First Look at Eldritch Moon

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We’re officially into spoiler season for Eldritch Moon which is pretty similar to all other spoiler seasons. Magic players tend to fall into a few different camps when it comes to spoilers. Personally I love seeing new Magic cards, figuring out how they fit into the puzzle, reading the flavour text to get more in depth with the story and generally enjoying seeing new cards for the game I love. Other people will tell you they don’t care about spoiler season. If you know people like this, get rid of them, you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

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As for the actual cards, there are two ways to evaluate them, how do they fit into the current metagame and how do they fit or create new decks. The former is an easy task to do with a smaller new set as the metagame is already established and there are cards leaving. For larger set it makes no real sense to do it because a large portion of the cards are leaving. As for creating new decks, it’s best to wait until you have an entire spoiler before creating decks with only a portion of the cards.

Today I’m just going to focus on how a card fits into the current metagame, I’ll brew some stuff up later. To briefly recap the current metagame mainstream metagame decks are Wr Humans, Bant Humans, GW Tokens, WB Control, Ramp, GBx Control. There are a few other decks but there are essentially the Top 5 plus Ramp.

Decimator of Provinces

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The easy comparison is to Craterhoof Behemoth. It’s a big guy that overruns your team. The issue is that it’s a mini overrun and the trigger is on cast, not on EtB so there are no reanimation shenanigans. It also starts off as two more expensive than Craterhoof and there aren’t that many expensive creatures lying around to sacrifice to this so the cost will always be steep. Last, whereas Craterhoof was a game ender with even a decent board, this doesn’t have the same guarantee.

Verdict: You’d think it would be a sweet sideboard card to break the GW mirror but in reality, it should be left on the sidelines.

Emrakul, the Promised End

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Up to this point there has been no true delirium deck. Traverse the Ulvenwald has seen the most play of delirium cards, with a few glimpses of To the Slaughter and Mindwrack Demon running around here and there. While the dream of casting it for 6 is completely palpitating, no deck should be running on that, so after removing the first line of text what’s left? A 13/13 with flying, trample and some protection but does it end the game quick enough? Casting this on 8 or 9 mana is reasonable though may be a tad slow. It also has the “Mindslaver” ability tacked onto it, which can do potentially do enough damage that it wins you the game however Mindslaver was backbreaking because your opponent didn’t have the chance to recoup, giving your opponent a “second wind” is potentially detrimental.

Verdict: Is this really better than chaining Ulamogs? The damage this can do is certainly real but giving the option of chaining Ulamogs or Emrakuls, I’m taking Ulamog, which unlike Emrakul, is better in its newest iteration.

Bruna, the Fading Light

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Unfortunately for Bruna, she was always the worst of the three Angel sisters (Gisela & Sigarda being the other two). Two more toughness than Archangel is a small upgrade and bringing back an Angel or Human is nice though a little odd since in the storyline the angels had begun slaughtering the humans so bringing a human back just to kill again seems a little distasteful.

Verdict: Let’s be honest, there’s only one reason to ever play Bruna and she’s found below.

Gisela, the Broken Blade

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Hello! The comparison is easy, Gisela is a slightly smaller Baneslayer Angel which even a smaller Baneslayer Angel is still awesome. First Strike and Lifelink means she is blocking anything, killing it and gaining life so against any aggro deck, this is a must have. Also have flying allows her to block everything.

Verdict: If you’re playing White, there’s a very good chance you want Gisela in your deck. She’s a fantastic sideboard card against aggro decks, though potentially a liability in the maindeck, if you intend on seeing a lot of control mirrors. In Bant Humans, she soars above the fray to get in those last points of damage. And while it may be tempting to call your deck Sister Act and play Bruna, don’t.

Thalia, Heretic Cathar

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The art on this card is actually amazing, huge props to Magali Villeneuve for this. Oh and it just so happens that the card is awesome too. Most of the Standard mana bases are made up of non-basic lands, so slowing down your opponent is huge and there are few creatures with first strike currently running around to profitably trade with her. Last, in this format, if you’re playing an aggro deck, there are two cards that haunted your dreams, Archangel Avacyn and Collected Company. Well your opponent’s creatures if any will still be indestructible and Reflector Mage still bounces creatures but everything else is just useless and with their lands coming into play tapped, those cards aren’t being cast on curve most games.

Verdict: An easy three of in Humans, Bant and Wr, because guess what, not only is she Human but you can find her off Collected Company!

Coax from the Blind Eternities

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You know how Blue was to be avoided in Shadows Limited, well Eldritch isn’t doing itself much favours. Docent is a bad Young Pyromance & Identity Thief is lacking a lot of good EtB triggers but I wanted to spot Coax. Currently the Eldrazi decks exist in two flavours, Ramp which is traditionally GR and the WB decks. Now neither of those are blue, nor do I expect that to change. I’m aware there’s a Blue Eldrazi deck but it plays those Eldrazis maindeck.

