A Magic: the Gathering blog by and for the janky combo casual players alienated in a world of netdecking millionaires.

I value inexpensive (kinda) decks outside of the meta because I am cheap and easily bored.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Khans of Tarkir - Pre-Release

In West Abzan I was born and raised, in the tribe hall was where I spent most of my days.

I decided to start out with a Fresh Prince of Bell Air tribute because if we get one more Star Trek 2: Wrath of You-Know-Who reference I'd be tempted to maroon the offender on Ceti Alpha V.

First job then, deciding what clan to pick. With the clan abilities being Outlast, Prowess, Delve, Raid, and Ferocious. Decide which one is the best, then decide in addition, what other abilities from a clan that shares two colours with within that meld well with each other to make the best deck.

Outlast seemed to me to be by far the most powerful of those abilities within the limited sphere, but the best *two* effects in combination would likely be prowess and delve. Creatures getting +1/+1 until end of turn from sneaky combat tricks followed by exiling those combat tricks for under-cost card advantage or fatties seems legit. That would have meant a lot of colours as many as 5 but probably only 4 as the clans only have blue in common (delve is BUG, prowess is UWR) which is possible in sealed. I guess, but out of the question for draft which I'll be trying to get hints on during the event.

Deciding that in a perfect world I would be exiling removal spells rather than combat tricks I picked Abzan as my seeded tribe pack and trusted to luck to get some help with delve and see what I got from the packs.

Next, the 42 card deck. 22 spells, 18 lands. I wanted 18 lands but 45% of the deck being lands screamed mana flood. 43% seemed neater.

Creatures (12 is a bit low here but removal is a big part of the game and I want to reliably draw into it)

1 Abzan Battle Priest
1 Abzan Falconer
1 Alabaster Kirin
2 Dazzling Raparts
2 Disowned Ancestor
1 Mer-Ek Nightblade
1 Ruthless Ripper
1 Longshot Squad
1 Tuskguard Captain
1 Abzan Guide

No bombs opened as such in the creature department, but my all star cards here are the Battle Priest and the Abzan Guide. Life gain is super undervalued in limited. I know more than a few players who who say that life gain doesn't advance your board state or reduce your opponent's life therefore it is useless especially because of it's popularity and therefore association with new players so the desire to appear "pro" affects it too.

That said I have both won and lost a lot of limited games where the eventual winner turns 5 power worth of flyers sideways for four turns. I would never put a pure life gain card such as Feed the Clan in there. But a Highland Elk would see play as a value trade blocker in most G/x decks I would run, any creature with lifelink can turn a four turn clock into a seven or eight turn clock, giving you time to find answers such as my other all stars, Longshot Squad will give my creatures reach (Disowned Ancestors specifically) stopping my opponents turning 5 power flyers sideways for the win.

The creatures also contain a top secret deck tech. See if you can spot it...


2 Feat of Resistance
1 Bitter Revelation
2 Dead Drop
3 Throttle
1 Duneblast (The promo card for my seeded pack)
1 Utter End

So, while I got no bombs creature-wise I got plenty of bombs in the non creature department. Duneblast was my promo card and I was very happy to see it. Junk rare in standard. In limited it's an almost never too slow game changer. With this card in hand I play as defensively as possible, keeping creatures in hand and using other removal sparingly, complain loudly about drawing lands regardless of what I draw and try and get my opponents to over commit board presence, then spring it when they are low on cards in hand.

Utter end is simply a 1 for 1 problem solver. Don't like a thing? Shenanigans aside, it's gone. Dead drop makes an opponent sacrifice two creatures and throttle killed 3 Zurgo Helmsmashers, an Anafenza the Foremost, A Dragonformed Sakhan and whole host of flyers. Throttle gets shit done.



1 Suspension Field 
1 Abzan Banner

Not much in the way of excitement here, but a poor man's journey to nowhere and mana fixing/ramp. Plus emergency card draw. I like the banners more than the clue stones. Also suspension field won me a game by becoming a burn spell? I'll tell you about the best limited play I did that evening too.


