Category: Khans of Tarkir

Is Khans of Tarkir a Bad Set?

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:


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.



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.



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 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.


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.


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


Khans of Tarkir – Notable Reprints

Today, the entire Khans of Tarkir set has been spoiled by Wizards of the Coast. As of this writing, it is not yet up on Gatherer. However, the complete set can be found on several spoiler sites, including MTG Salvation.

While we will be doing complete set reviews very soon, today I just wanted to go over some of the notable reprints in this set. We previously discussed Despise being reprinted from New Phyrexia. But there are some other interesting reprints, as well, of mostly which will really only be relevant in Limited.


As if we needed more Enchantment hate, Erase is being reprinted in Khans of Tarkir. It was last printed in Magic 2013 and was originally from Urza’s Legacy. It saw approximately zero play in Standard during its last time in the format, but considering we’re going forward into a Standard where Theros block will be a major component for awhile, Erase may see some sideboard play. Note that it exiles at instant speed for only a single White mana. That’s really solid. Enchantments are going to be pretty silly for a while, and there are a decent number in Khans, as well, so look out for this card!


Smite the Monstrous is originally from Innistrad. It was also reprinted in the Heroes vs Monsters duel deck. While I highly doubt it will see Standard play, considering the number of 4-power or higher creatures in the set, it should be a big deal in Limited.


Cancel has been reprinted. That’s been reprinted so often that I don’t really have to say anything about it.


Crippling Chill is a fine card in Limited, originally printed in Avacyn Restored. 2U to tap a target creature and have it not untap during the next untap step plus drawing a card is excellent in Limited Tempo decks. It’s not going to see any play outside of that format.


Act of Treason gets some sweet new art. This is always a great Limited card, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing it in the Intro Packs.


Arc Lightning is an old favorite that’s finally back in Standard. Obviously, it’s a great card in Limited, as it is very versatile at spreading out the damage. But with Battlefield Thaumaturge from Journey into Nyx, Arc Lightning can hit two target creatures and only cost R. And while it’s not recommended, it is a way to activate Heroic on one of your creature, though dealing 1 damage is not the typical way you’d want to do that. There is definitely room for this card in Standard. Also, all of the old Arena League foils are suddenly going to be rather valuable – it’s a $4 card now.


Shatter is your standard artifact removal for Limited. Not much else to say about it.


Trumpet Blast is a nice little anthem effect for Limited that with the aggressive nature of this set could actually be a decently high pick.


Incremental Growth is a card originally from Lorwyn, and was also recently reprinted in Modern Masters. It’s pretty awesome for putting +1/+1 counters on things: 1 on one creature, 2 on another creature and three on another creature. It’s very good for Heroic, too, obviously, but at 5 mana it’s not going to see Constructed play. It has, however, seen plenty of Commander play. It will also be very strong in Limited for any green deck, especially in Abzan.


Naturalize is a fairly standard reprint for Limited purposes.


Seek the Horizon has actually been printed a couple of times: Saviors of Kamigawa and Return to Ravnica. It’s particularly good in Khans Limited since you’re often going to be playing three colors, so grabbing one basic land of each color is going to be happening a lot with this card.


Windstorm is a reprint from Magic 2014. It’s not bad in Limited, especially if you’re dealing with a bunch of pesky flyers, which is something that could happen rather often with this set.

Of all the reprints I’m quite liking Arc Lightning. I also really like the art on most of these Khans cards. It would’ve been nice to see some more value reprints, though.

– Elspeth for the Win


Hordeling Outburst is a pretty solid uncommon. At 1RR, this sorcery makes three 1/1 red Goblin creature tokens. It’s hard to say a whole lot about this card, aside from the fact it’ll definitely see play in Limited. It could see play in Rabble Red, but being at the same slot in the curve as Goblin Rabblemaster makes it a little iffy. Though, it does give you +3/+) on your Foundry Street Denizens you have in play. I personally will stick to playing Krenko’s Command/Dragon Fodder in Commander. I can definitely see some people playing this in Krenko, though. Three 1/1s for 3 is pretty solid.

Until next time,


Dig Through Time is an interesting card. At a super-high 6UU instant, this has to do something good.


Look at the top seven cards of your library. Put two of them into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.

