Throne of Eldraine Set Review - Blue
Throne of Eldraine is almost here! Y'all know the drill, we're here to discuss the most interesting blue cards from the set, and to evaluate their impact on the EDH format. Our fairy tale adventure awaits, so let's waste no time and just dive right in!
Gadwick, the Wizened
is our first legend, bringing with him a strange shift to the typical formula for X spells. Usually creatures with X in their casting costs will enter with additional +1/+1 counters on them, like and friends, but Gadwick is all about mind over might. This is what it looks like when becomes a creature.
However,(and in fact, ) is so good because it can be cast at instant speed, a feat Gadwick isn't capable of on his own. That speed definitely matters to players; Zenith shows up in 16,415 decks on EDHREC, while the sorcery-speed only appears in 1,444. Having access to this ability in the command zone can certainly be potent, but if you're hoping to draw lots of cards off of this ability, you're forced to compare this commander to lots of other mono-blue options, from to .
Sorry, Gadwick, but if I'm looking for a mono-blue Wizard that draws me cards, I think I'm sticking with. I anticipate Gadwick to show up more in the 99 of than he will at the helm of his own deck.
Emry, Lurker of the Loch
The Lady of the Lake has already generated a lot of buzz, and for good reason. Cost reduction is always a powerful ability. As players know from the days of, putting cards into your graveyard is also more often beneficial than detrimental. And casting more cards from that graveyard is also quite potent. On their own, each of those abilities can be fantastic for a deck. Emry does all three.
With that said, Emry does have a fair amount of competition for the role of mono-blue artifact-centric commander., , , and even are all impressive in their own right, and, as is often the case with artifact decks, leads quite easily into combo-tastic territory.
With a zero-mana artifact likeor and an untap effect like or , Emry can repeatedly sacrifice an artifact, tap to replay it, untap herself, and repeat. Use to sacrifice and recast any low-drop artifact you desire, potentially generating infinite mana. Use in the interim for infinite cast triggers, mowing down the field with your own life total as ammo. Try as both a sacrifice outlet and a win condition.
You aren't forced to use Emry as a combo deck, of course; she can be a fairly honest deck that uses bizarre cards liketo win at more traditionally-paced tables. It is simply in the nature of both blue and artifact decks to inevitably find a combo as the path to victory, and Emry is no exception, which is probably why the combo-style cards like are showing up in 55% of Emry decks built so far. If your opponents are wary of your lady in the water, they have every right to be; random fish-people handing out pieces of sharp metal is not a trustworthy system of government.
Syr Elenora, the Discerning
I want to like, I really do. A blue commander that uses commander damage to take down enemies sounds refreshing and wonderful. Unfortunately, I don't think Syr Elenora is that commander. She's difficult to remove, but it's not impossible, and while using as a combat trick sounds hilarious, I'm not sure if it's entirely realistic. Importantly, many of the cards we'd want to use to gain extra benefits from Syr Elenora's enter-the-battlefield effect, such as , would impede our ability to attach more meaningful combat enhancements to her, especially the can't-be-blocked Auras and pump-my-power Equipment we normally associate with a Voltron deck. That, combined with her somewhat clunky mana cost probably spells doom for her.
I can certainly say that I would like very much to be wrong here. It's not every day thatalso gives your commander +2/+0 every turn. also gets pretty funny very quickly. Overall, though, if you have enough cards in hand to make Syr Elenora lethal, you're probably better off using , who has natural evasion, which is much more important than a tax on pinpoint removal spells.
The Magic Mirror
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the unfairest of them all?went and got itself a and took a lesson in cost reduction from . The result is an impressive-looking legendary artifact that promises greatness. Now, can it deliver on that promise?
Here's the conundrum:only shows up in 1,067 decks so far, and it's pretty easy to see why. At six mana, we're looking at , , and any manner of cards with more immediate payoff. It takes two turns to draw as many cards as a six-mana , and many cards like or will likely get what you need much faster, without any risk of being destroyed before they have the chance to do anything. When it comes to gradual sources of card advantage, and have in some ways cornered the market.
Does that meanis bad? Of course not. This has something that none of the other spells do: it's an artifact. Does that make it more susceptible to removal? Sure does. Does it also make it more abusable with artifact synergies? Absolutely. I frankly consider the cost reduction on this card to be a bit of a trap. I'm not convinced this card belongs in spell-heavy decks; by the time you get enough spells into your graveyard to make this cost less mana than , the game is likely past the point where incremental draw will be helpful. This card is at its most powerful when it's snuck into play early, so that its exponential power can be given enough time to grow. Artifact decks offer that capability, using pals like to sneak in early and to keep it protected. Look for this in mono-blue artifact decks like the aforementioned Padeem, or Izzet artifact decks like , which often cheats things into play so quickly that it would love more artifacts that help keep her hand full. looks pretty grandiose, but it requires more setup than it first appears before it can become the fairest of them all.
