Five Clans, Five Magic Decks for Khans of Tarkir

Five Clans, Five Magic Decks for Khans of Tarkir

Five new decks based in the new clan wedge colors.

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The whole prerelease weekend, I kept calling Abzan "Azkban", called Temur Tamerlane (Timur the lame), Mardu I called Marduk, Sultai was Mai Tai, and Jeskai was Just Kidding or J/K. It's nice to see some one else got the joke. I wish I had the money to get the cards in these decks =\. I suppose I'll stick to limited and EDH.

This is the worst formatting for a decklisting I've seen in ages. Proper use of columns, please...

At a glance I find a lot of the choices questionable. The decks are for obvious reasons stuffed with 2 and 3 coloured lands, but you seem to favour repeating the same drawbacks rather than mixing them.

Take for instance the lands that deliver colourless mana for free, or coloured mana for 1 life (e.g. Battlefield Forge), you would want to use those for colourless mana 80% to 90% of the time, and only use them for coloured mana in the somewhat rare occasion where you can't get the required colour through other means. That plan falls apart if you put too many of them in the same deck. Your Mardudes deck only have 8 sources of "free" coloured mana, but at the same time has 10 cards that cost 3 coloured mana. With no cards costing more than 1 mana of the same colour the deck has virtually no chance of being unable to deliver the required colours, for instance replacing 2 of each of the life costing lands with two of each of the relevant basic lands would do very little to hurt the deck's ability to deliver the right colours of mana, but the life cost would be more than halved.

Similarly, some of the decks have a bit many lands that enter the battlefield tapped. Having only a few of those makes it more likely that you can play them only on turns where you don't need the extra mana anyway, or at least don't need it that badly.

Two of the decks have 4 of the same planeswalker. I get it if you build a deck that revolves around the abilities of that specific planeswalker, in that case you gotta take the chance. But in these decks neither card seem to be important enough to run such a high chance of overdrawing them. 4 Courser of Kruphix in BUG Control also seems like a bit much, and 28 mana sources seems over the top, I guess they are there in an attempt to compensate for all the cards that cost 2 mana of the same colour, but I'm not sure why one would make a 3-colour deck with so many mono-colour cards in the first place.

eBusiness:
lands

At this point, the right mix of pain lands, basics, tapped lands, etc is all still a bit up in the air. It's very dependent on how the speed of the format pans out. Heck, plenty of the decks I built still wouldn't mind a few more duals just to keep the colored sources up where they need to be, but that would mean going past 12 tapped lands or running out more painful sources. But in general, I'd rather err on having sufficient colored sources. As long as this new format doesn't end up being too fast, you're more likely to lose to not being able to cast your spells because of having too many basics instead of losing from casting a turn behind.

Two of the decks have 4 of the same planeswalker. I get it if you build a deck that revolves around the abilities of that specific planeswalker, in that case you gotta take the chance. But in these decks neither card seem to be important enough to run such a high chance of overdrawing them.

Here's the thing with planeswalkers though. If you're in a situation where overdrawing them is relevant, that usually is good for. That implies that you have an active planeswalker on the field that's not under pressure. Also, cards like Thoughtseize and Hero's Downfall are going to continue to be format defining and see heavy play. You want to saturate on your best threats. Decks like last season's UW control deck could get away with say running just two Elspeth, Sun's Champion because it had enough raw card draw to find them.

4 Courser of Kruphix in BUG Control also seems like a bit much, and 28 mana sources seems over the top, I guess they are there in an attempt to compensate for all the cards that cost 2 mana of the same colour, but I'm not sure why one would make a 3-colour deck with so many mono-colour cards in the first place.

I take it you mean Sylvan Caryatid? While the fixing is certainly helpful, the real reason is for the acceleration. The whole list is basically powerful spells, so it wants to jump a turn in casting them, ensure they are cast on time due to the tapped lands, or more quickly get to the point where you can cast two spells a turn, which is important for stabilizing against the aggressive decks.

As for running mono-colored cards in a three color deck. There's only so many gold cards worth running. Running multiple colors also just lets you play the cream of the crop from multiple colors.

Slycne:
At this point, the right mix of pain lands, basics, tapped lands, etc is all still a bit up in the air.

But you can still make a lot of conclusions and guesses if you do the maths. My point is that the penalties don't scale linearly, this is true especially for life cost lands and basic lands. One or two of each relevant basic land will not hurt a lot, especially in a deck with few or no cards that cost multiple of the same colour. And a few life cost lands will generally not be a problem, and as far as a lot of your costs are colourless it may be feasible to include quite a lot of them.

