Lorwyn: Kithkin Militia Review (Part 2 of 2)
I’ve got Sam squaring up on the other side of the table… fresh cups of tea steeping… and she’s shuffling up Elvish Predation. It’s time to take the Kithkin into battle, but will teamwork be enough to counter the threat of endless hordes of Elves?
To kick things off, Sam begins with a Forest which I meet with a Plains. Next turn she deploys a Prowess of the Fair, giving the bulk of her Elves a second lease on life when the grim reaper comes to collect. For my part, I’m quite pleased to summon a Knight of Meadowgrain.
Now turn 3, Sam brings out her first creature with an Imperious Perfect. I swing in for 2, then follow with a Cenn’s Heir and Goldmeadow Harrier. Sam’s turn 4 is a lamentable and tragic blank. Back to me, I use the Harrier to tap down her Perfect, though Sam responds by tapping it on her own to create a 1/1 Elf token. She then tosses off an Eyeblight’s Ending to kill my Knight, stalling my offense before it even begins. I content myself with bringing out a Kithkin Greatheart and passing.
Things continue to go Sam’s way on turn 5, when she adds a Lys Alana Huntmaster to the table. Back to me, I summon a Changeling Hero, championing my Cenn’s Heir. At the end of my turn, Sam uses the Perfect to make another Elf token, then adds a Moonglove Winnower on her turn proper. This gives her still another Elf token thanks to the Huntmaster, and she has a trio in play. I play a Cloudgoat Ranger, adding a trio of 1/1 Kithkin tokens to the board. Again at the end of turn, Sam has the Perfect create another Elf.
Now turn 7, I tap down Sam’s Winnower with my Harrier at the start of her turn. Undeterred, she makes another Elf token with her Perfect, then casts Elvish Promenade for another nine Elves. Biding her time for a lethal strike, she passes turn without incident. Over to me, I tap the 1/1 Kithkin tokens to give the Ranger flying, and send it in for 5 to put Sam down to 13.
Next turn Sam comes in with everything for the kill as expected, but I’m holding a Pollen Lullaby. Alas, I don’t win clash and it buys me just the one turn. I die the next.
A turn-2 Cenn’s Heir is the opening play of the game as Sam and I trade land drops. Next turn I add a Wizened Cenn, buffing my Heir to put Sam down to 18 on the attack. For her part, Sam plays an Imperious Perfect.
Now turn 4, I swing with both bodies for 5, then keep the pressure on with a Kinsbaile Balloonist. Sam counters with a Jagged-Scar Archers and passes. Next turn I go in hard for 9, attacking with all three creatures and giving the Cenn flying thanks to the Balloonist. Sam takes it all to go down to 4, and I follow with a Changeling Hero. I opt to champion the Heir; while the Balloonist is a sitting duck for the Archer’s kill ability, that would cost Sam a vital blocker. Unfortunately, her next play is a second Jagged-Scar Archers- and now after such a promising start I’m once more in trouble. She then follows with an Elvish Eulogist and ends turn.
With Sam having reinforced her defenses, she can afford to lose an Archers on defense and so she kills my Balloonist during my upkeep. I counter by adding a second Wizened Cenn, but it’s all I’ve got. I attack with the Hero, but Sam blocks with the Eulogist then sacs it to deny my the lifegain. Sam again takes charge of the game, chaining a pair of Elvish Promenades over two turns. Unable to get through her army of Elves, I scoop on turn 9 having drawn nothing useful while facing down over two dozen Elves.
Determined to avoid the broom, I lead with a Goldmeadow Harrier as Sam plays a Forest. Next turn, I swing for 1 with the Harrier then add Cenn’s Heir. Sam looks to stabilise with a Scarred Vinebreeder.
Now turn 3, I drop Sam to 16 with an attack from both Kithkin, then follow with a Goldmeadow Dodger. Sam simply plays the hated Imperious Perfect, then counterattacks for 2 with the Vinebreeder. Next turn, I finally have an answer- an Oblivion Ring- and off goes the Perfect. Sam simply replaces it with another, then connects for 2 to put me at 18.