This is actually a pretty solid card, even at 8 mana. Gravehate doesn’t interact with Delve much, as Delve exiles the graveyard as the spell is cast, not upon resolution. It’s hard to support too many Delve cards in one deck, but I’d be wiling to play this one by itself, honestly. A few of them in a control deck in Standard will be pretty solid. In fact, Wizards already thought of that and gave us a Narset control list, which you can see here.

The only thing I’m not a fan of is the flavor fail, where you have a card with Delve that puts the rest on the bottom of the library instead of the graveyard. Developmentally I understand as tossing 5 in the grave for Delve would be really strong, letting you cast a second Dig Through Time immediately for 1UU.

I think the card will be Standard playable, but I don’t think it’ll be worth a whole lot as far as I can tell. It’ll be played in standard Control decks as a way to dig for play-ables, but due to the necessity of Snapcaster Mage in other formats, it’s unlikely to see play anywhere else.

Until next time,



Trap Essence is a counterspell for RUG that also puts two +1/+1 counters on up to one target creature. I’m personally not a huge fan of this card due to the triple cost of the spell, but it will probably see some play in limited due to the low number of hard counter spells that we’ve seen so far. The two counters is pretty relevant, though. On any given morph creature, that makes them a 4/4, letting you trigger Ferocious on your other Temur clan cards. As far as standard is concerned, I don’t see a three-color counter spell being played unless we see 4/5 color decks seeing play. With fetch lands, this isn’t impossible, but wouldn’t be worth it just to play this card.


Abzan Falconer is the Outlast card I was hoping to see. 2W for a 2/1 with Outlast W, and he gives all creatures you control with +1/+1 counters flying. While this seems like a minor ability, it’s very important in Commander, especially for Ghave, Guru of Spores. One of the big problems the deck has is a lack of flyers, as there are less cards that give massive amounts of flying tokens. The fact it does give itself flying once it has a +1/+1 counter is good, however. I definitely see this seeing solid limited play, and maybe standard play if Abzan becomes a force.


Gurmag Swiftwing is actually a pretty cool looking card. A 1/2 for 1B would be good for a flyer – but this also has first strike and haste.  While I’m not usually a fan of stuff like this above common, the fact it has three abilities earns it that slot pretty easily. A solid pick in limited as it only needs a single black, and could possibly see standard play if black needs the haste swings from this guy. I definitely could see a red/black raid deck with this being pretty strong. Being able to immediately swing in the air and have that first strike to deal with 1/1 flyers easily. Pretty solid card.


Mer-Ek Nightblade is our first black card with Outlast. 3B for a 2/3 is good stats in this set, as it kills morph creatures easily. Plus, its outlast is just B, and he gives all of your creatures with +1/+1 counters deathtouch. Pretty solid card, and will definitely help out with making Abzan a force in limited.


Molting Snakeskin is actually a pretty decent card. For just B, you give the enchanted creature +2/+- and 2B: Regenerate this creature. At common, I’ve got no complaints about this card for limited. I’ll definitely be playing it.


Pine Walker is an interesting card. 3GG for a 5/5 with Moprh 4G. The morph cost is mostly to let you play it at only a single G mana, which will be important in three color decks. Also, whenever he or another creature is turned face up, you untap that creature. Most of what we’ve seen from Temur is morph cards, and this card is interesting.


Tuskguard Captain is a 2/3 for 2G with another Outlast for just G. Plus, he gives all of your creatures with +1/+1 counters with trample. I definitely could see this seeing play in Vorel of the Hullclade Commander decks. Pretty solid.


Briber’s Purse is a pretty interesting card for limited. An X drop artifact that enters with X “gem” counters on it. You can pay 1, tap, and remove a gem counter to make a creature unable to attack or block this turn. While it isn’t permanent like Gwafa Hazid’s Bribery counters, it’s still a decent play for limited.

Until next time,



Sixteen new cards, plus Despise which we already talked about, were spoiled last night. I’ll be covering the first eight.


Retribution of the Ancients is a perfect example of what Abzan will be able to do with the +1/+1 counters it generates. The effect is reminiscent of Cruel Sadist from Magic 2015, except that said creature can generate its own counters. That being said, a 1-drop Black Enchantment that can serve as cheap removal at anytime – removal that gets around indestructibility as well – is quite welcome in a deck that is based around the Outlast mechanic and other ways of distributing +1/+1 counters. The Sadist dealt damage, this deals damage in the form of -X/-X and at a lower cost. It’s basically a more utility version of that effect. It should definitely see some Standard play if Abzan decks truly can compete, and at the very least some Commander decks will find a home for it.


