Welcome back to day four of our week long review of Fate Reforged here at TCGplayer.com. Each day we have been looking at each card from one of the colors of Fate Reforged, along with a few add-ons along the way. Yesterday, white and multicolor put up the best showing thus far with a lot of interesting cards for Constructed. Today we will be moving on to the red cards from Fate Reforged, as well as the lone new land in Crucible of the Spirit Dragon. Tomorrow we will be wrapping this whole thing up with blue (saving the best for last, of course).
For each card, we will be giving it a rating for Constructed, Draft, and Sealed, accompanied by some discussion about that card. To tell us what all of those numbers mean, you can check out the following two scales, one for Limited and one for Constructed.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!Red
Alesha, Who Smiles at Death
I actually think this card might do some cool things. A 3/2 first striker for three mana is not that bad as is and the ability to return two power things is potentially very strong. Hornet Queen has two power, for example.
Draft: 3Sealed: 3
A really solid three-drop that can hold the ground for you or get in there. Returning small powered guys is more than fine in this format where 0/5s are doing cool things and small aggressive guys are what Mardu and Jeskai are all about.
This seems powerful but quite difficult to use. Combat is the most obvious place, but that does not necessarily happen at a reliable rate in Constructed. I would not be surprised to see a sweeper this cheap see play, I just am not sure in what capacity.
Draft: 3.5Sealed: 3.5-4
If you set this up right, it will basically just be a Wrath of God. Three mana is cheap enough that you can conceal this pretty well and then turn what looks like a chump block into a blowout.
Bathe in Dragonfire
A Flame Slash at three times the cost is probably too much to see play, especially when Mardu Charm and the like are running around.
Draft: 3Sealed: 3
Four damage will not kill everything, but it kills most things and cheap enough to be played in both of the aggressive decks alongside all of the slower, more controlling fare.
I actually think this is a pretty strong card on defense just as it is on offense if you can meet the condition of course. Imagine playing a midrange deck and you run into one of these out of a control deck post board. You have to commit so much more to the board and walk right into a sweeper. That said, two toughness, so maybe this is all a pipe dream.
Draft: 1.5-2Sealed: 1.5
If you cannot reasonably get a sorcery and instant into the yard, you should not be playing this very often. Sometimes five power is going to be desired for other reasons, but you really want at least the chance to make this insane. Three of each type are about a minimum in my opinion, but I really want about five of each.
Break Through the Line
Committing an entire card to this effect seems a bit much. Haste is extremely strong, but I just don't know if an aggressive deck can afford to take a turn off casting an enchantment that has no real board presence and then requires an upkeep of red to do anything. Strong card, just too resource intensive.
Draft: 1-2.5Sealed: 1-2
This card is either pretty bad or one of the stronger ones in your deck I think. Jeskai loves getting through and then prowessing up for big damage. Morphs enjoy the attack and unmorph trick that this lets them do to. But if you deck is not aggressive in nature, this card falls off quickly. Even if you are aggressive, I would look for other means of evasion first, but this can stand in and do good work.
Lightning Bolt is powerful enough that sacrificing a creature is probably a fair price to pay for the card. Realistically though, hyper aggressive decks with any type of synergy here would love this. Think of using this on an Act of Treason target or an arcbound guy, for example.
Draft: 1-2Sealed: 2
I am not a big fan of this and would leave it in my sideboard much of the time, but there are also enough cards that have synergy with it that I can see myself playing a deck that wants this. Tokens and triggers from dying are the bright spots here, but even just losing a guy that had removal aimed at it anyway makes this an acceptable card.
This would see play for its artifact destroying half and spending six mana on that is off limits in literally every format.
Draft: 1Sealed: 1.5
A maindeck way to take out pesky things like Ghostfire Blade is nice and a 3/6 is not a bad set of stats to have otherwise. Six mana is a hefty price tag though, so only play this one main when you need to.
This requires far too much mana to be worth anything. Three mana upfront and then you either deal 1 damage per attacking creature you have, or you have extra mana to increase that count. Blockers make you funnel the pumps into one or two guys though, where removal can interrupt your entire, mediocre plan.
Draft: 1Sealed: 1
I am not a big fan of this card and would go as far as to say I will never play it in any conventional strategy. I would need the most aggressive token making deck alive to consider this and even then, I think there are better alternatives.
Five mana for a 4/4 is not exactly a steal and if anyone was even thinking about pulling manifest tricks, they would not turn to the five mana one to do them with.
Draft: 2Sealed: 2.5
A respectable body upfront is always good, especially if you have any counter synergies running around. The prospect of potentially flipping it over into something bigger and better is just upside from there. Five mana is an unfortunate mana cost, but it's strong enough to be worth it.
It is almost certainly the Momentary Blink value lover in me that wants this guy to see play, but he does manage to back it up by looking super attractive. Four mana for some damage and an enters the battlefield ability can certainly be worth it if you are trying hard enough. Imagine having a Purphoros in play and copying Fanatic of Mogis for example. That is a minimum of eight damage and seven more attacking.
