Time Spiral was one of my favorite blocks, as it did a great job of melding nostalgia with something new. So many of the cards in the set were homages to older cards, and they found many unique and interesting ways of making these connections.
Eldritch Moon has the same feeling to it.
I mean, for God's sake, there's like the tenth form of Delver of Secrets!
Of course flavor is fun and all, but we're here to determine if these new versions of old cards are going to be good for Constructed play. Today we look at three new cards from Eldritch Moon: an instant turned sorcery, a two-drop turned three-drop, and a fifteen-drop turned thirteenish-drop.
We're going to start with perhaps one of the most discussed commons in a long time.
For those who haven't been playing Magic for a long time, this card pays homage to the old card Accumulated Knowledge.
Accumulated Knowledge was a heavily played tournament card in its day and still sees a lot of play in Pauper. Accumulated Knowledge is probably too good to print in a current Standard format, as it came from a time when spells were absurdly powerful compared to everything else in the game. Accumulated Knowledge counting both graveyards also made for very awkward game states and awkward and swingy gameplay when both players were playing the card.
Take Inventory only counts your graveyard, which solves that problem, and has been downgraded to sorcery speed. This downgrade is a pretty hefty power decrease, but I think the card is still quite powerful. Blue has been lacking good card draw for a while now, and the ability to draw a good amount of cards for a cheap cost is something that deserves a second look.
At face value, Taken Inventory seems just barely good enough for Standard play. The first one is going to suck, but the second will be good and the third and fourth will be extremely good. How often you are going to get to the second and third copy will depend on the speed of the format and the type of deck the card is played in.
Of course, the card doesn't always have to be played at face value. If you are able to get the first copy into your graveyard without casting it and skip right to the second copy, Take Inventory starts to look extremely attractive.
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy has been somewhat absent from Standard lately after dominating it for the better part of a year. Something like Take Inventory is a huge push for Jace, a good blue card that works well with Jace's abilities. I expect Jace to rise again.
Epiphany at the Drownyard is a card I've been very high on and has been great for me in the U/R Eldrazi Control deck. In that deck it is mostly just a big card draw spell, but if you are playing a deck with graveyard interactions, it can make the piles into lose-lose propositions for your opponent almost every time.
Last, what's super-interesting about Take Inventory is that it gives blue decks some of the nut-draw factor that they usually don't have. One of the big strikes against blue control decks in Standard is that they never get the free wins from having a perfect curve-out nut draw that the proactive decks get. Sometimes W/R Humans is on the play and has the triple one-drop, double Thalia's Lieutenant draw and can just never lose; blue decks never get a chance to do that.
With Take Inventory, they do to an extent. If your opening hand just has three copies of Take Inventory in it, you are going to draw a ton of cards much faster than you are normally supposed to be able to, and that sort of velocity can win a game very quickly.
I like Take Inventory a lot and expect it to a powerful Standard card for its tenure in the format.
When the new Thalia was spoiled, everyone went crazy. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is a fantastic two-drop and an Eternal format staple, and a new version must be good, right?
Not so fast.
I think Thalia, Heretic Cathar is a going to be a very solid Standard card. It's great both with and against the card Collected Company and is also just very good against Battle lands and Evolving Wilds. A 3/2 first-striking body for three mana is also very reasonable and battles well with a lot of the creatures in the format. It's a Human, which is important, and only affects the opponent, which is also nice.
But all this talk about Thalia being really good in Eternal formats just seems a bit crazy to me.
There's a reason that Vryn Wingmare sees very little play in Eternal formats, and it's because three mana is worlds more than two mana on a tempo/prison card. Playing Thalia, Heretic Cathar on turn 3 on the draw in a format where Lightning Bolt or Swords to Plowshares is legal is just not going to be effective at all. I do think that Thalia could perhaps slot into a Modern Death and Taxes shell when joined with other taxing effects, or maybe in a G/W Hatebears-style deck that uses Noble Hiearch to cast it early. Otherwise I'm not very high on the card at all in Eternal formats.
Do look for Thalia to make an impact in Standard, though, although I'm not exactly sure where.
Ah, yes, how can we discuss Eldritch Moon without discussing the actual moon herself?
When Ulamog and Kozilek showed up on Zendikar, everyone asked where the hell Emrakul was. “They came as three,” remember? Well she sure took her time to get ready, but she has shown up to Innistrad fashionably late, looking leaner and much more interesting.
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is a card meant to be either cheated onto the battlefield or a win condition for a deck capable of producing an absurd amount of mana, and she often simply elicits a concession. Emrakul, the Aeons Torn was meant to be the most absurd creature they could conceive of printing, the closest thing to "you win the game" they could print on a Magic card.
Thankfully, Emrakul, the Promised End is much more interesting.
Don't be deceived by the "13" in the top-right corner and think that Emrakul, the Promised End is uncastable. If anything, the new Emrakul has much more in common with another colorless win condition from a previous Standard format that was almost unbeatable if it was cast:
Like Ugin, Emrakul is going to come down for around eight mana and likely warp the game so intensely in your favor that it is going to be very hard to lose. While you can focus on ramping into Emrakul and casting her as quickly as you can, as some Ugin decks did, it is also perfectly reasonable to just play Emrakul as a win condition in a control deck with a variety of card types to reduce her cost naturally. Like Ugin was the premier finisher when he was legal in Standard, I expect much of the same from Emrakul.
Understandably, the most common comparison people are making for Emrakul is to Mindslaver, another old and powerful colorless card. As someone who has seen many Mindslavers activated over the course of Magic's history, I've seen the full range of potency. Some Mindslavers end the game on the spot as you use your opponent's cards to combo kill them or do some other devastating action. Some Mindslavers are nothing more than a glorified Time Walk as you tap all their lands and don't get to really do anything.
Emrakul is a freaking 13/13 creature that is very difficult to kill or block!
Adding a 13/13 into your Time Walk equation makes things very different and proves to be a rock-solid win condition. Yes your opponent will have another turn before they die to Emrakul in an attack or two, but that turn will be based on a topdeck prayer after you've decimated all of their resources in the turn you controlled.
Make no mistake: Emrakul, the Promised End will be the Ugin, the Spirit Dragon of this Standard format for as long as she is legal. She is much more flexible than Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and much easier to cast as well.
The master of the Eldrazi is here, and soon we will all bow to our Eldrazi overlord.
All hail Emrakul!
Last week's Challenge Thursday saw us playing all the colors. The challenge was simple - “(Modern) All dem colors! Build Modern deck with four Pillar of the Paruns” courtesy of @algebraicgroup.
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 2 Fleecemane Lion
- 3 Lightning Angel
- 3 Loxodon Smiter
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 2 Qasali Pridemage
- 1 Reflector Mage
- 3 Rhox War Monk
- 4 Siege Rhino
- 4 Voice of Resurgence
- 1 Anafenza, the Foremost
- 1 Doran, the Siege Tower
- 1 Sygg, River Cutthroat
This week we have more challenges to choose from!
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!