As always, thanks to MTG Salvation, linked below, for the spoiler art/cards.
On September 26th, 2019, the next Magic: The Gathering expansion hits MTG Arena: Throne of Eldraine! With every new set, there are new mechanics, new characters, and of course, outstanding new cards to try out! Some of them will affect more than the Standard Meta, though. Some of them, like Once Upon a Time to me feels like it could really affect pretty much all modes of gameplay. An instant you can cast for free if it’s the first spell you cast in a game? You can look at the top five cards, reveal a creature or land and put it into your hand? For free? Then you can just hard cast your next ramp/land seeking card. It’s brilliant. Throne of Eldraine offers us something new, with the fairy-tale story/vibe. Wolves that blow houses down, Food Tokens, new Planeswalkers, and of course, more Fairies than you can shake a stick at. Before I highlight some of my personal favorite cards, let’s talk about some of the new mechanics.
Adventures: Certain creature cards will also have an Instant or Sorcery ability attached to them: These are “Adventure” cards. These cards might look pretty complicated at first. After all, there’s no room on the card now to explain what these Adventures do! It will become clear with a brief bit of explanation. If you cast this card as a creature first, it casts as normal. Ignore the Instant/Sorcery feature, because it is simply a creature. You can counter it, kill it, whatever you need to do. However, you can cast that Spell part of the card instead (Instant or Sorcery), at the proper speed. It can be countered or dealt with as all spell cards, but if it should resolve, the card exiles, instead of going to the Graveyard. This card, now on an Adventure, can have the Creature portion of the card cast as long as the card in question is in exile and on an adventure. Basically, you get a spell that can also cast as a creature, or you can just use as a creature if that’s what you need or want to do. The cards look sort of complex, but they aren’t.
A proper example of how this works is Murderous Rider. This is a 2/3 black Zombie Knight with Lifelink. It costs 2 black 1 colorless to cast as a creature. As a creature, it returns to the bottom of the owner’s library when it dies, so it’s always going to come back (unless it gets exiled). It also has an Adventure – Profane Insight, and has the same casting cost, and is an Instant. Casting it as an Instant destroys a target creature or planeswalker and you lose 2 life. Then the card is exiled, and you can cast the creature. The best part is that if the creature dies (say, if you sacrifice it), it goes back to the bottom of your library. Then you just need to shuffle/fetch it somehow.
Adamant: This ability is a bit clearer, compared to Adventure, since it’s displayed on the card. In the realm of Eldraine, there are five courts (each matched to a color) and each has its own virtue: Loyalty, Knowledge, Persistence, Courage, Strength. It’s adjacent to Ultima if you will. Cards with the “Adamant” feature reward the player if they spend at least three of a particular color to cast them. Since I’ve only seen a few Adamant cards, but Embereth Paladin is a good example. It’s a 4/1 red creature with haste. If you spend at least three mana to cast it, it receives a +1/+1 counter when it hits the battlefield. This one is nice and easy. For dual-colored/mono-colored decks, this will be very rewarding. This will also be great if you simply have a three-colored deck but plenty of mana of the appropriate color.
Food: I love food, but that’s no surprise. There’s not much better in life than a tasty meal. Throne of Eldraine adds “Food Tokens” to the game in a variety of sources. Food Tokens are artifacts with “Tap 2 Colorless, tap it, sacrifice it: You gain 3 life”. It’s a fantastic way to get some life back in a clutch moment, but some creatures use these as well. Here’s a good example of using the Food Tokens, with Feasting Troll King. It’s a 6 drop (4 green 2 colorless) with Vigilance and Trample. This 7/6 Troll Noble creates 3 Food Tokens when you play him onto the battlefield. You can sacrifice three Food Tokens to return Feasting Troll King from your graveyard to the battlefield. This can only be done on your turn though. There will be a wealth of ways to use Food Tokens, I’m sure. This is the easiest of the new mechanics, and I think it’s going to be equal parts frustrating and fun.
So what cards are going to be powerful? There are too many already, but I’m pretty excited for this set. I’ll try to focus on one or two cards per color. This is not an exhaustive list of everything shown off so far, so please bear that in mind. I just want to highlight some fascinating cards.
- Silverwing Squadron (Human Knight): 1W 5C: Flying, Vigilance, */*: Has power and toughness equal to the number of creatures you control. When Silverwing Squadron attacks, create a number of 2/2 white Knight tokens with vigilance equal to the number of opponents you have. – This card is going to be a bunker buster in Commander, but even having a single extra creature a turn is a constant steroid for this Knight. Sure, it’s a 6 drop, but the odds are high it’s going to hit the field at least a 6/6 in a Mono-White deck.
- The Circle of Loyalty (Legendary Artifact): 2W 4C: This spell costs 1C less for each Knight you control. Creatures you control get +1/+1. Whenever you cast a Legendary Spell, create a 2/2 White Knight token with vigilance. Tap 1W 3C, Tap This: create a 2/2 White Knight token with vigilance. – Sensing a pattern? This is what you’re going to get in white in Throne of Eldraine. Lots and lots of White Knights. So basically, nothing has changed.
- Mystical Dispute (Instant): 1U 2C: This spell costs 2C less if it targets a Blue spell. Counter target spell unless its controller pays 3C. – Remember Red Elemental Blast from back in the day? It’s back, and it’s blue! No, I don’t mean it’s a Blue Elemental Blast! Are you worried that the blue aggro/artifact decks are going to be bonkers, and want a nice, cheap way to deal with them? Mystical Dispute is your go-to, and it’s an Uncommon!
