Finally the full spoiler for Fate Reforged is available! I'm excited to see how Fate Reforged will impact Standard and there are certainly some archetypes that stand to get some upgrades; perhaps some completely new archetypes will emerge. I have been working on a couple of different decks I would like to share, which I think are ready to make an immediate splash on Standard.
Okay, I am going to start with what I'm calling Blue/Red Artifact Blast which may be known by other names like Blue/Red Ensoul from the current format. There were definitely some flaws in the Blue/Red Artifact strategy before Fate Reforged, but there are some new cards which may be exactly what this archetype was looking for. Okay here is the current working list:
This deck is still in its early stages which is part of the reason you see a lot of one-ofs, but the cards that are one-ofs are there for a reason too. Let's start with the creature base. First of all there aren't that many actual artifact creatures in the format but Ornithopter is definitely an important one. One of the main uses for Ornithopter is having a flying target for Ensoul Artifact, and simply another artifact for cards like Ghostfire Blade and Shrapnel Blast. Having cheap creatures is definitely important, so while Monastery Swiftspear isn't an artifact it makes the mana curve better, and there are a good amount of noncreature spells to turn on prowess.
There are three copies of each of the two larger creatures, and both being artifacts is a nice bonus. Previously this deck sometimes had Illusory Angel in it, but I think while Hewed Stone Retainers isn't strictly better, the fact that it is an artifact is a huge deal. Scuttling Doom Engine is a large creature that has been seen in this sort of deck before, and in a format full of tokens a lot of times this guy is unblockable. Even when the opponent can block it sometimes you just win by sacrificing Scuttling Doom Engine to Shrapnel Blast to deal eleven. Previously it was hard to justify playing a six mana creature in this deck, but a certain new two mana creature makes casting this guy a lot easier.
Previously the two-drop creature in the deck was Phyrexian Revoker but in a format full of Satyr Wayfinders and tokens, sometimes it was a bit underwhelming. With that said Phyrexian Revoker can be a nice weapon versus decks with lots of planeswalkers so there are some in the sideboard. The new two-drop here from Fate Reforged is Renowned Weaponsmith. This card does a few different things, each of which are useful. The first function of Renowned Weaponsmith is that it helps you accelerate into the big creatures in the deck like on turn three oftentimes you cast something like a Lightning Strike while also being able to play a Hewed Stone Retainers. The mana produced by Renowned Weaponspeaker can also go towards activating artifacts, so it makes it easier to say equip a Monastery Swiftspear with Ghostfire Blade.
The final part of Renowned Weaponsmith is that it can search for either Heart-Piercer Bow or Vial of Dragonfire. Unfortunately Vial of Dragonfire hasn't been printed yet, so that leaves us with Heart-Piercer Bow. Don't get me wrong Heart-Piercer Bow is BAD, however it is worth playing one copy to search for. Most of the time the Heart-Piercer Bow will be used as Shrapnel Blast or Ensoul Artifact fodder. Sometimes it will be used to take out an opposing one toughness creature, so it does have its moments, though it's definitely not a card you want in your opening hand.
Alright, so starting with the spells the most important cards here are still the Ensoul Artifacts and Shrapnel Blasts. The deck now has plenty of artifacts so there is rarely not an artifact to sacrifice with Shrapnel Blast or enchant with Ensoul Artfifact. When choosing what to enchant with Ensoul Artifact a given matchup will dictate how to maneuver around removal. Versus a Whip of Erebos deck with little removal and just a couple of ground creatures oftentimes you want to go ahead and enchant an Ornithopter since there are often plenty of chump blockers on the ground. Against decks with lots of removal sometimes you want to wait for a Darksteel Citadel to enchant Ensoul Artifact with, which is the most difficult artifact to deal with, though there certainly are removal spells that can Remove it from the game.
With Shrapnel Blast sometimes you do want to use it early, as it is one of the few burn spells that can deal with a Siege Rhino. Other times it will be right to try to assemble a "combo" with either the Howl of the Horde or a Scuttling Doom Engine to maximize the amount of damage dealt with Shrapnel Blast. There are plenty of artifact synergies in the deck, and one is of course Ghostfire Blade. Perhaps there should actually be more copies in the deck, as the equipment combines very well with mediocre creatures like Ornithopter. Interestingly enough Ghostfire Blade also works well with Write into Being.
