A very belated welcome to 2015. I have a few things for you this week from the land of Australia. As has been noted, we a new set’s official release is days away, and since we have the full spoilers, I am sure you all have taken a solid look. Not wanting to step on Mr P’s toes too much, I’ll leave the new legends to his personal style and entertaining sarcasm. I ‘m going to look through some of the more interesting pieces coming out of the new set.

Editor’s Note: Papa Kaka has dropped another 4,000 word bomb of knowledge on our eye holes. We’re gonna cut this into two parts. Part one, today. Part two, Wednesday the 28th.
Editor’s Note Two: Apologies for the card urls. The Autocard plugin that lets you see a card by mousing over hasn’t been updated with Fate Reforged as of Jan 22.

Before we get into the meat of it, I do have some other business to attend to.

GEN CON

Firstly, Cass has managed to secure the GDC house at GenCon in Indianapolis this year. I have been dreaming of making the pilgrimage to GenCon and also to Spiel in Essen for a while now. The main problem is that I live on the Southern Coastline of that perpetually aflame and murderous continent called Australia. This means that to get to the holy grounds of gaming I have to take a boat load of time off work and spend an imperial shitload (or a metric one if I was going to Germany) of money on plane tickets to get me there and back again (were I a short man I would refer to this as “a hobbit’s tale”). But… as I am turning 30 this year and my lovely wife is turning 40, we are making a big trip out of it and we will be coming to GenCon.

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We have flights booked and accommodation organised for Indianapolis. We have a few days to kill in New York and as I have not been there myself, I would welcome suggestions of things I can’t leave without doing. I won’t be aiming to get any games happening – come to Indy and we’ll play. After GenCon we’re then heading to London and perhaps even Paris. So if you are reading this from there and can’t get to GenCon I’d love to see about getting a game in there with you as well. As such, I need to start thinking about the decks I am going to take. I face the duel constraints of limited space due to international travel and needing to maximise my ability to bring home as much Junior Johnson’s Midnight Moon as I can legally import. As a Vintage and Commander enthusiast I am planning to play in the Vintage events and to face-smash at the Commander tables with the rest of the GDC boys and girls.

AWESOME AUDIO CONTENT

My second order of business is something I have been holding onto for a couple of months now. I was aiming to get this into one of our podcasts. However, due to the overhaul we’re working on there, that has not happened. While I was at PAX Aus back in October I had the good fortune to have a chat with Aaron Forsythe on a number of topics. We discussed Magic in general from a development standpoint, where things are going and various topics mostly around Commander. But we also touched on other formats like 7 point (Australian) Highlander, Vintage and Legacy. I’ve done my best to clean up the audio and cut the background noise. It’s not perfect but I hope you all get something out of it.

I hope you all enjoyed that, now without further ado….

Uncle Kaka Rummages the Fate Reforged Spoilers:

Here are some cards that have jumped out to me and some applications that come to mind.

Soulfire Grand Master (Soulfire Grand Master Flash?)

Interesting piece this – a bear with the RUW colour identity and . It also has very common creature types, making Cavern of Souls on human for uncounterability reasonable. SGM’s own lifelink is the most redundant of its abilities. Giving your instants and sorceries lifelink is quite cute, but Lightning Bolt doing double duty as removing creatures and healing you, or better yet, Lightning Helix getting twice the mileage on the lifegain is even better. This could possibly cause more Test of Endurance decks to be in the metagame – as if those were not already festering annoyances. The most dangerous part about SGM is the activated ability: for 2(u/r)(u/r) you can recycle your instants and sorceries. I see this combining with infinite mana engines in decks that want guaranteed pseudo-storm. *cough* Narset.

Monastery Mentor

This is up there with my favourite prowess cards. The madness with this card is not just that it has prowess, and not just that it also produces 1/1 dudes whenever you cast a non-creature spell, but that those creatures also have prowess. I swear that Wizards is trying to print commander preconstructed decks hidden through blocks sometimes.

Dragonrage

What does three mana net you these days? Apparently: As much red as I have attaching creatures, a window as big as my combat step to use that red, and last but not least, an obvious outlet to spend it – obvious in the sense of the more you go into the red zone, the more mana you get. Have a goblin horde? Have a horde of mana. The best bit is that you can spend it in any way you like to pump your creatures, since they now all have firebreathing. But nothing says you must spend your mana that way. There are lots instants that can use a boatload of nearly free mana.

