Every new set release sees the hype machine go into full gear, as people succumb to their knee-jerk reaction to each spoiled card as "INSANE!!11! GOING TO BREAK STANDARD IN HALFFF!!1!!" However, when the hype train inevitably crashes, there are plenty of goodies hiding out under the wreckage ready to take their place in Standard.
Today we are going to look at five of the most overrated cards in Fate Reforged, and then three of the most underrated.
While not the most talked about card in the set, this is the one I've gotten the most questions and comments about. Many people are viewing this card like it's a blue Swords to Plowshares, with a few comments as absurd as "now blue gets to do everything, I hate WOTC, I hate Magic, I hate Islands!"
Reality Shift is not a good removal spell.
In "reality," it is almost unplayable unless you either have a specific card that you need to deal with (like Stormbreath Dragon for a U/W deck), or you have many ways to deal with and outclass random 2/2 creatures.
Reality Shift is strict card disadvantage. They pay three mana for an Anafenza, the Foremost, and you pay two mana to end of turn Reality Shift it. Essentially, they then draw a 2/2 creature and play it for free. It might even be another Anafenza, which they can flip up later! You have solved the problem of the first Anafenza, but in doing so created another problem for yourself. Control decks are all about making one-for-one trades, and Reality Shift is not a one-for-one trade.
There's a reason why Pongify and Rapid Hybridization saw very little play, and when they did it was often in creature decks that could either get around the ground creature or use it on their own creatures in response to removal.
Reality Shift may see play, but if it does it will be for specific reasons, not because it is even remotely close to a powerful Magic card.
Unlike Reality Shift, Monastery Mentor is quite the powerful Magic card. However, I think the hype on this card has gotten a bit out of hand. Monastery Mentor has a lot in common with Goblin Rabblemaster; it is a three-drop that threatens to completely take over the game if it is left unchecked, but if your opponent is prepared to handle it and kills it before you can untap, it doesn't do very much. You can't really block with it, so it doesn't really affect the board on the first turn it's out, and unlike Goblin Rabblemaster, it requires other cards and deckbuilding restrictions to make it good.
Much of the praise has come from comparisons to Young Pyromancer, a card that is fantastic in Eternal formats due to a wealth of cheap cantrips, but didn't make a huge impact on Standard. Standard is more about casting four-mana creatures and five-mana planeswalkers than playing cheap one and two-mana spells, which definitely limits how good Monastery Mentor can be. In older formats, I think it's pretty hard to justify playing Monastery Mentor over Young Pyromancer. Lastly, three-mana is much more than two, and costing three makes it hard to not just play your cheap spells before you cast him.
Monastery Mentor is definitely a good card and will see a good amount of Standard play. I just don't think it's as insane as everyone is making it out to be.
People seem excited about this card, and I really don't know why.
Remember this card? Remember how it hasn't done anything?
Compare this card to Divination in a control deck. They have the same cost and are sorcery speed, which makes for a pretty fair comparison as far as initial investment in concerned. When you play Divination, you are immediately up one card. That's it, but that's what the card is meant to do; it fills in your curve and helps you keep land drops coming.
When you cast Monastery Siege, nothing happens and you are now down one card. Next turn you get to see an extra card but at the expense of another card from your hand. At no point are you ever getting that card back, so while it will slowly filter your draws and put cards in the graveyard, it is always minus one card, where Divination is always plus one card.
Now there might be a deck out there that will want this effect, as delve is certainly a thing and getting cards into the yard consistently is a reasonable thing to want, but it will be filling a specific niche. A perfect analogy is Careful Study. Not that many decks want to play Careful Study, but for those that do, it does what it is supposed to.
Brutal Hordechief has a lot of problems to overcome. Unlike Hellrider, it is not a threat in its own right and is almost worthless on an empty board. While Hellrider would smash in for four damage after a sweeper effect, Brutal Hordechief just stands there looking stupid. If you're playing it in some sort of token or aggressive deck, it can certainly tack on some extra damage, but it dies to most of the commonly played removal spells in the format at a poor rate. Its activated ability is extremely expensive, and while it may set up some nice blocks, it might just open you up to a removal spell or trick and end up wasting your entire turn and blowing you out tempo-wise.
