My Favorite Tarkir Cards (Top 10)

We don’t have a block constructed GP this year (and the whole format is pretty much dead now because of the new two set blocks), but I thought I’d still make this list, just like last year with Theros.

Again, these are cards I like for various reasons, not necessarily the best cards. You won’t find Siege Rhino, Jeskai Ascendancy, or Treasure Cruise here. These are more like cards I want to find homes for, even knowing they might not be that good. Some are actually good cards, but not the ones you’ll see in all the top tier decks.

After I started compiling this list, I came to the conclusion that there are plenty of cards I like, but there aren’t any I’m as attached to as I am to the top Theros cards, like Pain Seer or Dakra Mystic. Although the decks are designed in such a way that your not supposed to know when they are top-down or bottom-up, it still seems to show, even if neither of the two examples are that strongly (or at all) related to Greek myths.

Some of the cards are ones I like to pick in limited and I probably overvalue, but that’s part of the fun of Magic: Even though cards might be completely unplayable in a format, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a role in another. Monastery Swiftspear has found some Legacy play, but he’s not that good in Draft and pretty bad in Sealed.

I like cards that have a lot of play in them. Options. That’s what makes the game great. Having the ability to make decisions is the prerequisite to making good ones.

Also, I’d like to note that I do have a strong preferance for black and some preferance for blue (again, Pain Seer and Dakra Mystic), so that will show in the list. I’m not a big fan of multicolored cards, especially tri-colored ones. They always seem awkward and forced from flavor perspective (I mean, how is Gudul Abomination green?). Last year one noncreature spell (Stratus Walk) managed to snuck into the list, but not this time. Its all creatures. I guess creatures have better flavor. Although, Dragon Fodder is great… Just not great enough for the list.

I’m doing this pretty early, though, as I haven’t had a chance to play with Dragons too much, so I might change my mind later on. I’m not going to redo the list, however.

Honorable Mentions

Woolly LoxodonWhisperwood ElementalAbzan FalconerGrim HaruspexPitiless Horde

The most common answer to questions regarding Khans of Tarkir limited? Woolly Loxodon. Why didn’t he morph that yet? Because its the Wool-Dad. What could he possibly have that that can block my Sagu Mauler? Well, Loxodons grow big on Tarkir. Do I need to kill that morph? Well, it might be a Woolly Loxodon.

I guess the Whisperwood Elemental is here mostly because I feel some sort of pride for identifying it as a top card in the format. I took it for a spin on the first weekend and it worked marvelously. No one was prepared for it.

Abzan Falconer is one of those card I want to make work in Constructed. And I’ll try again.

Grim Haruspex is here mostly for the flavor. I just like the idea of using your dead compatriots for information. Straight from the brain.

Pitiless Horde is here for the drawback. I always enjoy those.

10. Den Protector

Den Protector

Mostly this is about the kid in the picture.

Not really. During the Pro Tour this was recognized as a strong card and when I played in a PPTQ on Saturday, a couple of people were trying to find these. I have a different plan for this. I want to use it in a monogreen aggro as a finisher. To me, the first ability is the big one. You know, just grow this gal with Aspect of Hydra or Gather Courage and hit your opponent for a lot.

9. Archfiend of Depravity

Archfiend of Depravity

The flavor is there. He’ll let some of you live for his own personal enjoyment.

8. Zurgo Bellstriker

Zurgo Bellstriker

I just like the transition from a apparently deranged warlord into a coward of sorts… making him much more playable.

7. Icefeather Aven

Icefeather Aven

This is one of those cards, that has plenty of play it in just for the options it has. Just playing this out on second turn is a very strong play. The tempo-y ability keeps this card relevant in the later game as well. Getting rid of a blocker or getting rid of that Disowned Ancestor with eight +1/+1 counters on it is just good value. I’ve been waiting to see this in Standard, but hasn’t happened yet, although I’ve seen promising monogreen and monoblue lists, both splashing partly for this card.

6. Gurmag Angler

Gurmag Angler

Probably the most powerful card on the list.

Turn one fetch Watery Grave into Thoughtscour. Turn two, fetch another land and just cast this 5/5. That’s how easy it is to get this guy early into play. And besides that, its just 5/5. Nothing special. Just a big dumb dude, but one which simply forces your opponent to kill it. This lack of abilities just makes it cooler than Tasigur, the Golden Fang, a card I don’t really like flavorwise anyhow.

5. Frost Walker

Frost Walker

Ol’ Frosty is just so damn nice. Two mana for four power is an extremely good rate. You can’t go wrong with it. Well, you can, but probably won’t. How many cards are there that will kill due to its ability, and wouldn’t kill it otherwise? Not many. Sure, in limited, there are combat tricks that can be used to kill it, but that’s not what you want to use those on. You want to trick your opponent, not use an early turn to kill a two mana creature. Although you probably have to.

Of course, being an elemental, it also works well with Master of Waves. With the help from the master, it can go head to head with a Siege Rhino.

4. Crater Elemental

Crater Elemental

Every set seems to have a rare I keep opening in disproportionate numbers. For Dragons, its this thing. And I’m not complaining. Its a cool design, even though I’m not quite sure what’s supposed to be going on. However, you haven’t truly lived until you’ve Temur Battle Rages from out of your crater. (Okay, maybe you have, but you should try it.)

Also, I had this combo in a deck once, but couldn’t pull it off: Crater Elemental and Alesha, Who Smiles at Death. Let that sink in.

3. Pine Walker

Pine Walker

I like this card enough to have written a whole article about him/her/it.

2. Profaner of the Dead

Profaner of the Dead

I wrote about this card in one of my Flavor Judge articles. That’s a pretty good reason to put him on the list.

On the other hand, this is a card I’d like to make work. Play, say, Wall of Frost to slow your opponent down and then, once he’s committed too many resources on the battlefield, return them all to his or her hand with this guy.

Not really a good strategy, but something that I find cool. For whatever reason. Although, I’m not sure the flavor judge in me would like that, because, of course, walls don’t have heads.

1. Bloodsoaked Champion

Bloodsoaked Champion

So, I mentioned options earlier and this is pretty much the opposite of those. You just attack and if they block, you put it back into play. Okay, its not quite that simple, but I’ve played this guy enough to know that that’s pretty it.

On the surface, that is. What about all the Exploit? What about Tymaret, the Murder King? Mardu Skull Hunter and all the other raid abilities? This guy just makes all that better. He’s job is to die for you. And he’s eager to do it.

Am I morbid? Probably.

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