Wilds of Eldraine is just around the corner and we finally have the full preview. This week I want to wrap up my set review with some interesting cards. Overall, I think the set is fairly weak, but more cards came out this week that are at least a little interesting. Let’s take a look.
Mosswood Dreadknight looks like a take on Tenacious Underdog, a two-drop that's seen a lot of Standard play.
A two-mana 3/2 has been good enough to see play in both Standard and Pioneer, and Mosswood Dreadknight may be good enough to break into Standard, but it unfortunately won't fit into Pioneer.
It's a sick threat against control that can accrue card advantage. Every time it dies you can put it back into the adventure zone in your next turn cycle and get a card for your trouble. For four mana Mosswood Dreadknight will also stay in play rather than go back to your graveyard like Blitzed Tenacious Underdog.
Mosswood Dreadknight is probably a good comparison to Tenacious Underdog. It has the upside of being a four-mana 3/2 draw a card when played in the midgame, but it has the downside of being forced to cast from the graveyard to keep it in the early game.
It's a sweet card, and I'm glad to see cards like this hit the design space of adventures. I would have loved to play this in GB Adventures in those days of Standard, but for now, unless Jund makes a resurgence, it'll likely be swept under the rug.
This is a callback to Quirion Dryad, a card that has not aged well. It's a strict upgrade that adds a Reckless Impulse as an adventure in the form of Seek the Beast on top of the squishy 1/1.
Ideally, this would be played in a Temur deck, and it has more of a shot in a format like Legacy or Modern than in smaller formats because it wants to be played with cantrips and cheap cards, as does Seek the Beast. While Orcish Bowmasters will make sure it never sees play in either of those formats for now, I could see it being worth a card because it draws two cards for two mana and provides a threat that can eventually get out of hand. Keep in mind, this card also gets a big benefit from other non-green adventure cards that have cheap costs on both sides like Bonecrusher Giant.
It's a well-designed card, as both sides want to be playing the same types of cheap, low-curve spells.
Up the Beanstalk
I'm not sure what to think of Up the Beanstalk yet. I'll need to play some games with it to know for sure, but my hunch is it's a bit too cute.
There's been talk of playing it in a deck like Modern 4c with cards like Solitude and Fury. In Legacy, we'd even get to add Force of Will to that list. My issue with Up the Beanstalk is that if it's meant to be fueled by the free cards to mitigate the downside of losing a card to cast them, then it's a short list of those that you want in your deck, and the card is even worse against non-creature decks when you need some of those cards out of your deck.
This is the kind of card you'll play with for a few games and quickly know to what extent it's good or bad. I'm looking forward to seeing if various delve and free spells are enough to make Up the Beanstalk a legit contender.
Redcap Gutter-Dweller didn't look too good at first glance, but I could see a world where this card is strong enough to see play, especially in an actual goblin deck.
Four mana gets you five powers across three bodies and the ability to generate some cards to keep an engine going. Again, it's more of a Standard power-level card that punishes someone trying to play a lot of removal in the form of generating extra tokens to create damage. However, it's also the kind of card that you want to kill in a creature deck because it's still hard to block and can turn 1/1s into cards.
This is on the cusp of playable, but it still might be too weak, especially without Fable around.
A call back to Bomat Courier, menace is unfortunately worse than haste and having to connect with your creature is different than being able to sacrifice it later in the game. Bomat Courier makes having removal awkward because it can go off at any time, whereas Rotisserie Elemental handles removal quite easily.
I'm not a fan of this, though it could make it into some more casual low-curve, all one-drop Mono Red decks. It's worse than other red one-drops we have available right now.
Eidolon of the Great Revel meets Brazen Borrower, and they become a much worse version of themselves.
Steam clean is a sorcery that makes this card so much worse than it could be. Scaling Viper is also played at sorcery speed, unlike Brazen Borrower. For this card to see play, we'd need to see an aggressive red deck that's splashing blue for sideboard counterspells and where Scalding Viper can be meaningful enough to supplement the deck's gameplay. I don't see that happening, and as long as Brazen Borrower remains in Pioneer, Scalding Viper is too underwhelming with both halves at sorcery speed.
Elusive Otter looks like a miss for me. This is another card like Questing Druid that wants to play along with tons of low-curve creatures and spells. A Temur deck with that pair, cards like Monastery Swiftspear, and filled out with cheap burn, cantrips, and sprinkled with countermagic sounds nice, but it would be too underpowered. Grove's Bounty is interesting in that style of deck, as it helps the games you flood out on creatures because it will trigger your prowess on the creatures in play while also giving permanent counters amongst those creatures.
In general, cards like this are too low impact to see a whole lot of play, and Grove's Bounty and Prowess are at odds with each other. However, it's worth noting that with the release of Wilds of Eldraine, we will have Consider and Sleight of Hand legal in Standard, as well as Delver of Secrets and Tolarion Terror. It would be fun to see that style of Magic again.
Elusive Otter is an interesting card, but I don't see it having a home in a tier-one deck.
This is a new twist on Memory Deluge but a bit worse. Farsight Ritual is worse than Scattered Thoughts if you can't pay the bargain cost. If the bargain cost is easy or free for you, it's still too clunky and weak unless you're trying to put together a deterministic combo or something.
I'm not a fan of Farsight Ritual, especially when we have Quick Study, an instant speed divination. Quick Study is still not a great card, but a full mana off is worth the hoops you have to jump through for Farsight Ritual to dig deeper than four cards.
Heartflame Duelist is almost like Bonecrusher Giant, except the adventure unfortunately doesn't curve into the creature, which makes the card worse. Three damage for three mana is inefficient, and a two-mana 3/1 will have its spots in Constructed where it's serviceable, but mostly it's too low impact. While neither side of Bonecrusher Giant was that strong, the fact that Stomp curved into Bonecrusher and Stomp was more efficient was a big reason why Bonecrusher was so good.
Heartflame Duelist is the kind of card you'd want against the deck it would be in, a low-curve burn deck where adding lifelink to your removal would help you prolong and get a handle on the game.
Heartflame Slash doesn't answer enough threats in the format efficiently for this card to have a big impact in Standard.
Faerie Fencing would be a sweet card if we could put together a playable faerie deck. It's effectively a one-mana -3-3 as long as you are able to sequence it with a faerie, something like a Faerie Mastermind.
We saw this style of deck with rogues in Standard just a couple of years ago. It would be great to see that kind of archetype get more support, as both rogues and faeries were beloved the last time they were playable in Standard.
Faerie Fencing forces you to play with low-curve creatures, so you can get it out early. It will also have a buyout fail case of spending mana if not and be able to kill a card like Sheoldred, the Apocalypse.
If faeries can exist in Standard, Faerie Fencing will be a big reason why it's successful, as it's a reasonably efficient and flexible removal spell that can also break through indestructible creatures.
That will do it for me this week. By the time this is published, I'll likely have gotten my hands on the cards since I hope to stream the Early Access event on Thursday and discuss what I learned about the Limited format. With big Limited events like the 100k in Las Vegas in September, I'll steer my content more towards Limited for now. This set may look a bit weak for Standard in comparison with Throne of Eldraine, but I like how it's shaping up for Limited. It'll probably be a while before we see a set as good as March of the Machines for Limited, but I'm hoping I'm surprised with this one.