Now that I’ve actually had a chance to play with Fate Reforged, I thought I’d do some more first pick, first packs! I know a lot of people had an issue previously with my posting of so many packs that had a rare or mythic rare card as the first pick. Unfortunately, this tends to be a common trend in Fate Reforged, but I do include the 2nd-best pick out of each pack for those who want to just ignore the rare, or consider it to be one of the few unplayable rares in the set.
My pick: Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury
Kolaghan is, of course, a very powerful card. A 4/5 flier for 5 mana with the ability to have haste and pump all your other creatures in combat will win games by itself. The 5th toughness can keep him out of range of Throttle, and dash can protect him from any sorcery speed removal spells such as Hunt the Weak, Savage Punch, and Rite of the Serpent. Kolaghan is at his best in an aggressive deck with lots of creatures to pump, which is great, since he will usually steer you into Mardu, but is really great in any deck that can support him or sometimes even splash him.
Honorable Mention: Temur Sabretooth
Temur Sabretooth is one of the best uncommons in Fate Reforged, and even better than some of the lower-quality “good” rares. A 4/3 for 4 is a decent rate, but his ability is truly impressive. The upside of being able to use Temur Sabretooth to protect creatures other than himself from removal spells, or reuse enters-the-battlefield abilities make it a terrific card. Beyond that, if you can play him with mana available and another creature, it makes blocking and attacking extremely difficult on your opponent, they effectively have to deal with a 4/3 indestructible attacker or blocker. The biggest downside of Temur Sabretooth is that he’s very vulnerable when your mana is limited. Overall, though, it’s a terrific card.
My pick: Citadel Siege
Citadel Siege is a contender for the best card in the set. If the card only had one mode it would still be a bomb rare. Even though we’re mostly going to name Khans, naming Dragons will certainly come up. Also the fact that most players don’t play ways to remove enchantments in their main decks means that typically just drawing Citadel Siege is enough to win the game.
Honorable Mention: Sandsteppe Outcast
I actually misevaluated Sandsteppe Outcast before I had a chance to play the set. Now I believe that it’s likely the best common. Oops! Sandsteppe Outcast is virtually always a 2-for-1, as it literally gives you two creatures for one card. Occasionally it’s a 3/2 for 3 mana with the added bonuses of having a +1/+1 counter to further power it up if you have outlast creatures that grant an additional bonus, or something like Ivorytusk Fortress or Elite Scaleguard.
My pick: Mistfire Adept
Mistfire Adept is a quality uncommon. A 3/3 with prowess is already tough to block. It also makes our other creatures difficult to block by giving them flying. I would steer toward Jeskai or U/G after first-picking Mistfire Adept, and if you are able to pick up a few more prowess creatures, you can point our deck toward a prowess theme.
Honorable Mention: Bathe in Dragonfire
Just a very solid removal spell. Especially good because of its ability to often “trade up.” (Remove creatures that cost more than 3 mana for the cost of only 3 mana.) If I had a strong preference for red over blue, I could even see taking Bathe in Dragonfire over Mistfire Adept, but all things being equal, I prefer the Adept.
My Pick: Sage-Eye Avengers
Sage-Eye Avengers is a very good rare, not quite a bomb rare, but still the best card in the pack. The Avengers are expensive, but if they get going, bouncing a creature every turn can be nigh impossible to beat. Prowess in addition to the bounce effect can also make them very difficult to double-block.
Honorable Mention: Vaultbreaker
Vaultbreaker has really grown on me, as has dash as a mechanic. I’ve had good experiences with Vaultbreaker in decks with reasonable numbers of bounce effects or removal spells. Once Vaultbreaker is able to loot once and go unblocked, the additional card selection will often further allow you to get Vaultbreaker through and snowball your advantage.
My pick: Mardu Strike Leader
Mardu Strike Leader has been continually great for me. Even if you trade it off for a creature, you’ve gained a 2/1, which is almost like netting you a card. If you’re able to attack unblocked by using a removal spell, combat trick, or just against a slow draw, you’re gaining multiple 2/1s, and putting your opponent severely on the back foot quickly.
Honorable Mention: Douse in Gloom
Douse in Gloom is another solid removal spell that I’d be happy to have in any deck. Not the greatest first pick, but out of a weak pack, it’s acceptable.