With pre-release for the newest Magic: the Gathering expansion, Fate Reforged, just hours away, it's a good time to look at what's in store for this weekend. We'll be discussing the best and worst cards of the set overall, as well as the most powerful commons that will help carry you to victory at the pre-release events.
Fair warning, this list might look a little different than what you might expect. There's been a ton of discussion and excitement for cards like Soulfire Grand Master, Monastery Mentor, and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. And that's certainly for good reason; these cards are all really powerful. We did however want to highlight a few other cards that might be flying below your radar.
Siege Cycle Citadel Siege, Monastery Siege, Palace Siege, Outpost Siege, Frontier Siege.
Justin says: You'd be forgiven for letting your eyes pass over these in the spoiler. Theros block had a lot of these kinds of "sit around for some effect" enchantments - though none of them were really good, and there are plenty of flashier cards in Fate Reforged to steal your attention. The various formats will value each of them pretty wildly, but these are much better than the likes of Marshal Law or Skybind. The real selling point on these cards is the inevitability they offer, generally if any of these stick around unanswered for several turns you're a heavy favorite to win the game. These are excellent in limited and I expect some of them to see some constructed play.
Josh says: I'm fairly big on the Bolster mechanic as is, but most of them are one-off, dies or enters-the-battlefield effects, and yet they're still useful. Dragonscale General Bolsters every single turn, including the turn he comes down, so he actually has a fairly immediate impact on the game.
Combine this guy with a Mardu weenie strategy (which I'm also particularly fond of, even if it's not the most viable competitive strategy,) and you're almost certainly going to be Bolstering for three or more on turn four, which is going to be really helpful when the Siege Rhinos start coming out to ruin your day. Bolster 4 on your one-mana 2/1, and suddenly that Rhino's not looking so tough.
Justin says:While Temur has been seeing some fringe play throughout this season of Standard, a few folks have started to drop the blue in favor of a lean mean Red/Green list. Shaman of the Great Hunt and possibly the new Flamewake Phoenix are right up this deck's wheelhouse as creatures that hit hard and fast and offer some form of card advantage if the game drag on. Shaman of the Great Hunt is right in the vein of explosive red four drops like Hero of Oxid Ridge or Hellrider. It might not stack up quite as well as those powerhouses, but it's certainly a card to keep an eye on.
Josh says: Remember when Temporal Mastery was revealed and everybody was shouting about the return of Timewalk, and it was a huge thing until everybody realized that it wasn't actually a thing? No? Well, that's fine, because I have a feeling this isn't going to be like that. Given the prevalence of Treasure Cruise and the other high-value Delve cards from Khans of Tarkir, I have a feeling that paying UUU for an extra turn is going to be valuable enough to warrant inclusion in at least a few different strategies.
It should be noted that I'm a sucker for extra turns, so I may be blinded by my own affinity for playing turns that aren't mine. I, for one, very much look forward to Treasure Cruise-ing and Dig Through Time-ing my way to three or four consecutive turns.
Josh says: And we're back to the Mardu plan. Dash is another Fate Reforged mechanic that I'm particularly eager to try out, and Mardu Strike Leader definitely makes a good case for it. He's got a fairly small body, so attacking without dying might prove a bit problematic, but if we can clear the way with Crackling Doom or what have you, getting a 2/1 Warrior creature just for attacking for 3 is pretty neat.
Likewise, Flamerush Rider is another amazing addition to the Mardu cast. His Dash cost is cheaper than his casting cost, and his ability copies your biggest attacker, offering some serious value. Being a Warrior as well only furthers the case for a Warrior-heavy deck.
Justin says:This might be a bit ambitious, but I think there's a lot of potential for Soulflayer. It's just a card begging for you to do silly things with it. The floor on the card is already pretty high, in any deck designed to support it you're usually getting at least a two or three mana 4/4. That's a rate that some constructed decks already consider playable, and certainly something you're never cutting from a limited deck. From there though it starts to get pretty nutty, consider for instance if Soulflayer is a 4/4 hexproof, indestructible, first strike, and deathtouch murder machine. Even a more restrained expectation of making say a 4/4 flyer for three or four mana is still not too shabby.
Josh says: Another entry in the clan leader category, Yasova has a particularly nasty ability. "At the beginning of combat on your turn, you may pay 1(U/R)(U/R). If you do, gain control of target creature an opponent controls with power less than Yasova Dragonclaw's power until end of turn, untap that creature, and it gains haste until end of turn."
She's got a base power of 4, and given her 2 toughness, she'll be incredibly easy to Bolster. Stealing your opponent's best attacker or sole blocker before you swing is going to be devastating, and forcing your opponent to choose between blocking their own creature or taking a few points of damage is hilarious to me.
While Yasova isn't the only clan leader with potential, I do value her slightly above Black's Tasigur, the Golden Fang, because of the difficult situations it will almost invariably put your opponent in. Likewise, I think she's slightly preferable to Red's Alesha, Who Smiles at Death, despite Alesha having an infinitely more amazing name, because of the heavy restrictions on what you can get back with Alesha.