Sunday, 8 September 2019

Throne of Eldraine Preliminary Review Part II

Eye Collector 2.5

A little support dork for self mill. It is not at all what you want for milling your opponent and as such the symmetrical nature of the card is probably more of a drawback than anything else. Faeries don't really want mill that much, it is zombies that feed off it best making it not much of a tribal card either. One per turn starting a turn after making it is also a very slow rate of self mill. I can see it making a support role in a singleton Hoogak list but only because there are not enough actually good options like Stitcher's Supplier. It is a one drop with some relevant synergy attributes so even if it has no home now it will get one eventually. One drops that do things almost almost always see play somewhere.

Tome Raider 2

Cloudkin Seer eats an instant nerf to give us this! Tome Raider might get some play in a tribal deck but probably not a 40 card list. Three is simply not the slot where faeries are lacking. It probably has a better chance in an Aluren list than a tribal one. Not a bad card but very much a filler card with multiple superior options.

Maraleaf Pixie 3

Some serious power creep on Llanowar Dead and Gaea's Skyfolk! The only thing keeping this out of cube is being gold. The idea of a reasonable mana dork that can threaten planeswalkers is rather nice. It is just too fair and too much of a filler card to merit a gold card slot. The kind of card I expect to be more of a big player in standard.

Faerie Vandal 5

Too fair for a card that needs supporting for the drafting cube but absolutely something I can see getting love in tribal decks, skies decks and even just some builds of aggro blue. If you can reliably draw two cards a turn then this is potent enough to see play in any non-combo deck. You only really need 1 trigger for this to be decent value and any bigger than a 2/3 and you have a really good dork. A flying 2/3 is already good at 1U, the addition of flash is massive as well. I am starting to persuade myself this has a shot in cube, I will certianly test it out. Blue decks do draw a lot of cards! It is like a Cloudfin Raptor that you can play with Delver of Secrets. This starts off more relevant than Cloudfin and has a much better chance of getting to really serious sizes. Cloudfin rarely exceeds a 3/4 which is still great of course but this thing doesn't get harder to grow with each instance of growing and starts one growth up on the Raptor too. I can fully see a game where this just comes out turn two and wins the game all by itself as some terrifying 6/7.

Rankle, Master of Pranks 7

Haste and a pile of options make this look like a very strong contender for a cube slot. Black doesn't really have planeswalkers in the four slot and so a potent option rich card like this has a lot of appeal. A 3/3 flying haste is a decent starting point. It isn't above the curve or anything but it is decent and it is appropriate for what you need from a four mana card. Flying is a nice help with triggering the effect as well. So what is the effect doing for you? Options basically, and although symmetrical they are powerful and direct ways of interacting with core aspects of the game. You have the information and can always chose an option that suits you well while being a disaster for your opponent. The Edict mode could well lock people out and will be pretty ruinous. The discard mode equally can really hamper a lot of game plans. The symmetrical draw will be the least common one you can bend to your advantage. The extra damage might be the most appealing part in that regard! Broadly I think  you should only draw cards when you really need to. I suspect however I will elect to do so far more than I should and I expect others to do the same. Black has relatively few good flexible options cards compared to other colours and that will make Rankle even better. It is the main draw to the card. If you just had the option on any one of the abilities I would be fairly disinterested. This is not a lock in for cube by any means but I do expect it to last. Not as the result of raw power and mostly due to the flexibility and rapid action of the card.

Midnight Clock 2

Well isn't this a fascinating little card. A mana rock, a mana sink, a Time Twister all for yourself, and the worlds slowest suspend card! This will absolutely get some action as it has both a powerful effect and it is generically useful. It strikes me more as a commander card than any sort of competitive one. It is either vast quantities of mana or staggeringly slow to be a personal Time Twister which would be fine if it were not for the fact that it fires eventually regardless. The inability to fire it off exactly when you want to makes it somewhat awkward. Any deck that wants refills and more late game action while also wanting a 3 CMC mana rock will play this but that is why this isn't feeling all that competitive. Both ends of this card are pretty underwhelming compared to what you could be doing. I will certainly play with this, it is too fun and cool not to. Paradox Engine style decks jump out at me as the best starting place for this card. It would be perfect for such things in commander if it were still legal.

