Limited

Wilds of Eldraine Prerelease Primer

Hello and welcome back to another prerelease primer! Wilds of Eldraine is just around the corner with prereleases starting this weekend. After taking a look at the set it’s shaping up to be one heck of a Limited format. Full of adventure cards, new mechanics, fae, and fun, Wilds of Eldraine looks like a slam dunk Limited format.

Sealed vs Draft

Before we jump into cards, mechanics, and archetypes, I want to note that this article will be focusing primarily on Sealed rather than Draft. I think one misconception that people get wrong about evaluating new cards is that there’s on universal rating to define a card. In my opinion, there are tons of cards that shine brighter in Sealed versus Draft, and vice versa. Draft is about cobbling together a two-color archetype and finding synergies that mesh well with your cards. Sealed, on the other hand, is much more about raw power. In Sealed you look to maximize removal, card advantage, and powerful creatures and rares to win games.

Prerelease in particular is a unique format in that you get an extra rare in your Sealed pack for playing, so decks are more powerful on average. In Sealed you usually want to play more than two colors, splashing your “bombs” and other good cards. This is more doable in this format since decks are less synergistic, meaning games go longer on average. If you’re also base-Green in Sealed, you usually have access to cards that can help you mana fix to splash.

Now, let’s dive into the mechanics of Wilds of Eldraine!

New Mechanics

Role Tokens

Roles are a new kind of aura token that can enchant your own creatures for a buff effect or your opponents’ creatures for a de-buff effect.

There are a total of six different role tokens that can be created:

  • Cursed — Enchanted creature has base power and toughness 1/1.
  • Monster — Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 and has trample.
  • Royal — Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 and has ward {1}.
  • Sorcerer — Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 and has “Whenever this creature attacks, scry 1.”
  • Wicked — Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 and “When this Aura is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, each opponent loses 1 life.”
  • Young Hero — Enchanted creature has “Whenever this creature attacks, if its toughness is 3 or less, put a +1/+1 counter on it.”

Bargain

Bargain is a new mechanic which allows you to sacrifice an Artifact, Enchantment, or Token upon casting a spell to get some sort of bonus effect. For example, Candy Grapple lets you kill off a larger creature if you pay the additional cost. It’s also worth noting that you can sacrifice role tokens you own. Bargain seems very easy to pay for in a format of role tokens, creature tokens, and food tokens.

Celebration

Celebration is a new triggered ability that checks if two or more nonland permanents entered the battlefield under your control this turn. Take Ash, Party Crasher for example:

Ash can count towards one of those two nonland permanents. It’s also worth noting that celebration happens regardless if you played it before or after the two nonland permanents came into play.

Returning Mechanics and Themes

With Wilds of Eldraine we return to the classic adventure mechanic, although this time a handful of adventure cards are multicolored. We also have the return of sagas and stun counters.

Enchanting Tales

But wait, that’s not all. Similar to a handful of recent Standard sets, Wilds of Eldraine comes with its own bonus sheet! Just like The Brothers’ War and Strixhaven, Wilds of Eldraine has 63 reprinted enchantments that you’ll get one of in every draft booster pack.

My main piece of advice when evaluating cards from a bonus sheet slot is to ask yourself if you think the card is good in Limited or if it’s just a Commander reprint. In previous sets there have been a good chunk of cards from bonus sheets that are strictly unplayable in Limited. Ground Seal, for example, is pretty underwhelming. Sure, it’s draw a card and a bargain outlet for two mana, but I’d steer clear from Enchanting Tales that don’t do much on their own.

Stab Wound in its original printing, Return to Ravnica, was one of the best Limited cards of the set, since if you couldn’t remove your own creature you’d end up taking loads of damage. Stab Wound is definitely a lot worse in this format due to bargain, but I still think it’s a decent removal spell.