Chief of the Edge and Chief of the Scale have complimentary effects. However, Chief of the Edge is a Mardu card that offers power for its fellow Warrior creatures and Chief of the Scale offers toughness for its Abzan Warrior companions. While it seems a bit strange from a flavor stand-point to put these two together, it does make sense. A 3/2 for WB and a 2/3 for WB is solid enough. The Chiefs make sense in their respective Clans, but it’s likely you could end up seeing them played together.


Embodiment of Spring is a 0/3 Elemental for a single Blue mana that belongs to the Temur clan. For 1G and a tap, you can sacrifice it to search your library for a basic land card, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library. A Rampant Growth effect on a one-drop 0/3 seems fairly decent, especially in Limited. However, if its activation cost on its ability had been only G, it’s likely this could have seen Standard play. It may still, but right now it looks more like a Limited only card.


Rakshasa’s Secret, while not specifically designated for the Sultai clan, feels like a Sultai card. It’s basically Mind Rot, in that a target opponent discards two cards for 2B. However, it also makes you put the top two cards of your library into your graveyard. It obviously has good synergy with Delve and if you play it alongside Sultai Ascendancy, it’s likely you’ll already know what the two cards you’ll be ditching are.


Ride Down feels like a Mardu card, despite not being watermarked. It’s essentially an upgraded version of an older card, Vanquish, which destroyed a target blocking creature for 2W. In this case, not only is that blocking creature destroyed for RW, but any creatures blocked by that creature during that combat gain trample until end of turn. This means that all damage would be dealt to the opponent as if the creature were not actually blocked. Soem have already pointed out that this card combos very well with Zurgo Helmsmasher, as if he becomes blocked, his 7 power (if not higher by that point) will still go through, and because he dealt damage to that creature, he’ll still get the +1/+1 counter at end of combat. This feels like a very powerful combat trick.


While not watermarked, Kin-Tree Invocation definitely feels like an Abzan card. For only BG, you put a X/X black and green Spirit Warrior creature token onto the battlefield, where X is the greatest toughness among creatures you control. Considering that Abzan creatures seem to tend towards the defensive side, you could easily get a 3/3, 4/4 or something even larger for only 2 mana. It does seem to fit into Abzan quite perfectly – a clan that looks to be quite formidable. In Limited, this could have some great interactions with cards like Meandering Towershell (which has 9 toughness) and Ivorytusk Fortress (which has 7). To be fair, the Fortress is probably Standard playable, especially if the +1/+1 counters flow freely, so I can see the Invocation being a Standard-playable, as well. It’s going to do stupid things in Commander, where you have Treefolk with massive toughness. Hello, Doran, the Siege Tower decks?


High Sentinels of Arashin is a flying 3/4 Bird Soldier for 3W. It also gains +1/+1 for each other creature you control with a +1/+1 counter on it.  It also has the ability to put a +1/+1 counter on a target creature for 3W. Being a flyer that could easily be a 4/5 or even 5/6 when it drops because of Abzan Ascendancy is very strong. Abzan’s creatures just continue to impress. Not only does this combo well with the Outlast mechanic and Abzan Ascendancy, but Ajani, Mentor of Heroes ability to distribute +1/+1 counters just became a lot more relevant.  Also, Preeminent Captain is going to have fun throwing these guys into play – although Abzan is mostly Warriors, but there will still be a fair amount of Soldiers in Standard. This is a very Standard playable card.

Solemnparty will have the next eight cards coming soon…

– Elspeth for the Win


Grim Haruspex (one who practices haruspicy, the form of divination that looks for signs in entrails) is a pretty cool card. A 3/2 for 2B with a cool ability.

Whenever another nontoken creature you control dies, draw a card.

While it is mandatory, it’s still a very cool card. It’s a little more limited than Dark Prophecy, but it’s also more open as it doesn’t bleed you to death for your creatures dying. The only thing I”m confused about is why this particular card has Morph for B, aside from being a surprise when it flips to this creature, or to let you play it turn three regardless of your mana base and flip it later when you have black mana.

