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Standard's Five-and-a-Half Best Fable of the Mirror-Breaker Decks

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I had a fun kind of interaction on Twitter this week, after posting a hand I had lost with on the play:

Pro Tour Champion and Top 10 deck designer of all time Mark Herberholz had the funniest follow-up. Despite all the chatter about my hand not being all that good, I was certainly surprised when I not only didn't win... But how badly I had lost.

So, what happened?

My opponent landed a second turn Virus Beetle, which wasn't actually that dangerous because my Explore-like Azuza's Many Journeys set up for a highly advantageous Boseiju Reaches Skyward // Branch of Boseiju immediately following. That card's more-than-two-for-one-ness even let me recover the discarded land on Chapter Two.

The problem?

The dastardly Australis followed up on their turn three with Fable of the Mirror-Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki. I didn't have an immediate kill for this, which was going to be a problem with Virus Beetle's 187, despite my combination of curve and size.

What a time to draw two more lands in a row.

I didn't even have time to complain in my mind too much when they hit Gravelighter. That duo of 187s villains put me in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" combo achievable only by Neon Dynasty's most powerful Limited threat. It was like being pinned by the 1995 Weissman deck; a context where the only place more dangerous for a card than the battlefield was its owner's hand.

But at least I got the good story!

Turns out that Fable of the Mirror-Breaker is an awfully good Constructed card as well!

Last week, we talked about the Fable a little bit via its role in the Rakdos Anvil family. But what is truly stunning is how disparately the card contributes, including in some truly surprising, otherwise established, archetypes.

What makes Fable of the Mirror-Breaker so good?

My Limited hand felt so exciting to me, in part, because Sagas are so good in Kamigawa Limited. Almost all Sagas can be effective in Limited; and most generate some amount of value at every Chapter. As someone who cast the card Hunted Wumpus on Day Two of a Constructed Pro Tour, I confess that Boseiju Reaches Skyward // Branch of Boseiju really feels like it should be better than just good enough... Especially if you can Ramp it out early.

But say you could turbo it out with a card like Azuza's Many Journeys // Likeness of the Seeker. Neither of those cards has a comparatively life changing Chapter Two. In some pretend universe where we are slinging Wastelands, Boseiju Reaches Skyward's Chapter Two might be flat-out abusive... But current Standard ain't that. In fact, you're more than likely not going to get a Chapter Two.

Is a 6/6, or even 7/7, for four mana that just drew two cards good? On a rate basis it's kind of great. But on a speed basis, you might get run over before the +1/+1 counters-covered Plant shows up. Boseiju Reaches Skyward is incredible if the opponent isn't doing anything, but because its battlefield presence is so back-loaded, it is difficult to imagine a worse 6/6 for four when the bad guys are already turned sideways.

That's the big difference between Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and most of the Sagas that haven't made the leap to Constructed.

The Red Saga not only does something meaningful at every step, but unlike most cards of this type, it bodies up the battlefield immediately. No one is going to pay three mana for a vanilla 2/2 in 2022, but it's also the case that the opponent can't really sit there and let you make Treasures turn after turn. So as dopey as a 2/2 front-side might seem, they often have to spend a full card on the Fable's first one-third. Since you're in Red, it's not like they can just plan to put a creature in front of your Goblin Shaman. And even if you just ran your Goblin Shaman into it (something I've personally had to do more than once), you'd profit by one potentially pivotal Treasure.

Chapter Three is actually like fireworks running through your veins if you can get the Refection of Kiki-Jiki tapping. Everyone knows this. Everyone knows the Fable is a one-card synergy machine because its unimpeded floor is just duplicating the Chapter One Goblin Shaman. In some games you can simply not risk the original token in combat, but nevertheless get damage in, mass producing Treasure tokens regardless of how combat goes.

Chapter Three is slow because the Reflection doesn't have haste. But even if it isn't tapping (yet) you still got two 2/2 bodies (and potentially more token materiel) for three mana. That ain't bad. Not bad at all, on rate. Needless to say, if the opponent can't let you run around with the front-side Goblin Shaman for very long, they really can't let you keep the Reflection side's second Goblin Shaman around.

What further differentiates Fable of the Mirror-Breaker from less Constructed-quality Sagas is in how good Chapter Two is. You don't just get a couple of life points that won't matter in half the games; or not actually draw a land, not actually draw anything. Fable of the Mirror-Breaker's Chapter Two rummage is meaningful and fast. Instead of an effect that only affects the top of your library, this Saga can improve your hand on the spot... And in a spot where your mana is open. You already made your down payment for it last turn, so it's not like some Tormenting Voice variant where you start off down on flexibility.