2 Blossoming Sands (W/G refuge)
1 Jungle Hollow (B/G Refuge)
1 Sandstep Citadel (Azban Wedgeland)
1 Scoured Barrens (W/B Refuge)
1 Windswept Heath (W/G Fetchland)
1 Forest
3 Plains

8 Swamp

Crapton of excellent removal and  average creatures. I prefer it that way around. How did we do?

Match 1 Vs Abzan Warrior Raid (WBG)

Game 1 takes literally 30 minutes. I wasn't sure at the time if the decks don't run very fast or if he was taking a long time to make plays (I make decisions very quickly, even if I'm methodical with their explanations and slow play drives me insane), he plays creatures, I defend with an outlast team of creatures with +1/+1 counters on them with deathtouch and reach giving my opponent a headache over whether to attack or not. With him literally taking 5 minutes a turn to declare attacks or not. I take it eventually after two Dead Drops resolves in two turns.  Leaving his board wide open and I take it after fight through his 34 life thanks to that crocodile that lets you sacrifice creatures for life equal to their toughness.

Game 2 after a good 8 minutes of him agonizing over the side board (pro tip, if you ever lose game 1 of a match and it took 30 minutes, there are only 15 minutes left, don't spend 8 of them sideboarding) went to time. With an Abzan Guide on the board and duneblast in my hand with 7 mana untapped versus a pretty small flying army game me no incentive to try and expose myself to a counter attack so I sat back and defended, cast removal and waited out the clock. We went to turns and I was on 30 life. 1-0-1 Win

Match 2, Table 1 - Table of Champions. Vs Abzan Outlast (WBG)

The mirror match, everyone I can see along the top tables is playing either Mardu or Abzan. Are you ready for the top secret deck tech reveal? Cue epic music!

*needle scratch* "Dazzling Ramparts?" - You
Outlast creatures are powerless to resist looking and drooling at the ramparts almost everything else bounces off it. Tap the outlasting bastards in the opponent's upkeep step and they're basically worthless and hilarious for the rest of the game.

Game 1

Outlast creatures and removal from both sides trade for a while and then I settle in after drawing duneblast, I keep an Abzan Battle Priest in hand and switch to defensive mode. Casting an Abzan Falconer, while chump blocking with the rest of my team and get him to play out his hand postcombat main phase. He has five creatures on board, 16 life, 0 cards in hand and I'm on five life with one creature on deck but with 5 cards in hand.

I cast duneblast, outlast the falconer and pass turn. 

Next turn sees a land from my opponent. I cast the Battle Priest and swing with the 3/4 Falconer. The turn after I give a +1/+1 counter to the battle priest with feat of resistance and swing for 7 lifelink in the air to a concession.

Game 2

Sees me win the race for tempo only to have it taken away by a bellowing saddlebrute who sat irritatingly out of throttle range, then having my two biggest creatures throttled and suppression fielded by my opponent. I try and stabilize with a Mer-Ek Nightblade but with no way to give it a 1/1 counter without leaving me open to lethal I have to chump and then despite throttling the saddlebrute post combat damage couldn't stop the 2/3 flying vigilance Alabaster Kirin from swinging for lethal two turns later.

Game 3

Game 3 followed many of the same patterns of game two except I didn't draw a duneblast. I faked a misplayed bluff. Oh yes.

Sat on eight life staring down a decent but in his favour board with total power well enough to finish me off I decide to take a risk. I suppression fielded a saddlebrute early on and had a team of deathtouch creatures on board thanks to a Mer-Ek Nightblade, a Ruthless Ripper and a protected from black earlier in the game Alabaster Kirin and then I do a bit of maths. His life total - my total creature's power = 3.  There are no combination of blockers on the field to leave him lethal damage if he blocks at least one creature, the loss of power his side and the vigilance provided by the the Kirin would mean he couldn't kill me. This led me to believe he would let my creatures through this turn assume I am bluffing or have made a mistake and then swing in the red zone the turn after.

I swing with the team. One card in hand four mana open.

No blockers.

No shenanigans. I see my opponent relax. He moves his dice down to three.

Second main phase, cast utter end, exiling my own suppression field. Saddlebrute re-enters the battlefield. Trigger?

