Saturday, January 24, 2015

Runemarks from Fate Reforged

When it comes to new sets, I confess I have a soft spot for Common cycles. I enjoy the design of them, particularly since they often illustrate the way that the color-pie impacts the same idea through these five different philosophies.

There are four major cycles in Fate Reforged (as well as a three color mini-cycle), including the reprinted cycle of "Refuge" Dual Lands at Common. Today, I want to focus on the cycle of Runemarks.

The Runemarks are a Common cycle of Auras, each costing 3 mana, that give the enchanted creature +2 / +2, and also grant a color-appropriate keyword if the player controls a permanent that is either color of the other two colors in that clan's wedge. The Sultai one, granting Deathtouch, is probably the least powerful; with the Mardu and Jeskai ones (granting First Strike and Flying respectively), being the most powerful; and the other two (granting Trample and Vigilance) somewhere in the middle.

In general creature Auras are not fantastic in Standard Pauper due to the presence of good removal. But now, with removal becoming slower and more expensive, as well as the presence of Heroic, at least renders them playable, assuming you can reliably activate the keyword ability. In fact, playing these on a creature that is already one of the two requisite colors is probably your best bet to ensure you don't get blown out by well-timed removal.

The multicolor requirement does make it an interesting exercise to consider how these might fit into existing archetypes. The Jeskai Runemark is the easiest fit, since it meshes well with the Izzet Control archetype, although the low numbers of creatures makes this suspect. Sultai Runemark similarly would work in the UB Control variants, but it's easily the weakest of the cycle and probably won't make the cut. Obviously neither White Weenie nor RDW have access to multiple colors, so those are out. The Boros Heroic deck could easily make use of the Abzan or Mardu, but spending 3 mana for an Aura is quite a bit in that archetype. Finally, the Temur Runemark doesn't currently have much of a home, but a Simic archetype does see play from time to time, so maybe it would slot in there.

On the whole, although these auras are decent in a vacuum, the multicolor requirement makes them more difficult to make work with existing decks. At least at this point, I am not optimistic about them making much of an impact in the metagame. But time will tell.

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