Welcome back to day five, the final day of our Fate Reforged review here on TCGplayer.com. All week we have been taking a look at the cards from Fate Reforged and today we will wrap that up by taking a look at the blue cards before going over my Top 8 Constructed cards from Fate Reforged. Yesterday, red actually put up a fight, with Shaman of the Great Hunt really catching my eye. Blue usually has the firepower to stand up to that though and today we will find if that remains true.
We will be discussing every card and then giving it a few ratings to evaluate it in Constructed, Sealed, and Draft. The following pair of handy scales can be used for reference to know exactly what all of those numbers mean!Constructed
5: Fives are ever-present cards that heavily warp a format or see heavy play across multiple formats. Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Deathrite Shaman, and Tarmogoyf are good examples of fives.
4: These cards tend to have support roles across multiple formats or be tier one cards in at least one format. Spell Pierce is an example of the former while Thragtusk is an example of the latter. I expect to rate a lot of things as fours that are actually fives and vice versa while I feel out this new system but in both cases, these are going to be highly desired cards.
3: These are the bread and butter cards of a set, usually doing all of the essential things needed for a format, but doing them at a good rate. Cards like Oblivion Ring, Izzet Charm, or Diregraf Ghoul would be found here.
2: These cards are generally much more restrictive in use and application than a three, but they serve a similar purpose. You will see more sideboard or niche cards, like Skullcrack, Heartless Summoning, or Gladecover Scout.
1: These are not going to see much play, but they have an outside chance. These tend to be weak or narrow sideboard options or extremely narrow main deck cards. Most ones will not ever make it into a winning list, but they have potential to do so.
0: These are unplayable in Constructed regardless of context. These tend to be the cards designed to balance Limited, like Grizzly Bear or Siege Mastodon or are narrow with a poor output, like Artificer's Hex.
*Any card that gets an X.5 rating just means I can see it falling to either side of the equation given the right metagame or environment.Limited
The Limited scale used language such as "I draft this over..." but it applies to Sealed in a very similar manner. Essentially, for Sealed you would read it as "I play this over..." instead. So for a five in Sealed, you would play that card in your deck 100% of the time.
5: I will take and play this card over everything. Always. Examples: Umezawa's Jitte, Library of Alexandria.
4.: I will take and play this over everything in its same colors and will heavily consider splashing it or switching colors as a result of drafting this or having it in my pool. Incredibly powerful cards that are more difficult to cast will generally get a four or four and a half. Examples: Fireball, Gideon Jura.
3: I will first pick this and take it over most commons/uncommons in its color. These are generally the baseline best commons in a set for each color, like removal, looters, and efficient creatures. Examples: Lightning Strike. Merfolk Looter
2: I will draft and play these but do not value them highly. These are the typical fifth through eight picks that generally are the backbone of decks but do not do anything fancy. Inefficient removal and combat tricks tend to hover in the two and a half area as well. Examples: Hill Giant, Divine Verdict.
1: I generally do not want to pick these highly or play them in my maindeck. These cards are either bad or very niche and only go in specific strategies. In either case, there is a good chance these cards wheel when seen anywhere near the front end of a pack and very little value should be placed on these cards early. Reasonable sideboard cards can be found here, so you should not discount these entirely Examples: Demolish, Merfolk Spy
0: These are cards that have no value and should not be played in 99.9% of situations. If you take one of these, you had better know what you are getting yourself into. Examples: Progenitus, Sway of the Stars.
With that, on to the cards!Blue
Man of War or Aether Adept actually make for an interesting discussion in Constructed due to their inexpensiveness, but once we hit five mana, we really don't have much here.
Draft: 3.5Sealed: 3.5
A flying creature that creatures some tempo or just comes down as bigger are both good things to have. I would guess that some 80% of the time you will be bouncing something, but that is fine. This goes into every single archetype playing blue and will be highly sought after during the draft.
Hexproof is the big thing that sells me on this card. If people are going to be doing any manifest tricks, you would prefer to make sure you have time to pull them off. Hexproof grants that and flying is not the worst second ability to see either.
Draft: 2.5Sealed: 2.5
A small but resilient flier can do some nice work in the early and mid game. Later on, you will either need to be bolstering this or flipping it over to get past the bigger fliers and reach creatures, but still a fine card.
We can barely get people to play with Jace's Ingenuity in Standard, so I don't see this being popular. Even if you are looking to get something into the yard, there are cheaper alternatives. Would love to be wrong about this one though.
Draft: 2Sealed: 2.5
This is a little slow and won't really help you hit those early game land drops, but it does fill your hand with pure gas in the mid to late game, which is huge. Any control deck I have in this format would love one of these and I expect to draft accordingly.
