Tuesday, March 08, 2016


I am not very good at photoshop.

It looks like this will end poorly for both of them.
Khans of Tarkir pre-release was one of the best, because you got to pick a clan, and then smack talk the other little bitch clans. It was glorious. For my solo games I picked Mardu, and it was sexy. Mardu was very strong, and I went undefeated for four rounds before dropping so we could go get drunk.

But which clans rocked standard in their life? Which had cards that could bodyslam the best of them, and which stayed in the amateur leagues?

One of these men is clearly losing.

To determine this totally empirically and have it definitely not just be based off of my personal anecdotes, we're gonna look at each clans watermarked signature rares, and mythics. We'll check out their performance in Standard for the sets lifetime, and see which ones saw major play, minor play, and which sucked dicks. And not in the good way.

I bet you can tell where on the spectrum this guy lies.
First, let's take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of each clan. We'll rank them down at the bottom.

Mardu - Gotta go fast:

I feel the need - the need for speed.
Mardu was billed as the agro clan during spoiler season. It was clear to see how aggressive they wanted to be, with dope threats like Butcher of the Horde and Zurgo. But how speedy were they? We're they winning matches and slayin' puss? Sort of.

Zurgo is the poster child for the Mardu clan, which is a bad start. For one, he dies to a gentle breeze, assuming it's not your turn. He's easily chumpable, too. He was definitely one of the weakest Khans, and saw just about no standard play, except in fringe decks.

Mardu Charm ended up being a decent charm, but not life changing. Their Ascendancy was bad, and saw just about no play. Making goblins is nice, but there were better things to do with three mana. Such as Crackling Doom, Mardu's poster rare spell. It was a huge breakout spell when BFZ dropped. It's an insanely efficient spell, killing off the biggest dude and poking them a bit, all at instant speed, and at a price your grandmother wouldn't be disappointed in. Butcher of the Horde was a good threat, and saw some play in Mardu decks as well.

Mardu gets points for one of the best non-creature spells and a decent creature, but goes down a peg for picking a shitty Khan. IMPEACH ZURGO

Temur - Fat butts and big nuts:

"I will not rest until every bear is a cape"
Coming out of the gates, Temur looked like it was going to be our Big Monster™ clan. Green always has big dudes, and Green/red ramp is a pretty common archetype for big beatdowns, so it make sense that RUG would do it as well. So how'd they do? How many bears went un-punched?

Surrak was the clan leader, and looking at his card, he is poised to Surrak you like a hurricane. A 6/6 flash for five that can't be countered and makes your other creatures uncounterable and have tromple is pretty awesome. Those are good stats, with a lot of extra words that some people give a shit about. He doesn't have trample, which is pretty stupid, but whatever. He was a great option for sideboard against control, yet he didn't see much play. Why? More in a moment.

Temur Charm was garbage, I won't go on about why I hate that card, but suffice to say it isn't good, and held back Temur as a clan quite a bit. Their Ascendancy was pretty strong, and was exactly the effect Temur would want for a long game. Their signature rare creature, Savage Knuckleblade, is one of the swolest motherfuckers there is, and the card has quite a cult following who want big Knucks to dunk on some kids. I'm one of these followers.

Their signature rare non-creature was...

A heaping pile of shit.
Man, the fuck is this. It couldn't be like... ramp, or removal, or pump, or any of the other good shit this clan could need. Instead it's a conditional counterspell with very difficult casting costs, and a small upside. This is not at all what Temur needed, and falls squarely in the "sucks every dick" category, severely hurting Temur.

Temur had a lot of potential with the strength of Surrak, Knuckleblade and their Ascendancy, but their other signature cards were practically unplayable.

Jeskai - Let go your earthly tether, and become ass-whoopin':

So Zen.
Jeskai rocks the colors of control and tempo. Prowess was their new keyword, and it was so good that Wizards decided to keep it around. But did Jeskai control the meta? Did the clan that introduced us with Prowess deliver?

Narset was their Khan, which is unfortunate. She won first place in our Khans of Tarkir - Junior Varsity, which is a lot like winning a last-place trophy. At first glance, it looks like she'll have you casting tons of spells for free, which is awesome. But in reality, she does jack shit in standard. She's slow, vulnerable, and didn't have the right deck, though she's an amazing casual/EDH card.

Jeskai Charm was quite strong in the right decks, being a great tempo play, four to the dome, or a team pump that gains you a ton of life. Jeskai Ascendancy spawned new combo decks, and saw a good amount of play. Their signature rare creature was Mantis Rider, which has seen widespread play, and has been a four-of in tournament winning decks. Their signature rare non-creature was Flying Crane Technique, which did a whole lot of nothing. But I will give Jeskai an extra dank nod for giving us one of the best red one-drops.

Taylor is quite the monk.

The charm, Ascendancy, and critters from the Jeskai clan were all very strong, and saw quite a bit of play. Sadly the Khan and signature non-creature didn't do anything to help the clan overall.

