The Abzan Issue


So far I have only one Khans of Tarkir sealed (non-prerelease so no seeded booster) and one Khans of Tarkir draft under my belt, but I have to honestly say I really love the format. I wasn’t very excited when the set was spoiled, the art, later revealed to be Mardu Ascendancy, looked too much like Kamigawa for me, and I don’t really like the whole Karate Kid monk thing Jeskai has going on. However, the Temur Frontier has some really cool flavour to them, as has the Abzan Houses, and the set itself is a blast to play limited with.

necropolisfiend.fullIn my frist limited experience, I opened an all-right sealed pool with few bomby rares, the one I played was Necropolis Fiend, but a good amount of Outlast creatures, including the one that gives all creatures with a +1/+1 counter Lifelink, and the one that grants Deathtouch. Some more lifegain in Abzan Guide and some decent removal in Throttle, Abzan Charm etc. It went well, though I lost a round to my friend who played Jeskai with a green splash for Sagu Mauler, we played in a final game to settle the winner of the tournament, and I won that one after a long, grindy match. I tripple-blocked Sagu Mauler to finally get rid of him.

We gathered for an evening of some EDH and some Khans drafts on friday. I started drafting mostly black and white cards, not wanting to commit to either Mardu or Abzan too early, and elected to pick the colour fixing common lands and a couple of Abzan Banners over picking some of the common Outlast card. None of them seemed to wheel, however, leading me to conclude that Abzan was present at the table, but I was passed so much good mana-fixing, an Abzan Guide and two Tuskguard Captains and a Longshot Squad brought me into the clan. I was passed a fourth-pick Siege Rhino as my bomb, and after the draft was finished, it was revealed that the other Abzan player was sitting on my left! While I had picked all the mana-fixing, he had picked all the Outlast cards, leaving me with this pile:

Link to the deck on (for the same list as below but with card tags and all)

Abzan Aggro, 3x KTK Draft on 2014-09-03

1 Abzan Guide
1 Chief of the Edge
1 Chief of the Scale
1 Dazzling Ramparts
1 Grim Haruspex
1 Highland Game
1 Hooting Mandrils
1 Longshot Squad
1 Mardu Hateblade
1 Mardu Hordechief
1 Siege Rhino
1 Sultai Scavenger
1 Temur Charger
2 Tuskguard Captain
1 Venerable Lammasu

1 Kill Shot
1 Throttle
1 End Hostilities
1 Incremental Growth
2 Abzan Banner

2 Blossoming Sands
2 Scoured Barrens
1 Windswept Heath
5 Plains
4 Swamp
4 Forest

marduhordechief.fullThe deck’s curve is probably the best thing about it, it can at least be described as “fine”, and there are quite a few Warriors in the deck, making the 2-drop Chiefs very potent. I had a game where I opened with turn 1 Mardu Hateblade, turn 2 Chief of the Edge, and turn 3 Mardu Hordechief, which is a pace which many other decks struggle to keep up with. The deck’s creatures in general were pretty awesome, especially considering Sultai Scavenger is also a Warrior. In retrospect, I really began drafting BW Warriors and drifted into Abzan only after the mana fixing was passed. Siege Rhino is obviously very huge and I was very fortunate about drawing him all night. The deck has too few removals, however, with only Kill Shot and Throttle, but with End Hostilities in case things go south. The dream was to resolve End Hostilities on turn six and then drop a Hooting Mandrils on an empty board, but it never came up. Before we started the tournament, I was allowed to choose a nickname for the swiss app in my friend’s phone. I elected to go with the classy name “DeathKiller1337”.

I won’t try to describe the matches in detail, since I don’t remember much. A lot of the games were quite similar, my deck was almost always the aggressor, I think I used Outlast maybe twice over the entire evening.

Round 1, Mardu: I lose game one after a sketchy keep with no green mana, and I kept drawing more and more green spells. I win game two despite drawing no Forests, since I drew mostly black and white spells and in game three I get a god-hand with turn four Siege Rhino and he can’t keep up.
1-0 (2-1)


Round 2, RB (psykopatmullvad): My opponent has drafted Mardu but without the white, but he did get a lot of Delve spells instead. However, his creatures are generally a size smaller than mine and his removal is about as absent as mine. Mardu Hateblade was cast on turn one in both games, earning him the MVP spot.
2-0 (4-1)

Round 3, Temur: I made a joke with my opponent asking if he, with his 2-0 record, might just be Death incarnate (the most powerful wizard around the EDH table is often, tongue-in-cheek, dubbed Death incarnate in our group). He agreed. I told him it was a shame I happened to be DeathKiller1337, prompting high-fives from other players in the room. Yes, most of us are almost 30. The match was quick, his deck was full of awesome creatures, but I, again, was the aggressor and won handily 2-0 after two great draw from my deck and one colour-screw from his deck. His deck was grindier than mine, with Treasure Cruise and a bunch of 5/5’s and 6/7’s, but they were generally a bit slower than my smaller threats.
3-0 (6-1)

Round 4, Jeskai: This is the same opponent who played Jeskai in our sealed, but he doesn’t have any Sagu Maulers this time. He does have a Pearl Lake Ancient which I can’t deal with on paper, but he never got to the seven mana needed to cast it. Again, I won quite handily with two good draws.
4-0 (8-1)

siegerhino.fullWe had previously decided to do rare-picks after the draft, and as the only undefeated player I got to pick first. I chose a Wooded Foothills among the rares, there weren’t anything better than fetchlands, and in the second lap, I chose to bring home the Siege Rhino that had served me so well over the course of the evening. I don’t plan on using him any time soon, but if you put in that much work for the deck, you deserve a spot in the nice binder at least.

My experience so far with Khans of Tarkir limited is that Abzan seems to be way overpowered compared to the other clans. Though I’ve seen people do well with Jeskai and Mardu as well, and some with Temur, it seems that the clan that consistently keeps putting up the result is the Abzan Houses. Sultai seems to be the worst by far, which was shown in our draft as well. I don’t mind the odd Delve creature in my deck and Murderous Cut and Dead Drop both seem very strong uncommons, but I wouldn’t want to build a limited deck with more than just a couple of these spells, and then I think that both Abzan and Temur are more than capable of playing these better than a Sultai-coloured deck. Thus far, my personal heaven is infinite KTK Drafts where I’m the only Abzan player at the table.

Do you agree with Abzan being the most powerful clan, dear reader? What are your experiences with KTK Limited? Leave a comment!

Leave a comment


  1. Grim Lavamancer

     /  October 6, 2014

    Abzan may very well be the best clan when it comes to limited, it’s to be quite interesting to see how the clans fare in the constructed formats. Oh, and that Siege Rhino is definitely a nasty customer, he’s the sort of man that brings his wife to a luxurious restaurant and then spends the evening flirting with the waitress. He’s the sort of creature that, when he dies, is going to hell, and for the most part it’s going to be a vacation.

    Liked by 1 person


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