New set spoiler season is an exciting time for me. Aside from the daily unveiling of new — and in the case of Khans block, also powerful and interesting — cards whetting our collective appetites, constructed and limited specialists alike will spend hours a day brainstorming over the implications of new cards. While our minds synapses can sparkle into overdrive each morning, and believe me I am definitely one of those people, it all can become indulgence in reverie. Each card is flattened, existing now only in a vacuum, and until we actually feel the cards for ourselves among board states, we can only rely on our intuition guiding our past experiences to make a hypothesis on whether a certain card is deemed ‘playable,’ ‘bomby,’ ‘game-changing,’ etc. Yes, there are objectively powerful cards in Fate Reforged, and when we devote time to visualizing board states in which they exist, we begin to glimpse their perceived impact. But, speaking from a constructed standpoint, we have to test the card in different scenarios to see where individual strengths and weaknesses emerge for each card. And sometimes we get a slam dunk, as we did with Siege Rhino in Khans of Tarkir.

In fact, Siege Rhino is a great example to use as a springboard. When Siege Rhino was spoiled, everyone knew it was a powerful card. We could all just look at its base stats — the cards rate — to understand that a 4/5 trampling creature for CMC 4 is a fantastic rate for any creature, and that’s before we all go agape at the Lightning Helix winking at us inside the text box. What began as a staple for Standard, an auto four-of in the Jund-esque Abzan decks, became a multi-format all star. Right away the Rhino was showing off, and the more people played with it and had success, we began seeing Rhinos pop up in different decklists. Like Birthing Pod, and Modern Abzan lists. Then Willy Edel sleeved up four of them for Worlds. All of a sudden, Birthing Pod was playing three Rhinos and eschewing combo kills. Siege Rhino is heralded as Bloodbraid Rhino, the new Bloodbraid Elf. I’m sure there were only a handful of players, if any, out there who believed it to be so impactful at first glance. The Rhino made us a believer.

Now, to my knowledge this is not a common thing in Magic — at least as far as I understand it since coming back — to have a new creature make a sudden splash across multiple constructed formats. Definitely let me know in the comments section the last time this happened. Delver of Secrets, maybe?

And so we are gifted a wealth of excitement from Fate Reforged. Today i’m going to play around with some of the mythic rare creatures featured in the set. Because the power level, in a vacuum, is off-the-charts high within the context of Standard. Or fun. Or, both fun and powerful, which gets my juices flowing. So lets see where this brainstorm takes us. First, I want to look at some of the dominating cards in the current standard environment.

Courser of Kruphix Whip of Erebos Siege Rhino Thoughtseize Hornet Queen Stormbreath Dragon Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver Sorin, Solemn Visitor Goblin Rabblemaster Wingmate Roc

This isn’t the definitive top 10 cards, but in my opinion they are the most dominating. The interesting thing about Standard is how closely one has to follow the metagame in order to stay afloat with your deck choice, as there is a lot of action/reaction exchange that happens, and often when you cannot interact with your opponent for even a single turn, the tempo loss can be backbreaking. Therefore, staying on top of your removal suite, your threat selection and density, and your sideboarding strategy is the key to not only understanding your own deck, but knowing what others will bring to the table against you. So one could say these ten cards are the most powerful cards in standard right now. The exception being probably Courser of Kruphix, Thoughtseize, and Siege Rhino. These are cross-format all stars that are powerful enough in of themselves, the others arguably contextual.

With these in mind, while considering the metagame as it exists today, let’s look at some new mythic rare creatures.


Shaman of the Great Hunt has a lot going for him. He’s got a Flametongue Kavu rate, but with different upside. Instead of Flame Slash, he has haste, and Stromkirk Nobles your team. That alone is worth 3R. The added ability — which, funnily enough, itself has Ferocious — asks us to be in Temur. No, wait. It asks us to pay either green or blue, which is much better, and doesn’t force us into playing a wedge. If this card read ‘draw a card’ instead of the actual text, I think it’d be a solid ability. Remember, it’s at instant speed and doesn’t require tapping the creature. This means if he is your only creature in play and you have enough mana, you can double activate him and draw two cards. Which is one thing. If you have Shaman and, let’s say, Stormbreath Dragon in play, and we draw two cards for four mana, that four mana spent effectively replaces both itself and the Stormbreath Dragon. Oh, and if you connected with Stormbreath, your dragon becomes a 5/5.

We can use Shaman of the Great Hunt in Temur Monsters with some ramp creatures and payoff spells.

Temur Monsters

Creatures (26)
Elvish Mystic
Rattleclaw Mystic
Heir of the Wilds
Fanatic of Xenagos
Savage Knuckleblade
Shaman of the Great Hunt
Stormbreath Dragon

Spells (10)
Xenagos the Reveler
Crater’s Claws
Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker
 Chandra, Pyromaster
Stoke the Flames
Lands (24)
Frontier Bivouac
Wooded Foothills
Mana Confluence
Yavimaya Coast
Temple of Abandon
Shivan Reef
Temple of Mystery

Sideboard (15)
Destructive Revelry
Stubborn Denial
Nissa, Worldwaker
Barrage of Boulders
Magma Spray

It’s super rough, but you get the idea. Curve out with sizeable threats, back them up with burn and planeswalkers. Xenagos and Chandra both interact well with Shaman of the Great Hunt, as they enable the mana sink activation and protect the Shaman from a potential trade. I played a deck like this at the beginning of this Standard season, and Shaman would have been insane in that deck. The card advantage from even one Shaman activation for two cards is worth a real card by itself.

