It’s time for the second part of my Khans of Tarkir set review! To hear my opinion on the fetchlands and most of the set’s mythic rares, check out last week’s article. I also recommend checking out Brian
At any rate, let’s get started with the remaining mythics:
Braun-Duin’s future of Standard overview from last Friday
if you haven’t had a chance to take a look at it yet. He’s been testing Khans Standard and has some really interesting stuff to say about the format.
It’s time for the second part of my Khans of Tarkir set review! To hear my opinion on the fetchlands and most of the set’s mythic rares, check out last week’s article. I also recommend checking out Brian
At any rate, let’s get started with the remaining mythics:
Surrak Dragonclaw – $15
Surrak Dragonclaw is a good example of when poor circumstances can hurt the value of an otherwise powerful card. Is Surrak awesome? Undeniably so. He is
the leader of my favorite clan, and I couldn’t have asked for more. I have no doubt he will be wreaking havoc in Commander before the month is out.
To deserve a $12 price tag in a large fall set with fetchlands in it, though, Surrak will have to make a heck of an impact in Standard. As a three-color
legendary five-drop though, he’s going to be limited to a single deck where I’m not convinced he’ll be run as a four-of. Surrak might stick in the $15
range if the Temur deck is straight up coconuts, but my guess is that he settles in closer to the $5-$6 range unless the uncounterability clause turns out
to be hugely important. He’ll see play, but you still don’t want to buy in.
Ashcloud Phoenix – $3
Is Ashcloud Phoenix better than it looks? It has received little hype so far, but I don’t actually hate it (and neither does Tom Ross!). Unlike other phoenixes, this one gets returned to
the battlefield automatically when it dies – you don’t have to screw around with wasted draw steps or paying a bunch of mana. Assuming you play it face up
the first time, it is always going to be a two-for-one at worst. Oh – and it has evasion. And late in the game, you can flip the thing over to deal six
damage to your opponent in a single turn if they don’t have a flying blocker.
Obviously this card isn’t very good if there’s a card like Lingering Souls in the format, but I don’t see one of those developing unless Triplicate Sprits
becomes a tier one Constructed card. If an aggressive red deck develops (Eidolon of the Great Revel is still in the format, remember) I wouldn’t sleep on
this guy as a finisher. Bulk mythic status is still the most likely outcome, but there’s solid $8-$10 upside here.
Hooded Hydra – $3
Hooded Hydra is fantastic in a token-based Commander strategy, but I doubt it’ll show up in Standard. The fact that the hydra has to die before you get
tokens is rough, because most of the time it will sit around like a big dumb Craw Wurm. I’d expect Hornet Queen to start seeing play before Hooded Hydra
does (and, incidentally, I’m still very high on that card right now).
Of course, if the format turns into some sort of weird giant creature war with tons of Hero’s Downfalls running around, we can revisit this sweet-looking
cobra dude. Until then, it’ll probably stick around the $3 mark with casual players keeping it from becoming a completely bulk mythic.
Pearl Lake Ancient – $1.50
This card would have been totally broken if it were printed back in Ice Age. These days, control finishers need to do a little more. Flash is nice, and you
can kind of protect this in combat, but a 6/7 for seven with no evasion is the stone worst. Bulk mythic
Now that we’ve got the mythics taken care of, let’s move on to the rares:
Utter End – $6
Were it my choice, this card would be called ‘Otter End’ and it would have an otter waving goodbye to another otter who was leaving the den in order to
prepare for the world’s cutest battle. That might be why no one has ever allowed me to design cards for their game.
At any rate, Utter End is more Vindicate than Dreadbore, and I expect that it’ll see play over the next eighteen months. It doesn’t have the Eternal format
chops of a card like Abrupt Decay though, so I doubt it’ll end up staying in the $6-$8 range. $3-$4 seems like a safer call, though if it shows up as a
four-of in the best deck it could go higher than that. I’m not a buyer at $6 regardless.
Savage Knuckleblade – $6
It looks like each clan is getting at least one pushed three-color rare creature. A 4/4 for three is above the curve by itself, and each ability here is
useful, though none of them are game-breaking. I’m not sure how much the interaction will come up in Standard, but this guy is beautifully synergistic with
Temur Ascendancy. If Temur Midrange becomes a thing, Savage Knuckleblade will be a big part of why. I was a buyer at $4, but $6 is a little pricey for me.
