Fate Reforged is finally upon us, and with that comes the time for talking about the exciting new cards. How will they be adapted to existing deck archetypes? Will they define a format?
One of cards that stands out is Temur Sabertooth.
At first the uncommon looks like just a random 4/3 a mediocre ability. However, consider the following:
- The number of creatures with enters-the-battlefield (ETB) triggers.
- The ability to save creatures from removal.
- How difficult is it to get through a tiger-sized indestructible creature.
There are indeed quite a few upsides after examining the card a bit more closely.
Unfortunately there are also downsides:
- Getting value from ETB effects is slow, requires a lot of mana, and thus isn’t great against decks that pressure you quickly.
- Some prevalent removal doesn’t care if a creature is indestructible. Bile Blight, Abzan Charm, and Utter End all get around it.
- A 4/3 won’t always be the largest creature on the battlefield, and if you are forced to invest too much mana to keep the Sabertooth indestructible when blocking other creatures in combat, you won’t be able to develop your board, falling further behind.
Temur Sabertooth certainly has its downsides, but its potential benefits are more interesting to look at.
Temur Sabertooth would fit well into a green-based deck with a lot of creatures and acceleration, such as Elvish Mystic and Sylvan Caryatid. Additionally, creatures with ETB effects would also be necessary to maximize the Sabertooth’s utility. Looking at the current Standard metagame, some of the more popular creatures being played that would be good with the Sabertooth include the following:
There are also many other new creatures from Fate Reforged that have cool ETB effects. Imagine being able to constantly return and play Hornet Queen. Granted, doing so requires nine mana per cycle, but it’s quite possible depending on how far the game has progressed and how much mana acceleration you have.
Another question is “are there any existing decks that Temur Sabertooth would fit well into?” Constellation, Devotion, and Reanimator decks are good starting points as is a midrange creature deck to a lesser extent. Most decks won’t want more than two or three copies of Temur Sabertooth because it’s better to be overloaded with creatures that work well with it rather than vice versa. Take Makahito Mihara’s Green/Black Devotion deck from GP Manila for example.
Trimming a few cards to make room for the Sabertooth would be easy. Two Polukranos is one option.
The deck above is just one example of how Temur Sabertooth can be incorporated into an existing deck to provide an additional angle of play, allowing for a more robust long game. There are many exciting interactions with the card, and it should find a home in quite a few decks. The synergy that it has with ETB triggers, combat resilience, and being able to save other creatures from removal is impressive.