GAME REVIEW: MAGIC: THE GATHERING - KHANS OF TARKIR / DESIGNER: CHRIS MILLAR AND SAM STODDARD / PUBLISHER: WIZARDS OF THE COAST / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Magic: the Gathering is the most played collectible card game in the world. One of the secrets of its success is that it constantly updates and adapts through new releases. Khans of Tarkir is the first major release since the 2015 starter set came out, and is a pretty big deal. The 269 card release is based around three-colour wedges. The backstory for this release set in a world where ambitious warlords and powerful clans wage constant war on each other. The world has been scourged by war and was previously inhabited by dragons, all of whom were killed. The clans each worship one aspect of the extinct dragons.
To get a better feel for the release, we took a look at some of introductory packs and opened some boosters.The Conquering Hordes Event Deck is a two-colour event deck; a play right out of the box product designed to get new player into the hobby. It does seem odd that for a release that is based around three-colour wedges we only get two themes of cards here; black and white. It’s a straight forward power-‘em-up and roll-them-out deck which is fairly uninspired. Worse still, it’s a very workmanlike selection, with the only stand-out card being Blood Soaked Champion; an easy to resurrect soldier. You get one out of a set of roughly 70 cards. It’s a lot of fun to play for new players, and that’s what it’s for. Old hands will probably frown and want to completely rip it apart (and add an extra colour) but it’s not really aimed at that sort of player.
Mardu Raiders and Sultai Schemers are both three-colour introductory decks useful to everyone. The Mardu horde is a red, white and black themed faction that focuses on speed. It’s got lots of creatures that come out onto the deck ready to do damage and the sort of effect cards that will allow you to kick your opponents big bad monsters quickly. It’s a great basis for a deck and a solid introduction. The Sultai deck is all about manipulating your resources; namely putting discarded cards back into play. It requires a bit more finesse than the Mardu deck, but not much; it’s reasonably relentless. Both intro decks come with an adequate foil card each with nice art and nice game effects, but neither is terribly special.
Overall, the release is rather good. The artwork (and art direction) is at the usual high standard that we’ve come to expect from Magic cards. This release also saw the return of fetch-lands, cards that let you shuffle through your deck for more land cards; they aren’t as interesting as old hands will tell you they are, but it’s nice that they’re back. Khans of Tarkir is a promising set with some nice entry routes into the collectible card gaming hobby.