1) Manifest Usually Makes Vanilla 2/2s
Morph and manifest are very different. A high percentage of the time you will manifest a noncreature or creature that is comparable to a 2/2. Although Rageform looks awesome, it's not that different from a 2/2 double strike for 4.
You are much more likely to succeed in trading your 2/2 for a manifest creature than for a morph creature, and it is often correct to try. Similarly, if you trade your premium removal spell for their manifest card, you will be disappointed when all you killed was a face-down land.
Because of this, when you get lucky and hit a big creature off the top, you will often be able to pull off an ambush. If you pick up a bunch of cards that manifest in pack one, you should prioritize picking up fatties. Interestingly enough, spells that manifest have diminishing returns because they cut into your creature count which makes it less likely you manifest a creature card. This incentivizes you to increase your total creature count.
2) Draft Two Opposing Colors in Fate Reforged
Fate Reforged contains no 3-color cards, which reduces the pressure to settle into a wedge in pack one. If you draft two opposing colors in Fate Reforged, you have the option to move into one of two different wedges depending on which is open in packs two and three.
Although Fate Reforged seems like it would make mana bases less demanding, no morph creatures means missing a color in the early game is more punishing. I think the combination of fewer morphs and the ability to stay two colors in the first pack will make two-color decks with a small splash the norm.
3. Fate Reforged's Top Commons Are Better than Khans of Tarkir's Top Commons
Khans of Tarkir:
Sandsteppe Outcast is an upgrade to Mardu Hordechief. Gurmag Angler is an upgrade to Hooting Mandrills. Aven Surveyor is way better than Mystic of the Hidden Way in a format where people are routinely investing eight mana into morphing and unmorphing their creatures. Bathe in Dragonfire is much more efficient than Arrow Storm.
Many of the most powerful commons in Khans of Tarkir are three colors, which makes them poor first picks. Overall, I am way happier to take a common first-pick in Fate Reforged than I was in Khans of Tarkir.
4. Mana Curve
The absence of morph creatures in Fate Reforged spreads out the curve, as opposed to Khans where about 50% of creatures double as 3-drops. If you stock up on expensive creatures in Fate Reforged, like the six-mana uncommon Dragons, they will actually be expensive, so be careful of drafting a top-heavy deck. Fate Reforged feels more “traditional” in this respect than Khans of Tarkir.
5. One Land in Every Pack
The last set with this feature was Dragon's Maze, which had one Gate per pack. One strategy was to take all the Gates and wheel all the Gatekeepers. This strategy was powerful when no one else was taking Gates, and you could see exactly how many Gates had been taken, so it was easy to figure out if it was open.
There are no Gatekeepers in Fate Reforged, but it is possible to gauge how hungry the table is for mana-fixing by how many dual lands get passed. The knowledge that each pack started with exactly one land makes this information especially powerful. If lands are coming late in Fate Reforged, you should feel safe drafting greedy multicolor spells in pack two.
6. New Tricks
We are used to playing around Khans of Tarkir's combat-themed removal, Kill Shot and Ride Down. Fate Reforged adds Sandblast and Whisk Away to the mix. The next time your opponent makes a suspect attack, these should be the first two cards that come to mind.
I was sure Feat of Resistance couldn't get any better in this format, but fizzling a Sandblast or Whisk Away after blocks is a huge game. Ruthless Instincts is also worth mentioning as another combat-specific trick to watch out for, and the first trick to grant deathtouch in this format.
Channel(Fire) Harm is terrifying. It is very easy to engineer a 2-for-1, or even a one-sided wrath. Beware of six untapped white mana. Keep in mind that if you remove or Feat of Resistance the targeted creature, the whole spell will fizzle because it only has one target.
My opponent had Island, Island, Mountain untapped and attacked with Gore Swine. Izzet doesn't have any combat tricks, right? I blocked with my morph. Think again! I discovered Temur Battle Rage was a card after I enjoyed 6 and didn't get any bacon. This card can deal an absurd amount of damage out of nowhere, and is a fantastic addition to Savage Punch decks. It combines particularly well with other pump spells, and if you Become Immense you should take a picture and post it online because that's just sweet. In summary, be careful when chumping large creatures, you might just die.
So far, Fate Reforged has been super fun to draft, and I'm looking forward to delving deeper in preparation for Pro Tour DC in two weeks!
Thanks for reading,
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