Thursday, September 25, 2014

Khans of Tarkir EDH Set Review, Part 4: The Sultai Brood

Thing seem to be progressing nicely, so let's keep going, shall we? This is part 4 of our set review for Khans of Tarkir and this time we're examining the...

The Sultai Brood

These snakey bastards are the Sulta, the BGU clan. Thier dragon aspect is "Ruthlessness", and their mechanic is a returning Future Sight mechanic: Delve. Like the Golgari's Dredge, Delve is a graveyard mechanic, which allows you to spend cards in the graveyard like mana to make your Delve spells cheaper.

I have a pretty strong dislike of Delve, unfortunately. I'd probably like the Sultai more than the Temur if it weren't for this fact, because Black, Green and Blue are the three strongest colors in EDH, and do everything I like to do best - ramp, draw cards and kill stuff. It's also the best color scheme for decks that want to exploit their own graveyards or everyone else's, which is among my favorite strategies.

Which gets to the crux of my issue with Delve. I generally don't ever want to exile my own cards from my own graveyard! I'm not done with those! I mean think about this - the other big Sultai thing is self-milling, which obviously enables Delve, right? So, I mill a bunch of my own cards, and then what? A) I can either exile 6 to 8 of those cards to cheaply cast a spell that says "Draw three cards" or "Destroy target creature" or maybe get a vanilla 4/4 for only 1 mana. Or, B) I can cast one of about a million Zombify variants and get back a big, scary monster from the graveyard. Or, C) I can cast Living Death and get back ALL the big, scary monsters.

So that's my issue with Delve. Most of the Delve spells are very generic, plain spells with inflated costs, and are only playable if you actually Delve to pay for them, which I don't want to do because I can promise you that 99.9999% of the time, whatever I'm exiling to help pay for my Delve spell is about a thousand times more powerful and fun than the Delve spell I'm trying to cast.

Other than Delve, though, I still really like the Sultai. The have snake people, zombies, and even an undead monkey! Their self-mill support cards will definitely enable some awesome things, even if those things have nothing to do with Delve. Dredge? Sure. Reanimation? Definitely. But Delve? I'll pass, thanks.

Sidisi is basically half a Grave Titan that also enables graveyard abuse. The only real downside is that she's really not well equipped to survive more than a couple of forays into the red zone. A 3/3 with no evasion, no combat keywords, no protection? Not gonna live long most of the time.

Fortunately, she's in great colors for control, so you can probably just kill whatever threatens to get in her way. We'll definitely be seeing Sidisi at the helm of decks built to abuse the graveyard in any number of ways. She's well worth the effort it'll take to make her stick.

Yes, I have the same complaint as everyone else: I don't like that this doesn't have two abilities like the other 4 cards in this cycle. What really gets is me is that there is no "creatures you control" aspect, which is another thing the other four cards share in common. 

That said, I think it's good enough to play anyways. I mean, sure it doesn't compete with Sylvan Library in some decks, or Phyrexian Arena in others, but it's still a pretty powerful way to smooth out your draws and enable graveyard tricks at the same time. 

This is probably my favorite of the charms. All three modes are likely to be useful in a wide range of scenarios in all sorts of metagames. None of the modes are extremely powerful, but none are bad either. Well rounded and unlikely to ever be a dead draw.

He's kind of like a mini Savage Knuckleblade. Which means he's pretty terrible in EDH, but probably a solid contender in other formats. Clearly this is just a card that was not designed for us. Moving on then...

Fun design, and gives you some resilience to Wrath effects. Definitely playable in the format. I can see this getting decent mileage in ramp/big mana decks - at least those that eschew the easy-mode Genesis Wave wins. I also like the morph ability. 

Obviously designed to entice and reward you for playing Delve spells, but as far as rewards go, a big generic beatstick with no other abilities is not going to cut it. 

Creatures need to do something besides "be big" and "attack" to matter in this format. Otherwise they just get chumped all day and then die to a sweeper. Also, their just kinda boring.

Case in point, this creature will likely never attack more than once per game, if at all, but is still likely to be way more relevant and worthwhile than the Vizer above.  Why? Cause drawing cards is friggin’ awesome! Of course he’s not that great in token decks, but still... Replacing your dead guys with new cards is a great way to stay in the game for the long-haul. Morph kinda feels randomly tacked-on here, but whatever, we'll take it.

Kind of expensive for what it does. You can probably do this on a Sorcery for like two mana. But if you want to recur or blink the guy to get the effect multiple times, that seems reasonable. I feel pretty ambivalent about this guy, but I suspect he might be better than he looks in the right decks.

This is the one Delve spell I might be willing to play. The effect is pretty strong, especially at Instant speed, and you don't really need to delve the full 6 before this is cheap enough to be well worth it. If i'm casting this for 4 actual mana, I'm probably pretty happy with that.

I appreciate what this is trying to do, and I will concede that in some decks it will do that thing quite admirably, but of all my decks that could or would make use of this… well, frankly, I'd rather just go with something like Rise of the Dark Realms or even Army of the Damned.

Well, folks, we have a winner here. Sure it’s limited by is trip-color Identity, but a Genesis Wave that hits your opponents and lacks the permanents-only restriction should win you all kinds of games, at least in 1v1. In multiplayer, it’s a lot more fair, and a lot less likely to just auto-win, but whomever you target is still likely to hold a grudge. It’s definitely one of the most blatantly powerful cards in the set, either way. Easily one of my favorite cards in the set.

Ugh. There are plenty of ways to kill things that don't suck. Visara. Kagemaro. Phyrexian Plagelord. Shriekmaw. Duplicant. The list goes on, and 99% of them are just flat out better than this guy.

I think I said something earlier about leaving six mana open being a good way to telegraph a trap. Still, a Spelljack morph is going to make a lot of people happy, so expect to be running headlong into this guy from time to time. Just don't be the fool who falls for the same trick twice, okay?

:D Ahhhahahahahaha very funny Wizards, now where’s the REAL card that goes here?

I feel like this guy could have cost 5 and been perfectly fair and not overpowered. Definitely digging the Unearth-on-crack ability, even if I have to overpay for a mediocre body. Seems fun enough to play even when their might be stronger similar options.

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