$6-$8 is the price range that this card will settle in if it lives up to all the hype, so there’s no upside here. Stay away for now.
Butcher of the Horde – $5
Desecration Demon might be gone, but Butcher of the Horde is a more than adequate replacement. The Butcher doesn’t have a drawback like most demons, and if
you’ve gotten off to a strong start with Rabblemaster (who will be one of the most important cards in the new Standard) or another token generator, you can
slam with this guy for five in the air on turn 4. That’s unreal. People are even talking about him in Modern, although the mana seems like a stretch to me.
In a weaker set, Butcher of the Horde would never drop below $7-$8. In Khans of Tarkir though, $4-$5 seems about right.
Rattleclaw Mystic – $5
I doubt that the Rattleclaw Mystic will supplant either Sylvan Caryatid or Courser of Kruphix, but Temur decks are going to want to run four of these
regardless. It’s even better if you can ramp into the morphed version on turn 2 with an Elvish Mystic. With no Birds of Paradise in this set, Rattleclaw
Mystic is looking like it’ll soon be a tier one piece of acceleration and utility. I doubt it’ll drop below $4 and it could spike toward $7-$8 like Sylvan
Caryatid did last year. I’d rather buy these than Savage Knuckleblades, honestly – Rattleclaw Mystic is cheaper and even more likely to see play.
Siege Rhino – $5
Yes, please! Siege Rhino is both powerful and versatile, helping stabilize the board against aggro and punching through against control. This card alone
pushes Abzan hard as the midrange deck to beat, and I expect whatever the best Caryatid/Courser deck ends up being to be the first breakout deck of the new
Standard. Siege Rhino is likely to be a part of that, and if so it’ll end up in the $5-$6 range for a while before dropping off again. He’s also awesome
with Skybind, for what that’s worth.
Bloodsoaked Champion – $5
Gravecrawler saw a ton of play. Diregraf Ghoul saw a ton of play. Even Gnarled Scarhide shows up in Standard. He’s certainly worse in a world where Sylvan
Caryatid and Courser of Kruphix are dominant, but I still have no doubt that we’ll be seeing a lot of Bloodsoaked Champion going forward and he should
settle in comfortably at $4-$5 for the long haul. My rough draft of this review recommended Bloodsoaked Champion as a spec pick-up, but that was when he
was just $3. At $5, it’s only worth grabbing a set if you’re going to use them from day one.
Mantis Rider – $3
Is it me, or are people sleeping on the Jeskai? I feel like they’ve flown a little under the radar compared to the other clans. Mantis Rider hasn’t seen
the hype of, say, Savage Knuckleblade, but it is still quite powerful in its own right. Lightning Angel is a Modern playable card, after all, and with this
guy you’re trading one point of toughness for a full mana discount. That point of toughness is admittedly kind of crucial, but I have no doubt that Mantis
Rider will be picking off planeswalkers with the best of them in Standard this year. I see it as a solid $3-$5 rare.
End Hostilities – $3
With the era of the four mana wrath in Standard now over, End Hostilities is the best thing we’ve got. It’s certainly not pretty, but there will be a
control deck, and it will want to kill a bunch of stuff all at once. End Hostilities might drop a bit in the early going – it usually takes some time for
the control deck to develop – but I can see it stabilizing in the $3-$6 range for a while once people realize that this is the de-facto sweeper in the
format. Of course, if End Hostilities proves too slow regardless (a very real possibility) than this will settle in as a $1-$1.50 rare. I’m holding off for
Dig Through Time – $2.50
Hey, look, an eight mana spell that draws you two cards! Yawnzo, am I right?
Okay, all kidding aside, y’all really like Dig Through Time. I’ve heard more than one person declare it the new Sphinx’s Revelation despite the fact that
the only thing it has in common with Rev is that they both cost a bunch and they both draw you more than one card. I would have been all over this if it
had dumped the rest of the cards into your yard and enabled more delve, but that probably would have been broken in half. I do think that this will see
play, but possibly only in small numbers. You certainly don’t want to choke up your draw with too many copies of this. Even still, people are going to want
to try and break this any way they can, and the upside is quite high. It’s a bulk rare if it doesn’t pan out, but if it does I could see it making an
impact in Modern or even Legacy. $2.50 is high for an unproven and clunky card, but I’m a moderate believer. Grab a set if you’re in love with the card,
and everyone else should monitor things closely.
