My Favorite Decks from Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir

Sadly, no Conley Woods concontion this time around. He didn’t do very well. I guess the list would be available somewhere, and I bet its interesting, but from what I heard, the land base was just less than 20 mountains, which would seem like some sort of monored heroic deck.

But plenty of great stuff around.

These are (once again) mostly from the Mothership, which published all the top decks in two articles here and here.

I’m not here for the decks that are best. I’m here for the decks I found most intriguing and creative.

Mardu Planeswalker by Team Revolution

Some players from the once-French team played this deck. There have been plenty of planeswalkers decks lately, but this is a new mix of colors. Chandra is the key here bringing card advantage with her 0 ability, while Elspeth and Sarkhan are the actual wincons (although Chandra can win on her own too, but its just not very likely). Plenty of removal and disruption, including [card]Crackling Doom[/card] to get rid of those pesky [card]Prognostic Sphinx[/card]es.

Also, note the three copies of [card]Evolving Wilds[/card] in the manabase.

[deck]
[planeswalker]
Planeswalker (8)
3 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
1 Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker
4 Chandra, Pyromaster
[/planeswalker]
[spells]
2 Thoughtseize
2 End Hostilities
1 Tormenting Voice
2 Anger of the Gods
1 Utter End
4 Lightning Strike
4 Crackling Doom
4 Mardu Charm
4 Chained to the Rocks
1 Banishing Light
[/spells]
[lands]
4 Bloodstained Mire
3 Temple of Triumph
4 Temple of Silence
2 Battlefield Forge
1 Caves of Koilos
3 Evolving Wilds
3 Nomad Outpost
4 Mountain
2 Plains
1 Swamp
[/lands]
[sideboard]
2 Thoughtseize
1 Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker
1 End Hostilities
1 Anger of the Gods
4 Nyx-Fleece Ram
3 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
1 Resolute Archangel
2 Read the Bones
[/sideboard]
[/deck]

Boros Heroic

This is what some of the Japanese players came up with. This is one of those decks the coverage likes to call great draft decks. And sure, this is the first time I’ve seen [card]Vanguard of Brimaz[/card] in a constructed deck. The deck itself has a pretty interesting approach to the format. Since everyone is going to be playing big, efficient creatures, such as [card]Siege Rhino[/card] and a lot of removal, to get through, you need to go wide, instead of big. Enough attackers and some of them will get through. Plenty of token generation and plenty of ways to make those tokens big.

Pretty transformational sideboard as well, able to go bigger against [card]Anger of the Gods[/card].

[deck]
[creatures]
4 Akroan Crusader
4 Favored Hoplite
4 Vanguard of Brimaz
3 Phalanx Leader
[/creature]
[spells]
4 Launch the Fleet
4 Defiant Strike
4 Raise the Alarm
1 Ajani’s Presence
3 Gods Willing
4 Obelisk of Urd
4 Dragon Mantle
[/spells]
[lands]
7 Plains
2 Mountain
4 Temple of Triumph
4 Battlefield Forge
4 Mana Confluence
[/lands]
[sideboard]
1 Ajani’s Presence
1 Glare of Heresy
2 Suspension Field
4 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
3 Devouring Light
2 Dawnbringer Charioteers
2 Purphoros, God of the Forge
[/sideboard]
[/deck]

Abzan Midrange

Plenty of these decks around, but this one (played by Tzu-Ching Kuo) was my favorite. Feels like some of the other decks have forgotten all the great cards from the previous sets. [card]Reaper of the Wilds[/card] has three abilites, all of which are great in this environment. Also, [card]See the Unwritten[/card]. Why isn’t that card played more? Also, in the format where every midrange deck plays a bunchload of removal, this one has a couple in the sideboard.

Makahito Mihara had a pretty similar deck, but exchanged the white for a black-green Constellation theme.

[deck]
[creatures]
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Courser of Kruphix
4 Fleecemane Lion
3 Reaper of the Wilds
4 Siege Rhino
3 Wingmate Roc
3 Hornet Queen
1 Doomwake Giant
1 Polukranos, World Eater
[/creatures]
[spells]
4 See the Unwritten
1 Whip of Erebos
[/spells]
[lands]
1 Temple of Silence
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
2 Plains
2 Forest
4 Llanowar Wastes
4 Caves of Koilos
2 Temple of Plenty
4 Temple of Malady
3 Windswept Heath
1 Sandsteppe Citadel
[/lands]
[sideboard]
1 Hero’s Downfall
4 Thoughtseize
3 End Hostility
2 Bile Blight
2 Drown in Sorrow
2 Abzan Charm
1 Utter End
[/sideboard]
[/deck]

Red-White Wins

After Randy Buehler rightly brought up the fact that the so-called Jeskai Tempo is not actually a Tempo deck, the deck became known as Jeskai Wins (among other titles), which I find to be a pretty good name, since we’re talking about taking the classic RDW (Red Deck Wins) strategy and using three colors to do it. Sort of.