Amusingly enough, the biggest problem for Brutal Hordechief is Butcher of the Horde. Most decks that will want Brutal Hordechief will also be able to cast Butcher of the Horde, who simply does all of the things that Brutal Hordechief might do but does them better. If you've got tokens laying around, Butcher will come in for more damage and gain more life, and if you have nothing, Butcher is a four-mana 5/4 flier with upside.
With its playability totally butchered, I doubt Brutal Hordechief will see much play.
While the initial reaction to Temporal Trespass was shock and awe, I think people have rightfully cooled off on this one.
Temporal Trespass is almost unplayable.
Temporal Trespass's cost is in the stratosphere. Even with delve, eleven mana is insane, and triple blue in the cost means it will at absolute best cost UUU. This is a ton of work for just a Time Walk, and it will be extremely hard to abuse. It even has the exile clause to prevent any sort of regrowth effects or infinite loops.
Time Warp is a borderline playable card in Standard that really needs a specific home to be effective. Temporal Trespass is just awful. If you are going to delve this hard, just play Treasure Cruise or Dig Through Time; if you want to take extra turns, just play Time Warp.
Tasigur is one of the best cards in the set. I underrated Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time initially, but I will not sleep on Tasigur. Hooting Mandrills is this close to being a playable Legacy card (and may now have its chance now that the best delve spell is banned), and Tasigur offers so much more.
In Standard, Tasigur is sorta like a weird hybrid of Tarmogoyf and Azure Mage. It shouldn't be that hard to cast Tasigur for 1-3 mana, which makes his 4/5 body come at a fantastic rate. He doesn't die to any playable burn spell in the format and can rumble with most of the format's most popular creatures.
Azure Mage is a personal favorite pet card of mine, as I love that you can have a cheap threat in play to attack with that is also a fantastic mana sink for later in the game. Tasigur's ability is about on par with "four mana: draw a card," and the ability to draw cards at instant speed is obviously fantastic in a control deck.
I'm not sure what shell Tasigur fits in yet, but I'm sure he will find more than a few homes.
Whisperwood Elemental is another excellent card that hasn't seen a bunch of press because it's not totally clear where it belongs. If all it did was make a 2/2 token every turn, that would be quite good, but a manifest trigger is much better than just a random 2/2. While you are definitely going to want to try to play it on a turn where your opponent can't kill it before your end step, if Whisperwood Elemental is left to its own devices, you will eventually overwhelm your opponent.
Whisperwood Elemental doesn't have a home yet, and while it has competition from a lot of other good five-drops in the format, its power level is undeniable.
Alesha, Who Smiles at Death is just awesome. I'm not a big flavor guy at all, but I just love the name in conjunction with the ability.
To start, Alesha has a very respectable body for an easy to cast, three-mana red creature. While she can't beat Courser of Kruphix heads up in a fight, which kinda sucks, she can beat most other creatures at her mana cost. She is very hard to block effectively, which is important because it makes triggering the ability that much easier.
The exciting part of Alesha, of course, is her triggered ability, and the big question is what do we do with it? Do we want to make a dedicated Alesha deck and try and bring back Hornet Queen? Or do we just want to use her as a value card to bring back dead one and two-drops?
My instinct is that we'd much rather just use her as a curve topper in an aggressive deck to give us some reach in the lategame, but she has a lot of potential, and I'm excited to see where she ends up.
This is definitely a much harder to evaluate set than Khans of Tarkir was. Multicolor cards are often pretty simple, as they are usually all upside with a pushed power level to accommodate their difficult costs. It wasn't too hard to tell that Siege Rhino and Mantis Rider were good Magic cards upon initial viewing.
There are plenty more cards I am unsure about, and I'm curious to see how the format shapes up this weekend at the Open Series in Washington DC.
What will you be playing?