Mardu Ascendancy – $2
Mardu Ascendancy is the Legion’s Initiative we’ve been waiting for. If a Mardu deck gets out to a good head start, this card is going to make it incredibly
hard for a midrange or control deck to catch up. The token generation might not combo directly with Goblin Rabblemaster, but it certainly complements it,
and the ability to sacrifice this in order to counter an Anger of the Gods, Bile Blight, or simply win a combat phase should push this over the top. Worst
case, I think Mardu Ascendancy will make for a strong sideboard choice. $2-$3 card.
Rakshasa Deathdealer – $2
Wait – did we travel back to Ravnica without anyone telling me? Rakshasa Deathdealer feels pretty guildmage-y to me, not that that’s a bad thing. The fact
that this comes down on turn 2 and threatens to attack through a Sylvan Caryatid is a nice thing, as anyone who has fond memories of attacking with
Darkthicket Wolf in Innistrad Limited can attest. I like cards that are both cheap and versatile, and at $2 there is very little downside with snagging a
set of these. I know, I know, you still feel burned by Lotleth Troll. I honestly think that it will go better this time, and I could easily see this ending
up as a $4-$5 rare.
Villainous Wealth – $2
Reddit has dubbed this card ‘Nemesis Wave,’ which is just about perfect. It is certainly one of the most fun cards in the set, and people are going to
build around it whether it is good or not. The real problem is that the card is only as good as your opponent’s deck, and once you’re riding the Nemesis
Wave, there’s really no sideboarding into something different. I’m not sure there’s enough consistency here to make this a player in Standard, as powerful
as it is going to be a lot of the time. I see this sticking around the dollar mark long term, occasionally popping up and wreaking some havoc, before
spiking due to casual demand once the set leaves print.
Mindswipe – $2
First off, you need to have a target for this or you can’t play it. That’s going to lead to some pretty crappy feeling game losses where all you needed was
a Blaze to get the job done. This is still going to be a two-for-one every time, but I don’t think enough decks will want it to keep it out of bulk rare
Ghostfire Blade – $2
Some folks are talking about using Ghostfire Blade in Modern Affinity, but I don’t see it. It’s basically a Bonesplitter in that deck, which is a card that
doesn’t see any play right now. Are you going to run it over Cranial Plating? A land? Acceleration? A creature?
I can certainly see this being a plant for an upcoming artifact set (Return to Return to Mirrodin?), and it might be a nice little bulk pickup when it
drops to $0.50. Until then, I’m staying away.
Crater’s Claws – $1.50
Crater’s Claws is pretty close to unplayable if you can’t access the ferocious bonus. If you can, it’s a playable and reasonable sorcery speed removal
spell (yawn) that can occasionally kill your opponent out of nowhere. A decent number of these spells end up seeing play in the $3-$4 range, which is the
upside for this card. I’d rather run better creatures and/or more reliable burn most of the time, though. It might see play as a one-of or two-of here and
there, but that shouldn’t keep it out of bulk rare range. If you have a dog or cat named Crater though, you are obligated to start collecting these.
Deflecting Palm – $1.50
Deflecting Palm is a strong sideboard card, allowing a quick deck to deliver a powerful finishing blow against a big, lumbering creature. Boros Fury-Shield
was always a solid Limited card, and I expect this is pushed hard enough to finally bring the ability into Constructed Magic. This card is narrow, so there
isn’t much financial upside, but it could sit in the $1-$2 range for a while. I had originally recommended this as a strong $0.50 pick-up, but the price
went up a dollar over the past week. It’s still fine to buy if you’re planning on using them, but it is no longer a spec opportunity.
Hardened Scales – $1.50
On the one hand, it’s really hard for me to recommend a card that does nothing by itself. At first glance, this looks like one of those annoying bulk rares
that I’ll open two of during the prerelease while getting nothing to combo with it.