I honestly am unsure about this one, so I am leaving the door cracked. I think that as a sorcery, the appeal kind of leaves as you really want to EOT this, forcing your opponent to discard cards and you to have a full turn to use yours. As a mill spell, there is much better out there for much cheaper.
Draft: 1Sealed: 1
I basically only want to use this to mill people, myself included, in Limited. Filling up your yard for delve or possibly just winning the game are both solid but very restricted to Sultai. Giving your opponent first crack at a bunch of new cards is very risky, so be sure you know what you're doing before going that route.
A two-mana, four-power creature is something very new for blue and just like Phantasmal Bear before it, might be enough to push blue aggro a bit. This can reasonably get in eight points of damage before being answered and the phantasm clause isn't even that bad. How many things that target this in Standard wouldn't already kill it? Obviously UW Heroic has a bunch of tools, but most decks will just have removal that already did the trick. Plus, this is protected from Bile Blight blowouts when you play multiple!
Draft: 1.5-2Sealed: 1.5
A decent guy on defense if you need early game ways to halt the ground, but where this shines is in any deck that can get it through once or twice. Aggressive Jeskai decks would love a head start that puts their opponent at 12 life. Do be willing to board this out in any match up where you have seen enough ways for this to die that it otherwise wouldn't. Pump spells and the like aren't even that bad though considering you are still going one-for-one.
This is quite the confusing card to think about. Where do we use it? How do we use it? It attacks for two damage and then leaves behind two 2/2s, similar to something like Huntmaster of the Fells, but then you have to play the shell game from there, trying to sneak this in again and again. You cannot really just throw flight pants on this either, since it resets with every new manifest. This can get out of hand in control mirrors though. Time will tell, I suppose. Time will tell.
Draft: 3.5Sealed: 3.5
The first time you connect with this, you have already gotten your value. Three mana for two damage and two 2/2s is a great deal. If you can get this through ever again, you might just be winning the game. I would certainly play this over a morph on turn three, which is not true of most three-drops.
Another aura and another card you should not play. +2/+2 and flying isn't even that bad, but the things your opponent can do to you after you cast this are definitely bad for you.
Draft: 2.5Sealed: 2
I found this to be the actual best thing ever when I was playing Jeskai aggro. This triggered prowess at the right time. It granted my smaller creatures that were getting outclassed a stat boost and flying, to keep them relevant. And the best part is that you are generally casting this on a red or white creature, meaning you don't even need to work for the flying! I would gladly play two of these in every Jeskai deck I draft.
This feels a little too anemic to be Constructed worthy in my opinion. Being assured that you get a card back should this die is nice, but if you are running a prowess creature, you probably want it to live and a 1/1 for two makes that difficult.
Draft: 1.5-2Sealed: 1
In aggressive prowess heavy decks, this guy actually works pretty well. He attacks as a 2/2 or 3/3 most turns and can cash himself in for a random card later on when he stops being a thing. Without prowess triggers, this is a bad chump blocker though, so be sure to recognize him in the right kind of deck
Lotus Path Djinn
I love a prowess flier in Limited where this is going to connect and bring the pain, but in Constructed, he is basically just a lame flier that you need to work for to turn into a reasonable flier but the payoff is not really worth it even.
Draft: 2.5Sealed: 3
I found this thing to be quite strong, if for nothing else than the bluff potential. When I attack into a muddied ground, the opponent can often block with a giant toughness guy, or maybe something rocking deathtouch. In the air though, those options become much less. Do you block this with your 3/3 flier? What about your 4/4 flier? In an aggressive shell, this makes an opponent answer those questions whether they want to or not.
Marang River Prowler
A 2/1 unblockable creature is not very impressive, but the key bit of text comes right after that. You spend three mana and you get your 2/1 back. All you need is a Sylvan Caryatid or a Whip of Erebos to get this back. You can't play defense with this, but in matchups where the grind matters, hopefully you don't need to.
Draft: 2.5Sealed: 2.5
This is one of the most annoying cards you will play against. You stare at your life total and see it dropping, 14, 12, 10. You can't continue to die, so you use your two removal spells on this and the green creature in play to limit any obnoxiousness. Then, they cast some random three-drop black creature and rebuy the 2/1 immediately. Answering that is something any slower deck is going to have issues with.
I love some mill action as much as the next guy, but needing to connect with your six-drop before it happens is pretty lame, especially with only four cards being milled- not nearly a large enough number to be winning the game with.
Draft: 2.5-3Sealed: 3
This is my least favorite of the dragons for a few reasons. 1) Blue gets fliers all over the place, so paying six for a 4/4 flier is not nearly the upgrade it is in green, or red. 2) This needs to connect to trigger its ability and its ability is not even very strong. Helping you delve in the late game is minor and milling your opponent is not realistic when you are also hitting them for four. I will certainly play this, I just don't value it as highly as the others.
