Wilds of Eldraine preview season is officially beginning this week! Throne of Eldraine was indisputably one of the most powerful sets of all time, so it's exciting to see what's new this time around.
On initial review, I don’t see any Okos, Once Upon a Times or even Cat/Oven-type synergies, so we’re off to a good start.
I love the concept of this set. Like most recent Standard sets, we’re getting a bonus sheet that will almost always make drafting more enjoyable and sealed more volatile.
Let’s take a look at some of the cards that stood out from the limited amount we’ve seen so far.
Syr Ginger, The Meal Ender
This card looks like a meme, and it kind of is, but it’s not a complete meme. While it’s probably not quite good enough, it's interesting given how punishing it can be for opponents to play planeswalkers and, most noticeably, because of its synergies with food and treasures. Given enough of either, having the ability to scry through your deck and make a gigantic creature could be a recipe for a playable card in some contexts.
I suspect Syr Ginger will remain on the sidelines in Standard and beyond, but there’s some chance to see this feisty little gingerbread legend.
Creature lands are back!
While these types of lands that come into play tapped are a bit dated, as mana is very valuable these days, Standard is always better with creature lands.
Restless Cottage is a potent threat at 4/4. It is reminiscent of Raging Ravine with the added upside of graveyard control and even life gain in the form of making food. Creature lands do an excellent job of making sure planeswalkers don’t get out of line, and while that hasn’t been a problem in some time, it's awesome to have that safety net.
Mana sinks are less important now, but it’s still nice if they fit into your mana base and provide that extra bit of reach.
Restless Cottage, while strong, is still worse than Hive of the Eye Tyrant for Eternal formats, so I suspect we won’t be seeing too much of Restless Cottage and other creature lands from this set outside of Standard given how punishing it is to enter tapped.
An introduction to the role mechanic, Fausebane Troll looks solid. We’re getting a 5/5 trample for four mana, but more than likely we’re going to want to play this on five mana and use its ability immediately to snipe a creature and leave us a vanilla 4/4. While Fausbane Troll would have been good in some formats at some point, anything over four mana in this format needs to be compared to Sheoldred, the Apocalypse right now, and this is worse.
Cool card, one of my favorites from the set I’ve seen as a design, but unfortunately I don't think it will find a home.
Ashiok, Wicked Manipulator
While this card looks solid, it mostly looks like every other five-mana black planeswalker reskinned. It’s five mana, has a minus to make creatures, a plus to get an extra card, and a static ability that makes it so you don’t pay life and instead you exile cards from your deck.
This may see some play here and there in Standard, but it looks most interesting in Eternal formats with cards that allow you to pay life for resources. Other than Necropotence, Bolas Citadel is the first card that comes to mind.
Regardless, this seems to fit the niche of a playable five-mana planeswalker as a value card in grindy midrange match-ups that will win the game quickly if unanswered, but it also has some niche applications in Eternal formats and Commander.
A fine and sometimes playable card, but I hope this isn’t the format's top power level.
Kellan, the Fae-Blooded
This card, or rather its concept, excites me. Gold adventure cards are an awesome space to explore, and while Kellan seems underwhelming, it’s definitely interesting.
We’ve yet to see a true Boros Equipment deck shine in Standard. I always hope it will happen, but it never does. Kellan is no Stoneforge Mystic, but it does provide some slow value, and a 2/2 double strike is a big threat.
Kellan seems more like a Pioneer card where the card pool is big enough that maybe you could make something happen, but likely it’s too vulnerable at two toughness and too slow to cast Birthright Boon.
I’m not too high on Kellan, but I’m excited to see what other gold adventure cards await.
Talion, The Kindly Lord
We’re again competing in the mana-cost space with Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, and if you’re not providing immediate value, you’re likely losing that battle.
Talion has a shot because of how punishing its ability can be to some decks. Linear decks that have tons of cantrips that cost one or two mana could get clocked quickly, and Talion can eat a removal spell while still drawing a card.
While this card looks solid, Sheoldred still shines in this mana slot if you want a creature that punishes the opponent for casting tons of cantrips or anything in that space.
Talion is kind of cool to think about but ultimately too weak.
This is my current pick for the most fun card I’ve seen thus far. During my first Grand Prix, I played Living Death in Block Constructed, and reading this card brought me back to those simpler times.
Several years ago, we had a card Command the Dreadhorde, which was the best way to go over the top of any deck in Standard at the time.
Lich-Knight’s Conquest requires more set-up and isn’t as powerful, but it still has quite a powerful effect if you can naturally set it up. One big issue I have with this card, and why I think it will ultimately fall flat, is that between setting it up and its high mana cost, there are still a bunch of cards in Standard, like Graveyard Trespasser, that incidentally mess with graveyards to make these effects more difficult to build around.
While I’d like to live in a world where this is a fun Standard build-around, the safeguards built into Magic cards these days to mitigate broken graveyard strategies are too much to overcome. I’d like to make Atraxa great again, but I think it may be difficult.
It's definitely a card I’ll have my eye on because it could be quite powerful if it’s viable.
Certainly an interesting card, I wish it had an ability other than boosting lands' power and toughness. Blossoming Tortoise can put any land from your graveyard back into play, not just basic or one you milled, so it has some utility possibilities. As a card that ramps from four to six mana, and hopefully you were able to go from two to four mana, this could be a bridge in a ramp deck. Blossoming Tortoise replaces itself immediately, so you won’t be down a card when you cast it. It threatens to provide an ongoing mana advantage if left unchecked, but it’s also a manageable size to bock or kill easily as only a 3/3 at four mana.
Blossoming Tortoise feels a lot more like a Cube or Commander card than a Standard card, but it has potential in a deck if you want to self-mill, find a specific land, and/or just have a threat that provides a mana advantage.
This card is also competing directly with Soul of Windgrace, a more powerful card with a similar effect, but the tortoise could still find a home because Soul of Windgrace doesn’t self-mill and requires Jund mana.
While the Limited format looks exciting on its face, I’m underwhelmed at the moment with the power level of the cards I’ve seen previewed thus far. Aesthetically the set looks great, but I don’t see anything that jumps out to me as powerful or even just good.
We still have plenty of set cards to see, and I’m sure things will get more exciting as they start to roll out.