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Khans of Tarkir Constructed Roundup


Khans of Tarkir has had an immense impact on Standard, Modern, and Legacy over this past week.

Beyond the obvious Onslaught fetch land reprints, myriad cards have shaken up the format.

Let’s start with Standard:

This deck was mostly off the radar coming into the tournament (although Tomoharu Saito posted a similar-looking list on Twitter:

At its core, this list is a descendant of the Boros Burn deck that Matt Sperling managed to play to a Top 8 finish at Pro Tour Portland.

Mantis Rider is a pretty sweet card, being able to attack with impunity. Steam Augury is an interesting inclusion (mostly to enable Dig Through Time, I would imagine). Dig Through Time also makes your one-ofs much better (see the Keranos, God of Storms and Narset, Enlightened Master in the sideboard).

His sideboard has two Ashcloud Phoenix (mostly for attrition matchups), Disdainful Stroke (versus slower decks), Magma Spray (versus aggressive decks), Negate (more counterspells versus Planeswalkers), Narset, Keranos, and Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker (more threats), Anger of the Gods (also versus aggressive decks), and finally a Temple of Enlightenment for when he ’boards into all of the expensive cards.

Narset, Enlightened Master seems incredible against any deck that doesn’t have a ton of creatures (even still, you can maybe flip enough answers with Narset to clear the way).

I really enjoy decks with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx simply because they allow you to do the most ridiculous things in Standard.

Besides that, the core of the deck is fairly set. I played a slightly different list than Ross’s (since I disagreed with him on some things) on Sunday in a local tournament.

Main deck changes: −1 Hornet Queen, −1 Nissa, Worldwaker, −3 Forest, +1 Pharika, God of Affliction, +1 Arbor Colossus, +1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, +1 Wooded Foothills, +1 Windswept Heath

My exact sideboard: 2 Arbor Colossus, 2 Reclamation Sage, 4 Setessan Tactics, 4 Nylea's Disciple, 2 Nissa, Worldwaker

Going forward, to address the Jeskai Tempo matchup, I’d want access to Mistcutter Hydra in some number. (It dodges Jeskai Charm, and with X greater than or equal to 5, it dodges any single burn spell.)

This deck is certainly entertaining to play, but the Jeskai Tempo matchup is not the best (as evidenced by Kevin Jones defeating Ross Merriam in both post-boarded games). Disdainful Stroke and Mantis Rider are both excellent against this deck.

The other interesting deck I spotted was this spicy number by Brad Nelson:

I’m not sure how he ended up with his numbers, but the core of the deck seems solid.

This is an attrition deck with Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (which synergizes insanely well with Satyr Wayfinder and Commune with the Gods). Murderous Cut does a great Swords to Plowshares impression in this deck. Necropolis Fiend is also an undercosted fatty that is difficult for the green devotion deck or Jeskai to beat.

On Modern

Jeskai Ascendancy Combo was a huge breakout (after Sam Black wrote about it last week):

Robert Graves played a slightly updated version of it here:

Sam wrote about it in great detail here. But to summarize, this deck can kill on turn two, and it has a lot of redundancy (via Glittering Wish).

You need a turn-one mana creature, a Jeskai Ascendancy, and a Gitaxian Probe for the turn-two kill. It’s pretty unlikely you’ll kill your opponent from there, but it is theoretically possible to chain enough Gitaxian Probes into Cerulean Wisps for a second Ascendancy to Grapeshot the opponent out. Treasure Cruise might as well be Ancestral Recall in this deck as well.

This deck bears a lot of similarities to Storm, but it is sufficiently different and redundant that I’d want to give it a whirl.

I also recently played in a Modern StarCityGames Invitational Qualifier with an updated version of Brute-Force Scapeshift:

I really liked this list, but there’s always room for improvement. Not having the tenth Mountain (a.k.a. the second basic Mountain) nearly cost me two matches, given I needed to cast Search for Tomorrow or use Sakura-Tribe Elder for lethal damage with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacles. Having ten cantrip interaction spells is great (four Remands, three Electrolyzes, and three Pyroclasms).

I would also try Dig Through Time somewhere (maybe over Harmonize in the sideboard, and maybe over Explore in the main deck). It’s certainly a strong card against Liliana of the Veil, although it’s a bit slow otherwise.

On Legacy

Bob Huang managed to innovate a large amount with U/R Delver:

Monastery Swiftspear is ridiculous in this deck. On turn two, it at least hits for 2, if not 3, and with a whopping forty-one spells, it’s not surprising to see it hit for 4 at some point. For a 1-mana creature, that’s an incredible rate. Given his forty-one spells, this is the best deck at blind-flipping Delver of Secrets as well.

The other piece of the puzzle is Treasure Cruise. With the ability to just churn through his deck with cantrip after cantrip alongside ten fetch lands, casting Treasure Cruise quickly isn’t just a pipe dream, it’s clearly the payoff for his deck construction. This also explains the lack of Wastelands since it only helps to cast Young Pyromancer or Treasure Cruise, but he has to mulligan any hand that has Wasteland as it’s only land, and otherwise, only one Mountain prevents him from casting his cantrips.

To that end, his nonbasic land hate is a pair of Blood Moons in the sideboard, and that seem extremely effective given that he has a ton of cantrips.

All in all, this decklist looks well thought out and extremely strong.

To summarize, in Standard, the format looks extremely diverse and shaken up by Khans of Tarkir.

If you were to assemble a gauntlet this week, I’d suggest Kevin Jones’s Jeskai Tempo, Ross Merriam’s Green-Splash-Black Devotion, Jon Goss’s Mardu Midrange, Brad Nelson’s Sultai Delve, Matt Ferrando’s Mardu Tokens, and Reid Duke’s R/G Devotion. They can all be accessed here and are included at the end of this article.

For Modern, I’d like to give the Jeskai Ascendancy combo deck a spin before assessing its fragility or resilience, but it certainly seems quite enjoyable to play.

For Legacy, I wouldn’t be surprised to see other decks adopt Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time. In particular, I think Dig Through Time has a very good shot at being played in Sneak and Show, Omni-Tell, and High Tide variants.

I also think there is a very small chance that Treasure Cruise sees play in Vintage.

I also hope to get around to recording some videos once Khans of Tarkir is released on Magic Online.

Thanks for reading, and please leave comments here or on Twitter (@jkyu06).

Jarvis’s Standard Gauntlet

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