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Khans of Tarkir Limited Analysis

Khans of Tarkir limited is here and this is the most fun I have had in an limited environment in a long time. I started playing Magic Online in 2009 and Shards of Alara drafts are where I spent a lot of my time. I love being able to draft such a variety of decks and archetypes and KTK gives me an even better version of that experience. We have over 50,000 games of KTK draft data available, so let's dig through some of the results. So lets start at the beginning of the game.

Play, Draw, and Mulligan

I have heard over and over again since I started playing Magic that you should almost always decide to play first. I can probably count on my hands the number of times I've chosen to be on the draw. KTK is slower format: the average turn the game ends on is 9.8. Compare that to M15 at 9.5, and BNG 8.9.  The difference between being on the play or on the draw is very small (50.3% win on the play vs 49.7% on the draw in G1). Some of my favorite decks to draft are the slowish three to four color decks with plenty of removal. Being on the draw helps you make your land drops and lets you stay ahead when your plan is to one-for-one your opponent into the late game. Obviously if you are an aggressive Mardu or Jeskai deck you will want to be on the play but if you are trying to go bigger and last to the late game, you might want to consider being on the draw. Being on the draw also gives you the advantage when it comes to taking a mulligan: Taking a mulligan drops your win percentage significantly to about 35.5%, but being on the draw gives you a much better shot of winning (41% vs 29%).

Mythic Rares

Wingmate Roc [KTK] Sidisi, Brood Tyrant [KTK] Anafenza, the Foremost [KTK] Sorin, Solemn Visitor [KTK]

Usually mythics are game changer that shift the game in your favor and help you crush your opponents, and KTK is no exception to that. There is only one mythic rare with less than a win percentage of 50% and that is Clever Impersonator, which is basically just a harder to cast Clone in this format. Planeswalkers are usually the most powerful cards in any given limited format, that doesn't seem to be the case here. The highest ranked planeswalker is Sorin, Solemn Visitor, which is only the fifth highest ranked mythic, behind Wingmate Roc, Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, Anafenza, the Foremost, and Pearl Lake Ancient. Not only are the Planeswalker not the best of the mythics in this format, they aren't even in the top 15 cards overall. Sorin, Solemn Visitor comes in at 20th and Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker coming in at 34th overall. And with only one mythic in the top ten overall (Wingmate Roc at #3) it means that even though mythics are very good, there are not unbeatable. Formats where the mythics always win aren't fun to play in because opening well becomes more important than drafting or playing well. But luckily this is not the case in KTK.

The Rares

Flying Crane Technique [KTK] Duneblast [KTK] Mantis Rider [KTK]

Here we come to the actual top card in the format. With half of the top ten limited cards being rares, they are most definitely the game changers of the format. The highest ranked card is Flying Crane Technique with a whopping win percentage of 80%. And that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has played with or played against that card. Like an Overrun on steroids, the game more often than not just ends as soon the card is cast. The next highest card, Duneblast, also pretty much ends the game too. It is very hard to come back from losing all your creatures and your opponent getting to keep their best one. KTK is slow enough that these 6 and 7 cmc cards see play instead of rotting in your hand.

It has been said that you should stay away from first picking the wedge colored cards in favor of picking a mono-colored card so you can stay open. But it looks like some of the best cards are three colored and I don't recommend passing either of these powerful triple colored cards for a weaker mono-colored card. Mantis Rider also fits in the category of wedge cards you shouldn't pass.

The Uncommons 

Armament Corps [KTK]

The top uncommons in KTK are almost all combat tricks and removal. The exception is the highest ranked uncommon and the second card overall, Armament Corps. Armament Corps is very powerful in the fact it can either be a 6/6 for five mana or a mini Incremental Growth, which is also one of the top uncommons. It's not surprisng to see that the second highest uncommon is Roar of Challenge. It is not that hard to setup a turn where you can set up a two or even a three for one with this. Not every deck will want it but I can see it being the most powerful in either Abzan or Temur strategies. The rest of the top uncommons are just solid removal and combat tricks. Two cards that aren't rank as high as I expected them to be are Dead Drop and Icefeather Aven. Icefeather Aven at only 60% tells me that the format is slow and tempo plays aren't particularly effective. I'm not sure why Dead Drop hasn't performed better; I have taken them fairly high in the past and they have worked out well for me.

The Commons 

Rush of Battle [KTK] Trumpet Blast [KTK]

The two highest ranked common are basically the same card and usually go in the same deck. Rush of Battle and Trumpet Blast can be extremely powerful in the right circumstances. They don't fit into every archetype but they can spell game over in the aggressive Mardu and Jeskai decks. With several token makers in both red and white, these pump spells can easily add 6-8 points of power to your board and end the game. The next seven ranked commons are all morph creatures. Having good morphs mean you can have plays early but still have powerful draws in the late game. The next best commons are removal such as Savage Punch and Disdainful Stroke and combat tricks such as Awaken the Bear and Feat of Resistance. There are plenty of solid removal and tricks in every color, which allows every deck to represent several tricks at any given time. 

The Archetypes

It should be no surprise to anyone that the top five most drafted archetypes are the five clans. It's hard to tell how many of these decks are two colors with a slight splash or a full blown three color deck. Even though the clans are the most drafted decks, that doesn't translate too well into win percentage: Abzan is the most drafted and has the highest win percentage but the next two decks are WUBG and five color. After that are Jeskai, Mardu, and Temur strategies. The rest of the four color combinations are the next ranked decks and finally Sultai rounding out the top ten archetypes. Something worth noticing is that there is only a 5% win percentage difference from the top ranked Abzan at 55% to the 11th ranked deck Sultai at 50.2%. So there really isn't an advantage of any 3-5 color combination over another. The two color decks have a far lower win percentage than the three color decks. The top three being Red/White, Blue/Green, and Black white at around 40%. The two white decks are aggro decks that try to be as low to the ground as possible with either Trumpet Blast or Rush of Battle to finish off your opponent. The Blue/Green deck is also some what of an aggro deck with Force Aways and Crippling Chills to get through the blue Prowess creatures and big green creatures. The Blue/Green deck can also be Secret Plans deck. Those decks are really fun to play but usually need a Ghostfire Blade or a Trail of Mystery to do well. However, you must take the two-color deck data with a grain of salt; they may have a low win percentage because they are actually three-color decks stuck on colored mana.


Khans of Tarkir is a very diverse draft format. Each color has about a 50% win percentage which means you shouldn't have to pass a powerful card because the color isn't good enough. In KTK, you can be confident with any color combination you go with, and no matter what rares you do or don't open, you can still construct a deck that you can take to victory. 

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