On the other hand, Hardened Scales certainly is pushed, isn’t it? At one mana, you can drop this on turn 1 and go off with heroic, Sage of Hours, Ajani
Steadfast, or Chasm Skulker. If this had been in the same format with Scavenging Ooze and evolve, we might have seen some real fireworks. I’m not sold for
Constructed, but it’s a true Commander staple. Pick up foils early if they’re reasonably affordable, and it’ll make a nice hedge for Standard playability
Crackling Doom – $1.50
I was ready to write Crackling Doom off completely until I realized that it was an instant. Yeah, this is a sweet one all right – most of the time, it’ll
kill their best creature while keeping a strong clock going. This card will likely be a four-of in Mardu decks, and it should end up in the $3-$4 range.
Sagu Mauler – $1.25
When in doubt, bet against expensive creatures that lack evasion or comes-into-play abilities. Of course, Brian Kibler seems to like it and we’ve just spent a
few thousand words talking about a Standard environment ruled by spot removal because the sweepers are all terrible now. I still think that Sagu Mauler has
future bulk rare written all over it, but there’s upside here that’s hard to ignore. You could do worse than grabbing a set for five bucks.
Sultai Ascendancy – $1
A Sultai self-mill deck may show up in Standard, but I’d be shocked if Sultai Ascendancy makes the cut. I don’t want to just dismiss this as a hard-to-cast
Curse of the Bloody Tome because it offers more versatility than that, but its power level is still just too low. Future bulk rare.
Abzan Ascendancy – $1
I doubt that Abzan Ascendancy will end up being versatile enough to make the cut in Standard, but it sure is a powerhouse on a board where you’ve got a ton
of smaller creatures. Not only does the Ascendancy make them huge, but it suddenly makes trading much more favorable for you while somewhat punishing your
opponent for having a board wipe. It might make a few sideboards, but most of its play will likely come out of token decks in Commander. It will likely
drop to bulk rare prices before becoming a decent long-term spec target.
Jeering Instigator – $1
Goblin Rabblemaster is a very good card that kind of likes it when you play more goblins. Jeering Instigator is a solid goblin. Need I say more?
Okay, I will. Threatens are always on the border of playability, especially ones that don’t come with that much inherent card disadvantage. Playing this as
a 2/1 to stay on curve is fine, and dropping six mana into morphing and unmorphing it gives you a powerful secondary option. Jeering Instigator isn’t the
most broken card in Khans of Tarkir, but I still expect it to see some play and potentially end up in the $2-4 range.
Herald of Anafenza – $1
One-drop creatures are always worth a second look, and this is a nice one. It doesn’t do much until later in the game, but the fact that it can produce an
endless stream of tokens (albeit at sorcery speed) is a nice thing. I’d be shocked if it didn’t end up as a four-of somewhere, and it should end up closer
to $3 than $1.
Temur Ascendancy – $1
Temur Ascendancy is the second best card in the cycle. Haste is a perennially underrated ability in Standard, and turning all of your large creatures into
cantrips is a great way to get card advantage in a deck full of angry monsters. As Magic becomes more and more about smashing with angry midrange
creatures, cards that incentivize this play style gain more utility. Temur Ascendancy still may end up as too much of a do-nothing to see much play, but
the potential is certainly here. Picking these up at $1 seems reasonable to me.
Grim Haruspex – $1
Might The Aristocrats come back? A 3/2 for three isn’t the worst thing in the world, and if you can keep this guy from eating a removal spell, you’re going
to draw a bunch of cards over the course of a game. Even just slamming this on the table and forcing some trades isn’t the worst thing in the world. The
fact that it doesn’t replace itself is punishing though, and I expect that this will mostly be limited to the casual arena. Future bulk rare.
Howl of the Horde – $1
It has been a very long time since one of these forks was playable in Standard, and I doubt we’ve gotten there with Howl of the Horde. The fact that it
copies twice with raid is nice, but too much has to go right for this to end up as anything more than a blank. Future bulk rare with some strong casual
Altar of the Brood – $1
Altar of the Brood will drop to $0.50 once people realize that it does nothing in Standard. Then, like Consuming Aberration and so many other solid mill
cards before it, it will start rising toward the $3-$4 range thanks to kitchen table interest. I wouldn’t grab these quite yet, but there will be a great
buying opportunity in a couple of months for long-term casual speculators.