You know what deck does have Blue & Eldrazis? Bant Eldrazi in Modern which happens to have Eldrazi cards in the sideboard. Traditionally the Wishes have been played in combo centric or toolbox decks, which would be missing an exact card to go off or pull itself greatly ahead. Currently there’s no Eldrazi combo decks however there are enough Eldrazi utility cards that this will be the real deal.

Verdict: I can easily see a Modern environment where Coax is played as a two of in Bant Eldrazi. Remember, All is Dust is an Eldrazi card!

Unsubstantiate

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The most frequent way I’ve heard of describing this card is, “It’s a worst Venser”. That description isn’t inaccurate but it’s also not giving due process. Historically, bouncing a creature on a spell has not been a main-deckable card. Sure Reflector Mage sees play but that bounce effect is substantially better, also that card is a Human. Bouncing a spell on the other hand, that’s far less common to see, although there is a card that has the exact same line of text currently in Standard that sees no play, Brutal Expulsion. Now this costs two less mana and is only one color, already an improvement. Now this is definitely not a control card but what about an aggro card. It’s possible to be in a scenario where you need to figure out if you should play around Avacyn or Collected Company, well this happens to deal with both.

Verdict: I think this is better than Negate in Bant Humans. As the aggressor you want an answer to anything they may have, and often all you need is an extra turn and you win and being able to answer Avacyn and CoCo is powerful. I understand the argument that they can recast their spell the next turn but playing an aggro deck, you’ve generally lost anyways when they get that extra turn. Also bouncing an early roadblock like Sylvan Advocate to get through extra damage can be exactly what you need.

Collective Brutality

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I was debating whether this should go in last notes or here but I chose here because the it’s more ranty than one line. Why is this rare? Escalate seems cute and Blessed Alliance is a totally reasonable Magic card but this? The biggest issue with this card I have is that not only do I not want any of these abilities at a casting cost of two mana, I don’t want either the first or third ability at all. Which basically makes this a two mana disfigure at sorcery speed and Disfigure as it was originally printed would be fine but not great, this is just worse.

I understand the argument for power creep and they don’t want to print spells that are broken but you’d have a hard time convincing me to play this card as 1B Choose one, two or three. Now telling me that I need to discard a card to get the other abilities, even basic lands are worth more than those abilities. Look I understand I may have gone a tad overboard and been a tad harsh but seriously this card is just awful.

Verdict: I think you get the point.

Tree of Perdition

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Tree of Redemption was a Limited all-star and saw play in Constructed sideboards so let’s check in to see how the tree matches up now that Emrakul is in town? Perdition targets the opponent instead of yourself which means it’s still an excellent blocker like its brother but it doesn’t have the advantage of gaining you a buttload of life when necessary. As a card straight up it doesn’t have the utility of Tree of Redemption and definitely won’t be seeing Standard play for practical reasons.

Why do I say practical reasons, because for impractical reasons and shenanigans, this is your card. In Standard it matches up with Triskaidekaphobia, where you can swap out your opponent’s life total to 13 at the end of their turn and then win on your upkeep with the enchantment in play. Again, not exactly straight forward but if you want shenanigans, why not! Now for those of you who are big dreamers of shenanigans, I’ll stop you there: this doesn’t do what you want it to do with Twisted Image.

Verdict: If you like shenanigans, then this is the sideboard card for you in WB Control. Otherwise cross your fingers you don’t open this as a mythic in your box. For further shenanigans see Harmless Offering and Demonic Pact.

Galvanic Bombardment

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Kindle & Flame Burst this is not as being able to dome players is a big benefit, however picking off creatures can be valuable and Fiery Impulse is currently played. The argument you need to focus on is what’s easier to achieve, Spell Mastery or multiple copies of Galvanic Bombardment. Having multiple copies of each card will always favour Galvanic Bombardment as it will be equal on the first card and then always be superior on following cards. Of course while that’s fine in a vacuum, a Magic deck is not played in a vacuum and hopefully you will be drawing other spells at which point you’d rather have Fiery Impulse, otherwise in doesn’t really matter which card you have, you aren’t winning that game.

Verdict: While it may be tempting to swap your Impulses for Bombardments, resist the Bombardment of your Impulse to switch.

Eldritch Evolution

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I could not have come up with a better set of nombos. So this card is the talk of the town, with the easiest comparisons being Birthing Pod and Natural Order. Personally, this is far closer to Natural Order as Birthing Pod was repeatable and just plain awesome. Now it doesn’t have the green restriction of Natural Order but it has a casting cost restriction so you can’t sacrifice a mana dork for your top end card.

Here’s the problem with this, Natural Order has always been used to find either a combo card like Regal Force or a game ending creature like Progenitus. Not only do those creatures not exist in the current Standard but do you really want to sacrifice World Breaker to find, oh right the Eldrazi titans all cost at least 3 more. I know people have fond memories of Birthing Pod, I played the card as well, but Pod decks still functioned as solid value decks with pod, if those decks existed, they would already be played and don’t need this card.

Verdict: Currently there is no spot for this in the current metagame and it won’t be a major player in Standard. I may yet eat my words but to me, this is the most overhyped card of the set, and while many people will try and “break it”, R&D learned their lesson from Birthing Pod and won’t repeat that mistake.

