KTK: Sealed pool

We’re having PTQs in the Seattle area this weekend and next, so I decided to do a practice Sealed deck. Here’s my pool, which I’ve also posted on TappedOut. How would you have built this pool? Post your builds in the comments and I’ll post my build (also in the comments) tonight.

Artifact
Jeskai Banner
Mardu Banner
Witness of the Ages

White
Abzan Battle Priest
2 Ainok Bond-Kin
Dazzling Ramparts
2 Erase
Jeskai Student
Mardu Hateblade
Rush of Battle
Sage-Eye Harrier
Salt Road Patrol
Watcher of the Roost

Blue
2 Crippling Chill
2 Disdainful Stroke
Force Away
Jeskai Windscout
2 Mystic of the Hidden Way
Scion of Glaciers
2 Taigam’s Scheming
Treasure Cruise
Waterwhirl
2 Wetland Sambar

Black
Bitter Revelation
Dead Drop
Debilitating Injury
Disowned Ancestor
Mardu Skullhunter
Molting Snakeskin
2 Rakshasa’s Secret
Rite of the Serpent
Rotting Mastodon
Ruthless Ripper
Shambling Attendants
2 Sidisi’s Pet
Throttle

Red
Act of Treason
Arrow Storm
Barrage of Boulders
Mardu Heart-Piercer
2 Mardu Warshrieker
Monastery Swiftspear
2 Shatter
Swift Kick
Valley Dasher

Green
2 Dragonscale Boon
Feed the Clan
Hooting Mandrills
Kin-Tree Warden
Longshot Squad
2 Savage Punch
Smoke Teller
Sultai Flayer
Tusked Colossodon
Windstorm

Multicolor
Chief of the Scale
Crackling Doom
Death Frenzy
Flying Crane Technique
Jeskai Charm
Mardu Ascendancy
Mardu Charm
Sidisi, Brood Tyrant
Snowhorn Rider
Sorin, Solemn Visitor
Temur Charm

Land
Bloodfell Caves
Flooded Strand
Nomad Outpost
Swiftwater Cliffs
Tranquil Cove

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KTK: Evaluations

This is an initial set of evaluations of the cards in Khans of Tarkir. Here’re what my various evaluations mean:

  • Bomb (B): Will usually win the game if not dealt with and also difficult to deal with or play around, e.g., large flyers or mass removal.
  • Exceptional (+): A superior card that will turn the tide in your favor, e.g., most unconditional removal that isn’t overcosted or a 3/3 flyer for 4 mana.
  • Good (/): The bread and butter of most decks, e.g., a 2/2 flyer or a vanilla 3/3 for 3 mana.
  • Situational/Filler (~): Good in the right deck, filler in most others, e.g., a vanilla 2/1 in a deck that is not particularly aggressive.
  • Sideboard (S): Useful to have in your sideboard, but not usually playable maindeck, e.g., artifact/enchantment destruction or color hosers that aren’t good if you’re not playing against those colors.
  • Unplayable (x): Should not be played except in the right deck or under exceptional circumstances, e.g., a vanilla 1/1 for 1 mana. Some unplayable creatures can be sided in against the right deck, e.g., a vanilla 1/3 for 3 mana might still be sided in against an aggressive deck.
  • TBD (?): Requires more analysis or more experience with the format to evaluate, e.g., a card that depends on how many playable enchantments there are in the format.

KTK: Manafixing in the top 8 of GP Orlando

As a follow-up to last week’s post, let’s take a look at what manafixing players ran in the top 8 of GP Orlando. (Dual lands include both the common lands that enter the battlefield tapped and the rare fetchlands.)