I like the flavor of the card, personally. Though I did have to look up the word Haruspex – which you should probably know for your SATs in the future.


Abzan Charm is a card I’m very happy to see. WBG for a 3-mode instant.

  • Exile target creature with power 3 or greater.

This is pretty close to Pillar of LIght from M15, though it’s 3 power instead of 4 toughness. It’s solid removal on a modal spell. Being able to kill big indestructible things is pretty cool.

  • You draw two cards and lose two life.

Literally Sign in Blood that can only target you. Draw power is always good.

  • Distribute two +1/+1 counters among one or two target creatures.

This is basically Common Bond. It’s pretty solid.

All of the Charms so far have been pretty solid for this set, and I’m a fan of this one.


Both of these enchantments have the same trigger, so I’m talking about them together.

Quiet Contemplation is a 2U Enchantment that lets you tap and freeze your opponent’s creatures every time you cast a non-creature spell. Goblinslide is the same, except you get a 1/1 red Goblin creature token with haste onto the battlefield.

These two are very similar, but it’s strange to me that only Quiet Contemplation has a watermark. I know that Goblins are more Mardu-aligned this set, but it’s just a little unusual. I think both of these will be pretty solid in limited, and Goblinslide might see some Commander play, but I don’t see them seeing Standard play.


Lastly, we have some bear punching.

Savage Punch is a 1G sorcery that causes a creature you control and a creature you don’t control to fight. It’s Prey Upon for 1 more mana. So what else does it get?

Well, it also has Ferocious – The creature you control gets +2/+2 until end of turn before it fights if you control a creature with power 4 or greater. It could see some standard play as mono-green’s removal. Nissa, Worldwaker‘s animated lands are all 4/4s and easily trigger Ferocious, so I think this could actually see some play.

Until next time,



Order your Khans of Tarkir Booster Box or Fat Pack on Amazon today!

Khans of Tarkir Spoilers – September 9th 2014

We have a bunch of spoilers today. We’ll go in order by rarity. Since we have already discussed the Clan Banners, we’ll start with Efreet Weaponmaster.


This common creature from the Jeskai clan costs a whopping 6 mana to play (3URW) and is a 4/3 Efreet Monk with First Strike. Whenever he enters the battlefield or is turned face-up (as he is a Morph creature), another target creature you control gets +3/+0 until end of turn. The Morph cost is 2URW. At common, this isn’t a bad card, but that’s quite a mana investment for that sort of effect. It’s Limited playable only.


Bear’s Companion shows some promise. This uncommon Human Warrior from the Temur clan costs 2GUR for a 2/2 that brings a 4/4 green Bear creature token onto the battlefield with him. It may not seem like much, but that’s a really strong card in Limited. Two bodies, especially one which brings a 4/4 body with it, is always better than one. It’s hard to say how Standard-playable this is, being a 5-drop, but it’s a fun card to look at and consider what may be done with it.


Witness of the Ages is one of those Golems that tend to show up in these sets for Limited purposes at Uncommon. Its Morph cost of 5 is not unreasonable for a 4/4. Its casting cost of 6 means that it will probably be played more often as a Morph creature for the surprise factor.

The only way this might be playable outside of Limited is alongside Chief Engineer from Magic 2015, which would give it Convoke, allowing you to tap your creatures to help cast it. However, there are far superior 6-drop artifacts to this.

Now onto the rares…


Besides the obvious question of why someone who train to become a Master of Pearls, this 2/2 bear for 1W that has a Morph cost of 3WW is a bit underwhelming. Yes, when he’s turned face-up, you get a Sanctified Charge effect – creatures you control get +2/+2 until end of turn. Yes, that also makes him a 4/4 until end of turn. This is a very good effect – in Limited. Outside of Limited, the Master of Pearls is just not really going to do very much. For a 3WW mana investment, you’re better off flashing in Dictate of Heliod for a permanent +2/+2 boost for all of your creatures.


Butcher of the Horde is interesting – a 5/4 Flying Demon for 1RWB. This Mardu creature has no drawbacks – which is good – but it does have an interesting ability. You can sacrifice another creature and the Butcher can gain your choice of vigilance, lifelink, or haste until end of turn. This should be a Limited bomb and depending on how expendable your creatures are in a given situation, the sacrifice ability could prove to be relevant. It looks quite Standard playable.


