Fate Reforged Constructed Review – Black

Now that I’m (mostly) done with Limited Fate Reforged reviews, it’s time to move on to Constructed. You can find the Limited reviews here:

Gold & Colorless

I also did the Limited Resources review of every common and uncommon in the set with Marshall Sutcliffe, which you can listen to here (rares and mythics are coming next week).

For Constructed, things work slightly differently. First of all, I don’t review every card in the set, just the ones I think have Constructed applications. If I missed a card you think is awesome, feel free to post it in the comments or ask me about it on Twitter. I try to evaluate cards without using best-case scenario mentality (I gotta start using LR slang, right?), but I’ve certainly missed cards in the past, and if you can think of a good reason a card could be great, I would like to hear it.

Previous Constructed reviews:


The ratings scale I use is also a bit different, with different meanings for each number. That scale looks like so:

5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage. Dack Fayden.)
4.0: Format staple. (Siege Rhino. Courser of Kruphix. Delver of Secrets.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Stormbreath Dragon. Seeker of the Way.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Chained to the Rocks. Sidisi, Brood Tyrant.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Perilous Vault. Heir of the Wilds.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Naturalize. Savage Knuckleblade.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. One with Nothing. (I believe it was tech vs. Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)

Archfiend of Depravity

Constructed: 2.0

We sure get a lot of 5/4 Demons for five, and sometimes they even see play (see: Bloodgift Demon). Archfiend is kind of big, and if it lives for a turn can punish an opponent with lots of creatures. The downside is that those creatures can and will attack you, so this doesn’t save you when you would otherwise be dead.

Battle Brawler

Constructed: 2.5

If this is reliably a 3/2 first strike it isn’t that far away from Seeker of the Way, which is a fantastic 2-drop. I do fear my other creatures dying midcombat and stranding me with a 2/2, but if you can make a deck that supports Battle Brawler and Chained to the Rocks, that isn’t nearly as much of a problem.

Brutal Hordechief

Constructed: 2.5

Hellrider is back, and it’s traded haste for a little life gain and the ability to force your opponent to make bad blocks. That does mean Brutal Hordechief needs an actual horde to be at maximum potential, whereas Hellrider could get the job done by itself.

If you have that horde, racing is almost impossible for your opponent, and the activated ability on this card is not irrelevant. In Constructed, I’d imagine the most common case would be to make all their creatures block your smallest creature, but the door is open to wiping their board with bad blocks as well.

Crux of Fate

Constructed: 3.5

As fate would have it, black now has an excellent Wrath of God. This fits perfectly into UB Control, is something to consider in any heavy-black midrange deck, and is a great sideboard option even out of decks that don’t want it main.

It does drive up the value of Stormbreath Dragon, funny enough, because a board of Stormbreath + other threats is very resistant to Crux of Fate. I like the way Standard tends to play when there are good-but-not-broken board sweepers, and this fits exactly into that category.

Ghastly Conscription

Constructed: 2.0

It’s funny that this is a sideboard option against a deck that is trying to exile its own creatures, but the matchup against Whip decks is where this sort of effect would be good. You can target yourself if all else fails, though some of Ghastly Conscription’s thunder got preemptively stolen by Crux of Fate. I’m a lot less in love with casting a 7-mana situational spell if the opponent can just wrath everything away, which is a lot more likely with Crux around.

Grave Strength

Constructed: 2.0

Any card that offers a potential +15/+15 (or more) for two mana is worth looking at, and now that Golgari Grave-Troll is once again Modern-legal, this could be more fittingly known as Grave-Troll Strength. In a Dredge-esque deck, milling for 3 is an upside and giving a giant bonus is a payoff, so this is an interesting option for making an evasion creature huge (if such a creature exists).

Gurmag Angler

Constructed: 2.0

As a potential 1-mana 5/5, this could see some play. Tasigur is cheaper and much more powerful, but that’s how the world works: some cards get to set the lines and others get to be the bait. Art notwithstanding, this falls into the second category.

Mardu Strike Leader

Constructed: 2.5

Mardu Strike Leader is threatening when cast, has a very relevant dash ability, and is efficient either way. 2/1 tokens are real card advantage, and this adds another value-generating 3-drop to the ring. Luckily for the Strike Leader, Goblin Rabblemaster and Monastery Mentor are in other colors, so this could see some play in decks that aren’t red or white (and may still see play in decks that are).

Palace Siege

Constructed: 2.0

As I said in my preview article, a lot of what Palace Siege does is overshadowed by Whip of Erebos. That’s not to say that Palace Siege can’t eventually make waves, but it’s hard to justify building around the reanimation aspect of this without just making a Whip deck.

The life-drain side is a little more unique, and I can think of worse ways to try and close out a game if you are an aggressive black deck.

Sibsig Muckdraggers

Constructed: 2.0

Once again, Tasigur is dragging every other delve card through the muck. This card is card advantage and a relatively large body for potentially just one mana, but graveyard cards are a precious resource, and it’s likely that Tasigur will greedily consume them all.


Constructed: 2.5

On the other hand, Soulflayer provides a different, potentially very valuable, angle than Tasigur. Instead of fighting on the card-advantage front, which is Tasigur’s wheelhouse (he’s an expert in both card advantage and importing fruit, by the looks of things), Soulflayer offers some crazy beatdowns. As Travis Woo pointed out, there are a lot of multi-ability creatures that Soulflayer can flay (that seems to be what is implied), and even in Standard this might be good enough as a 4/4 trample, flying, deathtouch for 2 mana in an Abzan deck that has Rhinos, Rocs, and Heirs of the Wilds.

Delve is a dangerous mechanic, as recent bans have shown, and I wouldn’t be too hasty in dismissing potentially awesome cards. It can even be hasty, the thing I just said not to be!

Sultai Emissary

Constructed: 2.0

What can I say, I love little value creatures. Sultai Emissary dies into a 2/2, and sometimes more, as long as you have a decent amount of other creatures in your deck. If you are looking for a speed bump and have a few sacrifice outlets, you could do much worse.

Tasigur, the Golden Fang

Constructed: 4.0

There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Tasigur recently, and for good reason. He is insane (calling him “bananas” is old hat at this point, and at the very least I can save it for when I’m doing Limited Resources with Marshall), and will make an impact on both Standard and Modern.

Tasigur is a cheap 4/5, probably costing 2-3 mana most of the time in Standard and often costing 1 in Modern, which is already interesting. His ability draws you a steady stream of spells for 4 mana, and as a bonus on an already-strong card, is quite good. Even if you don’t delve away the cards you aren’t interested in, Tasigur is drawing you action of some kind, and with a little work you can insure that it’s always good stuff.

Tasigur is the awesome combination of an undercosted creature and a powerful long-game card, and that’s a combination that is due to make some waves. You don’t even need to warp your deck that much to make the first Tasigur or two great, as he can easily fit into a midrange Abzan deck as is. If you go out of your way to mill yourself, such as in Sidisi Whip or any Modern deck with Thought Scour, playing three or even four Tasigurs sounds incredibly good. Either way, this is very likely the best card in Fate Reforged for Constructed.

Top 5 Black Cards

5. Soulflayer
4. Mardu Strike Leader
3. Brutal Hordechief
2. Crux of Fate
1. Tasigur, the Golden Fang

Black is as as good as gold, thanks to Tasigur, and picking up a new Damnation is very good as well. The rest of the Top 5 are a little more speculative, and way too aggressive for my tastes, but black still made out like a bandit here.

Next up is red, which has but a few humble offerings.


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