For every new set release I like to list ten of the cards I don't think are getting enough attention, cards that I think should be getting a little more attention, and cards that I, personally, am really excited to brew with. The more I write these with every set, the more it feels like we're specifically talking about cards I'm excited to brew with rather than cards that are "sleepers," per se, but they should still give you something to think about!
As I often mention, sometimes I'm way off and sometimes I'm right on the nose with these articles, but either way, the thing I try hardest to accomplish is to provide you guys with a perspective on some cards that you might not have initially had. Maybe you'll see a card in a new light, or discover an application you might not have thought of, and if so, then I consider my work a success.
If you're looking for a list of the Top 10 Fate Reforged cards you're in the wrong place. You will find no Ugin, the Spirit Dragon or Brutal Hordechief here. Only some of the unsung heroes of the set that I would personally like to build around based on the merit I see them possessing.
Without further ado...let's begin!
10. Temporal Trespass
As I sometimes do, I'm putting one of the most obviously powerful cards at the bottom. Despite being a parallel to Time Walk, people are basically dismissing this card, comparing it to Treasure Cruise and claiming that eleven mana is too much to take an extra turn. And I agree, it is. But Treasure Cruise never costs eight mana. In fact Treasure Cruise so rarely cost more than a single blue mana that the card was banned in Modern.
So let's consider this a card that costs three blue instead, because I'm sure it will more often than not. Is taking an extra turn for three blue good? While somewhat restrictive, I think so. Taking an extra turn for five mana proved to be quite valuable, especially in decks with numerous planeswalkers. Will Temporal Trespass have the same impact that Treasure Cruise did? Will Dragons of Tarkir have the third and final piece of this cycle in the form of a delve corollary to Timetwister? I'm not sure, but maybe to both.
9. Mastery of the Unseen
The reason this one is down so low is simply because its ability costs four mana. Otherwise, this is actually a pretty resilient finisher in control decks. It reminds me of cards like Sacred Mesa and Kjeldoran Outpost. I don't see the upside of gaining some extra life coming up very often if we're talking about a control deck, but there will definitely be times where you have eight mana and can make two 2/2s at the end of your opponent's turn and ride those to victory.
There's also the option of including ways to return creatures to your hand in case you end up manifesting something like a Counterspell or a removal spell that you need. While this is most likely a corner case scenario, having the options of utilizing any number of spells that you might have turned into creatures seems like a pretty versatile tool. Historically enchantments that have the ability to churn out creatures for a minimal cost have seen some amount of play in control decks. I imagine Mastery of the Unseen might follow that trend.
8. Monastery Siege
Speaking of control decks, Monastery Siege is the perfect card for them. It's kind of a cross between Thassa, God of the Sea and Sultai Ascendancy. The difference being that it will never turn into a creature and become a win condition like Thassa and it is much easier to cast and more versatile than Sultai Ascendancy. One of the best parts of the card is that it lets you discard any card in your hand, not just one of the ones you just drew for the turn. While I mention this fitting into a control deck, it also fuels delve extremely efficiently, allowing you to net a free "mana" per turn.
All of this doesn't even speak to Monastery Siege's second mode, which is fantastic against red decks or decks with plenty of removal. Forcing your opponent to pay four mana to Lightning Strike your creature, or you for that matter, is a huge hindrance and could definitely buy you the time you need to stabilize against said red decks.
7. Whisperwood Elemental
I would have Whisperwood Elemental a lot higher if it weren't for the fact that his ability mostly good against sweepers...but he turns out to be very good against sweepers if you're playing a creature-heavy strategy. I was actually super high on this guy at first, but two things are keeping him from being higher on the list: the fact that he doesn't have flash ala Caller of the Claw, and the fact that he can easily be taken out before the sweeper is cast ala Loxodon Hierarch. (Boy, it's been a while since that guy's name came up, eh? I bet his huge Elephant ears are burning.)
Nevertheless, Whisperwood Elemental is still a huge threat and he essentially - barring a timely removal spell - grants you six power worth of creatures for five mana. However, another knock against this guy is that the creatures he manifests cannot be saved by his sacrifice ability; only your face up creates receive that reward. Overall this is still a very powerful card; it just has some abilities that seem to almost contradict themselves. I would still not be surprised to see this guy across the table from us, churning out free 2/2 creatures every turn, that you might often be able to flip up and eventually replace with different 2/2s.
6. Silumgar, the Drifting Death
This could be an ideal finisher for UB Control, I just wish he didn't have a mere three power. To be fair, Prognostic Sphinx also has three power though, and the seven toughness is nothing to scoff at. Neither is hexproof. Which means this guy can pretty much block anything and live to tell about it, so long as we're dodging things like Black Sun's Zenith or End Hostilities. Heck, he even gets around Crux of Fate which we would probably be playing! The fact that he also gives opposing creatures -1/-1 when he attacks is just an added bonus really, that's sure to take out a few guys here or there. This guy looks to be the latest addition to control decks, and I'm afraid that he's going to be pretty hard to deal with. This guy on six and Pearl Lake Ancient on seven are going to present two very difficult to deal with threats.
