As the Eldritch Moon Prerelease looms on the horizon, the hype train finally begins to pull into the station. Once we start playing with the cards in Limited and putting them into our Constructed decks, it will become more and more clear which cards live up to the hype and which ones fall short.
#SCGCOL is the next SCG Tour® stop and will be the first major event to feature Eldritch Moon in all formats. The main event is Standard, where Eldritch Moon will have the biggest impact, but with a Modern and Legacy Classic on Sunday as well, we will get a pretty good look at the set's impact as a whole.
But that is then and this is now. Predictions are always tough, but here we are with ten predictions for what Eldritch Moon will bring.
1) Ishkanah, Grafwidow will be a major player in Standard, helping to push Delirium decks into playability.
Delirium decks haven't really been able to make it so far in Standard, mostly because the payoff is usually too low and they can't keep up with the faster decks in the format. Ishkanah solves both of these problems. Getting six power and eleven toughness over four bodies for only five mana that can stonewall fliers and provide a win condition all in one is a fantastic package. Ishkanah can come down and stabilize a game like few other cards in the format and makes actually achieving delirium worth it. Ishkanah isn't going to come online until turn 4 or 5 anyway, so you aren't in a huge rush to achieve delirium.
More important to the card's potential is how it slots into the current format. It looks like either U/W Spirits or Bant Spirits is going to be a huge player in the upcoming format, and Ishkanah is fantastic against them. They can't Spell Queller it, and even if they remove it, the leftover spiders do a great job of playing defense. Ishkanah is also great at stabilizing the battlefield against more aggressive Humans decks and pressuring planeswalkers. In any stalemated battlefield she also ensures you have a quick and easy win condition and mana sink.
Spiders may not be as flashy as Dragons or Angels, but haven't you ever seen Lord of the Rings?
2) Gisela, the Broken Blade will see little play, held down by a combination of Reflector Mage, Spell Queller, Incendiary Flow, and other removal spells.
The issue with Gisela has less to do with her as a card and more to do with the format as a whole. Reflector Mage is a dominating force in Standard, and with Spell Queller about to join the Mage, they form a one-two tempo punch that is going to be hard to break through. A sorcery-speed four-mana creature that can't affect the battlefield on entry is just asking to be pushed out of the way. Gisela also lines up very poorly with Archangel Avacyn.
You'd expect Gisela to be great against red-based decks (not that those are having much success), but even then they have the new Incendiary Flow to act as a very clean answer to her. Gisela, like Baneslayer Angel, is amazing if you can get her to stick on the battlefield, but also like Baneslayer Angel is a huge liability if you can't.
3) Eldritch Evolution is very overrated and will be nothing more than a "glass cannon" deck in Modern.
The issue is that the deckbuilding costs are just too high.
All of these are cards that have been considered as good Eldritch Evolution enablers, but the problem is that almost all of them either need enabling themselves or are just fundamentally weak Magic cards.
Cards like Gurmag Angler and Myr Enforcer can certainly come down as early as turn 2 in the right deck, but now you have the issue of trying to enable your enablers. You need to play cards like Thought Scour or Springleaf Drum to play these cards, and now you're getting to a point where you don't really have any room in your deck to do much else.
Allosaurus Rider is the most potentially broken of the bunch, as it can enable turn 2 Eldritch Evolutions on its most broken draws, but the cost is so extremely high and easy to disrupt it's hard to imagine it being successful.
Last, being a three-mana sorcery with two green mana symbols in the cost and requiring you to sacrifice the creature as part of the cost is just very steep and difficult to pay. Your combo has no finesse to it, and is not even guaranteed to win you the game if it works.
I'm not buying it.
4) Spirits are the new Faeries, and U/W Spirits will be a very good Standard deck, much like U/B Faeries was.
To those who weren't around when Faeries was in Standard, it was an extremely good tempo deck that operated almost entirely at instant speed. This made it very difficult to play against and very dangerous in the hands of good players.
