The future is now. The world has become so digitized that even on days that there aren't scheduled previews, Magic players still find new cards or information on sets lurking in the crevices of the internet. This makes falling behind a little bit more difficult on the surface, but from the perspective of someone who's been relatively disconnected to a few days…wow.
Amonkhet has many things going for it, and many powerful cards. Normally as cards from a set are released, it's relatively easy to point at a certain section of cards and say “Wow, [color] sure is getting a boost this set!” This time? Not so much. Amonkhet gives love to each wedge of the color pie (no pun intended) and seems to be spreading it fairly liberally.
A new Magic set hasn't excited me in the way that Amonkhet does since Shadows over Innistrad. There are many powerful cards that, with a bit of tuning, can put something from "just a brew" all the way up to a Tier 1 contender in the format. There's a lot of ground to cover, so let's dive right in.
First of all, let's get something out of the way: holy smokes.
For those who might not be as rules-savvy as those of us who prefer breaking Magic when possible, a Fate Foretold with zero counters allows its controller to play spells with a converted mana cost of zero, including, but not limited to, this little number (ignore that printed reminder text):
Oh, also these cards:
It feels like just a few weeks ago that one of our own writers was playing a deck meant to abuse the low converted mana cost of these cards. If only it were easier to remember where that was! [Copy editor's note: Also, yesterday on Premium, which Emma didn't get a chance to see before her deadline.] All joking aside, As Foretold is doing degenerate things and will make waves in all kinds of different archetypes.
Just going down the list, the first thing to try with As Foretold is to force it into doing its best Aether Vial impression.
Hold the phone: this is likely better than Aether Vial when built around. As Foretold can cast spells with a converted mana cost that is “equal to or less than the number of counters on As Foretold.” This means that copies of Ancestral Vision drawn after turn 3 aren't going to take forever to be relevant.
The biggest drawback to this type of deck building is in the turn in which "shields are down." This is to say that As Foretold is going to generate more value the more turns that is on the battlefield, meaning the card needs to be cast as early as possible. The more turns it is on the battlefield, the more counters it accrues, which means the more spells it will be able to cast, and so on. The first control deck that I'd like to try with As Foretold will look something like this:
There's a lot going on in this deck and I want to take a couple of seconds to try to explain as much of it as succinctly as possible.
Despite not being a combo deck, Lotus Bloom makes it easier to tap out for As Foretold on the third turn without being at nearly as high a risk of dying. There are two Lotus Blooms and a copy of Slaughter Pact that encourage the pilot to jam As Foretold as quickly as possible.
Tolaria West gives the deck a nice little package of cards that it can grab at any given point in the game. Earlier in the game, it can just be a land on the battlefield (that can cast Cryptic Command to boot), and later in the game it can grab the suspend spells or other lands in the deck to either answer other lands via Ghost Quarter or start pressuring the opponent with a creature-land.
On the front side, Jace, Vryn's Prodigy helps the deck dig for copies of As Foretold and discard redundant copies of suspend cards in the meantime. After finding As Foretold, the littlest Jace can then help turn redundant copies of the enchantment into the reactive spells that control decks need in order to function.
This deck overloads a bit on spells that cost a single mana to ensure that As Foretold can begin accruing a mana advantage as quickly as possible. It's pretty embarrassing to cast an As Foretold and only cast a single spell with it for a few turns, never recouping the three mana and a card sunk into it.
The last bullets in the deck are cards that all work individually with As Foretold to generate advantage with the extra mana that Fate Foretold provides. Kalitas can instantly generate a Zombie the turn that he enters the battlefield if As Foretold has a counter and his caster has a removal spell in hand. Tasigur can continue to be activated without preventing his controller from casting other spells. Kolaghan's Command in the Snapcaster Mage / Jace, Vryn's Prodigy deck is a bit of a no-brainer that likely needs little explanation at this point.
The deck would need a good bit of tuning to become a contender, but I love the direction of the deck.