Chapter Two, ultimately, is part of what makes the card so good (and probably so cross-archetype effective). Most Fable decks are full of potential dead weight like Voltage Surge that aren't good in Control matchups or limp Voldaren Epicures or excess land that represent minimal impact late in the game.

Now that we know what makes Fable of the Mirror-Breaker so good, let's look at how widely adopted this card has become. In the past week it has been successfully paired not only with Black, but White, Green, and Blue as well! Some of these implementations are truly surprising.

5. Grixis Control


Intuition: 1

Synergy: 1

This might be the weirdest new Fable deck. It is therefore also a testament to how good the card is!

I mean what can this deck do with excess Treasure? It's not turboing out Hullbreaker Horror. It doesn't lean on a Skullport Merchant engine.

Can its hand be improved? Who's can't?

So, while Grixis isn't a great Treasures consumer or any kind of a remarkable rummager, it is also a highly medium Reflection of Kiki-Jiki deck! Goldspan Dragon is a shockingly weak copy target because there is absolutely nothing remarkable about pairing these two individually insane Red cards. Every Goldspan Dragon and every every Reflection token starts with haste. Classic "dog bites man" if you grok. Worse, this isn't a Geistwave opportunity. Not only does Grixis have no especial use for Chapter One's Treasures; it doesn't make extra come Chapter Three. Even worse? Most of the other creatures are completely ineligible for copying. Is Florian, Voldaren Scion handsome?

Florian, Voldaren Scion

Arguably the MOST handsome. Yet he has no synergy with a mirror-themed card. Weird. Ditto on Valki, God of Lies // Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor. Legends, am I right?

So, here's the rub: Given all of that... How unbelievably good must this card be to find a home in Grixis?

4. Mardu Control


Intuition: 1

Synergy: 2

Most of what we said about Grixis also holds for this strange home for the Fable... Down to how handsome Florian [still] is... And how non-synergistic with the Reflection of Kiki-Jiki.

If anything, AILIEN adds even more Legends that can't be copied by Chapter Three's Goblin Shaman. But! All hope is not lost. Luminarch Aspirant is an interesting dance partner. You know how no one wants to chance an Aspirant in combat? Well, the Reflection of Kiki-Jiki can not only make disposable Aspirants, it can essentially double the card's usual number of +1/+1 counters produced per turn. In games where useful creatures live? There is more than a little something there.

Further, just getting any attacker (especially one you don't care about long-term) is a potential bonus with Wedding Announcement // Wedding Festivity. This deck has no shortage of token creatures, so greasing the wheels on drawing an extra card rather than making line more 1/1 will often prove a welcome feature.

I was a little surprised by Rite of Oblivion's absence in this deck, when it is a Staple of so many bw variants with a lot of token fodder. I think that card would be even better than normal in this deck, if only because Fable of the Mirror-Breaker can discard it for free via Chapter Two.

3. Naya Runes


Intuition: 4

Synergy: 4

Just when you thought The Deck to Beat was in fact beaten, Naya Runes comes back with this sweet piece of technology. Essentially taking up the Hallowed Haunting slot, Fable of the Mirror-Breaker does a couple of things here that are all awesome and potentially problem-solving for Runes.

While admittedly less powerful than an unchecked Hallowed Haunting, the Fable of the Mirror-Breaker is also cheaper, so might not take as long as you imagine to get up and online relative to the go-wide bomb it is replacing. What is important is that this is a self-contained solution to Hate Bears like Archon of Emeria or Thalia, Guardian of Thraben which are designed to contain the Runes deck's explosive, high velocity - but also resource intensive - turns.

What if you can pump out Runeforge Champions without actually having to cast them? The limiting factor has never been about the Runes themselves... You can get one out of the graveyard even with a fake token Runeforge Champion! So, Reflection of Kiki-Jiki can make everything go Go GO with not only a spell-like ability but real card advantage and recursion without actually spending any cards! As long as the Reflection lives, you can make blockers, gain life, or hassle the opponent while stockpiling power on Generous Visitor and Kami of Transience without actually risking any cardboard. In a sideboard game you can shred the opponent's hand with Elite Spellbinders while getting in for hasty triples or sit back on the laziest, grindiest, Reckoner Bankbusters ever to populate the planes of Dominia. All of this is just beyond inventive to me. Of course JABERWOCKI played another two copies! There are matchups where if the Reflection sticks, it is literally never going anywhere. Why not punish any opponent so foolhardy as to let a Goblin live?

While not intuitive in the abstract, as soon as someone mentions that Fable of the Mirror-Breaker is, in fact, an enchantment, everything falls into place mentally. Triggers will be had; power accumulated; discounts cashed in; and lots and lots of extra cards drawn.

