My return to MtG has been quite slow the last weeks. Gaming is slow when work-life is involved, so my drafts have been few. But then it happened. The new set was pre-released a few weekends back. I did everything I could to play at least in one event of that expected weekend. The week after I dedicated some time to play another draft with the new cards. So you could consider that a first impressions report of my experiences with Khans of Tarkir(KTK).
I usually try to investigate as much as possible before I participate in limited games. Analyzing not only card interactions, but also player experiences, gives me an idea on how to play with the set. Everyone has his own and unique point of view on the power level of the cards involved, also what cards have been effective in their communities.
This time no experiences were to be had. The Magic Community Cup had happened, but not much else could be gathered. So I just set out to go with my gut feeling and play my favorite colors. This time the expansion is parted in five clans, each with its own color combination. I usually play blue and black or blue and green, although nlately I had had more success with blue and red. So my decision was felled through the ability. Sultai (blue/black/green) and Temur (blue/green/red) were on the radar. The first combination has Delve, in which removing cards from the graveyard can lessen the cost of its overcosted spells. After an initial furor I decided not to go that way, a choice I am quite happy with and I will explain later. Temur was thus the clan to fo. I figured that, having good experiencs with blue/green hydra deck, I could go with the combination that supports Ferocious, an ability that gets better once you have big creatures in play.
Thus I sat there, on Saturday afternoon with a little box with dragonclaws represented on it. Before opening it I was wondering if I could fit only two colors in my deck. I learned from before that splashing a third color could be dangerous business in limited, so I always try to avoid it. The issue of KTK, at least that is how I saw it, was that we are all forced to play three in some way or another. For me, up to now, the set looks like a perfect Commander/EDH edition, since there the pacing is slower and you can better get your three colors together. I relaxed for a second while the other players sat down around me and I realized all my opponents would face the same considerations.
The deck ended up having to many Morph creatures for my taste. It always looked to me like MtG trying to cash in on the Yu-Gi-Oh crowd. But I ran with it nevertheless. I always was negative eyes on this mechanic, but my “Ghostfire Blade”convinced me to just try it again. Like in last article, one should never let these feelings veer one away from a potentially good deck.
Game one was smooth. I used a lot of morphs and with the sword on my side I pretty soon had by turn four a 4/4 ready to activate Ferocious. The I learned that my opponent had a four color deck, just for one card (Utter End), which led him to a big loss because of manascrew. Take note: never splash a fourth color for just one card. Even an opponent’s loss can teach you a lesson.
The next game was with a more consistent opponent. The guy is very experienced in Magic and very friendly, but I already had lost to him before, so I stepped up my gaming skills as much as possible. He played Absan, a tribe I was afraid of because of Outlast. Sure enough, he dominated the game at various moments, and my second victory was only possible because I attacked with an “Embodiment of Spring”. He let it pass, wondering about my choice. I finished him off by using a delved “Become Immense”, using the last cards of my deck. That was tight.
I don’t think Delve is in itself a bad thing. The cards are overpriced because using the graveyard to pay them could potentially break the cards if they had retained their original price. The thing is that it requires a lot of self milling to use it often, which I find uncomfortable, especially considering that I have a 40 card deck. However, Delve can be especially good when you include a very limited number of them in a deck. The cards do pile up in the graveyard as you play on, giving you a perfect chance to use the cards one last time. I consider this especially useful for decks like the constructed 8-Rack, where the constant discarding helps fuel a few useful effects like “Murderous Cut”. I will have to try these cards out to see if they will be useful for my modern-formatted deck. After all, a one mana removal is nothing short of amazing!
My last three games were a disaster. I still can’t figure out what I did wrong, but mostly I blame it on my inconsistent use of the morphed creatures, which I tended to prefer to cast as they were. Also, much to my surprise, there were some amazing Jeskai creatures that were stronger than I thought when using Prowess. I suddenly had constantly lightly powered creatures smashing into me without me being able to eliminate them or block them with the few flyers and reach creatures I had. This clan’s ability made their creatures less easy to predict, making me go through some nasty surprises when I was blocked. I now respect that clan a lot.
Overall my result was 2-3, not a very good one. Most of this was probably due to my inconsistency on my strategy, maybe also because I did the biggest mistake, which was underestimate a clan which I confronted twice. But this, being my first Sealed experience, was extremely fun and I would be very open to try it again, this time without a seeded booster amongst my cards.
The week after was my first draft. I can not tell many details, mostly because I had to drop at the end, but my record was already at 1-2 when I left. My biggest mistake here was the confusion of information. I drafted heavily to get the black/blue/white clan, so I gathered all the monocolored cards possible to support my multicolored ones. At the second pack though, I was in desperation, since I could not find any tri-color card of my clan. Then it hit me: the color combination I was aspiring to did not exist in golden cards. What a bummer! So I did the best I could in the situation and ended up building a black/white aggressive deck, leaving me with no options to side-board. On top of that, I was destroyed because of my cockiness, since in the first game I had applied a “Despise” to my opponent and at the end attacked my opponent with all my creatures, he deftly destroyed and then just used a “Deflecting Palm” against me, which I knew he had in hand. If I had just waited one turn for the all out attack…
Well, I have to learn from this mistakes, and I hope I do a better job next week, if my working schedule allows. But I must say I am impressed how easy the mana-fixing is achieved and how some cards are just awesome to play in draft. Maybe I am not a fan of the three color approach, but at least it does not feel as painful as I thought, and I must say that I am extremely pleased with the new set, no matter how bad my results have been. Now I just have to learn and pay attention to my strategies.
Nai Ainur raituvar tietyanna!