How’s everyone enjoying Khans of Tarkir so far? After going 2-1 at my Prerelease, I was looking forward to giving Draft a try for FNM. I hadn’t
read much regarding Draft strategy and just had a few things in mind other than the usual principle of valuing removal pretty high. First was to try and
avoid locking yourself into a clan with your first pick if you can help it, giving yourself flexibility to read how the draft is going and hopefully
slipping into a clan that is being under-drafted around you. Second was to value mana fixing pretty highly. Third was to pretty much stay on target once a
clan was locked in and not get fancy splashing a fourth or fifth color. Lastly was to keep in mind that Khans Limited has a ton of mana sink opportunities
so playing eighteen lands is perfectly reasonable unless I ended up with a really fast aggro deck.
Opening my first pack I shuffled to the back to find that Party Roc was indeed in the house tonight-Wingmate Roc! I considered this a stroke of fantastic
luck-not only was this a bomb Limited card, but it was just one color so my clan options remained pretty wide open for Abzan, Jeskai, or Mardu. Plus, it’s
a mythic rare with considerable buzz for Constructed so in terms of value I’d almost paid for my draft right there with the first pick.
As the first packs went around I stocked up on some decent white cards, nabbed some white/x mana fixing, and ended up with a dash of black, green, and
blue. Red didn’t seem to be coming around so Mardu was out. I opened my second pack, shuffled to the back and found Necropolis Fiend waiting for me. Well,
hello there! I suppose black was in, which meant I was probably Abzan unless I suddenly got red cards streaming to me the other way, but thankfully it was
mostly green and Abzan stuff that came back the other way so I was locked in. For my last pack I opened Dragon Throne of Tarkir, which seemed pretty nuts
to me so long as I ended up with a decent number of playable creatures. Then I got passed a second pick Meandering Turtleshell, and flipping through the
cards there were quite a few other good options. But then I shuffled back to the Turtle… man, he’s huge! I pictured an opponent playing him against me on
the fourth or fifth turn, and what a huge pain in the butt he’d be to try and punch through. Did I really want to burn one of my precious black removal
spells on this guy? Given that he can block for days and pretty much attack with impunity every other turn, I’d pretty much have to.
Or… I could put him in my deck. Yep, that solved the problem right there.
Then I got passed Abzan Ascendency… then an Abzan Charm. Well, it sure looked like I’d picked the right clan to get in. I won’t lie-the deck was absurd,
and I can’t really take all that much credit towards cruising to an easy FNM victory on the back of those bomb rares. I went 4-0, with only one match going
to three games. I was in danger of losing that last game after my opponent played an early Bellowing Saddlebrute that easily outclassed anything I had on
the board, but ripping the durdle-est turtle off the top was a helluva trump card, giving my outlast dudes time to get bigger. I ended the night with a
nice chunk of store credit, a sweet promo card, and some decent rares for Constructed from the draft.
One interesting pro tip if you’ve got Meandering Turtleshell and raid cards: on the turn Meandering Towershell attacks and is exiled, raid abilities will
see it as a creature that attacked. Conversely, on the turn Meandering Towershell enters the battlefield attacking, raid abilities will not. I can attest
that Wingmate Roc and its raid ability do a pretty good job of holding down the fort while your Towershell meanders through Exile.
I had someone on Twitter ask how highly I’d pick Meandering Turtle going forward. The card impressed me, and I’m pretty sure I’d pack one, pick one it just
about every time. Not only for its sheer size, but Islandwalk isn’t to be underestimated given that it’ll be unblockable against three of the five clans.
Also being a powerful monocolored card increases its value early in a draft before you’ve locked into a clan. Not that I’d say it’s the best card in the
set, but I’d rank it higher than most uncommons and commons for sure.
One more thing I learned-Dragon Throne of Tarkir is ridiculously slow. I maindecked it, but I think in the future I’m going to stick it in the sideboard.
It’s great for punching through creature stalls, but it’s pretty miserable if your opponent is loaded on removal or tempo cards. Drawing it would have lost
me one or two games if I wasn’t able to get back into it due to one of my bombs.
Obviously, my first experience with drafting Khans left a huge smile on my face and has me curious to see if I can continue with some of that good fortune
After the draft I picked up the box I’d preordered from the game shop and started cracking packs. I know this will make some of you cringe, but I love
cracking open a box. I used to do it all the time, but once mythic rares got introduced the value in cracking packs out of a single box went way down and
now I mostly just buy the singles I want from each set. However, occasionally a set comes along that is so kick-ass, that has so many cards I want, that
seems so stuffed with value cards that I break down and buy a box or two. The reprinted fetchlands and the sweet planeswalkers make Khans definitely one of
those sets, and I was thrilled to open a Sorin, Solemn Visitor in the box.
