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Think Kithkin aren't for Johnny? You may be in for some surprises.

Militia's Advice

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Goldmeadow_Dodger The letter W!elcome to Kithkin Week! Lorwyn's primary white tribe, the Kithkin, are perhaps the weeniest of all white weenies. Certainly weenier than Samurai. However, what they lack in stature, they more than make up for in smallness. They are elusive little creatures that work well as a team, which would make them very good at dodgeball if only that sport existed in their world. I bet they could be a Goldmeadow Winner. At the very least, these little rascals are slippery enough to keep out of the road of giants, and they don't even have to drink stink to do it.

We all know that they're valiant, cooperative, and superstitious, but what are the Kithkin anyway? Are they just dwarves with a no-facial-hair policy, like the New York Yankees? Are they really three apples tall, as some reports suggest? And if they're here, who's representing the Lullaby League? I might want answers!

Of course, I'm kidding our Kinsbaile comrades. I should really pick on someone my own size, like my brother. I just hope there's no thin-skinned Kithkin. Surely they can take a little joke?

Kith Me, I'm from Irish Mythology

As column-changing titan Bennie Smith noted in his Single Card Strategy article on Monday, our friends from Goldmeadow don't exactly scream "Build around me, Johnny!" They can certainly pack a powerful punch in an aggro strategy, though. If you were going to go that route, I'd probably start with the Kithkin Militia preconstructed deck. It has multiples of many of the key cards, like Goldmeadow Harrier, Goldmeadow Stalwart, Wizened Cenn, and Oblivion Ring. I bet you could evolve that deck into something competitive and fun. You could probably even do it on a budget.

Now, I like a beatdown deck as much as the next guy (provided the next guy isn't Mike Turian), but this is the so-called Johnny column. If I'm going to do beatdown, it had better be beatdown with a twist, with at least some small innovation. Luckily, one of the Johnnier Kithkin cards (Militia's Pride) happens to facilitate and enhance a beatdown strategy with the added bonus of maximizing shenanigan-potential. I'm not alone in this assessment. Alextfish's pro-Militia's Pride post in Bennie's forum read like a précis of the article I had planned for this week, so either we have the same Johnny instincts, we plugged identical phrases into Gatherer, or both. Like I always say, great minds search the same card databases.

If you're like me, you'll find that many of your best ideas come to you while you're slacking off at work. That's also when I come up with some of the best bombos. For instance, one day at the computer farm I thought to myself, "How cool would Onslaught be with Militia's Pride? You know, Onslaught the card, not the set? Attack, make a Kithkin Soldier, and tap down a blocker!" I took a quick gander at Gatherer to ascertain the precise coolness of this combo, only to discover that it was not very cool at all. Unfortunately, Onslaught lets you tap a creature when you play a creature, not when a creature comes into play. Bummer. Fortunately, I continued my Gatherer search unencumbered by past failures and stumbled upon a card that is almost as good: Sunstrike Legionnaire. It is more limited in its applications (it can only tap creatures with a power of three or greater), but it's a creature. It can attack to trigger Militia's Pride, and since it's a Soldier, it can fit right in to the kind of Soldier tribal strategy that Militia's Pride brings to the next level.

Goldmeadow Harrier can take care of most of the creatures outside of Sunstrike Legionnaire's range of influence. Field Marshal pumps up your tokens, your tappers, and any other Soldiers on the battlefield. Benalish Commander makes tokens and gets a nice +1/+1 bonus whenever you attack and make a Kithkin Soldier with Militia's Pride.

One problem I see is that Militia's Pride requires you to attack with non-token creatures in order to reap any benefits from it. While you might happily trade a token for an opposing creature, your non-token guys are much more precious. I'm sure there are many ways to ensure that you can keep attacking without fear (Dolmen Gate, for one), but the one I'm going to use takes advantage of the Gustcloak Soldiers from Onslaught (the set, not the card). Gustcloak Runner, Harrier, Skirmisher, and Savior are Soldiers that are all but impossible to kill in conventional combat. You can attack, make a token with Militia's Pride, and then pull any of your Gustcloak troops out of the red zone if they find themselves in harm's way.

Greatheart, or the Greatest Heart?

Ah, Kithkin Greatheart. If you have struck first, it is by standing on the shoulder of a road that a Giant is walking on. A two-mana, 3/2 first striker is a pretty sweet deal, but so is a one-mana 3/3, which is what you can get pretty easily with Elvish Handservant, another Giant-loving weenie. Normally, including such cheap beaters in a deck with high-cost creatures like Giants would be less than ideal. Not these days, thanks to the modern-day Mistform Ultimii. Woodland Changeling, Avian Changeling, and Mirror Entity? They might be Giants. Kithkin "lord" Cloudgoat Ranger is also a Giant. My favourite Giant in the deck has got to be Craw Giant. No Kithkin can stand in its way!

Militia's Pride once again helps out your offense. A handful of green cards make Militia's Pride even more dangerous. Primal Forcemage is best with creatures with haste, but the "put into play tapped and attacking" Kithkin soldiers are just as good. Sometimes, you will basically be throwing your 1/1s to the wolves (especially if your opponent has a Wren's Run Packmaster), but Kithkin Mourncaller turns them into free cards. It doesn't hurt that the deck is almost entirely made up of Elves and Kithkin. Herd Gnarr, meanwhile, can attack as a 4/4 (or greater) if you've got Militia's Pride. Last of all, Vigor makes your would-be chump-attackers into serious threats.

