Howdy howdy! Fresh off our win in Team Draft League on Tuesday night, I am officially done with M15 forever! The Khans of Tarkir pre-release is this weekend and I cannot wait. I’ll be cracking new packs at 9:00 am over at ye olde Twenty Sided Store. Maybe I will see some of you there.

I am a big proponent of waiting to play with new cards before evaluating them fully. Sure, if doesn’t take much grinding to figure out that Siege Rhino is a powerful card, but we won’t really know how it plays out in limited or constructed until we get the cards in our hands. The wait-and-see approach is more important for less powerful cards. We can look at a card and like what it is doing, but until we play the format we won’t know how much we actually want to be doing that thing.

All that said, this week I’ve picked out ten commons from Khans of Tarkir that I am either excited to play with or that I expect to be strong cards in the format. I avoided removal spells because we all know those are good. These aren’t “first picks in draft” necessarily, but who knows. These are cards I like, but I also like winning in limited so there may be some overlap. Here we go!

ainok bond kin

Outlast looks incredible to me. Sure, you have to shut down a creature for the turn to make it bigger, but you are getting real value out of doing so. The key here is that pretty much every outlast creature is worth playing even without outlast. Ainok Bond-Kin is a 2/1 for two mana, which is a staple playable in most formats. Given that Khans of Tarkir will have tons of 2/2 morphlings running around, any two-drop that trades with a morph will be strong. Add on the free ability to make this guy bigger, and the static bonus to all creatures you have with counters, and you have a real winner. Remember, this gives first strike to creatures no matter how they got the counters, not just other outlasters.

treasure cruise

All aboard! “Draw three cards” are the words of Magic royalty. It remains to be seen how much delve you can get away with running in a 40-card limited deck, but Treasure Cruise seems like a surefire inclusion regardless of how much work you are putting into filling your graveyard. The longer a game goes, the better drawing three cards gets, and the more cards will be in your graveyard to fire this off on the cheap. I expect this card will be fantastic in non-delve decks where you can cast this on turn six or seven as a super-Divination for three mana. And there will be times when this is a sorcery-speed Ancestral Recall.

disowned ancestor

Do you want to trigger raid on turn two? Do you want to block on turn two? Do you want a 3/7 attacker in the late game? If so, play this card. Disowned Ancestor does what Lagonna-Band Trailblazer was supposed to do, but without requiring other cards.

sultai scavenger

Usually you pay five mana in limited for a 3/3 flier. Here you have a sticker price of six mana, but it comes with some awesome mail-in rebate options. You probably aren’t casting Sultai Scavenger on turn three very often, but turn four seems very doable. And a four-mana 3/3 flier is a big game.

ainok tracker

Morph plus first strike is a deadly combination. Sure it costs five to flip up, but that’s still a discount on the six mana it costs to hard-cast this thing. Most 3/3 creatures are relevant in limited throughout the game, and adding one of the best combat abilities makes this a strong creature pretty much anywhere on your curve. The fact that morph lets you pick whether to cast this early or late provides a lot of versatility.

trumpet blast

Expect to die to this card often. There will always be people jamming “the Trumpet Blast deck” in any format that includes the card, but in Khans of Tarkir it will probably be a good strategy. Mardu wants to attack every turn and spew out tokens, and Jeskai wants spells to trigger prowess. I’d personally much rather play with a card that works on defense as well, like Rally the Peasants, but you take what you can get.

archers parapet

Now this is my kind of card! Archers’ Parapet is not quite Scholar of Athreos, and probably not quite Lobber Crew either, but it still looks great to me. It won’t win games on its own, but it will help. I already want to play a slow, defensive Abzan deck, and this card slots right in.

scout the borders

Selling discount Treasure Cruise tickets right here. Here’s how you get a turn four Sultai Scavenger. Drawing a useful card and pitching four into the bin for delve seems fantastic. Sure this card is slow, and you might not be able to afford taking off turn three to do this, but that’s always been the tension with Divination-type cards. We’ve figured out how to handle that before, and we will do it again.

abzan guide

I’m not sure how awesome this card will be, but it has three things going for it. Lifelink is awesome, morph is awesome, and the headless giraffe is awesome. Abzan Guide is my pick for Fleshmad Steed of the set, except it is also a good card.

ponyback brigade

How is this card not going to be insane? You have to be Mardu, but that just makes this card easier to pick up in a draft. Trumpet Blast was made for this card, and even on defense being able to flip your morph before blocks and create three more blockers can be a big blowout in a race.

So there you have my early picks for interesting Khans of Tarkir limited commons. The pre-release is a great time to try out new strategies and experiment. Give some of these a shot and let me know how you do!

Brendan McNamara (MTGO: eestlinc, Twitter: @brendanistan) used to play Magic in the old days. His favorite combo was Armageddon plus Zuran Orb. After running out of money to buy cards and friends who were willing to put up with that combo, he left the game. But like disco, he was bound to come back eventually. Now he’s a lawyer by day and a Dimir agent by night.

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