Limited Lessons – Kithkin And Elves With Morningtide

Read Nick Eisel... at StarCityGames.com!With the release of Morningtide mere days away, we’re all looking forward to some hardcore Lor-Lor-Mor drafting. But how do the tribes shape up now we’ve one less pack of Lorwyn in the mix? Today’s Limited Lessons sees Nick Eisel take a look at the improvements made to both the Kithkin and Elves strategy. If you’re a dedicated follower of aggression, this is the article for you!

This week I want to start exploring the impact Morningtide will have on some existing archetypes. While I initially planned on taking a look at Elementals, I decided to wait a few weeks since I haven’t drafted it much yet with the new set and I want to be sure about some of my ideas before sharing them.

Instead I’ll be taking a look at both the Kithkin and Elvish tribal strategies today. I’m mainly going to focus on commons, but I’ll also take a look at some of the better uncommons and possibly a rare or two that are relevant to each strategy.

This tribe was much underdrafted in LLL except possibly near the end of the format. I did write the GW Aggro strategy guide which almost always had a Kithkin base, and I noticed some people on Magic Online started to experiment more with the White cards. With Morningtide now in the format, I think the Kithkin have become a real force to be reckoned with.

Burrenton Bombardier
I talked about this briefly in my Initial Impressions article last week but I didn’t stress just how big of a boost this card alone is to the Kithkin deck. If you’ve drafted correctly, most of your games will start off with a two drop and then a three drop (since curve is one of the top priorities in the archetype). If you also have a Bombardier in your hand it is extremely difficult to ever lose. The fact that most players are aware that this card exists doesn’t seem to deter them from walking directly into it and then scratching their head wondering how they are going to deal with the 4/4 that’s still in play after combat. The real problem is that most people just don’t have a good way of answering this good of a trick that early in the game and they are almost forced to play into it and just hope that you don’t have it. The only real outs are burn in response or a bounce or banishing type of effect, and more often than not they aren’t going to have the answer.

This is one of my favorite cards in the new set just because of the tremendous swing it can have on the game at such an early point. On multiple occasions during drafts I’ve gone guy, guy, wreck you in combat with Reinforce and a few turns later my opponent is scooping it up.

All of this is without mentioning that it’s a 2/2 flier for three! I don’t think I can possibly say enough to do this card justice but hopefully you have a better idea after all of that.

Ballyrush Banneret
It would seem that a “familiar” would be excellent in an aggressive strategy, but I’ve found almost the opposite to be true. This guy is very playable because he’s a two-drop that can sometimes allow for sick starts, but in general I think he is being slightly overrated. The problem with this card is that most of the Kithkin cards are aggressively costed already and your curve will basically never be higher than five with only one or two cards in that slot. There will be some decks with multiple Plover Knights and Kinsbaile Balloonists where this guy will really shine, but in general I’d say you should be taking some of the other Kithkin commons over him. The nice thing is that you’ll know for sure when the time comes whether this is something you want to take highly or not.

Cenn’s Tactician
Talk about a bomb uncommon. This guy on turn 1 is very difficult to beat as any creature that comes down can easily become bigger than whatever the opponent is playing. Definitely windmill this one.

Changeling Sentinel
One of the first things I noticed about Morningtide was that all of the common Changelings are excellent. This is something that is likely to have a big impact on the format as you can screw a draft up tribally and then make up for it by sucking up as many Changelings as possible in Morningtide. As far as the Kithkin are concerned, Kithkin Greatheart in particular gains a lot of value because of this.

Coordinated Barrage
I’m still not sure about this one but I think it has the potential to be very good in this archetype as you’re playing a lot of guys quickly and this is a cheap way to remove an annoying blocker. I had one of these in my deck last week but never drew it so I didn’t really get to properly evaluate it. From the game situations that came up though I felt like it probably would’ve been pretty good if I did draw it.

Kithkin Zephyrnaut
This is one of the better Kinship cards and obviously a sick combo with Runed Stalactite. The other benefit here is that when you’re in the Kithkin tribe, almost all of your cards are actually Kithkin unlike some of the other tribes so it should trigger around 40-50%.

Order of the Golden Cricket
What a two-drop. This guy is excellent and I don’t think I really need to say more than that.

I have yet to actually cast this card as the Evoke ability has been too good on its own. Whatever the case though, a one time Ajani activation is pretty strong when you’re curving out guys.

Swell of Courage
One of the best uncommons in the set to be sure and it is probably at its best in this archetype. Whether not it’s surprising, I’ve used the Reinforce ability more often than casting the actual spell and been very happy with it every time. It’s essentially a +1/+1 counters Fireball that can occasionally be used to Overrun the opponent.

Weight of Conscience
Great removal, though you’d usually rather be attacking than tapping two guys to remove a guy from the game. This is playable in the deck, though I’d usually be taking quality creatures over it if possible.

I’ve highlighted a lot of the White cards in the new set that I like in the archetype, but I still want to talk about some general strategy for drafting this deck. The first rule is that you can basically never have enough two-drops and they are crucial to success. Second, you can now pair or splash pretty much any color for a bit of removal or whatever you feel that you’re lacking. With Reinforce now around and all of the other options for tricks, I don’t think it’s as important to take cards like Triclopean Sight anymore if you have better options. Reinforce is more flexible since you can actually cast the creature instead of it always being a pump spell. I’d rather have Mosquito Guard than Sight in my deck pretty much any day, unless I had lots of ways to abuse the untap ability of the Sight.

Of all of the new Equipment, the Soldier one seems to be the weakest but it is actually very good in this archetype. The nice thing is that nobody else is going to take it from you unlike the Shaman Equipment or Warrior Equipment. This tribe seems to fly under the radar and you can get Order of the Golden Cricket very late, so I guess we’ll see how long it takes for people to realize that the tribe got a huge boost in the second set. In closing I definitely recommend that you at least try out some of the new cards in the archetype and I doubt you’ll be disappointed. Here’s a sample list from a draft last week.

