Well, I hope everyone’s had a blast at their prerelease events over the weekend. I have to admit, it was kind of weird format because we all opened so many Fate Reforged packs and very few Khans packs. That was a weird choice by Wizards, but it seemed to work ok. At one point I turned to someone else and said “hey…could you imagine doing this with 4 packs of Dragon’s Maze…that would have been unplayable.” By comparison, Fate Reforged prerelease worked, but there wasn’t the sort of variance that I would truly expect from the sealed format starting next weekend…but it was fun. It wasn’t as grinding as Khans was and that increased explosiveness meant winners and losers were easier to pick…and you could tell if you were on the right path or not.
I played the Two-Headed Giant event on the Sunday evening with my brother. The last time we played at the Khans prerelease we got thoroughly embarrassed and were pretty unimpressed with our results. However, this time we held our own and were in the running until the very last match. I’ll get to how that one got away on us in a bit, but we finished 3-2 and were relatively pleased with our results.
I opted to play Temur for this event and my brother decided he would play Mardu meaning we could bank on having some pretty solid creatures and a pair of aggressive decks…or so we thought. I opened up my pool and I was legitimately shocked. My Temur pool hardly had ANY playable 2 drops…and a very limited number of Morphs. The three drops I had weren’t even in my Clan! What gives? It wasn’t until I hit 4 on my curve that I started getting creatures that felt and played Temur-esque and that was a bad sign. So, my curve was…how do you say…TERRIBLE with very few plays in the opening turns. I was not impressed. The only good news was that my brother had a much more aggressive build and could put some early pressure down to help bridge us to turn 5+ when my deck could roar to life. It wasn’t a great game plan, but it was the best we had with the pools we opened.
In our first game we started off ok and I was holding up my end of the deal with some pretty reasonable removal to try and stave off the threats from our opponents. I Burn Away Dromoka, cast Bathe in Dragonfire on another dragon and felt pretty good about things. But then I drew three straight lands and completely flooded out and our opponents cast Shifting Loyalties on our Brutal Hordechief…which they then followed up with one of their own. You can imagine things took a decidedly downward turn and we were dead shortly after. We felt a little bummed.
Game 2 our opponents had us on the ropes and pretty much dead on board until they misplayed. They had a Daghatar the Adamant on the board with his 4 counters and they cast Hunt the Weak on it to fight something of mine. Then they cast a second Hunt the Weak on Daghatar, but forgot that Daghatar had already been dealt some damage and this second round was going to be lethal. Oops! With Daghatar dead because they goofed we went to town and my trio of Dragons (two Mindscour and one Destructor) went to work. They shortly conceded and we evened our record at 1 and 1.
The next game we came out much more quickly out of the gates, but the game turned when I had 7 mana and Temur Sabretooth on the board. The Sabretooth just stymied our opponents who just could not sequence a profitable attack by the potentially indestructible kitty. To make matters worse, my ultra greedy deck was PACKED with value creatures to abuse with the Sabretooth. When you are bouncing Aven Surveyor in order to give the Sabretooth indestructibility, eating their attacker, and then recasting the Surveyor to out tempo them, the opponents get sad…fast. Oh, the Surveyor isn’t your style? How about Bear’s Companion? Hell yeah! It was undoubtedly our best game and the one where I was able to hold off and to play conservatively and eke out advantage with the cards in play and not rush to dump my hand on the table. Suddenly we were 2-1 and feeling pretty good about ourselves.
Then we had a bye because a team dropped leaving a weird number of teams and we just had a turn to sit. Ok…3-1 it is…and in striking distance of a prize.
The last game we were moving along ok…until we got caught with Tasigur’s Cruelty and it forced us to pitch two cards apiece. Normally, this sort of card would be unplayable, but in Multiplayer it was devastating. I also opted to discard a land and to hold on to some pricey spells. Figures. Next thing I know I’m stranded on 4 mana, can’t hit Burn Away, Aven Surveyor, or ANYTHING…and we die to some pumped up creatures. Grrrr. Oh well. We had a shot and we blew it.
Here’s my decklist
Some of the cards that shone in our matches were not the ones I was expecting.
Pilgrim of the Fires: The 7 mana golem was about our best friend all day. Sure, he’s 7 mana and you don’t run him out there any too quickly, but the truth is, he likely wins just about any combat he ends up in. And by 7 mana, your opponents have already fired off just about all their best removal that can handle this guy…so the NEED to rely on combat. Well, with this guy being just a house we made short work of a number of opponents and were very impressed with him.
Temur Sabretooth: This kitty can do some work. The ability to be indestructible is very potent and can make combat a real nightmare. What’s more, it is super fun to bounce value creatures and then reap the rewards all over again. This one looks like the real deal and likely a real player in Limited.
Wild Slash: Premium Red removal…yeah…it’s good. It did work all day long.
Aven Surveyor: I know the guys on LR were pretty stoked for this card, and I like it too because it did do work…but I’m not convinced it is as super as people think it is. 5 mana is a big investment for a bounce effect, particularly when there are lots of powerful things to do at 5 mana. It was a big tool in my deck as I was packing loads of bounce effects, but users must be wary because he’s expensive.
Bathe in Dragonfire: Relatively inexpensive and useful removal to take out those nagging creatures. This likely over performed a little for me because it took out all sorts of things including a number of Dragons of varying sizes and descriptions as well as pesky Morphs. A good utility card.
Jesaki Infiltrator: This guy was a bust. A 2/1 unblockable creature SOUNDED good, but then he immediately Manifests a buddy…and loses the Unblockability. That’s kind of junk. Tested this guy out once and was immediately underwhelmed. Out he came and in went more burn.
Enhanced Awareness: What I would have given for a Weave Fate…or Treasure Cruise…or just about ANYTHING. This one is 5 mana…and it is an awkward one to jam. I got it off once, but wasn’t hugely impressed. Most of the time it was a 5 mana brick in my hand. It feels far more situational than Jace’s Ingenuity or even Opportunity and in a format where there are likely to be lots of other things to do with your mana that isn’t good news. As much as this COULD be good, it wasn’t. We’ll have to see if that trend continues.
Dragons: The 6 mana 4/4 dragons are playable, but hardly scary. I found the Mindscour Dragon cute because the Mill effect was handy. The only catch is having to watch that you don’t mill someone with Delve cards because you’re fueling their Treasure Cruise. I ran three of these just to see what they can do and while they are kind of neat, I wouldn’t hold my breath for them.
Runemarks: These are as awful as I feared they would be. Most of them seemed totally unplayable and not at all what I was interested in doing…so they all got left behind in favour of actual cards that did stuff.
Well, guys…I feel like we’re coming to an end of my Fate Reforged prerelease experience. I’d love to hear about what you experienced and how you fared. Let me know by leaving a comment or finding me on Twitter.
Thanks for reading…and until next time keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it casual.
By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters @bgray8791 on Twitter
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
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.