Now that the new set is out and we've all had the opportunity to think about it, I think it's time to look at some of the already-existing decks and see how the new set changed them. As it turns out, Fate Reforged offers additions to basically every existing deck, and it's a much more powerful set than it appeared at first glance. This is what I think is going to change:
Sidisi Whip was one of the most popular decks in the previous Standard format, and I have no reason to believe it isn't going to remain one. It's a slow, grindy deck, but it does grind pretty well, especially with the addition of Torrent Elemental.
Torrent Elemental is an extremely unique and powerful card that offers two very different effects which happen to complement each other. If you're in a grindy game where they're trying to kill everything, then each time you delve something or use a Whip Activation you get a free 3/5 for your troubles. If you're in a stalled game, as green mirrors tend to be, then he lets you fly over for a bunch of unblockable damage. His body size is also relevant, since he blocks Siege Rhinos.
Best of all, there is no counterplay to Torrent Elemental—you just can't get rid of him. Even cards that would normally get rid of something forever, like Abzan Charm and Chained to the Rocks, just let him get cast again. Even Pharika, which used to be the ultimate trump in those matchups, can't stop him. Torrent Elemental is only bad when it's too slow, which could definitely happen.
The other powerful addition is Tasigur, the Golden Fang. Tasigur is my pick for best card in the set, and I look at him the same way I look at Tarmogoyf—an undercosted beast that gets better if you have synergy but that doesn't necessarily demand it. He's less of a haymaker, and more of a super solid card. The 4/5 body matches up particularly well against Siege Rhino and monstrous Fleecemane Lions, and the ability provides some decent late game. The only downside is that he is legendary.
This is how I would try building the BUG Sidisi deck right now:
It's possible that Doomwake Giant and Torrent Elemental conflict a little bit, since they're trying to do relatively the same things in some of the games, but I think they have enough different applications in that one kills tokens and the other is immune to removal that it's worth trying both. It's possible, however, that the metagame changes in a way that one is just strictly superior.
Abzan gained another tool in the form of Warden of the First Tree, but that card is slightly overrated. Seven mana for a 3/3 trample lifelinker is an awful deal even if I get to pay it in installments and, though getting an 8/8 lifelinker is super sweet, the format is very hostile to spending what effectively amounts to 13 mana for a big guy because there is a lot of removal that deals with it very cheaply and at instant speed.
For Warden to be good, you have to be happy with the 3/3 you get for three mana, and then if you can do anything else with it that's going to be a big bonus. It might look like it fits in Abzan Aggro, since attacking for 3 on turn two is powerful, but I honestly don't think it does because it's too awkward on the mana. Let's look at William Jensen's aggro Abzan deck, for example:
This deck has eight ways to cast a turn-one Warden, and then it has ten lands that don't let you activate it on turn two because they come into play tapped. Even if you do have the lands to pull it off, that might hurt your turn three because those lands will have to come in play at some point. If I play a turn-one Temple and turn-two Warden, I have to spend turn three using it? That doesn't seem very good.
You could of course change the mana base, but then you're taking a lot more damage from Mana Confluence or you're going to start being unable to cast anything else. I think the best place for Warden is a two-color deck, not Abzan. Right now this two-color deck does not exist, but either GW or GB are potential homes for it.
There are two cards I believe can go in Abzan Aggro.
Valorous Stance is excellent in its simplicity. The ability to remove a big threat *cough* Warden of the First Tree *cough* for only two mana at instant speed is great, and protecting a powerful guy like Monastery Mentor or Goblin Rabblemaster is a very decent alternative when the removal mode isn't good. The Abzan deck doesn't have either of those, but it still has decently-sized guys that are worth protecting.
The second is Brutal Hordechief.
It's definitely worse than Rhino, but you can't play six Rhinos, and you might want to. The combat ability is absurd if you ever get to use it, as the worst-case scenario is making all your guys but one unblockable (just have everything block one guy) and the best case scenario is that you kill all of their guys, so I believe it deserves a spot.
