Welcome to another edition ofFact or Fiction! Today, Sam Black, Tom Ross, and Shaheen Soorani are here to render their five statements aboutThrone of Eldraine preview season. Don't forget to vote for the winner at the end!
1. Garruk, Cursed Huntsman is the best six-mana planeswalker in Throne of Eldraine Standard.
Sam Black: Fact This is an interesting question, as the comparison with Liliana, Dreadhorde General is very close. Fundamentally, I want my six-mana planeswalker to impact the battlefield immediately as much as possible and making two creatures is much better at doing that than making one. The clearest win for Garruk to me, is when I think about the games where I get to activate my planeswalker once and then my opponent kills it, and I think Garruk is better on average both going up and down against removal.
Obviously making two creatures and dying is better than making one and dying, and I think destroying a creature is somewhat comparable to making your opponent sacrifice two creatures, but when you add drawing a card and you don't need to sacrifice any creatures yourself, I think Garruk is clearly ahead.
You can certainly make the case that Liliana is better across multiple turns, particularly because of naturally gaining loyalty, but I don't think you want to maximize for the situations where you untap with a six-mana planeswalker over the situations where your opponent can answer it, since that's mostly win more.
As for Ugin, the versatility of the removal is a reason to play it, as is the easier casting cost, but I'm giving the nod overall to Garruk on power level.
Tom Ross: Fiction More than just Fiction. I think Garruk, Cursed Huntsman will be the worst planeswalker legal in Throne of Eldraine Standard that doesn't come from a Starter deck. Garruk means Golgari and none of the others are that restricted.
Liliana's plus ability puts her to 8 loyalty. Just one 2/2 but 8 > 5 here and her static of drawing a card when one of your creatures dies plays. Her minus can kill two creatures compared to Garruk's one. Her ultimate is great when you're behind, while Garruk's is only good if you have a battlefield.
Chandra can't be countered against control, her sweeper and targeted removal are comparable to Garruk, and her plus seals the deal better than Garruk's ultimate does.
Ugin goes in any deck, his plus has comparable value to Garruk's, and his minus hits any non-colored permanent.
Shaheen Soorani: Fact I must give this one a nod because of the lack of competition. Ugin, the Ineffable and Liliana, Dreadhorde General are both solid cards in a vacuum. In a world where creatures are large with hexproof, Liliana, Dreadhorde General would be amazing. There are also situations where a deck could combo off the static ability, drawing a bunch of cards while sacrificing creatures to some greater purpose. At this point, that is not the case in Throne of Eldraine Standard.
Ugin, the Ineffable is another solid six-mana alternative, but the modes on Garruk, Cursed Huntsman are better. Comparing the power level of two creatures being created, compared to one that has the top card of your library attached, is a tough task. As the format becomes defined, it may get grindy enough where one of the other planeswalkers at six mana are superior. If it remains somewhat fast paced, with easy to kill creatures, Garruk, Cursed Huntsman is a slight favorite.
2. Oko, Thief of Crowns is the next great three-mana planeswalker.
Sam Black: Fact Oko is unbelievable. Like, I'm still kind of floored by its printing. The natural play pattern on an empty battlefield is to make a food token and have a six loyalty planeswalker. If your opponent plays a small creature, you can immediately take it and give them your food. If they play a big creature, you can make it a 3/3. That's a good start.
Where it really shines for me is attacking other planeswalkers, because it doesn't kill a thing and make a 3/3 token, but rather it turns something into a 3/3, which means if you use it on your own thing, your 3/3 has haste, so it's great for something like finishing off an opposing Teferi.
We still haven't seen the full power of this card, as it benefits from every other card that makes or uses food, but the synergy with Gilded Goose is incredible, as an answered Goose leaves a food, which enables the three-mana play of 3/3 Haste creature + 5 loyalty planeswalker for three mana, and an unanswered Goose gives you a Turn 2 planeswalker that immediately gives you the food back, which can fuel either the Goose or the +1 on the following turn.
Tom Ross: Fiction Oko has huge starting loyalty of essential six given his +2, but you need to convert that food into value fast by having a sacrifice effect. The +1 is hard to utilize in constructed and the -5 synergizes with the plus, but doesn't look to have anywhere close to the power level of Teferi, Time Raveler or Narset, Parter of Veils.
Shaheen Soorani: Fiction To warrant the "next great three-mana Planeswalker" title, it must join the ranks of elite company. This Planeswalker has a two-turn creature generation that both provide additional loyalty. The final ability is an easy one to attain one, having the potential of swinging creature matchups wildly. This is another tough question because it could all change as the format has no guaranteed players just yet.
Food tokens alone are not impressive in aggro/midrange decks with what we've seen so far. This provides some utility for them, but until I see something that utilizes these Artifacts in this color scheme, I'm not stamping my approval on Oko, Thief of Crowns. The second ability is interesting, the third can be powerful, but there are simply too many variables to allow it to sit at the table with Narset, Parter of Veils and Teferi, Time Raveler just yet.