Emrakul’s Evangel

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There’s not really a comparison for this. Essentially you would need to be trading in a bunch of creatures that are worse than 3/2 to get a bunch of 3/2. It’s very impractical however it’s actually insanely powerful for one specific deck: GW Tokens. Not only are all the tokens being made worse than 3/2 but you can EoT Secure the Wastes for whatever number and then instantly cash in all your 1/1 warriors into 3/2 Eldrazis. It’s a specific situation but given the power I think it’s worth it.

Verdict: Can be played as a one or two of in GW Tokens. I’m aware it’s a human that can be found off of CoCo but that’s not good.

Gisa and Geralf

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Remember the intro video to Eldritch Moon? Emrakul appeared and then Liliana showed up and raised a ton of Zombies and everyone went crazy because Relentless Dead was going to be the key Zombie enabler. Well so far, this is the only relevant Zombie card in the set and it’s not even a Zombie.

Honestly I would have hoped the second line of text wouldn’t have included the zombie creature type and instead just made the creature a zombie when it entered the battlefield. The card would have then needed a line stating that whenever a zombie you control dies, exile it but I honestly don’t think that would have been too hard to make. As it stands, the card is cute but rather lackluster. At least there’s always EDH.

Verdict: There’s no deck that currently would run this as zombies aren’t a thing and historically, this isn’t the type of card that zombie decks want as an enabler.

Tamiyo, Field Researcher

This card could get an article of its own. Also there are so many things about this card that don’t make sense; I’m not sure where to start. For starters, I don’t understand why Tamiyo is Bant colors, also Tamiyo doesn’t normally work with people so the first ability seems like a lore failure. As well, outside of Warrior’s lesson, those abilities are entirely blue. There are no white abilities on that card. Now if you want to make the argument that having Tamiyo as mono-blue was too powerful, I’m not sure making her colors that Canopy Vista produce helps your case. Also…

As for practical uses, drawing cards in creature decks is quite good as there is a propensity to run out of gas eventually. More importantly in aggro decks, tapping down your opponent’s blockers to plow through is insane. At the end of the card, the card is great however it seems like it’s all over the place. One last story point, it has not yet happened but did Tamiyo fall to Emrakul’s corruption or did she hang out with Jace enough that she got the Omniscience ultimate?

Verdict: The card goes into Bant Humans yesterday and while a little greedy can go into GW tokens if you want to cast it off of Oath of Nissa, or contort your mana a little.

Ulrich of the Krallenhorde

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Here it is folks, the Werewolf Legend everyone wanted. Well not everyone but at least people who wanted a werewolf EDH deck. The obvious comparison is of the other gold colored werewolf from original Innistrad block and it seems like Huntmaster of the Fells is ahead. Ulrich may be bigger however he’s lacking the value enablers of Huntmaster. Now if you are playing a RG aggro deck this is a shoe in, the downside is that unlike Huntmaster, this doesn’t protect you as well on defense. On top of that, life gain and damage are relevant, as are chump blockers.

Now the bigger issue with this card is the flipside. Ulrich cannot fight werewolves. I understand he’s the uncontested Alpha and other werewolves don’t pick fights with him but you’d think he would at least go after other werewolves on occasion just to make sure everyone knows what’s up. So unlike Huntmaster, there’s no opportunity to flip your copy first to eat your opponent’s, also being Legendary mean you only get one. Also he’s lacking the cool combo of Huntmaster with Birthing Pod where you would sac a three drop, get this, flip and eat your opponent’s creature, you know the good old days.

Verdict: The only true RG deck running around is Ramp and that doesn’t want Ulrich. Sam Black was playing a Jund deck in Pittsburgh if memory serves and going Kalitas into Ulrich would definitely be sweet. Otherwise there isn’t really a spot for Ulrich in any of the mainstream decks.

Last Notes

Eternal Scourge: This card just plain reads shenanigans. Yes Food Chain decks would prefer Misthollow because it pitches to Force of Will but just take the time to appreciate this as a Magic card that exists.

Peace of Mind: The card may be unplayable but I’m all for reprints that have old border versions.

Whispers of Emrakul: It’s like a Hymn to Tourach for people that greatly miss the point on what makes Hymn to Tourach great.

Lupine Prototype: I love that this card exists. Is it good, nope but it’s still awesome to have a werewolf in a power suit. If you see the artist, ask them about it, I’m sure it will be a great story.

Soul Separator: I know I will lose to a 1/1 Emrakul at some point, it’s just bound to happen.

Stitcher’s Graft: I played a lot of Unstable Mutation back in the day and this greatly reminds me of that. Also 3 damage on a disposable creature is total fine in an all in aggro deck, Thraben Inspector has never been so good.

Geier Reach Sanitarium: Has potential in Modern Lantern and if your opponent has no cards in hand it’s a mill one.

If there’s anything hit me up in the comments or on Twitter @Nodnolb.

Thanks for reading.

Best,
William

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