A 1/1 for 1. Not that good generally, but there are obvious historical comparisons.
I’m thinking Warden is weaker than these two, but these two were extremely pushed, and the difference isn’t that big.
Actually the biggest difference is in the colors. Back in the day (almost 20 years ago), the thinking was that [scryfall]Jackal Puppy[/scryfall] is better than [scryfall]Savannah Lions[/scryfall] simply because its red. Here its pretty much the same deal. Red (and white) are generally better at this sort of thing, and thus those cards fit better into those decks. Its all about contest.
But hey, its still strong and there’s a couple of very strong cards which can help make this card better simply because it could have a home.
How many decks in this format start the game with a land that comes into play tapped? Most. So, if you cast this during your first turn and upgrade it during your second, its basically the same as casting a 3/3 with haste on your second turn. That’s pretty good. The only question is what needs to happen around it.
Remember that even if you never activate the second ability, you still have a cheap, fast 3/3 creature. You might want the lifelink at some point, because the manabase of these decks is going to be painful, but still that’s just an extra option and options are nice to have. They do enable a long game, if you happen to not be able to finish the game early. This is especially good, because the last ability (unlike the Student and Figure) can be activated as many times as you want.
Although these colors work very well together historically, this is not really the type of deck they work well together in. There probably have been some (I can at least remember one Kibler deck which was pretty closely related to the monogreen deck Raphael Levy later used to win the WMC), but not many.
We have a pretty good selection of creatures, too:
Okay, maybe I’m stretching it a little bit, but we can work with this. (Of course, we could go lower and use the great one-drops monoblack has access to right now, but in that deck, I don’t think I’d want to play Warden.
Since many of those cards are strong in the early game, but have the potential to be useful in a longer game, I’m going to pick those rather than the ones that only work in the early game. They are pretty mana intensive, though, so we might be able to use some more expensive creatures as well, such as [scryfall]Polukranos, the World Eater[/scryfall] or [scryfall]Reaper of the Wilds[/scryfall].
Black’s contribution to the whole thing can be all the disruption and removal. [scryfall]Thoughtseize[/scryfall] is an obvious addition, but whether or not we should be using [scryfall]Despise[/scryfall] is another question. I like the option of disrupting more of their early plan, but if we are aiming for the long game, its probably not that good. ‘Seize can be used in any point of the game (although it too loses some of its power).
Removal is another question. Do we want to use removal that requires double black? Is [scryfall]Hero’s Downfall[/scryfall] good? What about [scryfall]Bile Blight[/scryfall]? Probably both, but they might be a bit awkward to cast, unless we put plenty of [scryfall]Mana Confluence[/scryfall]s in the deck. To get to 90% probability for two lands of a certain color by turn three, we need 19 sources. I guess we’ll have to do that then.
4 Warden of the First Tree
4 Rakshasa Deathdealer
4 Heir of the Wilds
4 Herald of Torment
4 Polukranos, the World Eater
4 Reaper of the Wilds
4 Hero’s Downfall
4 Bile Blight
4 Temple of Malady
4 Llanowar Wastes
2 Jungle Hollow
2 Mana Confluence
I would have loved to be able to put [scryfall]Pain Seer[/scryfall] in there, but its just not very good in the current format. Sadly.
Again, we have some creatures we would like to use here:
Fate Reforged also brings us a couple of other potentially usable cards, such as [scryfall]Valorous Stance[/scryfall], which I love, and [scryfall]Mardu Woe-Reaper[/scryfall], which to me is more like a sideboard card, but creatures with only one toughness seem to be pretty weak in this format with multitudes of tokens and [scryfall]Doomwake Giant[/scryfall].
Other good removal includes [scryfall]Suspension Field[/scryfall]. I think we mostly need to remove larger creatures (because our creatures can beat the smaller ones), so no need to bother with [scryfall]Last Breath[/scryfall]s or similar.
4 Warden of the First Tree
4 Sunblade Elf.
4 Heir of the Wilds
2 Seeker of the Way
4 Fleecemane Lion
4 Seeker of the Way
4 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
2 Archetype of Courage
4 Valorous Stance
4 Suspension Field
2 Ajani, Mentor of Heroes
4 Temple of Plenty
4 Windswept Heath
4 Blossoming Sands
The problem with this deck is that tokens will be ubiquitous in this format, which means sweepers such as [scryfall]Anger of the Gods[/scryfall] and [scryfall]Drown in Sorrow[/scryfall] will infest most sideboards and quite a few main decks as well. If our deck can’t handle those, were in trouble. On the other hand, if the token decks get hated out, perhaps this kind of deck could have potential. At least most of our creatures can take on 1/1 tokens (as long as they don’t have prowess and there isn’t a [scryfall]Jeskai Ascendancy[/scryfall] in play).