Throne of Eldraine Set Review - White
(The Circle of Loyalty | Art by Bastien L Deharme)
A Bench Covered in Velvet
Napoleon Bonaparte once said, "A throne is only a bench covered in velvet," and when I set out to review the white cards in Throne of Eldraine, I think I understand what he meant. As is customary in many sets, white got shafted in Throne of Eldraine with respect to EDH. There are a few gems, but this set's white cards seem optimized for Standard. Can we complain about this a mere 9 months after the printing of Smothering Tithe? That's for you to decide. While this set isn't stellar for us and white seems to have gotten the worst of a few cycles, there are still a few cards worth discussing, and discuss we shall.
A five-mana Wrath that allows you to keep some of your creatures is worth a look, and the significant body that you can play afterward is nothing to sneeze at. Don't get sucked into the trap of thinking that this is only worthwhile in a Giant tribal deck - there are plenty of white decks that run Giants already just in passing, and even if you only keep your commander (Kalemne, Oloro, Brion Stoutarm) or a sick utility Giant (Sun Titan, Stonehewer Giant, Marble Titan), a Wrath that hurts you less than it hurts them is worth playing.
Do you cut Merciless Eviction, Mass Calcify or Hallowed Burial for this? I won't. That said, don't underestimate a card that is a Wrath plus a body in one card in a color like white that struggles to draw cards.
The Circle of Loyalty
I think I'm being fairly charitable discussing this card, but it's certainly powerful even if it is very narrow. I certainly don't want to pay six mana for this, which means I will want a non-zero number of Knights in the deck already, which narrows our options to basically Aryel, Knight of Windgrace and casual tribal decks. I could see this being some sort of combo piece in a deck like Kethis, the Hidden Hand, which struggles in EDH given its lack of access to blue mana, but I think there area lot of artifacts that will do more work than this.
Flavor-wise, this card is a home run and the art is going to look gorgeous in foil, but in terms of how excited I am to add this to a deck, I think this is a bit of a whiff. However, if you're playing with Knights, this will get out of hand fairly quickly, particularly if you're in a casual environment. There are only four White mythic rares in the set, after all, and I decided to err on the side of discussing too many of them rather than missing a card people were excited about.
Probably one of the more interesting cards for white in the set, though it also looks.... risky. Equalizing the field to all be 3/3s has the potential to shut down someone else's big crazy Wurms or Elementals, and if you play your cards right, it should become a decent pump-up to your tiny army.
That's still kind of awkward, though, since token decks with white tend to like making things like 4/4 Angels (see Divine Visitation). If you're into big tokens with Trostani, Selesnya's Voice, you probably don't card about this, but if you're playing a bazillion tiny tokens, yeah, you'll probably make good use of it, though it's perhaps less of a blowout than True Conviction or Overwhelming Stampede. Blink decks that need a quick way to close out the game could also have fun with the Archon, since it'll help produce a semi-decent supply of beaters. It's potentially risky to power up another person's tiny tokens too, though, so watch your timing when you decide to cast this thing. Maybe try it out in Gahiji, Honored One to encourage people to beat face even more quickly.
I was inclined to skip over this, but it draws cards, which is something white is pretty bad at. This is also great with blink effects like Ephemerate, something white is very good at.
I like this a lot in Sram, Senior Edificer, a deck that plays a lot more Knights than you might expect, such as Danitha Capashen, Paragon, Balan, Wandering Knight, Puresteel Paladin, Silverblade Paladin, and Knight of the White Orchid.
This is a bit of a narrow card, but finding some Equipment to slap onto a Mirran Crusader could be clutch. Contender's ETB effect might be harder to trigger than we think, but if your commander is a Knight, and you have some other Knights, and you're playing Equipment, and maybe you like to blink a little, you're more likely to trigger Contender's effect, successfully.
Don't sleep on this. People really don't play enough utility lands in their decks, and while white mostly fetches basic plains with stuff like Knight of the White Orchid and Endless Horizons, you can afford to play one fewer plains to make room for this. A surprise blocker, creature to sac to an effect, alpha strike participant, or way to take advantage of Anointed Procession or Divine Visitation, this card makes a creature token and lots of decks want that.
Anyone who played Kjeldoran Outpost back in the day or Moorland Haunt recently knows this effect is better suited to a grindier format than EDH, but I submit that being able to make a creature at will is worth playing this over a plains.
Get it? Charming? Because he has three modes, like a Charm?!?!
Puns aside, I don't hate ol' Prince Charming in a blink deck. If you have something like Panharmonicon (and you should), he blinks two other creatures which in turn trigger twice each. You could see this as a bad Cloudblazer, but I choose to see this as a good early drop that can enable shenanigans.