Brad Nelson didn’t think he’d need three colors and went with two instead. I don’t find this quite as nice as the Jeskai Tokens I’ll list later on, but its different enough to be mentioned. Prowess seems to be very good.

Once again, pretty transformational sideboard, including an extra land to make it work.

[deck]
[planeswalkers]
2 Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker
[/planeswalkers]
[creatures]
4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Goblin Rabblemaster
3 Seeker of the Way
[/creatures]
[spells]
4 Hordeling Outburst
4 Magma Jet
4 Lightning Strike
3 Searing Blood
4 Stoke the Flames
1 Titan’s Strength
4 Chained to the Rocks
[/spells]
[lands]
1 Wind-Scarred Crag
4 Battlefield Forge
4 Temple of Triumph
11 Mountain
3 Plains
[/lands]
[sideboard]
1 Wind-Scarred Crag
3 End Hostilities
3 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
3 Chandra, Pyromaster
2 Suspension Field
1 Hammer of Purphoros
2 Banishing Light
[/sideboard]
[/deck]

Jeskai Ascendancy

I’m already very tired of this archetype after playing against it twice (once in Standard and once in Modern). Still, this version by Lee Shi Tian has a couple of additions I’m willing to tip my hat to. Especially [card]Nissa, Worldwaker[/card], who didn’t get much love overall despite being extremely powerful.

Once again, a very transformational sideboard. Lee Shi Tian hopes that you’ll wreck your maindeck to disrupt the combo, but he’ll beat you with Big Knux instead.

[deck]
[creatures]
3 Kiora’s Follower
4 Rattleclaw Mystic
4 Sylvan Caryatid
[/creatures]
[spells]
1 Nissa, Worldwaker
4 Commune with the Gods
3 Tormenting Voice
2 Twinflame
4 Retraction Helix
3 Dig Through Time
2 Briber’s Purse
4 Dragon Mantle
4 Jeskai Ascendancy
[/spells]
[lands]
4 Mana Confluence
2 Frontier Bivouac
2 Temple of Abandon
2 Temple of Mystery
2 Temple of Plenty
2 Yavimaya Coast
2 Wooded Foothills
2 Flooded Strand
1 Mountain
1 Forest
1 Island
1 Plains
[/lands]
[sideboard]
4 Savage Knuckleblade
2 Polukranos, World Eater
3 Arc Lightning
3 Lightning Strike
3 Swan Song
[/sideboard]
[/deck]

Jeskai Tokens (or Kung Fu Tokens)

My actual favorite deck from the Pro Tour was actually this one. Sadly, it didn’t do very well, but here’s a video deck tech anyhow:

The idea is to make tokens with spells and then give those tokens +1/+1 until end of turn, preferably numerous times, with [card]Jeskai Ascendancy[/card].

EDIT: The One I Forgot – Running with Scissors

Another deck that didn’t do very well, but was still exhibited in a deck tech is this blue-white artifacts deck, which does its best to get [card]Ensoul Artifact[/card] online. Since that’s a bit fragile, there’s other stuff in there as well.

Conclusions

What did we learn from all this? Apparently white is the big thing right now. Each of these decks at least splashes it. Red seems to be very good too, even if the Abzan decks stay away from it.

All in all, even if Randy Buehler did say this is the biggest rotation ever, this seemed pretty lame. Although there were new archetypes, quite a few teams and people came to pretty much the same conclusions and in the end, Jeskai Wins and Abzan Midrange dominated. I guess that’s what we’ll be seeing for the next year or so.

Well, at least there was quite a bit of room to maneuver within those archetypes and some of the decks were quite different. Some of the Abzan decks didn’t even play [card]Siege Rhino[/card].

The next question is how do you beat these? Lifegain is good against Jeskai Wins, as its quite dependent on the ability to do damage constantly. I’d guess Jeskai decks will fizzle out in Standard, but reappear every so often, when everyone has stopped hating them out.

So, what about the Abzan? That’s going to be a bit harder, because of the variety. Otherwise this would be easy. You either go a little bigger or much smaller. That’s the key to these creature battles. Abzan decks just sometimes happen to have plenty of two-drops, sometimes they don’t have pretty much anything before [card]Siege Rhino[/card].

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