Brewing with Fate Reforged

Posted in Perilous Research on January 15, 2015

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Welcome back to Perilous Research! We're just a few days away from the Fate Reforged Prerelease. Fate Reforged promises to drastically change the Standard landscape with powerful cards like Brutal Hordechief and seemingly indispensable removal spells like Wild Slash. Today, we'll be doing our best to brew up some new strategies for Standard with Fate Reforged!

It's the best time to brew! Right before the Prerelease, no one has any idea what's going to be good in the new Standard. Sure, there's some confidence that decks like Abzan will still be awesome, but the new batch of cards unlocks a huge range of exciting strategies. Deck building is one of the most interesting parts about Magic; it's what keeps us awake at night and makes us daydream on our commutes. There's no better time for building new decks than right before the Prerelease when everyone is on the same footing.

Red Devotion

The first card I'd like to focus on is my preview card from last week, Mardu Scout. We've already spoken at length about this card's strengths, but we haven't yet had the chance to discuss the tremendous boost in power that red strategies in Standard will enjoy with the introduction of Fate Reforged.

Red Devotion strategies will, once again, be able to make big plays with Purphoros, God of the Forge and Fanatic of Mogis. Cards like Flamewake Phoenix and Mardu Scout contribute beautifully to our devotion count while also just being tremendously powerful on their own. Let's see what a Red Devotion deck might look like in a post-Fate Reforged Standard.

Mardu Scout seems like it has to be a four-of. The card gives us 3 power and two devotion for two mana while also letting us play around board-sweeping effects and other forms of sorcery-speed removal. In the late game, we can use the dash mechanic to methodically turn our Purphoros, God of the Forge into a creature on our turn while allowing it to remain an enchantment on our opponent's turn, hence playing around cards like Chained to the Rocks. We'll also get a Purphoros trigger each time we make this play. Seems like it's all kinds of awesome.

Goblin Rabblemaster is, along with Courser of Kruphix, one of the strongest Magic cards in Standard when looking at things in a vacuum. We'll definitely be playing four copies here.

Flamewake Phoenix is incredibly exciting. It requires our deck to go a bit larger than some of the hyper-aggressive red strategies that were successful in the previous season, but the changes we'll be making to our deck are probably a significant upgrade. Now we just need some burn spells and some creatures with 4 or more power.

Ashcloud Phoenix is perfect here. The card gives us devotion and a mana sink for our Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, and it's an efficiently costed 4-power creature to go with our Flamewake Phoenix. It's also worth noting that Ashcloud Phoenix matches up very well against Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. In matchups where the opponent has access to Ugin, if we're applying pressure and have other options in terms of which threats to play on a given turn, then we should try to have a face-up Phoenix on the table on the turn Ugin would be making an appearance.

Meanwhile, Fanatic of Mogis seems like it was made to be played alongside Flamewake Phoenix. The card comes down and does 3 to 5 damage to the opponent before providing a ton of power to the board. On stalled boards, Fanatic of Mogis will often come down with some very large triggers.

Purphoros, God of the Forge seems like it's still going to be a chore to turn into a creature. It's a powerful enough card that we'll definitely try at least one to start. This number could go up or down depending on how the deck plays. We may end up wanting to cut some spells for more bodies so we can play more of the God to which we're devoted.

Stormbreath Dragon is awesome against the Abzan decks that seem to be doing so well in the current Standard. It's also quite strong against heroic strategies if those continue to be popular. We're going to want four copies of this. It's a great mana sink for our Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx; it applies quick pressure; and it matches up well against the deck that's likely to be one of our most common opponents in the new Standard.

Then we'll need some reach to finish off our opponent or deal with threats, and Crater's Claws is practically made for this deck. We're going to have Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx; tons of lands; and tons of creatures with 4 or more power. Seems like a slam dunk.

Here's what a good Red Devotion deck might look like in Fate Reforged Standard:

Jacob Van Lunen—Fate Reforged Red Devotion

Download Arena Decklist

Mardu Tokens

The next card I'd like to focus on is Brutal Hordechief. This is, without any doubt, my favorite card from the new set. I just want to cast Hordeling Outburst on my third turn and Brutal Hordechief on my fourth turn. Is that too much to ask? I don't think it is. It's only two cards. Heck! I'd even settle for Goblin Rabblemaster on the third turn. Let's see what a Mardu Tokens strategy might look like for Fate Reforged Standard!

We'll want to be playing a lot of red sources of mana so we can cast Hordeling Outburst and Stoke the Flames. This probably means we can include some number of Chained to the Rocks in this version of the tokens deck. I think Chained to the Rocks is one of the better removal options in the current Standard. The card has been adopted as a team player by a lot of strategies over the last few weeks and, unless haste creatures become a major factor, I fully expect its popularity to continue to rise.

Soulfire Grand Master is another great upgrade for a deck like this. We'll have lifelinking Stoke the Flames and Lightning Strike and we'll even get to make some very awesome plays by using the convoke on Stoke the Flames with the activation on this guy. This is the type of two-mana creature that demands a removal spell and that opens the door for Goblin Rabblemaster to do some fine work in the paint.

Crackling Doom is still one of the best removal spells in the format. The card usually beats Nissa, Worldwaker and also takes care of whatever exciting four- or five-drop the opponent might have for us.

Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury is another card I'm really excited about trying. This card in conjunction with Hordeling Outburst and Goblin Rabblemaster seems very strong. It's also a great way for a deck like this to play around board-sweeping effects.

Finally, Sorin, Solemn Visitor is exactly what we're looking for to round out our four-mana cards. It makes tokens that contribute to our deck's overall function and, if we've already got a token army, it gives them a nice bonus while presenting the potential threat of its ultimate—which will likely just win the game against most opponents.

Here's what I expect a Mardu Tokens deck to look like in Fate Reforged Standard.

Jacob Van Lunen—Fate Reforged Mardu Tokens

Download Arena Decklist

We've already made two awesome new decks and we've barely scratched the surface of all the powerful cards available in Fate Reforged! What do you plan on playing in Fate Reforged Standard?

The Fate Reforged Prerelease is this weekend! Don't miss your opportunity to be among the first to play with the new set. Most stores have limited space and these events tend to be wildly popular. Remember to call ahead and preregister if your store allows to guarantee your spot in the action!

Knowledge is power!

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