Fate Reforged: Playing To Your Weaknesses – Artifacts, Lands, and Multicolor
(NOTE: “Playing to your Weaknesses” is a series of articles I have been doing on my own blog since Avacyn Restored that cover all of the uncommons and commons in a new expansion and which ones I would choose to use as one of the 23 cards in a 40 card limited deck. For those of you uninitiated to limited, it simply means sealed and booster draft, where you open packs and then proceed to make a deck out of them. I’ve purposely left out the rare cards because it is much more likely that you’ll see multiples of uncommon and commons in your packs/pools.)
As for my rating system, I’ll merely state if it’s a high, medium, or low pick in draft. A HIGH pick means that you should take it as soon as you see it (if it’s in your colors of course). HIGH picks are bombs that won’t come around the table a second time. MEDIUM picks are cards that have good synergies with other cards and are great at filling your mana curve or acting as role players. These cards might come around a 2nd time if you pass on them, so if there is another card that ranks higher, take that one and wait for this to come back. LOW picks are cards that are the leftovers. Maybe you need a 23rd card for your deck to round things out – THAT’S what a LOW pick is. You can take these ratings to mean the same for sealed as well. )
We’ve finally reached the end of our limited articles for Fate Reforged. The pre-release is over, and limited Grand Prix using the KTK/FRF sealed and draft format are just around the corner. What did you learn from the pre-release? What cards did you think were really strong? Do you think there will be any break out cards from Fate Reforged after having the chance to see them in action? I’m hoping to address some of these questions in today’s article before moving on to standard and investing next week.
Fate Reforged has about 1/3 the multicolor cards that Khans of Tarkir had, thus you can’t really expect any limited breaking cards at uncommon or common this time around. My first choice for a playable card is Cunning Strike. Limited is a strange beast. Some players can play the BW/x aggro strategy and totally go under their opponent’s defenses quickly enough to end the game. Other people, however, are using morphs and 4+ colors to give them a very strong late game with a lot of power. This means their first few plays will be around turn 3 or 4. If you’re on the play, Cunning Strike can be pretty useful. In a faster Jeskai deck that’s playing flyers and other creatures on turns 2,3, and 4, you can play this on 5 to burn a morph creature, draw a card, as well as activate everybody’s Prowess. It’s not a great burn spell, nor great card advantage, but it lets you do 2 things with one card, and might be worth playing in your 23rd spot if you’re low on removal in your deck.
I think most people would agree that Manifest was a hit at the pre-release, and in limited. The effect does 2 things: 1) It gives you card advantage. 2) It puts a creature on the battlefield. Drawing a card can sometimes be hit or miss. Maybe you get a good card you can use, and sometimes it’s a land. Manifest lets you turn a late game land into a creature, or allows you play a large creature secretly so that you can surprise your opponent the next time you attack. You’re usually getting value with this effect no matter what. I though Ethereal Ambush was good because it does it twice, and many people at my pre-release seemed to agree too. Worth having as one of your cards in a Temur or Sultai deck, but not a high pick.
I don’t think people gave Harsh Sustenance enough credit. At its base it’s a removal spell, and it can be insane in the right deck. Limited decks usually play 13-17 creatures, with about 3-4 creatures being on the board by turn 5 if your curve is good. That means you can do 3 damage and gain 3 life for 3 mana. I think that is pretty good value. Mardu decks tend to have low curves with a lot of creatures, meaning it could be really good in that kind of build. You also have to consider that Fate Reforged has the manifest mechanic, meaning you can get even more bodies on the ground, and if you’re playing with a token producer like Mardu Strike Chief, then this card can become downright deadly. I would take it rather highly in for a BW aggro or Mardu deck, and I also think it would be decent in Abzan as well.
Artifacts and Lands
Ugin (and his construct) are just begging you to play morph cards. If you have 3 morphed or manifested creatures on the battlefield, guess how many you have to sacrifice when the Construct comes into play? Zero. As long as you keep your permanents colorless, you can play a really powerful 4/5 artifact for cheap. Just keep in mind this says PERMANENT. If you have a Sorin or Sarkhan in play when you play him, you’ll have to sacrifice them, and the same is true for enchantments. He can fit in whichever deck you need him to, but I’d recommend putting him an a morph heavy deck. Play your morph turn 3, play him turn 4, flip morph on turn 5 and go to town on your opponent.
I hate it when I never get a finisher my colors, but hey, I’ll settle for Pilgrim of Fates. First Strike and Trample is really bad for your opponent. It can kill just about anything in the set with no problem, but 7 mana is a bit much. If you want him to be effective, play him in a deck with some mana acceleration, which means with green cards like Rattleclaw Mystic or Whisperer of the Wilds. The faster your deck can get him out, the better he becomes. Not first pick material, but I think you don’t want to let him go around a table at draft cause you won’t see him again.
Other Cards that Might See Play
- Grim Contest – seems alright if removal is bad in the colors you are using, but only effective if you’re play big creatures. Probably something that would fit in Abzan, especially with that 0/5 wall.
- Hero’s Blade – not hard to cast, but a little difficult to equip. I guess it works out if you play this turn 2, morph turn 3, equip it turn 4, then flip turn 5. Great if you have a creature with evasion, lifelink such as Abzan Guide or something with first strike.
- Hewed Stone Retainers – kind of tricky to play, but can be pretty powerful early in the game. Probably something you couldn’t play until turn 4 at the earliest though.