- Workshop Elders (Human Artificer): 1U 6C, 4/4: Artifact creatures you control have flying. At the beginning of your combat phase, you may have a target non-creature artifact you control become a 0/0 artifact creature. If you do, put four +1/+1 counters on it. – There are a few options to turn artifacts into creatures in Blue right now, and this, coupled with giving them flight, you can really do some obnoxious things. This is another seriously high-cost card but can turn a game into your favor if cast. Mono-Blue Tempo’s not going anywhere, friends.
- Piper of the Swarm (Human Warlock): 1B 1C, 1/3: Rats you control have Menace. 1C1B, Tap: Create a 1/1 black Rat creature token. 2C 2B, Tap, Sacrifice 3 Rats: Gain control of target creature. – Ready for Agent of Treachery/Rat decks? They’re coming too! There will be plenty of rats still legal I’m sure for Standard. This is a nice, low-cost rare for Black, and as long as the Piper’s in play, players have to be aware of what they play. What’s better, he’s not a legendary. That means you can drop four of these bad boys on the table, and with enough black mana, you’re going to overrun and steal anything of value.
- Syr Konrad, the Grim (Legendary Human Knight): 2B, 3C, 5/4: When another creature dies, or when a creature card is put into a graveyard from anywhere other than the battlefield, or a creature card leaves your graveyard, he deals 1 damage to each opponent. 1C1B: Each player puts the top card of their library into their graveyard. – Mill deck fans, rejoice! Dimir Mill I think is going to have a new fun creature to throw in. The damage might seem insignificant, but in a potentially creature-heavy meta, you can deal a ton of damage without having to pop his ability. Just play your Blue Mill cards and let his passive do the work.
- Crystal Slipper (Artifact – Equipment): 1R 1 C: Equipped creature gets +1/+0 and has haste. Equip: 1C – Easy to cast, and a new option for haste? It’s a Red Lightning Greaves with a 1 equip cost instead of 0. It’s a fun fairy tale card, and in a deck/color that’s all about quick, unavoidable damage, having this in play early is going to be an absolute godsend. Running Krenko? Want him to get going right away? Give this to him, and Embercleave later, if they haven’t already been bested. Plus this is a Common. God bless.
- Robber of the Rich (Human Archer Rogue): 1R 1C, 2/2: Reach, Haste. Whenever Robber of the Rich attacks, if defending player has more cards in hand than you, exile the top card of their library. Any turn you attacked with a Rogue, you may cast that card, and you may spend any mana to do so. – Tired of decks that swarm their hands with cards in the early game? Want to do something about it, or at least borrow some of those cards for yourself? Here’s your in. Now all you need is a way to make your Rogue unblockable. The solution? Just use direct damage to keep their defending board empty!
- Questing Beast (Legendary Creature – Beast): 2G 2C, 4/4: Vigilance, Deathtouch, Haste. Questing Beast can’t be blocked by power 2 or less creatures. Combat damage that would be dealt by creatures you control can’t be prevented. Whenever this creature deals combat damage, it deals that much to target planeswalker that player controls. – Ugh. I hate everything about this creature already. Say goodbye to Turbo Fog though! I can see this becoming very popular (and valuable) for non-Standard formats. I also have a feeling that since it’s a 4 drop, it’s going to be very popular in Gruul and other multi-color green decks. The only thing that would make it scarier is Reach. This is the anti-Tempo/Weenie card.
- Rosethorn Acolyte (Adventure / Elf Druid): 1G 2C, 2/3 | Adventure Cost: 1G, Sorcery: Tap Rosethorn Acolyte to add One Mana of any color. Adventure: Seasonal Ritual: Add one mana of any color (then exile this as normal for Adventure cards). – This might seem like a weird pick/card. There are always going to be situations in multi-colore decks where you have tons of one color, but if you could just get one white mana the whole game could turn around. Cast Seasonal Adventure to do just that. Then cast the creature this or next turn, and resume your mana ramping adventures. This is another fantastic common, unlike the absurd mythic rare Questing Beast.
- Garruk, Cursed Huntsman (Planeswalker – Garruk): 1G 1B 4C, 5 Loyalty: +0 Create 2 2/2 black and green Wolf creature tokens. They have “When this creature dies, put a loyalty counter on each Garruk you control”. -3: Destroy target creature. Draw a card. -6: You get an emblem that reads “Creatures you control gain +3/+3 and have trample. – Hot. Damn. This. Garruk. It’s Hot Garruk Summer, that’s what it is. I’m glad he doesn’t have an uptick because it really forces players to consider what to do about his wolves. Do you block/kill them to give him even more Loyalty? Or do you just soak the damage? If you have plenty of Food Tokens, this can be irrelevant, but man. Garruk got badass all of a sudden.
- Maraleaf Pixie (Creature – Faerie): 1G 1U, 2/2: Flying. Tap: Add 1G or 1B to your Mana Pool. – This is another really underrated Uncommon, in my opinion. Mana ramp is important right now, with the increasing cost of creatures/spells. I think this is going to be a great pick up for any UG deck because it’s uncommon, has flying, and is a Mana Dork.
What cards are you excited for? Let us know below!
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