Posted in PRO TOUR KHANS OF TARKIR - COVERAGE - EVENTS on October 12, 2014

By Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Looking at Khans of Tarkir as a draft environment, the most obvious conclusion you'd draw is that everyone's going to draft one of the three-color "wedge" combinations centered around the Khans of Tarkir clans, but apparently it's not as simple as that.

Early rumblings suggested that both two-color decks with a splash to round out the clan were equally desirable, as were decks spread further afield into four or five colors. Then things started getting really interesting when we started to hear rumors of players drafting nonbasic lands as aggressively as possible to potentially starve the rest of the draft table of their color fixing.

Naturally, we wanted to hear more about draft strategies that actively interacted with the rest of draft table long before anyone shuffles up for a game, so we kept our eye on any spicy looking five-color concoctions this weekend, and it wasn't long before one splashed across our screen.

As we circled around our featured draft at the start of Day Two, our eyes were on Mike Sigrist and 11th-ranked Yuuya Watanabe, who were our two remaining undefeated players, but drafting just down-stream from there was Ari Lax, who at that point had only a single loss to his name. As we pieced together the draft viewer afterwards, it became abundantly clear Lax had assembled something special. I mean, he was playing both Savage Knuckleblade and Zurgo Helmsmasher for a start.

Ari Lax displays the stars of his deck. It's like one of those comedy movies about completely mismatched twins.

As we assembled our Round 9 feature matches, Lax was overlooked in favor of some pretty big names, but we soon heard tales of his masterpiece taking down Korea's Park Jun Young and his White-Black "almost Mardu" deck in a decidedly colorful fashion, so he was ushered under the lights to face Japanese superstar Yuuya Watanabe and his Red-White "almost Mardu" deck.

Lax lost Game 1, but came back over the top in Games 2 and 3, winning both with Zurgo Helmsmasher. Lax then proceeded to demolish Omar Beldon in Round 11 to leave himself sitting tied for first place with Mike Sigrist and Ondrej Strasky. Without putting too fine a point on it, I confronted Lax and asked if he had been on the "Take Everyone's Lands" plan.

"I don't think you can do that," he stated. "You get this kind of deck when you don't force any colors and just take lands over almost everything. Sometimes it leaves you with good fixing within a clan, and sometimes it gives you all five colors. Normally you have pick orders for commons and uncommons, but for this set we found ourselves comparing the best uncommon – Murderous Cut – to the tri-lands, and the best common–debilitating Injury–to the common Dual Lands. That said, if you go too hard on that, you could end up with 12 or more lands that enter the battlefield tapped, and then you're just too slow to keep up with the aggressive two-color decks."

I asked Lax about the impact drafting lands that highly has on the rest of the table, to which he simply replied with a smile. "If they're not drafting their mana fixing for their three-color decks high enough, then that's on them."

Lax then went on to explain how the deck is generally assembled. "Your deck will be almost always based in green, and that gives you tricks like Awaken the Bear and Dragonscale Boon that help you blow people out when they spend five mana unmorphing their creatures."

Sadly, Lax will have to bench his beautiful creation as we head back into the Standard rounds in the lead up to the Top 8, but it's safe to say that this deck has certainly put him in a great spot for the rest of the weekend.

Ari Lax – Khans of Tarkir Draft

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