Draft: 3Sealed: 3
You are much more likely to cast this the hard way in Limited I think but the dash is still definitely an option. You will want to have some creatures that work favorably with this, but even just big bodies will provide you with some pressure.
I think this might be the card to put Monored Devotion back on the map. They were in need of an aggressive three-drop that contributed to devotion and this does just that. This is brought back by Ashcloud Phoenix, Fanatic of Mogis, Sarkhan, Stormbreath Dragon, even Purphoros, giving you plenty of synergy to beat down with.
Draft: 3Sealed: 3
A small but pesky flier is going to do work early and late when it starts returning. In the midgame, if this happens to get held off by something bigger, bolster or combat tricks are going to be your friend. Keep in mind the tough mana cost here.
This is a very obscure effect and I could see it being used against very obscure decks. Imagine something trying to Through the Breach an Emrakul or something, maybe you just get lucky with this and win. They do need a creature to target too.
Draft: 0.5-1Sealed: 1
This card is quite unreliable in the main deck unless you just need a means to enable prowess. I can see bringing it in against Ugin and expensive bombs, but you cannot ever really rely on this, which is not a good quality to have in your removal spell.
We have seen cheap aggressive guys with Falter effects before, but I think four mana is out of that range and spending three mana, turn after turn is not very appealing either.
Draft: 2.5Sealed: 2.5
Every time I saw this in play during our drafting after the prerelease, it was wrecking house. Usually it was being dashed out as to avoid Debilitating Injury etc, but regardless, stopping that one big crucial blocker from doing his job seemed quite potent in the red aggressive decks.
If you are looking for a new insult to throw at your boy/girlfriend during your next argument, look no further!
Draft: 1.5Sealed: 1.5
I look at this mostly as a defensive creature because attacking with it is almost certainly going to end in it dying. On defense though, this takes down four and five-drops, trading up and netting you value. Also great with a couple different Runemarks.
I think this card can be good, like actually good. Red decks are not used to drawing extra cards, so it's not like we expect no drawback. The drawback on this is that your opponent also gets to draw that many cards, which isn't even that bad and can easily be avoided by simply killing the Defector after you use him. Imagine using this on turn three and then casting Anger of the Gods, against an aggro opponent, for example.
Draft: 2Sealed: 2
This is a bear when you need it to be and can help fight against Mana Screw early, which is really nice. Using something like Ancestral Vengeance on this after donating it is a big blowout and with enough synergy I maindeck this all day.
We might all have dreams of coming down and taking out that Courser of Kruphix mid combat, but after you realize it already drew two cards and now your 4/4 is staring at a Siege Rhino, the dream turns sour.
Draft: 2.5Sealed: 2.5
If you can consistently get this to have flash, it will often be a removal spell plus a nice sized body. You can even conceal that you have this in hand whenever you have a face down creature on defense, as five is the most common unmorph cost.
Known as "Lava Axe with Wings," this will see just as much play as Lava Axe itself!
Draft: 1.5Sealed: 1
If you are playing a deck that would want Lava Axe, you might play one of these at your top end. Unfortunately, Lava Axe is generally better as it would trigger Prowess, but a dragon might have other benefits going for it in this format.
Another Gray Ogre enchantment and another one that I obviously do not like in Constructed. Unless you are going for some Mardu theme where everything needs to say Mardu on it, then have a blast!
Draft: 1Sealed: 1
I specifically hate the runemarks that do not give actual evasion. This will be playable in some of your Jeskai lists, but it is never a card you should take or value highly as there are better alternatives. This just kind of fills a hole.
Another one for the Mardu theme deck! But really this is just an efficient two-drop for aggressive decks that can afford double red. Even the dash is reasonable. I especially like this in aggressive Monored Devotion lists as the all-important second two-drop with double pips.
Draft: 2Sealed: 1.5
This is another aggressive card that might sneak in three to six points and then play pretty well on defense. The dash is difficult to take advantage of after, like, turn three or four, but it adds flexibility.
Gaining control of big guys is cool and gaining control of small guys can also be cool, but I can't imagine anyone willing to spend six mana on it. Maybe the combo of sacrificing all their stuff is enough to actually warrant some consideration here?
Draft: 4Sealed: 4
This most likely is going to be six mana to win the game or come very close. Forcing them to chump and still take a bunch is a painful place to be. If you have any sacrifice synergies, this is a must have. I could be overrating this, as I haven't actually seen it cast, but it seems incredible.
The Chandra ability on this to play an extra card each turn is potentially strong as a sideboard option against decks that don't have a convenient way to deal with an enchantment, but can handle a planeswalker (such as those packing Hero's Downfall). The ping ability feels mostly bad, but maybe some combo deck can use it.
