A look at Fate Reforged Spoilers and New MTG BrewsBy Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
Well…HAPPY NEW YEARS magic players! Fate Reforged spoilers have started and dear LORD am I excited. We have only started to see the sweet new treats coming our way, but they look awesome already! I mean…Ugin?! Sure, he’s pricey…but he’s mighty sweet. Old Nicol Bolas may have bitten off more than he could chew here. And Soulfire Grand Master looks RIDICULOUS! Jeskai Burn/Wins decks just got an all-star to hit Clean-up…and dear lord does he pack a punch! I mean, lifelink on all your burn spells? That’s insane. Oh…and if you find yourself with a bunch of extra mana why not cast your spell and have it return to your hand? No biggie. That’s totally fair…and not the least bit suspect when you can also trigger Jeskai Ascendancy. No, that’s not broken at all. However, I digress…here at Three Kings Loot we are working on our previews as well, but what got me started today was one little word.
Yup. That one word BLEW my mind because it meant that Morph was going to continue to be a thing in this second set. We saw some sweet Morph creatures in Khans of Tarkir and some really amazing enablers to push them. However, I was really worried that the Morphs were going to disappear in the follow up sets meaning that they really only had a place in Limited and a few super Casual brews. However, with the support of the Manifest mechanic in Fate Reforged there is the very real possibility to push Morph decks from the realm of Limited to Fringe Constructed play. Here is where my mind is going.
We saw very early in the Khans Limited format that Secret Plans was a very powerful engine in the 5 colour Morph deck…or really any Morph deck. It allowed your Morphs to outclass those of your opposition, could chain you into more cards (replacing the need for more narrow card draw spells in the later stages of the game) and generally allowing you to out card advantage your opponent as you closed in for the kill. I also had an up-close look at Trail of Mystery and have decided that it is the real deal too. It may not pump your Morphs right now, but it does filter your deck, ramp your land, and then lead to blow out central when you start un-Morphing your creatures later on. These two powerful engines can really make Morph decks go. So, the logic being that if they are good in Limited, there is an outside chance, with some additional support, that they could start to be reasonable to see some fringe constructed play at FNM or some low pressure constructed events.
What are the new treats you ask? Well, the two that REALLY got my attention were Ethereal Ambush and Whisperwood Elemental. These two cards come with the Manifest mechanic and can totally enable further some gross things. They just enable you to chain more Morphs together into more cards and lands…and then full on going off. It does rely on synergy to get ahead and can be easily disrupted, but you should be able to pull it together once in a while and with devastating effect.
Now, I was debating what colours to use when building the deck, but the obvious starting point is U/G/X…and the X is totally up for debate. Yes, yes, I could go 5 colour, but that is just full on greedy and if the intent is to create something that is at least feasible in a competitive arena then 5 colour is NOT the way to go. So, we’re back to 3 colour build. Let’s see what we can do here.
My first reaction is to slide in Red for the Temur Morph deck, and looking at the other cards that have been spoiled, this feels pretty normal. Now, the nice thing with a Morph deck is that your actual curve is quite flat…because everything you play is really a Morph and you don’t much care about the actual casting cost. You DO care about the Morph cost, but hey…at least you should have things on board early on.
Temur Morph test deck
With the inclusion of Ethereal Ambush and the Whisperwood Elementals you aren’t rewarded for spells with the Manifest ability because lands and non-permanent spells simply become a 2/2 until they die. That is not overly useful in lots of regards. So, packing a deck full of spells is a bit foolish. So, as you may be able to see, most of the things in this deck are the two engines (Trail of Mystery and Secret Plans) or are creatures with a Morph ability anyway. The real trick is finding creatures that can Morph relatively inexpensively but yet are still useful. Sagu Mauler and Ashcloud Phoenix are obvious auto-includes and a couple of Thousand Winds could prove very effective at washing away your opponent. The other Morphs are all cheap to un-Morph and all of them have a solid ability. The Flock is just a big old flying wall to ensure you don’t get shredded from above. The Mystic of the Hidden Way ensures inevitability because it just can’t be blocked. The Icefeather Aven is a fun bounce effect. And the Rattleclaw Mystic is unadulterated ramp. The other spells are all useful, but if you lose one or two to being Manifested (Is that going to be the Term? I guess we should figure that out) by the Whisperwood Elemental or a stray Ethereal Ambush, but hey, that’s ok.
Your ideal opening hand has you playing Trail of Mystery on Turn 2, a Morph on Turn 3 to fetch a basic land, another Morph on Turn 4 to hit your 5th land drop…and you are off to the races. By the 5th Land drop you could cast Ethereal Ambush on your opponent’s End Step, Manifest 2 face down creatures, search up 2 more lands and well and truly be set cast your whole deck. Sneak in a Secret Plans as you go and you have a card engine to match your land filter engine…and all the mana you need to pay those Morph costs. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me and could lead to all sorts of ridiculous things.
Now, I have been toying around with some of the other colours as well. For a while everything I touched turned Bant…so U/G/W…and this could very well lead me to doing exactly the same. Here’s the build I’ve been toying with.
Bant Morph test deck
The deck functions very similarly to the Temur version but is somewhat less obviously powerful with no Phoenixes or direct burn. Instead you have Watcher of the Roost and Master of Pearls as the replacements and a couple of Feat of Resistance to make combat truly miserable. The trick here is that when you Morph your Watcher of the Roost for Free (Provided you still have a white card in your hand) the Trail of Mystery triggers making it now a 4/3 flier. Pump it again with a Master of Pearls as it Morphs and it is now a 6/5 until end of turn and likely making combat truly awful. Now, this is absolutely living in a fantasy land where I can do as I please and have all the pieces to the combo set up, but I can clearly see that this deck has more “moving parts” in order to generate the sort of explosive damage I want and can be derailed more easily. I feel like the Temur build is the better option, but I still like the idea of blowing out an opponent with Master of Pearls and a couple of Watcher of the Roost.
The options in Black if I wanted this to be a Sultai deck are less appealing with only the Ruthless Ripper and Grim Haruspex as desirable targets to Morph, but it does offer a lot of really interesting spells that I would love to have access to. Villainous Wealth and Murderous Cut being the first two most obvious choices, but there are others including Dead Drop. Archfiend of Depravity is also highly entertaining but none of these cards play into the Morph deck idea. Heck, the Villainous Wealth deck is already a thing on the fringe of Constructed standard. No, unless there are some higher quality black Morph cards coming in Fate Reforged the Sultai version would just be Sultai good stuff and not so much a Morph deck looking to abuse Trail of Mystery and Secret Plans. So, I think I’ll pass.
Well, there we have few new ideas to go about what Fate Reforged has to offer. And I just scratched the surface because I can see loads of other great pieces that will make many of the best decks even better, and will allow for some newer decks to start taking shape. Needless to say, we will be in for a treat in a few weeks when we all get to crack Fate Reforged and see what it has to offer up close and personal at the Pre-releases. I can hardly wait.
Anyway, thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to read my ramblings. As always, keep it fun, keep it safe…and keep it casual.
By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters @bgray8791 on Twitter