The Main Phase – Kithkin Ain’t Dead Yet!

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Monday, August 4th – The sky is falling on Kithkin… again. This time it is a tandem sucker-punch from Eventide that many players are sure are the final nails in the coffin: Hallowed Burial and Soul Snuffers. Both of these cards are a real beating on the stoutest of Lorwyn’s tribes. But let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Have you heard? Kithkin is dead!

… Again.

At the beginning of the season it was because Firespout just wrecks the whole Kithkin plan, Spectral Procession tokens and all. Certainly, a resolved Firespout is a beating, but Kithkin pilots quickly adapted and simply added the Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tenders waiting in their sideboards to the main deck for extra protection. So they survived. Then folks were sure Kithkin was dead in the water when the Green/White Little Kid deck showed up. Kithkin was indeed in a boatload of trouble when it had to play against the Gaddock Teeg led monstrosity, but that particular deck has abruptly fallen out of style as a result of its poor matchups with a few of the other powerhouses in the metagame, namely Faeries.

And how about the Faerie match p? It seems that if you are going to succeed in this format you are going to have to beat the Fae on a consistent basis. Many Faerie pilots claimed incredible match win percentages against the Kith. In my experience so far this season this hasn’t held up, as I have only one PTQ loss to Fae with seven victories in that span. Then again, I could be a master. You be the judge.

The point is that, each and every time, Kith should have shriveled up and died… but it didn’t.

Now the sky is falling on Kithkin again. This time it is a tandem from Eventide that many players are sure are the final nails in the coffin: Hallowed Burial and Soul Snuffers. Both of these cards are a real beating on the stoutest of Lorwyn’s tribes. But let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Allow me to pose this question to you: what decks currently in the Block metagame will run Hallowed Burial or Soul Snuffers?

Let’s start out with the most prevalent deck, Faeries. Clearly, this is not the deck for Hallowed Burial unless some intrepid Fae pilot wishes to utilize some number of Vivid lands, Fetid Heath and/or Mystic Gate to create some new brew. It has been suggested that Faeries can (and will) support Soul Snuffers. I may be bucking popular opinion here, but I don’t see that at all. First of all, nearly all of the creatures in Fae are x/1s to begin with, and the few that aren’t 1/1s are either lands or 4/4s that need those x/1s in order to be useful. Second, Faeries already has a four-mana sorcery speed 2/2 with a much more relevant ability in Sower of Temptation. This town ain’t big enough for the both of ‘em and I certainly can’t see them fighting side by side in the Faerie main board, as the number of sorcery speed spells can only be so high before the deck loses some of its power.

Recently, Elementals have had a lot of success on the PTQ scene. Could they be the best equipped to run Soul Snuffers? Probably so, and not just because that’s the creature’s type. I anticipate that most Elemental decks will run at least one main deck Snuffers, and the rest in the board in the place of Festercreep. Be warned, however, as this will put more stress on an already stressed-out manabase, not to mention the fact that it kills any stray Smokebraiders you have in play to further strain your mana. Can Soul Snuffers and its 2BB casting cost survive and thrive beside spells with RR, UU or even GGGG in their casting costs? If any deck can it’s this one. Also, you cannot play a Snuffers on turn 3 without the help of Smokebraider, which is something you can pull off with Festercreep. I personally prefer Uncle Fester to the new kid on the block, so who knows? They may run it and they may not. They definitely cannot, however, abuse Hallowed Burial. Elementals is far too dependent on Reveillark, Makeshift Mannequin, and the occasional Horde of Notions activation to be able to use the Burial.

Quick n’ Toast, while less popular as of late, can surely use another Wrath effect or two, but the wide range of what it means to be a Quick n’ Toast deck means that no two lists will look exactly alike and therefore will not be a universal inclusion. Some people will probably just stick to Firespouts and Austere Commands.

The deck that comes to my mind in all of this is actually the Chapin-designed close-to-mono-Blue-control-deck that splashes all of the other colors because of the ridiculous mana available in this particular format: Solar Flare. In this strategy I can certainly see a place for both Souls Snuffers and Hallowed Burial, as this deck was in desperate need of a Wrath of God effect… Austere Command, while good, doesn’t quite fit the bill. Hallowed Burial is much better at one less mana, but if Solar Flare wants to run Burial it will have to reconfigure itself, unable to rely any longer on Makeshift Mannequin late game, as it may have to put many of its targets back into its owner’s library. Sure, you’ll still have the odd evoked Mulldrifter or Shriekmaw to target, but that is less desirable than reanimating a Reveillark or something later on. Snuffers is an even tougher fit as I see it and would require even more drastic changes to become a viable option. I just don’t see 1/1 Mulldrifters and 3/2 Reveillarks getting the job done.

