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By: ricklongo, Rick Longo
Oct 14 2014 11:00am
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A new block has just been released on Magic Online, so there really isn't a better time to say: welcome back to Rick's Picks!

As usual, I'll go through a draft (in this case, obviously, triple Khans of Tarkir) in video, and then talk a bit about my impressions. Either way, let's get to it.

I have to say, this limited format has been taking me a much longer time than usual to get the hang of. Over the past week, I played about ten events, and half of them were round-one defeats. This forced me to take a breath and try to evaluate what I was doing wrong. I came up with three observations that I think should be important if you want to tackle the format for yourself.

1) You need to know morphers intimately
Morph is a tricky mechanic, and one which tends to be ubiquitous in every limited format of which it's a part. Here's a particular line of play I struggled with: suppose you're on the draw. Your opponent cast a morph turn three, you followed that up with your own morph. The next turn, your opponent plays a land and attacks. Do you block?

Of course, that depends on many variables. For example: how disposable is the morph creature you just cast? Do you plan to play an aggressive game, or more of a controllish one? Is your opponent's deck geared to race well? Even if you have these answers, you'll never know whether to block in that situation if you don't have an intimate knowledge of morphers on the format. Taking the time to go through those cards, one by one, I realized that there isn't a single common morpher your opponent could have that would turn your block into a chump block in the aforementioned situation. That's because all common creatures that morph for four or less mana either have toughness of 2 or a power of 1. So, more often than not, the correct line of play turns to be actually blocking - something that I just didn't feel comfortable doing early last week, which cost me quite a few games.

2) Keep an open mind about which and how many colors you'll run
Running three colors as a rule of thumb in a limited format can be quite a scary proposition. So if you're trying your hand at triple Khans, a format that strongly pushes you toward color wedges, you'll probably choose a three-color combination early on and stick to it. I've found, however, that splashing for a fourth (or even fifth) color can often push your deck over the top. There are many incredible three-color cards in the format, and you won't always be lucky enough to get the bombs in the exact three colors you're drafting.

In what was probably the best deck I've made so far in this format, I had a tight, aggressive Mardu deck with loads of early guys, and then opened a Siege Rhino on pack three. I decided to just take it over a perfectly acceptable (and on-color) Mardu Charm, and that turned out to be a great decision. That's because the set is VERY generous when it comes to mana bases, which brings us to the third point...

3) Prioritize the common dual-lands
Khans of Tarkir has a lot of mana fixing: rare allied fetchlands, uncommon wedge tri-lands, and a staggering ten common dual-lands that enter the battlefield tapped and gain you 1 life (there are even more options, but those are the consistently good ones). A strategy that I like for the first round of drafting goes like this: if there's a very good or bomby card in your pack, take it; if the cards are merely good or mediocre, take a land (if it's at least one of your colors). This allows you to keep your options open regarding potential splashes. For example: in the Mardu deck I mentioned above, I had used this strategy on the first two packs, meaning I already had a couple of green dual-lands in my pool. That made it a lot easier for me to splash the Rhino, which in turn won me the tournament.

That's all I have for today. This is a very skill-testing format that I'm eager to keep drafting, and as always I'm also very interested in block constructed, meaning you'll probably hear more from me soon. I hope you enjoyed this, and see you then!