Poor, Unappreciated, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet is one of the best, most important creatures in Standard

… So why are we calling Kalitas poor and unappreciated?

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet is everywhere — Esper Dragons, Grixis Control, Orzhov Control — but the prevailing narrative is still around G/W Tokens!

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet in Esper Dragons:

Robert Lombardi

4 Dragonlord Ojutai
2 Dragonlord Silumgar
3 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

1 Ob Nixilis Reignited

2 Clash of Wills
3 Foul-Tongue Invocation
2 Grasp of Darkness
3 Languish
2 Painful Truths
1 Read the Bones
4 Silumgar’s Scorn
2 Transgress the Mind
3 Ultimate Price

3 Caves of Koilos
4 Choked Estuary
4 Island
2 Port Town
3 Prairie Stream
2 Shambling Vent
4 Sunken Hollow
4 Swamp

1 Anguished Unmaking
1 Dark Petition
1 Dead Weight
1 Dragonlord’s Prerogative
2 Duress
1 Flaying Tendrils
1 Infinite Obliteration
2 Negate
1 Risen Executioner
1 Silumgar’s Command
1 Sorin, Grim Nemesis
2 Virulent Plague

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet in Grixis Control:
(BTW Patrick and Michael are both in love with this deck)

Oliver Tiu

2 Dragonlord Silumgar
4 Goblin Dark-Dwellers
4 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
4 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

1 Chandra, Flamecaller

3 Fiery Impulse
2 Grasp of Darkness
3 Kolaghan’s Command
1 Radiant Flames
3 Read the Bones
3 Ruinous Path
2 Transgress the Mind
2 Ultimate Price

3 Evolving Wilds
4 Foreboding Ruins
1 Island
1 Mountain
3 Shivan Reef
4 Smoldering Marsh
2 Sunken Hollow
5 Swamp
3 Wandering Fumarole

2 Dragonmaster Outcast
4 Duress
3 Fevered Visions
1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
3 Radiant Flames
1 Rending Volley
1 Silumgar’s Command

And loneliest… Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet in Orzhov Control:

Bret Tetley

3 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

3 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
3 Ob Nixilis Reignited
2 Sorin, Grim Nemesis

3 Anguished Unmaking
4 Grasp of Darkness
3 Languish
2 Planar Outburst
4 Read the Bones
2 Ruinous Path
4 Secure the Wastes
2 Ultimate Price

4 Caves of Koilos
4 Forsaken Sanctuary
4 Plains
4 Shambling Vent
7 Swamp
3 Westvale Abbey

1 Anguished Unmaking
1 Dark Petition
3 Declaration in Stone
2 Duress
3 Hallowed Moonlight
2 Linvala, the Preserver
3 Transgress the Mind

Here’s the thing about Tetley’s deck… Since Kalitas is the only creature in this deck, it is really, really likely to die. The most popular removal — Ultimate Price, Grasp of Darkness — all kill Kalitas, and there is no one to draw off fire before it shows up.

Poor, dead-to-be, Kalitas 🙁

Patrick and Michael talk about even more Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet-featuring decks than these… As well as a new Dragons brew by MichaelJ!

All this and more in “Poor, Unappreciated, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet”:

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Arlinn Kord Play Patterns

Let me tell you… Arlinn Kord really wants to go first.

… But first: Sorin, Grim Nemesis!

Sorin, Grim Nemesis

Sorin, Grim Nemesis has a lot of stuff going on. Yes, he costs six mana but his payoff is tremendous. Michael especially sees Sorin as an inheritor to Elspeth, Sun’s Champion as the top of the midrange control curve. Let’s check out Sorin’s abilities:

[+1] Reveal the top card of your library and put that card into your hand. Each opponent loses life qual to its converted mana cost.

This [+1] ability is just pure card advantage! At a minimum, Sorin draws you cards without actually “drawing” a card (a subtle advantage much of the time). That is a great ability! But wait! There’s more! At the same time, Sorin puts the opponent on a clock. Much of the time it won’t matter what Sorin is revealing (card advantage being card advantage) but sometimes Sorin will just win the game outright. What if the opponent is at five or six, and you just reveal another Sorin?

… To say nothing of possible combo applications a la Draco-Explosion.

[-X] Sorin, Grim Nemesis deals X damage to target creature or planeswalker and you gain X life.

