Everything You Need to Know About Throne of Eldraine

Once Upon a Time, Wizards created a triumph. That triumph was Throne of Eldraine. The flavour is unlike anything in Magic until now, yet still feels familiar. The card design is excellent, and already, the set looks like it will be impacting Magic across all formats. I’ve been thinking hard about Standard, Modern and Limited with Eldraine in mind and have a lot to say about all of them, especially Limited.

Standard

Goodbye Ixalan, goodbye Dominaria, and goodbye Scapeshift. Standard is going to change in a drastic way later this month. The biggest change is the manabase – we are losing the ten checklands from Standard, and gaining the mono-coloured common and rare lands from Eldraine plus Fabled Passage. We keep enemy Temples and all ten shocklands, along with the Guildgates and the common gainlands from M20. On the face of it, it looks like two-coloured, enemy-coloured decks are going to have the best manabases by far. For example, I think that Arclight Phoenix may have its time in the sun again, as not only is the manabase for the deck fantastic, but there is plenty of new support in Throne of Eldraine that could revitalise the deck, such as The Royal Scions and Improbable Alliance.

However, due to Fabled Passage, ally-coloured manabases may be able to stand up to their counterparts. I expect most 2+ colour decks to run some number of this card, but those numbers will vary – the number of basics in the deck and the key turns for the deck’s strategy being two of many reasons why. Wedge manabases (i.e. Two allied colours paired with their common enemy colour) also interest me, as they have three shocklands, two Temples and Fabled Passage. I think decks of these colours could thrive if a strategy supports them. Ally-coloured manabases have their shocklands and Fabled Passage, as well as the weaker gainlands, but I think you need a good reason to play one of these decks – for example, Thought Erasure, March of the Multitudes (especially with Goblin Chainwhirler having rotated) or a Dimir reanimator deck of some sort. Teferi, Time Raveler is still obnoxiously good and there will likely be a deck utilising him, possibly some iteration of Esper as Murderous Rider synergises well with T3feri. If the power is there, you can make the mana work.

The other new land of note is Tournament Grounds. This card is a big deal. Tapping for white, black and red for Knights and equipment (the former being more important), this card means that two and three-coloured Knight tribal decks will have their chance to shine. There aren’t many reasons why I would want to play red in a Knight deck – Inspiring Veteran is the only Knight that interests me that doesn’t fit in pure Orzhov; it is probably splashable, if wanted at all. The archetype seems pushed and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of Knight decks being successful, especially in the early weeks of the post-rotation format, where proactive decks tend to shine.

Finally, the ten mono-coloured lands in Eldraine are going to have a large effect on Standard. These lands alone might make multiple mono-coloured decks not only viable, but the right choice(s) during this upcoming standard season. Mono-red aggro is always a good choice, I think there is a powerful mono-black aristocrats-style deck using Ayara, First of Locthwain, and I would not be surprised to see either a white weenie-style deck or a green stompy-style deck having success.

I believe all ten of these lands will have their place in the right decks while they are in standard, and could even see play in decks with more than one colour. The other place I think these lands could shine is in Field of the Dead decks (that I believe will still be very good) that not only want more to do with their mana but want additional differently-named lands to ensure Field triggers as early as possible.

