YOUUUUU SHALLL NOT PAAASSS!!! (REMOVAL IN FRF STANDARD)

I usually only did this article when a set rotated out so players could see what cards they were left to work with, but I’ve decided that I will now do it at the release of every new set. Fate Reforged brought us a lot of quality removal spells, and it would be a shame not to talk about them a little bit and how they will affect standard. The overall trend of removal seems to be more boardwipes and less spot removal. I also believe that each color now has a balanced arsenal of board wipes and pin point accurate spells. This is rather exciting if you think about it, because it moves control decks away from their usual color of blue and white. Red and Black got some upgrades in the last set and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more than just UB control this spring and summer. Let me show you what I mean.

 

Board Wipes

Crux of Fate

Crux of Fate

 

The new bad boy on the block is Crux of Fate. We all complained when we saw a 5 mana board wipe in white, but now that we are used it, this 5 mana board wipe in black seems a lot better. It’s no Damnation, but this card has serious implications. This card can work not only in control decks, but also perform well in midrange decks that play cards like Stormbreath Dragon. That’s an immediate upgrade over End Hostilities. Now you can play a deck like Jund, mono black, BR, or any other black midrange type deck and have access to extra removal. UB control has been putting up some really good numbers in Nagoya recently at large local tournaments and PPTQs (it won two 30+ player tournaments last week alone), and it’s partly in thanks to Crux of Fate. The deck works well with Silumgar, the Drifting Death (UB dragon) which isn’t killed by it, and also with Pearl Lake Ancient (which can escape it by returning lands to your hand).

 

Other Board Wipe Suggestions

  • Anger of the Gods
  • Fated Retribution
  • Duneblast
  • Extinguish All Hope
  • In Garruk’s Wake
  • Drown in Sorrow
  • End Hostilities

End Hostilities will still continue to be a strong board wipe for players using white, but it will see less play now that Crux of Fate is standard legal. I think decks like Abzan midrange will still want to play it over Crux due to the deck’s lack of dragons, but a Mardu Control build will most likely be playing Crux if it’s playing Stormbreath Dragons or Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury (BR Dragon). I really wouldn’t be surprised to see more decks playing board wipes such as these in their sideboard, so if you see either color being played and you’re an aggro deck, be afraid . . . be very afraid.

Anger of the Gods is still a good choice against decks like Jeskai Ascendancy Combo, Jeskai Tokens, BW Warriors/Soldiers, etc, but it doesn’t look like those decks are seeing that much play. Depending on your metagame, you might want to consider reducing the number in your sideboard. Its selling point is the three mana it costs to play. Against combo decks, there are definitely times where you’re already dead by turn 5, so the sooner the better. Drown In Sorrow will continue to be a good choice for black decks, especially when playing against tokens. In a deck like BUG control, it’s good to have a black semi-Anger of the Gods to slow down aggro decks until you can play your Crux of Fates. As for the other cards, I don’t think they’ll see much play due to their high casting costs.

 

Spot Removal

 

Valorous Stance

Valorous Stance

This will soon be a $3-4 card, get your playset now while they are under $2. Valorous Stance proved itself in many a deck last weekend as it saved creatures from board wipes, killed Coursers of Kruphix and Siege Rhinos, and allowed players to trade with opponent’s creatures favorably. Its low cost makes it a perfect addition to white based aggro decks, and it also works nicely in sideboards when you run into a lot of removal. If the upcoming metagame is UB control, Abzan midrange, and GR monsters, I expect this card to become as common place as Hero’s Downfall was when Theros came out.

