One of my favorite cards in Khans of Tarkir is See the Unwritten. Although it doesn’t have the sweet Trap clause, it reminds me of Summoning Trap in Zendikar, and that’s seen quite a bit of competitive play. The creatures in the current Standard format aren’t quite as powerful as what Summoning Trap usually put onto the battlefield, but there are still some great options available. I decided to build a deck that would put See the Unwritten to good use—and do it without breaking the bank.
Abzan Whip ? Khans of Tarkir Standard | Mike Cannon
- Creatures (22)
- 2 Resolute Archangel
- 4 Ashen Rider
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 4 Hornet Queen
- 4 Satyr Wayfinder
- 4 Voyaging Satyr
The Game Plan
Hornet Queen is among the best creatures in Standard right now, and it is finding its way into a number of different decks. If you’re behind, five creatures with deathtouch will put a stop to any attack plan your opponent was forming. Since most decks in Standard at the moment only play creatures and spot removal, Hornet Queen will often be a five-for-one no matter what your opponent does. If you’re ahead, Hornet Queen is also an effective tool for winning the game. It creates a total of 6 power across five flying creatures, making spot removal and blockers ineffective at stopping the threat.
Like Hornet Queen, Ashen Rider can provide some significant card advantage. When it enters the battlefield, it gets rid of any permanent . . . permanently. From creatures to Planeswalkers, it can deal with any threat you’re facing immediately. After that, it sticks around as a 5/5 with flying to put your opponent on a four-turn clock. If your opponent does deal with it, you are able to exile another permanent as revenge.
Resolute Archangel won’t help you press an advantage like the other two creatures will, but it’s a great tool for helping you survive against aggressive decks. Return one of these to the battlefield with Whip of Erebos, and you’ll end the turn with at least 24 life. That kind of total game reset makes things incredibly difficult for aggro decks, especially burn-heavy strategies like Jeskai Wins.
Whip of Erebos is the other main game plan of the deck. You can’t rely on drawing See the Unwritten every game, so Whip of Erebos gives you another way to put giant creatures on the battlefield early. Although they’ll be exiled at the end of your turn, each creature has an enters-the-battlefield ability that can make a big difference in the game.
See the Unwritten does costs 6 mana, and that’s not something that’s going to happen quickly without a little help. Elvish Mystic is an obvious choice, giving you a turn-one play that can continue to make a difference late into the game.
Voyaging Satyr earns a slot as another cheap creature that can produce any color of mana you need. Since all the nongreen spells require two of their colors, you’re not casting them until you have two relevant mana sources anyway. The Satyr can fill in for a second land by untapping the first.
Font of Fertility isn’t exactly the pinnacle of mana efficiency, but it does the job. It can fetch whatever type of land you need as soon as turn two. The deck aims to cast See the Unwritten on turn four, which gives you plenty of time to use the Font and still cast another mana creature.
Unlike Summoning Trap, See the Unwritten puts the cards you don’t want into your graveyard. If there’s an extra-big creature in there you can’t get, you can Whip it back later. However, than alone isn’t enough to make Whip worth playing. Fortunately, Commune with the Gods is here to help. Not only does it throw creatures in the graveyard, it can grab a Whip of Erebos from among them if you don’t have one already. Later in the game, you can grab a big creature directly and just cast it from your hand.
Satyr Wayfinder doesn’t accelerate your mana, but it does help hold together the deck’s somewhat shaky mana base by finding you more lands to choose from. It also puts more cards in the graveyard that you can return with Whip of Erebos, and it functions as a blocker that can save you a bit of damage early in the game.
Temur Aggro — Game 1
Font of Fertility. My opponent played a land and passed.
I sacrificed my Font. He cast Heir of the Wilds.
I cast Satyr Wayfinder and attacked for 4 with the Hornet Queen, a token, and Voyaging Satyr. My opponent cast two copies of Lightning Strike to kill the Queen and the token, taking 1 damage. My opponent cast Polukranos, World Eater. He cast Crater's Claws to kill the last remaining token and passed the turn.
Rattleclaw Mystic, mine a Voyaging Satyr.
On turn three, he cast Savage Knuckleblade and gave it haste, hitting me for 4. I cast two more Satyrs, one Voyaging and one a Wayfinder.
My opponent cast another Rattleclaw Mystic and ended his turn. I cast Commune with the Gods, keeping Whip of Erebos. I cast the Whip and attacked with Hornet Queen, gaining 2 life. My opponent cast two copies of Lightning Strike during my end step, killing two tokens.
He killed another with Crater's Claws and attacked with everything. The last token killed a Knuckleblade, and Satyr Wayfinder blocked the other. I dropped to 8 from the Rattleclaw Mystics. I cast Satyr Wayfinder and then activated Whip of Erebos to return a Hornet Queen. I attacked with both Queens, going up to 12.
My opponent cast Heir of the Wilds and passed the turn. I cast Commune with the Gods, keeping Hornet Queen. I then activated Whip of Erebos to return Ashen Rider and exile Savage Knuckleblade. I attacked with the Rider and the Queen, gaining 7 life in the process.
I ended my turn, and my opponent drew his card and conceded.
This deck definitely has more late-game power than anything else in the format, and with plenty of mana acceleration as well as See the Unwritten, that late-game power can turn up much earlier than expected. Some aggro decks might be a bit tough to handle, although extra copies of Resolute Archangel in the sideboard would probably help. Fortunately, it looks like midrange is king right now, and that matchup is very hard to lose with this deck, mostly thanks to recurring Hornet Queens. If you’re looking for a deck that will start putting giant creatures on the battlefield on turn four and never stop, give this one a try.