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5 Decks You Can't Miss This Week


It's time for Fate Reforged, and I couldn't be much more excited. There are all kinds of fun cards, combinations, and implications across all of your favorite formats, particularly given the recent changes to the Banned and Restricted lists. Cards like Monastery Mentor and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon have the potential to completely change archetypes and formats, while effects like Crux of Fate can redefine and revitalize already popular decks. This week we're going to be taking a look at what Fate Reforged has to offer that might shake up Standard, Legacy, and Commander. We'll start with a pair of Standard lists that show off the explosive power of Frontier Siege and Renowned Weaponsmith before moving into Legacy where we take a look at the potential of prowess and manifest. Finally, we'll see what kind of tempest Shu Yun can bring to your kitchen table in Commander.

You thought you'd seen the last of Master of Waes and Thassa, God of the Sea. You thought wrong. Fate Reforged has brought with it an awesome new card for aggressive Blue archetypes: Renowned Weaponsmith. Is this card the missing piece the archetype has needed to return to the limelight? Jacob Wilson seems to think so:

The plan is the same as it was before. Early, evasive aggression backed by powerful midgame threats. The difference is that we've lost two of the cards that were powerful threats in their own right: Frostburn Weird and Nightveil Specter. In their place, Jacob has opted for a synergistic Artifact engine featuring Chief Engineer and Renowned Weaponsmith. Between these two, you can start powering out Hall of Triumph and Obelisk of Urd to keep the pressure up or jam a Bident of Thassa to help battle through removal and other attrition fights.

That doesn't even mention that these cards help power up your devotion for Thassa and Master of Waves and potentially even help you keep your elemental tokens through a removal spell. The individual cards in this build of Blue Devotion are certainly worse than in the previous season. The question is whether the artifact synergies can overcome that loss of overall power, and what the best way to accomplish that is. Is it worth it to have Soul of New Phyrexia or Scuttling Doom Engine as the top end of your curve? Or is it better to just focus on the devotion theme? These are the questions we have to answer if Master of Waves is going to make his big return to the Standard stage.

One of the most exciting cards to come out of Fate Reforged is Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. Consequently, one of the biggest questions we have to ask ourselves is this: where does Ugin fit in? Is he a control finisher? A powerful midrange threat? Or is he playable at all? Brad Nelson seems to think that Ugin fits best in the deck that can cast him as early as turn four: Green Devotion. Take a look at what this Nykthos-fueled madness may look like in the new Standard format:

There are two big pickups for this deck in the new set: Frontier Siege and Ugin. Frontier Siege is an interesting card in that it is absurdly busted if you can get it into play ahead of schedule. Notice that it says each main phase. That means that Frontier Siege not only helps you cast your big spells ahead of schedule, but also helps you get your remaining mana creatures into play to boost your devotion.

The combination of Ugin, Genesis Hydra, and Polukranos give you all kinds of absurd payoffs for getting your mana engines online, and even give you ways to battle through huge attrition wars with Whip of Erebos decks. As always, this style of deck has some of the most absurd nut draws and powerful end games of any deck in Standard. In this deck, you can lead off with a pair of mana creatures and play Frontier Siege on turn three. Then when you untap you can cast Nissa, Worldwaker, untap your lands, play a Nykthos, and jam Ugin, the Spirit Dragon during your second mainphase. Because Frontier Siege is fair.

There's no doubt that a Green Nykthos deck will be part of the metagame until Nykthos rotates. The question is what the maindeck will look like; what the balance between top end, midrange, and ramp effects has to be. Is Frontier Siege good enough? What about Eidolon of Blossoms? Where does the balance of Hornet Queen, Ugin, and Nissa want to be? There are a lot of interesting questions to ask if this is what you want to be doing in Standard. Personally, I can wait to see people get demolished by turn four Ugin.

Another exciting card to come out of Fate Reforged is Monastery Mentor. This card is the talk of the town in all kinds of Jeskai Ascendancy Tokens decks or Blue-White heroic decks as a backup plan to their namesake cards. But that's not what Drew Levin is interested in. Why should we settle for Monastery Mentor as a fair backup plan when Young Pyromancer has shown us just how powerful this kind of ability can be in formats like Legacy and Vintage? Why not try to go positively broken instead?