The absolute worst case Sorin acts as a six-point Drain life for only six total mana! His worst case is better than a number of cards people have just played in other contexts.

[-9] Put a number of 1/1 black Vampire Knight creature tokens with lifelink onto the battlefield equal to the highest life total among all players.

When you’re behind, Sorin actually gives you exactly as much power as you need to win the game! When you’re ahead he gives you a buffer. In either case the fact that the tokens have lifelink which can keep you healthy from a wide variety of positions.

Sorin has a lot going on… But still at least 40% less than this Planeswalker:

Arlinn Kord
Front side: Arlinn Kord

Arlinn, Embraced by the Moon
Back side: Arlinn, Embraced by the Moon

First thing’s first: Arlinn Kord is going to be an absolute monster in Standard. This Planeswalker costs [only] four mana but packs five abilities (if across two different sides of the card).

Seeing that Arlinn Kord will almost certainly be a popular card, initiative when playing Arlinn Kord is going to be a major issue when the opponent also has Arlinn Kord.

Imagine your opponent plays Arlinn Kord turn four and makes a Wolf token (thereby flipping into Arlinn, Embraced by the Moon). You have your own Arlinn Kord in grip… What do you do?

Anything but play the Arlinn Kord!

If you play your Arlinn Kord you can either put her to four loyalty or make a Wolf. If you put her to four loyalty, the opponent (who controls Arlinn, Embraced by the Moon) will just [-1] your Arlinn and swing with the Wolf. Dead Arlinn Kord.

If you make a Wolf your Arlinn Kord (now Arlinn, Embraced by the Moon) will still have three loyalty. The opponent will just [-3] to kill your Arlinn, Embraced by the Moon and probably leave back the Wolf to block yours.Dead Arlin, again.

… None of which bothers to consider if the opponent has something better than to just line you up on freebies.

Lots going on with Arlinn Kord; more going on in “Arlinn Kord Play Patterns”. Give a listen to check them out now:

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Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim & Mike’s New Naya

Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim
Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim

“This is the type of thing that people are going to mention years from now.
And people will know!
You have a long history of innovative Naya decks… and this is your most recent one yet.
This is going to be… totally… you know?

“People aren’t ready for this. Who is going to have prepared for this?”

-Patrick, on Mike’s new Naya deck

What is Mike’s new deck? Here is is:

Naya Combo

3 Dragonlord Dromoka
4 Dromoka’s Command

4 Become Immense
4 Den Protector
2 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
4 Scythe Leopard
4 Snapping Gnarlid
4 Warden of the First Tree

3 Temur Battle Rage

2 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
1 Valorous Stance

1 Bloodstained Mire
2 Canopy Vista
2 Cinder Glade
1 Evolving Wilds
7 Forest
1 Mountain
3 Plains
4 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills

1 Dragonlord Dromoka
2 Outpost Siege
4 Rending Volley
3 Roast
1 Temur Battle Rage
2 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
2 Valorous Stance

“This deck is an abomination. I would not TEST it!”

-Also Patrick, also on Mike’s new Naya deck

If you’ve ever wanted to see a complete dressing down of Mike — in this case by one of his best friends and one of the greatest deck designers of all time — tune into this episode!

In addition to a long chat about Mike’s Naya deck, our intrepid pair talks about new Legend Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim:

Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim
Legendary Creature – Kor Cleric

1, Sacrifice another creature: You gain life equal to the sacrificed creature’s toughness.

1WB, Sacrifice another creature: Exile target nonland permanent. Activate this ability only if you have at least 10 life more than your starting life total.

What does Top Level Podcast think about Ayli? find out in “Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim & Mike’s New Naya”

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Further reading:
“My Babykiller, Part 1” by Frank Karsten

“The name comes from an awkward situation where I was confined in a bus together with Brian David-Marshall and Billy Moreno. They were making some ugly jokes regarding killing babies, and since I don’t enjoy the ritual sacrifice of cute little babies, I couldn’t really appreciate those jokes. If you thought that Mike Flores built this deck, you have been misinformed. That has been an elaborate joke. Of course I made the deck myself. It’s even named after me! Okay, irony aside now, my deck is very good and if I were forced to pick a deck for a Standard tournament now, I’d go with KarstenBotBabyKiller.”
-Frank Karsten