The masses have been clamoring for it…
The leeches have been begging for it…
The hard workers have probably already figured it out…
Finally, it is here.
How to actually play the best deck in the format…
First, the decklist:
This is the list I would recommend with any PTQs left. Now on to business!
Let’s toss out the games where whoever plays Ajani Goldmane first wins and get to some real strategy.
In this matchup, Kithkin is the aggressor. If Kithkin begins the game with a play on turn 1 and turn 2, it is extremely difficult to lose. Logical thinking supports my statement. B/W Tokens does not have any plays until turn 2, and both of those (Bitterblossom and Tidehollow Strix) do not directly affect the board.
Oddly enough, Bitterblossom is exactly what Kithkin wants B/W Tokens to cast the most on turn 2, for a few reasons:
1) The turn it is cast, it does not affect the board. Kithkin is able to continue its attacking with no fear of anything going poorly.
3) The blockers that Bitterblossom provides are typically outclassed. Kithkin is a deck with extremely efficient powerful creatures. B/W Tokens has to go through some work to make their creatures compete with Kithkin. As such, they have to waste a turn playing Glorious Anthem while Kithkin is continuously playing more efficient creatures, making their efficient creatures even more powerful via Glorious Anthem, or playing game-altering cards like Ajani Goldmane
The other two drop of choice, Tidehollow Sculler, is no prize from B/W Tokens either. Yes, B/W Tokens removing the best card from your hand can be problematic, but at no time can Tidehollow Sculler attack or block in a productive matter for fear of Kithkin getting its spell back.
As a Kithkin player, it is imperative that you understand that the midgame is exactly where B/W Tokens is trying to get to. It is in your best interest to make sure that B/W Tokens does not get there in a good position. Hands without early action are easy mulligans, and you must be disciplined enough to mulligan even the marginal ones.
At a PTQ in Indianapolis, I mulliganed a marginal hand (two Spectral Processions, Ajani Goldmane, Windbrisk Heights, and some other nonsense) against B/W Tokens on the draw because it simply was not aggressive enough. Being on the play, B/W Tokens will have the opportunity to cast its Spectral Procession first, its Ajani Goldmane first, and/or have its Bitterblossom tokens become relevant because Kithkin is not exerting enough pressure.
Sideboarded games are no different than maindeck games against B/W Tokens. Yes, they have access to Wrath of God, but that is very simple card to handle Your goal is to get B/W Tokens into a position where they have to cast Wrath of God and your follow up threats will finish them off. Stillmoon Cavalier is wonderful at being that follow up threat. It is only handled by a second Wrath of God or two Zealous Persecutions provided you have set up a Glorious Anthem beforehand.
Path to Exile comes out due to a lack of relevant targets. Kitchen Finks and Murderous Redcap are both average targets, but neither card is a really big problem for Kithkin. The mana acceleration you’re providing your opponent with via Path to Exile is too much of a drawback as typically the first person to cast a Cloudgoat Ranger will win the game.
B/W Tokens is a favorable matchup for Kithkin as long as you understand that you must keep extremely aggressive hands. Marginal hands simply will not suffice.
This may be a different matchup, but the goals are still the same. Aggression is key.
There are two big differences between B/W Tokens and G/W Tokens:
1) G/W Tokens is a much more explosive deck than B/W Tokens. G/W Tokens has the ability to cast Spectral Procession and Cloudgoat Ranger ahead of schedule and further punish an opponent with a Windbrisk Heights activation or a game-ending Overrun. It is a very unforgiving deck to play against.
2) G/W Tokens early plays actually affect the board. Noble Hierarch and Steward of Valeron are both cards I do not want to see my opponent casting early in the game because I know bad things are coming much faster than I can probably deal with them. Dauntless Escort is also a card where bad things are bound to happen whether I like it or not.
However, with a new color comes a new set of weaknesses:
1) Four of G/W Tokens Glorious Anthem effects are in the form of Wilt-Leaf Liege. Wilt-Leaf Liege, believe it or not, is a creature and therefore is an excellent target for Path to Exile. A well-timed Path to Exile on a Wilt-Leaf Liege can lead to stealing a victory from the grasps of defeat.
2) G/W Tokens has fewer Ajani Goldmanes than Kithkin has. Most G/W Token decklists that I have seen have access to one or two Ajani Goldmanes. That means that Ajani Goldmane ending games on the spot is much more likely for us than for them.
