Out with the old, in with the…
Wait wait wait… not just yet.
I know that we’re going to be talking about Khans spoilers and all the glorious goodies we’ll have available shortly, however, I wanted to take a moment to
first throw out a deck that I’ll be running at an IQ this weekend that might be interesting enough to help you guys get past the last vestiges of this
format while we still have it.
I call it… well, I don’t really have a name for it yet. Rabble Izzet? Or Izzet Rabble? I’m not sure.
- 3 Magma Jet
- 4 Izzet Charm
- 1 Bident of Thassa
- 4 Lightning Strike
- 4 Stoke the Flames
- 1 Military Intelligence
- 4 Void Snare
I know, we’re all sick of this format, but I’ve actually been enjoying this deck! It’s like a weird mix between Rabble Red, Burn, and a blue tempo deck.
The best part? The interaction between Izzet Charm and Chandra’s Phoenix. I’ve abused that interaction to no end, even trying to find out if running
Pyrewild Shaman and Wild Guess was worth the effort. I even considered Sphinx of the Chimes!
The deck started out as me thinking “Rabblemaster is dumb; all you have to do is clear the way a couple of turns and it just ends the game, especially with
a little help from its buddy Mutavault.” So I decided to throw a Void Snare or two in, some burn spells, et voila!
So, if you want something different to play this week, give this deck a shot. It’s got some trickiness to it that takes some getting used to, but overall
it’s been a blast.
Okay, okay, out with the old already. Got it…
Thoughts on Temur
I wanted to take a moment to talk about my favorite “wedge” in the world, Temur. I’ve obviously been excited about this, as evidenced by my last article, but as more of the set was spoiled, I started to realize
I had mixed emotions about the direction of the wedge. You see, the Temur colored cards spoiled so far (midnight on Wednesday as of the writing of this)
have been powerful. Of that there’s no doubt, and we’ll cover these cards shortly, I assure you.
However, I had high hopes of being able to return to playing the type of deck I loved all those years ago: cheap interaction, ramping, efficient cards, and
flexibility in gameplan. Each of these things was present in almost every card in Lotus Cobra Temur back in the day. Even the ramp spell, Explore, had
usefulness at all phases of the game. Everything was so multifaceted and required a lot of thought and planning that it forced me to fully engage my brain
at all times. As someone who’s struggled with ADHD my entire life, having something occupy all of my thoughts constantly during a round was a big deal.
This is also why I love playing Legacy Shardless BUG so much.
However, while the power level of Temur’s cards is beyond question, it’s not really a “thinking person’s wedge” as I’d hoped it would be. Savage
Knuckleblade is truly an intense Magic card, but it’s straightforward in its applications: attack, with some utility. There’s no real question about what
it’s used for. Sure, there’s some play to it, but the decision there is one of only two: keep mana up, or don’t.
I don’t know, I guess part of me was hoping for more cards like Temur Charm, albeit more covertly than “you have three choices.” I’ll gladly take having my
favorite color combination being viable for once, but I was also hoping that my style of deck would also be viable as well.
Thoughts on Actual Temur Cards
Alright, enough of all that jazz. Temur is here, and I’m anxious to dive in and see what all the wedge has to offer.
As I’ve already mentioned, Savage Knuckleblade is the real deal and is quite a card:
I’d cover the ins-and-outs of this beast in depth more, but one Mr. Patrick Chapin did an excellent job in his piece here. Even still,
I wanted to take a moment to give it a bit of time and insight.
The cool thing about this card is that, even though it does look straightforward, it actually has a little play to it. I know, I know, I just ranted about
how it didn’t have much play, but that was relative to the intricacy of the cards in those days, something it seems Wizards has stepped back from
a bit. The Knuckdaddy is actually an odd mishmash of two cards that saw a decent amount of play in their day:
The one thing I do like is that the costs for the abilities on this card aren’t completely overpowered; in other words, I’m glad they’re not all one mana
(or even two). Even though I like a good Temur card, I also understand how obnoxious it would be to have a rampaging, huge, fast AEtherling bearing down
every turn, possibly as early as turn 2.
Even still, Knucks here is at least a Loxodon Smiter with upside or a 4/4 haste for four mana. With no other abilities, it would still be playable. All
your planeswalkers belong to Knucks!
