Khans of Tarkir is looking to be an extremely complex limited environment. I’ve started to develop some ideas on how to approach it, and I’m writing them here, both to help me expand those ideas and to provide a starting point to other people interested in exploring and solving this format. Comments and questions are welcomed and encouraged!
I’d like to start with a straightforward question: How many colors should I run? This is the central problem to be solved in Khans of Tarkir draft. As far as I can tell, the answer is going to depend heavily on three things: color support, defense, and morph.
More Colors = More Stronger
Khans of Tarkir provides us with a bounty of multicolor support. The uncommon wedge taplands, like Nomad Outpost above, are the cream of the crop, serving as Cities of Brass within their own wedge, and acting as guildgates in the two wedges they share enemy colors with (in the case of RWB, that’s WBG and URW). Everyone wants these, they are great, and they are high picks.
At common, there are ten(!) two-color lands that follow the same pattern as the refuges from Zendikar. This is much higher quality fixing at common than we saw in Shards of Alara, which relied on obelisks and panoramas. Enemy color dual lands support two clans, while allied color ones only support one, so enemy color lands are higher value pick ups, especially before you’ve decided firmly on a color combination.
The banners are technically color fixing, but like the cluestones of Dragon’s Maze, they are incredibly clunky. Skipping your 3-drop is always a big deal, and in Khans of Tarkir, that’s only been exacerbated by the number of morphs. Basically, if you play this on turn 3, your opponent is probably going to have a morph, and you’re going to be behind on board. In order to justify the use of banners, I would want to have a whole bunch of 5-drops or expensive bombs.
The purpose of color fixing is to ensure that you are able to cast your important spells before you die, but the banners’ cost makes them slow and impractical for this purpose, especially given all the competition they have at 3 mana.
Hiding Behind Walls
If you’re pulled into multiple colors or just didn’t manage to pick up any fixing, you’ll have to find a way to survive until your mana can come together. Khans of Tarkir has a number of creatures at common with 4 or more toughness and 3 mana or less. But wait, there’s more! These creatures are also solid in general. Defensive all-stars: Archer’s Parapet, Bloodfire Mentor, Disowned Ancestor, Monastery Flock. Outlast in general is great for this, as they all only have one colored mana symbol in their casting cost and one in their Outlast cost.
It Always Comes Back to Morph
Without Morph, playing Abzan Guide in your deck would be a little bit crazy. It has a great best case, but it doesn’t do anything at all until you’ve assembled three colors among six lands. What Morph does is provide a solid lower bound: “I will never be worse than a colorless 3-mana 2/2.” This doesn’t sound like a very exciting promise, but eliminating Abzan Guide’s abysmal worst case and replacing it with one that is merely mediocre allows us to concentrate on its excellent best case.
I think the best thing you can do to make your deck consistent and powerful in Khans of Tarkir limited is to play three colors, but to only or mostly play morphs of the third color. This way you can build your three color deck like a more traditional two-colors-and-a-splash deck, granting you reliable access to your main colors. It’s also reasonable to imagine playing four colors, once again as long as cards of the fourth color have morph. More defense, more fixing, and more morph = more colors.
However many colors I end up playing, I want to avoid having to evenly split my basic lands across multiple colors, i.e. 6 Plains, 6 Mountains, 5 Swamps. That kind of split means that none of the cards in my deck are reliably castable, as they’re all relying on, at best, only 6 sources of the color they need. Ideally, my deck will only have two types of basic lands in it, with a third color support solely by nonbasics that also produce one of the first two types as well. I’d much rather have some morphs that won’t flip up and a bunch of reliably castable spells than a higher chance of flipping those morphs and no recourse if they don’t flip.
Pay Attention to Morph Costs
I was tempted to dismiss this card, with its 7-mana double-green casting cost. But then I noticed its sleek, fashionable 6-mana single-green morph cost, and I was intrigued. You can splash this guy off of 3 green sources, and you can have him attacking as a 6/7 on turn 6. Especially for expensive creatures, the Morph cost is more indicative of how usable they are than their actual mana cost.
I’m going to the prerelease this Saturday to see how wrong I was. Wish me luck!
Big images from Mythic Spoiler.