Fate Reforged Pre-release Results
I ended up attending 3 different pre-release for Fate Reforged. The first one I went to was a midnight release and had 40 players in attendance. On Saturday I went to my second pre-release, which was made up of 46 players, and finally on Sunday I did my final one with 35 players. I chose Jeskai, Sultai, and Temur in that order. However, I ended up not using any of those strategies once I opened up my packs. The Jeskai deck became a Temur one, the Sultai one became Jund, and the Temur one became Sultai. Strange how that happens (and how worthless the seeded packs can be most of the time).
This deck ended up doing pretty well. I played the 4/1 Frost guy early in almost all of my games and it put me ahead in my match ups. The mana creatures were also very useful in this Temur deck, allowing me to play my bombs a lot earlier than everybody else. The combination of Yasova and Alesha was downright unfair. I was stealing opponent’s creatures left and right, forcing them to block and kill them while keeping mine safe in preparation for a later alpha strike. The burn spells in this deck were also very useful. Bathed in Fire took out a good number of late game creatures, and Pyrotechnics usually let me kill 2 for 1 my opponent. I’d kill their morph and blocker, then attack. I was also rather surprised at how useful the Sage-Eye Avenger was. He allowed me to clear the board with chump blockers when attacking and could block almost anything my opponent could throw at me.
I went 2-1, beating Jeskai twice and losing to it once. In the one game I lost, I was ahead and within striking distance of a win, but an opponent’s Flamerush Rider copying their own Sage-Eye Avenger and then giving all his creatures +2/+0 with Trumpet Blast ended up bringing an end to the game quickly.
Dear GOD this pool was powerful. I had the 6/4 double striking, trampling dragon, the 3/7 hexproof dragon, the 5/5 haste trample dragon, and Ugin. My box was actually Sultai in this tournament, which means I had some good green and black cards, but almost all of my blue cards were cantrips or counterspells. Therefore I went with my next best color, red. I ended up going 3-3 with this build, mostly because of how heavy my curve was. Even with 2 mana creatures and 2 Map the Wastes to get lands, I found it hard to get my win conditions out fast enough. With a slightly better curve and better removal, this could have been an absolutely killer deck.
I lost against a Mardu deck with Ugin in the first round (he drew and played his before mine both games), then lost to an Esper flying deck afterwards that was tough to race from the ground. I won my next 2 games against Sultai decks, playing Atarka World Render to good effect. Once he was on the battlefield, it was pretty much game over with his flying and double strike. In round 5 I played against another Mardu deck, this time the 5 mana dash dragon Kolaghan proved to be my downfall. I played against Mardu once more in round 6, and managed to get Ugin out for an impressive win in games 1 and 3.
On day 3, I actually played the colors I chose. I went with Temur and put together this rather morph heavy, big creature deck. Humble Defector was a lot of fun to play with, and having cards like Goblin Heelcutter made it really aggressive. The removal was a little lite, but I liked the overall power level. I lost my first two rounds, the first game against Jeskai/splash black and the second a 4 color build. Both decks were playing the BR Dragon Kolaghan and the UB dragon Silumgar, and although I was able to win my first game against both decks, having to play against both of those cards in a long game proved to be too much (especially when your opponent has a board wipe like Crux of Fate).
At 0-2, I was ready to try anything. Looking at my black, I noticed that I had much better removal and some strong creatures so I decided to switch it up. The change really helped. Having the hard removal of Reach of Shadows, as well as Archfiend of Depravity went a long way of keeping the battlefield manageable. The Hooded Assassin let me play an extra piece of removal of sorts, and I was really surprised by the power level of Mardu Strike Leader. He took over empty boards and playing him early put my opponents in really bad positions. I ended up winning the next 3 games straight against 2 Jeskai decks and a Mardu/splash blue deck. The ramp worked really well, as well as the Ainok Guide which got me the mana I wanted when I needed it.
Wrap Up – What I Learned
Due to the nature of the pre-release with seeded packs and playing with more Fate Reforged packs than Khans of Tarkir, we can assume that the results of this weekend will be somewhat skewed. However, I’d like to make a couple of predictions about what the KTK/FRF limited environment will be like.
- Flyers will be everywhere – even with only 2 packs of FRF, you have a good chance of grabbing an uncommon dragon, an enchantment like Cloudform, or a flyer in Jeskai colors.
- Less Splashing of cards – there should still be a lot of players doing 3 colors with a splash of a 4th, but Fate Reforged is adding more double symbols into the mix. You simply can’t play a powerful double symbol card in a 4 color deck easily.
- More Sultai and Temur – Mardu, BW, and Abzan did really well in KTK limited, but the new Delve cards and powerful green/red cards will make BUG and RUG more competitive. Sultai gets more power and synergy, and Temur will have lots of big creatures making it easier to activate Ferocious abilities.
- Hard Removal becomes a higher pick in draft, more important in sealed pool – You simply can’t kill a 5+ toughness creature with burn, and Dash makes board wipes and sorceries less effective. Reach of Shadows and Murderous Cut will be good cards to have.
I finished 8-6 over all, but feel the fault lay in my play and not so much in my deck building. I was playing with little sleep, and wasn’t as prepared as I could have been prior to the pre-release. Work doesn’t allow me to spend the time I’d like to on MTG at the moment, but I’m sure I could definitely improve my play/results with proper time. I look forward to seeing what the set holds for standard, and think the metagame will be in for another big shift.
How did your pre-releases go? Are there any cards you’re excited about or synergies you’d like to share? I’d like to hear from you! Please post any thoughts on KTK/FRF down below. Thanks for reading and I look forward to seeing you back here soon!