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Khans of Tarkir Limited Set Review – Sultai

5.0: The best of the best. (Pack RatUmezawa’s JitteGideon Jura)

4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (Polukranos, World EaterHypersonic Dragon)

4.0: Good rare or top tier uncommon. (Phalanx LeaderVitu-Ghazi GuildmageChaos Imps)

3.5: Top tier common or solid uncommon. (Lightning StrikeNimbus NaiadDreg Mangler)

3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Leafcrown DryadEssence Scatter)

2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Borderland MinotaurDead Reveler)

2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Savage SurgeOmenspeakerArmory Guard)

1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Pillarfield OxTenement Crasher)

1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Lost in a LabyrinthPay No Heed)

0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Survey the WreckageCelestial Purge)

0.0: Completely unplayable. (Search the CityPyxis of Pandemonium)

Multicolored

Abomination of Gudul

Limited: 3.0

A morph that flips into a reasonably large flying looter isn’t a huge payoff for being three colors, but it’s powerful enough and has morph, which gives it a pass. This is exactly the kind of card that morph saves, as it would be very mediocre if it didn’t have the ability to just be your 3-drop. I like being able to play situational expensive cards that are good curve-fillers if needed.

Death Frenzy

Limited: 3.5

Picking up a couple extra life is exactly what you want when you need a board sweeper, and given all the morphs you can expect to be running around, this will provide you with plenty. There are decks that don’t care about this much, but overall this looks like it’ll be a beating if your opponent doesn’t know about it, and still solid even if they do.

Kheru Lich Lord

Limited: 3.0

Not to be confused with the legendary Kheru, Lich Lord, this provides all the randomness one could ever want. It’s kind of strange that you pay the mana and then find out what comes back, but I do like to roll the dice. The combo of delving away your bad creatures is an obvious one, and even without that this does an OK job of giving you some extra value. I’m not super excited about a 6-mana 4/4, but if you have a lot of good enters-the-battlefield triggers this does get pretty good.

Rakshasa Deathdealer

Limited: 4.0

A two-drop that’s awesome at each and every point in the game? He’s grrrrreat! This can’t be blocked early, provides reliable defense regardless of what’s going on, and eventually will be able to attack past basically any opposing defender, all while being relatively hard to remove.

Rakshasa Vizier

Limited: 3.0

I’m saying this will always make the cut based on my assumption that you are a) three colors and b) have at least 1-2 delve cards. That doesn’t seem like a stretch, but if you find yourself with no delve cards or a tricky mana base, feel free to leave this out. In a deck with a lot of delve cards, things do get pretty ugly pretty fast, and if your opponent can’t remove this they might just be dead.

Secret Plans

Limited: 1.5

In a deck full of morphs, I guess there are worse plans you could make. Keep in mind that by turning your morphs face-up, you lose the bonus, which I could see surprising people. I probably wouldn’t play this unless I had at least 7+ morphs, most of which I am able to flip (and the presence of Secret Plans doesn’t justify running off-color morphs if you otherwise wouldn’t).

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant

Limited: 4.0

A four-mana 3/3 that usually comes with a 2/2 is a good deal, and getting more 2/2s when it attacks is even better. If you have less than 14 or so creatures in your deck, this does start getting worse, but if your deck is well-stocked, things should work out in your favor. Plus, it completely stops the mill deck in their tracks.

Sultai Ascendancy

Limited: 3.5

Getting this going means you should easily win any long game, assuming you have good cards to dig to. Add that to the fact that it turbocharges your delve cards, and you have exactly the kind of card that I like to draft around.

Sultai Charm

Limited: 3.5

A conditional removal spell plus a hedge against artifacts/enchantments would already be pretty good, and the ability to cycle it plus another card makes this as flexible as we expect all the Charms to be. It doesn’t have the raw power of some of the others, but still is always going to make the cut. People underestimate how powerful it is to have a card that is never going to be dead.

Sultai Soothsayer

Limited: 3.5

This is basically Impulse + Dark Ritual on a 2/5 for 5. Can you say value?

Villainous Wealth

Limited: 1.5

Unless the format ends up being quite a bit slower than I think (and bear in mind that I tend to overestimate how slow formats are, not the other way around), this doesn’t seem like it does what you want. You need at least seven mana to even start to think about casting this, and you don’t really get rich until you spend eight or nine, though at that point you probably do win the game. There may be a draftable control deck that wants this as a finisher, or a turbo-ramp deck of some kind, but a normal Sultai deck is not likely to want this.

Black

Bellowing Saddlebrute

Limited: 3.0

Huh, with that name I expected a wall, or some kind of defensive utility creature. Regardless, this is an efficient creature if you are attacking, worth paying the cost for in most decks, and only truly questionable in a very creature-light defensive deck. It’s funny that the decks that can most afford to pay the life to this are the decks that are the least likely to have to.