5. Torrent Elemental
Speaking of blue/black fliers, this is basically another one. Two three power fliers with blue and black color identities? Seems pretty convenient, Wizards. While these cards have some similarities their roles are completely different. I've even heard some whispers recently about Torrent Elemental being good, so I apologize if players are catching up to me. This guy is a good deal at five mana and the fact that you can either mill him or let him die naturally, delve him, then cast him as if he were in your hand is awesome. He's basically the next level of Misthollow Griffin, if Misthollow Griffin was in a format or set that readily gave us access to ways of exiling it. I'm just saying, expect to see this guy in the reanimator decks, because even using Whip of Erebos on this guy will exile him so he can be cast freely when the time is right. His ability to tap all the creatures your opponent controls is just gravy. Ridiculously delicious gravy.
4. Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury
Ah, the second dragon on the list. I wasn't sold on this guy immediately because he was a five mana dragon that didn't have haste...until I realized that he basically did have haste. In a sense, that is. Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury is insane because whenever he attacks, all of your creatures get +1/+0. Not just him. Not just your dragons. All of them. So he's already a five power attacker, and he can already attack on the same turn you need him to thanks to dash. Right now he's competing with Stormbreath Dragon, which is a difficult battle, but he won't always be, and there are going to be plenty of decks where he's just better. It's a good thing these dragons are legendary, because having multiples of them would be pretty nightmarish.
3. Mardu Strike Leader
I think I'm most excited about Mardu Strike Leader because he's basically a chieve. Or at least he fits into the chieve deck...and makes other chieves! The best part about this guy is that he doesn't have to connect to make the token. He just has to attack. The other best part about this guy is that he isn't making 1/1s. He's making 2/1s! He's also a warrior, and so are his tokens, so they all get the benefits that warriors get! He also has dash, for those times you have an opening and need to take it without waiting a turn for your creature to be able to attack. This guy has a lot going on and all of it is pretty good. I can definitely see nightmare scenarios where this guy comes down on three after we clear the path for him on turn two and four and he just snowballs into board advantage. Sure, he has to attack to get the token, but I think a comparison to Goblin Rabblemaster could be made here...
2. Supplant Form
This card is probably higher than it should be, but honestly, it tickles me just the right way. The fact that you get to bounce your opponent's creature (tempo!), put a copy of it into play (card advantage!), and do it all at instant speed (tricksies!) is just awesome to me. I can imagine scenarios where we bounce their Butcher of the Horde back to their hand, only to block their Goblin Rabblemaster with their own Butcher. The card seems best with creatures that have splashy "enters the battlefield" effects, like Titans, but I can't help but fantasize about bouncing my own Mystic Snake with this, countering a spell with the copy, then having the original in hand to counter something else. Or Draining Whelk. Or Shriekmaw. Or bounce your own Sower of Temptation to steal a different creature at instant speed and still have the original Sower in hand. Sure, a lot of these scenarios will never come up, but the versatility of the card is pretty compelling. I have my fingers crossed that it finds a home somewhere.
1. Shaman of the Great Hunt
Whenever I see a four power creature with haste, I immediately assume it has something strong going on. This guy reminds me of Hero of Oxid Ridge on the front, but he has quite a few things going for him. First off he gives any creature you control a +1/+1 counter if they deal combat damage to a player. This is huge on its own, but in conjunction with his next ability...whew! For four mana he lets you draw a card...for each creature you control with power four or greater! His counter ability is already helping your creatures become ferocious, but even if this guy is the only four power creature you control (which seems unlikely), you're going to be able to draw a card for four mana.
The other thing we want to note is that this guy isn't legendary. You can have multiple of him on the board at any given time, and doing so allows the counter ability to stack! Two of these of the battlefield means that each creature that deals combat damage is going to gain two +1/+1 counters, including himself! It also means that you'll be drawing a minimum of two cards from each activation. It's rare that a red creature with haste that costs about four mana and has three or more power doesn't see play. I don't imagine this will be one of those times.
Whew. And that's that. Fate Reforged is an interesting set. Just like Khans, there seems to be a lot of powerful cards that can easily support a lot of the current decks in the format, along with potentially creating a few new ones.
I know some of you are going to assuredly disagree with some of these picks, and maybe some of you are going think a few of my choices aren't sleepers. After all, we can't always agree, and if we did, what would the point of trying to provide new information? I would never be able to convince you of something since we would already be predisposed to agreeing with one another! To be fair, these articles are always more difficult with smaller sets, as you're always more likely to hit on cards that are just good. This is why I suggest looking at this as more of a "Cards I Want to Brew With" article if you must.
Anyway, I hope I've given you some things to think about and maybe you've seen some of these cards in a new light. Maybe comparing them to older cards might have helped, or maybe you just think they're all junk! Either way, thanks for reading and be sure to check out my stream on TwitchTV. I've been streaming daily at 2 pm Pacific Time, so be sure to follow and subscribe!
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV