I couldn’t sleep last night. Or the night before last. While I’ve been lying down early enough to get those long, solid nights of rest I enjoy and which keep me fresh, this entire week has not been kind to me after dark. Often I find myself out of bed in the middle of the night, sitting at the table or on the couch. I’ll be on my phone, or simply drinking a glass of water. Either way it’s the constant thinking that keeps me up. My brain running at high speed combing over the game-changing news unveiled to the Magic community this week. All I keep thinking about is Khans of Tarkir.

Since my last article where I outlined the source material for my delve into Standard, i’ve been hungry for more spoilers, hitting the refresh button every ten or so minutes on my phone each day. Each night, my sleep disrupted by a mind on overdrive, I glow in the dark, reviewing each card again, and again, feeding a mind starved for a new constructed landscape, both clear and unknown.

I’ve never been so inspired to simply play around. I feel as though a giant weight were lifted from me, with an imminent rotation, and where a window to a brewer’s paradise is seen through the spoilers of a new set, I find myself unwavering. Since coming back to the game I haven’t been exactly here: that moment when a plethora of new and powerful cards have stimulated this creativity in me. After all, I’ve always been a netdecker.

I was never the guy to brew and bring rogue decks to tournaments. I figured it was easier to copy, paste, and win. Well, winning was always the part I struggled with as a teenager. I had too much confidence in my decks inherent ability to win games and never enough confidence in my ability to play said decks well enough to get there. That’s probably why I took down the JSS tournament with [casthaven]Dream Halls[/casthaven] combo. The deck didn’t care what the opponent was doing, it just had to cast [casthaven]Dream Halls[/casthaven]; then I won each game against the goldfish.

When Theros entered the scene, I simply ran to my LGS and bought mono-blue devotion. I figured, hey, it won a Pro Tour, it’s gotta be the best deck. I did poorly with it. Then I build mono-black devotion. I also did poorly with it. Shortly afterwards I put standard down. It bored me. Formats should inspire you to play them; if you’re not excited to be showing up to play not only your deck but to pit it against the field, then you have no business being in the room, or something is inherently wrong with the format.

Enter Khans of Tarkir. With RTR phasing out, it leaves us with only a few solid answers to what the powerful cards in the Theros/M15 landscape are; my last article showed my intention to build from the [casthaven]Courser of Kruphix[/casthaven] / [casthaven]Sylvan Caryatid[/casthaven] engine, which until proven wrong I will continue to hold course.

So what cards in the set have me going right now?

AbzanCharmCard SeetheUnwrittenCard SiegeRhinoCard

 

[casthaven]Abzan Charm[/casthaven] is a total hit, and my frontrunner for best charm in the charm cycle. The card is so versatile! It’s three modes each provide strong plays when you are behind (exiling your opponents big dude), at parity (draw 2, lose 2), or ahead (put counters on your dudes)! Bravo! We can absolutely use this card in a midrange deck; it’s practically tailor-made for such a strategy.

[casthaven]Siege Rhino[/casthaven] is awesome. Luis Scott Vargas wrote a spotlight article on the new beast last week, and rightfully so. The rhino has everything going for it. It’s [casthaven]Erhnam Djinn[/casthaven] with pure upside! Sure it’s a little harder to cast, but we are all brewing tri-color decks now anyways, right? Coming down on turn three off Caryatid is exciting for me. He is also a solid card against red decks, which will no doubt be among the first builds out of the war gate. His 5 butt doesn’t fold to [casthaven]Stoke the Flames[/casthaven], and draining for three is very relevant against a deck trying to 20 you as fast as possible. Oh, and trample is sweet when the opponent is trying to chump block with 1/1’s.

Here’s the current build i’m about ready to sleeve up.