Maindeck
Rank Player Colors # Lands # Nonbasic Lands # Lands Only Making Generic Mana # Dual Lands # Tri-Lands (3/2 color match) # Banners (3/2 color match)
1st Eugene Hwang Mardu (B/W/R) 17 3 0 2 1/0 0/0
2nd Melissa DeTora Temur (R/U/G) 17 2 0 2 0/0 2/0
3rd Sol Malka G/B/w/u 17 6 0 4 1/1 0/0
4th Artur Villela G/W 18 0 0 0 0/0 0/0
5th-8th Harry Corvese Jeskai (W/R/U) 17 3 0 2 1/0 0/0
5th-8th Ian Farnung Jeskai (W/R/U) 18 2 0 2 0/0 0/0
5th-8th Pierre Mondon Mardu (B/W/R) 17 4 0 4 0/0 2/0
5th-8th Frank Lepore Abzan (G/B/W) 17 3 0 3 0/0 0/0
Sideboard
Rank Player Colors # Nonbasic Lands # Lands Only Making Generic Mana # Dual Lands # Tri-Lands (3/2/1/0 color match) # Banners (3/2/1/0 color match)
1st Eugene Hwang Mardu (B/W/R) 3 1 2 0/0 1/1/0/0
2nd Melissa DeTora Temur (R/U/G) 1 1 0 0/0 0/1/0/0
3rd Sol Malka G/B/w/u 0 0 0 0/0 1/0/0/0
4th Artur Villela G/W 1 0 1 0/0 0/0/1/0
5th-8th Harry Corvese Jeskai (W/R/U) 0 0 0 0/0 0/0/1/0
5th-8th Ian Farnung Jeskai (W/R/U) 0 0 0 0/0 1/0/0/0
5th-8th Pierre Mondon Mardu (B/W/R) 0 0 0 0/0 0/1/1/0
5th-8th Frank Lepore Abzan (G/B/W) 1 0 1 0/0 1/0/0/0
Rank Player Colors # Multicolor Cards (2/3 color) # Cards in Each Color # Colored Mana Symbols in Each Color # Lands/ Banners Making Each Color Other Manafixing
1st Eugene Hwang Mardu (B/W/R) 1/4 11/5/15 12/5/18 7/6/8
2nd Melissa DeTora Temur (R/U/G) 1/6 5/13/14 6/14/16 6/9/10 Embodiment of Spring
3rd Sol Malka G/B/w/u 2/1 9/16/1/1 9/16/1/1 7/11/3/3 2x Scout the Border
4th Artur Villela G/W 0/0 14/8 14/8 10/8
5th-8th Harry Corvese Jeskai (W/R/U) 1/3 8/9/13 8/10/13 6/7/8 Sideboard: Scout the Borders
5th-8th Ian Farnung Jeskai (W/R/U) 0/2 9/4/13 9/4/15 7/4/9
5th-8th Pierre Mondon Mardu (B/W/R) 0/3 8/7/12 9/7/14 7/10/10
5th-8th Frank Lepore Abzan (G/B/W) 1/3 8/11/14 8/12/14 6/7/7 Sideboard: Seek the Horizon

Observations:

  • Most players stuck to a wedge (2 Maru, 2 Jeskai, 1 Temur, and 1 Abzan) but some player ran 2-color decks (G/W and G/B with 1-card splashes in 2 colors). There were no Sultai decks, or other decks that had both blue and black as main colors.
  • Most players ran 2-5 multicolor cards, although one player had 7 and another had none. Most were wedge cards, but many players also had a 2-color card.
  • Most players ran 17 lands, although 2 ran 18.
  • Most players had 2-4 nonbasic lands in their deck, although one player (G/B/w/u) had 6 and another (G/W) had none.
  • There were 19 dual lands in maindecks and only 4 in sideboards. This means that dual lands were usually drafted after colors were set.
  • Players always ran tri-lands that matched 2+ colors. (It’s effectively like a common dual land that doesn’t gain you a life.)
  • 2 players ran Banners in their wedge, but most left them in their sideboard, even when they matched all 3 colors. No one was desparate enough to run a Banner that only matched 2 colors.
  • Players ran 3-11 lands/Banners producing a color. The low end was when splashing a single card and the high end was when running 16 cards.
  • Manabases seem a bit fragile, with most deck having at least 1 main color with only 6-7 sources. (The only deck that did not have this issue was the G/W deck.) This makes sense given that having 8+ sources for each of your 3 colors while running 17 lands requires 7 duals (or 1 tri-land in your wedge and 5 duals).