3. Gilded Goose will take many by surprise as a more-than-capable replacement of the rotating Llanowar Elves.
Sam Black: Fiction I have enough faith in people that I don't think they'll be surprised. Gilded Goose is incredible. Part Birds of Paradise, part Deathrite Shaman, part Servant of the Conduit. It ramps and fixes mana like Birds of Paradise, which makes it much better than Llanowar Elves at enabling gold cards on Turn 2, the second toughness and late-game utility are reminiscent of Deathrite Shaman, and the fact that it leaves an object that can be used to power other cards is similar to Servant of the Conduit.
I hope no one will be surprised, as I expect this to be one of the best cards in the set and a defining part of Throne of Eldraine Standard.
Tom Ross: Fact The goose that laid the golden egg. I think Gilded Goose is on par with Noble Hierarch on power level and may even be closer to Deathrite Shaman given the lifegain potential. The first mana is free, and more take work, similar to how Deathrite Shaman is. I think the second toughness compared to Birds of Paradise is what will make Gilded Goose really glean by blocking small attackers and surviving other small targeted dings.
Shaheen Soorani: Fact Gilded Goose is a wonderfully designed, adequate replacement for Llanowar Elves. The ability for Llanowar Elves to continue to produce mana is top notch, but just providing a refillable Lotus Petal with upside will get the job done in Throne of Eldraine Standard. Players want to power out a three-mana creature or Planeswalker on Turn 2, which Gilded Goose will help accomplish.
We're back to the overall usefulness discussion of Food tokens to carry Gilded Goose across the finish line. If there are enough constructed playable cards that produce Food tokens incidentally, while the main effect of the spell handles business, cards like Golden Goose and Oko, Thief of Crowns get better. I have my own plans for Food tokens if they come with control staples, as gaining three life isn't something to scoff at in my camp.
4. PVDDR is correct in his assessment of Rankle, Master of Pranks as being a planeswalker in disguise.
Sam Black: Fiction While it has flying and haste, the fact that it needs to attack and connect makes it function much more like a creature. If your opponent has Lightning Strike up, you have nothing to show for your mana, unlike with planeswalkers, and it doesn't offer a different way to extend your battlefield to play around sweepers. This does fancy stuff when it hits a player, but if you think of each fancy ability as having a value equivalent to some amount of damage, it compares reasonably to imagining it as simply a 5/3 flying haste creature or something. Some games it will be a little better, some a little worse, many times (whenever it can't connect), functionally the same. To me, that's more like a creature, even if it does fancy things instead of just damage sometimes.
Tom Ross: Fact PV hit it on the money. You only play Rankle when the time is right; into an empty battlefield or when the opponent is tapped out, or when the battlefield is opportune for it: the same as you do planeswalkers. You have a variety of effects to choose from on connect, just like planeswalkers and Rankle is likely to be even better since it can't be attacked and killed like planeswalkers can.
Shaheen Soorani: Fiction If this card is a planeswalker, then I will add it to the likes of Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded. Rankle, Master of Pranks has a very interesting design, with sweet multiplayer application. For Throne of Eldraine Standard, I do not see this card being a major player in competitive play. Effects that hit you and the opponent require a good amount of deck building around it, which is why cards like this have struggled over the ages.
Cards like Smallpox when perfectly set up, led to more losses than wins. Even though this card is a bit different, it follows the same requirements to have early creatures to take advantage of the sacrifice ability, and difficult setup to take advantage of the other two. Having each player draw cards and discard cards isn't the most exciting unless the format falls perfectly inline for it. This would mean Throne of Eldraine Standard would need to be dominated by low creature count, slower decks for Rankle, Master of Pranks to shine. I doubt this will be the case, as aggro enjoys the early tournaments while the rest of us figure out how to defend against it.
5. Bake into a Pie is the most flavorful card previewed during Throne of Eldraine preview season thus far.
Sam Black: Fact I'm taking the coward's way out here. I think there are a lot of cards in Throne of Eldraine that hit all the notes I'm looking for flavorfully – cards that I'd say get 5 out of 5 stars for flavor and all of them are "the most flavorful." So, I'm not claiming that Bake into a Pie is the single most flavorful card, but that it earns top marks.
I'm disappointed that the name can't line up with the line the card's referencing from Sing a Song of Sixpence, because that line is past tense, and I don't love the flavor text, but the card has great art, the right feel, fit, and mechanics, which carries it to top marks for me, but it's on par with cards like Frogify, Witch's Oven, Piper of the Swarm, Beanstalk Giant, Lovestruck Beast, and Flaxen Intruder for me.
Tom Ross: Close second, but Fiction I had the privilege of working on Throne of Eldraine for a bit. Many cards changed in the card file since I left but Bake into a Pie sure didn't. In fact, the playtest name stuck the whole way through!
"The black Murder that costs a little more but has set mechanic upside."
Easy to design and implement. My vote, however, for most flavorful card previewed thus far is Run Away Together.
Shaheen Soorani: Fact and Fiction! The beauty of this set is the number of storylines it has been willing to adopt. Depending on your childhood, there's a card that hoists the most flavorful trophy above the rest. You have golden eggs from a golden goose, a beautiful human with a beast of a creature, and even a poor Merfolk that wanted nothing more than to be a human for her to carry out additional vengeance. These are just the initial preview cards with many more to come.
For me, this must be the most flavorful card. Not just because someone made a funny image on top of it, or I get to use my exclusive Star City Games® Personality Token, but because of the association from my childhood stories. Enjoy the set my friends; I know I will!