 

Other Spot Removal

  • Hero’s Downfall
  • Utter End
  • Reality Shift
  • Harsh Sustenance
  • Abzan Charm
  • Sultai Charm
  • Mardu Charm
  • Bile Blight
  • Setessan Tactics
  • Silence the Believers
  • Dark Betrayal
  • Deicide
  • Murderous Cut
  • Devouring Light
  • Savage Punch
  • Hunt the Hunter
  • Pharika’s Cure
  • Ride Down

We can craft quite the customized removal package now in standard. There are good cards in each color that you can count on in a pinch to save you. I expect Hero’s Downfall to see more play this time around thanks to UB Control’s resurgence, and Utter End should continue to be a solid sideboard choice as it acts like both a Banishing Light and Vindicate, exiling almost any permanent at instant speed. Reality Shift is a neat new card in blue but I don’t think think we’ll see much of it. If you’re playing black, you probably don’t need it, where as white has exiling effects already and red has burn. Perhaps it would see play in a UG deck?

Harsh Sustenance seems like it could be a good card in BW aggro decks, as well as those playing tokens. Abzan should continue to be the most played Charm, but BUG’s recently popularity could increase Sultai Charm’s playability, and if Mardu aggro decks stay popular (I saw quite a few last weekend in Nagoya, Japan), Mardu Charm should see some standard play this season too.

Murderous Cut seems to have really taken off in Fate Reforged standard so far. Lots of players continue to play BG and Sultai Whip decks and put all of their removal hopes in the delve instant speed kill spell. Of course UB control would play it well. Bile Blight should also remain a solid choice for players using black to deal with early Rabblemasters or an army of tokens. Silence the Believers isn’t a bad choice for UB control players as well, especially if they have to deal with an indestructible creature like Nylea, God of the Hunt. As for the other spot removal cards, they should see some limited play here and there from the sideboard, but I don’t see any taking center stage from cards like Valorous Stance.

 

Burn

Stoke the Flames

Stoke the Flames

Stoke the Flames should continue to be the king of burn in standard. As long as Goblin Rabblemaster is pumping out tokens and red is part of fast aggro decks, Stoke will be played. Mardu Token decks have been popping up here and there already, and its a must include in those type of decks. Now that removal is a bit more varied now I don’t see it being as commonplace as it was before, but it should still hold it’s value going into spring. Great card to have a playset of.

 

Other Good Burn Spells

  • Collateral Damage
  • Wild Slash
  • Burn Away
  • Magma Jet
  • Lightning Strike
  • Shrapnel Blast
  • Searing Blood
  • Magma Spray
  • Fated Conflagration
  • Crater’s Claws
  • Arc Lightning
  • Crackling Doom

Good quality cards here. Lightning Strike fits in every red deck and kills almost every 2 drop out there, Magma Jet is great for fixing your card draws if you’re trying to keep pressure on your opponents, and Arc Lightning has proven its worth over the past few months by zapping multiple tokens and other threats like Goblin Rabblemaster early on. Crackling Doom seems even better now when you play against powerful Abzan decks, and it’s also a good answer for the 3/7 hexproof dragon in UB control.

Collateral Damage and Wild Slash add some more burn spells to the mix, improving the pool for Jeskai or RW burn (especially with Soulfire Grandmaster in play), while Crater’s Claw should see significantly more play now that activating its Ferocious is much easier to do. There are tons of 4 power creatures in standard now. I’d also like to quickly touch on Burn Away, as it is one of the only way a red deck without green or white can deal effectively with a graveyard based deck such as GB/BUG Whip. It kills everything in that deck, including Doomwake Giant.

 

Tempo

 

Tempo doesn’t seem to have gotten too much from the new set, but that’s not to say that there aren’t some cards that could see some more play this standard season. We also don’t have to stick solely to instants and sorceries this time around.

 

Torrent Elemental

Torrent Elemental

Torrent Elemental is neat little card. He has a built in Sleep ability that taps all creatures (just for one turn of course) that makes him very hard to block, and also allows your creatures on the ground to get through. He isn’t seeing a lot of play now, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of him in the coming months.

