Fate Reforged is upon us and with it, we have the opportunity to update our Commander decks with the latest and greatest toys that Wizards of the Coast™ has to offer. Welcome to my Top 10 Commander Set Review of Fate Reforged. As always, I will only be reviewing NEW cards, not reprints.
As with my previous Top 10 set reviews, I will give my thoughts on which cards that I believe are the best Commander cards from the newest expansion. My rankings do take into account cards that may be really good but are niche or only fit into a few decks. For each card I will include a FOR ME… section to indicate how I would personally use the card in my existing or future decklists.
I have compared my rankings with quite a few other Fate Reforged Top 10 Commander card lists and have noticed a wide range of difference and opinions on the top cards from the set. With that being said, I imagine that I may or may not have included a card that you feel should have been mentioned. I believe that Top 10 lists contain a large percentage of opinion in their rankings, and this is what I came up with. With that being said, what cards make your Top 10 list?. What would you rank higher (or lower)? What niche or obscure cards do you enjoy from Fate Reforged? Please comment and leave feedback in the section below!
Be sure to check back every once in a while for my other Commander (and Tiny Leader) articles. I am definitely looking forward to my Top 10 list for Dragons of Tarkir, due out in March 2015!
Outpost Siege: The red “Chandra, Pyromaster 0 Ability” seems to be here to stay. Choosing Khans gives us an extra card every turn. A pseudo-Phyrexian Arena if you will. The Dragons option could devastate opponents in conjunction with Goblin Bombardment or other token sacrifice effects commonly seen in Purphoros and Prossh. I picked up a foil for $3.00 just the other day. Sweet!
Shaman of the Great Hunt: This Shaman will provide an ample amount of card draw for Animar, Surrak, and Maelstrom. Not only that, but it’ll make the forces bigger should they get into the red zone.
Valorous Stance: Hope you don’t mind, but I wanted to squeeze-in one more honorable mention. Valorous Stance provides two decent effects that, if separate, I would not run the card in a deck (Reprisal, Ephemeral Shields), but together in this mini-charm with options, I really like it. This could be a staple for Isochron Scepter and/or Sunforger decks.
Enough of the “honorables”. You came here for a Top 10 List, so let’s get to it!
Top 10 Fate Reforged Cards for EDH Commander
#10 – Return to the Earth
Return to the Earth in the top 10? Really? It is definitely okay to scratch your head and point the “your top 10 list sucks” finger at me. However, give me a second, let me explain. Let’s get a few of the obvious comments out of the way first. No, this is not better than Krosan Grip and no, this is not better than Beast Within. Yes, at this may be just a tad bit overcosted, however, what this card provides is value. We all know that we need to pack more artifact and enchantment hate, but we don’t want to give up a deck spot for it. With Return to the Earth we get options. We can blow up an artifact or enchantment, or we can knock that big flyer out of the sky.
Return to Earth should be a solid budget removal card for years to come. It is splashable, provides three different options for removal, and can be cast at instant speed. I guarantee, however, that this card will be overlooked and underplayed.
FOR ME… My playgroup has Prossh, Scion, and Rakdos in it so packing a little extra hate towards creatures and commanders with flying isn’t too bad. I love a card with versatility, so having the option to pop an artifact, enchantment or creature with flying, at instant speed, all on one card, is quite “charming” to say the least. I will play this!
I would like to begin my review of Soulfire Grand Master by thanking wizards for not making this a Legendary Creature. The first ability is quite interesting. Instants and Sorceries you control have Lifelink. Since we are in Jeskai colors, how about pairing this with Blasphemous Act for a gazillion amount of lifegain? As of the release of Fate Reforged I do not believe that there is any other ability in the Magic the Gathering™ universe that gives spells lifelink. Really unique and cool.
The second ability, however, will be the one that makes Soulfire the magnet of all spot removal in your local games. For you can essentially give any Instant or Sorcery you cast Buyback. With enough mana to cast Time Warp AND activate Soulfire’s buyback ability you can combo off with infinite turns (but please, don’t be “That Guy”). On a lesser scale, adding to Mana Drain creates a very interesting Forbid.
Soulfire makes the Top 10 list because it can be abused and establish itself as a force to be reckonned with. But the fact that is is not legendary and the Jeskai banner is a rare Commander combination (outside of Narset) drops it to a lower ranking. As future Jeskai commanders and archetypes take root, however, watch for Soulfire’s popularity to increase.