My Abzan build would end up being very similar to Huey's:
UB control also gained new tools.
I'm not a fan of Silumgar. Not having flash is a gigantic downside in a deck like this. Sure, there isn't much they can do to Silumgar if you tap out for him, but there's a lot they can do to you. There are some positives for Silumgar, of course—it only costs 6, it's great against tokens, and it works well with Crux of Fate—but I think uncounterability, bigger body, and flash are more important than this. Besides, Pearl Lake Ancient kinda looks like a Dragon anyway, so perhaps you can convince your opponent to let it live. It's possible that one is right, though, and I'd like to try it once before dismissing it.
Crux of Fate is a very powerful card, but I don't think it's a Supreme Verdict equivalent. 5 is a lot of mana, and your opponent is going to untap with 6 a lot of the time, so he can really punish you for tapping out. I see UB as a kind of deck that plays on the opponent's turn, and that's part of the reason I like Perilous Vault in there—you can make sure you clear the board and they can't catch you tapped out. It also deals with Whip of Erebos, which is a major pain.
UB also has a lot of spot removal, which diminishes the value of Crux of Fate. I think of it as more of an insurance policy than an actual game plan, so I would not like to play four.
Ugin is super powerful and the kind of card that I think you have to play with or against to appreciate. It's possible 8 is going to be too much mana, but I'd also like to try it before dismissing it (and I have higher hopes for this one than for the actual Dragon).
Tasigur is an interesting card, and a great blocker, but right now I think the format is too hostile to big creatures for him to be your only target—every deck has a way to remove him, so I'd stay away for now.
This is how I would build UB:
I think Red Devotion has to be built with a different, more aggressive approach. Burning-Tree Emissary was the card that made Red Devotion a Nykthos deck—now that it's gone, the focus should change and this should be a Phoenix aggro deck instead, because Nykthos isn't accelerating into anything.
There are payoffs, of course. You can monstrous Stormbreath Dragon, use Purphoros, unmorph Ashcloud Phoenix or cast a gigantic Crater's Claws. I just think this should be a bonus, and not the whole point of the deck, so I think four Nykthos is overkill.
The biggest offender to me is Mardu Scout, whose biggest claim to fame is costing RR.
This format is actually punishing for 1-toughness guys—there's Satyr Wayfinder, Hordeling Outburst, and Heliod's Pilgrim, all of which make Mardu Scout downright embarrassing. He might be a necessary piece, and he does combo well with Purphoros, but it doesn't mean I have to like it.
In my ideal world, I don't play Mardu Scout. It's possible some other 2-drop is better, like Generator Servant or Horde Ambusher, but it's also posssible that Mardu Scout is the best we have since those run into the same issues.
I see people splashing white for Chained to the Rocks, but I think that's a relic from a time when we had Master of Waves. Killing Siege Rhino is all right, but I don't think it's worth making your mana significantly worse (and I do believe it gets significantly worse).
This would be my Red Devotion build:
Another issue with this approach is that there are way too many 4-casting-cost cards in the deck, but those are your best cards so I'm not sure this can be solved. I had to control myself not to get a Chandra in there.
The biggest question mark for me regarding UW Heroic is whether it wants Monastery Mentor or not.
My inclination is that it does, because it wasn't that fantastic of a deck before, so I'm basically at a spot where either the deck improves with Monastery Mentor or I'm not going to play it anyway. I think the ability to flood the board is definitely relevant, and I like that the deck is already playing what's arguably the best Monastery Mentor enabler in Standard, Defiant Strike. You also get to use Valorous Stance, even if it's not nearly as good as Gods Willing. This is how I'd build it:
Of all the RW decks that came around since Sam Black played it at the World Championship, I like Sam Pardee's list the most. Here's the list for reference:
I think that, in this deck, you get more value out of having the second ability of the Outpost rather than the second ability on Chandra, since you have a lot of tokens to trigger it. I'd build it like this:
That's what I got for today! I hope you've enjoyed it, see you next week.