Limited Lessons - Kithkin in Lorwyn
This week I want to talk about one of the less popular tribes in Lorwyn draft the Kithkin.
Whenever I hear people talk about this tribe they often use the words “mediocre” or “unspectacular.” Instead of jumping on the bandwagon immediately you should realize that the fact that a lot of players feel this way creates an opportunity for you to seize should it come up in an actual draft. I've found that the general Magic Online population shares a disdain for White in LLL and this is something you can take advantage of if you get a signal saying that your neighbors likely agree with this belief. While it may be true that White in general is underpowered you can assemble quite the aggressive Kithkin build if you're the only one drafting it.
Another bonus of this archetype is that unlike most of the tribal decks in the format your second color is relatively open and you can easily splash if you end up mainly White. This gives you more freedom than usual when homing in on a specific tribe.
I want to first cover the White commons and then talk about the splash options separately. Since you can pick basically any second color I think this is more productive than lumping everything together.
This card is excellent for obvious reasons and probably better than Master Decoy in a vacuum. It's nice that there aren't too many ways to ping in this format though Dreamspoiler Witches and Flamekin Spitfire certainly aren't good news for the Harrier.
The strength of this card is largely dependent on your second color. It will still usually make the cut anyway as if you end up mainly White you'll have plenty of ground guys that could use a little boost in the way of Flying. It's certainly best when paired with Green or Red and I doubt anyone can argue that point.
There are some White-based Giants but this is fine as a two-drop that will make your opponent worry and obviously gets stronger as the number of Changelings in your deck rises.
This is the third best common in the archetype behind Oblivion Ring and Goldmeadow Harrier and it is also one of the reasons to draft a heavy White strategy. These seem to go much later than they should in online drafts.
This guy kind of goes against the grain of the archetype. The Kithkin are an aggressive race and the Healer just wants to sit back and stall the game out. I still end up playing one of these usually but they are by no means the go ahead to draft this tribe. They tend to be better in WB or WU as those are the more controlling versions of the archetype you can draft.
Quick and evasive. This card is excellent in any deck that can cast him and he fits the aggressive tendencies of this tribe.
I've had mixed experiences so far with this guy though he is certainly playable if you have nine or ten Kithkin to go with him. He really shines when you have Fistful of Force or Soulbright Flamekin to trample through for some damage but he's quite annoying on his own if your whole side is Kithkin.
I almost never play this guy and think he is pretty terrible overall. The ability would make him worthwhile if you could count on it but as it stands he's only great if you get multiples and multiple Rebellion of the Flamekin. I wouldn't feel terrible about finishing off a deck with one of these but I wouldn't be excited either.
I'm not a huge fan of this card because of the obviousness of it but it's still much harder to play around than Second Thoughts. Often against a good player just the threat of having this can be better than actually letting it take up a card in your hand. So that's my general analysis of the card… however its value does change considerably in an aggressive strategy like this one.
Since the majority of the time your opponent will be on the defensive Neck Snap gains a lot of value as an easy way to kill his best guy. He can't afford to play around the card and not block with good creatures he plays so you should be able to get better use out of this than a standard deck would. I definitely like having one of these in my aggressive builds.
Surge of Thoughtweft
If there's a card you'll get late that will always be excellent in this archetype it's definitely the Surge. For one mana cheaper than Warrior's Honor you also get to draw from it and playing multiples is a very good thing. I've played as many as four of this card in one Kithkin deck and been happy with the result so long as you draft enough cheap men.
Grizzly Bear extraordinaire. The ability can prove useful sometimes but this is the run of the mill two-drop that hopes you played Goldmeadow Harrier on turn 1 so that it actually has a target to pump.
That's about it for the commons of the archetype. Wellgabber Apothecary can be playable in more defensive builds with multiple Healers or Harriers and Triclopean Sight is sometimes playable but I'd honestly rather just have more Surge of Thoughtweft.
Second Color Options
Since this archetype can essentially pair with any other color I want to go over some of the better options you should look for once you decide you're drafting Kithkin.
Black has some good removal in the form of Nameless Inversion Weed Strangle Eyeblight's Ending and possibly Peppersmoke if you get enough Changelings or Fairies to turn it on. Footbottom Feast is also solid in the archetype since you play a lot of dorks and plan on trading a good deal. I really like Eyeblight's Ending in the deck because it clears some of the bigger men out of the way so your smaller guys can keep attacking. Boggart Loggers is also a fine man since Green tends to be a difficult matchup for WB.