Kheru Spellsnatcher – $0.50
Draining Whelk is one of my favorite cards, and this is a fun little cross between that and Desertion. I’d be shocked if this doesn’t fall to bulk range
pretty quickly – six mana counterspells of any sort aren’t Standard playable – but it’s one of the best long-term casual pickups in the set. I’m going to
trade for a few foils early on as well.
Jeskai Ascendancy – $0.50
I can’t see the first ability on Jeskai Ascendancy ever being all that useful in Standard. If you’ve got enough creatures to want to do this, just run more
spells that actually do something instead of an Ascendancy. Such a creature-dense deck isn’t going to want this anyhow unless a Triplicate Spirits/Raise
the Alarm deck somehow materializes.
What about ignoring creatures altogether and focusing on the free looting? That seems a little better, and perhaps the format will deliver us a sweet
Jeskai combo deck. The card is too hard to cast in Modern though, and Standard doesn’t seem to have the pieces to make this work. Bulk rare.
Rakshasa Vizier – $0.50
What, exactly, is the hope here? You delve a bunch and this grows into a 15/15 that is immediately blocked? If this didn’t cost five and/or it had trample,
we might have something. As is, I can’t imagine it seeing any more than fringe casual play. Future bulk rare.
Meandering Towershell – $0.50
Meandering Towershell is hilarious. It’s a giant turtle that slowly wanders around and gets lost on its way to the battlefield! I can’t see it working in
Standard though, even as a sideboard card. I love it, but it’s a true bulk rare.
Duneblast – $0.50
Seven mana? Three colors? Requires me to already have an awesome creature in play? In some Commander decks, maybe, but not in Constructed Magic. Bulk rare.
Master of Pearls – $0.50
Master of Pearls is a powerful sealed deck and draft card. It will not make an impact in any Constructed format, casual or otherwise. Bulk rare.
Flying Crane Technique – $0.50
You will lose to Flying Crane Technique in a draft. The player who beats you with it will be worse at Magic than you. He will be all smug about it too. You
will want to beat him with it at the next Standard tournament, but you can’t because it is a terrible Constructed card and a bulk rare.
Kheru Lich Lord – $0.50
I’m not sure this would see Standard play if the ability were free – the fact that it brings a creature back at random is super rough. As is, it might see
play as a fun value card in Commander, but that’ll be it. Bulk rare.
Icy Blast – $0.50
Falters don’t tend to be playable outside of Limited, and I doubt Icy Blast will break with tradition. If you’re casting a giant spell like this near the
end of the game, why not bounce or destroy those creatures instead?
Ankle Shanker – $0.50
Ankle Shanker is a windmill slam in Draft, but five mana 2/2s don’t tend to join the ranks of the Constructed playables very often. I’d rather run
something much more game-breaking in the five-drop slot of my Mardu deck. Bulk rare.
Avalanche Tusker – $0.50
Khans of Tarkir has no shortage of durdly five-drop creatures at the rare slot, does it? Avalanche Tusker will certainly play better than Craw Wurm in
Limited, but it has just as much chance of seeing play in Standard. Bulk rare.
Dragon Throne of Tarkir – $0.50
When you play a game of thrones, you win or you die. Playing the Dragon Throne of Tarkir in your Commander deck should help you win, but if you bring this
to a Standard tournament you will probably die. Overruns are rarely Standard playable to begin with, and this takes too much work to pull off. It could hit
$1-$2 thanks to casual demand, but it’s not going to be a competitive player.
Sage of the Inward Eye – $0.50
Another three-color five-drop bulk rare? You shouldn’t have. I’m already stuffed!
Ivorytusk Fortress – $0.50
Another intro pack rare, another big miss for me. These cards will be fine to play in Limited, but they’re going to be worthless once you leave your Draft
Dragon-Style Twins – $0.50
This five-drop is easier to cast, but I’m not sure it’s any better. Double strike is sweet, but Dragon-Style Twins is still a 3/3 for five without haste or
evasion. This is not the kind of card that good players tend to use.
