Rich is out of town this week celebrating his engagement. In the meantime, Hipsters of the Coast technology guru David McCoy has kindly stepped up to share his thoughts. But before we get to David’s musings, we have two public service announcements. First, as you probably have heard by now, former MTG pro player and Wizards R&D member Billy Moreno is working to help folks out in Ferguson, MO. Please consider donating to this GoFundMe campaign setup by Tom Martell to help out. Secondly, the ongoing ALS awareness campaign involving people, like Mark Rosewater, having buckets of ice-water dumped on them has been a rousing success. Please consider donating to the ALS Association. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Maro Makes an Announcement, News at 11 (AM Eastern)

Let’s be honest: Everyone knows Mark Rosewater is going to destroy Magic blow our collective mind today over on the mothership and that’s the only thing the Magic community will be talking about today. How could I possibly compete with that?

By being the first person to write a Khans of Tarkir set review, obviously.

The Rating System

Everybody loves LSV so I’ll be using his limited-focused rating system to evaluate all of the cards in Khans of Tarkir:

  • A Twelve-Pack of Diet Coke: An obvious bomb. Always a first pick.
  • Law & Order (the original): Format all-star. Almost always good, though sometimes groan-inducing.
  • Four Derek Jeters: A solid role-player but I’ll never understand the fetish some people have for it.
  • Two-and-a-half Android Phones: The bear of the format/just about average. There are much better options but it’ll do.
  • Golf: Generally not worth playing but some people will insist on playing it anyway.
  • \infty Coconuts (in any form): I’ll never play this card. Ever.

The Cards

Zurgo Helmsmasher

Poor Zurgo. He seems to have smashed his own helmet and probably lost five points of toughness in the process. Though, to be fair, his head is freakishly small so I can’t imagine it provided that much protection.

Zurgo occupies a very strange space as the only white or black creature in the set. Though he was born to GRUUL SMASH (casting cost aside), splashing white and black is heavy cost to pay for an ugly orc that dies to anything stronger than Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

Rating: Two Taco Bell beef tacos. You’ll probably end up regretting your choice.

Thousand Winds

I’m honestly not sure how this card made it to print—there is literally one-third of an answer to Thousand Winds in this set. Khan’s creature removal amounts to a shock on a stick (Poorly-Named Heart-Piercer) and you’ll somehow need to play three of them on the same turn (or your own Thousand Winds) to get rid of this thing. Though I suppose it should be hard to kill a cyclopean tornado. Also, Morph is a really weird mechanic.

Rating: 100 (two-handed) Jamie Lannisters.

Jeskai Elder

I applaud Craig J. Spearing’s decision to use a screenshot of The Matrix for the art on this card.

Rating: The Matrix is way better than either of its sequels.

Mardu Heart-Piercer

Is Wizard’s really so hard pressed for names that they are asking Mark Rosewater’s children for suggestions? Dega was a fine name for the WRB wedge, though I still believe they could have gotten away with naming it Insane Clown Posse. Not even an L1 judge would respect the intellectual property of a group that doesn’t believe in magnets. Raid is such a sweet mechanic, though.

But seriously, Mardu is the worst, most obviously made up fantasy name I’ve ever heard. Hopefully the time travel plot of Khans block revolves around Sarkhan Vol going back in time to change the names of the wedges and save us all from this mess. (And watch “Sarkhan” translate to “Über Khan” or something on the same level of stupid as Jace becoming the Living Guildpact to save Ravnica.)

Rating: Dan Brown. (Just don’t think too hard.)

Dragon Throne of Tarkir

Ugh, and don’t get me started about how this story for this whole block is literally just a ripoff of the worst storyline from Game of Thrones. Oh, all the dragons died a long time ago? Oh, this one main character has a very strong connection to the long-lost dragons? Oh, the entire world is a warring hellhole and this main character plans on uniting the clans/kingdoms with his/her army of newly-returned dragons? Jesus, at least George R. R. Martin gave us a thousand other/better storylines to make up for Daenerys and her stupid dragons.

Rating: Two Scientologies, but with a crappier story.

Mystic Monastery

I’m pretty sure I saw this image (and a million other, similarly generic fantasy buildings) on DeviantArt eight years ago. It’s entirely possible that Sauron’s eye studied this monastery before it became super goth.

Rating: All of the Intro to Painting students.

Nomad Outpost

At the risk of turning this post into an art review (rather than a set review): This art is sweet and Magic-y. Also, apparently Zurgo is just Khal Drogo but just from an inferior creative mind. Though I’d play the shit out of an officially-licensed Game of Thrones Magic set.