Here we have the closest thing to Lotus Cobra since… well, Lotus Cobra, I guess. Rattleclaw Mystic is obviously not as ridiculous as the chromatic snake,
but it does give a temporary burst of mana followed by consistent mana every turn after that.
Consider this sequence:
Turn 1: Elvish Mystic
Turn 2: Morph Rattleclaw Mystic
Turn 3: Unmorph Rattleclaw Mystic, play Soul of Shandalar/Ravnica
It gives the “god draw” potential that Lotus Cobra once gave us Temur players. Obviously, even though we have fetchlands, it’s not as nuts;
however, it’s still a welcome addition to the fold.
The one downside is that we would have to run Elvish Mystic if we wanted to have that sequence occur, which is okay in some decks but not so much for the
ones I want to build. First world problems and all…
Okay… usually I’m not impressed by slightly undercosted monsters, but this guy? This guy is ridiculous!
People are imagining playing this guy at the end of turn and untapping to make other ridiculous plays. And while that’s how this card will be played a lot
of the time, that’s not how it always has to be. Be wary–for the next couple of years–when attacking into open mana against a Temur player. Or even chump
blocking against a Temur player who has five open mana. You’ll likely not enjoy what happens afterwards.
The flash aspect of the card especially caught my attention. Between this and Boon Satyr (another card that triggers the ferocity mechanic), you
have the foundation for something resembling Temur Flash. Maybe even Fated Intervention? Quickling? I’m not sure the deck would have enough yet, but it’s
enough to keep in mind.
Or even flashing this in at the end of turn, untapping, and casting See the Unwritten?!
In total truth though, the card obviously fits well with the Temur identity in Khans of Tarkir: an efficient beater who seems to be all upside. I can’t
imagine not playing this in almost any Temur deck as at least a one-of, if not more.
Each wedge obviously has gotten their own Charms and Ascendancies. Temur’s versions in these two cycles seem to be among the best for each respective
Temur Charm brings a dash of Mana Leak’s allure, some Hunt the Weak action, and a bit of unblockability to boot. While the last mode will easily be the
least used, it’s like Venser, the Sojourner’s -1 ability: people forget about it until it kills them.
Even still, the Mana Leak + solid removal in one card aspects of Temur Charm are more than enough to guarantee that they’re run in most any deck playing
the colors. I was actually somewhat blown away by the modes on pretty much all of the charms; none are ridiculously overpowered but each is more than
playable in their own right. That wasn’t the case for the Shards charms, as poor Grixis Charm just got the short end of the stick it seemed.
As for Temur Ascendancy, it’s pretty cool they decided to reprint Fires of Yavimaya and only give it to one wedge (my wedge!). Even better, it
does the one thing I love doing more than anything else in Magic: drawing cards!
How good is Temur Ascendancy? Well first we should ask, if it simply read “creatures you control have haste”, would we play it? I doubt it, as that’s not
doing much by itself, but it’s on the verge of playability.
The next question is: how many cards would we need to draw over the course of a game in order to make it worth running the card? My thought is that one
card drawn makes Temur Ascendancy worth running, as a cantripping Fires of Yavimaya (minus the sacrifice portion) would be awesome. The second card (and
any after that) are simply gravy.
So, knowing that we’re going to be running Surrak Dragonclaw and Savage Knuckleblade, we already have two minions that’ll trigger Ascendancy.
What other cards do we have available that would trigger Ascendancy (and be worth running)?
Obviously, the gods are tentative and dependent on whether you have enough devotion to trigger Ascendancy.
Even if we just go with Stormbreath Dragon, Polukranos, and possibly Boon Satyr from this list, we still have a couple of good options for triggering our
Ascendancy. I wouldn’t run too many, but it’s a fine card, and I’ll be happy to include two or three.
The one issue with planning to abuse Temur Ascendancy with Stormbreath Dragon is this little number. Sarkhan and Stormbreath Dragon are going to be at odds
until they rotate out. Their power level is similar, and each has their own ups and downs. You can’t play two Sarkhans, and it doesn’t trigger Ascendancy,
however, Stormbreath isn’t a friggin planeswalker and can’t go all Flametongue Kavu if it needs to.
