Welcome, dear readers, to the second part of my Fate Reforged review! You can find the first part here.
As usual, I’ll evaluate the cards from a multiplayer perspective – and a casual one at that. Be aware that everything you read here reflects my own personal opinion and thoughts and that I don’t even try to be objective. What’s more, I only talk about cards I find interesting and where I deem my two cents worthwhile. There will be cards that are all the rage in competitive play but that you’ll not find mentioned in this article because I either don’t like them or think they’ve already been discussed to death by others.
Okay, with that out of the way, let’s move on to some actual cards!
Archfiend of Depravity – And we’ll start off with a bomb! Seriously, this dude is really good if your playgroup prefers creatures as win conditions and if you like building favorable board positions. And who doesn’t? Even though his ability might backfire if someone plays a graveyard-based deck or needs sacrifice effects for their deck to work, the payoff should be worth it. Nobody but you will be able to build up an army as long as he’s on the battlefield. Be careful though, as he might put a target on your head.
Battle Brawler – 3/2 and first strike for two mana? Sounds good to me and should make people send their monsters elsewhere during the early turns. And as an attacker, he can put some nice pressure on the defending player until they play a creature with a bigger butt. I once had Porcelain Legionnaire in an artifact-heavy aggro deck and his presence was always welcome. I suspect the brawler to work similarly.
Brutal Hordechief – Orcs have really gained a lot from Tarkir block so far. Brutal Hordechief can absolutely mess with the defending player’s combat step and pressure them immensely. Similar to Hellrider but even more powerful thanks to his second ability, this guy needs to be dealt with as soon as possible or it’s probably game over.
Crux of Fate – I’m so going to build that dragon deck now! But even outside any tribal shenanigans, Crux of Fate is a sweeper for only five mana. With Damnation still being far too expensive for most casual players’ wallets, this sorcery is a very good alternative. Get yours quickly as its very specific flavor will probably prevent it from being reprinted any time soon.
Dark Deal – Hey, see that blue player over there? Yes, the one who has been sculpting her hand for turn after turn. How about screwing up her plans? Let’s just hope she doesn’t have a counterspell. Oh, and in multiplayer, Dark Deal synergizes extreeeeeeeemely well with Waste Not. If you cast this with Waste Not on the table in a four players game, your opponents usually discard something around twelve to fifteen cards in total! *head asplode*
Mardu Strike Leader – I’m on the fence about this dude. If there is a player who still doesn’t control any blockers when you attack with this guy, his value goes up a lot. However, if nobody’s defenses are open, Mardu Strike Leader is basically a 3/2 for three mana with the option of getting one or more 2/1s in the future. Doesn’t sound all that great, does it?
Merciless Executioner – Another highly playable orc. It’s a functional reprint of Fleshbag Marauder, and all decks that used the marauder could also play this guy. Well, all but the zombie decks, of course. Especially mean with Grave Pact or Dictate of Erebos as it forces your opponents to sacrifice two creatures for only three mana.
Palace Siege – If your game is going long, this might be the best of the Siege cycle as both modes can really help you out. It’s a great multiplayer card that will very probably find a home in my Abzan lifedrain deck alongside Kokusho, the Evening Star, Siege Rhino and Greater Good.
Qarsi High Priest – In multiplayer, sacrifice outlets are a double-edged sword as they grant you a boon to the detriment of your defensive capabilities. This cleric seems to be a welcome exception from the rule as he also ensures that you get a blocker. That he needs to tap is a bummer though. His use depends on your deck, of course, but he could be good. Unfortunately for him, there are many sacrifice outlets that should still be better in any given deck.