Kheru Lich Lord is a Zombie Wizard from the Sultai Clan. He costs 3BGU to cast for a 4/4. His effect reads:

At the beginning of your upkeep, you may pay 2B. If you do, return a creature card at random from your graveyard to the battlefield. It gains flying, trample, and haste. Exile that card at the beginning of your next end step. If it would leave the battlefield, exile it instead of putting it anywhere else. 

This is a rather nifty Reanimation effect. There are some obvious drawbacks, however. The creature card is at random and the effect can only be used during your upkeep. On the flip side, that creature gains flying, trample and haste. It then gets exiled at the end of the turn – or if it would be otherwise removed from the battlefield – much like the Unearth mechanic. Right now, Whip of Erebos does this job pretty well, as you get to select the creature while also giving all of your creatures lifelink. Giving the creature flying and trample on top of the haste given by Unearth is definitely a nice bonus, however. Sultai should have a lot of control over its graveyard, so the random element may not be all that bad.

At the very least, it will find a home in some Commander Reanimator decks such as The Mimeoplasm. But it may see Standard play eventually, as well.

The Butcher is probably the only card here I’m super excited about, although the Lich Lord has some potential. The rest are basically Limited-only cards.

– Elspeth for the Win


Order your Khans of Tarkir Booster Box or Fat Pack on Amazon today!

Today, we find out about five new “mana rocks.” It turns out that not only will each of the five clans have a land that comes into play tapped providing each of its color, but also an artifact for each clan that taps for those colors plus an added bonus. They are called Banners.




Functionally, these Banners are much like the Ravnica Guild Cluestones from Dragon’s Maze. They have been printed at common, all cost 3 to cast, and provide the mana for each of the clans. Each of them also has the ability for each of the clan’s colors to sacrifice the Banner in order to draw a card. They’re only a little bit better than the Cluestones because they provide one more color of mana, but they also cost an extra colored mana to activate the sacrificial ability to draw a card. They might be okay in Limited.

To be honest, I would’ve rather seen an uncommon cycle of artifacts that became something significant to each of the clans, much like the Keyrunes from Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash. These are more meant for Limited mana fixing than anything else. If anything, Wizards is shoving playing three colors in Limited down our throats.

– Elspeth for the Win


Order your Khans of Tarkir Booster Box or Fat Pack on Amazon today!


Abzan Battle Priest is another Outlast card. 3W for a 3/2 is decent, but his ability is the more impressive part. First, he has Outlast for a single White, which is decent. At 3/2, being able to become a 4/3 that quickly is solid. But he also gives all of your creatures with a +1/+1 counter lifelink, which turns combat into a nightmare for tempo players. Out of the Outlast cards so far, we really like this guy. He could see play in Commander, depending on what kind of build you’re going for. Ghave, Guru of Spores decks would likely appreciate the lifelink to offset the damage the deck takes from flying creatures on a regular basis. At uncommon, we’re more than happy to see a few of these opened.


Hooded Hydra is an interesting card. It’s a fairly standard Hydra, costing XGG, starting as a 0/0 but then gaining a number of +1/+1 counters on it equal to X. But this is also a snake hydra, which is less common despite our usual interpretation of a hydra. Then again, there haven’t yet before been hydras with Morph, either.

What really sets this Hydra apart is the death trigger. It gives you X 1/1 green Snake creature tokens in play equal to the number of +1/+1 counters that were on the Hydra. Any card that can replace itself with that many creatures is very solid. Also, its morph cost is 3GG – which is incredibly reasonable since it gains 5 +1/+1 counters upon being flipped face up. It’s less than you’d get otherwise for that same mana investment. You can play the Hydra face down on turn 3 as a Morph creature and flip it face up on turn 5 as a 5/5.

This Hydra could see a decent amount of play, certainly in Mono-Green Devotion, where the mana will be plentiful and it should be possible to make this Hydra quite large. It also can deliver quite a good number of tokens to the board upon its destruction, making it a solid mythic rare.

– Elspeth for the Win & Solemnparty


Order your Khans of Tarkir Booster Box or Fat Pack on Amazon today!

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