Granting flying is not the same level of awesome in Constructed as it would be in Limited. That generally means you put ground guys in your deck and then are relying on this to get them through and combat should not come down to a combo situation very often.
Draft: 3Sealed: 3.5
Meanwhile, flying in Limited is basically just the best and this not only turns into a 4/4 flier itself, but it graciously lends that ability to others who might need it. I saw more than one game completely taken over by this guy after just a turn or two. He makes for an excellent finisher in aggressive decks and a great jumping off point for the slower ones.
The loot ability on this is actually kind of interesting. It is certainly better than the ability on Thassa, for example, although you lose the upsides that Thassa brings. Delve-heavy control decks might just take this for a spin though. The Frost Titan ability is basically unplayable.
Draft: 1-1.5Sealed: 1.5
I had a friend play with one of these in his deck that had four or five delve cards, the place where I thought this would be best, and it was still quite mediocre. In fact, once he even decked because he played this on turn three and was not able to kill his opponent before it walked him to his grave. This is basically Sultai Ascendancy which I was initially more excited by but came to not think very highly of.
This seems like the type of Gainsay-esque Counterspell that pops up in sideboards whenever it makes sense. Two mana is very reasonable for a Counterspell, so it mostly comes down to just how many multicolor spells are getting played.
Draft: 1Sealed: 1
One of the biggest issues with this is that the common multicolor spells in Khans mostly have morph and will be cast as colorless spells. Fate Reforged only has 10 total multicolor spells and five are rare. I am going to want to board this in most of the time, but maybe with enough looting, it can make a maindeck or two.
There are a lot of good three mana Counterspells floating around right now with the only real downside being double blue in their cost. This seems worse than those, but with an easier casting cost, perhaps some Sultai decks might play a copy or two.
Draft: 1Sealed: 1.5-2
Counterspells tend to be much better in Sealed where there are less aggressive decks and more bombs in the average deck. This is a Counterspell that specifically works better in the late game, so it caters to Sealed. I would generally not want one of these in my draft deck though.
This feels like one of the best blue removal spells I have ever seen. Two mana is not much and you get an unconditional removal spell that even exiles the creature, meaning this kills Sarkhann and the like. Giving someone a 2/2 is not a big deal. It might be a bigger deal if that 2/2 unmorphs later on into something huge, but at least you have avoided certain danger in exchange for possible danger in the future.
Draft: 3Sealed: 3.5
Giving your opponent a manifested card is a little riskier in Limited, where creature counts are higher and a 2/2 is more relevant. Still, this answers anything and in blue, which makes it a definite high pick.
A cheap cantrip always has a chance to see play, especially with heroic and prowess both in the format. I personally don't think this does enough, but I am covering my butt a little here.
Draft: 1.5Sealed: 1.5
This is sort of a free prowess enabler that can also act as some surprise removal on defense. Most of my blue decks won't have this, but in Jeskai it's solid and elsewhere it has utility while replacing itself.
It is pretty difficult to know what to rate this guy when one of the cards he tutors for has not even been printed yet. I assume it will grant deathtouch or something to combo with the Bow, but who knows. A 1/3 for two mana isn't awful in blue and mana production, even for just artifacts, is a powerful effect says Mishra's Workshop.
Draft: 1Sealed: 1
You are not likely to have many artifacts in your deck, so this is mostly a 1/3 for two mana. If you have the Bow and really want to tutor it up, by all means feel free to play this duder.
Rite of Undoing
Peel from Reality has never really been Constructed fodder, but maybe when it can cost all the way down to one mana, the appeal is there again?
Draft: 2.5Sealed: 2.5
There are so many ways to abuse this on your own creatures that I think it is a pretty high and safe pick. Even when you are spending three or four mana on this, it will often be worth that to you in value.
While this has a neat set of abilities on it, six mana is just too much to spend on a creature that doesn't do anything until you untap with him and has no way of protecting himself.
Draft: 4Sealed: 4.5
Once this card gets online, the game is basically over. It is either removing blockers and bashing in turn after turn, or maybe it is resetting your manifested spells and lands. The utility is strong and the size is not bad for a blue creature, especially once you factor in prowess.
I love this effect, but this seems a little fragile for the investment. A six mana sorcery that lets you switch? Planeswalkers? Probably not a great trade. Creatures? Maybe if we have an Elspeth token and are already winning. Lands? What's that do again?
Draft: 3Sealed: 3
Meanwhile, I saw this card be pretty clunky but quite swingy at the Prerelease. Giving someone your manifested land and taking their bomb is quite the blowout. This is not the most reliable removal spell, as you need to parlay quite a bit to pull it off, but it is powerful in effect at the very least.
Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest
I feel like prowess is the worst keyword amongst this cycle and giving double strike to a creature has all sorts of potential problems with it, including a removal spell ending that dream in its tracks after you have invested mana and a spell to it.
Draft: 3Sealed: 3
Double strike is a big problem in Limited however, where combat is commonplace. Keep in mind that this need not put itself into Harm's Way to give double strike to other creatures, even if that does mean you are missing a little value off of the prowess trigger.
While this has a little bit of the Satyr Wayfinder thing going on, it does not replace itself, which is the most important part. And a 2/1 is not exactly very exciting as payoff on its own.
Draft: 1.5Sealed: 1
This is a fine two-drop in a delve-heavy Sultai list as it at least holds back morphs and the like. I would prefer to have Archer's Parapet and whatnot as my two-drop, but you can definitely do worse!
This feels very unreliable for how expensive it is. Against aggro for example, what does this do? Or against Siege Rhino, is that actually good?
Draft: 3.5Sealed: 3.5
In an optimal world, you are casting this during combat and blowing someone out, but even when it is just Clone that bounces something it can set up huge swings. You are able to bounce your own creature to, should that come up.
I personally like that this is around. It might not be easy to cast, but it brings a lot of unique things to Standard, including being an 11 cost card for things that might care about that. Even just as Time Walk, there are likely some decks that can reliably cast this cheap and if there is a way to abuse it, I am sure we will soon find out.
Draft: 3Sealed: 3
Triple blue is a pretty difficult to achieve in a three color format, but if you can get there, this will generally be pretty strong. Just taking two combats or getting the chance to unmorph two big things on back-to-back turns can take over a game. That all said, passing this is more than acceptable due to cost.
This is a very interesting card with a lot of whacky applications, but it is honestly probably just best in control mirrors where they really can't answer this as you just delve it away and cast it again.
Draft: 4Sealed: 4
This is an awesome threat because it more than likely wins you the game when you attack with it, but even when it gets milled or killed, you just delve it up and get your insane threat back. Not to mention this has a very friendly mana cost for its size.
If we didn't have an awesome blue removal spell in this same set, there might have been a chance for this to have done something.
Draft: 2.5Sealed: 2.5
Not very difficult to set this up as you are keeping mana open all the time in this format. Hitting manifest guys that are lands can often just be a Time Walk, so good luck winning that lottery!
Will of the Naga
Frost Breath is not really designed for Constructed. Even if this were always locked in at two mana, I don't think this would really be a consideration as cards just need to have bigger outputs to see play in 75 card world.
Draft: 1.5-2Sealed: 1.5
This is a pretty nice proactive spell out of Jeskai, but it really doesn't do much for me elsewhere. In Sultai, this is easier to turn on, but what are you making out of the couple of turns that you earned yourself?
Write into Being
I like this card, but it has so many things working against it, from being a sorcery to only peeking at a couple of cards. If people are doing any manifest tricks, this does let me have a little selection there, but this still just feels like a Limited card to me.
Draft: 2Sealed: 2
I was rather disappointed with this at the Prerelease, not because it didn't hit a creature, it often did, but mostly that this cost three mana and I would rather have just been casting a morph that turn rather than take the two card gamble that I hit a reasonable threat.Top 8 Cards in Constructed
Blue made out pretty well, as though anyone would not have guessed that. We will have to see just how much Reality Shift sees play, but even beyond that there are some really interesting blue cards that we will likely see in various niche decks as the format tries to settle down over the next month or so.
Beyond just blue though, I wanted to take a stab at what cards would make an impact in Constructed. There were quite a few cards vying for the last few slots, so this is a bit of a gamble, but here are my Top 8 cards for Constructed:
8 - Ugin, the Spirit Dragon7 - Reality Shift6 - Valorous Stance5 - Warden of the First Tree4 - Tasigur, the Golden Fang3 - Brutal Hordechief2 - Shaman of the Great Hunt1 - Monastery Mentor
Even if I think Monastery Mentor is a little overhyped, he is still a very solid card that should have new archetypes built around him in multiple formats. Shaman of the Great Hunt is a bit of an outside-the-box pick for second place, but I just really love what he offers midrange red decks. The rest of the list is mostly interesting utility spells and flagship cards to carry new archetypes, or to slot into old ones the way that Warden of the First Tree does.
In general, I think this set is rather deep, even if the top end of cards is a bit shallow. There are a lot of interesting effects in this set that really won't get the credit they deserve until they later find success. But that's Magic after all.
Next week we shall resume regular programming as we begin to crack open just what this new Standard format has to offer. Until then, thanks for joining us on our journey through Fate Reforged this week!