Spoilers for Fate Reforged are in full swing and I've been brewing like a mad man, trying to find the best homes for each of the set's most powerful cards. My favorite new deck made possible by Fate Reforged is Jeskai Monks, though several others decks also gain notable upgrades. If you're looking to dive into the future of Standard, today's your day!1. Jeskai Monks
Monastery MentorSoulfire Grand MasterShu Yun, the Silent Tempest
Jeskai Tokens and Jeskai Tempo merge into a single archetype with three very powerful new monks. Monastery Mentor produces prowess tokens that can be pumped by any spell and essentially double pumped with Jeskai Ascendancy on the battlefield.
Soulfire Grand Master not only gives our burn spells lifelink but also provides us with a ton of late game inevitability. Consider the following scenarios:
- Cast Lightning Strike on an opposing creature, gain three life, and pay four extra mana to put it back into my hand.- Cast Gods Willing to protect Monastery Mentor, make a prowess token, pay four mana to return the Gods Willing to my hand.- Convoke Stoke the Flames by tapping some Monk Tokens. Gain four life. Pay four mana to return Stoke the Flames to my hand.- Cast Jeskai Charm, putting an opposing creature on top of its owner's library. Pay four mana to return the charm to my hand. The opponent is locked out of draw steps for the rest of the game as long as they have a creature on the battlefield.- Doing any of the above with a Jeskai Ascendancy on the battlefield.
Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest is competing with Goblin Rabblemaster for the last three-drop slot and although the competition is insanely tough, I think Shu Yun may be better. Any spell + two mana will make Shu Yun into a 4/3 double striker due to prowess. So you cast Shu Yun on turn three and then Lightning Strike the opponent's blocker the following turn and attack for eight. You can also wait until after the opponent blocks and then decide whether to give your blocked or unblocked creature double strike.
In addition to having a ton of late game inevitability, speed to pressure an opponent, and reach in the form of burn, this deck also can never lose a race. Between Seeker of the Way and Soulfire Grand Master, we are gaining life as fast as we are causing the opponent to lose life. And just in case we spent our early turns setting up a board instead of gaining life, there is the lifelink and +1/+1 mode on Jeskai Charm to gain us a ton of life all in one turn.
Jeskai Monks has gained the most from Fate Reforged so far.2. BW Warriors
Mardu Woe-ReaperBattle BrawlerBrutal HordechiefMardu Strike Leader
Mardu Woe-Reaper is the big addition to BW Warriors. It's another premier warrior one-drop alongside Bloodsoaked Champion and Tormented Hero, providing us 12 quality one-drops without having to dip into Soldier of the Pantheon (non-warrior). Its ability is also very powerful in multiple matchups, especially against Whip of Erebos Strategies. Did you Satyr Wayfinder into Hornet Queen? Well, guess what? I have some warriors and a can of bug spray to get rid of it right away! In other matchups it simply acts as a pseudo-Thalia effect on opposing delve spells, removing a piece of fodder each time a warrior enters the battlefield. Did I mention it also gains me life?
Battle Brawler is a solid body that can replace Mardu Skullhunter. As long as we have a white permanent on the battlefield it is a 3/2 first striker...unless of course that permanent happens to be Chief of the Edge, Sorin, Solemn Visitor, or Eidolon of Countless Battles. Then it is an even bigger first striker!
Brutal Hordechief and Mardu Strike Leader provide the warrior deck with a better late game finish. I'm not quite sure which one is better, so I went with a 2-2 split. Eidolon of Countless Battles and Sorin, Solemn Visitor are the other finisher options. It's entirely possible that Brutal Hordechief proves better than all the others. It immediately impacts the board and essentially wins the game when you untap with it.
Either way, the Warrior deck gained a lot of power from Fate Reforged so far.3. Temur Aggro
Temur Aggro has been in the market for a strong three-drop alongside Savage Knuckleblade and Boon Satyr. Courser of Kruphix fits into the midrange shell but not aggro. The next best three-drop is probably Fanatic of Xenagos, which is pretty lackluster. Insert Yasova Dragonclaw! Yasova can easily be cast on the second turn off Elvish Mystic and immediately Threatens to...well, Threaten an opposing blocker. Like Boon Satyr and Savage Knuckleblade, it also triggers ferocious on its own. This is where I would begin for a Yasova deck:
DECKID=12259354. Monogreen Devotion
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Monogreen Devotion has had difficulty dealing with problematic permanents and was also vulnerable to a wrath effect, most notably End Hostilities (and now also Crux of Fate). Ugin, the Spirit Dragon solves both these problems. It is an efficient answer to all kinds of permanents and provides a very powerful plan to combat an opposing five-mana wrath. Ugin can plus twice and then ultimate to reset your board after a wrath or it can reset the board immediately with its minus ability if you're behind and then slowly plus itself back up while dealing with the opponent's follow-up plays. The card is extremely powerful and really gives green devotion a new angle of attack.