Good splashable removal is available here as well in Tarfire and Lash Out. Mixing cheap Elementals with Kithkin has proven to be an effective strategy as well as lots of the Elementals are also aggressive. Inner-Flame Acolyte Glarewielder and Inner-Flame Igniter and Changeling Berserker are all very good additions to an aggressive strategy.
Of all of the possible second colors I like Red best because I think the two colors share a lot of goals in the common and uncommon slots.
Fistful of Force is huge here and Kithkin Daggerdare is also very good in this archetype. I don't like Lignify in this deck as you just give your opponent a wall to stop your aggressive men. Green is synergistic with the archetype because it gives you more cheap men to cast as well as ways to break through a stalemate like Nath's Elite or Fistful.
Meshing Kithkin and Elves has proven effective the two times I've drafted the pairing.
Blue offers Whirlpool Whelm and Pestermite to help you get through. Pestermite in particular is very attractive in this archetype as it provides a cheap aggressive body and also lets you keep the pressure on in the early game. Aethersnipe is great in this deck as a large body and tempo. One recommendation I have if you decide to pair with Blue is to avoid putting too much (if any) countermagic in your deck. This is an aggressive strategy that wants to be proactive so anything more than one Broken Ambitions seems counterproductive to me. Wings of Velis Vel can also be another way to break through for those final points.
Uncommons and Rares
I covered some uncommons and rares for second color options above so I'm only going to focus on White in this section. If you have questions about cards I didn't cover and their relative strength in the archetype feel free to email me or just ask in the forums. Since the deck can go so many different directions I can't really cover everything in a single strategy guide as each color combination has its own set of nuances.
The end of level boss.
Well not really I guess since this guy doesn't have any kind of secondary ability like Merrow Reejerey or Mad Auntie. Nevertheless he's aggressively costed and suits the strategy well. One bonus that this guy has that the other lords don't is that Kithkin are severely underdrafted and I've seen this still in the pack seventh or eighth pack one on multiple occasions.
Knight of Meadowgrain
This card is obviously sick in any deck that can reliably cast it on turn 2. If you're the Kithkin drafter this should be you and you should be slamming this guy.
On multiple occasions I've opened Galepowder Mage and either had this card already or got it later in the draft. Quite the combo search up Galepowder and then ship this guy out every turn to ensure you only draw gas for the rest of the game. You can also search up Surge of Thoughtweft or Militia's Pride which is cute.
As aggressive as it gets. Pick this early as people seem to randomly take it and it enables the best starts you can get in the archetype and possibly even the format.
This isn't the greatest card for the Kithkin player as the 1/1 it creates will still be annoying sometimes. Still it gets rid of some big threats so it's worth playing I suppose. Given the choice of this or an aggressive creature or pump spell though I'm taking the latter every time.
This will be at the top of your curve and hopefully very strong since your opponent should be on the ropes already and have trouble dealing with a 4/4. The lifegain isn't as relevant here as in other archetypes that are likely to play from behind.
I only mention this guy here because his +1/+1 ability is absolutely amazing in this archetype. This in combination with Surge of Thoughtweft is almost impossible to beat.
This is one of the best cards you can open in the archetype. Not only is this an aggressively costed flier but it also removes key blockers or abuses 187 abilities you may have like Mulldrifter or Kithkin Harbinger. Definitely a bomb and excellent in an aggressive strategy.
This guy isn't a Kithkin on his own but he makes three tokens that can hit pretty hard in combination with Surges.
Pretty self explanatory. This is huge for the cost and you should always have a guy to champion on turn 4 in this archetype. Just don't get wrecked by bounce or removal and your opponent will need to answer this immediately or lose.
Wow. If ever there was a card that made it hard to come from behind it's this one. I'll take this early with the intention of going into Kithkin if I see it as it gets out of hand quickly. I know I probably sound like a broken record at this point but….Surge of Thoughtweft anyone?
As is customary I have a recent decklist I went 3-0 with.
2 Goldmeadow Harrier
Knight of Meadowgrain
2 Kithkin Harbinger
Fistful of Force
2 Plover Knights
Surge of Thoughtweft
This is certainly better than the average Kithkin deck but it's also not completely unreasonable to get since Kithkin are so underdrafted.
In closing I'd like to get some opinions for next week about whether you'd like to see a general strategy article on the format a tribal guide or a draft walkthrough. I'll see what the consensus seems to be and then make a decision with that in mind.
Soooooo on MTGO