The first cute interaction that came to my mind was “lets plow all-but-three mana into one evasive dude and then cast Soul’s Fire for even more face pounding fun. I am sure you can think of many other fun things to dump large amounts of red mana into. The truly stupid bit about this card is that as long as you have eight creatures attacking, if you happen to have a Soulfire Grand Master in play, you can get infinite red mana. If you also have a Monastery Mentor in play, you also have an infinite number of dudes with near infinite power. I really need to get some of whatever R&D is smoking.

Torrent Elemental

Not much to see here, just a very straight forward sweeper. It’s cheaper than Cyclonic Rift and less political pain points as well, but this baby allows anyone dipping into blue to alpha strike out an opponent surgically. Better hope you can live through the rest of the board deciding you’re the threat with ALL their weapons still on board. Conclusion, Rift is probably still better.

Brutal Hordechief

Oh heck, more BW pain and gain abilities. Fortunately this requires a minimum colour commitment of RWB. Less fortunately these are the colours that really want to swing with lots and lots of little dudes: soldier tokens, goblins and zombies. These colours in particular have a habit of vomiting out tokens en masse, which means two things: when they all swing, that is going to be a hell of a lot of life loss for your opponents and a hell of a lot of life gain for you; secondly, and this is the worst bit, the activated ability allows you to force all of your opponents’ creatures to block AND you choose HOW they block. I can’t stress that enough; you choose how they block. So that means you will lose one dude for each opponent you are attacking. It’ll be a piss arse 1/1 which already pinged for one anyway. The rest of your swarm will get through scot free for more damage.

Shaman of the Great Hunt

I don’t know about you guys, but I have been seeing an increasing number of RUG lists led by Surrak Dragonclaw and they are all going to snap include this card. Not only do their dudes get bigger but the sheer amount of cards they will be drawing for four mana is going to be “I’mma refill my hand now guys” level of “stupid broken bullshit”. I don’t need to say more here.

Warden of the First Tree

First thing that pops to mind here is “a new iteration of Figure of Destiny”. Funnily enough I’ve not seen anyone trying to play Figure of Destiny in any pod I have been a part of, mostly as once it is levelled it is at maximum power. Warden may however see play. Like FoD, WotFT does require coloured mana to power up. But it needs W or B as opposed to W or R. It also requires a minimum colour commitment of GWB. The fact that it requires green simply means it has access to the best ramp in the game, so it will reliably get sufficient mana to activate its power up abilities. Secondly, unlike Figure, Warden is able to repeatedly activate its third ability for more and more +1/+1 counters.

Archfiend of Depravity

More like the “Archfiend of you don’t have any creatures left”. Wizards have been producing a steady stream of things with the black colour identity that set an arbitrary value and put opponents’ cards in hand and/or life to that number at the end of turn. Welcome to the club creatures. Pick your buddy because creatures can stay in play two by two hurrah!

Dragonscale General

There is always something for everyone. This one is for smart arse Prophet of Kruphyx and Seedborn Muse players. Swing, end turn, bolster and untap with a really huge dude. Heck you don’t even need to swing if you are tapping mana dorks out to cast your other junk. Shit is going to get real, real big and real soon when this bugger is out on the board.

Harsh Sustenance

This thing is damn solid. It’s a three-mana, black and white instant (white being the most prolific token generating colour, while black loves to generate a board full of dudes). What we have here is “you wrath, I kill you in response,” and, “Okay, I have a bunch of dudes. I’m just gonna kill that dude in the red zone and then kill you with this spell”. The only groundwork this requires is three mana and a bunch of token generators, which are a dime a dozen. If this were at sorcery speed this would be fair. However, this is insane at instant speed.

Temporal Trespass

Many people love to hate extra turn effects. Many are problematic as they are copyable or recurrable. Those that are not tend to see less play. How often do you see a Temporal Mastery? Not too often? Me neither. When you do see it, sure it’s all “okay fine have your pesky extra turn, at least we won’t have to deal with that again”. Generally it is also cast off miracle, but again at least it is not coming back. This is another attempt to fix Time Walk, and this time (pun clearly not intended), it is playable through the Delve mechanic. Admittedly I haven’t seen anyone trying to use the Ancestral Recall fix, Treasure Cruise in EDH, but I have seen a few attempts to use Dig Through Time. However, if a delve card in blue is going to make it, I suspect it will be this one.

 

We’ll be back with the second half of this stroll through Fate Reforged next week.

Love Kaka.