Several other cards could fit in easily, like Strength in Numbers, Juniper Order Ranger, Scion of the Wild, and either of the in-colour planeswalkers. Another card to consider is Nath's Elite. "Lure" effects would work well with Militia's Pride.

Phage the Untouchable's Archenemy?

Or is it Yukora, the Prisoner's? Any way you slice it, Galepowder Mage does nasty things to some black legends. The good news is that it can do nasty things with just about anyone. Noel d.C., who is practically my assistant at this point, sent me a Galepowder Mage deck long before it was cool to do so. He writes, "All right, Galepowder Mage. To be short and sweet, this guy rocks. A lot. Attacking with him and other guys is a combo in itself, because it causes blocking mayhem. You can effectively "Flicker" any creature when he attacks. He's great with 187 guys and CIP guys."

During your declare attackers step is generally not the ideal time to "Flicker" one of your own creatures, since it means that you won't be attacking with that creature. However, there are some creatures with nice comes-into-play abilities that are primarily defensive in nature (Teroh's Faithful, say), or that quickly become poor attackers (like Trinket Mage or Kithkin Harbinger), and these creatures seem like fine targets for your Galepowder Mage. Others, like Icatian Javelineers or Triskelavus, can be effectively "reset" by being "Flickered," regaining their lost counters. Noel had another idea:

"After searching through white's 187s, I found that I, like you, was drawn to Treasure Hunter. What artifact could be found in Standard that makes frequent trips to the graveyard, likes to be Flickered, and meshes with a beatdown strategy? Soultether Golem!" Whitemane Lion can be used to charge up your Golem and as long as you are attacking each turn, Militia's Pride can keep your Golem around indefinitely.

For added synergy, Noel used Pull from Eternity to turn Galepowder Mage into a quasi-Nekrataal. Target the creature that's been removed from the game and it'll suffer from a Permanent Blink. I made some minor changes to Noel's deck, upping the Kithkin count (Amrou Scout, Kithkin Harbinger, and Militia's Pride) and swapping Mind Stones for Moonglove Extracts. Goodbye unwieldy card-drawing combo, hello unwieldy direct damage combo. Here is the tweaked list:

There are many other directions you can take this deck. Consider adding green for Riftsweeper (in place of Pull from Eternity). If you want to move to Extended, Galepowder Mage could combo with Eternal Witness to allow you to regrow the same spell every turn.

Here's another take on the same theme. It uses Galepowder Mage and creatures with comes-into-play abilities (Temple Acolyte, Man-o'-War, Solemn Simulacrum, Karmic Guide, and Scrivener). Since this week is turning into Oblivion Ring Week, now seems like a very good time to use the O. Ring + Vedalken Mastermind combo sent to me by Jason D., Tama C., and Efrén R. For 2 ManaWhite ManaBlue Mana, you can remove one nonland permanent from the game each turn. Just respond to the Ring's comes-into-play trigger by bouncing it back to your hand. That way, its leaves-play ability will go off first, returning nothing, and then its comes-into-play ability will remove the permanent from the game, uh, permanently.

Another thing to note is that token creatures removed from the game by Galepowder Mage won't return to play. This explains the inclusion of Hunted Lammasu and Pongify, highly-efficient spells who give your opponent a rather large token to make up for their low cost. These donated creatures also make nice targets for cards that allow you to exchange creatures with your opponent—cards like Chromeshell Crab, Gilded Drake, Juxtapose, Legerdemain, Phyrexian Infiltrator, and Avarice Totem. If you make a trade, and then use Galepowder Mage to "Flicker" your part of the bargain, you get to have everything! Your Gilded Drake (or whatever) will return to play under your control, where it will promptly trade itself for another one of your opponent's creatures. Use Sower of Temptation to steal a creature, sacrifice that creature to Miren, the Moaning Well, and "Flicker" the Sower to steal another! Merieke Ri Berit also allows this kind of thievery with Galepowder Mage.

Do Kithkin Mercenaries Sell Themselves Short?

Okay. One last deck, this time combining both of the Kithkin's premiere Johnny cards: Militia's Pride and Galepowder Mage. This is another example of the one-thing-leads-to-another school of deckbuilding. With all the tokens running around courtesy of Militia's Pride and Cloudgoat Ranger, I decided to build around Nantuko Husk and Magus of the Abyss. Both of these cards become pretty sick with multiple Nether Traitors. Either you can pump up your Husk to ridiculous proportions, or you can maintain your Abyss indefinitely. The fact that the Traitors have shadow means that much of the time you will be able to generate Kithkin Soldiers without having to worry about your non-token attacker dying in combat. Galepowder Mage can "Flicker" your Cloudgoat Rangers to replenish lost Kithkin tokens. It can remove Aven Riftwatcher (to gain life on the way in and on the way out) or Shriekmaw (to kill a creature, although this has the potential to backfire). Epochrasite is another fine target for your Mage, since it will be a 4/4 when it returns to play. You can also sacrifice it to Nantuko Husk for all I care.



Until next time, have a little fun once in a while.

Chris Millar

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