Food of the Dead

4x Risen Reef

4x Cavalier of Thorns

4x Gilded Goose

4x Wicked Wolf

1x Yarok, the Desecrated

4x Once Upon a Time

4x Growth Spiral

4x Oko, Thief of Crowns

4x Karn, the Great Creator

4x Field of the Dead

4x Fabled Passage

3x Breeding Pool

3x Forest

3x Island

1x Swamp

1x Temple of Mystery

1x Temple of Malady

1x Watery Grave

1x Overgrown Tomb

1x Castle Vantress

1x Castle Garenbrig

1x Thornwood Falls

1x Blast Zone

1x Gingerbread Cabin

Sideboard

1x Witch’s Oven

1x The Great Henge

1x Bolas’ Citadel

1x Grafdigger’s Cage

1x Sorcerous Spyglass

1x Meteor Golem

1x Golos, Tireless Pilgrim

1x Portal of Sanctuary

1x Pattern Matcher

3x Veil of Summer

3x Aether Gust

On day one, I will be playing the above decklist. Field of the Dead is a tried-and-tested powerhouse that survives this Standard rotation, and I think this is one of the many directions one can go with the land. The Elemental package supports the land plan, while the Goose-Wolf-Oko triad is a combination of cards I expect to see quite often in standard for a while now. Karn, the Great Creator gives access to a wishboard of powerful artifacts from game one, such as the new The Great Henge. Additionally, Once Upon a Time and Growth Spiral tie the deck together. I expect this to be able to at least stand up to whatever others are playing day one.

Modern

In Modern, my objective will be to find the best Once Upon a Time deck and play that. Many of the decks that want Ancient Stirrings, such as Amulet Titan and Tron, will likely want some number of the obscene free card selection piece. However, I’m starting with a list very similar to Ally Warfield’s Selesnya Eldrazi with which she Top 4’d GP Indianapolis:

Selesnya Eldrazi

4x Thought-Knot Seer

4x Eldrazi Displacer

4x Stoneforge Mystic

4x Noble Hierarch

4x Reality Smasher

1x Batterskull

1x Sword of Feast and Famine

1x Sword of Light and Shadow

4x Karn, the Great Creator

4x Once Upon a Time

4x Ancient Stirrings

4x Path to Exile

4x Brushland

4x Eldrazi Temple

4x Prismatic Vista

2x Snow-Covered Plains

2x Snow-Covered Forest

1x Wastes

2x Cavern of Souls

2x Horizon Canopy

Sideboard

1x Mycosynth Lattice

1x Ensnaring Bridge

1x Liquimetal Coating

1x Walking Ballista

1x Witchbane Orb

1x Grafdigger’s Cage

1x Tormod’s Crypt

1x Pithing Needle

1x Basilisk Collar

1x Darksteel Citadel

3x Damping Sphere

2x Dismember

I have had some great success with Ally’s decklist before Eldraine, but I felt that the inclusion of Talisman of Unity was a necessary, but awkward piece of the puzzle. Here, the three copies of the Talisman, plus one land, are removed for a playset of Once Upon a Time. This maximises the number of times you get to cast Turn 2 Thought-Knot Seer, and it’s not that bad when cast as a two-mana spell in this deck. I have the Darksteel Citadel in the sideboard as a wish target for Karn, The Great Creator, as this deck sometimes wants a 5th land for Reality Smasher (or a 6th for Mycosynth Lattice after a Turn 5 Karn). With high-impact targets for Once Upon a Time in both the creature and land categories, I think this card is a perfect fit here.

There are plenty of other cards in Eldraine I expect to have an impact on Modern. Emry, Lurker of the Loch is going to revolutionize artifact decks, and there are many directions one could go with the card; an engine piece in Whirza or a pure combo piece with Jeskai Ascendancy or Kethis, the Hidden Hand. Emry and Once Upon a Time are the two cards I am sure about, but I have plenty of other ideas:

  • Charming Prince is not a game changer but it is a nice gain for Aether Vial decks like Humans and hatebear decks.
  • Glass Casket and Witching Well are somewhat innocuous but as cheap and useful Whir of Invention targets, they could make it.
  • The new Knight support, supplemented with old cards like Knight Exemplar could make knights an addition to the  menagerie of tribal decks in Modern.
  • Mystic Sanctuary lets you put miracles like Terminus from your graveyard on top of your library, allowing you to cast them for their miracle cost when you draw your next card.
  • Dwarven Mine could see play in Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle decks as a fetchable blocker that also acts as a mountain to trigger Valakut.
  • Speaking of Valakut decks, Castle Garenbrig allows for you to cast Primeval Titan using it and four other lands. There are many ways one could go about this, such as Amulet Titan, Titanshift, or another wild deck.
  • Drown in the Loch seems like it could fit somewhere in the 75 of Mill.
  • The Royal Scions could help some kind of Izzet midrange deck, or could help smooth out the gameplan of Grixis Death’s Shadow and be another source of trample.
  • Oko, Thief of Crowns is powerful enough but I don’t think a deck exists for him yet in Modern – unless Simic Merfolk really wants a way to animate their Aether Vials.
  • Haggle // Merchant of the Vale acts as a weaker but situationally better Faithless Looting replacement for decks that are in the market for cheap discard outlets.
  • I expect cards like Specter’s Shriek, Mystical Dispute, Hushbringer and Deafening Silence to show up in a variety of sideboards.
  • Corridor Monitor is another creature that goes infinite with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, and is an option for decks utilising him.
  • There are plenty of cards that could make it in specific midrange decks or enable obscure combo decks, such as Fires of Invention or Dance of the Manse.