Games against G/W Tokens are very swingy. At one point you may be ahead, and the next you are running calculations to make sure that an Overrun will not kill you out of nowhere. Much like B/W Tokens, you need to find aggressive hands against G/W Tokens to be able defeat them consistently. Hands with Spectral Procession as your first play are more acceptable here than against B/W Tokens due to a lack of Zealous Persecution, but it is not something I would make a habit of.
Sideboarded games are different here than against B/W Tokens for one main reason; Wrath of God being cast by G/W Tokens is much more deadly due to Dauntless Escort. Even worse is the fact that it is very evident when a G/W Tokens player is setting this combination up, but there is very little a Kithkin player can do stop it. The best way to win this matchup is to start quickly and try to get as much damage in as possible and hope Stillmoon Cavalier can finish the job.
G/W Tokens is not a favorable matchup, but it is by no means unwinnable.
One of the matchups you should hope for most of the tournament, provided you know what to do.
Faeries is a very tricky deck. Every card choice in the deck is meant for their opponent to make a mistake. However, with careful play it really isn’t that difficult a deck to defeat. As usual, you are looking for very aggressive hands to put Faeries on the defensive as soon as possible. The hard part is when Faeries plays their fourth land and has three Blue sources available. What are you to do as a Kithkin player?
Typically, I cast all of my spells in the first mainphase. Very rarely will the Faerie player cast Mistbind Clique during your upkeep in fear of Path to Exile. With that in mind, you need to understand that the Faerie player is looking to destroy you in combat. If you have important spells you would like to resolve, then by all means cast them during the first main phase. If it is important enough for them to counter with Cryptic Command, they will likely be countering the spell and tapping your team instead of countering the spell and drawing a card.
If the spells you are looking to resolve have resolved, consider how good attacking into a Mistbind Clique is. If he has the Mistbind Clique, how much trouble are you in? Are you willing to sacrifice a creature at the expense of his 4/4? There have been many times where I have cast the spells I wanted to resolve, have resolved them, and simply have said go to avoid walking into disaster. These kinds of turns can throw a Faerie player for a loop and makes them reconsider their game plan now. Are they going to simply cast Misbind Clique and not get a ton of value out of it? Are they going to cast Agony Warp and kill a creature where they have got an awesome two-for-one instead? Are they willing to do all of these things next turn and simply Time Walk themselves because you didn’t make a mistake? These are all questions that seek answers.
I have played against a lot of Faeries with Kithkin, and where others may look to avoid that matchup, I hope to play against it. There are so many opportunities for interaction with your opponent, and you can force them into things that they do not want to do. Beating Faeries is all about putting your opponent on certain spells and weighing the positives and negatives of each outcome. Typically, Mistbind Clique is only as good as you make it be against you. Cryptic Command is a great card, but it isn’t as good if you do your best not to get ruined by it. Think your decisions through!
Games 2 and 3, Faeries will have access to a few Infests. That is not the end of the world. If you start quickly, you will force them to Infest when they do not want to and then you can follow up with a few more plays. If you are able to, you should get Glorious Anthem established so that Infest is that much weaker against you.
Kithkin is bringing in Unmake as extra ways to take care of Mistbind Clique as well as sideboarded Plumeveils. Ajani Goldmane gets sideboarded out because it isn’t the game-altering bomb like it is in the token matchups.
With a solid understanding of the matchup, Faeries is a very favorable matchup and one that you will not longer be afraid of.
G/B Elves was a matchup of which I used to be terrified. Putrid Leech, Wren’s Run Vanquisher, Imperious Perfect, and Chameleon Colossus, all backed by removal, were something I wanted no part of. That was until I finally figured out what to do.
G/B Elves is a battle of attrition. Your creatures are outclassed by theirs in a vacuum, but as a working team, Kithkin has the better strike force. The thing you need to remember is that you cannot overvalue any of your singular threats because they aren’t that difficult to kill. Spectral Procession is going to get killed by Maelstrom Pulse. Wren’s Run Vanquisher is going to trade with a good creature of yours. These things are inevitable.
Where Kithkin gains an advantage is the card advantage already built into its cards. Spectral Procession is always going to provide three 1/1 flying spirits. Cloudgoat Ranger is always going to put three 1/1 Kithkin soldiers into play. There is nothing G/B Elves can do about that. With that in mind, wouldn’t it be in our best interest to trade our less powerful cards (Goldmeadow Stalwart, Wizened Cenn, Knight of Meadowgrain) with their more powerful ones (Putrid Leech, Wren’s Run Vanquisher) when given the opportunity? I think we both know the answer is a resounding yes!
