MTG Arena Zone Premium
MTG Arena Zone Premium
Fable of the Mirror-Breaker

How to Play With and Against Fable of the Mirror-Breaker in Standard

Fable of the Mirror-Breaker is Standard's best card, so you should know how to play with and against it! As a special guest article, Philip Mahr tells you the best practices for handling this potent threat!

Fable of the Mirror-Breaker has dominated the Standard format ever since players figured out the raw power and value the card generates by itself. In this article, I want to break down how to best use your Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, and how to properly play against the card.

Philip Mahr has been a 20 year old competitive Magic player for 3 years, with many top finishes in online events on MTG Melee and finished 26th on the Leaderboard for the season 2 of the Arena Championship, and also played in the US Regional Championship in Atlanta.

Removal

Go for the Throat Art by Kristina Carroll
Go for the Throat Art by Kristina Carroll

One of the ways that has become popular to counter Fable of the Mirror-Breaker has been to remove the goblin shaman token, and eventually, the Reflection of Kiki-Jiki before the player with Fable of the Mirror-Breaker untaps. Now this may seem quite bad of a play if you haven’t played Standard recently. You may think the goblin shaman token shouldn’t require you to 2 for one yourself, especially given the midrange nature of the standard format currently. The reality is that this is not the Standard of old; there are many 3 drops that can single-handedly carry the game like Wedding Announcement, and Raffine, Scheming SeerFable of the Mirror-Breaker is part of this category.

With the power level of Standard right now being so high, it is ok to trade multiple removal spells with Fable of the Mirror-Breaker because other cards in your deck can make up for the card disadvantage – whether that is your own Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, blood tokens, Wedding Announcement draws, or even the channel lands. Recognizing this is key to playing Standard in 2022.

You may be wondering when you should play your removal on the token? Obviously you don’t want the token to attack and generate the treasure so does that mean you should remove it on your main phase to not get countered? I think this is where players make the mistake of overvaluing the token. My most common timings of killing the Fable of the Mirror-Breaker token is on the end step of when Fable of the Mirror-Breaker is played, or before combat when they untap with Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. I like the before combat play because I like giving up as little information as possible for when my opponent resolves chapter 2 of Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. This could lead to the opponent discarding too many lands because they think they will produce the treasure or overvaluing expensive cards like Invoke Despair.

You may make the argument that this opens up the possibility for your opponent to counter the removal spell targeting the token, but I think that play crosses the line of overvaluing the token. I don’t make this play frequently myself, even if I have the Make Disappear, because you can find much better targets in standard like Sheoldred, the Apocalypse or using it to protect your Reflection of Kiki-Jiki down the line.

Creatures “The Worst Case Scenario”

Dennick, Pious Apprentice Art by Chris Rallis
Dennick, Pious Apprentice Art by Chris Rallis

Fable of the Mirror-Breaker has warped what creatures people have played in standard similar to the way Stomp//Bonecrusher Giant did. I think creatures are the worst way to deal with Fable of the Mirror-Breaker because it:

  • Often taps you out giving away full information of your game plan
  • Even if the opponent doesn’t have removal it allows them 3 draw steps to dig for it
  • Chump attacks still produce the treasure giving access to cards like Invoke Despair

With this being said, it is still important during deckbuilding to choose creatures that block favorably versus 2/2 goblin shaman tokens. This is one of the major reasons for the amount of Dennick, Pious Apprentice and Ludevic, Necrogenius we saw in Esper lists at the world championship.

The other creature I have to mention is Bloodtithe Harvester. This card is Fable of the Mirror Breaker’s best friend and enemy. This is the best creature at dealing with opposing Fable of the Mirror Breaker token’s because you can play it on turn 2 and sac it to kill the token and you are still left with a blood token at the end of the exchange. I almost always jam my Bloodtithe Harvester on turn two because it shields you from being completely run over by Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. The 3/2 is also Fable of the Mirror Breaker’s best friend because it absorbs your opponents removal and counterspells before the game swinging turn 3 Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, in addition to being a premier target to copy with the reflection.