Well, well, well. On the spectrum of things that are getting help in this set, Living End is pretty high on the list. Outside of getting more creatures with cycling, now As Foretold allows the Living End players to mitigate the worst part of the deck: drawing Living End. As Foretold having a converted mana cost of three means that it won't be hit when cascading and makes the variance in the deck feel a bit easier to manage.
Just look at some the other new goodies for the deck:
All of these things provide a different angle for the already-reasonable Living End archetype, but begs the question: what if the current colors in the deck aren't correct? Consider this…
- 4 Architects of Will
- 2 Archfiend of Ifnir
- 4 Curator of Mysteries
- 2 Faerie Macabre
- 3 Fulminator Mage
- 4 Monstrous Carabid
- 4 Simian Spirit Guide
- 4 Street Wraith
Okay, so there's a lot going on in this list, and the numbers aren't the same as stock Living End, so stay with me.
This manabase was actually reasonably crafted with the rest of the deck in mind. A few weeks ago I had an article on land sequencing that referenced being able to access all of the required colors in the deck on as few lands as possible. In this deck, Spirebluff Canal has the ability to cycle every single cycling creature in the deck that can be cycled for a single mana.
This means that either Steam Vents or Spirebluff Canal is the go-to first land to help dig for more mana and cycling creatures. From there, fetching up a copy of Godless Shrine makes it so Demonic Dread, Ardent Plea, and As Foretold are all castable, color-wise.
Notice anything about the creatures in the deck? They all cost five or less and a good portion of them have evasion. Older variants of the deck had enormous Spiders that cost six mana and were near-uncastable. It isn't unreasonable to cast Curator of Mysteries and use it as a roadblock to combo…or even threaten a slower deck's life total.
Drake Haven is the thing that makes me the most excited about this take on the archetype. Drake Haven gives the deck another must-counter spell against the control decks and an out against graveyard hate against the decks packing Rest in Peace and others of that ilk. It may not look like much at first glance, but it's the real deal. The power of Lingering Souls has recently been talked about in Modern against the fairer decks of the format; Death's Shadow was splashing white for almost exclusively Lingering Souls.
This card makes bigger tokens, more of them, and is harder to counteract once it resolves. The opponent can likely beat the first couple of Wind Drakes. What about the fourth? The fifth? A near-endless stream of uncounterable 2/2s with flash isn't something to scoff at. It's hard to pack cards that can answer both graveyard- and enchantment-angled attacks.
This version of the deck is likely something that can efficiently answer the creature-based Death's Shadow decks that are taking over Modern at the moment and have a fast enough clock to take advantage of the slower decks trying to answer it. The biggest issue that may be holding this deck back is that the deck being required to play higher converted mana costs (in order to avoid screwing up the "cascade into Living End" thing) makes it weaker to some of the faster combo decks of the format. If those decks fade out more and get pushed out by the Death's Shadow decks and their redundant amounts of hand disruption, I'm excited to sleeve up Living End in the near future.
I have no idea what a deck abusing Wheel of Fate looks like, but in a dedicated As Foretold deck, it's hard to imagine anything else being a better payoff card. As Foretold makes it easy to empty one's hand, and Wheel of Fate is the best way to replenish the cards that go into finding and resolving the enchantment. If anyone has any leads on something insane to do with the Modern-legal Wheel of Fortune, please drop a comment with what you've got!
Foretelling the Future
What's the best way to play As Foretold? At this point, it's hard to say. The set becomes legal on Magic Online in just a few weeks and I'm already excited to get started jamming games with the card. The control deck seems a bit rough around the edges, Living End getting some new cards is something I never thought I'd see, and I'm confident that Ari Lax is likely already working on something new with Restore Balance. It's a great place to be. This article doesn't even scratch the surface of its applications in Vintage and Legacy.
Got anything else that's busted in half with As Foretold? Let me know what you think and what other places the card can find a home!