Welcome back to Kaka’s Fate Reforged set review. Part 1 can be found here. Enjoy the show!
Staying with blue, as blue gets all the toys-
We have an upgrade on the ol Switcheroo – rather than just swapping ‘dude’ with ‘someone’, now you can swap anything. Here, have my Glacial Chasm with 5 upkeep markers on it. I’ll just take your basic island, sucker.
Okay…maybe we blue mages have come out of this the best. There is some pretty ridiculous stuff that is coming out in all the colours, but Supplant Form does take a big slice of the cake. At a hefty 4UU we have, of all things, a clone effect at instant speed. Factoring in that most clone effects have a CMC of 4, some range up to the 6 CMC bracket depending on additional abilities. However, those effects are almost all sorcery speed. Firstly, I would expect some kind of mana tax on this being instant speed with no other ability, but what we actually have is also a free bounce spell tacked on to our clone spell. I now believe that Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, must have been a blue mage: that is why he told them to have their cake and eat it too.
I suspect Wizards of puns when I see cards like Soulflayer – Or as I am calling it, “Soufflé”. Soufflé – as in “to get a perfect one you need to have a really good recipe and cook it just right”. Cairn Wanderer this is not: unlike Cairn Wanderer, this card will only manage to get four possible abilities of the 10 available. Wanderer also has 13 possible types of ability gain. The sole (yeah yeah pun was intended this time) advantage it does have is that unlike Wanderer, Soulflayer is not vulnerable to having the graveyard ripped out from underneath it.
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
The big guy himself. Typical planeswalker build. Firstly, in top position is the useful uptick ability, in second a strong but draining middle ability, and finally the over the top ultimate ability. There are so many ways to go with this puppy – the Chain Veil superfriends combo decks, or any deck with a Doubling Season in it? Heck, get a brief proliferate on board and you are laughing.
Lets Talk Drawpower
Red doesn’t often get an obvious or recurrable draw engine, let alone one that doesn’t require pitching of cards or some kind of chaos effect. Simply play dude, tap dude and enjoy treasures. The drawback here is that the Humble Defector is given to another player. In Commander, however, there has been printed something that gets around this drawback… something that red is generally quite happy to run:
Simply tap it and you have your dude back ready to be drawn upon again next turn.
White is always light on drawpower, and as per normal this piece is also a conditional draw. However, it is also a combination of two cards you may already have in deck, especially if you are playing anything Voltronesque that cares about auras. To toss a few names out there Uril, Sigarda and Zur could all benefit here. Essentially, this gives us another Ethereal Armor and a one shot Kor Spiritdancer.
I need to get something out of my system. That something is my desire to play this with Hive Mind and watch the token players’ worlds just burn, because making people deck themselves in stupid ways is the best thing ever.
Honestly though, this card is simply a straightforward upgrade on Collective Unconscious. It is 5 CMC as opposed to 6 CMC, and secondly, Revelation has a secondary ability in Ferocious for some massive lifegain.
Not a huge amount to see here. We have access to many spells that will do most of what Fascination will do. On the surface it is a bad Prosperity; worse, another addition to the “you put that in your Nekusar deck” list of cards. The only reason this card rates a mention is that it can also be used for mass mill. Sure, you need an infinite mana source. Sure, you better hope your opponents aren’t packing Eldrazi titans or similar, or that you are packing a Leyline of the Void to ensure no cards ever actually hit the graveyard. If all those conditions are viable, this card may have enough flexibility to be a viable replacement in decks running cards of a similar vein.
A black wheel effect. I honestly cannot off the top of my head name another. Yes, black has several powerful draw tools; many, however, are banned by the Rules Committee. Dark Deal is closest in function to Winds of Change in red, in that it causes the card pitch and redraw based on the number of cards pitched. In this case the number does reduce to one less than the number pitched. For any Nekusar decks looking for additional wheels that already have Windfall and Winds of Change, I suspect this is what they will be adding next.
Cycles and Mechanics
Fate Reforged has also brought us a cycle of uncommon mono-colour dragons. While I am not super enthralled by the Red, Black and Blue dragons with typically in-colour-pie combat damaged triggered abilities, the White and Green dragons merit some discussion.
Well, it seems that Auntie Kaalia has a new plaything! Yet another way to stomp on combat tricks in white which pretty much is going to find a home in the regular 99 of decks like Kaalia of the Vast or other decks that want to allow you to do the dirty unmolested in the combat phase. Fortunately, this only affects the defending player.
