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From Khans to Dragons - Relearning Tarkir Limited


The newest set Dragons of Tarkir is being released soon, and it's bringing with it a new draft structure. The new draft format will be Dragons of Tarkir/Dragons of Tarkir/Fate Reforged with Khans of Tarkir being excluded entirely. This is great news! We're going to get to draft and play with a much larger percentage of new cards (two packs per draft instead of one). But the other implication is that every single draft or sealed deck enthusiast needs to unlearn most of what they know from playing Khans of Tarkir Limited.

Whether consciously or subconsciously, an experienced player will know when their opponent is holding up mana for Feat of Resistance and knows not to play into End Hostilities unnecessarily. When playing with Dragons of Tarkir, you need to break these mental habits because you shouldn't be playing around Khans of Tarkir cards that your opponent can't even put in their deck! With this information in mind, the designers of this block were kind enough to make many cards between Khans of Tarkir and Dragons of Tarkir similar. Just take Rakshasa's Secret and Mind Rot, or Crippling Chill and Ojutai's Breath for example.

In this article I'll go over how cards have changed from the first set until now so that you can update your mental database and make better gameplay decisions. This will obviously not be comprehensive, but it should provide a firm foundation on which to start rebuilding your knowledge of this block's Limited formats.

Morphs

Five-mana Rule

In Khans of Tarkir the morph creatures followed the five-mana rule. The rule was that no morph could beat another morph in combat — solely by flipping face up — for a cost of less than five-mana. In case you didn't know, this rule is still in effect in Dragons of Tarkir. The closest offender of this rule is Silumgar Assassin which can kill an opposing morph, but not in combat.

Morph Density

Khans of Tarkir has 17 common and 18 non-common morphs. Dragons of Tarkir has 11 common and 19 non-common morphs. This means that the proportion of morphs is going to be lower than in the previous iterations of this block.

Free Morphs

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

With the exit of Khans of Tarkir there will be no free morphs in the Limited format. If your opponent has no mana available, their face down creatures are staying face down.

Lifegain Morphs

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

When you're all-out attacking your opponent for just enough damage to win, you need to know if your opponent can gain life. There is now only one morph in the format that can do that, and it costs a whopping seven-mana to turn face up.

Counterspell Morphs

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Knowing that a spell you cast is going to resolve is always a good feeling. In Dragons of Tarkir, the two morphs that can counter spells are both cheaper but more conditional than their Khans of Tarkir predecessor.

Unblockable Morphs

$ 0.00$ 0.00

$ 0.00$ 0.00$ 0.00$ 0.00$ 0.00$ 0.00

When you've stabilized a game at a low life total, you need to know if your opponent can steal your last few points of life. No longer is there a common unblockable morph, but there are a few clunky replacements. The two rare creatures have weird pseudo-unblockable clauses, and the uncommon one attacks for less damage than Mystic of the Hidden Way does.

Largest Morph

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

These two Dragons of Tarkir "twins" are the new largest morph creatures to watch out for. Remember that Dirgur Nemesis can attack as a morph and then unmorph, so although it has Defender it can attack once.

Morph Effects

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 : $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 : $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 : $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 : $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

We're getting some new effects on morphs in Dragons of Tarkir that we didn't have in Khans of Tarkir. Being able to draw a card out of the graveyard or reach out and kill a creature for only the price of unmorphing a creature is a really big deal. Be on the lookout for your opponent being able to use these effects.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 : $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 : $ 0.00 $ 0.00

On the other side of the coin, these unmorph effects were present in Khans of Tarkir and no longer will be. While one didn't often play around Jeering Instigator specifically, it is still good to know that the effects are not available anymore.

Counterspells

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

I had no idea just how many counterspells there are in this block until I made this list. In general, playing around counterspells isn't going to change a lot: If you need your spell to resolve and your opponent has blue mana available, you need to think about what they could have. Also don't forget the two morphs mentioned previously that counter spells and the Fate Reforged cards Neutralizing Blast and Rakshasa's Disdain that are remaining in the format (and also remaining unplayable).

Discard Spells

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

The discard package from Khans of Tarkir to Dragons of Tarkir is surprisingly similar with each having two discard spells, a creature at common, and a multi-colored instant that isn't common. The discard commons from Dragons of Tarkir are each worse than their Khans of Tarkir counterparts so they will presumably be played less. This means that the cards in your hand should be safer than they were previously (but still not being untouchable). Keep in mind that Dark DealDiplomacy of the Wastes, and Tasigur's Cruelty from Fate Reforged are sticking around, although I still expect to never see Dark Deal cast.

Protection Spells

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

For this discussion, I've defined protection spell as an instant speed way to prevent a non-damaged-based removal spell. We now have more common spells in more colors that can deflect removal spells, but they are all worse than Feat of Resistance. Butcher's Glee prefers to be cast during combat and only protects against destroy effects. Center Soul doesn't give any power/toughness boost. Glint still allows the creature to die in combat if enough damage is dealt to it. Valorous Stance from Fate Reforged, though it usually functions as a kill spell, will still be present.

Kill Spells

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00$ 0.00$ 0.00$ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00
 
Creature removal spells are too wide a category and encompass too many cards for me to list them all. Instead, research the new removal spells, familiarize yourself more with them as the format progresses, and enjoy the few examples I posted above.

Board Wipes

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

It's important to know when you can safely pile all the creatures in your hand onto the board without fear of being blown out by a Wrath of God effect. With End Hostilities leaving, the only effect under seven-mana is Crux of Fate from Fate Reforged. We could also count Arcbond or Volcanic Vision, but they both take significant maneuvering to be able to use them to wipe the entire board. Also remaining with us from Fate Reforged is the great Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. On the turn he is played he can exile away any number of permanents so long as they are neither colorless nor have a converted mana cost of eight or higher (a feat of which only Sibsig Muckdraggers can currently boast).

Worst Case Scenario

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

If things are going well for you in a game of Magic or in life, you sometimes ask yourself "What's the worst that can happen?" The above spells are some of the fun, new answers to that question.

Conclusion

I hope you've enjoyed my initial take on the evolution of this block's Limited format. For more preparation before your pre-release, be sure to check out my article on the commons of Dragons of Tarkir. As always, you can reach out to me in the comments below or on Twitter @JakeStilesMTG with your feedback. Enjoy the pre-release!


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