Cenn’s Tactician
Goldmeadow Harrier
Kithkin Greatheart
Ballyrush Banneret
Lash Out
Knight of Meadowgrain
2 Order of the Golden Cricket
Kinsbaile Skirmisher
Surge of Thoughtweft
Wizened Cenn
Oblivion Ring
Kithkin Zephyrnaut
Moonglove Extract
Avian Changeling
Kithkin Harbinger
Burrenton Bombardier
Crib Swap
Kinsbaile Balloonist
Changeling Sentinel
Rival’s Duel
Changeling Berserker
Plover Knights
5 Mountain
12 Plains

This deck was very strong and I went 3-0 in the pod. Rival’s Duel was really good for me and went two-for-one on a couple of occasions. Like I said earlier though, you want to be mainly White and you can basically do whatever you want for a second color or just a splash.

One last thing I want to mention is that Oona’s Blackguard is very strong in this deck, as there are lots of ways to make +1/+1 counters in White. Even if you don’t have a bunch of Rogues you can still make your opponent discard by using Reinforce or Meadowboon or whatever, so it’s something to keep in mind.

I guess the reprinting of Elvish Warrior is a bit of foreshadowing for the future of the tribe. Not only should you be drafting Elves now, but you really want to be focused in Warriors and Shamans as well. Elves is now focused more in both Black and Green as well, so you’ll want to keep that in mind before diving in. You can draft it with a different second color but you’ll benefit more from the Black cards.

Bramblewood Paragon
This card enables some truly sick starts for the Elf deck and is an absolute bomb. Gilt-Leaf Ambush, Lys Alana Huntmaster, and Ambassador Oak all create Elf Warrior tokens. Usually Gilt-Leaf Ambush isn’t a huge deal unless you happen to be attacking with two guys and they win the Clash, but with this guy out it becomes a real problem. So does an unanswered Huntmaster. The secondary Trample ability isn’t anything to get overly excited about, but the first ability is good enough on its own. It’s worth mentioning too that lots of Treefolk are also Warriors and combine well with Elvish tribal elements.

Ambassador Oak
I absolutely love this card. Whether you’re in an aggressive Elvish build or some other type of controlling strategy, this guy is a great deal for the price. Pick these and pick them highly.

Pack’s Disdain
Don’t let the lack of Instant — Elf on the card fool you; this is an Elvish Instant for sure. With all of the token generation this card will easily fire off as a Sudden Death or better in most situations. It doesn’t seem to be getting picked highly either which is good for the Elf drafter. I think the card is playable in any tribally oriented strategy and it’s perfectly fine even if it only fires off for one or two. It has the potential to do a lot more in the Elf deck.

Final-Sting Faerie
This card is probably at its best in this archetype because you can make an alpha strike with a bunch of Elf tokens and it won’t seem suspicious. After the attack you can then kill your opponent’s best man with this guy. In other archetypes you have to make weird attacks and your opponent is more likely to put you on having this card so it loses a bit of value.

Blightsoil Druid
With the exception of Treefolk decks, nobody else is really taking this card and it’s nice to have another accelerator. Obviously you’d prefer Leaf Gilder or Fertile Ground, but this guy will do in a pinch.

Lys Alana Bowmaster
This is easily the most important Elvish common in Morningtide. Anyone who drafted this archetype a lot in LLL knows that the problem with the deck was that sometimes you just lost to someone playing a bunch of fliers and racing you out. The Bowmaster completely derails that strategy and is very easy to trigger. This is the card I most want to open if I have a solid Elvish base after Lorwyn.

Hunting Triad
Wow. Reinforce three? Wow.

This card is sick and I’ve already gone turn 2 guy, turn 3 Ambush, turn 4 Triad. That’s a lot of dudes. The Reinforce three is what really puts it over the top though, and I feel like I talked enough about the ability earlier with Burrenton Bombardier.

Winnower Patrol
Quick and good for the cost. The ability is also pretty good like the Kithkin Zephyrnaut so this guy is a strong addition to your curve.

Wolf-Skull Shaman
This guy is a bomb for obvious reasons, though I’d definitely rather have the Bramblewood Paragon if I had to choose between the two uncommons in this archetype.

Some key points about the archetype are as follows. First, as I said, you should be more focused in both Black and Green than you were in Lorwyn. Second, the Bowmaster is a necessity and you need to be prepared to take it highly if you don’t already have a ton of removal. Third, Fistful of Force isn’t as important as it was in LLL because Earthbrawn is now available as well.

Overall this archetype didn’t gain as much as the Kithkin, but it filled a huge hole with the Bowmaster and I think it is still a very strong tribe overall.

Leaf Gilder
Blightsoil Druid
Wren’s Run Vanquisher
Bramblewood Paragon
2 Pack’s Disdain
Elvish Warrior
Eyeblight’s Ending
Imperious Perfect
Jagged-Scar Archers
Lys Alana Bowmaster
Elvish Harbinger
2 Gilt-Leaf Ambush
2 Lys Alana Huntmaster
Elvish Promenade
Ambassador Oak
Moonglove Winnower
Weed Strangle
Changeling Titan
Liliana Vess
9 Forest
8 Swamp

This deck was drafted by a friend of mine, and he went 2-1 losing to mana problems in the last round. This is a very strong Elf list, though in my experience they always look very good as you can get a ton of good tribal elements in Lorwyn.

I hope you try out some of these new ideas with the Morningtide cards and I’ll see you guys next week.

Nick Eisel
Soooooo on MTGO
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