Counterspells

Make Disappear Art by Inka Schulz

The most feel good sequence in Standard is Make Disappear your Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, untap, jam your own Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. The power of this play should warp how you use counterspells against opponents. As someone who grew up Mana Leaking anything you could get your hands on, in modern Standard, this is a style you have to avoid. Don’t always counter their two drops if you have removal in your hand and no play to make on your next turn. The deadliness of Fable of the Mirror-Breaker resolving on turn three should be in the minds of both players. This is the biggest distinction you will see between playing on the ladder and watching high level competitive players. I learned this lesson mostly from playing Jeskai Hinata, but I think it is still relevant in today’s Standard.

The best way to put Fable of the Mirror-Breaker players in a bind is to play as if they always have it, especially if you have Make Disappear, , or Spell Pierce in hand. This means you will delay your turn two Reckoner Bankbuster until turn 4 or you decide not to play your two drop creature on three. The most common mistake I see players making right now is playing Reckoner Bankbuster on turn two then getting Fabled and not being able to ever use the long term advantage Reckoner Bankbuster gives you (of course this lesson doesn’t apply to decks where you don’t play counterspells like Mono White Midrange).

The other play that people make too often is killing the opposing two drop in combat, then the opponent plays untapped land and slams Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. It is a hard lesson to learn, but I would rather semi-bluff a counterspell on Fable of the Mirror-Breaker.

Let’s say the game starts out like this opponent is on the play. Turn one, both players play tapped Xander's Lounge and pass. On turn two, your opponent plays Swamp and Bloodtithe Harvester. On your turn two, you play an untapped land and your hand is Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, Go for the Throat, Reckoner Bankbuster, Shipwreck Marsh, 2 Sulfurous Springs, and Invoke Despair. In this scenario, I would pass the turn, and take 3 from the Bloodtithe Harvester. If the opponent respects the possibility of Make Disappear and passes, you kill the Bloodtithe Harvester on end step.

The worst case scenario is if the opponent plays Fable of the Mirror-Breaker post combat, but you aren’t unhappy because you would rather kill the goblin shaman token here than the 3/2. Of course not every game will play out this way but it is important to think of these patterns when playing against Fable of the Mirror-Breaker in Standard.

Getting the most out of your Fable of the Mirror-Breaker

Reflection of Kiki-Jiki Art by akio
Reflection of Kiki-Jiki Art by akio

Now that I mentioned all the ways to play against the card, I figured I should mention how to get the most value out of your own Fables. The first lesson is to always start your turn by attacking. This will put pressure on your opponent to think about if they want to let the token attack, and keeping this pattern consistent is important so you don’t give up information about your hand. When I have a favorable attack where the shaman is trading or free to get in, I immediately go to combat without playing a land because the opponent may remove the token more often if they think you are stuck on mana sources.

The second lesson is just to think longer on the second chapter. Just taking an extra moment to pitch the correct lands or figure out what your plays are for this turn and next turn will lead to better discards. I think that players get stuck into the mindset that they have to discard 2 cards or they have to discard all their lands. I rarely discard spells with Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and I often only discard one land if I feel the game will go long and I want to make my land drops.

The last lesson is to utilize the lightning rod of the Reflection of Kiki-Jiki. We have reached a point where most players won’t let you untap with a flipped Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. This is an exploitable fact where you can really put your opponent in a bind by playing something like Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, where even if they can remove both threats, they can’t do it all in one turn. The other aspect to be mindful of is sweepers – often I won’t play my Bloodtithe Harvester if I suspect my opponent could have Farewell or Brotherhood's End. That way, if they let you untap with the flipped Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, you can still play Bloodtithe and make a copy, but also you aren’t as punished if they do have the wrath.

Conclusion

In all, Fable of the Mirror-Breaker is a fantastic card and it will continue to be one the best, if not the best card in Standard. That is why it is key to understand how to properly play with and against it to have success in the format. Hopefully you found this article helpful for Standard play now and something to think about with the Standard Regional Championships on the horizon.

Enjoy our content? Wish to support our work? Join our Premium community, get access to exclusive content, remove all advertisements, and more!

MTG Arena Zone Premium
Philip Mahr
Philip Mahr
Articles: 1

Leave a Reply