Tribal Terrors: Kirin

Tribal Terrors is a series that analyzes different creature types in order to determine whether the creature type and its respective tribe is playable. In this series we will not be exploring popular tribes such as Merfolk and Goblins, but instead lesser known tribes. Unlike other Tribal Terrors articles, this specific article will not be going over ideas to improve the topic creature type as most of the creatures in this tribe aren’t usually meant to be played in a single deck. Additionally, this series will not account for universal cards that are beneficial to all tribes such as: Cavern of Souls and Stoneforge Masterwork. Without further ado, the next creature type to be analyzed in Tribal Terrors is Kirin.

What are Kirin?

Kirin are mythical creatures in Chinese and other East Asian cultures that are said to appear before the arrival or death of a sage or ruler. They are chimerical creatures usually depicted with hooves and flames that cover their body. Kirin are known as good omens, especially towards prosperity and peace. In Magic the Gathering, there are seven different kirin with one legendary kirin for each color and two nonlegendary, white kirin.

What Kind of Abilities to Kirin Have?

All Kirin have flying, and the two nonlegendary white kirin both have vigilance. The legendary kirin have different abilities that activate when their controller plays a spirit or arcane spell. These abilities can limit the amount of cards that a person wants to use if they want to take advantage of their kirin’s ability; however, kirin abilities don’t force the player to only run spirit and arcane spells. Since there is a kirin for every color, players have an enormous amount of options when choosing what cards to use. Additionally the legendary Kirin count as spirits themselves, so spirit oriented cards such as Long-Forgotten Gohei increases their power and toughness. Long-Forgotten Gohei also allows players to cast arcane spells for less mana, which will activate kirin abilities more often. Sadly, the nonlegendary kirin don’t count as spirits, giving them little to no support compared to their legendary peers.

Basic Creatures

Alabaster Kirin: Thanks to flying and vigilance, Alabaster Kirin can safely attack during its controller’s combat, and then block during the opponent’s. Even though there are better beaters and walls in white, it can be useful at times. Run if there is space for it, but usually angel and human cards can do better.

Misthoof Kirin: For a bit more mana, and maybe turn to megamorph, Misthoof Kirin is a slightly better version of Alabaster Kirin. Just like Alabaster Kirin, there are better white beaters and walls. Again, run if there is some space, but usually it’s just better to run a more useful card.

Legendary Creatures

Bounteous Kirin: Bounteous Kirin has the highest mana cost when compared to any other kirin; however, its ability makes up for the high price. Since players who use kirin cards will most likely be using a multitude of spirit and arcane cards, players who control Bounteous Kirin will normally gain a significant amount of life each turn.  Life gain helps against most burn and aggro decks, but sadly won’t be able to support against mill decks as most mill decks are made to take out players with high amounts of life. Bounteous Kirin’s usefulness just depends on what kind of deck that its being used against.

Celestial Kirin: Arguably the worst of the Kirin. Those who aren’t prepared for Celestial Kirin’s ability may find themselves accidentally wiping out their own board. Cards, such as Selfless Spirit and Make a Stand, can grant indestructible; however, it’s only till the end of the turn. Players could also use Soul of New Phyrexia, but the mana cost is incredibly high and players would most likely have trouble casting spells after activating its ability.

Cloudhoof Kirin: Unlike Celestial Kirin, Cloudhoof Kirin’s ability is actually beneficial. Milling an opponent can disrupt plays, while also helping win the game. Since players who use kirin will probably be using  mostly spirit and arcane cards, Cloudhoof Kirin can easily win a game in just a few turns.

Infernal Kirin: Being able to force an opponent to discard cards can be an incredibly useful ability that can easily disrupt plays. The problem with Infernal Kirin is that it’s incredibly specific in what it forces the opponent to discard. Sure, players can play a spirit or arcane to look an opponent’s hand first and then play a spirit or arcane with converted mana cost equal to a card in that opponent’s hand, but that requires Infernal Kirin’s controller to play two different spirit or arcane spells just to get rid of a card that isn’t even on the field. Also other cards, such as Liliana Vess and Thought-Knot Seer, do Infernal Kirin’s job better. It’s useful for looking at an opponent’s hand and gaining information for what’s to come, but not much else.

Skyfire Kirin: Just like Infernal Kirin, Skyfire Kirin is specific in what it can do; however, players can see the converted mana cost of creatures on the battlefield allowing them to already know what they can and can’t take control of. Additionally thanks to instant arcane spells, Skyfire Kirin can take control of an opponent’s creature during that opponent’s turn. This allows players to stop opponents from attacking or activating harmful abilities. Lastly, Skyfire Kirin can take control of a creature before the upkeep, allowing players to steal or stop creature abilities that activate during the upkeep.

In Conclusion

Overall, kirin are decent support to any spirit deck. They help out with powerful abilities that activate whenever their controller casts a spirit or arcane spell , which will occur almost every turn. All kirin have flying, as well as decent power and toughness, allowing them to create some offensive presence on the battlefield. Kirin also pair well with the “-onna” cycle of creatures, as they are sent back to the hand when a spirit or arcane spell is cast and activate their ability when they come into the battlefield. This can make a nice cycle with kirin, allowing players to reap rewards every turn. With the exception of Celestial Kirin, kirins should be used in almost every spirit or arcane deck as they add powerful support that other creature types could only dream of.

What do you think? Have you ever attempted using a kirin in a deck? Want us to write about any specific tribe? Feel free to leave any questions, comments, or concerns in the comments below.



Sylvan Studies Team

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