Necropolis Fiend – $0.50
Nine mana is a lot, even with delve. You’re going to have to exile a bunch of cards to even cast this (probably for five or six mana), and then you won’t
be able to take advantage of its second ability. As a 4/5 flier it isn’t even all that huge. It might see a little bit of play out of a mono-black deck,
and it isn’t really that far off from Tombstalker, but I have a hard time believing it’ll be more than a role-player in Standard. Bulk rare with $2-$3
Thousand Winds – $0.50
This card is kind of interesting until you realize that you’re dumping ten mana into it before anything good happens. Good luck surviving against Brimaz,
Rabblemaster, Butcher of the Horde, and a thousand other things until then. It would be an intriguing control finisher if it didn’t have the “tapped”
clause in its triggered ability, but alas, it seems destined for the bulk rare box.
Trail of Mystery – $0.50
I’ll have fun following this trail in Draft, where morph creatures are always going to be good. I doubt that there will be a Standard deck with more than
one or two playsets of them though, which should relegate this to bulk rare status.
Trap Essence – $0.50
I would have liked to see a card like this pushed a lot harder in development, but Wizards seems scared of even the most situational counterspells these
days. Two +1/+1 counters simply isn’t enough to incentivize playing a much harder to cast Essence Scatter unless the Temur deck can somehow get to a
critical mass of instants and creatures with flash. I’d bet against that happening for now. Bulk rare.
High Sentinels of Arashin – $0.50
This is yet another unbeatable rare in Limited play that will simply cost too much for Constructed. Bulk rare.
Retribution of the Ancients – $0.50
This is the card that you will open in the draft to fight against those High Sentinels. It will not help, nor will it do anything in Standard. Bulk rare.
Overall, Khans of Tarkir looks like a fantastic set. I expect the two planeswalkers to pace value for the mythic rares (with Sorin, Solemn Visitor
currently being underrated), and I wouldn’t be shocked if one of the non-Surrak guild leaders ends up jumping in value – early money is on Sidisi, Brood
Tyrant. The cheapest fetchland may always be more expensive than the most expensive non-fetch rare in the set, but a couple of the pushed three-color
creatures should go up in value. It is also possible that we’re all underrating delve massively. If you made me pick one sub-$2 sleeper rare right now
though, it would be Crackling Doom. Regardless, I can’t wait for the prerelease!
This Week’s Trends
– The biggest non-Khans news has been the changes to the Commander format banned list. Metalworker, a very powerful piece of colorless acceleration, is now
unbanned. Star City Games immediately sold out, and I expect it to be restocked higher than the current “retail” price of $15. Long term, it is probably a
$25 card thanks to an influx of Commander demand alone. If you can pick any up less than that at your local store this weekend, I suggest you do so.
– Secondly, the B&R committee axed the ‘banned as Commander’ list that had previously contained four cards: Braids, Cabal Minion, Rofellos, Llanowar
Emissary, Erayo, Soratami Ascendant, and Kokusho, the Evening Star. These cards had been deemed too broken to be Commanders but not broken enough to be
banned as one of the other 99 cards in your deck. As a result of the streamlining, Rofellos, Braids, and Erayo are no longer legal in the format at all,
and Kokusho is fully legal.
– There isn’t too much financial fallout from these moves. Kokusho was already in demand, and the other three cards are so far out of print that I don’t
expect the retail prices to change, though demand will soften and the prices might erode by a few dollars here and there. On a personal level, however, I’m
pretty frustrated by this move. I’ve personally introduced Commander to hundreds of players over the years, and it was never hard to explain the “these are
the cards that you can’t have as your Commander, but they can still be in your deck” rule to anyone. It’s much harder to explain, “you can’t have this card
in your deck anymore because it was banned. Not for being too powerful, but because some folks didn’t feel like keeping two lists anymore.”
– Goblin Rabblemaster continues to surge upward. It has to be time to sell now, right? Honestly, I don’t think so – there isn’t likely to be much more M15
opened, and Rabblemaster is set to be one of the cornerstones of the format going forward. It could hit $15-$18 by the end of the month.
– Other Standard climbers: Kiora, the Crashing Wave, Thoughtseize (someone bought out foils last week, doubling the price on those, but the regular
versions have started to move upward as well), Mana Confluence, Sylvan Caryatid, Polukranos, World Eater, and Eidolon of the Great Revel.
– Modern is being mostly ignored right now, but don’t forget that the new fetchlands are going to have a huge impact in that format. If you want to start
buying singles for a budget deck, this is the time to get in ahead of the rush.