FOR ME… Already tired of the brokenness that is Narset, Enlightened Master, I am so glad that the Grand Master is non-legendary. Although I have no plans for Soulfire, I would like to here how others may use it. Maybe in a Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest deck? Let me know, please comment below!
#8 – Monastery Mentor
Monastery Mentor is good, really good. I am sure that you realized that already with the $30 price tag at the time of the Fate Reforged release. Most of the hype surrounding the monk is for Standard, Limited, and possibly Modern, so the question is asked: How good is Monastery Mentor in Commander?
The Mentor provides card advantage by producing a 1/1 monk with Prowess everytime we cast a non-creature spell. While I think the number of decks that it will be good in is limited, I can very well see Rhys the Redeemed or any other token strategy take full advantage of its powers as well as blue/white control decks in a similar fashion to Talrand, Sky Summoner. Oh, toss the Mentor into any deck that runs Doubling Season, of course. There is also the new mini-Commander variant called Tiny Leaders, where this card could very well be bonkers.
FOR ME… I don’t have any immediate plans to use the Mentor. In fact, I am currently trying to trade my copy for another card higher up on the top 10 list. If for some reason I can’t get trade value, no biggie, I am sure I can stuff it into a Tiny Leaders build of some sort.
Remember in the old days when demons like Lord of the Pit could beat down an opponent but turn around and jack you in the jaw if you looked at it funny? Summoning a dark being from the underworld required caution and having available during your upkeep or suffer the consequences. Demons of the past are all but extinct as the new, gentler variety has taken a stance of loyalty to its controller.
Archfiend of Depravity is an able bodied flyer that helps keep your opponents aggro and token strategies under control. At the end of each opponents endstep that player must sacrifice all creatures they control except for two.
Of course, there is the issue that some players want to sacrifice creatures as part of their deck plan. For those worried about helping their opponents getting creatures in the yard, we already know the answer is graveyard hate.
With an aggressive casting cost and keeping opponents from massing hordes of creatures aimed at taking you out, turn to Archfiend of Depravity to help keep the board clear.
#6 – Mob Rule
Cast Insurrection, gain control of all creatures on the battlefield and smash face. Whether you have been on the receiving end of Insurrection or the one who cast it with a maniacal laugh, we can all agree this is a momentum changer, if not a game ender. In Fate Reforged we are introduced to Mob Rule, which in my opinion, is a mini-Insurrection. Until end of turn we can gain control of all creatures with power 4 or greater or gain control of all creatures with power 3 or less. The great thing about this effect is, unlike Zealous Conscripts, we can snag those pesky hexproof commanders and/or creatures.
So now that we control half of the creatures on the board, what do we do with them? Answer, anything we want. Let’s send them into the red zone to beat some face, possibly even win the game. Let’s use their abilities to the best of our ability and when we are all done, let’s make sure that they do not go back to their respective owner. Mob Rule should definitely be played with sacrifice effects. Before the end of turn we should sacrifice these creatures with Ashnod’s Altar, Altar of Dementia or other free sac outlets.
Would you like to use both modes of this spell and go full blown Insurrection? Look no further than including this in a deck with Dualcaster Mage or other Reverberate/Twincast like effects and unlock the full potential of Mini-Insurrection!
UPDATE: Thank you to TheLibertinistic and Pesterlamps for pointing out that you cannot successfully copy Mob Rule to utilize both options on the card. Twincasting this spell will only give the same result, twice. I cannot think my Reddit friends enough! Showing off my Level 0 Judging skills, lol. However, I still think Mob Rule is powerful and can’t wait to use it!
This says it best… Per TheLibertinistic on Reddit:
Rules point: Twincast effects exactly copy spells as they exist on the stack. That’s why all existing versions let you choose new targets, because without that text we’d get two Doom Blades both pointing at the original target. The downside is that no existing Twincast effects will let you re-choose modes. If you Dualcaster my Cryptic Command, you will get the same counterspell + bounce Command that I played. Twincasting Mob Rule is interesting mostly in that you will gain control of, and untap, all creatures of a certain size twice
FOR ME… I will be playtesting Mob Rule in my Purphoros deck. In Purphoros, I can sacrifice all of the borrowed creatures to Ashnod’s Altar, Spawning Pit, or Tooth and Claw to ensure they don’t make it back across enemy lines. I also have Chandra, the Firebrand and other Reverberate effects should I decide to use both modes of the spell.