Spirits are the new Faeries.
It's fairly obvious how good Spell Queller is, and it is joined by a variety of new Spirits that are playable at instant speed and have spell like effects. Nebelgast Herald is like a Pestermite on steroids, Mausoleum Wanderer is a great Cursecatcher variant, and these cards join an already reasonable stable of already legal Standard cards like Rattlechains and Bygone Bishop that only get better.
Combining these Spirits with some reasonable removal and other great flash cards like Ojutai's Command, Stasis Snare, and Archangel Avacyn seems like a very easy recipe for success in the new Standard format.
- 3 Bygone Bishop
- 4 Eldrazi Skyspawner
- 4 Knight of the White Orchid
- 4 Rattlechains
- 4 Reflector Mage
- 4 Thraben Inspector
- 2 Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit
- 3 Archangel Avacyn
Hell, Team MGG member Kevin Jones just took second in the Standard Classic at #SCGWOR last weekend with this deck. It's not hard to see how the new spirit cards slot right in, making this probably the deck to beat at #SCGCOL.
5) Deploy the Gatewatch, while fun and flavorful, is unplayable in serious competitive formats.
I'll be the first to say that Deploy the Gatewatch is an awesome card.
The issue is that the numbers just don't end up working out for competitive play.
If you have twenty planeswalkers in your 60-card deck and cast Deploy the Gatewatch, you have a 75% chance of hitting two of them. This is already not a great success rate to have for a six-mana sorcery, but it brings with it a bevy of additional problems.
Even the most dedicated planeswalker decks rarely have more than a dozen or so planeswalkers. Planeswalkers are very powerful cards, but they are also often expensive and require support to properly protect them. If you are playing twenty planeswalkers in your deck along with about 25 lands, that only leaves you with fifteen slots for removal and support spells. This is a very tall order.
There's also the issue of there not being enough playable planeswalkers to even want that many in your deck. And if you do manage to find twenty copies of planeswalkers that you like, you are likely going to have a few copies of each card. This further messes up the math on Deploy the Gatewatch, as hitting two copies of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is the same as only hitting one.
I wish they had gone a little deeper with this card, maybe having it look at eight cards at least.
6) Splendid Reclamation is one of the most powerful cards in the set and will see play in Standard while having a lasting impact in Eternal formats.
The power level of Splendid Reclamation is extremely high.
Getting lands into your graveyard is not that difficult in Standard and is especially easy in Modern and Legacy with fetchlands. Splendid Reclamation really has no limit on how good it can be and can do anything from being a super Explosive Vegetation in Standard to bringing a dozen powerful lands back to the battlefield in Eternal formats.
I'm not sure exactly what will be done with Splendid Reclamation, but I know that broken things will be happen in various formats.
This card is too powerful to not do degenerate things.
7) Liliana, the Last Hope and Tamiyo, Field Researcher are awkward in their own ways, but both will prove to be players in Standard.
Our newest planeswalkers were definitely both met with lukewarm receptions, but they are more than they seem.
They both require a more specific set of circumstances to be good, but both sets of circumstances are present in the current Standard format. Liliana is an excellent choice for any sort of Delirium deck, as her abilities to fill up graveyards and provide an unique card type play very well in that sort of deck.
Tamiyo, Field Researcher definitely wants to be in an aggressive shell, and while being three colors normally would be a huge drawback (just ask Sarhkan Unbroken how he's been holding up, if you can find him), Bant happens to be one of the best color combinations in the format.
Without these specific circumstances, neither card is is powerful enough to see play, but with them it is likely they will both players in Standard.
8) Bedlam Reveler will be a decent Standard card but has the potential to make huge waves in Eternal formats.
I love that Wizards of the Coast just keeps pushing the envelope with cost-reduction mechanics.
