top of page

My First Thoughts on Wilds of Eldraine Draft




Wilds of Eldraine is finally available, and I must say I’m enjoying the Limited format, at least for now.


I’ll preface by saying that all my experience with this set has been in Best of One on Arena ranked, so it’s a bit biased because of the hand smoother and higher variance nature of Best of One.


Roles, for lack of a better term, play a huge role in the format. Lots of cards in the format provide the ability to slap a pesky +1+1 aura of some kind onto a creature already on the battlefield, so it’s important to get a creature out early. This means your general Grizzly Bears and one-mana 1/1s are a lot better in the format than they would be if you removed that context.


Adventures play a big role in the format by making it rare for players to run out of action. Players have interaction more often because a lot of creatures have some kind of sorcery or instant attached to them. This makes for more interactive games and players spending almost all of their mana every turn. I noticed that in games I’ve lost I either wasn’t spending my mana productively or choosing not to cast a spell.


Now this is a Best of One thing too with the hand smoother, so I’m going to keep my eye on how it feels as I play MTGO for the next couple of days off-stream.


Cheap removal is, as always, premium. My current vote for the best common in the set is Torch the Tower. It’s an up-tempo removal spell that almost always hits its mark.




Bargain cards have diminishing returns. I came into my stream yesterday high on Johann’s Stopgap and left after a brief conversation with Allen Wu recognizing it wasn’t as strong as we both anticipated. A lot of the good higher-end creatures have enters-the-battlefield effects, or they’re also an adventure, so trying to bounce creatures for tempo leaves you down cards. Unless you’re able to close quickly, this effect is worse than it's been in the past.


This also means expensive creatures that don’t have some kind of enters-the-battlefield effect or an adventure are lower priorities than they were in other sets. You can get a card like Beluna’s Gatekeeper to serve as both some early interaction and a top-end threat. This makes a card like Archive Dragon less appealing because it’s only a slightly better six-mana body, but it has no outside utility in the early game.


Because of all the adventures and constant use of mana, missing land drops is a death sentence. It’s easy for opponents to push tempo when they’re never running out of spells. I’d say play one more land than you think you should on average and be less willing to bottom a land off of a mulligan than you would in other sets. If you have cards like Sleight of hand or various green cards that produce mana, then 17 is probably a perfect spot to be.


This also leads me to my next point that having a good start is important because the set's extra spells and value make it important to be on the board early. In general, mulliganing in Limited is punishing, but there’s more room for recovery in this set. Those sketchy one-land keeps or keeps that start with one color are worse here. Don’t be afraid to click the mulligan button. It's rare I run out of spells in this format, so a good start is key.


Because of the importance of getting on the board and having that good start, it’s also important to not be too reactive. I’ve had some great-looking UR decks with tons of spells and cheap removal, and I just can’t out-grind my low-curve aggro opponents as often as I’d like. It’s too hard because of all the value tacked onto the adventure creatures and various other ways to get value in the set. It’s too early to tell if this short-term archetype variant will work or not, but I noticed that I end up getting buried when I draw lots of interaction and not enough threats.



Example UR Deck



There are also a lot of good cheap tricks. Cards like Monstrous Rage and Royal Treatment are incredibly strong tricks, and I even liked Leaping Ambush quite a bit. There's more incentive to play solid low-curve creatures. Keep in mind that you want the hero role to have as low toughness as possible to get the most value for creatures with higher toughness and where +1+1 auras are most effective.



Now I’m painting a picture of a blistering fast format where there’s no hope for midrange or control and I don’t think that’s the case. We need to calibrate our pick orders properly to reflect exactly what we get paid off for because of the mechanics of the set. Having a two-drop, or even a one-drop, is important, so pick them up when you can over some higher-impact three- and four-drops.


The set is also incredibly deep. I haven’t come close to being short on playables, but that's likely because I haven’t weeded out some of the worse cards yet because they look fine for other formats. In this one, they’re probably less playable than in a traditional draft format.


Regarding colors, I’ve liked everything but white. Blue has performed a little worse than I’d like. Normally, blue is one of the better colors because it provides better traction than other colors at common. Cards like Quick Study and other card draw are less effective because adventure cards provide value, so raw card draw isn’t as valuable. Every color can produce card advantage like blue, which makes blue worse than it would be traditionally. I still think it's good, and from where I’m sitting, the format is fairly balanced, but it’s still too early and fast-paced to tell.


I don’t dislike small splashes, likely in green where you get mana fixing. Don’t be afraid to put a Crystal Grotto in your deck to play some off-color adventure splashes. A lot of people are reluctant to play Crystal Grotto, but in higher-curve decks without strict double color requirements, it's a solid and good card that can do things like help you cast Puny Snack off of Gingerbread Hunter.



I’ll keep blasting away at these drafts until I find a strategy that stands out, but right now my only strategy is to avoid white. I prefer red at the moment, but only because I’m getting Torch the Tower in the middle of pack one.


If you like traditional old-school Limited, this set does a lot of the curve-out combat trick stuff, but it does it in a more fun way by providing tons of in-game options rather than the games playing themselves. I can say for now that this isn’t an all-timer in my book, but it’s one of my favorite formats thus far that incentivizes low-curve starts because the games and drafts are both interesting.






5 views7 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page