Cloudgoat Ranger, Spectral Procession, Windbrisk Heights, Ajani Goldmane, and Figure of Destiny are the cards that are going to get your wins in this matchup. Those are the cards that you should value the highest, but not so much that you are upset when they are dealt with.
Sideboarded games give G/B Elves access to more ways to deal with your card advantage engines, like Cloudthresher. However, we trump them with more ways to deal with their above average creatures, with Unmake. Unmake is outstanding at dealing with Putrid Leech, Wren’s Run Vanquisher, and Imperious Perfect, and furthers our ability to win the attrition war.
Remember that this matchup has a lot to do with trading and then letting your awesome cards take over. Lastly, be sure to keep Profane Command in mind. It isn’t a hard card to play around if you remember it from the outset.
This matchup is extremely similar to G/B Elves. It is another battle of attrition, but I feel that they have worse cards against us. Anathemancer and Boggart Ram-Gang are not cards I fear in the least. With that said, we still have the same game plan in mind; lots of trading and let our built in card advantage take over.
The sideboarded games are much the same except this time we have a card that no Jund deck wants to see, in Paladin En-Vec. Paladin En-Vec is the end all be all against Jund, provided you can pump him up to a 3/3. Some Jund deck have access to Infest (for you Jund players out there, all of you should have that card in your sideboard), so putting that counter on Paladin En-Vec with Ajani Goldmane or Rustic Clachan is fairly important. Snakeform is another card that can really blow out our Paladin En-Vec, but most Jund players don’t even have that one in their 75 (for what reason I will never know!)
Goldmeadow Stalwart gets sided out because it is just so easily outclassed. It isn’t the flashiest card against G/B Elves either, but we do not have a better alternative like we do in this matchup.
Around Grand Prix: Barcelona, I was praying that I would never get paired against decks with Putrid Leech. Nowadays, I am praying that my opponent will cast it. Funny how things change.
-4 Goldmeadow Stalwart
+4 Paladin En-Vec
This is the one matchup where you are not the aggressive deck. Trade early and often! Your goal is to get to the late game and let Cloudgoat Ranger and Ajani Goldmane take over. Knight of Meadowgrain is going to die. Live with it!
Your goals here are to set up Glorious Anthem to dodge Volcanic Fallout, gain life with Ajani Goldmane so that the red deck has to expend two burn spells to kill it, and resolve Cloudgoat Ranger because it is hella-difficult for them to deal with.
Goldmeadow Stalwart bites the dust in favor of the unkillable Paladin En-Vec, for what I hope are obvious reasons.
Boy, is this matchup rough. Everything they have for us is a nightmare. Sower of Temptation, Wrath of God, Kitchen Finks, Reveillark, and even Mind Stone are all cards that make me want to vomit. This is one of those matchups where, if I believed in luck, I would hope to get lucky. You are at the mercy of how good their draw is. If it isn’t that great, you’ve got a shot. Eventually you have to lose to all of their two-for-ones though.
Sideboarding Militia’s Pride gives us a chance to bombard them before they can get to set up, and change those Cryptic Commands to cantripping fogs instead of cantripping counterspells on our Cloudgoat Ranger. Exciting stuff!
Unmake is sideboarded in on the draw so that we can have more ways to kill Sower of Temptation and reduce the impact of Reveillark. Militia’s Pride is pretty miserable on the draw, and I have found that Unmake gives you a better shot at winning.
I’m not one to dwell on the downside of the Kithkin. This one is ugly. I’ve gotten out alive, and consider myself fortunate every time that I do.
And you thought Reveillark was bad…
This one is as close to unwinnable as it’s going to get. I have no real thought provoking insight for you here. Your goal is to curve out in ridiculous fashion, and hope to draw two Wizened Cenns while you are at it. We do have a very fast clock, so hopefully they can’t put together the combo before they are dead.
Cloudgoat Ranger and Ajani Goldmane are sideboarded out because they simply too slow. Militia’s Pride allows us to bombard them, and Ummake gives us more opportunities (albeit small ones) to kill Swans of Bryn Argoll in response to a Seismic Assault activation.
Have fun rolling the dice on this one. Most mirrors are pretty skill intensive, but this one is a real stinker. Hope to draw more Glorious Anthem effects than your opponent. Activating Windbrisk Heights is also paramount in this matchup. This is one of the mirrors that is extremely draw dependant, sadly.
– who cares
+ not winning
Bad pairing. Sorry friends.
There she is, in all her glory. The comprehensive guide to Kithkin. If any questions need answering in the forums, feel free to ask them.
Two more things:
DarkfnTemplar still sucks. JUST SAYING!
Billy Mays will be missed.