KTK: Manafixing

Khans of Tarkir has more multicolor lands than most Limited environments. In a recent draft, I was in Sultai (U/G/B) and was taking manafixing relatively high once I’d determined my colors. By the end of the second pack, I had 7 multicolor lands that were in color (Polluted Delta, 2 Dismal Backwater, 2 Thornwood Falls, Opulent Palace, Sandsteppe Citadel) as well as 2 more that were not useful, so in the final pack I passed a few in-color dual lands for creatures and sideboard cards. (Admittedly, this was a very casual draft and it might have been more difficult to get quite as many multicolor lands in a more competitive draft.)

One thing that people sometimes miss is that the format has 10 dual lands and 5 tricolor Banners at common. Let’s enumerate the manafixing available in the format, by rarity:

  • Common (17): 5 allied color duals, 5 enemy color duals, 5 wedge Banners, Embodiment of Spring (U/G), Scout the Borders (green). I’m not going to count Mardu Warshrieker (red) since that only fixes your mana once and so is only useful for manafixing if you have a very light splash.
  • Uncommon (6): 5 wedge tri-lands, Seek the Horizon (green)
  • Rare (7): 5 allied color fetchlands, Rattleclaw Mystic (colorless/green), Trail of Mystery (green)

Using the expected number of cards at each rarity, we can determine that there are an average of 49 manafixing effects in an 8-person draft, or about 6 per player, so there’re plenty of manafixing effects and the difficulty is ensuring that you end up with ones that are useful for your deck.

Many of these manafixing effects are not useful unless you’re in a color combination that uses 2+ of the colors provided by the effect. Let’s take a look at how many effects are useful if you’re in a given color combination. (Dual lands are also counted in each of the wedges where they would be useful. Wedge lands are also counted in each of the 3 color pairs in which they would be useful, but wedge Banners are only counted for their wedge since they’re much less appealing if you can’t crack them for a card in the late game.)

Color combination Commons Uncommons Rares Expected number of
manafixing effects
W/U 2 1 1 6.1
U/B 2 1 1 6.1
B/R 2 1 1 6.1
R/G 3 2 2 9.8
G/W 3 2 1 9.4
W/B 3 2 0 9.0
U/R 4 2 1 11.8
B/G 3 3 0 9.9
R/W 3 2 0 9.0
G/U 5 3 1 15.1
W/R/U 4 3 2 13.1
U/G/B 6 4 2 18.8
B/W/R 4 3 1 12.7
R/U/G 6 4 2 18.8
G/B/W 5 4 1 16.0

Unsurprisingly, wedge decks have access to the most amount of manafixing (an average of 16 effects), since wedge C/E/D can make use of the dual lands for C/D, C/E, and D/E as well as the Banners, all of which are commons. Enemy color decks have access to the next most amount of manafixing (an average of 11 effects) since each can make use 2 of the wedge trilands whereas allied color decks (which have access to an average of 7.5 manafixing effects) only have access to 1 triland each.

Compare that to the number of multicolor cards in Khans of Tarkir. There are fewer than you might expect in a typical draft, since most of the multicolor cards in the set are uncommmon or rare. Of the 56 multicolor cards in the set, 6 are mythic, 25 are rare, 20 are uncommon, and only 5 are common, so an 8-person draft will only have an average of 41 multicolor cards, just 12% of the 336 cards in the draft. Note that this does not count cards with activated abilities in other colors and, of course, manafixing can be useful even when you only have monocolored cards from 2+ colors.

From this, it appears that it is relatively easy to draft enough manafixing in this format regardless of the colors we’re running, and so perhaps we don’t need to prioritize it as much as in previous multicolor formats. If you wait until later in the draft to pick up manafixing, you’re less likely to waste picks on off-color manafixing. However, other drafters are also more likely to be looking for manafixing at that point, so you may need to pick manafixing more highly. One possible compromise is to pick the wedge tri-lands early since each of them is useful for 3 of the wedges, 2 of the enemy color pairs, and 1 allied color pair.

KTK: Expected numbers of copies of a card

Khans of Tarkir has the same rarity distribution as Magic 2015: 101 commons, 80 uncommons, 53 rares, and 15 mythics. This means that an 8-person KTK/KTK/KTK draft will have an average of 2.4 copies of a given common, 0.9 copies of a given uncommon, 0.4 copies of a given rare, and 0.2 copies of a given mythic.