Fate Reforged is right around the corner and the anticipation in the Magic Community is mounting. So many SWEET treats! But with any new set it is also spoiler and preview time as everyone offer their own opinion on cards. However, anyone can offer an opinion…but what can we at Three Kings Loot do to make out previews a little bit different?
We decided that this time round that previews would be done a little bit differently. If you want a full, comprehensive review of each and every card, you are welcome to check out the host of sites that do that sort of thing. No, here at Three Kings Loot we decided that focusing on the cards that will be impactful at various formats and what they offer the Magic Community would be a different take on the whole “Preview” idea and might spice things up. On my end, I will look at cards that will impact Casual Magic players. Specifically, I will look at some of the cards that have got me excited and some of the ways I intend on using them to help diversify my Casual play experiences with my pals when we next meet around the Kitchen table.
I would like to make one major distinction because when most people hear “Casual” they immediately think of EDH. However, there is far more to Casual play than just Commander and so I will touch on a variety of cards and some of them may be awful for Commander. However, what keeps many of these cards all in step is that many are unlikely to see play in Constructed environments in most situations. Let’s take a look at my top 10 cards for Casual Magic.
Archfiend of Depravity – Who doesn’t like a 5/4 flier for 5 mana? Add on that extra ability and this guy is hilarious. Granted, only the guy who is a “griefer” in your play group is going to dig this, but it is still pretty amazing. This guy shuts out token strategies, destroys Manifest decks, or really just about any deck that is looking to go wide…and then shuts them down again by making you crash into a 5/4 flier if you get brave enough to attack. The best part is that is asymmetrical, meaning you can throw down as many creatures as you like! It wrecks Hexproof because it doesn’t target…really, there is very little this can’t do. Sure, it might not get everything, but this guy can single handedly make a mess of the board state and put you in the driver’s seat.
10- Fascination – This just looks like a ridiculous spell. Normally I don’t like symmetrical spells like this, but the option to Draw or Mill both players is incredible…and double blue and X is potent. At 5 mana it’s Jace’s Ingenuity. At 6 it’s Opportunity. At any more than that you are grabbing a huge pile of your deck and just going to town. Now, my IMMEDIATE thought was pair this with Notion Thief…which would be a hilarious interaction. Consecrated Sphinx sounds fun too. How about this plus…oh I don’t know…Reverberate/Fork/Howl of the Horde? Oh my…the hilarious nature of those spells. Also, there are a number of fringe decks that could run this because they don’t care what their opponent does. Turbo Fog has little to no interest in what their opponent does…so symmetrical card draw is fine because they only want to dig up Fog effects. Lastly, this could totally power out some busted Delve type spells by Milling everyone. All in all, this is just fun and the sort of card I would be looking to brew Casual non-sense with.
9- Mob Rule – Hello! This is just Harness by Force on Crack…or Threaten on steroids…or something ridiculous to do with 6 mana. Take all your opponent’s stuff, untap it, and smash them with it? Wowzers. That’s filthy. I’m on board the train to silly town with this guy. And at Casual, 6 mana isn’t an unreasonable casting cost…and the effect is kind of bonkers. I’m in. Just ridiculous. But wait! There’s MORE! “What is even better than just taking their stuff?” you ask. Well let me tell you. Let’s imagine you CAN’T kill them by stealing all their stuff…why not start sacrificing their stuff to some sac outlet for hilarity’s sake? Altar’s Reap is an easy place to start…but why not keep going and go to Bloodflow Connoisseur , Cartel Aristocrat, Corpse Traders, Culling Dais, Dark Triumph…and you’re getting the idea. I’m not sure that there is something that makes me happier than sacrificing my opponents stuff for a laugh and a giggle. Time to find Free sac outlets!
8- Ghastly Conscription – Oh c’mon…as if you didn’t think of this with Fascination? Mill their Graveyard and the next turn turn them ALL into Manifested 2/2 creatures? That seems like fun. Heck, any Mill strategy with this will be hilarious and ensure that you will bury them under a pile of their own cards. I’m quietly giggling waiting to pick up a couple of these and surprise my pals. I might get Booed out of the room…but that’s ok for the look of sheer disgust on their faces. I love it. 7 mana ridiculousness never looked so good.
7- Manifest – Yup, that’s right…I like this new Mechanic so much that it is effectively on here twice. Ghastly Conscription is just the tip of the iceberg! I’m lumping this whole mechanic in as being sweet for Casual play because there are a number of fringe ideas that this can play right into. The card that highlights this ability most to me is Ethereal Ambush that dumps a pair of 2/2 Manifested critters on the board for you and give you and immediate board presence. I’ve already expounded pretty well on where I think this idea can go, but to sum it up, anytime you can guarantee to turn random cards into 2/2 creatures it is not a bad thing. Pack your deck full of creatures and very few spells and you can make your Casual deck tons of fun to play with and still flip them over by paying their casting cost. Add in the interaction with Secret Plans and Trail of Mystery and you have some very powerful engines to power through a deck. Oh, and you know all those Moprh triggers? There could be some really interesting interactions as you need only pay their mana cost to flip the card over…meaning Master of Pearls now flips for 2. 2 Mana! Wow. Yeah…this could get silly and I’m going to be diving right in trying to break it huge.