Shaman could also be played in a Jund deck, but the mana requirements get stretched far beyond the limits of my imagination. Maybe once we see the rest of the set my opinion could change, but for now I think that Red/Green or Temur is the ideal home for our red mythic creature. He could be the missing piece to a deck floundering for position in the format.


I’m obsessed with what Torrent Elemental represents for Sultai decks. This genderless pain in the ass creature combos well with Whip of Erebos, an already tier one card in Standard, as well as any of the playable delve spells. I drool over this card as a 4-of in Sidisi Whip, an updated version that uses Torrent Elemental to push through an opposing board state for the winning alpha strike. That’s when another Fate Reforged card got spoiled Monday morning.



Are you fucking kidding me? A creature that butts heads with Siege Rhino and can grind out value with its activation? At instant speed? Look at this guy.  He is HOLDING THE WHIP OF EREBOS! COME AWN PEOPLE! But seriously. This guy slipped right into the deck like a dream come true.

Sidisi Torrent

Creatures (24)
Satyr Wayfinder
Sylvan Caryatid
Courser of Kruphix
Sidisi, Brood Tyrant
Torrent Elemental
Tasigur, the Golden Fang

Spells (13)
Murderous Cut
Whip of Erebos
Sultai Charm
Treasure Cruise
Bile Blight
Lands (23)
Polluted Dela
Opulent Palace
Temple of Malady
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Temple of Mystery

Sideboard (15)
Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
Disdainful Stroke
Reclamation Sage
Whip of Erebos
 Drown in Sorrow

Or something like this. Unless Hornet Queen is still insane, and then we have to consider Doomwake Giants and all that. But for now I want to think about how to maximize Torrent Elemental, and delving him early and often seems the best way to get full value. The only drawback is that the activation on it is at sorcery speed, so your opponent has a turn to kill it unless you Whip it back from the graveyard. I love the synergy between Courser of Kruphix, Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, and Tasigur. Using the self mill to manipulate the draw step and enable a Sidisi trigger seems powerful to me. And with enough delve spells to keep a tight graveyard, the Tasigur activation can redraw relevant spells. Torrent Elemental becomes the evasive, hard to kill threat that doesn’t give a damn about bee walls. Powerful enough? We shall see.

One more.



This little bastard has value written all over it. When I consider constructed applications, I start with Standard before I go wider. And in Standard, this card is tailor made for Jeskai Ascendancy. Hell, it triggers off of Jeskai Ascendancy. The only gripe I have with the card is its set up cost. There are plenty of ways to kill this thing in standard alone for less than three mana. And a full turn behind Young Pyromancer speed will be felt. At least, I think it will be. I dunno, i’ll be honest. I’m scared shitless of what this card could do in eternal formats. My first brainstorming sessions aimed to come up with a way to ‘go off’ with him after untapping in Modern. I wanted to cast free spells and then slam Flame Kin Zealot for the hasty smash. But it’s too mana intensive, and too fragile.

To refocus on Standard, the scary thing about Monastery Mentor is that every noncreature spell you cast gains you 2/3 of a card, or thereabouts. And if you can chain spells together and have Jeskai Ascendancy and Jeskai charm? We can probably build something sweet with Red/White tokens, too, but Jeskai Ascendancy is just stupid, so let’s start there.

Stupid Jeskai

Creatures (12)
Seeker of the Way
Soulfire Grand Master
Monastery Mentor

Spells (24)
Jeskai Ascendancy
Stoke the Flames
 Jeskai Charm
Treasure Cruise
Lightning Strike
Hordeling Outburst
Lands (24)
Temple of Epiphany
Mystic Monastery
Flooded Strand
Shivan Reef
Temple of Triumph
Battlefield Forge

Sideboard (15)
End Hostilities
Mantis Rider
Disdainful Stroke

I’m terrible at building Jeskai decks, but that’s because I hate Jeskai decks, so this might not look so good. But you get the general idea behind it. Monastery Mentor and Ascendancy plus tokens and Prowess. A misers Arcbond for the combo with Soulfire Grand Master. Mantis Rider is in the board because the world is on Bile Blight. But if that world changes at any point, Mantis Rider will be a card again. Another issue with this deck is now there are two, two Shock effects in Standard, and this deck is full of 2/2 creatures. They have to be protected, which means opportunity cost goes up, which means the deck is a turn slower than it wants to be, providing everybody is geared to blow up a 2/2 creature on sight. Untap with the Mentor, and get ready for value town.

That’s it for this week. I will address more exciting Fate Reforged cards next week, and at that point we should have most of the spoiler set up and ready to play around with. For now, though, it’s all a dream. Will there be another Siege Rhino? Maybe. But we have to start playing with the cards first.

Derek Gallen lives and writes in Brooklyn, New York.

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