#5 – Yasova Dragonclaw
Surrak’s ancestor joins an already star-studded fraternity of Temur Commanders. Temur is arguably the strongest wedge in EDH and the induction of Yasova Dragonclaw to the list of possible RUG commanders only strengthens their ranks. Yasova is a decent sized 4/2 Trampler at an efficient cost of . Her hybrid izzet ability of seems pretty darn good acting as a pseudo-Threaten effect that snags an opposing creature until end of turn as long as its power is less than Yasova’s.
I feel that Yasova lends herself as a useful resource as one of the 99 in other Temur decks. Yasova could also make a valid EDH Commander in her own right. Spells and effects that increase her toughness will help still bigger critters. A Yasova deck should also include sac outlets to dispose of an opponents creature rather than giving it back to them.
FOR ME… Eventually, I will have an EDH deck built around Surrak Dragonclaw. When the time comes to piece this deck together I can guarantee that Yasova Dragonclaw and her “Threaten” shenanigans will be onboard as a unique utility creature. I also have plans of giving Yasova her own deck, albeit, a tinier half-commander build… if you know what I am saying.
#4 – Frontier Siege
The Siege cycle in Fate Reforged provides a “Choose Your Own Adventure” to your commander games. Depending on the situation, your enchantment enters the battlefield with an ability of your choosing. These options are referred to as Khans or Dragons. Real quick, the DRAGONS ability on Frontier Siege is quite the yawner. Whenever a creature with flying enters the battlefield under your control, you may have it fight target creature you don’t control. Sure it can be built around, but green has very few flyers, so… moving on.
The Green Siege makes the top 10 list simply because it’s KHANS ability is so damn good. Khans – At the beginning of each of your main phases, add to your mana pool. Note that you get two mana at the beginning of each of your main phases. That is four mana per turn including two the same turn it comes into play.
Hey, we can all use a little more free mana on our turns to help cast spells, am I right? Green mages usually have a lot to do during their turn so Frontier Siege provides a great resource to get things done. A couple of commanders that will take to abusing the Khans ability as soon as it hits play will be Omnath and Kruphix. Two commanders that hold back their mana Hoover Dam style.
FOR ME… In my green decks, I usually prefer mana ramp in the form of Nature’s Lore type effects. Honestly though, how can I ignore the fact that the Green Siege can provide four extra mana every turn? Frontier Siege will be slotted into my Sigarda Enchantress deck and possibly a few of my other green based commander decks.
#3 – Supplant Form
If you are ready for this author to show his age, well here we go! I can’t help vision myself windmill slamming Supplant Form onto the table with a KA-POW! exclamation in the style of the 1960s Batman TV Show. Yes kids, Batman and Robin used to be on TV. Of course, my memories were from the reruns of the TV series in the late 70s. I’m old, but not old enough to watch the original airings. Anyway, back to the subject at hand.
Supplant Form allows us to bounce the nastiest baddy on the board while being able to put a token copy of the bounced villain onto our side of the field. Does your opponent have an Avacyn? Well, Boomerang her and put your own Avacyn on the board. Eldrazi? Vorinclex? Jin-Gitaxias? Bounce it! Copy it! All at Instant Super-hero Speed! KA-POW!
Supplant Form’s Bounce and Copy effect is well worth a place on Batman’s utility belt. Well, if you can imagine the Dark Knight playing blue.
FOR ME… Combining combat tricks and copy effects tugs at the soul of my deck building persona. Supplant Form will provide momentum changing shenanigans for years to come in my Wrexial Copy and Steal deck.
#2 – Reality Shift
Reality check. With indestructible nasties roaming friendly tables worldwide, we need to have a few pieces of spot removal in our arsenal. Blue should give a heart-felt thank you to Rapid Hybridization and Pongify for their service over the past few years, but now, Reality Shift is here.
So manifest is quite tricky. With Reality Shift we get to exile target creature. Its controller manifests the top card of his or her library. (That player puts the top card of his or her library onto the battlefield face down as a 2/2 creature. If it’s a creature card, it can be turned face up any time for its mana cost.).