Rating: Just as boring and annoying as Wesley Crusher.

Now, actually back to our regularly schedule programming…

Pro Tour Update

Grand Prix Kobe

Teruya Kakumae took down the Modern GP Kobe with Boros Burn on Sunday. His quarterfinal was a mirror match in which both players had multiple copies of Leyline of Sanctity in play, forcing Kakumae to win by decking his opponent.

The other notable storyline to come out of GP Kobe was the continued rise of No Affinity, a version of Affinity that eschews any actual cards with the Affinity mechanic for Ensoul Artifact and Tarmogoyf. Piloted to the finals by Yuusei Gotou, No Affinity fell victim to Kakumae’s limitless supply of removal spells.

Grand Prix Sydney

Paul Jackson defeated two-time GP champion James Zhang to win the M15 Sealed GP Sydney. Jackson fought his way through zero byes as well as a stacked top eight featuring three GP champions (including Tomoharu Saito) and two national team members with the help of (who could have guessed) Triplicate Spirits.

Top 25 Update

With competitive play taking the weekend off for the World Magic Cup Qualifiers there was no change to the Top 25 rankings. We’ll see next week if the results from Kobe and Sydney made any splash.

The Quick Hits

  • Alex Carl shares a story of how he helped make Pro Tour coverage better and encourages you to voice your opinions and do the same [Quiet Speculation]
  • Wizards unveiled the contents of the Speed vs. Cunning duel decks including a few previews from Khans of Tarkir such as wedge-colored tri-lands [DailyMTG]
  • Danny Brown starts to break down the contents of the upcoming Duel Decks: Anthology with a look at which cards will have the most value. He begins this week with Elves vs. Goblins. Spoiler alert: it’s slightly less exciting than From the Vault: Annihilation. Let’s hope the other three sets have some value to justify that $100 price tag [Quiet Speculation]
  • Shotgun Lotus is an innovative drafting group that has been streaming some high-quality Magic over the past few weeks. Danny Brown, the hardest working guy at QS, has all the pertinent information. You definitely want to check this out [Quiet Speculation]
  • Brian DeMars, in the spirit of Guardians of the Galaxy, presents his review of the recent organized play changes in the form of a mix tape track listing . The accompanying liner notes are a little long for my taste, and DeMars musical selections are dubious, but if you’re looking for another opinion on the new world of organized play, check it out [StarCityGames]
  • Adam Styborski shares his love of all things Gen Con with his recap of this year’s four days of gaming in Indianapolis. Gen Con is the spiritual birthplace of both Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: the Gathering so it holds a special place in the hearts of many fans of Wizards’ products [Gathering Magic]
  • John Dale Beety takes an intimate look at romance among the Planeswalkers of the multiverse. I guess there are worse things you can write about when you decide at the last minute to push off your Khans of Tarkir speculation. At least he didn’t decide to write a sexist satire [StarCityGames]
  • David McDarby chronicles his journey to GenCon as the beloved Izzet planeswalker Ral Zarek. If you enjoy photo essays and/or cosplay then this is the article for you [StarCityGames]
  • Sheldon Menery, judge emeritus extraordinaire, shares some stories and advice on how we, as Magic players, behave in social situations [StarCityGames]
  • Travis Woo wants you to sit up straighter. Yes, you. Right now. I can see you slouching at your desk while you’re reading this [Gathering Magic]
  • Steve Mullahoo wants to focus on the Gathering part of Magic: the Gathering with some quality advice on getting a group together to sling cardboard and more importantly have a good time [TCGPlayer]

Wallpaper of the Week

It’s been awhile since Jace was the highlighted planeswalker gracing our desktops. The Living Guildpact is a bit of a new look for everyone’s favorite mind-mage. Perhaps we’re seeing an older, more seasoned Jace Beleren, having gone through the trials and tribulations of the Dragon’s Maze. I’m sure we’ll know soon enough as I can’t imagine we’ll have to go much longer without him returning to the main story.

Grade: B

The Week Ahead

The Pro Tour/Grand Prix circuit (which really needs a better name) takes a break this weekend for two reasons. Firstly, it’s the second weekend of World Magic Cup QualifiersPlayers across the globe will be trying to secure one of the remaining two spots on their national team. Secondly, this weekend is PAX Prime, the annual mecca of gaming in Seattle, WA. Sadly we won’t be in attendance this year but we will be providing you a breakdown of all the Khans of Tarkir spoilers next week.

What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast written by former amateur Magic Player Rich Stein superstar sub David McCoy, but just this once.

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