Draft: 2.5Sealed: 2.5
I was very much not impressed with this card during the prerelease. While you can play an extra card on some turns, you need to have the mana ready for it right then, which is tough early. Additionally, all of those tricks and secret morphs you wanted to use just get revealed from the get-go, lowering potency. That said, it can lead to card advantage or be a nice burn spell when your opponent is low, so it is definitely playable, I just wouldn't fight hard for it.
Being a sorcery and being five mana are not beneficial to burn spells, especially burn spells trying to take out multiple creatures. Arc Lightning is five times better than this and seeing essentially zero play.
Draft: 3-3.5Sealed: 3-3.5
Four damage spread out will usually be able to take out two guys in this format, or one bigger guy, which is not always the case for Arc Lightning. Getting two morphs versus one is worth the extra mana. Both cards are high picks in their packs though and you will be seeing neither past about fourth pick.
If you could somehow set this up and know exactly what you were getting, I could see this being slightly valuable, but it still costs four mana and sits on a 2/2 for at least a little while.
Draft: 2.5Sealed: 2.5
A 2/2 double strike is not that different than a 3/3, only really losing to a 2/3 that a 3/3 wouldn't and even being able to hit four toughness guys when need be. I don't think this is a great card, but it is solid and if you win the lottery and hit some flier or something, it can win you the game.
Shaman of the Great Hunt
I am a huge fan of this guy. The idea of a hasty threat that boosts the rest of my team is already one I can definitely get behind. Add on to that the ability to draw cards, and potentially many of them, and I think this guy is going to be a strong card in Constructed. Two toughness scares me a bit, but I think there is too much here not to play it anyway.
Draft: 3.5Sealed: 3.5
Remember that the +1/+1! counter ability happens even when Shaman of the Great Hunt is not attacking. That means you don't need to expose your two toughness if you don't want to. He will still be weak to removal, but with the amount of abilities he brings to the table when he doesn't meet removal, it's all worth it.
Compare this to Silumgar from yesterday and you will see how Shockmawingly worse this guy is.
Draft: 3Sealed: 3.5
A bit expensive and rather fragile like most of the uncommon dragons. This one rewards you for attacking, but the ability is rather strong, so I still think this is worth picking up and trying to make work in the nonaggressive decks.
If even one person mentions Death's Shadow...
Draft: 0.5Sealed: 0.5
Please do not play this card unless you have to. Bears and other two power two-drops are plentiful in this format and they are not even that good. Don't go playing one with a rather substantial downside unless your opponent is crushing you with 1/1s for one mana.
Temur Battle Rage
Things that grant double strike, especially at instant speed, always have a shot at seeing play, just because doubling damage is so powerful and scales so well.
Draft: 1Sealed: 1
I was really not a fan of this card in my Jeskai Aggro deck. Most of the guys were too small for double strike to do much more. I am sure there are some prowess heavy decks that can use this to good effect, but I was underwhelmed with it and would rather play most other things.
A four mana looter is not the most appealing thing, even if it comes down for three mana, turn after turn should you wish. Discarding before drawing is red's new thing and it's even worse than looting, so really, I don't even know why I am still talking about this card...
Draft: 2.5Sealed: 2.5
If this had an extra point of toughness it would be incredible, but as is, you need to maneuver this through a field of morphs, which is tough. Good news is that you get the first loot regardless of whether this would trade or not. Use it wisely.
Shock is a very playable card, even right now thanks to Rabblemaster, mana creatures, etc., but the reason this would get popular has to be the line about stopping damage prevention. No other effect in Standard does that, so if it is desired in any way, people will have to come here. Not sure how strong it is, since it does not prevent life gain, but it is unique.
Draft: 3Sealed: 3
Killing morphs is good. Triggering prowess is good. Going to the face is good. Everything about this is a solid card. It won't handle the fat for you, so don't expect it to, but everything else is good to go.Lands
Crucible of the Spirit Dragon
Storage lands are completely playable and pretty good as we have learned over time. This one is only a storage land for dragons though. If a deck with enough dragons comes to exist and wants to use this, or possibly a control deck that just charges this up for a single dragon win condition, then perhaps it will see a slight amount of play.
Draft: 0-0.5Sealed: 0-0.5
This can be used as mana fixing for any of the rare dragons that you need to splash. Outside of that scenario or the scenario where you have four or five dragons, don't play this.Wrap Up
Red actually came out of this better off than I would have thought. It has a few heavy hitters that I think will make a big splash in Constructed, but it also just fills in some of the holes that red has been having since Return to Ravnica rotated. Eidolon of Great Revel has been standing alone for a while and I think Mardu Scout might be joining him. I don't think anything brand new will come out of red unless it comes from Arcbond, but there is still plenty here to work with. Crucible of the Spirit Dragon is a pretty big letdown outside of dragon EDH decks and the like, but we shall survive.
Tomorrow please come back and join me for our last day of the Fate Reforged review. We will be taking a look at the sweet blue cards that always seem to exist and I will also be going over my Top 8 cards for Constructed. Until then, thanks for reading!