I’d say the best bet is to split the difference, three and three, and be done with it. Others will fret over the numbers more, but I’ll just enjoy seeing
these babies fill my hand for the foreseeable future.
How’s our Temur deck coming along?
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 3 Polukranos, World Eater
- 3 Stormbreath Dragon
- 4 Courser of Kruphix
- 4 Rattleclaw Mystic
- 4 Savage Knuckleblade
- 3 Surrak Dragonclaw
…with the obvious disclaimer about sideboards when we don’t even know the full spoiler.
How Khans Helped My Son’s Deck
I’ve been telling my son that his Mono-Black Aggro deck was going to be non-existent post-rotation due to some key cards rotating. Luckily though, Khans
has saved me with these two cards:
Now I don’t have to make my son start over from scratch, learning a new deck. He’s taken to calling Mono-Black Aggro “his” deck and has even gone
undefeated at FNM with the deck before. He’s still learning, but it’s pretty awesome to watch my eight-year-old son making somewhat advanced decisions
while playing due to his familiarity with the deck. I don’t want to throw all that away on day one of a new format just because of rotation.
Here’s what I’m looking forward to putting together for him:
- 4 Tormented Hero
- 4 Mogis's Marauder
- 2 Pain Seer
- 3 Herald of Torment
- 4 Spiteful Returned
- 4 Gnarled Scarhide
- 4 Mardu Skullhunter
- 4 Bloodsoaked Champion
- 22 Swamp
Another option we have is to go the “warrior” route, taking advantage of Raider’s Spoils:
- 4 Tormented Hero
- 4 Mogis's Marauder
- 3 Herald of Torment
- 2 Gnarled Scarhide
- 4 Mardu Skullhunter
- 3 Chief of the Scale
- 4 Chief of the Edge
- 4 Bloodsoaked Champion
Can We Finally Do This Artifact Thing?
Wizards seemed like they were trying to give us some signals with these cards:
…yet, despite a large chunk of Khans being spoiled, it doesn’t seem that they’ve really done much to go with those spoiled cards.
At least, so it seemed.
However, I’ve looked into the idea some more, and I’m actually rather excited about the possibility. One of the main reasons why lies in this card:
While the first part of the card could be blank for all I care, the second part excites me to no end when I start thinking about it. Everyone’s probably
thought of how great Shrapnel Blasting with a Scutling Doom Engine is…think about doing it with this card too!
The only thing that truly makes me sad is the realization that Trading Post will rotate when this card hits. Not that I plan on recurring it, but the
Trading Post idea would finally get a little more legs. Sigh, oh well.
Even still, another new card will help to make this deck viable:
Finally! A reason other than Ensoul Artifact to run Ornithopter!
As of now, I’m still debating on whether or not this deck would be better off adding green to take advantage of Temur cards like Charm and Ascendancy, but
let’s take a look at what this deck might look like:
Butchering: an Artform
If Surrak Dragonclaw was so overly awesome that it caused instant reactions, how has this card not gotten more press?
Four mana for a 5/4 flying demon that has the ability to be a vigilant lifelinker? On the turn it comes into play?
“But Michael, you do realize you have to sacrifice creatures, right?!”
Yes, my astute reader, I do–however, has Sam Black taught you all nothing over all these years!? Sacrificing can be a good thing! Think about the
What else likes sacrificed creatures?
Necropolis Fiend and Murderous Cut both would like a piece of that action if we get into the sacrificing and whatnot. The Mardu sacrifice deck might still
live! Even better?!
There has to be a deck here, right?
Which card, that used to be completely disregarded, might secretly be amazing now that we’ve seen the reprinting of the fetchlands?
My god, the possibilities! This set, as with most sets, brings so many possibilities. When Shards of Alara was Standard legal, there were just so many
decks that could be played. I still remember playing 5-Color Blood, a deck that played all the colors, Cruel Ultimatum, Bloodbraid Elf, and Cryptic
Because we could, damnit!
We’re getting close to having similar options with Khans, and it’s going to be amazing. What ideas have you come up with? Anything outside the box? Has
anyone figured out how to make Chromanticore work yet?