There are probably multiple others too, and these will all likely get overshadowed by the worrying Once Upon a Time, but I’m excited to play the revitalized Modern format with these new additions.

Draft and Sealed

This set looks great to draft. It has some of my favourite things; incentives to draft more than just the signposted archetypes, exciting build-arounds, and a Tidings variant – at uncommon, no less. Adventures seem exceptionally strong in limited and most of the bombs seem to be beatable (with a notable exception being Garruk, Cursed Huntsman). I like to evaluate adventures as split cards – the creature side, or the sorcery side with a “draw a card” stapled to it. Each of the ten colour pairs are draftable in numerous ways:

U/W – Artifacts + Enchantments

Key cards:

Shinechaser

Arcanist’s Owl

Flutterfox

Trapped in the Tower

Witching Well

This archetype is all about filling your deck with a mix of artifacts and enchantments. It should be noted that more of the cards care about artifacts than enchantments, so I would prioritise artifacts when choosing between two cards of similar power level. There are a lot of fliers in these colours, allowing one to go under the grindier archetypes in the format. Additionally, I’d be looking to draft a lower curve due to the numerous mana sinks available.

U/B – Graveyard

Key cards:

Drown in the Loch

Covetous Urge

Eye Collector

Festive Funeral

Into the Story

This archetype is a little more complex. This archetype is about the cards in your graveyard and those in your opponent’s. It seems like it will play more like a slow, controlling deck – with a lot of removal and interaction. There’s probably a deck in these colours that wins via milling your opponent, without worrying about their life total. There aren’t that many enablers for this archetype (especially self-milling ones), so I would draft these more highly than normally.

B/R – Knights + Equipment

Key cards:

Steelclaw Lance

Elite Headhunter

Burning-Yard Trainer

Ogre Errant

Belle of the Brawl

My initial thought is that this is the weakest of the three knight archetypes, mainly due to the power level of the synergistic cards, and because you don’t get access to the powerful white knights. I feel that these colours want to curve out and be somewhat aggressive, but might suffer in longer games without enough reach and/or bombs. There is probably a grindier version of this deck with Barrow Witches, but that might just be a bad version of the BW knights deck. The upside to this archetype is that it has access to more removal.

R/G – Non-Humans

Key cards:

Grumgully, the Generous

Rampart Smasher

Redcap Raiders

Rosethorn Halberd

Wildwood Tracker

This archetype looks powerful. The cards in these colours meld well together without requiring much synergy. If you can gather enough of the non-human synergies, you should end up with quite a powerful aggressive deck. The excellent red removal in this set shines here, allowing your large attackers to get through unblocked. Some of the red Knight synergy cards also work well here since there are a few non-Human Knights in red and green.

G/W – Adventures

Key cards:

Wandermare

Oakhame Ranger

Edgewall Innkeeper

Mysterious Pathlighter

Garenbrig Squire

Adventures are powerful. In the vast majority of limited formats, card advantage is powerful. Most of the adventures are worth more than the average card. So when your cards generate more advantage from playing these adventures, you know you’re in for a treat. The adventures in these colours are exceptionally powerful, and the payoffs either draw cards or make your creatures bigger. I intend to prioritise drafting these cards, and expect them to rarely wheel.