This is a mythic rare for the purposes of Standard, but not for Commander. At best I can see Faerie tribal using this, or maybeliking a spell that also triggers her Zombie-making ability, but even that's a stretch. If you're using as a Rogue tribal deck, that might be fine too. Blue Commander decks can do better than this, though.
Folio of Fancies
There are so many words on this card that one of them is bound to be good, right? Giving your enemies no maximum hand size is a very problematic first line of text, though. Opponents playing green will keep all fifteen cards they draw off that, and opponents on black will abuse that to the moon and back. That second ability, then? Forcing everyone to draw cards? certainly has fun with that, but he's got twenty spells that do it better already.
Which means we look to the final ability, milling our enemies. Again, lots of decks abuse their own graveyards these days, fromto the new . Your opponents would need a whole lot of cards in their hands to make this effect a realistic win condition, but if your opponents have lots of cards in hand, this is probably not a realistic win condition. Even when paired with effects, this still strikes me as an extremely risky plan of action. Please note that I say this as a self-proclaimed lover of Group Hug strategies. gives enemies a lot of fuel in exchange for a very shaky and easy-to-disrupt win condition. Whether you're wheeling, milling, hugging everyone, or a combination of the three, I can't say I recommend this fancy Folio.
Mana rock? Check. Gathers counters on each upkeep instead of just your upkeep? Check. Draws you seven cards after about three or four rounds? I'm into it.
Of course, there's a level of unreliability to this artifact that must be taken into account, rather like spells with the Suspend ability (, etc). You don't have direct control over when this effect will occur, and it might occur at the wrong time, when you actually need those cards in your hand after all. Since also shuffles your graveyard with it, that may get in the way of any shenanigans you were planning, so, refreshingly, this is less desirable in some popular blue decks that abuse their graveyards, like or .
has some darn powerful applications, from to , who are happy both to have a mana rock and to have another way to fill up their hand. When in blue, there's a pretty decent chance you could end up with twenty cards in hand and don't want the clock to strike twelve and take them all away from you. These commanders, though, tend to recover from those situations more efficiently, and encourage a wild style of play that is fine shifting into an unknown grip of cards each turn. may have just as much good fortune, especially if she's already been able to empty her hand and wants a nice refill. has some excellent caveats that prevent it from being abused by too many traditional blue strategies, so while you'll never be 'wrong' to run it, so you may not see it everywhere. It's a ticking time bomb of value, though, so rather than dreading the final hour, I think we can all look forward to the last chime of midnight.
Upon first glance, I was quite excited for this card. A new? Another ? Awesome!
Upon second glance, my excitement waned.already fills a lot of this card's role, and then some, and the fact that this card isn't naturally an artifact (and can't copy creatures) makes it a whole lot worse than .
Upon third glance, I've warmed back up to it. While perhaps not as spicy as, a new budget really hits the spot. The fact that this is itself an enchantment means it's much more useful in and other Bantchantress decks that care specifically about casting enchantments, as seen on and . If you know you're only every going to copy enchantments anyway, it ain't too shabby to shave one mana off that . It's also more easily recurrable with , and tutor-able with or . is joining a line of similar cards that already do a similar job, but it's still a very welcome addition, especially if it'll be at a lower price.
Stolen by the Fae
This spell, like its artwork, is a trap. Sorcery speed single-target removal rarely hits the thing you need it to, and paying more mana than the cost of the creature you're targeting is categorically not ideal. Yes, this refunds you with a polite supply of Faerie tokens, but that doesn't make up for its other faults.
doesn't need this. doesn't need this. Even Faerie tribal is better off without it; she can generate tokens at instant speed and relishes in leaving her mana open for instants as they become necessary, and there's no way this spell is more efficient than a , , or .
I'm more on board with this little critter. It doesn't blow me away; five mana for a 5/4 is respectable but not breathtaking, and nine mana before this yields any effect is a tall order. Still, it's an ability you can activate at any time to either produce blockers or a steady stream of card advantage. If you're in a flying-matters deck with the likes of, , , or , this'll probably serve you well.
Yes, this Dragon is a lot of fun with, but no, I don't think it makes the cut. The number of non-artifact slots you can devote to an artifact-centric deck is really quite minimal. Artifact decks have a tremendous push and pull between how many genuine artifacts they can include and how many s, s, s, s, s and s they can get away with, and that's before we even get to removal spells or cards in other colors. I think the Dragon would only end up being a distraction from the other amazing things artifacts are already able to pull off on their own, so while it's a cool effect, when you begin tuning up your artifact decks, I sadly don't think it'll make the final cut.