Another thing maths can tell us is that in a colour balanced 3 colour deck you are actually more likely to be able to pay a card that cost one of each colour than a card that cost two of the same colour. That doesn't mean you shouldn't ever play those, but they should be considered more expensive, so you better make sure they are worth it.

The main effect of Courser of Kruphix is redundant on the second copy you play, therefore the more you include the less they are worth in the deck. In general you'd also want to mix up the card choice in order to have more options when playing, and in order to make your deck less predictable when an opponent sidedeck against it. Sometimes you still want 4 of a particular good card, but when in doubt, I'd say go with less.

I have got nothing against Sylvan Caryatid, I just wonder if having 4 of them shouldn't cause you to have less than 25 lands?

eBusiness:
But you can still make a lot of conclusions and guesses if you do the maths. My point is that the penalties don't scale linearly, this is true especially for life cost lands and basic lands. One or two of each relevant basic land will not hurt a lot, especially in a deck with few or no cards that cost multiple of the same colour. And a few life cost lands will generally not be a problem, and as far as a lot of your costs are colourless it may be feasible to include quite a lot of them.

As you said, the math is out there. For instance, if that Sultai deck wanted to basically guarantee a turn 2 Bile Blight it would need 20 sources of black. Right now it's floating around 17 sources, though Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth makes the math a little weird and a fair number of them are tapped. If I was to tweak them a little more now I was pretty happy with 10 tapped lands and 6 pain lands today at an IQ, that was for the Jeskai deck.

Another thing maths can tell us is that in a colour balanced 3 colour deck you are actually more likely to be able to pay a card that cost one of each colour than a card that cost two of the same colour. That doesn't mean you shouldn't ever play those, but they should be considered more expensive, so you better make sure they are worth it.

The main effect of Courser of Kruphix is redundant on the second copy you play, therefore the more you include the less they are worth in the deck. In general you'd also want to mix up the card choice in order to have more options when playing, and in order to make your deck less predictable when an opponent sidedeck against it. Sometimes you still want 4 of a particular good card, but when in doubt, I'd say go with less.

We may have to simply agree to disagree. Outside of formats with access to Brainstorm, lots of card draw, and such, Magic decks preform their best then they are consistent. It's the same reason you run 60 cards, not 61, you want to increase the odds of drawing your best cards - which means running 4-ofs. I think you can certainly let some redundancy factors and such be the first check boxes towards making a cut as needed, but until we know more about the format I think you basically want to jam all your good cards.

I have got nothing against Sylvan Caryatid, I just wonder if having 4 of them shouldn't cause you to have less than 25 lands?

I value mana dorks as land replacements very minimally, like 1/4 to 1/2 a land per creature. You play them as acceleration, not at lands, because there's no guarantee they will stick around.

Slycne:
We may have to simply agree to disagree.

Maybe I was a bit harsh on the general concept of 4-ofs. It depends a lot on both the card and the deck, for instance you have a lot of them in your Jeskai deck, and the only one of those I'd question is Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker. But it is a good card and a nice fit for the deck, so it is not an unreasonable call.

Your Jeskai deck also has a pretty clear mana strategy, it is primarily red, so some RR cards ain't an issue, and the UU card is late-game enough that it is unlikely to cause problems either.

I'm much more worried about Sultai/BUG Control, it sits uncomfortably between the risk of not having the right colour of mana and drawing too few cards that ain't mana sources. If you got rid of Prognostic Sphinx you'd at least be down to two double colours, you could then afford to play a few less blue mana sources, which might in turn let you play fewer lands overall.

eBusiness:
snip

No worries, and I certainly don't want to give the impression that these are not works in progress, as all Magic decks are to a degree. If you are interested in seeing how the decks progressed over the weekend, I'll be making some changes to the lists on tappedout.

Jeskai Burn/Tempo - trimmed the top end and made some room for Seeker of the Way, which was a card I missed when building, but it's proven to be very strong in the deck. The mana base got smoothed out to something I was pretty happy with which is 6 pains and 10 taps.

Abzan Midrange - I haven't gotten as much time to playtest this deck, but I did make some minor changes to it. Sorin, Solemn Visitor has proven to be quite good and I decided to come a little lower to the ground with Nissa, Worldwaker over Elspeth, Sun's Champion. Elspeth, Sun's Champion is still really great, but I think more decks are mainboarding cards that are naturally better against her.

Sultai Control - The deck needed more mainboard hate for the aggro decks. Polukranos, World Eater was decent, but there is a lot of removal going around and I wanted more cards that get their value even if they get hit with a Hero's Downfall.

 

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