Match 2 Won 2-1. Overall record 3-1-1

Match 3, Table 1 - Table of Champions. Vs Mardu Warriors (WBR)

Game 1

I eventually take it in 20 minutes. It's another excruciatingly long game. But it really went on for 20 turns. I eventually did that thing that I do. Including casting throttle on Zurgo, Helmsmasher after he resolves you can be as indestructible as you like fella. I cast Bitter Revelation to draw into Dead Drop and Duneblast. That was pretty much game as I then started stockpiling cards in my hand looking to keep my life total above 0.  I get off duneblast keeping a morph creature (my Abzan Guide) alive and have the mana to flip him and attack the same turn (like I said, turn 20). I then follow that up with a dead drop to kill the two creatures my opponent played on his turn (I couldn't get him to over-commit on the board) and then he scooped.

Game 2

Game 2 I mulligan down down to six after a 2 land, no black sources, 2 dead drop opening hand which I jokingly reveal to my opponent, "Taking six is card advantage because right now my hand is five cards" referring to the two uncastable dead drops. "Just make sure you don't draw two dead drops this time" he said. How we laughed

Draw six. Two lands. Two dead drops. Fuck my luck. I decide that a swamp is a swamp, if I draw into defence I'll be alright and reveal my two dead drops for shits and giggles and keep anyway. Black source is super important.

This time, Zurgo meets his utter end after meeting, well, utter end. But it isn't enough, I go behind quickly and scoop well before lethal mindful of the time. Although I know for a fact when I had no creatures on board he was only played and attacked with one because he knew what was in my hand. Sneaky.

Game 3

This time I don't reveal the Duneblast, Dead Drop, Swamp, Dishonored Ancestor, Swamp, Plains, Abzan Banner hand I started with.

I start to slowly overwhelm the board, with three creatures. Alright, so not exactly overwhelming but when I keep throwing out one sided board wipes (enemy end step throttle into main phase dead drop is pretty hard to recover from) that old recipe for success of turning flyers sideways pays off and as a second dead drop resolves I swing in the air for five just as the timer goes off. We're in extra time turns.

I eventually squeak it in exturn 2 as he has no answer to flying beaters and calls it before my last turn after drawing two lands in extra time.

Match 3 won 2-1, overall result 5-2-1

Match 4 Table 1 - Table of Champions. Vs Mardu Raid (WBR)

Games 1 and 2

Very straightforward wins for both of these games. Early raid creatures do not have an answer to a 1/5 Dishonored Ancestor and then a 0/7 Dazzling Rampart.

Then it was a matter of waiting for flyers and flapping over for lethal over five turns. Or waiting for duneblast and walking over for 4 turns.

I was a little worried to see a Sarkhan, the dragonspeaker, but like most other creatures in these games he does not have an answer to throttle, where I had to politely explain that being indestructible doesn't save him from being a 0/0 creature.

Match 4 won 2-0, overall result 7-2-1

Match 5 Table 1 - Table of Champions. Vs Mardu Raid (GUR) THE FINAL

Game 1 I steamroll, and steamroll hard.

Turn 1, Ancestor, Turn 2 outlast him, turn three give him flying by casting the falconer, turn four, give him lifelink by casting the Battle Priest. Turn 5 outlast the falconer, give the battle priest a 1/1 counter from feat of resistance giving him flying and lifelink as a side benefit. Turn 6. a 1/5, 4/3 3/4 flying and lifelinking team on deck. I outlast the ancestor and swing for 7. It's over two turns later when I throttle the only flying blocker on his side.

Game 2 I get steamrolled. Nothing goes right, my land drops never come, my creatures are removed and he hit his a trail of mystery turn 2. Between that an flipping up 3/1 flyers and casting a 4/2 creature I have zero response. Trail of mystery is a really powerful card in this format I think. It's one to draft around I reckon. Draft it early and a ton of morph creatures? Thins out your deck, fewer dead draws. Surprise attacks. I like it.

Game 3

I suppose it had to happen at some point during the night. But in the deciding game three of the final is a massive anti-climax.

After three successive no land hands I mulligan down to four cards and STILL cannot draw a swamp I concede on turn 3 with one land in play.

Match 5 lost 2-1, overall result 8-4-1

To summarize.

Outlast is some good shit, but friends, my advice from this event is this. When draft season rolls around. Draft up every copy of throttle and duneblast you can find.