Khans of Tarkir is nearing! I’m pretty excited about it, even though I am personally a fan of mono-color decks. More cards! That is always great. Plus, Modern is now old enough for Wizards to have had it in mind when creating this block, so we might see some good additions to our favorite format’s cardpool.
Theros, in the opinion of many, has not been the best block, the power level being pretty low. Innistrad and Return to Ravnica were crazy good, so it might be a contrast thing… let us have a look to make sure. What cards have shown promise up until now?
[c]Courser of Kruphix[/c]
This has appeared in Jund, and is a good addition, even though not everyone loves it. An improved version of [c]Oracle of Mul Daya[/c], this is card advantage and an excellent way to deal with aggro.
A powerful card, but dies to too much removal. This does not mean it is unplayable, but too many things have to work around it. I don’t quite see it, personally.
[c]Spirit of the Labyrinth[/c]
Exactly the type of effect hatebears/D&T wants, for cheap. A good card, even though it might not be good enough to warrant a slot in the decks where it fits.
[c]Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx[/c]
Ramping! This is necessarily a build-around card, but it has already seen play in a new archetype, mono green devotion, a list for which you can see here.
This is another [c]City of Brass[/c], which means it is always playable and sometimes great. Decks that play 4 or 5 colours need this sort of thing, and it is a great option for budget decks, letting you play three colours with no tempo hit. I think it is particularly great for Burn, that can splash basically anything now. I was very happy to see this functional reprint.
The cycle of ten temples compensate the fact that they enter the battlefield tapped with giving you the opportunity to filter an unwanted topdeck. Is it enough? I have seen them played sometimes, even in addition to shocklands and fetchlands. They are valid options, even though I’m not a fan.
[c]Anger of the Gods[/c]
Turn three sweeper that kills creatures dead. This is another good reason to look for 4 toughness if you want a creature to stay on the battlefield. There is always a demand for mass removal, and this one is good.
[c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c]
So good. A card that punishes efficiency and makes the opponent uncomfortable, having to play around it. It has seen play in many tournament lists in Modern and Legacy, and it is here to stay.
[c]Master of Waves[/c]
A merfolk that didn’t make its first tournament appearance in Merfolk, but in Blue Moon. Protection against red is very relevant, making it immune against a lot of the most common removal in the format, and it can be a win condition. Playing it on an empty board isn’t very exciting, but it doesn’t take much to make this a great I just noticed the waves form horses and dolphins and I physically own the card and have played it.
[c]Thassa, God of the Sea[/c]
Played as a one-of in Merfolk decks, where it is likely to become a huge beater and in any case performs as draw filter and evasion giver. I was skeptical, but I must admit it works nicely, and occasionally wins games.
[c]Brimaz, King of Oreskos[/c]
Brimaz was a ‘woah, you seen the new spoiler?’ kind of card, and it still raises eyebrows. It has not yet impacted the format, but it is definitely good, and it will find its place.
This is a very good card and has found a place in many decklists in any format where it is legal. The main problem for this card is the existence of Spell Pierce, which is better in some contexts. In any case, I would grab a playset and try it out, nobody expects it. Great fun.
Competing with [c]Thundermaw Hellkite[/c] for the five-mana finisher slot, Stormbreath Dragon brings protection against [c]Path to Exile[/c], which is very relevant. Is it better than the M13 option? Not necessarily, but it is a good option, and being as good as Thundermaw Hellkite means being very good.
[c]Keranos, God of Storms[/c]
This is played as a one-of in some recent UR lists. The big problem is these colours don’t tend to play many permanents, but even if it doesn’t become a creature Keranos is an indestructible permanent that makes life difficult for your opponent, as you’ll either get a second draw or get to deal three damage for free every single turn.
[c]Eidolon of Rhetoric[/c]
I love this type of cards. I am an aggro player in competitive contexts, as that is what I’m best at, but one day I’ll build a complete lockdown deck and this card is a very good candidate. Again, as in the case of [c]Spirit of the Labyrinth[/c], it might just not be good enough in the decks where it fits.
[c]Drown in Sorrow[/c]
Another sweeper, and one that can kill indestructible creatures, in addition to creatures that regenerate or have protection against black. It is a strict upgrade to a previous card called [c]Infest[/c], and it is not exciting, but it is good enough.
Strictly seen as a target for reanimation, it is a large body with evasion and a [c]Vindicate[/c] both when it enters the battlefield and when it dies. Also, the art is in the best fantasy art tradition, the type of art that reminds you you’re a nerd for playing this.
[c]Xenagos, the Reveler[/c]
Could possibly work, as it defends itself the turn it comes into play (one of the things that help a Planeswalker be good) and also provides some ramping if necessary. The +1 ability helps you defend it by playing more creatures, so it has a better chance than other walkers to get to the ultimate, and that ultimate is good.
[c]Athreos, God of Passage[/c]
So many possibilities! This could be part of a combo (nothing modern legal comes to mind right now, but in the line of [c]Athreos, God of Passage[/c] + [c]Ashnod’s Altar[/c] + any colorless 1-CMC creature). Or it could just be a way of making your creatures come back again and again in an aggressive deck. Evoke creatures could become reusable sorceries, for example. An interesting card indeed.
[c]Soldier of the Pantheon[/c]
A great aggressive 1-drop that I think has seen some Standard play. Dodges many relevant removal spells, as well as some important creatures such as [c]Kitchen Finks[/c].
Not yet in any deck, but this is one of these cards that get you thinking. The effect is really interesting.
A card that was going to happen sooner or later. I was afraid Wizards would be conservative and print it as a sorcery, but luckily they didn’t. This, I think, can become a staple.
MY FAVORITE THINGS
(click here for a nice song with the same name as this section)
First things first: I am not very good predicting the future. I was sure the fetchlands would be reprinted in Khans of Tarkir, and then this happened. So I am not going to pretend I know what is going to be played and remembered about this block, and I’ll instead give you my personal top 5. What I liked the most, that’s it.
5. [c]Hero’s Downfall[/c]
This just makes things simpler. Black can now just kill whatever whenever. I love the double black cost, meaning it won’t be comfortable to cast in three colour decks, and therefore requiring a colour commitment.
4. [c]Swan Song[/c]
A cheap and fun counterspell. It doesn’t always work, but it has a good number of targets and it is a one mana hard counterspell when it does work, which is pretty amazing. Even the drawback is fun.
3. [c]Athreos, God of Passage[/c]
I have never played this, but I think it could enable the appearance of a WB aggro deck. Which I will start brewing right after I finish this.
2. [c]Courser of Kruphix[/c]
A beautiful design and a card that does a lot of things, all of which synergize. It would really be a pity if this ends up not being played.