The Fate Reforged pre-release weekend is upon us and we’ve seen all of these sweet new cards, right? We’ve got the new mechanics of Manifest, Dash and Bolster all looking to make their mark in this new Limited format.
What I’m looking to do for you here is to give you a basis to work from. I’m going to start off by going through each of the new mechanics and how I believe they’re going to shape the coming months.
Dash is going to allow creatures to attack a turn early, making them better draws late game as you’ll have the ability to keep the pressure on. It’ll also mean that attackers can come unexpectedly a lot more often, making racing situations more difficult to navigate and stabilizing when behind more awkward.
Bolster is going to help make small creatures more relevant in the middle to late game, meaning that you’ll be able to change board states to your favour much more easily. Also, as Bolster grants +1/+1 counters, it’s going to play very well the original Abzan strategy. With a few of the counter lords out, like Abzan Bond-Kin, it means that your creatures could quickly become keyword powerhouses.
Manifest leads to some interesting decisions on both combat as well as spells that bounce them back to hand, as you may be blocking a huge creature just waiting to be turned up or giving your opponent access to an instant or sorcery that was just languishing on the battlefield. One thing to make note of with Manifest, however, is that as most decks are likely going to have 17 or 18 lands in them, you have just under 50% chance of manifesting one of them, but so does your opponent.
With both Dash and Bolster, I feel that Fate Reforged Limited games are going to speed up slightly, while Manifest is going to lead to a lot of interesting combat choices. With a primarily mono-coloured set, it means that you’ll have to remember the clan colours if you want to keep yourself open going into pack 2 of a Draft whilst making two-coloured decks more predominant.
Let’s start with the card that I think may be the best uncommon in Fate Reforged, Elite Scaleguard. If you have no creatures when he resolves, you’ll have 4/5 creature for 5 mana which isn’t too bad when attacking or blocking. Add on to this that when he attacks, he’ll tap down any pesky blockers, this makes one neat little package. It’s when you have other creatures that this card really shines, though, as you get to make one of them bigger and attack through that turn. With any amount of +1/+1 counter synergy in your deck, this card can just become unbeatable by making your opponent unable to make any good blocks on your creatures.
Sandblast is one of the removal spells in this set that is going to fill the void that we had in Khans. Sure it’s situational, but most creatures are going to be attacking or blocking at some point, and this is going to hit a whole lot of them.
Sandsteppe Outcast is one of the best commons in the set, with three power and two toughness across either one or two creatures. Khans already had a token strategy and this plays right into that whilst also having great worth in other archetypes as well. The 2/1 body trades with morphs while the 1/1 can attack unblocked a lot of the time or holding off of the many X/1 creatures that we now have.
Mardu Woe-Reaper is a very aggressive one drop that’ll fit right into any aggressive strategy, but really shines in the black-white warriors deck. It’s ability can also be relevant by gaining some life in a racing scenario whilst also adversely affecting any graveyard-based strategies, such as Delve.
Lightform is essentially a 2/2 flier with lifelink for three which is already a great creature to have. Considering that that creature is a Manifest, it means that it has the possibility of getting bigger and catching your opponent off guard when racing or being able to favourably attack or block.
Honor’s Reward is essentially a combat trick that can also work as a pseudo-fog effect in a back and forth game. I see this making a lot of decks and should most likely be played in any deck with a +1/+1 counter synergy base.
Finally in white we have Valorous Stance. I see some similarities between this card and Feat of Resistance. Both protect a creature from removal spell and can turn a trade in combat to your favour. They differ, however, in that Valorous Stance isn’t going to win you a combat that you weren’t already but it doesn’t need you to have a creature on the battlefield to have a use. I feel that Valorous Stance is often going to fill the same slot that Feat of Resistance already does in many decks. Feat of Resistance is going to look better in +1/+1 counter based decks, with Valorous Stance otherwise being my card of choice.
Marang River Prowler is a very aggressive 3 drop that is just looking to be augmented by something. With it’s one toughness, it’ll be your first choice for any Bolster effects and is only ever going to removed from the battlefield outside of combat. Being able to cast it from the graveyard allows it be a constant threat with only exile removing it permanently. One thing to note, however, is that it’s always going to be a bad draw if you’re behind, and may well be watching games from the sideboard if you’re up against an aggressive deck.
Aven Surveyor has the flexibility of being a 3/3 flier for five, which is fine, or a 2/2 which bounces a creature, which is also fine. I’d likely be playing either of those cards in most blue decks, but with that added flexibility means that I’m unlikely to cut it from any deck that could cast reliably.
Cloudform is going to play out very much like Lightform will. Having Hexproof is better if the Manifest you get is a creature, but even if it’s not, you can feel safe in equipping or enchanting it up.
Mistfire Adept has reasonable base stats as a 3/3 for four mana, but has the upside of making it harder for your opponent to attack you with fliers if you have any mana available, as any instant is going to turn this guy into a very nice blocker.
Whisk Away is another good removal spell in the set, with the possible upside of putting an irrelevant creature on top of your opponent’s deck, essentially giving them a dead draw next turn. Be aware that if you use this on a Manifest, you could be giving your opponent a good instant or sorcery back, or if you use it on any other creature, that if the subsequently Manifest afterwards, then they are definitely hitting a creature that you didn’t want to see.
Write Into Being is essentially a 2/2 for three which has Scry 2 when it enters. Having the choice of what you Manifest can be very powerful while being able to put a card you don’t want to draw on the bottom of your deck makes this a nice little package.
Reality Shift is not a card you’re likely to be casting early in the game, but one you’ll be using later on to get rid of your opponent’s big threat. The fact that you’re giving your a creature a 2/2 that could get bigger is a definite downside, but one that you’ll often be happy to overlook.
This wraps up what I feel about the set going into it as well as my thoughts on White and Blue. Look out next week for when I go through my thoughts following the weekend of much Sealed as well as a review of Black, Red, Green and the multicoloured cycle. I’d appreciate hearing any thoughts you have on the format or your pre release experiences in the comments below.
Community Question: What is your favourite Common and/or Uncommon from Fate Reforged?
Thanks for reading and look forward to seeing you in Part 2,