Abzan Midrange

CREATURES (23)
Sylvan Caryatid
Courser of Krupix
Fleecemane Lion
Brimaz, King of Oreskos
Anafenza, the Foremost
Polukranos, World Eater
Siege Rhino

SPELLS (13)
Abzan Charm
Hero’s Downfall
Silence the Believers
Utter End
See the Unwritten

LANDS (24)
Windswept Heath
Caves of Koilos
Llanowar Wastes
Temple of Plenty
Temple of Malady
Forest
Plains
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

SIDEBOARD (15)
Thoughtseize
Sorin, Solemn Visitor
Feast of Dreams
Drown in Sorrow
Abzan Ascendancy
Bile Blight

Finally, the wild card. [casthaven]See the Unwritten[/casthaven] is a card that needs testing to assess it’s actual power level. But it’s got me going, probably more than any other card in Khans. Right now, it’s a one-of in my Abzan midrange deck. With enough ferocious enablers, it’s sure to hit a relevant percentage of the time for two guys. But finding the best way to maximize the value of [casthaven]See the Unwritten[/casthaven] has me pondering not only midrange decks. What if we try out a graveyard strategy?

I was inspired by Gerard Fabiano’s list he posted to Star City Games recently. I like the attempt to get value out of [casthaven]See the Unwritten[/casthaven] with Delve and [casthaven]Whip of Erebos[/casthaven]. I also like the four main decked [casthaven]Ashen Rider[/casthaven]s. I’ve tried to construct a deck that has more than one way to put milled creatures back in your hand.

Abzan Graveyards

CREATURES (27)
Sylvan Caryatid
Courser of Krupix
Nyx Weaver
Pharika, God of Affliction
Ashen Rider
Necropolis Fiend
Satyr Wayfinder
Siege Rhino

SPELLS (9)
Whip of Erebos
See the Unwritten
Commune with the Gods

LANDS (24)
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Windswept Heath
Temple of Malady
Temple of Plenty
Llanowar Wastes
Caves of Koilos
Forest
Plains

[casthaven]Nyx Weaver[/casthaven] provides me with some defensive security, as well as a self-mill engine, and the ability to ‘crack’ it to get back a card in the ‘yard. This deck is far from complete, and doesn’t even have a sideboard considered. It’s mostly for me about testing the interactions of the deck in order to maximize the potential power provided by [casthaven]See the Unwritten[/casthaven]. Other thoughts I had were to include Necromancer’s Stockpile in the deck, which seems cute, as you can pitch fatties into your graveyard and then whip them back, all while increasing the decks velocity. But it might be too cute.

Some other cards I’ve been pondering are [casthaven]Jace, the Living Guildpact[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Sagu Mauler[/casthaven]. There’s got to be a Sultai Delve/Mill deck in Khans somewhere, but I haven’t found a build that looks competitive yet. I’m still working on it, but for now my Sultai list is still a pure control strategy.

Sultai Control

CREATURES (13)
Sylvan Caryatid
Courser of Kruphix
Prognostic Sphinx
Necropolis Fiend

SPELLS (22)
Kiora, the Crashing Wave
Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
Hero’s Downfall
Silence the Believers
Sultai Charm
Negate
Bile Blight
Drown in Sorrow

LANDS (25)
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Llanowar Wastes
Yavimaya Coast
Polluted Delta
Temple of Mystery
Temple of Malady
Swamp
Island

SIDEBOARD (15)
Stain the Mind
Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
Negate
Sultai Charm
Thoughtseize
Drown in Sorrow
Bile Blight
Unravel the Aether
Gainsay

I want to believe [casthaven]Necropolis Fiend[/casthaven] is a rocking finisher, so I will try it in the initial build. That being said, the deck still feels like a well oiled machine. I’m excited to see where a dedicated control list can go from here.

Anyway, that’s it for this week. I will be travelling to Montreal this coming weekend and will not have a chance to play at the pre-release. When I get back I can start testing out my theories and see what else people have been mashing up. There’s been talk at my LGS of people putting together Temur Tempo. That should be a fun one to see. Overall, I couldn’t be more excited to get the cards together and get this machine rolling. Maybe then I can get some sleep.

After a ten-year lapse from Magic, where his favorite combo was [casthaven]Tradewind Rider[/casthaven] with [casthaven]Stasis[/casthaven], Derek is back to learn the new-border variant of the game. While less frustrating cards have been printed, he now has to get used to planeswalkers, and people rolling dice when he resolves [casthaven]Hymn to Tourach[/casthaven]. He qualified for the Junior Super Series in 1999 at Pro Tour New York, then used his collection to finance his college education. Years later, he works in the fashion industry as a stylist, consultant, and sometime-matchmaker for brands. He loves all things black leather, and is out to journal his level-ups with hopes of playing at the highest competitive level of the game. You can reach him at [email protected]

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