All the same arguments foralso apply here. This isn't an artifact, it's enormously expensive, and it steadily makes your artifacts more vulnerable to removal. Most of the artifact creatures you'll be attacking your enemies with are likely to have evasion already anyway. Play if you want to blow your enemies out with surprise artifact animation, and avoid putting anywhere near your 99.
Confession time: I don't like any of the rare castles from this set. Let's examine them closely. They only produce a single color of mana, and have the potential to enter tapped. They don't enter tapped if you control a land of the corresponding color; in this case, an Island. To reliably enter untapped, you need extremely regular access to this land type. While yes, a dual land likewill work here, the only way to guarantee an untapped is in a mono-color deck, and potentially in a two-color deck, though I'm very sure we've all had our moments when the didn't have a buddy to help it, or perhaps more appropriately, a that didn't have the correct land to assist it.
Assuming any risk at all of a tapped land that doesn't tap for multiple colors of mana, I'm already wary. To me, the tempo you lose to a tapped land has to be made up for with some exceptional abilities., for example, or a you can reliably trigger.
But let's look atwithin the context of a mono-blue deck where it will reliably enter untapped. Low opportunity cost, nothing but upside, right? You don't actively need to scry, but you'll have the option, so why not play it?
Simply put, the competition these days for nonbasics is absolutely through the roof., , , , , , , , , , Cycling lands, , and that's not even counting the lands that don't tap for mana, like .
Nonbasic lands seem easy to run, but they have big consequences. In other mono-colored decks, every nonbasic you play is one less land to double withor , and one fewer land to trigger your . Here in mono-blue, it's one fewer island to help your or your . Not super-popular cards, no, but I'm of the persuasion that those spells in particular are rather underplayed in mono-blue. More worrisome is that it's one more nonbasic that gets shut off by , , , , or which can hurt you off a well-timed or .
I'll admit, of all the castles, the red and blue one seem the least problematic, but I don't consider these to be chase rares, and I can't see myself playing any of them. The opportunity cost to play nonbasic lands is higher than it first appears.
Best of the Rest
So this isn't. It's also not or . Keeping the enchanted creature an easily-killed creature can be to your opponent's benefit, so they can replay their enchanted commander from the command zone later.
's closest allegory is probably . And you know what, that's still a darn good comparison. Sorcery speed removal that neutralizes an opponent's creature in this manner is - pardon the pun - quite enchanting. Make special room for this in and other Enchantress decks, but don't be afraid of running it alongside if you need ways to shut down particularly pesky legends.
Into the Story
At seven mana, this spell is obviously Not Good, capital N, capital G. At four mana? Quite a respectable spell indeed. There are plenty of decks that will reliably put cards into enemy graveyards, fromto , but frankly, as the game goes long, the chances of at least one opponent having a minimum of seven cards in the yard is approximately 98.74%. I especially like this in , or perhaps even , whose abilities take advantage of the spell's natural casting cost but can still reliably cast it without it being stranded in their hand. There's a lot of competition for blue draw spells, but it's hard to go wrong with this one.
Sage of the Falls
I was tempted to avoid discussing this card, but I feel it's important to note its applications with. Casting this with Locust in play (or casting this, and then casting the Locust) starts off a very serious chain of disgustingly good buffoonery. Unlike some of Locust's other enablers, such as , this new Sage actually has a "may" clause, which will allow you to stop drawing cards whenever you like. This card has a home, and it's definitely Mr. Izzet Insect.
Didn't Say Please
We've seen this card already in the form of, so we already know it will have the same mid-level popularity in blue-black mill decks like . The field of three-mana counterspells is extremely dense, so these days you have to have a very good reason to pay more mana than a or or .
Then again, the value of saying this card's name may be worth it all on its own, so if you're about that life, go nuts!
Run Away Together
This is cute, in both design and artwork, and the potential to bounce two creatures controlled by two opponents is indeed tempting. Sadly, though, this spell gets a lot less appealing when you're down to just one opponent, which really breaks its usefulness for me; I prefer my spells to get better as the game goes long, not worse. Blue has better and more ubiquitous options for bounce effects.
Another nonbasic land that definitely needs to go into a mono-colored deck to be reliable. The fact that this has the Island land type certainly earns it an approving nod. I'm probably more interested in this land than the rare, to be honest. There's still a potential loss of tempo here, but the upside is greater; potentially reclaiming a useful spell seems a lot more interesting to me than paying a bunch of mana to scry a little. Slam this little number right into your decks, or maybe get back a useful cantrip for . Fun stuff for a common land.
I'll Huff and I'll Puff and I'll Blue the House Down
What are your thoughts on the new offerings from Throne of Eldraine? Is this set the perfect fairy tale, or a surprisingly grim children's story that turns out to be a lot darker when you go back and read it as an adult? What do you think of these blue offerings? Am I 1,000% wrong about the opportunity cost of nonbasic lands? Hit us up in the comments, and thanks for going on this adventure with me!
Til next time!