6- Ojutai, Soul of Winter – Ok, so all the other Legendary dragons in this set could at least see some sort of Constructed play…or at least I could conceive of a deck that would want them…whether they see play is another matter all together. However, Ojutai just will not get the job done. The ability isn’t powerful enough by itself and Ojutai needs some dragon buddies to really go off. That said, he will still be a sweet addition to a number of decks in the Casual realm. First off, Dragon Tribal EDH will LOVE this guy. That’s an obvious starting point. However, a W/U deck premised on Freezing your opponent or Detaining their whole team is indeed a thing and Ojutai is right there playing along. How about Jeskai Dragons featuring Brood Keeper and Crucible of Fire? That has some promise. Or, just as a really big dude in any deck dabbling around with W/U really…Ojutai is still a big beat stick with a Crippling Chill attached to him for good measure. He may not see Constructed too readily, but I’ll still be pumped to open up this guy and run him in other things.
5-Temporal Trespass – Ok, so the debate is already raging if this is good for Constructed or not. My sense is that it is, but who the heck am I? There is absolutely no doubt that this is good enough for Casual because it says TAKE AN EXTRA TURN! You know what I can do with an extra turn? Absolutely ANYTHING. I love it and I will make in happen …regularly. Stay tuned because there will be deck lists featuring this little beauty.
4- Siege Cycle – These will be terrific in Limited, but they will all be amazing in Casual games, in large part because of the wording. Each of these cards have a mode that impacts each player sitting at the table, meaning that you can impact each opponent at a multiplayer game. That’s big in EDH and 60 card multi-player variants because it gives you good bang for your buck. While they aren’t degenerate cards, except for maybe Frontier Siege which ramps at EVERY MAIN PHASE, they will all be useful and are likely to be solid additions to most decks.
3- Warden of the First Tree – There is no doubt that this will be outstanding in the Casual arena. I have my doubts if this is good enough for Constructed, but in Casual I can assure I will ramp to the ultimate and make the 8/8 trampling, lifelinking sprit token. Yeah…this seems like fun and the Hybrid mana cost means he could fit in sooooo many Casual brews that it is ridiculous. There will be a warm spot for him in my Evolve deck powered with Gyre Sage and ramp this guy out. Really, any mono-green ramp strategy will be a solid fit and will make this guy into an instant all star. Look for this guy causing havoc at Kitchen tables for years to come.
2- Shamanic Revelation – Ok, this is an upgrade on Collective Unconsciousness, and it will be ridiculous in Casual Games. Any strategy going wide playing Green will gobble this card up, run it, and gain about a bajillion life and draw ALL the cards. Think about it. I can name at least 2 of my own decks that will love this and there is room for plenty more. Mass card draw in Green is never easy to find and the fact that this one takes some set up is not ideal, but the potential upside is huge. I can hardly wait to fire this one off.
1- Temur War Shaman: Ok, if this were a 4/5 for 6 mana it would be ok. However, this packs an additional Manifested creature when it enters the battlefield meaning that you get 6/7 for power and toughness…across two bodies…for 6 mana. That is some pretty good stats that you shouldn’t overlook when you are playing this card. This is also absurdly easy to abuse…bounce it to your hand with Sage Eye Avengers, Roaring Primadox, Quickling or Deputy of Acquittals…but even better is all the flicker non-sense from Avacyn Restored. Cloudshift, Ghostly Flicker, Conjurer’s Closet, Deadeye Navigator…and you are off to the races Manifesting everything. I really like this guy and feel like it has some Casual applications in addition to the ridiculous pile of Manifest cards that can just make the battlefield one huge mess. I’m a fan!
Well, there we go. Of course, you might have some other casual favorites in mind, and that’s 100% fine. The nice thing with Fated Reforge is that it seems to offer quite a number of really interesting cards for Constructed and Casual applications making it look fun and feel pretty neat. Also, I feel like the Manifest ability is going to make this set very complicated and challenging…which is a good thing because it will force us all to deviate from playing boring linear decks, but instead splashing it around and seeing what other sorts of shenanigans we can concoct as we move forward. I’m a big fan, in case you haven’t seen. However, the Khans of each of the clans, Ugin, and some of the other spells and creatures are all insane, but I wanted to take some time and highlight some of the things that have got me excited.
Thanks for taking the time to read. Until next time, keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it Casual.by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters @bgray8791 on Twitter
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.
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.
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
Fate Reforged pre-release will introduce special promo ‘Time Shifted Cards’. During the event you get to pick your Tarkir Clan and will also receive a special ‘Ugin’s Fate” booster pack which contains a Token, a Land card and certain amount of ‘Time Shifted Cards’ from a pool of 40 holo foil stamped cards with alternate art which demonstrates how the plane of Tarkir has changed. The PAX Australia panel showcased three of these cards.