeakersorinsolemnvisitor

I loved Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker and his +1 ability. That’s really all you need him for, and he’s currently the priciest card in the set. I was underwhelmed by Sorin, Solemn Visitor at first, but he fits into the current meta like a glove as I saw happening fairly early on. So both of these planeswalkers were hits. They may not be as wonderful once they leave the Standard format, but they’re Limited bombs and just plain fun cards to play with. Fun cards are fun.

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crackling-doom

Apparently, Crackling Doom is pretty good. Loved it for Commander and it’s totally Standard playable. The entire Charm cycle and most of the Ascendancies are quite good as, well.

jeskai-ascendancy

Jeskai Ascendancy is wreaking havoc in Modern with “Mana Dork Combo” or whatever they want to call it. Some four-color Shenanigans. It’s just very solid in any case.

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Now the cons. Most of the Khans (totally not intended to rhyme with cons) are simply not that great when you put them into Constructed context. I love Anafenza in Constructed. Surrak Dragonclaw is a house for Standard. Zurgo Helmsmasher is good, but Ankle Shanker even outclasses him in some ways. Sidisi, Brood Tyrant has reanimator potential. The only one that is truly super ridiculous is Narset, and she’s just absurd in Commander. Heck, she’s Constructed playable if you can land her.

narset-enlightened-master

As Commanders, they’re all outclassed by others in their wedge color combos, with the sole exception of Narset, Enlightened Master, who is just ridiculous. I’ve lost to her so many times already. I love Surrak Dragonclaw, but he works better with Animar, Soul of Elements as the deck’s Commander. They were all so disappointing.

Delve did have some powerful cards: Dig Through Time, Murderous Cut, and Treasure Cruise. There are some super big misses, too, but overall Delve is a bit better than I initially gave it credit for. The Sultai strategy still appears to have so many holes to me, but in a Planeswalker based “BUG” deck, perhaps the strategy almost works. Apparently Development saw something we players haven’t quite seen yet.

You know what’s really bad about Khans of Tarkir, though? It’s not even the set. It’s that we have the super under-powered Theros block now propping up the Standard format. Courser of Kruphix is every where. Rabble Red is still making people sad. It’s not the set itself, per se. Yes, the forced three-color theme really blows without the proper mana fixing and while Wizards gave us a good chunk, it wasn’t enough. I think once Fates Reforged is released, Khans will look a lot better. Let’s hope so, because overall, this set was a major disappointment. But I think it’s better than we all at first thought.

I’ve already given my take on most of the cards in this set. These are really the only amendments I have to make.

That event deck still sucks, though…

– Elspeth for the Win

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