Bitter Revelation

Limited: 3.0

Paying life for cards isn’t something that you can just keep stacking, so this does get worse and worse as you pick up more of them, but looking at four and choosing two is very powerful. The delve synergy is a nice bonus, and overall this looks like the kind of card a Sultai control deck is looking for.

Bloodsoaked Champion

Limited: 3.0

If you are very aggressive, this is exactly what you want. Its power level goes way down the second you start moving toward the midrange/control end of the spectrum, which does make it a less appealing first pick than other cards of the same rating (and conversly, it moves up to a 3.5 once you know you are firmly in the aggressive camp).

Dead Drop

Limited: 2.0

I’m dead set on casting this, but I realize that not every deck can afford to do so. It is nice that even non-delve decks can just play a random delve card or two and have them be pretty cheap, which reflects how delve cards don’t really combine all that well together. This is pricey enough that I assume you are going to need to expend at least a little effort if you want to drop it while it’s relevant, but if you can cast it on turn six or so it should be very good. It’s also really sweet art, which means that if it does get stuck in your hand, you at least have something to look at.

Debilitating Injury

Limited: 3.0

Simple, clean, and effective. It never hurts to have cards like this in your deck.

Despise

Limited: 1.0

I really do not like cards like this in Limited. When they hit, you are trading 1-for-1 but your opponent spent no mana, and when they miss you just get destroyed. If you sum up all the potential outcomes, even including when you nab an awesome creature, I think this is going to be worth less than playing almost any other playable card instead. That being said, I don’t completely despise siding this in against a deck that has multiple expensive bombs that you can’t deal with otherwise. That’s a lot of “ifs,” but I really hate losing cards for no reason.

Disowned Ancestor

Limited: 3.0

This card has a surprising amount of play to it. It is a great early enabler for raid, blocks other aggressive decks from dealing early damage, and once the late game rolls around, it can start turning itself into a legitimate threat.

Dutiful Return

Limited: 1.5

If you have a lot of good creatures, don’t have a ton of delve, and need a way to get card advantage, this can do what you need. A lot of decks won’t meet all those conditions, making this the definition of a filler card. I do like that when it’s good, it can be really good, which is something not all filler cards are capable of.

Empty the Pits

Limited: 2.0

This is in kind of the same space as Villainous Wealth, but has the potential to do more for less mana. If you can consistently dump a bunch of cards in your bin, you are looking at paying somewhere around 6 mana for four Zombies, with the potential high end being much higher than that. That isn’t the pits, even if the average deck may not want this (the actual rating in terms of how often you’ll play it is closer to a 1.5, but when you want the card, it ends up being much higher).

Grim Haruspex

Limited: 3.5

It shouldn’t be that hard to maneuver yourself into a situation where you draw a few cards off this, given how cheap the morph cost is. A 3/2 for three that can easily draw you some extra cards is a great deal, and you don’t even have to go out of your way to make this good. Some decks will make use of it better than others, but no deck is going to leave it in the sideboard.

Gurmag Swiftwing

Limited: 1.5

I’m just winging it here, but I think that even raid doesn’t make this an awesome card. I think raid justifies playing it in a good chunk of decks, but there’s not a whole lot that makes this good otherwise. There’s no big Aura theme, and this doesn’t interact with delve or outlast in any meaningful way.

Kheru Bloodsucker

Limited: 1.5

If you have a lot of monstrous creatures, great! Your deck is probably sweet. This does play well with them, I will admit that, but cards that combo with good and/or expensive cards aren’t usually what you are looking for. I see this more as a hedge against removal than an engine in and of itself, but in the late game I suppose you can burn someone out.

Kheru Dreadmaw

Limited: 1.5

Another somewhat dubious defensive card appears, but it doesn’t move very far. I actually don’t mind playing cards like this, as it will stall the ground and even help you survive against evasion, but there are plenty of decks that have absolutely no interest in it.

Krumar Bond-Kin

Limited: 2.5

Even as a morph, I’m not super impressed by this. I like toughness-heavy morphs a little more in general, as flipping this up will often result in a trade instead of a win, but it still fills the casting cost slots it’s meant to.

Mardu Skullhunter

Limited: 3.0

Despite this being somewhat of a pitiful blocker, the prospect of an easy 2-for-1 makes me want to include this in just about every deck. If you are certain that you aren’t going on any raids, you can leave this out, but you really have to hunt for reasons to not play this more than the opposite.

Mer-Ek Nightblade

Limited: 3.0

This is pretty high on the list of “creatures you don’t want removed mid-combat,” but even with that in mind it’s still a fine card. It’s a little smaller than a creature of its cost normally is, but solves that pretty quickly, and a 3/4 deathtouch is no joke.