Bedlam Reveler has a chance to do some work in Standard, but it would take a pretty specific set of circumstances for that to come to pass. There aren't nearly enough cheap card draw spells in Standard to get it going quickly, and decks that are going to be drawing a lot of cards in the mid-game are usually not going to want to discard their hand for a refill.
In Modern and especially Legacy, however, Bedlam Reveler seems like an absolute house. Between cards like Ponder, Thought Scour, Gitaxian Probe, and so on, it is fairly easy to get a reasonable amount of spells into a graveyard very quickly, and typically blue decks in Modern and Legacy lack any big card draw capabilities. Legacy Delver decks do a ton of deck smoothing with cards like Ponder and Brainstorm but never really have a ton of cards in their hand past turn three.
Bedlam Reveler may not make the cut in Standard, but I expect big things in Eternal formats.
9) Matter Reshaper improves with emerge cards like Elder Deep-Fiend in the format, which means that cards like Silkwrap and the new Incendiary Flow go up in value.
Matter Reshaper is fantastic.
The issue is that it hasn't really had a good home in Standard, as having colorless mana on turn 3 and wanting a value three-drop is a reasonable price of entry. Once actually on the battlefield, though, Matter Reshaper is a great lose-lose situation to put your opponent in, assuming they don't have some way to exile it.
With the emergence of emerge cards like Elder Deep-Fiend and friends, Matter Reshaper's stock goes up drastically. Now you can add “loves to be sacrificed” to its list of desirable attributes, which pushes it pretty far over the edge. Elder Deep-Fiend looks to be one of the more powerful cards in Eldritch Moon, and the other emerge cards also look rather playable as well.
This of course means that cheap exiling removal will also go up in value. We all know how effective Silkwrap can be at this job, but the new Incendiary Flow allows red to get in on the fun as well. Red has been notoriously absent in Standard lately, but a simple card like Incendiary Flow can help to change that.
Red now has a good, cheap burn spell that can go to the face if needed and also deal with annoying threats like Hangarback Walker, Matter Reshaper, and Gisela, the Broken Blade with ease. Going to the face is an extremely important characteristic for a red removal spell to have, and that's part of the reason why Fiery Impulse is underwhelming in most red decks.
10) Emrakul, the Promised End will be Standard's premier top-end finisher, much like how Ugin, the Spirit Dragon was previously.
She's back, and she's ready to be cast.
It's almost worrisome how powerful Emrakul, the Promised End is. As we've seen, there are a ton of excellent delirium enablers and payoffs in Eldritch Moon, and playing Emrakul for seven mana doesn't really seem that farfetched. Seven mana should get you a Dragonlord Atarka, not a 13/13 double-evasion creature that is hard to kill and has a Mindslaver stapled to it.
You can also just play Emrakul in a more dedicated ramp strategy, but it's likely that Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is still just the best ramp creature if you're paying around ten mana for it.
Regardless, Emrakul promises to be the end of many games in the new Standard format. Like Ugin, the Spirit Dragon before her, she presents the final level of threats in the format which all other finishers must be put up against.
Last week's Challenge Thursday proved I just can't get away from Mox Opal and friends. The challenge was “(Modern) Lock 'em up; Erayo, Soratami Ascendant + Ethersworn Canonist” submitted by @xPLANESWALKERx, and we decided to use the artifact shell to try to flip our Erayo on turn 2:
The deck was actually very good at flipping Erayo on turn 2 or 3 but often struggled to close the game. Abrupt Decay was also a huge problem, and we lost to a number of Jund decks. Monastery Mentor was absurd and seems to be an underutilized card in Modern.
This week we of course have a new challenge for everyone to vote on:
As always, the poll will end at 6:00pm Eastern time, which will give me one hour to construct my deck. Then you can tune in at 7:00pm for the start of the stream. I will be playing an entire League with the challenge deck, tweaking it a bit, and then playing another League right after.
How many wins can I get? Cast your vote and tune in to my stream at 7:00 tonight to see how it goes!