Write into Being does a few different things for the deck. The deck is a bit light on creatures so manifest is good in that it provides another creature, but it is also less likely you will find a creature in the top two cards. Write into Being does help filter through the deck and the fact that the creature manifested is colorless, means it works well with Ghostfire Blade. Having a lot of spells in the deck enables the Scroll of Masters though the jury is still out on how good Scroll of Masters is as it does something similar to Ghostfire Blade.
Rounding out the deck are a few different odds and ends. Previously this archetype ran more Springleaf Drums, but now with more of a variety of artifacts, to go along with Renowned Weaponsmith there isn't as much need for Springleaf Drum so there is just one copy. This deck often ends the game with burn spells and Lightning Strike is pretty well positioned right now, so there are three in the maindeck, along with Arc Lightnings in the board for the aggressive decks. The sideboard is a work in progress but there are certainly a variety of cards in both blue and red to choose from, which is why there are so many singletons there.
Okay so while the Blue-Red artifact strategy isn't an obvious strategy to gravitate towards from Fate Reforged, Flamewake Phoenix is a card that is worth building around, and goes well into established archetypes. I want to talk about a Mono Red Aggro deck that is actually able to turn on ferocious pretty easily. Here is the current list:
Flamewake Phoenix gives monored a late game option it didn't have access to previously. There aren't a ton of flyers being played and the ones that are seeing play aren't cheap. You actually want your opponent to use their Bile Blight or Hero's Downfall on Flamewake Phoenix, because it will likely come back, because there are many ways to create a four power creature. The key to the ferocious is that you don't actually need to cast a creature with four power, so creating one before combat by pumping a creature is not that difficult.
Since this deck wants to be targeting creatures to make them four power it makes sense that there are heroic creatures that want to be targeted. This version of monored has fallen out of favor, but Flamewake Phoenix has the ability to completely change that. All of the creatures do something more than being a vanilla guy. The one-drops are all either prowess creatures or heroic creatures, so cards like Firedrinker Satyr and Foundry Street Denizen have no place here. Mogis's Warhound is a two-drop but having a bestow creature is really nice, as it can say make a Satyr Hoplite into a 4/4 in a pinch. The only actual four power creature in the deck is Ashcloud Phoenix, and there are only two to help keep the curve low.
Dragon Mantle and Titan's Strength are spells that were already being played in this sort of deck and make returning a Flamewake Phoenix that much easier. The deck may not be quite as hyper aggressive as some versions of monored because the Phoenix's allow you to have a stream of flyers that can be very difficult to deal with. A card like Goblin Rabblemaster which generally just trades one for one and potentially nets one token, doesn't make the cut here. There are two Hordeling Outbursts though to allow the deck to go wide and make Stoke the Flames a bit better.
Lightning Strike and Stoke the Flames are still the two best burn spells in the format, and with all of the high quality two and three mana creatures coming out of Fate Reforged it is almost a necessity to have some type of cheap burn or removal in your deck. The sideboard provides some more burn versus other small creature and token decks, which are some of the more difficult matchups game one. Scouring Sands, Searing Blood, and Arc Lightning are enough to completely flip those matchups in your favor. Versus the slower decks this deck can sideboard to prepare for a longer game.
The board has some additional large threats with four power, along with a couple more lands to enable the casting of something like Stormbreath Dragon. Decks that are boarding in mass removal like Anger of the Gods or Drown in Sorrow is when it is correct to use this transformational sideboard option. There is certainly some room for playing around with the board and those players who have previous experience with this archetype may opt not to go with a transformational sideboard option; honestly it is justifiable to go in either direction. I do recommend this maindeck configuration though I'm still not sure about the two Hordeling Outburst. This is a deck I expect many players to pick up in the early stages of Standard with Fate Reforged, as it is straightforward to play, and Flamewake Phoenix may be the most powerful card in Fate Reforged.
Thanks for reading,