Tasigur, the Golden Fang – Yeah, yeah, Tasigur is the next big thing in many a competitive format, I know. But I’ll tell you what, in casual multiplayer games, he’s actually not as good. He’s basically a 4/5 with “: Draw a card.” Even though I have to admit that delving can shape your graveyard to your liking so that his recursion ability becomes better. Also, since you can choose the opponent, Tasigur might allow for some interesting political plays. Hm, the more I think about it, the more I like him…
Alesha, Who Smiles at Death – As a 3/2 with first strike for three mana, Alesha does have the stats to provide early defense. What, Kuchisama? Defense? Yes, because first strike is a defensive ability first and an offensive one second. Or have you ever been attacked by someone if they are guaranteed to lose their attacker while your blocker would stay alive (unless they benefit in another way, that is)? And having a power of 3 should usually let Alesha survive every brawl in the early turns. The thing is, if you look at her second ability, she clearly wants to attack. But I’m not sure she should always do that in a multiplayer game. I mean, what are you going to return? Probably a puny 1-drop that already bit the dust and will probably do the same again immediately after its return. Meh.
But have you realized that Alesha can make walls attack? Because the creature she returns never gets declared as an attacker, defender doesn’t matter! I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen but I’d love to hit someone over the head with a pumped Wall of Blood! There are many creatures out there that have power 2 or less but are actually far bigger than that, such as Pentavus, Phantom Nishoba or even Daghatar the Adamant. Kemba, Kha Regent and Stoneforge Mystic anyone? That Hero’s Blade you’re going to fetch should come in handy to pump Alesha as well. And then there is Master of Cruelties, of course… So yeah, Alesha, Who Smiles at Death is actually more versatile than she appears at first glance. I guess I’ll have to take her for a spin to see if she has what it takes in multiplayer.
Arcbond – It’s a bit situational but under the right circumstances, Arcbond can be a Wrath of God for only three mana. Still, red already has a wrath for only one mana, one that’s guaranteed to kill everything that isn’t indestructible or has protection from red, and that’s the one I’m going to stick with.
Flamewake Phoenix – Having to attack every turn means it won’t ever stay back to defend you against that Savageborn Hydra that’s already looking at you and your 8 life with that weird gleam in its eyes. Thanks, I’ll pass.
Friendly Fire – Yes, yes, you can hit gold by your opponent revealing Sun Titan or whatever, but in the end, this is far too – you guessed it – random. The two worst cases? If they don’t have any cards when you need it or if they reveal a land…
Lightning Shrieker – For some reason, I really like this guy. It’s completely irrational of course, but I do. First of all, Lightning Shrieker is a dragon at common (!). We don’t have many of those, with Dragon Hatchling being the only other one. Secondly, it reminds me of Blitz Hellion, a card I always liked as well. Sadly, I could never make the hellion work, so I’m not optimistic about Lightning Shrieker‘s fate either. Especially if I approach him from a more objective perspective. You pay five mana to deal a maximum of 5 damage, probably even less. And you don’t further your own board position one little bit unless they block with a flier that absolutely needs to die. That’s no receipt for winning multiplayer games. Oh well…
Mob Rule – While this is certainly no Insurrection, it’s two mana cheaper, making it infinitely more playable in normal 60-card games. And it can also win you games you have no business winning, so I think this could be really good.
Outpost Siege – Put this into your tokens deck and watch them cringe when they realize that their stupid board wipe would kill them… The Khans mode isn’t bad either, as it really smoothes out your draws. I would have liked to see it at 1RR though.
Shaman of the Great Hunt – Wow. Just wow. With his two toughness, he’s not much of a brawler, but his two extremely cool support abilities can really kick the performance of your deck into overdrive. Even though I value haste very much, you’re probably better off if you ignore it here. Shaman of the Great Hunt is the engine that fuels your assault, not necessarily a part of your offense itself.