The rest of the decks are unlikely to be moved by these two. The Red decks, Little Kid, Kithkin, Elves, etc, are all unlikely to stretch their capacity and their mana to fit a Snuffer or Burial into their scheme.

So what does this mean for Kithkin?

Well, it means that, as they have before, Kithkin will not be dead. They may take a hit from having two more powerful sweepers added to their enemies’ decks, but they will adapt and recover.

How, you may ask?

This is my list now that Eventide is legal. It is very similar to the deck with which I made second place in Louisville a few weeks ago. Let’s look at what changes.

+4 Figure of Destiny
-1 Goldmeadow Harrier
-1 Knight of Meadowgrain
-1 Thistledown Liege
-1 Cloudgoat Ranger

This is a little hodge-podge because the deck was so strong to begin with that making room is very difficult. I have to admit that I have not done enough testing to know exactly what comes out for the Figures, but I believe that this is close. The singleton Harrier leaves because, all things considered, it is the weakest one-drop in the deck. The single Knight of Meadowgrain leaves because it is unspectacular against so many decks. In fact, if it weren’t such a complete blowout in the mirror and against Red decks it would likely have gone down to 2. The Ranger comes out because we now have a mana sink we can abuse, so having the full amount of big cost guys isn’t necessary any more. The final removed card, currently the Liege, was the toughest. I am still not sure what should come out here, but I think that playing the full 4 Figures is the right play so something had to give.

Just a side note: it’s very funny to me that now Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tenders can possibly be relevant in the mirror since they can fight Figure of Destiny and come away unscathed.

Moving back, another common change that Kith pilots are going to make is the change from Crib Swap to Unmake. I am not sold on this change as of yet, as going to Unmake turns the Mutavaults into nigh unplayables because they slow the development of so many turns, what with the deck running so many triple White costs. The raw power that a Mutavault can have and the fact that they can survive post-Wrath makes me want to keep them in the deck, so I think a wholesale switch might be a mistake. For now, I will keep the Swaps since they have served me so well in the past but I may soon go all-in by removing the Mutavaults and go with Unmake.

Speaking of Crib Swap, the sideboard has changed since last I commented on the deck, so let’s take a quick look at the changes.

+3 Ajani Goldmare
-3 Pollen Lullaby

Not a particularly big switch, but one worth commenting on.

The popularity of Kithkin has dwindled since the beginning of the season, making the mirror much more rare. In addition, regardless of what I say here today the popularity of Kithkin is going to decrease again. This is for a couple of reasons. First, many of the players who have been playing Kithkin will jump ship and play a Red deck, what with exciting new options like Stigma Lasher and Puncture Blast, just as many jumped earlier in the season for Little Kid and Merfolk. Heck, the Red decks can still play Figures! Second, I am only one man. I cannot change everyone’s mind that Kithkin is not a bad strategy, and enough people out there have said that Kithkin is no longer viable that some people may believe it to be true (and it may yet be true that I am wrong, because I often am).

It is because of this shift away from Kithkin that I removed the Pollen Lullabys. Last week, I detailed my tournament report with sideboard changes I made. You will note that not once did I face the mirror, nor did I bring in the Lullabys for any other matchup. Pollen Lullaby is a card that is basically only good in the Kithkin mirror match, and when you don’t play a mirror all that much it becomes useless.

The card that is replacing it isn’t a terribly bad card in the mirror anyway, with an added bonus: it helps fight Soul Snuffers. Thanks to rule 420.5n, made famous by the Juniper Order DruidMurderous Redcap combo, the bonus granted by Ajani now also negates a Snuffers’ triggered ability.

Ah, but the miser’s Pollen Lullaby yet remains. Perhaps harkening back to a day when Kith once roamed in huge numbers in the top tables of the PTQ circuit, or perhaps only remaining only because Tom LaPille once wrote about how having a single Pollen Lullaby to “accidentally” show your opponent between games might be a good idea. Either way, that’s what I went with here. You never really want to see more than one Lullaby anyway.

I made a decision near the beginning of the season to stay committed to one deck. I stand by that commitment. It may have more to fight through as the season progresses with a whole new set’s worth of technology to battle past in order to win, but I stand by my claim Kithkin ain’t dead yet.


Reuben Bresler
Reubs in the forums
[email protected]
CleverMonikerMan on AIM

Current Playlist:

Supergrass — Diamond Hoo Ha Man
Garbage — Bleed Like Me
We Are Scientists — After Hours
MGMT — Time To Pretend
Radiohead — House of Cards