Welcome back to our limited review of Fate Reforged. In my last article I wrote about the white commons and uncommons and outlined my process. You can catch up on why I’m doing a top 10 there. I want to add one additional note which I forgot last time: when I refer to morphs and their prevalence I am including manifests as well. I generally am using morph to generally refer to facedown creatures and their abundance. With that out of the way, let’s dive right into blue:
1. Aven Surveyor
This guy is the man(bird). There are a lot of things we want from our magic cards in limited. We want them to be flexible, we want them to be disruptive, and we want them to be powerful. This checks all the boxes. There will certainly be games where simply a 3/3 flyer can take over, particularly as we grow accustomed to stalled board states. However, the 2/2 bounce with flying is probably the most enticing mode. In Avacyn Restored, Mist Raven was a defining card. The Surveyor costs one more than the Raven, but it is more flexible and exists in a format where people are regularly investing 8 mana in creatures (3 to morph, 5 to unmorph). The cute interaction of returning your manifested spells to re-play is just gravy. If this set increases the number of auras people are playing, its value goes up even further. The combination of power, tempo, and flexibility makes me excited to jam this in my blue decks.
2. Mistfire Adept
I want to start by saying that the powerful cards in blue are pretty close in power level and play very strongly with particular archetypes, rather than being absolutely powerful. The Adept stands out as a hard hitting flyer in a Jeskai deck. Any non-creature spell turns him into a 4 mana 4/4 flyer which will end games very quickly. The fact that the ability can target other creatures gives some nice flexibility in pumping either lower toughness guys, or creatures with more power. Sitting across from a Mistfire Adept and Canyon Lurker is a scary prospect. That being said, it does require lots of non-creature spells to enable it to be truly powerful. With a low end of a Hill Giant and an upside of a dragon I think it will be a comfortable inclusion in blue decks and an all-star in Jeskai.
3. Frost Walker
The Frost Walker plays a role for Temur as the Mistfire Adept does for Jeskai. The availability of a two drop to turn on ferocious is big game. The Walker hits very hard and enables Savage Punches and Roar of Challenge earlier and more efficiently than the other options (Bloodfire Mentor and Alpine Grizzly). Remember though, it won’t survive being targeted by either spell, so it has to bring friends. In the Jeskai deck it also serves a nice role as a hard hitter to crack through following a Crippling Chill or Force Away (which it also turns on). Just don’t try to ask it to perform a Defiant Strike. There are very few creatures with activated abilities which target, so usually it will cost your opponent a card to answer (either a spell or a creature), which makes it rarely a bad play. Its extreme fragility is the only thing that keeps it behind the Mistfire Adept.
I’m interested to see how this card plays out. A 2/2 flying, hexproof for three, with upside, is certainly a good deal. However, people seem to be really high on this card and I think that there may be times when it just doesn’t do enough. That being said, when it does hit a creature (probably about 40% of the time) it’s strength increases significantly, as granting a good beater hexproof is certainly relevant. However, the double blue may be difficult for some of the aggressive decks, particularly ones which run big creatures. However, if there is a deck which runs this set’s auras, the hexproof goes up in value by a bit. While this card is surely powerful, I think judgment should be held until we see if it has a home.
5. Write into Being
If you play Write into Being you are paying the going rate for morphs. This may be the most relevant point on the card. You essentially morph one of the top two cards of your deck, and decide if you want the other one. In KTK, playing morphs was what you wanted to be doing. I can’t imagine that this will not be a good card as it is essentially a morph with upside. There will surely be times when you wiff, but you at the very least get a 2/2 (which, as I keep harping on, are good in this format) and some card selection. Since the downside is a 3 mana 2/2 scry 2, I think this should be a good roleplayer in any deck which can cast it.
6. Whisk Away
Whisk Away looks to be another solid disruptive spell for the decks which want to try to out tempo their opponents. Denying your opponent both a creature play and a draw step can really set back their game plan as they try to stabilize. They do, however, get a block in which will slow you down somewhat. I think this card will rarely be a blowout, but every now and then splitting a double block or an crucial attack will really swing the game. When paired with Force Away and Crippling Chill, blue will certainly have the ability to get in damage while triggering prowess.
7. Shifting Loyalties
This is another hard card to judge without getting a chance to try it out. My sense is that in general, you will have a weaker creature (a Wetland Sambar for example), that you will be more than happy to trade for your opponent’s dragon. That being said, it is inherently card disadvantage so I am going to hold off on the excitement until I get a chance to try it out. It could end up being way higher on this list, or just not what we want to be doing.
8. Sultai Skullkeeper
If you have been reading my articles up until this point you will know that I really like two drops in this format. I feel that they have consistently held their value into the late game as a result of the sets’s focus on morph and creatures which interact fairly with 2/2s. The Skullkeeper is thus a Wetland Sambar with some added value. Since I rarely cut a Sambar from my blue decks, the question becomes how much better is the Skullkeeper? Are we picking it over other real cards? One of the tensions in KTK was whether we wanted to develop our board or fuel delve. Scout the Borders was good because it gave us some selection and ramp, but it didn’t give us any actual cards, it just replaced itself. The Skullkeeper incidentally fills our graveyard, allowing us to run it out on turn two, a morph on turn three, and a Hooting Mandrills on turn four. That is a powerful curve, and one that doesn’t ask us to do things that we wouldn’t want to do otherwise. This is the kind of delve enabler that I want.
9. Lotus Path Djinn
I don’t think Lotus Path Djinn is an exciting card. However, 2/3s have time and again shown their worth in this format. Flyers continue to over deliver. Prowess, particularly with this set, seems to be getting easier to trigger. While I don’t think it will be turning heads, you can certainly do a lot worse in a blue based tempo deck.
10. Will of the Naga
Speaking of blue based tempo, this is a card which at different times occupied many different spots on this list. I ultimately moved it down here because while it has a very powerful effect which is relevant at many points in the game, it has a ton of competition. Blue is going to have a lot of tempo based non-creature spells to play around with and it is unclear where this one will rank among them. The tension delve puts on your graveyard is problematic when your draw spells, your tricks, and your creatures all want to feed off it. The double blue also can hurt. Right now I have this card above Refocus because it has a bigger effect, but the cantrip might surpass it depending how the format shakes out.