DECKID=12259375. Mardu Skies
Butcher of the Horde has found a new friend in the form of Flamewake Phoenix! You can sacrifice the phoenix immediately to give the butcher haste and then bring it back in the same combat step to attack. You're essentially paying a red mana to give the butcher haste, just like you would with Savage Knuckleblade! Or if the phoenix is in your graveyard and you play Butcher, you can bring back the phoenix at the beginning of combat, sacrifice it to give the butcher haste, and attack for 5 with the butcher. Then next turn you can bring the phoenix back again. You can also bring back all your phoenixes at once if you have multiples in the graveyard.
Between Flamewake Phoenix and Ashcloud Phoenix, the creatures in the deck are not only evasive, attacking past all the green ground dudes of the format, but also highly resilient to removal spells. The new phoenix was exactly what Mardu wanted from Fate Reforged!6. Naya Tokens
Naya Tokens, the deck Chris Fennell and I finished 11th and 12th place with at GP Denver last weekend, gained one big addition with Fate Reforged: Monastery Mentor.
There weren't a ton of ways to trigger the Mentor's ability, so I replaced Fleecemane Lion with Raise the Alarm. I suspect this will be a net bonus for the deck. You really only need to trigger the mentor once or twice to make it worth its weight. It will often get killed on sight anyway, so no problem if you don't have many ways in hand to trigger it. And even if the only card you draw to trigger it is Dictate of Heliod, it becomes a 5/5 until end of turn and makes a 3/3 in addition.
Naya Tokens is currently one of the best-positioned decks in Standard, and it got even better with Fate Reforged!7. Abzan Aggro
Warden of the First Tree
Abzan Aggro gained a big one-drop in the form of Warden of the First Tree. It's essentially the new Figure of Destiny. The fact that the Warden's activated abilities can be paid in part with colorless mana allows it to fit into Abzan's mana base, which includes Forests and Windswept Heaths. This means we will essentially always be able to pump the Warden no matter what lands we have out.
I chose to move Thoughtseize to the sideboard to make room and to increase the amount of first turn green sources in the deck. Abzan Aggro wants to be the aggressor in most matchups, so replacing its weakest card in a number of matchups ( Thoughtseize) with an extremely potent threat that is great early and even better late is definitely a win in Abzan Aggro's book.8. UB Control
Crux of Fate
Blue/Black Control basically got one big addition with Fate Reforged so far: Crux of Fate. There is little reason to play white in a control deck now, except maybe for Elspeth, Sun's Champion. Crux of Fate is the new black End Hostilities. Sure, it doesn't kill dragons, but all the dragons in Fate Reforged are pretty much unplayable. UB Control no longer has to tap out twice to wrath an opposing board with Perilous Vault. Now it can cast a card draw spell on the fourth turn before wiping the opponent's board the following turn. It also doesn't lose its own Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver when wiping the board since Ashiok is not a creature. Adding a wrath effect to U/B Control makes it that much better against the green midrange decks.
In addition to the above eight decks, there are a few niche sideboard options and some sweet combos that do not yet have a full home.Notable Sideboard Cards
Outpost Siege is a great sideboard card against slower decks. It acts as a Chandra, Pyromaster that uses the zero ability each turn, unless of course the opponent is far behind and you have a full board, in which case it's an insurance Lava Axe in case the opponent manages to find a wrath in time.
Neutralizing Blast has lots of good targets but is situational enough that I don't want to start it in the maindeck. I suppose it is about as narrow and versatile as Negate or Disdainful Stroke in current Standard.
Reality Shift is an answer to Stormbreath Dragon for white/blue decks and may end up filling a similar role that Rapid Hybridization filled prior to rotation.
Valorous Stance can kill Courser of Kruphix, Siege Rhino, or Anafenza, the Foremost. It can also protect your creature from Hero's Downfall or in combat. It's also an instant, making it about as good as Glare of Heresy against Abzan decks. It doesn't kill Elspeth, Sun's Champion though, so I would still want a mix of the two.Two Combos
I haven't yet managed to find a home for these last two combos, so I'll go ahead and leave these here and on twitter for anyone else brave enough to dive deep into the brew tank:
Alesha, Who Smiles at Death is powerful and has some uses. The best one I've found so far is Hornet Queen since it says "power" two or less, not "mana cost" two or less.
Yep, it definitely says 'power' 2 or less... (courtesy of @armlx) pic.twitter.com/WUqz8kRw0j— Craig Wescoe (@Nacatls4Life) January 8, 2015
The other card with a sweet combo is Hero's Blade.
COME AT ME BRO!!!! :D @mtgaaron pic.twitter.com/GhgszgOcy6— Craig Wescoe (@Nacatls4Life) January 9, 2015
The blade also works with Anafenza, the Foremost, Anax and Cymede, Daxos of Meletis, Polukranos, World Eater, Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, or if you want to kill the opponent in exactly two hits: Zurgo Helmsmasher. Of all these, a 6/6 vigilant Brimaz on the third turn is the most appealing to me though. Then again, of course it would be. I'm Craig Wescoe.
@Nacatls4Life on twitter