I also opened Narset, Enlightened Master. Why hello there human monk!
“True understanding of the universe comes from understanding of the self. Pretension and malice obscure that understanding, so we must strive to banish
them from ourselves and from the world.”
It’s hard to argue with a mission statement that wants to banish pretension and malice, that’s for sure.
It was neat to see Narset, Enlightened Master do some good work out of the sideboard from Kevin Jones’s winning Jeskai Tempo deck from #SCGNJ this past
weekend, but I was mostly interested in pondering what sort of 99 cards I should add to her deck in Commander. Let’s take a look at what she brings to the
This is what immediately draws the eye: “Whenever Narset, Enlightened Master attacks, exile the top four cards of your library. Until end of turn, you may
cast noncreature cards exiled with Narset this turn without paying their mana costs.”
Fans of Commander will immediately draw comparisons to Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge. The Grixis Vampire Wizard has these abilities: “When Jeleva, Nephalia’s
Scourge enters the battlefield, each player exiles the top X cards of his or her library, where X is the amount of mana spent to cast Jeleva. Whenever
Jeleva attacks, you may cast an instant or sorcery card exiled with it without paying its mana cost.”
There are similarities but there are some pretty important differences too. For one thing, you can only cast the free cards from Jeleva during your attack
step, which can limit the number of useful spells exiled quite a bit. Sometimes the cards you exile from your opponents won’t be any help at all. Her
ability can also lead to some feel-bads, not only for your opponents who might see a bunch of their favorite cards exiled out of the game, but sometimes
for yourself if you exile much needed land away or a non-instant, non-sorcery spell that would have been helpful to play.
Both Jeleva and Narset can do the same sort of busted things, like playing a Time Stretch for free, but for my first Commander deck with Narset my
inclination is to go in a different direction. I’ll leave super-powerful instants and sorceries to Jeleva and instead focus my Narset deck on a less
splashy ability of hers:
Oh yes, that dreadful word that says player interaction shall have its limits! Uril, the Miststalker and Geist of Saint Traft make excellent
“Voltron”-style Commanders due to having hexproof, so I want to explore that angle with Narset. Since Narset has white in her casting cost, the question
then comes to-do I want to go heavy into equipment, or do I go for auras? I think it’s pretty easy to build a Voltron-style deck with equipment for any
Commander sporting white, so my instinct is to go heavy on auras to take maximum advantage of Narset’s hexproof. Uril has been king of auras for too
long-there’s a new boss in town!
What’s nice about going the Voltron route with your commander is that gives you a way to deal with players who gain a bunch of life. If I’m playing a
commander that’s not really fit for aggression I will usually try to have some way to kill people with poison counters such as Inkmoth Nexus, since it’s
relatively easy to gain obscene amounts of life in Commander. But when you’re planning on attacking with your Commander early and often, you’ve got the
Commander combat damage rule of 21 on your side.
Okay, let’s see what we can cook up!
Ethereal Armor, Daybreak Coronet, Flickerform, Arcanum Wings, Spirit Loop, Dragon Breath, Dragon Wings, Madcap Skills, Gift of Immortality, Steel of
the Godhead, Angelic Destiny, Indestructibility, Auramancer’s Guise, Spectra Ward, Fool’s Demise, Celestial Mantle, Eldrazi Conscription
Combing through the history of Magic we can find quite a few good or great auras to enchant Narset with. I particularly like how the dragon auras can be
played or cycled early and will come back from the graveyard once you cast Narset. Arcanum Wings can be sweet if you draw Celestial Mantle or Eldrazi
Conscription rather than get to play them for free off the top of your deck.
Serra’s Sanctum, Kor Spiritdancer, Nomad Mythmaker, Crystal Chimes, Mesa Enchantress, Replenish, Retether, Three Dreams, Skybind, Sigil of the Empty
Throne, Winds of Rath, Bruna, Light of Alabaster, Sovereigns of Lost Alara
I wanted to be careful on my creature count since creatures get exiled from Narset’s ability and won’t come back. I thought about playing Misthollow
Griffin since he’s another body for auras and basically is immune to Narset’s exile, but I wasn’t sure what to cut until I get more games in to see what’s
working and what’s not. The creatures I did pick here are all worth the exile risk; Bruna, Light of Alabaster makes an incredible Plan B if you can’t get
Narset to stick, and Sovereigns of Lost Alara provides the classic way to search up Eldrazi Conscription or any other powerful aura. Winds of Rath is a
sweeper I often forget about, but it’s obviously pretty sweet when you’ve got a Narset all enchanted up – just keep your fingers crossed no one casts Back
to Nature in response!