Abzan - Desert nomads and also rhinos:

"Ride, my trusty goat steed!"
Abzan wields the ancestral power of goodstuff. Around release, people noticed that Outlast was kind of shit. It ended up being alright in sealed, but in constructed? Yeah. Shit. So what goodstuff did Abzan have?

Abzan's Khan was arguably the best. Anafenza is the foremost when it comes to destroying face. She has a great set of stats, an amazingly good ability, and just randomly hoses GY decks cause you know fuck it, why not. A good start for Abzan.

I don't think I need to talk about Abzan Charm a whole lot, as it is far and wide agreed to be the best charm. Exile a huge threat, draw cards, or a great combat trick that leaves counters on your guy. Every part is amazing. Their Ascendancy saw some fringe play in rally combo decks as a way to get double death triggers. Their signature non-creature spell, Duneblast, looked like it was poised for great things at release, but it ended up being a bit too expensive. I had seen a few people play it, but it was never a staple card.

Their signature creature, however, you may be familiar with.

Hi again guys
Siege Rhino is pretty good, overall. Saying he was a standard staple is like saying "Yah your deck should run lands." This guy was everywhere he could possibly fit, and was easily the best creature to fall out of Khans.

So their Khan, charm, and creature were all the best, with a decent Ascendancy and non-creature spell.

Sultai - Gonna kill you and then bring you back to kill you again:

She's got a dope hat.
The sultry Sultai were the graveyard shenanigans crew this time around. Their signature keyword, Delve, manages to get shit banned in everything but standard, so that's pretty hot. Did they do anything else impressive though? Or were they just known for their shitty cruises?

The Khan of Sultai was Sidisi, Snake Wizard. She saw quite a bit of play in Sultai Whip decks in Theros/KTK standard, and is the only Khan that can compete with Anafenza in terms of playability. She's got the worse stats, but a constantly growing army of Zombies and tons of Delve fuel backs her up.

Sultai Charm was the second best, rollin' in with a good kill option, artifact/enchantment hate, and a card draw option that fuels Delve. Their Ascendancy was one of the worst, doing a whole lot of nothing in every format.

Except Wizard's Tower, right guys? You still love me, don't you?
Their signature creature was used as a joke for a shitty creature at the start of this article, so that's not super great. I mean, look at it. It's a 4/4 for six mana in three colors. It better have some disgusting game-ending ability for that much, but it just has a pseudo Whip effect for three mana. Sure, it'll end the game if you have good dudes in the bin, but he needs to survive until your next upkeep, which isn't super likely. Then Villainous Wealth, their non-creature spell, had a couple of decks who's win condition was to pay a fuckload for X, and then just kill them with their own spells, which is cute. It was never a consistent deck after losing Shrine of Nykthos, and is more of a casual card now.

Their biggest redeeming quality came in two blue spells, though. No one can deny that Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise are two of the best cards to come from this set. Delve was so busto in other formats that they immediately got the banhammer. Maybe something will shake up in Modern, and Eldrazi will get the axe, and they'll bring back one of these monster draw spells?

But probably not this guy.

The results are in:

So, how do these Mongolian-themed super crews shake down at the end of the day? Who is the guy flexing on top, and who is unconscious, half buried in another man's sweaty giblets?

In fifth place, the worst performing clan of Khans of Tarkir, is Temur. They had great creatures with quite a lot of potential. Sadly, the supporting spells just weren't there, and this ended up being one of the only color combinations without a competitive deck in it's lifetime.

Second to last, the clan who was only strong enough to beat off (hehe) the Temur, was Mardu. They had a good showing, and this was a tough pick, but they never had consistently high finishes until quite late in standard, and a lot of this is due to being able to splash a 4th color.

Right in the middle, trying to step on no toes, are the Sultai. Sultai had good showing in standard, though most of it was during Theros/KTK. Even after that, though, their other spells saw a bunch of play. Dig and Cruise were deemed reasonable for Standard, and stuck around, and saw play in all blue decks.

And the winner of the finals is...

No peaking, cheater.

It's Abzan, hooray!
This is actually a really bad card.
Abzan edges out Jeskai in the finals with a massive Rhino kick to the butthole. Jeskai was very strong, having good agro/burn variants during Theros/KTK, and then some solid control and midrange decks once they had access to Jace, Eater of Paychecks. Mantis Rider was just such a strong card, and plenty of people wanted to abuse that delicious hasty evasion threat.

But in the end, Abzan just had better shit. Abzan Charm was a shoe-in for best Charm, being so stupidly flexible. Anafenza had the most relevant abilities, and was used in all sorts of agro variants. Siege Rhino was shoved into any deck that could get those three colors, because there is no wrong time to cast a rhino.

So there you have it. The trash talk can finally come to an end - we have a clear winner. Though, to be honest, that won't stop me from calling you Abzan players pansy ass bitches. Why don't you play a real deck like Temur, ya cunt.

This was even harder to do than the first one, and looks twice as bad.
- Dan

Gaige: I'm just waiting for the shards again. Bant all day everyday..

Think Abzan deserves to be knocked down a peg, and a different clan take their place? Want to try and insult the glorious Temur master race? We'd like to hear you try, so leave a comment, or send us an email using the form on the sidebar!

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