Tabletop Review: Magic: The Gathering – Cards and Combos from Khans of Tarkir

It’s time to look at some more cards from Khans of Tarkir. Last time, we looked at cards with and dealing with the morph ability. Today, we’re taking a broader look at some nifty cards and combos you can use. The good cards are good no matter what, whereas the combos are basic and likely won’t see much use outside of a draft. However, it’s fun to look at the powerful card combinations one can come up with.

Let’s take a look.

floodedstrandFetch Lands

For hardcore MTG players, Khans of Tarkir is mostly about the reprinting of fetch lands. A fetch land is a land that calls out another land rather than tapping for mana itself. You may have seen this kind of thing with cards like Terramorphic Expanse. However, the fetch lands in Khans are on a whole new level.

This is Flooded Strand, one of the lands we’re talking about. If you know all about fetch lands, then you know why the card is great and don’t need to read my ramblings. If you’re newer to MTG, then listen up. This card is phenomenal. When you use its ability, you get to search for either a Plains or an Island. Where a card like Expanse would bring that land into play tapped, Flooded Strand puts it into play as normal. The cost for this is one measly life.

Losing one life might seem bad, but you have to think of your life total as a resource rather than a precious commodity. If you can spend it to get an advantage, you need to do so. In this case, getting to play two lands on one turn helps speed up your deck, thin out your deck, and makes sure you get the mana color that you need. Any way you slice it, that effect is more than worth the life point you give up. All the good cards in your deck are worthless if you can’t draw them. These types of lands help you increase those odds.


Each of the five clans from Khans has an ability unique to them. The Jeskai clan, which consists of blue, white, and red, uses Prowess. Prowess gives a creature 1/1 until end of turn whenever you play a non-creature spell. We’ve seen similar effects elevate cards like Kiln Fiend to monstrous status, and there’s no reason to expect a Prowess card can’t do the same. Bloodfire Expert, for example, starts off as a 3/1. Play a few spells, and he’s suddenly big enough to take down pretty much anything. Best of all, you can use some nasty combos.

Swift Kick is like the red equivalent to Prey Upon. The idea is that you force two creatures to fight. With this card, your creature gets a plus one to attack. Play this card on your Prowess creature, and you’re getting a plus two bonus. That Bloodfire Expert would become a 5/2 if you played this on him. That’s more than enough to take down most creatures.

Another great option is Defiant Strike. For one white mana, you give a creature a plus one to attack, and you get to draw a card. If you play this on a creature with Prowess, you’re essentially casting Holy Strength and getting card draw for one measly mana.

If you’re feeling even more aggressive, you can play something like Feat of Resistance. You’ll get to put a 1/1 counter on a creature and give it protection from a color of your choice. Used correctly, you can swing in for the kill. Playing all three of these cards on one turn just makes the deal even sweeter.


A returning mechanic to Khans is Delve. Cards with Delve tend to have an extraordinary high casting cost. The kicker is that you can lower the cost of the card by one for each card you exile from you graveyard. Shambling Attendants is a good example of this. This is a 3/5 with Deathtouch for a converted cost of eight. That’s just too damned expensive. Throw out five cards from your graveyard though, and you get this powerful creature for a mere three mana.

If you’re looking to take advantage of this ability, there’s a particularly nasty creature you might want to add to your deck. Rakshasa Vizier is a 4/4 demon for a cost of five. That’s not really worth it. However, it gets a plus 1/1 counter on it every time you exile a card from your graveyard. Using the example in the above paragraph, if you exiled five cards to play Shambling Attendants, then you’d also get five counters on your Vizier. That would make it a 9/9 monster if you’re keeping track. If you can’t do damage with something like that, then heaven help you.

mindswipeCounterspell Plus

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about this set, there are a number of nifty multi-colored counterspells that could prove useful.

First, we have Mindswipe. This is one of those fancy cards with an X in the mana cost. What yo do is counter an opponent’s spell unless they pay whatever you chose for X. Let’s say you tapped five extra land. They would need to pay five extra mana to cast that spell. Whether they can or not, they’re going to eat damage from this spell’s other ability. It’s kind of like Power Sink meets Blaze. If you’re playing a blue/red control deck, this card is the kind of thing you need to have.

If you happen to use a bit of green in that deck as well, Trap Essence is another card you might want to consider. For three mana, you get to counter a creature spell. That’s decent enough, but you also get to put two 1/1 counters on one other creature. So not only does your opponent not get to play the creature they wanted, they also have to deal with one of your creatures getting even beefier. Its unfair on top of unfair, and your opponent is likely to whine about it in an oh so satisfying way.

rottingmastodonNot So Useless After All

Lets’ take a look at Rotting Mastodon. This is the kind of crap card you might get stuck with in a draft. For five mana, you get a 2/8. Sure, eight toughness is great, but this card is a lot of buck for little bang. It can be a decent blocker, but that’s it.

However, if you get your hands on a copy of Kin-Tree Invocation, it’s a whole new ball game. This spell gives you a creature token with X/X. Those Xs are equal to the highest toughness in all creatures you control. If you’ve got said mastodon out, that means you’re getting an 8/8. And only for two mana! That’s not bad for a potential turn six play that will still leave you with extra mana to cast other spells or abilities.

Of course, this combo is a bit slow and unreliable for standard play. It can be fun to pull it out on a friend or in a draft but that’s it. It’s really about making lemonade when you get a couple of lemons.

Well hopefully you get an idea at what the cards from Khans of Tarkir are all about. The real fun of MTG is taking new cards and mixing them with old ones to create powerful new combinations. However, it’s still fun to see what you can do with just the new stuff. It’ll be interesting to see how many and which cards become powerhouses in standard play.



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