Atarka, World Render – In my opinion, Atarka is the best of the new bunch of legendary Dragons. The damage output she enables is ridiculous. Cast Broodmate Dragon, then Atarka a turn later, and go to town. Or how about hitting the monoblack player with Chameleon Colossus? I’ve also heard that Taurean Mauler can grow really big as well… However, Atarka’s best friend isn’t a dragon at all. Nope, that wouldn’t be good enough for her. She looks for friendship amongst higher beings, gods to be exact. And there she found Xenagos, God of Revels…
Dromoka, the Eternal – Dromoka’s stats are really good. 5/5 flying for five mana is already alright, but in addition to that, she also pumps your team? Sign me up! And unlike most of the other new dragon legends, her “whenever a dragon you control attacks” trigger is good enough on its own even without other dragons on your side of the table. While she attacks in the air, she enables your blockers to keep threats away that are normally bigger than them. If you manage to keep that up for a few turns, your monsters will have become really large. Of course, the more dragons you control, the better the result. Unfortunately, white and green don’t have all that many dragons between them. May I recommend Yosei, the Morning Star, Eternal Dragon, the above-mentioned Chameleon Colossus, or even Rith, the Awakener? Oh well, branching out into other colors already? Not good… Still, Dromoka is good enough on her own.
Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury – Kologhan’s attack trigger is rather weak but you’re already in red, so there are a few more dragons you can play. Dash is not a good multiplayer mechanic, though, as it doesn’t do sh*t to improve your board position. So all in all, there are certainly better things you could do at five mana than casting Kolaghan. Then again, this dragon always attacks for five, and a 5/5 flier for five mana doesn’t sound too bad now, does it? It still feels kind of underwhelming, considering that it plays similar to Lightning Shrieker (but more reliable) if you only use it with dash. So yeah, Kologhan isn’t bad but I expect a bit more from a rare.
Ojutai, Soul of Winter – Ah, if only Ojutai was one mana cheaper… A thing of note is that the “Frost Dragon” can actually tap noncreature permanents as well. And the art is awesome! He looks so sleek and swift that I’d really love to see him fly through the skies for real. Brilliant!
Silumgar, the Drifting Death – For some reason, I keep forgetting that Silumgar has hexproof. That keyword makes him a lot better but he’s just not up there with the likes of Keiga, the Tide Star or even Kokusho, the Evening Star. And in multiplayer, his attack trigger doesn’t really cut it without other dragons to support him. Then again, that can easily be remedied by playing Conspiracy, Xenograft or Day of the Dragons…
Hero’s Blade – Dear Kemba, I have a very special something for you today. I know you have been waiting for a cool piece of equipment other than your shiny Lightning Greaves that you can put on the turn you enter a battlefield. So listen, Kemba, this piece of equipment is finally here. And it makes you a beefy attacker, too. Isn’t that nice? Yeah, I would recognize that blissful purring everywhere.
Ugin’s Construct – What an amazing artwork! I want to play with this card because of it! And there are actually cards out there that can make it work, say Hatching Plans, Aura Thief or Rancor among lots of others. Still, Ugin’s Construct isn’t great per se as it doesn’t have any positive abilities. By the way, if you don’t control any colored permanents when this enters the battlefield, you don’t have to sacrifice anything.
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon – This card has been talked to death by so many people that you won’t need me to tell you he’s very, very good. Instead, I’d just like to remark on the awesome job of making him the antithesis to Nicol Bolas in so many ways. Great story, great design.
Bloodfell Caves, Blossoming Sands, Dismal Backwater, Jungle Hollow, Rugged Highlands, Scoured Barrens, Swiftwater Cliffs, Thornwood Falls, Tranquil Cove, Wind-Scarred Crag – Wow, that’s quite a lot of new two-color lands. Well, actually not all that new but downgrading the previous versions from uncommon (Akoum Refuge etc.) to common is certainly a good idea if you consider that they aren’t really all that good. For players with a very limited budget though, they might be a nice alternative, but if you can afford something even a little more expensive, you probably should.
Summing It Up
Okay, and this concludes my review of Fate Reforged. In general, I’ve been happy with how the Tarkir block has been shaping up so far and hope that Wizards can maintain that high quality.
What do you think of Sarkhan’s home world so far? Do you like it? Or not? How about your favorite cards? Let us know in the comments!