What makes Reality Shift so good? How about: Instant Speed, Cheap Casting Cost, Splashable, fits on Isochron Scepter and it exiles. Naysayers may worry about the Manifest creation being morphed into a surprise threat but lets take a look at the odds. In a creature heavy aggro deck running 30 creatures the chance that the manifest is a creature is less than 30%. If it is a creature, what are the chances that the hidden 2/2 is a nastier menace than the Blightsteel Colossus, Avacyn, Angel of Hope, or Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre you exiled in response to them bashing your face? Sure your opponents can activate Sensei’s Diving Top or Brainstorm in response, but don’t be scared. The odds are in your favor.
Ah, one more thing. The manifest is a “must” not a “may”. Cast Reality Shift after an opponent sets up the top card of their library with a Mystical Tutor or their Sensei’s Divining Top Draw a Card activation. Feel the saltiness!
FOR ME… I’m going to practice what I preach here. Rolling the dice on the odds that whatever is manifested will not be more of a threat than what is exiled. Several copies of Reality Shift will be slotted in almost all of my blue Commander decks that do not already have a Swords to Plowshares or Path to Exile.
Of course Ugin is my #1 Fate Reforged card for EDH/Commander. I hope their was no doubt that you would find the Spirit Dragon at the top of my list. This guy is oober cool for flavor alone. Not to mention, he is really good in Commander! Ugin is also a colorless planeswalker which means he can be played in any EDH deck.
Let’s look at Ugin’s abilities
+2: Ugin, the Spirit Dragon deals 3 damage to target creature or player. This is kinda cool for a +2. We get to dish-out some colorless direct damage. If we are using this ability then our board-state must be fairly decent and we are escalating up to use his ultimate.
-X: Exile each permanent with converted mana cost X or less that’s one or more colors. By far, his strongest ability. Ugin can exile all permanents with converted mana cost X or less. Exile? Jiminy Crickets that is powerful! Ugin’s All Is Dust ability can reset a board, or, in a artifact heavy deck, put our game into check-mate.
-10: You gain 7 life, draw 7 cards, then put up to seven permanent cards from your hand onto the battlefield. The fact that Ugin’s ultimate is the exact opposite of Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker‘s is bursting with flavor! The 7 life is “meh” but drawing 7 cards and putting 7 permanents into play could be game, set and match!
What deck are you most excited about putting Ugin in? Did his abilities meet or exceed your expectations? Let me know in the comments below!
FOR ME… I am a huge fan of one sided removal and the Ugin, the Spirit Dragon‘s -X ability makes my Muzzio artifact deck drool. An immediate inclusion in Muzzio, Visionary Architect (in foil, I hope), but I could also see myself playing this in some of my other Commander decks as a colorless board wipe. In fact, it has been pointed out that Eight-and-a-Half-Tails with All Is Dust is quite nasty (turning opponents lands to WHITE). The same trick could be done with Ugin, but, I am definitely not a fan of “basic land” destruction. However, turning their artifacts or Cabal Coffers White and activating Ugin, that may be a possiblity (Evil Laugh)
OTHER CARDS I MAY PLAYTEST
So that wraps up the Top 10… before I go, however, here are a few other cards that I will be playtesting/adding to my existing EDH decks. These cards did not make the Top 10, but I thought I would note that I may give them a try.
Both of my Sunforger builds may tinker around with Temur Battle Rage and/or Valorous Stance. Especially in Kaalia where I have the option of embedding these on an Isochron Scepter as well as searching it out with Sunforger.
My Lazav Mill deck may toy around with Mindscour Dragon. The fact that you can deal damage to one opponent but mill a different opponent seems like a nice tactical edge. Hit the guy that’s open to mill the guy that has defense. Nice! Lazav will also be playtesting Fascination as it gives a great option of letting everyone draw a bunch of cards or, more importantly, mill a bunch of cards. Sibsig Host? Lazav is taking more of a zombie type theme, so maybe.
Dark Deal for my Grixis Discard deck.
Sage’s Reverie will probably not make the cut in Sigarda or Uril… but if I build Bruna…
So there you have it folks, my Top 10 Fate Reforged Cards for EDH/Commander. What do you agree with? What didn’t you like? Please comment in the section below!
On to the next!