 

Other Good Tempo Cards

  • Retraction Helix
  • Supplant Form
  • Aetherspouts
  • Whelming Wave
  • Winterflame
  • Icy Blast
  • Hour of Need
  • Deflecting Palm
  • Icefeather Aven
  • Polymorphist’s Jest
  • Voyage’s End
  • Pressure Point

 

Supplant Form is another possibility from Fate Reforged, but its high casting cost probably ensures it won’t see any play in standard. I think Pressure Point could find its way into both RW and UW Heroic as another cantrip + tempo card. Aetherspouts seems like it still has a chance of seeing sideboard play in decks without board wipes (such as UG), and Polymorphist’s Jest is a great way suddenly take control of the battlefield if you’re playing a deck where you don’t have access to a board wipe or don’t want to affect your own cards.

Icy Blast might be worth watching, just because cards like Cloudform make mono blue devotion more playable, and Battlefield Thaumaturge pretty much makes the card say “pay one blue mana, tap all creatures opponent controls). I’ve seen a few people try out Blue Devotion during the previous standard season, but it fell just short. Perhaps Mono black and Mono blue will be back this spring? We’ll see. In that same vein, Hour of Need could see more play as a tempo card as well. The idea behind it is to play it in a mono blue deck with the Thaumaturge, block their creatures with your small ones, then turn those blockers into a 4/4 sphinx. Suddenly having  3-5 4/4 flyers can be a huge tempo swing in your favor. I’m not sure we’ll see the other cards, but they are possibilities.

 

Enchantments (and how to get rid of them)

 

Chained to the Rocks

Chained to the Rocks

Chained to the Rocks seems to be getting a second wind in standard with the success of both RW midrange/aggro and RW Heroic. The decks have been putting up great numbers, and it doesn’t hurt that pro players such as Sam Black put together a deck at the last Pro Tour called “Plymouth Roc” which uses Heliod’s Pilgrim to tutor for the card then play it. There are even some 3 color decks that are playing it in 4-5 mountain decks which tells you something about the cards efficiency. I expect it to see more play this spring.

 

Other Good Enchantments and Enchantment Removal spells

 

  • Banishing Light
  • Back to Nature
  • Circle of Flame
  • Destructive Revelry
  • Singing Bell Strike
  • Erase
  • Sultai Charm
  • Unravel the Aether
  • Suspension Field
  • Reclamation Sage
  • Return to the Earth

If GB and Sidisi Whip decks continue to see a lot of play, I definitely think green players will be siding in Back to Nature. It acts as a semi-board wipe against those decks, and also is good against Jeskai Ascendancy Combo when they get more than one enchantment out. I expect Sultai Charms to see more play as more players play with BUG control and BUG midrange, and Banishing Light is still alright as a sideboard card to take out planeswalkers and other permanents that can cause you trouble but can’t be taken out easily.

GR and Temur monsters are re-surging this season too I believe, so Destructive Revelry will supplement Back to Nature in some decks, and Erase has been a downright all star in white based sideboards. It gets rid of gods, artifact Enchantments such as Whip of Erebos, and also everything in those Constellation based decks. It will see a lot of play until it rotates I think. 

Singing Bell Strike is kind of a tempo card, but I decided to include it here since it’s an enchantment. UW Heroic decks were using it before as a way to take out blockers like Courser of Kruphix, but recently it was part of the Temur Ascendancy Combo deck that creates infinite mana to make a massive creature with haste to kill an opponent with. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it show up.

 

Only for the Worthy

 

Not all of these cards will end up passing the test with flying colors this standard season, but the new set will definitely make waves and give us deep, deep sideboards to choose from depending on what the metagame throw at us. The biggest gains from Fate Reforged came in board wipes and spot removal. Crux of Fate is going to be the go to spell for killing all creatures, and Valorous Stance will make its presence felt in a wide variety of white based decks. There will always be winners and losers, but just because something doesn’t work well one week, don’t throw it out and forget about it. My only advice during this standard season is to try out different things in your main board and sideboard. You’ll eventually come across a strong combination and then be able to totally shut down your opponent. Good luck and good hunting! Kill ye some monsters!

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