Fate Reforged contains a ton of Standard-worthy cards that can enhance existing decks, spawn novel archetypes, or provide sweet new options. During the byes, four-time Pro Tour Top 8 competitor Marijn Lybaert, one of this weekend’s commentators on the twitch.tv/magic live stream, went over the entire set and selected his Top 20 from Fate Reforged from Standard.
Marijn Lybaert (left) and Riley Knight (right) recording the Top 20 cards video feature
Here they are, along with explanations on what makes these cards stand out.
20. Warden of the First Tree
Often compared to Figure of Destiny, Warden of the First Tree is an aggressive creature that can single-handedly take over the late game. It sees some play Abzan Aggro, although not a lot because that deck often wants to play Sandsteppe Citadel on turn one. However, the good thing is that it’s not just an Abzan card; it can find a home in a Selesnya or Golgari deck as well!
19. Frost Walker
A 4/1 in blue for two mana is, with the exception of Dandan, not something we’ve seen before. As such, Frost Walker is already seeing some play in Temur, where it nicely enables ferocious for cards like Stubborn Denial. The downside is minimal because there are not many removal spells that wouldn’t kill it anyway--you don’t care if your opponent targets it with Hero's Downfall.
18. Yasova Dragonclaw
Her base stats are fine, and she only costs a single green, making her easier to cast than Boon Satyr in a three-color deck. But her key appeal is the ability to take control of a creature. This can swing around the game, especially if you manage to gain control of Sidisi, Brood Tyrant. Although Yasova isn’t seeing a ton of play yet, she is included in various R/G aggro decks.
17. Flamewake Phoenix
Reminiscent of Chandra's Phoenix, this 2/2 flyer puts a lot of pressure on opponents. It is good discard fodder for something like Tormenting Voice; it is great to sacrifice to Butcher of the Horde; and it nicely synergizes with Fanatic of Mogis. It requires a specific deck to take advantage of the ferocious ability, but the power is there.
16. Monastery Siege
This is one card that Marijn Lybaert believes we’ll see more of. Mostly used for the Khans ability, it is a nice setup card for a deck that revolves around big delve spells like Treasure Cruise. It gets cards in the graveyard, gives card selection, and even adds to blue devotion if you’re interested in that.
15. Brutal Hordechief
Marijn Lybaert’s favorite all-time card is Hellrider, and Brutal Hordechief is similar. When you play it on turn four when you already have three creatures in play, it essentially fires off a free Lightning Helix the turn it comes down. In the late game, the activated ability can dominate combat, too.
14. Silumgar, the Drifting Death
This dragon is a glorious piece of the blue-black control puzzle. It kills tokens, attacks planeswalkers, and has hexproof to boot. It also works well with Crux of Fate, turning the sorcery into a one-sided sweeper that leaves your dragon on the battlefield after the fateful dust clears.
13. Temur Sabertooth
It’s a fine attacker, it can dodge removal when you have two mana up, and it can generate value by returning Eidolon of Blossoms. While it’s decent on its own, its main selling point is that it enables a great combo: if you have Temur Ascendancy, Temur Sabertooth, Voyaging Satyr, and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx with seven devotion to green in play, you can generate infinite mana.
12. Wild Slash
You get what you pay for. It’s more or less Shock, which is an effect we were missing in Standard. We had Lightning Strike and Hero's Downfall, but we missed a good one-mana removal card that can take out Goblin Rabblemaster or Seeker of the Way. Wild Slash kills a bunch of stuff at an efficient mana point, so it’s an important addition to the Standard format.
11. Soulfire Grand Master
As a 2/2 lifelink, it’s a serviceable two-drop, but nothing too special. What sets it apart are its additional abilities, in particular when combined with cheap burn cards like Wild Slash, Lightning Strike, and Stoke the Flames. If you get to the late game and can turn Lightning Strike into a Lightning Helix with buyback, then that’s a great way to leverage a two-drop.
10. Whisperwood Elemental
Whisperwood Elemental is a very powerful creature. You don’t want your five-drop to just die to a spot removal spell, but this one will at least leave a manifested 2/2 behind, provided you play it when your opponent is tapped out. In addition to long-game inevitability through a steady stream of creatures, it also provides a decent answer to Crux of Fate and End Hostilities.
9. Torrent Elemental
This one works very well together with all of the delve cards, including Treasure Cruise, Dig Through Time, and Tasigur, the Golden Fang. Moreover, as a 3/5, it has the perfect size for blocking Siege Rhino or Mantis Rider. And when you go on the offense, you can tap down any pesky blockers. But all thing considered, it’s the synergy with the delve cards that makes it stand out.
8. Outpost Siege
Set to Khans, it’s like an unkillable Chandra, Pyromaster. Because your opponent cannot attack Outpost Siege, it sticks around and ensures a same steady stream of cards. Set to Dragons, you can shoot down your entire opponent’s board, especially in decks with Hordeling Outburst or Goblin Rabblemaster. There’s a good option for every game, and arguably it deserves to see more play.
7. Frontier Siege
While the synergy with Hornet Queen is nice, the main reason for playing this card comes from the Khans side. When you play it on turn four, you immediately get two mana that you can use in your second main phase. On turn five, you add a total of four mana. If you have plenty of big cards to play and some card draw spells to refuel, then it’s easy to overpower your opponent from then on.
6. Valorous Stance
The first mode is a nice counter to Hero's Downfall or Lightning Strike, and the second mode can deal with creatures like Courser of Kruphix or Siege Rhino. Both modes are okay, but what makes this card so strong is the flexibility: You have a choice, increasing the likelihood that you’re ready with the right effect for any situation. Modal spells are always better than they look at first glance.
5. Crux of Fate
Blue-black control was missing a sweeper. It had Perilous Vault, but that was slow and cost too much mana. Crux of Fate changes all that. It is an efficient way to clear the board and to allow the control deck to transition into the late game. Cruxially, because it forces a choice between Dragon and non-Dragon, the introduction of Crux of Fate has fated an uptick in Stormbreath Dragon.
4. Monastery Mentor
It’s worse than Young Pyromancer because three mana is much more than two mana, especially when there’s so much competition at the three-drop slots. After all, cards like Hordeling Outburst and Goblin Rabblemaster also vying for inclusion. Yet, Monastery Mentor is a very powerful card, and it’s up to the competitors here in Seville to find the right home for it.
3. Shaman of the Great Hunt
It fits in Temur Midrange. It fits in R/G Aggro. It even fits in Jeskai Fireworks. So it can slot into a large number of decks, but it is best when combined with Hordeling Outburst and Goblin Rabblemaster. With those synergies, Shaman of the Great Hunt can do a lot of work to boost your team, and the card draw ability makes it a must-answer in the late game.
2. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
If you’re behind, it’ll allow you to catch up. If you’re ahead, Ugin will help seal the deal. Its mere existence makes control decks better because it goes over the top of everything else, and it is the ultimate trump card in Standard. Sure, eight mana is a lot, but it is achievable in the right deck. Cards like Frontier Siege and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx help to ramp into it, for example.
1. Tasigur, the Golden Fang
This card is bananas. It’s like a Siege Rhino for one mana! Okay, it doesn’t drain, but you can’t expect everything when you’re only paying a single black. On top of that, the activated ability is awesome, effectively giving you an extra draw step in the late game. Last weekend, Tasigur has already shown its power in Modern. This weekend, he’s poised to confirm his power in Standard as well.