One nice thing about casting spells for free is that you’ll likely have a bunch of extra mana lying around so cards that have extra costs for added value
get better. Buyback spells in particularly seem pretty crazy with Narset, but I also like getting the kicked version of Rite of Replication relatively
cheap or the super-cheap entwine of Savage Beating.
Playing a Voltron-style deck means putting a lot of your eggs in one basket, so I wanted to include some added ways to ensure her survival. Ajani’s
Presence, Darksteel Plate, and Indestructibility (listed under auras above) supplement her hexproof ability to make her nearly unstoppable. Of course,
another way to remove her as a threat is to remove you as a threat, so I also included some protections like Propaganda and Spear of Heliod for defense
that also play perfectly with the heavy enchantment theme.
Here’s what my Narset, Enlightened Master looks like currently:
- 1 Nomad Mythmaker
- 1 Mesa Enchantress
- 1 Sovereigns of Lost Alara
- 1 Kor Spiritdancer
- 1 Bruna, Light of Alabaster
- 1 Narset, Enlightened Master
- 1 Sage of the Inward Eye
- 5 Plains
- 1 Serra's Sanctum
- 1 Reflecting Pool
- 4 Mountain
- 4 Island
- 1 Volcanic Island
- 1 Tundra
- 1 Plateau
- 1 Hall of the Bandit Lord
- 1 Maze of Ith
- 1 Miren, the Moaning Well
- 1 Sacred Foundry
- 1 Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
- 1 Steam Vents
- 1 Hallowed Fountain
- 1 Bant Panorama
- 1 Esper Panorama
- 1 Grixis Panorama
- 1 Exotic Orchard
- 1 Glacial Fortress
- 1 Command Tower
- 1 Homeward Path
- 1 Sulfur Falls
- 1 Clifftop Retreat
- 1 Slayers' Stronghold
- 1 Cavern of Souls
- 1 Rogue's Passage
- 1 Opal Palace
- 1 Mystic Monastery
- 1 Ghostly Prison
- 1 Soothsaying
- 1 Replenish
- 1 Scroll Rack
- 1 Propaganda
- 1 Land Tax
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Fellwar Stone
- 1 Whispers of the Muse
- 1 Winds of Rath
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Collective Restraint
- 1 Vedalken Orrery
- 1 Savage Beating
- 1 Dragon Wings
- 1 Dragon Breath
- 1 Invulnerability
- 1 Shattering Pulse
- 1 Allay
- 1 Crystal Chimes
- 1 Sigil of Sleep
- 1 Rhystic Study
- 1 Flickerform
- 1 Three Dreams
- 1 Fool's Demise
- 1 Spirit Loop
- 1 Auramancer's Guise
- 1 Retether
- 1 Arcanum Wings
- 1 Daybreak Coronet
- 1 Puca's Mischief
- 1 Steel of the Godhead
- 1 Sigil of the Empty Throne
- 1 Indestructibility
- 1 Celestial Mantle
- 1 Expedition Map
- 1 Rite of Replication
- 1 Eldrazi Conscription
- 1 Leyline of Anticipation
- 1 Darksteel Plate
- 1 Spirit Mantle
- 1 Angelic Destiny
- 1 Sphere of Safety
- 1 Ethereal Armor
- 1 Madcap Skills
- 1 Gift of Immortality
- 1 Bident of Thassa
- 1 Spear of Heliod
- 1 Ajani's Presence
- 1 Skybind
- 1 Spectra Ward
- 1 Flying Crane Technique
- 1 Quiet Contemplation
- 1 Goblinslide
The new cards Quiet Contemplation and Goblinslide are obviously made to supplement decks heavy on the Jeskai “non-creature” theme and work perfectly here
alongside free spells from Narset and with the enchantment theme. I also just had to include the Flying Crane Technique, even though I don’t have too many
creatures-it just seemed wrong not to include the hallmark Jeskai spell in a deck built around the Jeskai khan.
So how many of you have sketched out a deck around Narset, Enlightened Master? What cards are you using that I don’t have here? Do you have any suggestions
for my list?
Have a great weekend, and may you find your Path fulfilling!
New to Commander?
If you’re just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:
Commander Primer Part 1
(Why play Commander? Rules Overview, Picking your Commander)
Commander Primer Part 2
(Mana Requirements, Randomness, Card Advantage)
Commander Primer Part 3
(Power vs. Synergy, Griefing, Staples, Building a Doran Deck)
Commander Starter Kits 1
(kick start your allied two-color decks for $25)
Commander Starter Kits 2
(kick start your enemy two-color decks for $25)
Commander Starter Kits 3
(kick start your shard three-color decks for $25)
My current Commander decks
(and links to decklists):
Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus
- • Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice ( new player-friendly)