I’m wrapping up my review today, but I wanted to touch on the ratings for this set. As some have noticed, WAY more cards have gotten 3+ ratings in Khans than in previous sets. That reflects that there are very few unplayables in the set, and a lot more cards that would always see play were they in other formats. Clearly, you can’t play every card, and you will end up cutting plenty of these cards once you have 30 of them. That left me with a couple options:
1) Adjust the ratings scale for Khans to try and normalize things. Something I’d normally give a 3 would be a 2 or 2.5
2) Rate them as normal, but explain the implications.
Well, we are here, so I’ve clearly gone with the second path. I did that because I think it’s actually useful to give them “accurate” ratings. It isn’t like I can take half the 3s and demote them to 2s, because there’s this huge group of cards that really are about the same power level. The fact that they are rated the same means that you have to decide, based on the context of your deck and the prevalent trends in the format, which to cut and which to play. Sometimes you will cut this 3 and sometimes you will cut the other, but they both deserve the same rating.
One of the skills that will be rewarded in Khans Limited, both Sealed and Draft, is knowing which playables to cut, which to take sideboard cards over, and which weaker cards to play because of context (or is that khantext?). I think it’s interesting to live in a world where you always have 5+ solid playables in your sideboard, both because it makes sideboarding more interesting and because it makes deckbuilding more interesting, even in draft.
I’ve always advocated reading what I say about the cards and not just the rating, as hopefully I can shed some light about what the card is used for and not just how powerful it is. I also agree with Paulo Vitor when he says that mana consistency becomes more important once everyone has access to a ton of powerful cards. If you are cutting cards no matter which colors you end up in, you should prioritize mana. Being able to cast your cards will let you beat those who can’t, even if their cards are a little more powerful.
If you missed my previous Limited reviews for Khans, check them out:
Khans of Tarkir Limited Set Review – Mardu
Khans of Tarkir Limited Set Review – Jeskai
Khans of Tarkir Limited Set Review – Sultai
Khans of Tarkir Limited Set Review – Temur
Khans of Tarkir Limited Set Review – Abzan
With that, let’s finish things off!
Sorin, Solemn Visitor
At the very worst, Sorin is a batcave on wheels, making 1-2 bats to help defend him. If you have a decent board he can gain you an insurmountable amount of life, and given that he’s good in a wide variety of situations, I’d say he fulfills planeswalker expectations. He’s even protected against fliers, something most planeswalkers are weak to. It’s true that if you don’t have a lot of creatures and your opponent has a good squad, he doesn’t save the day, but very few planeswalkers do in that spot.
While the Banners aren’t super powerful, especially in a format where you want to play a morph on turn three, fixing is fixing. These make it so you can cast your powerful spells, and they still do eventually cycle in the late game. I’d say you are slightly more likely to play the first Banner in your deck than not, though the sacrifice ability does punish you severely for not being all three colors. Some decks will have no interest in these, and some decks will gladly play two, and the best decks will get fixing from their lands instead of raising their banner. If you want to split hairs, the Mardu banner is a little less good than say, the Abzan banner, just based on how aggressive the clans are, but that’s not a huge distinction.
Altar of the Brood
You need to be milling for a lot of cards consistently for this to be good, which is made more difficult by the lack of cards that support this theme. It might be an effective sideboard card against a Sultai deck that goes too deep with self-mill, but I don’t see this being a particularly draftable archetype (or card) other than that.
I like this a lot more in an aggro deck than a control deck, though it’s powerful enough to potentially see play in both. It costs a decent amount of mana, but making something unable to block three times represents a lot of damage. Using it to stop them from killing you is not as appealing, since unless you are racing or otherwise advancing your gameplan, it’s not a very effective use of a card.
All this really does is mess up the opponent’s delving, as reshuffling your graveyard is not incredibly likely to be relevant. That’s a fine ability, given that it only costs mana and not a card, but I’m still not looking to play this in my main deck (and I won’t often side it in). I suppose it triggers prowess as well, which is also a factor.
Dragon Throne of Tarkir
It’s not cheap to sit in this chair, but it does reward you if you do. The effect here is very powerful, but making a decently-sized creature sit out of combat, paying at least 9 mana, and needing multiple other creatures makes me think this is a bit of an optimistic dream. I suspect most games with this throne will end up with you dying instead of winning.
If you are short on morphs, the rating definitely goes down here, but it doesn’t seem hard to get 3-5 morphs and make this is a sick early play. It’s got plenty of value on non-morphs later in the game, so I’m happy playing this as a card that ranges from very powerful to solid.
Pinging for 1 is a solid ability, and if you have enough good attackers this can throw some bows with the best of ’em. It’s an easy card to side out if your opponent is low on 1-toughness creatures, and this format might be lacking in them enough that this is more a sideboard card.
Lens of Clarity
For clarity, let me repeat myself: do not play this. It’s never going to get back the 1-card investment, even if your opponent’s deck has a ton of morphs. This isn’t the format where you have to figure out if it’s Skirk Commando or Battering Craghorn, which would still not justify playing Lens.
Mythic artifacts tend to have the highest miss rate, and this is no exception. You have to do a ton of work to take an extra turn, and even then it’s not worth the mana or cards you paid (and you clearly aren’t stopping the opponent, either).
Witness of the Ages
This is the morphiest of all morphs, and as such deserves its rating of “playable, but not exciting.”
Tomb of the Spirit Dragon
Given that you are never going to have mana good enough to justify this, even if you had a ton of morphs, I’m gonna go ahead and recommend you pass.
These were high picks in Shards, and even the addition of morphs and more fixing hasn’t changed that. Tri-lands let you do everything you want at very low cost, and even using 2 of the 3 colors is a good deal. Opening a triland is a very good reason to go into that clan.
Fetchlands and Refuges
If you are in the colors, these lands are all solid picks. I’d slightly rather have a fetchland if I was both those base colors, but sometimes you want to splash an off-color card without actually playing a Swamp, and the Refuges help you do that. These are below all the premium commons but above all the decent ones (especially given how many playables you end up with), and later in the draft sometimes you just have to take these over good cards. Delve decks also prefer fetchlands, as does your collection.
Top 5 Clans
Top 5 Clans in a Meaningful Order (in this case, power level in Limited)
I’m likely to pick Abzan for the prerelease, and I think the clan order shakes out like this. It’s possible that draft changes things enough that they all end up being pretty close, but Sultai’s mechanic is anti-synergy with itself which is kind of unfortunate, and Jeskai has the same problem.