After swinging in for 5 with my troops on turn 5, I make it 8 with a Surge of Thoughtweft after Sam declines a block. Now down to 3 life, she adds an Elvish Harbinger, tutoring up Nath of the Gilt-Leaf. Without the combat trick in hand an attack would be counterproductive, so I simply end my turn after summoning a Changeling Hero (championing the suboptimal Dodger). Sam uses her Perfect to make a 1/1 Elf token at the end of my turn, which of course is immediately a 2/2 thanks to the Perfect’s “lord” ability. She then plays a second Harbinger to find an Elvish Promenade.
Now turn 7, I play a Plains and pass, while Sam creates another Elf token at the end of my turn. Back to Sam, she now summons Nath of the Gilt-Leaf, but luck is on my side again as I’ve found a Crib Swap. I kill off Nath immediately, giving Sam a 1/1 Changeling token in return. Alas, my next turn is another blank, with the only activity being Sam’s creation of still another Elf token. Back to Sam, she comes in on the attack with a quartet of Elf tokens, one of which gets blocked by my Changeling Hero and dies. The other three come in for damage, but thanks to the Hero’s lifelink I only go down to 14. She then adds a Nath’s Elite, losing the clash.
Now desperate, I add a Knight of Meadowgrain on turn 9, but Sam brings out the Elvish Promenade to double the number of Elves she has in play to 18. My answering Thoughtweft Trio draws an immediate Eyeblight’s Ending, and Sam sends in the Elven horde the turn following for the sweep.
Thoughts & Analysis
Were the Kithkin that bad, or were the Elves just that lucky? Certainly seeing an Imperious Perfect early in every game didn’t help, particularly as Kithkin Militia- like all the Lorwyn Theme Decks- tends to be light on removal. Even still, with two Crib Swaps and a trio of Oblivion Rings, you might have hoped for a little more ability to impact evens outwith the red zone. For all that, the only real answer the deck had was Brigid, Hero of Kinsbaile, which could stop the Elvish token army dead in its tracks- and she never touched down. On reflection, it just seemed that the deck was a step too slow, for once the Elves had a chance to take root they grew at an alarming pace. The right combat trick at the right time might have helped matters, but there’s a limit to how many “if only I’d drawn’s” you can utter before it reflects more on the deck than your luck.
On the whole, I wasn’t especially impressed with Kithkin Militia, though it’s not easy to put my finger on precisely why. I can say that when your opponent is hitting their stride and the best you’re putting out is a Changeling Hero, it’s hard to feel optimistic. The deck needed either a touch more aggressiveness, a bit more removal, or a few more combat tricks.
It’s important to note that had it any of the three and I was indeed able to triumph over the hated Elves, the deck still wouldn’t rate all that highly. It simply didn’t seem to engage the same way that other, more successful White Weenie Theme Decks have, such as Way of the Warrior from Champions of Kamigawa, or Mirrodin’s Little Bashers. Outside of the tribal element, observed Sam as we played, the deck just “didn’t seem to be doing anything.” Indeed, the gulf between what we expected from Lorwyn and what we found has been the great surprise of the review cycle. We’d fully expected to lead with the concept of Lorwyn as a “failure” then see it debunked after five reviews. Alas, only Merrow Riverways has truly impressed, and in fairness it certainly makes the short list of best Theme Decks of all time. Here’s to hoping we find some joy in Elementals’ Path, the final deck to go under the microscope.
Hits: Deck has a leg up on the others due to its mono-White nature, which is more resistant to mana screw; a trio of Oblivion Rings are a nice inclusion
Misses: Elves had exponential growth, Merfolk had tap/untap shenanigans, but the Kithkin don’t seem to have any defining mechanical characteristic that shines in the rather generic-feeling Kithkin Militia
OVERALL SCORE: 3.90/5.00