U/G – Big Stuff

Key cards:

Maraleaf Pixie

Thunderous Snapper

Sage of the Falls

Moonlit Scavengers

Outmuscle

This archetype seems disjointed to me. It’s similar to the R/G non-Human archetype, with a lot of non-Human creatures and access to the green non-human payoffs. There are also powerful non-Human payoffs in blue,  namely Mistford River Turtle and Sage of the Falls, the latter of which I would splash for every time in R/G where possible. There are also other cards in blue and green that support other archetypes, but as usual, the blue-and-green archetype struggles with removal, so I would keep that in mind. I would look to draft this archetype less often.

G/B – Food

Key cards:

Savvy Hunter

Deathless Knight

Bog Naughty

Bake into a Pie

Fierce Witchstalker

Food is an interesting mechanic. Similarly to some limited archetypes, this one requires a delicate balance of enablers and payoffs. Fortunately, this set offers lots of both, and in more aggressive matchups the food can be used as pure lifegain, rather than as payment for value. This archetype is grindy, and I would prioritise two-for-ones and removal spells quite highly.

B/W – Knights

Key cards:

Wintermoor Commander

Resolute Rider

Barrow Witches

Order of Midnight

Ardenvale Tactician

In my opinion, this is the strongest of the Knight archetypes. It has the most grindy and defensive cards, and the removal in both of these colours is powerful. Barrow Witches is a premium common that I would be looking to pick up early and I would then draft lots of Knights to maximise the chance of getting value from it.

W/R – Go-Wide Knights

Key cards:

Inspiring Veteran

Fireborn Knight

Venerable Knight

Rimrock Knight // Boulder Rush

Silverflame Squire // On Alert

This colour combination seems to be the most aggressive out of all of the two-colour pairs. This archetype favours a fairly simple aggro strategy: draft dorks, turn them sideways, use some combat tricks. Fortunately, there are some reasonable dorks that are also combat tricks owing to the adventure mechanic. I would prioritise these in draft if I knew I was in this archetype. This is also the deck I most want to draft Seven Dwarves in, so I’m looking forward to that.

R/U – Drawing Second Cards

Key cards:

Improbable Alliance

Loch Dragon

Faerie Vandal

Mad Ratter

Thrill of Possibility

Bloodhaze Wolverine

Steelgaze Griffin

This is the archetype I’m most looking forward to drafting. My first impression is that it can be drafted in numerous ways (both aggressive or more controlling), which is often the sign of a more powerful colour combination in limited. I applaud the design team for shying away from the overdone blue-red spells archetype recently, and I am happy to see this trend continue. I especially like this archetype because drawing cards is always good, and the multitude of “second card drawn” bonuses are just gravy.

On Mono-Coloured Decks

Wizards have stated that they designed this format with the ability to draft mono-colour in mind. While I think that is very much possible here, I don’t think it will happen very often. The synergies across colours seem too powerful to me, and the dual-coloured cards are outstanding. However, I would expect more decks with a skew towards one of their two colours to cater for additional coloured pips in mana costs. I would also prioritise fixing a little more than before.

Also, a lot of the two-colour archetypes have a lot of their synergy in one colour (for example, Mad Ratter in the U/R archetype) so I could see drafting mono-coloured decks around synergies on this basis.

Mana Fixing

There are six notable colorless pieces of fixing in Throne of Eldraine limited:

Heraldic Banner – one-colour

Spinning Wheel – any-colour

Golden Egg – one-time

Signpost Scarecrow – any-colour

Fabled Passage – one-time

Tournament Grounds – Knight-specific

This implies that decks with three or more colours (beyond very small splashes) will be rarer than normal. Outside of high-powered bombs, such as Harmonious Archon or the three planeswalkers, there will be few reasons to ever extend beyond three colours. I expect most decks to be two-coloured, as per usual. Though as an inveterate lover of drafting five-colour good stuff, I hope I’m wrong.

Throne of Eldraine seems to be firing on all cylinders, with cards for every type of Magic player. I love many cards in this set. Hopefully, the cards I have issues with will exist in harmony alongside the rest of Magic and everyone will live Happily Ever After.

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