Modal cards are good because they can get you out of a variety of jams and I think blink decks should consider this card, or at least consider testing it.
Happily Ever After
I like cards that say "You win the game" a lot, but the Rules Committee doesn't. Can you justify keeping this unbanned but banning Coalition Victory? Yes, absolutely. This is super hard to trigger. It's honestly a hard and terrible way to try and win the game, but Group Hug decks may run this because it buys you some goodwill and some time, which you'll need.
Art aside, this is one of the hateiest hatebears to ever hate. This shuts down a ton of decks and is non-irrelevant in combat to boot. There are plenty of decks that love to shut people down, and a better Torpor Orb with good stats is very welcome. This is easily one of the best white cards in the set and if people are smart, you'll see this outside of dedicated hatebears decks too.
That said, Torpor Orb is super underplayed and that's an artifact that can go anywhere, so let's not pretend this is going to be a format staple. This is, however, a very powerful card. Shutting down triggers from the likes of Teysa Karlov, Meren of Clan Nel Toth, or Yarok, the Desecrated may force those players to play a little fair for once. I hope no one plays this card against me, and I also hope this isn't a trend in card art.
Mace of the Valiant
Yeah, we're doing the cards from the Brawl precons here too! Mace is a weird Equipment that seems to encourage a tokens strategy to make a build-your-own-Voltron. It's a pretty weird push and pull between going wide and going tall. Is it the best of both worlds, or the worst of both worlds?
Neither, really. This Equipment isn't necessarily suite for a Voltron commander. Kemba, Kha Regent will have fun with it, of course, but most Equipment-focused commanders are all-in on just the one creature, which won't give the Mace any room to shine. This is more like an additional option for decks who produce a lot of bodies and would like another way to potentially make life tough for their opponents. Regna, the Redeemer, for instance, makes lots of bodies, and can slap this on either herself or a little token with lifelink and really go to town. This is kind of a save-your-game card; like Umezawa's Jitte, the Equipment keeps the counters, not the creature it's attached to, so if you're going crazy with lots of bodies on the field, but someone else wipes your field, any creature you play from then on can still hold the power you stored up here. Even decks that run the occasional Eerie Interlude might be interested in using this as another possible win condition. It's not revolutionary, but it can get the job done and people probably won't see it coming.
Six mana is a lot. Having to wait until you attack to make bodies is a lot. Getting worse as you have fewer opponents is not ideal. If only this was an ETB ability. There's something to be said for the fact that this probably means your opponents won't think about the combat boost it gets when it attacks, though. And if you get to attack multiple times with this, it could potentially get decent over time. Throw in a Cathars' Crusade and things get pretty swanky.
So yes, this is good in Knight tribal decks. It's not all Aryel, Knight of Windgrace and Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale, though, some decks like Sylva Brightspear and Khorvath Brightflame like to have fun with repeatable token-making stuff. It ain't too bad in decks with extra combat steps too, like Aurelia, the Warleader. Card has some applications for sure.
But still. Six mana is a lot.
Best of the Rest
All That Glitters
Bold of them to reference Smashmouth's Allstar in a set they wish everyone would stop calling "Shrek: the Gathering" if you ask me. All That Glitters is gold in the right decks, though. White is the color of Voltron and this is sick in a Voltron deck. It even counts non-Aura enchantments and non-Equipment artifacts, so both your Smothering Tithe and the Treasures it produces will contribute to knocking out your opponent.
Do I want this outside of Voltron? Nah, but every other card I've talked about in this review is super narrow, so why stop now?
This card is going to be pretty annoying for sure. It comes down very early, it's tough for some colors to get rid of since it's an enchantment, and it can join a suite of spells that have similar effects to lock people out.
This is a little more lax than Rule of Law because it allows everyone to play multiple creatures. Most likely you're going to shut spells down and still play your own creatures, which will let creature decks (which tend to be more fair) go nuts. All in all, this is a really powerful card at uncommon and I expect it to make some people pretty upset.
Happily Never After
All in all, this set was pretty medium for white. Linden, the Steadfast Queen looks pretty weak stacked up next to Torbran, Thane of Red Fell, and a lot of the best cards here affect Knights only, which feels bad once this block rotates. However, white got some powerful hate cards, a new way to win the game (with the help of other colors) and added new cards for blink and Voltron decks. Other colors did even better, but still, this set is a good one.
Did I ignore a card you like or underestimate something? Leave it for me in the comments section, and be sure to link any tasty decks you've brewed with these new cards. Thanks for reading and be sure to come back tomorrow for the next color's review by another one of EDHREC's talented writing team. Until next time!