Hello everybody! As the end of the year approaches we are entering one of the most exciting times for drafters. Khans of Tarkir has proven itself a very deep and rewarding draft environment, and the metagame is maturing. The main strategies are known. Even though people disagree strongly on the best strategies in the format, we have general consensus on which cards work well in particular archetypes. You might not like to draft black-white warriors, but you know that you need to take Raiders’ Spoils early while Rush of Battle is a great card to pick up later.

More importantly, now is the time we can start really messing around with interesting cards. It was around this same time of year during Innistrad when the Spider Spawning deck emerged. While I’m not sure there’s an awesome orthogonal strategy in Khans to river self-mill spiders, there are some sweet enchantments in Khans that can reward going a little deep. One card I’ve had my eye on for a while and have been eager to really test is Trail of Mystery. Indeed, on last week’s Limited Resources podcast Marhsall Sutcliffe and Noah Sandler flagged Trail of Mystery as a good card to draft around at this point in the format.

quina

So when I fired up Magic Online recently for a post-PTQ celebration draft and saw Trail of Mystery staring back at me from the rare slot of my first pack, I pounced. Starting the draft with Trail is especially enticing because it already fits well into strong decks. Morphs are the defining creatures of the format, and green is perhaps the strongest color, so you aren’t going to fill your deck with weak cards if you go for the strategy. Contrast that with drafting Spider Spawning in Innistrad, where you end up with mediocre combo pieces like Runic Repetition and Dream Twist that are unable to win games on their own. A deck full of Woolly Loxodon and friends is already solid in the Khans draft metagame.

So how did my draft turn out? Quite well. A few sweet rare morphs made it into my deck along with a decent supply of lands and two copies of Secret Plans. Have a look:

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

Creatures (15)
Heir of the Wilds
Archers’ Parapet
Tuskguard Captain
Bloodfire Mentor
Grim Haruspex
Kheru Spellsnatcher
Krumar Bond-Kin
Sage-Eye Harrier
Sagu Mauler
Glacial Stalker
Abomination of Gudul
War Behemoth
Abzan Guide
Woolly Loxodon

Spells (7)
Trail of Mystery
Secret Plans
Death Frenzy
Savage Punch
Sultai Charm
Lands (18)
Frontier Bivouac
Thornwood Falls
Jungle Hollow
Rugged Highlands
Scoured Barrens
Swiftwater Cliffs
Tranquil Cove
Forest
Island
Swamp

Sideboard (12)
Tusked Colossodon
Awaken the Bear
Roar of Challenge
Feed the Clan
Windstorm
Disdainful Stroke
Embodiment of Spring
Kheru Dreadmaw
Molting Snakeskin
Erase
Firehoof Cavalry
Mardu Warshrieker

This deck was quite powerful and I was able to take down the Magic Online 8-4 draft. In two of the rounds I overcame other powerful decks, and the Trail strategy had a lot of flexibility to help me maneuver through the uncertain terrain of Khans. I highly recommend trying out the archetype—even without the rare Trail of Mystery the uncommon Secret Plans is very strong.

As you can see from my decklist, all you really need to make the deck work are a bunch of powerful morphs and a few removal spells, plus the enchantments to help your strategy.  Once you have Secret Plans going, Death Frenzy becomes amazing, so that was a real star of my deck. A Savage Punch and two Sultai Charm help get rid of specific problem cards, but mostly the deck gains advantage through overwhelming the board with big creatures. Either of the enchantments help fuel card advantage, and that should be enough to win most games.

You should go for a variety of morphs. All the blue and green ones fit the deck nicely and you want to stock up on them. Woolly Loxodon and Icefeather Aven are obvious, but lowly morphs like Kin-Tree Warden and Monastery Flock play incredibly well with the enchantments because they flip so cheaply. You can play morphs from any of the other colors so during the draft you have your pick of the litter. In my case, I got an early Grim Haruspex and then those black-based removal spells, so I tried to lean in that direction, but as you can see I had no problem playing three white morphs without much mana to flip them. I nabbed a few red lands and was hoping to pick up some Snowhorn Riders to make use of that mana, but red morphs are the weakest so it wasn’t too surprising that I ended up without any. I chose to run the Bloodfire Mentor in the deck to make some use of red mana, but that was mostly due to a lack of better options for my final slot.

steiner

One question I faced in building the deck, and one that I’m still not sure the answer to, is whether to play basic lands of your splash colors to fetch with Trail of Mystery. I wanted to run a Plains in the deck to help flip my three white morphs, but I didn’t feel that my mana base was strong enough to support my main colors if I had to make a cut for a Plains. Maybe I should have run Plains as a nineteenth land over the Bloodfire Mentor, but I don’t think I could afford to cut a Forest, Island, or Swamp. This deck could really use some better dual lands that don’t have red in them, but so it goes.

In the end, it is probably correct most of the time to run the splash basics. Not only do they help ensure you can flip the morphs you play while Trail of Mystery is active, but revealing the land you fetch helps you bluff morphs to your opponent. This deck is hard to play against because your morphs could be anything. Adding some misdirection by fetching out a plains to make your opponent think the morph is an Abzan Guide when it is really a Glacial Stalker can provide a real edge.

Finally, I have one more tip which falls in the “rich get richer” category. If you have both Trail of Mystery and Secret Plans in your opening hand, which do you play on turn two? I actually faced this question in the first game I played with the deck. Ultimately they are both amazing turn two plays and neither is “wrong” but I think most of the time you want to start on Secret Plans unless you need the extra lands to make your land drops. The plus-one toughness bonus is huge for a deck that plans to play most of its threats onto the board as vulnerable 2/2s. Secret Plans crushes Debilitating Injury, which is otherwise an all-star against this deck. Trail of Mystery becomes more relevant in the later game, where you will be threatening to flip one or more morphs during each attack, and the extra lands will help ensure you hit your ninth and tenth land drops to be able to actually flip two morphs a turn.

In sum, I recommend trying the five-color morph deck at your next opportunity. It’s not quite as fun a bestowing a Chromanticore, but it’s close.

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.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.