Molting Snakeskin

Limited: 1.0

Finally, an unplayable! This isn’t particularly efficient, makes you vulnerable to removal and bounce, and probably does its best work as a way to fuel delve (note: I do not recommend this).

Murderous Cut

Limited: 3.5

The name is funny, given that it’s a card that will never actually get cut from a deck. This is exactly what I want in a delve card: powerful, only 1-2 mana more than I’d expect to pay, and a huge blowout when cast unexpectedly off one mana.

Necropolis Fiend

Limited: 4.0

Just the fact that you can often cast this for around five mana (though not on turn five most likely) makes it good, and the additional ability to eat their creatures basically for free is very strong. You will run out of food eventually, but even one kill more than justifies this.

Raider’s Spoils

Limited: 1.5

I know that this boosts all your creatures, but the card quality in this set has me spoiled. Unless you’ve got a lot of Warriors or make a lot of tokens (some of which are likely Warriors), you can do better for four mana.

Rakshasa’s Secret

Limited: 2.5

Mind Rot is always borderline playable, and in some formats is even just good, so adding a relevant mana boost makes this very reasonable.

Retribution of the Ancients

Limited: 1.5

While I think this can be a powerful card advantage engine in the right deck, it’s slow enough and situational enough that I wouldn’t go so far as to call it the next Astral Slide. In a deck with 6+ outlast creatures it’s probably great, so feel free to grab this in the later packs once you’ve already gotten there. I’m not a fan of taking cards like this early and trying to get there. Of course, once I start playing the format I might realize this is just an awesome rare, but I suspect that is not the case.

Rite of the Serpent

Limited: 3.0

I’ve been told you can only play so many 6-mana cards in your deck, but I haven’t actually hit that limit myself. If you do believe in such a limit, this is one of the cards you’d want first, as direct removal is not something you can pass up likely. Snaking a token into play is also a sweet bonus, but doesn’t change the power level of the card a whole lot. It hoses Abzan out of nowhere, but that’s about it.

Rotting Mastodon

Limited: 1.0

Given the preponderance of morphs, there’s not a ton of reason to play giant vanilla creatures, especially ones that only have two power. The name is a little bit of an exaggeration, but this isn’t the freshest offering available.

Ruthless Ripper

Limited: 3.5

When you always have the option of being a 1/1 deathtouch for 1, it’s hard to be anything but solid. This also can murder their large creature out of nowhere and potentially kill an opponent on low life, so overall there’s a lot of good stuff going on here.

Shambling Attendants

Limited: 2.5

If most decks have 1-2 slots for expensive delve cards, I can see this not making the cut a decent amount of the time. It’s still a strong card, and I’d be glad to play it, but it’s slightly worse than a lot of the other delve options.

Sidisi’s Pet

Limited: 3.0

A morph that blocks well, flips for cheap, and can gain a couple life isn’t bananas, but definitely isn’t terrible.

Sultai Scavenger

Limited: 3.5

I’d gladly pay an extra mana to give my 3/3 flier delve, and the fact that this gets cast for four mana a large portion of the time makes it an excellent pick. Again, the accumulated costs of delve cards do matter, but this is one of the ones that should be near the top of the list.

Swarm of Bloodflies

Limited: 2.0

This starts out slow, but the counters just start to fly on as soon as any combat occurs. If you can build your deck around it, it becomes insane, and even if you don’t go out of your way to do so, this is a very dangerous card. I can’t imagine wanting to get into fights while this sits on my opponent’s side, and only its vulnerability to bounce and removal makes me not want to pick it highly.

Throttle

Limited: 3.0

Nobody ever claimed that Lash of the Whip was awesome, but they also weren’t in a hurry to cut it from their deck. Given that you can keep up morph costs and this at the same time, it gets a little better, and at the end of the day, removal is removal. I will say that Rite of the Serpent is more important, just because it kills everything, but you don’t want to have all 6-drops and get throttled on mana.

Unyielding Krumar

Limited: 2.5

A Hill Giant that can’t be easily blocked is a fine addition to any BW deck, but nobody is going to be singing its praises.

Top 5 Black Commons in Limited

1. Sultai Scavenger

2. Debilitating Injury

3. Rite of the Serpent

4. Disowned Ancestor

5. Bitter Revelation

Black has a lot of expensive removal, a sick common flier, and some decent aggressive drops. That’s an eclectic mix, but overall I like the card quality. Black has a lot of good options at any cost, and it has the cards to support really any type of deck.

Tomorrow I cover Temur, which I’m pairing with red despite that not technically being the “right” color, just because my pairing of white with Mardu threw things off. Oh well, what khan you do?

LSV

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