One reason why I think Limited is god’s format when it comes to Magic is that so many more cards are playable. Based on some quick and totally cursory Googling, it looks like about 4% of legal Magic cards are playable in Legacy, 15% or so in Modern, and 25% to 33% in Standard.

Those figures may be way off, but the fact remains that a large portion of Standard-legal cards will never be played (seriously)—whereas in Limited, what? 90% of cards are playable? I don’t think that’s far off. And there are few things more fun, IMO, than finding a use for a “bad” card.

With that in mind, and with the Khans of Tarkir draft format pretty well matured by now, I’ve been starting to think about those perpetual 12th, 13th, and 14th picks. Can we make *those* cards playable, too? Here are the cards I’m thinking about, and I’m open to further nominations:


The ones in particular that catch my eye as ripe for reform are Seigecraft, Gurmag Swiftwing, Dragon Grip, and Heart-Piercer Bow. I found it really difficult to find a card in blue or green that I would consider to be a last pick, but I guess Blinding Spray and Tusked Colossodon are them.

So that brings me to my topic for today: The Last Picks Challenge. Over the next couple few weeks, I’m going to periodically pick a few of these cards, and see if I can’t build a winning deck (in Swiss drafts online, because I want to be able to play with these cards) with a few of them.

A few Hipsters are going to take part, so you might see their results over the next few weeks as well, whether in my column or theirs. Here are the rules: Pick one (or more) of these cards, draft at least four of them (or as many as you can get) and try to win with them. But I don’t want you to just use these cards as a handicap; I really want you to try to find a way to make them good.

Like, what if you got two or more Heart-Piercer Bows on the table? That could be a morph-killing machine gun. What about slapping a Siegecraft onto a Whirlwind Adept? Build-your-own Sagu Mauler (mostly) isn’t half bad. Or how about suiting up a Gurmag Swiftwing with a Molting Snakeskin? A three-power, first-striking, regenerating flyer can do work, esp. in multiples.

Counterintuitively, too, I think many of these strategies get better (or at least more assertive) in multiples, as they allow you to attack on different axes than your opponents will be used to. Sure, some of those axes could be called cheesy, but if they win, they win. Spike life, baby!

There are a lot more “unplayable” cards I could have put on this list, but too many of those just don’t *do* anything, like Taigam’s Scheming (which will never win you the game, whereas some of these cards above could) or Erase or Naturalize, which are strictly sideboard-only cards (and kind of totally useless in Khans, to boot).

I also left off the list “build-around-me” uncommons and rares like Quiet Contemplation, Goblinslide, Hardened Scales, and Retribution of the Ancients, all of which I don’t see as being bad so much as really narrow. And, plus, given their rarity you’re not going to see many of them.

That’s all I’ve got for today—happy day after Thanksgiving! Lemme know if you want to participate in the Last Picks Challenge. I promise a prize of a Khans draft set (IRL or online, whichever you prefer) and a Hipsters T-shirt to my favorite, most creative, or winningest decks.

23/17 is a Hipsters of the Coast column focused on Limited play—primarily draft and sealed, but also cubing, 2HG, and anything else we can come up with. The name refers to the “Golden Ratio” of a Limited deck: 23 spells and 17 lands. Follow Hunter at @hrslaton.

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