2. Temur Treasures


Intuition: 5

Synergy: 5

I'd nitpick the one Inferno of the Star Mounts for multiple reasons. First of all, I think that it's just a weaker card than Goldspan Dragon on average; but in specifically this Fable of the Mirror-Breaker deck, adding a Legend is just subtracting upside.

That said, MOGGED actually won the most recent Standard Challenge with this Moist Gruul deck; and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker does some powerful work.

This strategy was always making lots of tokens. Treasures of course! More Treasures than ever with our Goblin Shaman! So, Treasures, Goblin Shamans, and also Cats, Treefolk, and whatever is getting pumped out of the other end of today's topical Fable. Prosperous Innkeeper sure will be busy surrounded by such teammates!

Moonveil Regent is just an awesome target for Reflection. Unlike Goldspan Dragon, it doesn't have haste naturally, so the Reflection is actually giving the token something it doesn't have naturally. But the cool thing is that you have a high confidence of your Moonveil Regent token dying every turn. So not only might you be getting in for a hasty four; but a repeating source of direct damage via the Dragon token's death trigger.

What might be even cooler is just how much work you can get Esika's Chariot to do for you. Reflection of Kiki-Jiki can make some really fancy tokens in this deck. Reckless Stormseeker // token; Goldspan Dragon token; maybe even Prosperous Innkeeper Token when you're in a life point pinch... Normally you have to sacrifice those at the end of your turn... But what if you copied one of the exotics with Esika's Chariot?

You get to keep it! The end-of-turn sacrifice is not a property of the token itself, but rather of the Reflection's ability text. Since your copy-of-a-copy was produced by another source, it's yours to keep.

None of that is cool-est, though! What is the one knock on Reflection of Kiki-Jiki? Unlike the original, this 2/2 doesn't have haste. Except,,, MOGGED is playing it in a deck with Reckless Stormseeker // Storm-Charge Slasher. Ladies and gentlemen; Goblins, Dragons, and Cats... I give you Werewolves for days..

1. Body of Research Combo


Intuition: 2

Synergy: 5

If you haven't seen a deck like this before, DAFTFUNK is essentially pairing two spells for a one-shot kill:

Body of Research will typically produce a token creature that exceeds the opponent's paltry 20 starting life; so, sacrificing it with Kazuul's Fury will end them like the That's All Folks at the finale of a classic Warner Brothers cartoon.

The problems are these:

Across all three Chapters, Fable of the Mirror-Breaker navigates both issues. First of all, its Chapter Two not only helps dig for Body of Research, it kinda sorta helps to cast it!

You see DAFTFUNK also plays four copies of Invoke Calamity. So, while the Green sides of certain Pathways can tap like Forests; and Unexpected Windfall and Prismari Command can go a long way with Treasures, Plan A is never actually to cast Body of Research.

Rather, it's all about Cathartic Pyre, Prismari Command, Unexpected Windfall - and now Fable of the Mirror-Breaker - helping to dump Body of Research into the graveyard where it can be set up for Invoke Calamity. Meanwhile you are also accelerating, because Body of Research costs six; so any Invoke Calamity is producing it at a discount.

But that's not all!

Chapter One's Goblin Shaman makes Treasures. In the unlikely case that you have to hard-cast Body of Research, those Treasures can go Green!

Chapter Three duplicates creatures. In some weird spots you might have a 40/40 creature but no Fling pair. Let's see how long the opponent can withstand 40/40 haste attackers. Weird! But in the range.

When we talk about Fable of the Mirror-Breaker in Temur Treasures, almost everything about its inclusion makes sense. You might not know the Esika's Chariot rules offhand, but you can imagine more tokens and more utility creatures building on an established team of tokens and utility creatures. It's obviously good.

But what I love about Fable of the Mirror-Breaker here? It's not obviously good. Nothing about it is obvious: It just manages to eke value out of every part of the buffalo.

And...

I mean the best Fable of the Mirror-Breaker deck in Standard probably still has to be Rakdos, right? Call it the half.

Excpept...

While every other color is bending over backward to add Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, the one deck where it has been so successful for the whole of the format is suddenly cutting it! What gives?

In a shocking reversal of technology, @Omrithopter achieved Constructed Mythic #1 by cutting Fable of the Mirror-Breaker from its most established archetype home. There is a lot to process about Omri's successful list, including the concerted shift towards Sanguine Statuette.

@Omrithopter's list is the leanest I've seen. With Fable of the Mirror-Breaker not junking up the curve at three, this becomes one heck of a way to do Experimental Synthisizer.

But what has me even more excited to test this build? All four copies of The Meathook Massacre main deck! I constantly feel like I need The Meathook Massacre to win; @Omritophter went ahead and made drawing it twice as likely. Thanks!

LOVE

MIKE

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