So what's the plan here? The plan is to use busted Artifact mana to play an early Monastery Mentor. Once you do, you're trying to present lethal on the next turn. It's important to note that Monastery Mentor trigger for every non-Creature spell, not just Instants or Sorceries. That means that any extra Lotus Petals or Mox Opals generate prowess Monks and led you keep cantripping through your deck and generating a bunch of guys. Once you do, you're just trying to use cantrips, Cabal Therapy, and Retract to Prowess your way to vicotry on the next turn.

It's not clear if this is the best shell for Monastery Mentor in Legacy, or even if this is a good shell. What is clear is that there's a lot of potential here. This is a card that can present obscene amounts of damage with very little investment. The best part? You don't even have to make a big investment during deckbuilding. You were going to play some number of Gitaxian Probe, Brainstorm, and Ponder anyway right? Why not get a threat that turns all those cantrips into game-ending threats?

Phyrexian Dreadnought is one of the most interesting cards that isn't being played in contemporary Legacy. This is a card that has been combined with Stifle to make 12/12's as early as turn one off of Chrome Mox. It's a threat that has been tutored for via Trinket Mage and Enlightened Tutor, and has been played alongisde both Dark Confidant and Counterbalance in different shells. It's been used to power Mosswort Bridge combo decks and all manner of craziness with Protean Hulk. Why does Adam Barnello think that Manifest might mean a comeback for Phyrexian Dreadnought? Read on and find out:

Adam has a history of being a big fan of Enlightened Tutor control decks utilizing some combination of Counterbalance and Sensei's Divining Top as well as Thopter Foundry and Sword of the Meek. Playing a bunch of Enlightened Tutors also gives you access to powerful singletons like Humility and Moat as the metagame may demand.

What's especially interesting about this deck, however, is that you can tutor for Cloudform and Lightform. If you already had one, you can Enlightened Tutor for Phyrexian Dreadnought. When you manifest your Dreadnought and flip it over, suddenly you get to cheat in an enormous, evasive threat with either hexproof or lifelink as the matchup demands. This gives this style of deck a powerful way to turn the corner and end games efficiently, quickly, and without exposing itself to a ton of interaction.

It will be interesting to find out if this package becomes a primary mechanism of winning in Blue-White Enlightened Tutor decks, or whether it's a powerful backup or sideboard strategy. It's pretty hard to compete with effects like Jace or Entreat the Angels, but this could be the beginning of a Trinket Mage control deck if such a thing was going to exist in Legacy. One thing's for certain: manifest gets a whole lot more interesting when you have consistent control over the top of your library with Brainstorm and the like.

Fate Reforged also brings with it a number of exciting new Legends for Commander. Foremost are the new Dragons with powerful new abilities, but the one that excites me the most is Gathering Magic's own preview card: Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest. When I first saw this card I had visions of using cantrips to fuel double-striking Thieving Magpie and other combat damage-based triggers. IBSPathfinder has taken that idea and distilled it down to an efficient tempo deck that can end games before they even get started. Let's take a look at what Shu Yun can do:

[Cardlist title= Shu Yun Voltron - Commander | IBSPathfinder]

  • Commander (0)

I love that this deck combines so many disparate pieces into a powerful, cohesive whole. There's a ton of awesome equipment that lets Shu Yun's prowess and double strike triggers threaten lethal with very little help. There are powerful cantrips and card advantage engines like Rhystic Study to help keep the cards flowing throughout the game so you can keep the pressure up. There are powerful creatures who love teaming up with Shu Yun's trigger like Thada Adel and Godo, Bandit Warlord. There aren't any Time Warp effects in this particular list, as IBSPathfinder has eschewed them in favor of extra combat steps with Seize the Day and Godo.

The thing that I like most about this deck is that it does a fantastic job of applying multiple kinds of pressure to the table. You can divide your normal damage and Commander damage between multiple players to force them to make difficult political decisions about which of your cards are the most threatening. This also gives you the opportunity to shift gears and catch people by surprise, particularly with cards like Seize the Day and Sunforger, which can represent all manner of tricks that your opponents need to play around.

This deck shows just how broad Shu Yun's potential is. You can go for a tempo deck featuring Cephalid Constable and the like, or a more combo-aggro take with all the cantrips and free spells you can possible find, or you can take this middle of the road approach that goes a little bigger but has more staying power and damage output as the game goes longer. There are countless different things that Shu Yun can be used to enable, and I'm excited to see what the community comes up with as we get more time to play with Fate Reforged.

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