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December 30, 2014

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Fate Reforged Previews

Spoiler Season is upon us already, and right out of the gate Fate Reforged has already dropped some powerful bombs. I’ll be posting updates on which cards I feel will have the biggest impact on the most popular formats!

January 6th –

wardenofthefirsttree

Today I’m going to talk about Figure of Destiny! .. Or rather, green Figure of Destiny! Well, there’s a bit more to it than that, but there are some similarities. We all know Figure of Destiny is an excellent magic card, so lets take a look at the differences and see if the Warden will live up. First off – he’s Green..and really he’s Green-White or Green-Black.. or Abzan. Next, Figure of Destiny‘s upgrade abilities cost 1 mana less across the board. This is probably the biggest reason Figure of Destiny is the better card. But that certainly doesn’t rule Warden out from competitive play. In standard, he fits nicely in to the aggressive Abzan decks as another one drop that doesn’t suck to draw late in the game. It should be noted that his final ability does stack, so you can activate it as many times as you have the mana to do so with. While his abilities do cost 1 more than Figure’s, the upgrades are generally better, so it’s not like you’re getting nothing for your investment. Obviously a 3/3 is better than a 2/2, and in general, adding Trample and Lifelink would be better than an extra point of Power and Toughness. It becomes more relevant after you start pumping him up to 8/8’s and beyond. That amount of lifegain plus a way to push through damage is a great mana sink on a card that is still excellent to have in your opening hand. Finally, being Red/White is likely better than Abzan, as those colours tend to appreciate an aggressive creature more.

My thoughts – standard role player. Probably won’t be the next Goblin Guide, but I wouldn’t laugh at someone for trying to make a deck around this guy.

January 2nd –

Back from the holidays and there have been some interesting cards spoiled – but only one really stands out as an obvious grand slam to me.

monasterymentor

Young Pyromancer on steroids. That would be the short way of describing this card. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that. First of all, Young Pyromancer costs 2, not 3. If this card is going to live up to its predecessor, that extra mana is going to have to be worth an awful lot. So, for the not-so-cheap cost of 1-mana, we’re getting

– Prowess
– An extra point of toughness (take that Electrickery)
– The creatures we spawn have Prowess
– The ability triggers off of all non-creature spells, and not just Instants and Sorceries

That is a lot for one mana. I don’t think there’s any question that this card will see competitive Standard play. The fact that it slides in to an already powerful Standard deck (Jeskai Tokens) is just gravy.

The real question is whether or not this card will take off in Modern and possibly even Legacy. My instincts tell me that this card is certainly strong enough for Modern, where it will become even more effective than it would be in standard with the free spells that already see play. In addition, it being White is virtually a non-issue with the mana fixing available. Legacy is a biggest question mark, as the jump from 2 to 3 mana is most noticeable there. In Legacy, for three mana you’d best be casting a spell that will end the game by itself. That being said, there’s certainly a non-zero chance this card ends up seeing play in the various UWR decks that are popular currently.

Verdict: This one is gonna cost a pretty penny.

December 30th –

uginthespiritdragon soulfiregrandmaster

Quite a few cards have been spoiled already, but these two are my first picks for discussion. The Manifest keyword ability will certainly warrant an entire column to itself, but speculation on how viable it is will be more realistic after we know more of the cards from the set.

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon at first glance is this Standard format’s Karn Liberated. A high costed, colourless planeswalker. At second (and third.. and all subsequent) glance however, the two card are not really all that similar. Ugin costs one more mana – this is a big deal as far as Modern is concerned, as you will not be casting him Turn 3 off of your Urza lands. That fact alone doesn’t make him unplayable in the Modern Tron deck, but I’ll leave that topic to someone with more experience playing large colourless spells. When it comes to Standard, I believe Ugin will see moderate to high play. His abilities are all excellent, every deck can theoretically cast him, and can you imagine the number of games you thought you were winning instantly being ruined by a top-decked Ugin? Basically any deck that can cast him either early (think spell-based ramp strategies) or as a finisher (think UB Control) will want this guy in some number.

Soulfire Grand Master is a much bigger question mark. This card has basically added an entire new “mechanic” of its own, as we’ve never seen spells gain the Lifelink ability before. What does this mean? Frankly, I have no idea. This card is either insane, or overly gimmicky. That being said, there are certainly some powerful interactions. Playing him alongside Eidolon of the Great Revel in a burn-based strategy seems very powerful both for the ability to gain back the damage you might be doing to yourself, but moreso to not run out of gas later in the game. The interaction with Stoke the Flames is also excellent (to no surprise of anyone). Imagine this sequence:

Turn 2: Soulfire Grand Master
Turn 3: Hordeling Outburst
Turn 4: Tap the three goblins and Soulfire to convoke a Stoke the Flames, and active Soulfire to put it back in your hand

It’s not the most “broken” line of play, but it’s my experience that the small advantages you get from playing already good cards are what makes them great cards.

To fully evaluate Soulfire Grand Master, in game testing will be required – as more of the set is spoiled, my colleague and I will be streaming Lunch Time Playtesting sessions, so be sure to check those out on Twitch!