Khans of Tarkir: Playing to your Weaknesses – White

(NOTE: “Playing to your Weaknesses” is a series of articles I have been doing on my own blog since Avacyn Restored that cover all of the uncommons and commons in a new expansion and which ones I would choose to use as one of the 23 cards in a 40 card limited deck. For those of you uninitiated to limited, it simply means sealed and booster draft, where you open packs and then proceed to make a deck out of them. I’ve purposely left out the rare cards because it is much more likely that you’ll see multiples of uncommon and commons in your packs/pools.)

M15 was only 2 months ago but the next set is already upon us. Khans of Tarkir is looking to shake things up in standard, and the announcement of the Onslaught fetchlands has already made the set the most anticipated set ever. It will probably end up the best selling set ever, but before that we need to open a lot of packs for draft and sealed. I got some good feedback from some of my readers over the past few articles I’ve written regarding how I rate my cards. Therefore I’ll be changing things around today a little bit. Instead of saying 5th or 6th pick in draft, I’ll merely state if it’s a high, medium, or low pick in draft. HIGH means that you should take it as soon as you see it (if it’s in your colors of course). HIGH picks won’t come around the table a second time. MEDIUM picks are cards that have good synergies with other cards and are great at filling your mana curve or acting as role players. These cards might come around a 2nd time if you pass on them, so if there is another card that ranks higher, take that one and wait for this to come back. LOW picks are cards that are leftovers. Maybe you need a 23rd card for your deck to round things out – THAT’S what a LOW pick is. You can take these ratings to mean the same for sealed as well. If you have any questions or suggestions about how to improve this style of evaluating, let me know and I’ll be sure to add into future articles. Well, I’ve checked out the full spoiler and made my picks, so lets see what Khans limited has in store for us!
 
Watcher of the Roost

Watcher of the Roost

“I am the talons in the darkness. I am the Watcher of the Roost. I am the wind that guards the life total of Magic players. I pledge 2 life and wings to the Khans of Tarkir block, for the pre-release and all the limited events to come.” – The Roost’s Watch Oath

It’s no Jon Snow, but the Watcher of the Roost starts off white with what it’s good at: Life gain and cheap flyers. What I really like about morph in a 3 color block is that even if you splash this card in a 3 color deck and can’t get that third color for a while, you can still play a threat on turn 3. It’s not an amazing card, but it’s a nice combat trick on turn 4. You flip it, gain 2 life, and now your opponent can’t block it in the air. Cheap flyers are going to be really useful in activating the Raid ability in Mardu strategies, so I’d take this in the first few packs that you see.

RATING: Medium

Venerable Lammasu

Venerable Lammasu

Yikes, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a white flyer this big since Alabaster Dragon. 7 mana might seem like a lot to pay, but there is going to be very little in the skies that can stop it outside of blue. KTK sealed seems like it’s going to be slower than other formats, and that means that you’ll have time to play a lot of your bombs later in the game. If you can clog up the board on the ground, this guy can easily take over the game in the air. It doesn’t seem like a high pick to me though, but I wouldn’t mind giving it one of my finisher/beater spots at the top of my curve. I would take it a few picks into the draft.

RATING: Medium

 

Timely Hordemate

Timely Hordemate

I’m really liking the raid mechanic. Limited is always a creature heavy format, and I think more often than not you’ll be activating this effect. What I like about this card is that you can attack with a 2 power bear, trade with one of their creatures, then bring it right back to the battlefield afterwards. This is a pretty strong ability in limited I think. There are a decent amount of playable two drops, so you’re sure to get value from it. I see this + Rakshasa Deathdealer being a big headache for some players in limited. I’d take it pretty early in draft, cause it sure won’t come around the table again.

RATING: High

 

Take up Arms

Take up Arms

 Well it’s no Triplicate Spirits, but it is 3 bodies from one card which is always good. In a slower format,  5 mana won’t be that hard to cast. It’s just a shame that they aren’t flying spirits. This is a great card with Jeskai Ascendancy and Abzan Ascendancy. Both will really add to the value of this card in your sealed/draft deck since you’ll be able to pump up 3 creatures at once. I think Sorin, Solemn Visitor is another good card to have with this one. If you’re going the token route and using various effects to boost their power, then you definitely want to draft this high. I feel like it’s worth taking as one of your first few picks, even if you don’t have a lot of cards that synergize with it. Being able to keep back a blocker while you attack with your big guys will be helpful, and it also is great fodder for Butcher of the Horde.

RATING: High to Medium

 

Suspension Field

Suspension Field

 

People are saying this is a poor man’s Oblivion Ring, but I think they are comparing it to the wrong type of card. I see this as something more of an upgrade to a card like Pacifism. It’s something you want to keep for a troublesome creature that you don’t want attacking, blocking, or using its abilities. This format has TONS of 3+ toughness creatures (I’m looking at you Temur), so there are going to be more than enough targets for it. I would definitely take this card first in draft. It’s the closest thing white has to no-strings attached removal and is going to be key in pushing through your big guys. 

RATING: High

 

Smite the Monstrous

Smite the Monstrous

Well, it’s no Rebuke or Divine Verdict, but I think this will still be a good removal card in Khans limited. As I said above about Suspension Field, there are quite a lot of big creatures in this set. There are more 3 toughness creatures than 4 power ones however, so I wouldn’t take it as highly as other removal. The instant speed helps, but I would probably take this around my 6th pick or so. You’ll probably want to take more high impact aggressive cards earlier on, but I wouldn’t be against taking this the second time it came around a table. 

RATING: Medium

 

Mardu Hordechief

Mardu Hordechief

There probably won’t be as many fast decks around as there were in Theros block, but if there are any they are sure to be based around white cards. Mardu Hordechief is an example of a strong common. You won’t have to worry about any strong turn 2 attackers in this format, but you definitely want to have some cards to play on turn 2 and 3. White, Red, and surprisingly green have a good number of 2 drops that could help you in activating his ability consistently on turn 3. Going from 1-3 creatures on turn turn 3 puts a lot of pressure on slower decks. You could easily deal 5+ damage before an opponent has any type of defense up. I don’t think I’d take him really early, but in the right deck he’s definitely a high pick. If your curve looks like you have a lot of 2-3 casting cost creatures, pick him up early. However, if your deck looks to be somewhat top heavy, his value suddenly drops.

RATING: High to Medium

 

Kill Shot

Kill Shot

Here’s that Rebuke I was talking about (I don’t know why they didn’t just reprint it. Guess it was a flavor thing). Creatures will definitely be attacking in this format, but once your opponent knows you have it they’ll be baiting it out in future games instead of attacking in with their finisher. It’s a solid removal card, and isn’t too heavy to cast. However, due to the reason I stated above about being a reactive card, it won’t be as effective as a card like Suspension Field. If you can’t get a hold of any other removal though, I’d take it highly in draft (especially in pack 2 or 3). They’ll still have to play around it if they know you have it. 

RATING: Medium

 

Dazzling Ramparts

Dazzling Ramparts

 

Akroan Mastiff and Tyrant’s Machine saw a decent amount of play in their blocks (Theros and M15), so I think Dazzling Ramparts will also see some play in Khans of Tarkir limited. In a slower format, cards like this can lock down your opponent or create openings for your finishers to get through. For starters, the 0/7 body will block just about everything in Khans on the ground. Temur will have problems getting through, as well as Abzan colors. It’s ability also makes it ideal for stopping flyers from getting through in the air. It’s not something you want to draft first, but I see it as a strong roleplayer in sealed and draft. 

RATING: Medium

 

Alabaster Kirin

Alabaster Kirin

This is a pretty vanilla card, but 4 mana isn’t bad for a 2/3 flyer. It gets past spirit tokens, and also takes care of all those other birdies in the air with 2 power. It’s a good card on both offense and defense and I wouldn’t mind drafting this in the middle of my first pack for these reasons. Anything with evasion is usually worth having in your deck. 

RATING: Medium

 

Ainok Bond-Kin

Ainok Bond-Kin

All of these Outlast “captains” are going to be straight up bonkers alongside Abzan Ascendancy or anything else that puts counters on creatures. Ainok Bond-Kin isn’t the best of the captains, but he’s pretty damn good. As soon as turn 4 you could have a 3/2 first striker. There are going to be some sweet synergies with these guys in Mardu aggro or Abzan decks where you can easily put counters on things. Not an early pick in your first pack, but I would pick him up early in your next two packs if you manage to get a couple of Outlast creatures together. 

RATING: Medium

 

Abzan Falconer

Abzan Falconer

This is just bonkers. I don’t care if you only have 2-3 three Outlast creatures in your deck, adding Abzan Falconer to the mix is going to be very tough for your opponent to deal with. Suddenly giving all those creatures flying on top of whatever other effects they come attached with can put the other player on a very fast clock. Drafting a white deck with High Sentinels of Arashin, Feat of Resistance, and a few of these captains seems to be really unfair. It will be like playing multiple “lord” effects, and there will be very few things that can stop a Flying, first strike, life linking creature. Even if they can, they’ll be in an even worse situation with the 3rd, 4th and 5th creature with the same abilities. I’d take this very early in draft. Sure you won’t be able to attack with him until turn 5, but by then you’ll have a 3/4 flyer. 

RATING: High

 

Abzan Battle Priest

Abzan Battle Priest

While the first strike and flying “captains” are the best cards of this group, I wouldn’t let Abzan Battle Priest past me. Creating a high life total lets you be aggressive without having to worry about the consequences. The later you get into the game in Khans, the more important this will be because opponents will be dropping their bombs/finishers and hitting you for large chunks of damage. When they are hitting you for 5+ damage a turn, no matter how much life gain you it won’t be enough. Like I said, it’s not a bad ability, but not the best one. It’s a solid card I wouldn’t mind having in my deck but I wouldn’t sacrifice a spot in my deck for it if there was a better choice. 

RATING: Medium

 

Other Cards That Might See Play

 

  • Feat of Resistance – This card seems like it would be good in pretty much any white deck. It’s a great combat trick for Jeskai along with their Prowess ability, but also works very well with Abzan and the Outlast captains. It’s even good with Raid because it makes your creature unblockable and activates that ability in your second main phase. Not a high pick, but a good card to round out your deck with. 
  • Rush of Battle – pretty good card if you can flood the board with tokens or small creatures. It can easily end a game or make your Prowess creatures massive when you attack. 

 

Coming Up Next

The set looks like it will be pretty interesting in limited and I’m looking forward to playing sealed. The interactions are already looking deeper than that of Theros block and M15. We’ll have combat tricks due to morph and Outlast, and removal spells will also be more effective too I think. This marks the end of white today, but if you have any other suggestions or different points of view, please post them down below! I’d also like to know what you think of the new rating system. Is it easier to understand when you should draft it? I’m going to work on Blue next, so hopefully you’ll have it on Wednesday night or Thursday morning. See you then! I’ll be working extra hard to get them all out by Friday night!

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