This baby is the real bastard of the crop. When I say ‘bastard’ I mean “the best way to deal with it is to remove it from the bloody game and set the bastard on fire”. Frankly, anything less and you will keep seeing it over and over. It’s basically another Woodfall Primus; however it operates on going to the graveyard. It wants to die, so you’ll make it die. Most likely I see this in some bastardised configuration with Greater Good and some other way to freely get it back into play like…oh, Nim Deathmantle off the top of my head. There are a ridiculous number of cards in black and green that are going to allow this kind of repeatable recursion. On the flip side, this is nothing new – just another addition to that already overflowing toolbox called “Green”.
The next cycle I’d like to look at is the FRF ‘Siege’ cycle. This is a cycle of mono colour enchantments that cause the caster to make a choice on entry to play. That sets a static mode for the enchantment; the static modes all seem to be some variation on an ability already available to that colour. As an example, White’s Citadel Siege has a tap down ability like a Master Decoy, or a Planeswalker +1/+1 counter add ability. The Green Frontier Siege is either Eladamri’s Vineyard or goddamn fightclub all over again. Palace Siege is similar – it’s a combination of already existing abilities…a choice of dude recursion or annoying clock damage.
The truly interesting cards here are in Blue and Red. Red gives us the reasonably costed Outpost Siege, whose abilities are very useful. The ‘Khans’ mode is essentially a free mini Act on Impulse which only sees one card. You could stack the trigger with a Sensei’s Divining Top activation to filter for extra draws: basically card exile trigger goes on the stack, activates the Top’s draw ability and then activates the Top’s look ability. From there, you choose what card you draw off the top, choose what card you draw for the turn and also finish by stacking the top as your exile card, which you then replay for 1. Otherwise, in Dragons mode this card turns any repeatably flickerable creature into a machine gun for your opponents’ life totals.
On the flip side, in the land of blue mages we have Monastery Siege. I like this card as it gives two relevant abilities: in Khans mode this is a nice way to ramp your draw and filter rate, and it’s really well costed for this at 3 CMC. Secondly, if you choose Dragons, this gives you a layer of protection that covers the other half of your world. While you may have defenses up like Propaganda, that will only protect you from the red zone. This baby makes directly casting at you just that much more of a pain in the arse. I’d be pairing this with a nice Copy Enchantment for good measure
Continuing on to other cycles, the Runemark cycle is typically a clan colour identity cycle cast from a mono colour cost at 2X. They all have pretty similar abilities of giving the enchanted creature +2/+2. Then, as long as you have a permanent of at least one of the two other colours in the wedge, you get an additional ability based on the core colour. As such White gets Vigilance, Blue has Flying, Black gets Deathtouch, Red First Strike and Green of course Trample. Not much to see here – if you are into easy to use cycles you have come to the right place.
Something Something Destiny…
This takes us to the manifest ability. As of writing this the Fate Reforged FAQ is not yet published (EDITORS’ NOTE – Find it HERE.), so not all the fine details of the new manifest mechanic are fully known. Suffice to say that the cycle of cards including the manifest auras are interesting. Manifesting in many ways gets around countermagic to some degree, and secondly, like Morph, it is very good at hiding what you are doing. I predict, however, with cards like Lightform available, we’re going to see a lot more top-deck manipulation tricks happening across the board.
Some green players may simply opt for a good old Worldly Tutor followed up with a big Wildcall as a set up to some nefarious end. In black, we have some sweet outside of the box applications for manifest – I am looking forward to seeing how Ghastly Conscription can be best abused. Personally, I can smell a good round of Wrathing the board followed up with Conscription…I would even be delighted to see someone actually invest the mana to Radiate it. Given we’re essentially manifesting the entire creature contents of the target player’s graveyard, the more colours you can have available, the better your ability to abuse this. I can feel inspiration for a new five-colour deck.
On the flip side of the Wrathing coin, I see green decks having a solid speed boost on re-establishing themselves with the aid of Whisperwood Elemental. This demented piece of insanity simply allows them to not care about the Wrath since they will replace their faceup army with a pile of manifests.
Finally, we have a toy for us blue mages, a little something we’ve been wanting for years – Reality Shift. It gives us blue mages the ability to directly remove a creature from the game. Typically we’ve had to bounce, counter, use resource intensive artifacts or splash colours – now we’re able to with a readily fetchable card type. Load in a silver bullet for those problematic dudes that people just love to slide into the redzone.
I’d love to hear about any thoughts or highlights you have had about the up and coming cards from Fate Reforged and any plans you may have for them. Stay tuned: I am sure there will be a Mr P Generals Review article up (EDITORS’ NOTE – Published Monday…find it HERE.) sometime soon.
Hope to meet you all at GenCon,