Although I call myself a Magic the Gathering player, I really only think about Magic during spoiler season. The month or so before an expansion’s release is the best time for me, because so much is unknown about the set and exploring new content is what I love most about Magic and, to some extent, gaming in general. On that note, I wanted to quickly go through my top 5 favorite cards from the Fate Reforged spoilers in terms of which are the most interesting. Please do not take these as gospel, as I am no professional Magic player, nor am I some sort of prophet in terms of the future of Magic’s meta-games. Without further adieu:
Modular Effect Creatures At Common
I love limited Magic. I came into the Magic scene as a huge Timmy table-top player and turned into a limited fanatic, so excuse me as I gush over a cycle of modular creatures at common in Fate Reforged. Holding a creature in my hand that has an ETB (enters the battlefield) effect makes me play differently than holding a normal creature. I want to wait until the perfect moment to get the most value out of that creature’s effect, but the modular option of “choose one –” allows me to play the card for value regardless of the situation. Destroying an artifact or returning a creature to its owner’s hand may seem more powerful, but sometimes adding additional power and toughness onto my new creature could be desirable. Players are only as powerful as the options that they are afforded and these creatures give players great options for creating value with their creature choices at the common rarity. The cards themselves may not be stellar, but the philosophy behind them really shows how cards should be designed for limited play.
Jeskai Sage is a combination of my two favorite things in Magic: small creatures and drawing cards. This guy may not pack much of a punch initially, but Prowess allows him to be a worthy opponent depending on how many noncreature spells you’re rocking. The worst part about playing a creature like Jeskai Sage, however, is when he gets blown up before you can make proper use of his specific talents. This is where his “When Jeskai Sage dies” trigger comes in, as it allows him to replace himself in case something bad happens and he isn’t able to do his duty.
Soulfire Grand Master
As far as I know, this is the first instance of lifelink being applied to instant and sorcery spells in Magic the Gathering. Beyond just being an interesting piece of Magic’s history, it also seems VERY powerful. A 2/2 for 1 colorless and one white mana with lifelink is pretty great to begin with, not counting the passive bonus to spells and the activated ability. I see this card making waves somewhere… I just don’t know exactly where that’ll be.
All The Legendary Dragons
Being at least partially a Timmy player forces me to acknowledge just how cool the Legendary dragons of Tarkir are.
Not only is their artwork amazing, but they seem incredibly powerful as well. Atarka, for example, is a Flying, Trample, Double striking 6/4 legendary dragon. That’s a 12 damage swing with flying for 7 mana. Dromoka, on the other hand, continues to grow either himself or his army as he attacks. Silumgar breaths death and decay upon his foes, Ojutai annoys his enemies to death and Kolaghan is slippery like a fox. These guys are big, pretty and powerful, which is just about all I can ask of a cycle of Legendary dragons.
My number 1 spot is the only reason I chose to make a “top 5 most interesting” list, rather than “the most powerful” or “top 5 cards that will have the biggest impact”, because he may not go anywhere, but he sure is interesting. First of all, Soulflayer is a delve card, meaning that you could cast him for 4 colorless and two black mana or you could exile cards from your graveyard to cast him for as little as two black mana. Two mana for a 4/4 is pretty powerful already, but his additional effect allows him to adopt the evergreen keywords from creature cards that are exiled to pay for his casting cost. That means that if a player exiles a Chromanticore from his or her graveyard to pay for Soulflayer, then Soulflayer will enter the battlefield with Flying, First Strike, Vigilance, Trample and Lifelink. If the Chromanticore-Soulflayer combo hasn’t won you over yet, perhaps a new perspective will persuade you. What would you say if Wizards of the Coast printed Soulflayer like this instead:
So far, I’m really excited for Fate Reforged. I love the Khans and the world of Tarkir, but I love the limited play philosophy even more, as Fate is meant to be drafted with both Khans of Tarkir and Dragons of Tarkir separately, meaning that it is supposed to supplement both sets’ aesthetic themes, storyline and gameplay in different ways. If Fate Reforged and Khans of Tarkir are good examples of what Wizards plans to do with Magic in the future, I’m ready to stay on board for a good, loooooooooong time.