Then you have cards like Dawn of Hope. Dawn of Hope is completely busted. In long grindy games, especially in Sealed, cards like Dawn of Hope are what pull you to victory. A mana sink that will eventually overwhelm your opponent while also drawing cards is very powerful. You can even utilize it well while behind, paying six mana to chump a creature and draw a card while you assemble a game plan.

Again I ask you to think about your Enchanting Tales cards and ponder if they will prove valuable to you in your matches. Steer clear from the obvious Commander and casual reprints and maximize the powerful ones (I heard Bitterblossom is also in this set?).

Archetypes and Themes

Boros – Celebration Aggro

Gruul – Power 4 or Greater Matters

Dimir – Faeries

Orzhov – Bargain/Sacrifice

Simic – Spells with Mana Value 5 or Greater

Azorius – Tap Down Opponent’s Creatures

Golgari – Food

Izzet – Instants and Sorceries

Selesnya – Enchanted Creatures

Rakdos – 1/1 Rat Tokens

Mana-Fixing

Lastly, whenever looking at a Limited format for the first time I like to evaluate what fixing is available. While Wilds of Eldraine is not as mono-colored as Throne of Eldraine, there definitely isn’t a bevy of fixing available in this set. Fixing is definitely something to consider when splashing for a multicolored adventure card or a powerful rare.

These are the only “dual” lands in the set. Evolving Wilds at common is a nice reprint and will usually allow you to splash for a third color quite easily. Edgewall Inn is another powerful land that can buyback your adventure cards while also giving you flexibility for your mana-base. I usually tend to avoid playing Crystal Grotto, I find it often to be worse than just playing a basic land since you have to have a whole extra mana to filter for a different color. I find this card hurts my decks more than helps. Aside from those three we have a cycle of powerful creature dual lands that I’m happy to play any of in my Sealed decks.

There’s actually decent fixing in Green and Artifacts. Prism is a favorite Limited Magic card of mine, and it shines in this set as a bargain outlet that replaces itself while also providing fixing. Collector’s Vault seems like an interesting Sealed card, but maybe too slow for Draft. Return from the Wilds is a cool way to trigger Celebration while also giving you a bargain outlet. Three mana for a 1/1 that Rampant Growths is just a fine card on its own, set synergies aside. Brave the Wilds is interesting and seemingly powerful. One mana to mana fix while also putting a 3/3 into play isn’t the worst deal in the world.

Closing Thoughts

Overall this set looks incredibly challenging, but in a good way. I think bargain is my favorite mechanic of the set, and it will be interesting to find hidden synergies to maximize the benefits of it. Here are just a few cool interactions I’ve spotted so far:

I think my overall favorite color in the set, however, is Black. Black always has access to the most efficient removal tied in with some ways to recur value. With Dimir Faeries also looking like a strong two-color archetype here are some cards that have my eye:

I think what excites me so much about Black in this set is how versatile and value-based it is. Black seems to totally abuse the bargain mechanic having multiple cards at common and uncommon that do something while putting in some sort of token into play. These are only a handful of Black cards from the set yet they all do so much. Black is definitely my starting point of the color that has the most promise in this set.

Conclusion

Wilds of Eldraine looks like a fun and challenging Limited set. There are loads of mechanics, both new and old, various returning card types, and a whole bonus sheet to boot. I think a set like this can appear pretty daunting for new players, especially with the various bonus sheet cards. If all else fails I always focus my Sealed events on maximizing the power level of my pool, in whatever combination of cards that may be. Green, Black, and Blue are certainly the colors in Sealed that have some of the grindier and powerful effects, while in draft Red and White shine based on their synergies.

When it comes down to it though Prerelease is a great way to meet new friends, learn the new cards, and test wacky and fun ideas. As someone playing in the Vegas 100k open next month I’m definitely going to use my Prerelease weekend to learn the new cards and find as many interesting interactions as possible.

As always, thanks for reading!

@roman_fusco

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ymar solamo

nice primer roman!