Considering that there are only around 50 gold cards in Khans of Tarkir, of which only 5 are in the common slot, mana-fixing may not feel as important as it seems. But a good mana base is the cornerstone of a great deck, an aspect not to be ignored. How do you ensure you have the correct balance of mana consistency and power level?
Park Jun Young
Grand Prix Minneapolis Champion Park Jun Young has an good idea. Unfortunately for him, he failed to make it through to Day 2 and would not get a chance to display his mastery. He is playing in the Super Sunday Series today, to his dismay. He's done about fifteen Khans of Tarkir booster drafts already and is all set for Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir next week, an event he qualified for by making the Top 8 at Grand Prix Sydney 2014.
"In general, players try to go for three colors and there is great competition for the nonbasics. I try to pick at least 3 nonbasic lands, but I know for sure it's not enough to support a three-color deck. That's why I usually add a banner. Banners are easy to come by. That's how to settle my mana problems. If you pick your nonbasics too high, you sacrifice quality cards and that is not a good idea."
Joe Soh has a very different opinion on the issue and has just 3-0-ed his first draft, advancing to 10-2. His brother, Terry Soh, was not so fortunate in the Sealed Deck portion yesterday and could only cheer him on from the sidelines. Joe also recently placed Top 8 at Grand Prix Taipei and clearly knows a thing or two about Limited.
"I'm the type of person who prioritize lands over quality cards. At the end of my first booster, I already had 5 dual lands. I will pick on-color duals as early as 4th to 5th. I think that the mana base is the most important in this format. I'm willing to sacrifice card power for consistency. As for the banners, I think its alright to play none or one, but never two."
His Jeskai deck consisted of double Seeker of the Way, Dragon-Style Twins, Narset, Enlightened Master, Crater's Claws and Clever Impersonator. But he gives more credit to his mana base than the assortment of rares. "I won two of my matches because my opponents simply stumbled on mana. The mana base is everything."
Ryan Luo was also one of the players who made the Top 8 at Grand Prix Taipei along with Joe Soh. He has two lifetime Grand Prix Top 8s and two Singapore Nationals Top 8s.
"I won't pick the lands particularly because there are so many of them, and I don't want to play too many as well. The early game is tempo-oriented. I hate the banners. They are a trap and they suck! When building my mana base, I usually count all relevant mana symbols, including activation costs, then proceed to divide all my numbers according to ratio."
With so many varying opinions, it's difficult to determine whose style is optimum. But one thing is for sure. Everyone is having fun with Khans of Tarkir!