Order of Midnight 2

This is basically just a versatile Gravedigger. On the final deal you trade the ability to block for flying. Prior to that however you gain the ability to just ditch the Raise Dead and have a two drop beater or indeed just split the costs over two turns for whatever reason. All these add up to a lot more card than Gravedigger. Sadly I am not sure it gets there for the drafting cube. The body isn't very exciting, it is not enough to play in an aggro deck. Leaning more on the value package however is not ideal as the inability to block and the loss of it being a tempo two drop make this a poor midrange card. I think this is only getting play in some tribal or other high synergy deck in cube. Too fair and off the mark for what you want such a card to do to be played in a conventional sense.

Smitten Swordmaster 2.5

While this is a more useful all round body than Order of Midnight it really isn't by much. It is far worse on the offense and fairly vulnerable with a single toughness. It also has an adventure mode which does nothing on turn one and is minor at best in any draft setting after that point. This is much better in the tribal lists than Order of Midnight but also much more restricted to them. Nice to have some more knights matter cards on offer now. This will very much be making the cut in my constructed tribal efforts!

Foulmire Knight 7

This I like a lot. It is not powerful but it is flexible and low cost however you want to use it. When you need a cheap defensive tempo play he is exactly that and when you want stuff do do without wasting cards it is that as well. A 1/1 deathtouch scales very nicely into the game and is a relevant defensive tool. Foulmire Knight will always ask the interesting question of whether you need to just toss him down for 1 or if you can hold him back and get that free card with him. In many ways he is a backwards Thraben Inspector. Worse on the card front but better and more relevant on the body side of things. Profane Insight being instant is huge for this as well, at sorcery speed three would usually be too much and would rarely get used, certainly not in any blue deck. As it is you are pretty happy playing this anywhere. Even aggressive decks will be fine with it in much the same way Thraben Inspector creeps into a lot of aggro decks. Often just a body is all you need with buffs and other uses for such things beyond just what they do by themselves.

Syr Konrad, the Grim 2

There are clearly loads of ways you can support this to do a lot of damage. For commander speeds this is a potent build and engine tool. For heads up play this is too much mana and setup for the potential payoff. Just playing this normally is fine but fine is far from cutting it in cube these days. Sure, it is more body than a card like Grey Merchant of Asphodel but we are not looking for just body at the five mana mark and even if we were, a vanilla 5/4 still wouldn't impress. I suspect I can make a fairly reasonable self mill one shot kill combo with this in cube much like a Sutured Ghoul deck of old. I doubt it will be any quicker or more robust however and sounds like more of a quirky gimmick than a good plan.

Tournament Grounds 2

Seems like a bad Cavern of Souls. Fixing for my Ancestor's Blade is not balancing any scales against uncounterable! The card looks and feels lovely at least. I will still play it in any tribal knight decks as well.

Embereth Shieldbreaker 3

A good value artifact removal card. This is basically an improved Keldon Vandal. You can blow things up for one mana or have a 2 mana play when there are no targets. This falls into a similar camp to the Order of Midnight / Gravedigger pair. While this is good it is not good enough to just play in an unpowered cube and is much more the thing of sideboards.

Fireborn Knight 0

Casting cost makes this pretty narrow and being a 4 drop with no immediate impact makes it pretty bad. It can do a lot once in play but it is heavy handed, unreliable and generally fairly onerous. If I want doublestrike I'll play a cheaper card. I can't think of a set of circumstances where I would want this. It is reasonably powerful but just fails to be effective with that power.

The Circle of Loyalty 4

This is a tribal card that is nearly powerful enough to play normally. It is vastly better than Spear of Heliod if you can get it down to 3 mana and probably still great at four mana. It is an Anthem that makes 3/3s if you have nothing better to spend your mana on and bonus free ones if you have legends to spend your mana on. I presently only have 6 actual knights in the cube but there are a couple of things that make them as well as a bunch I expect to add from Throne of Eldraine too. Sadly I don't think this will cost less than 5 enough of the time for it to last in the drafting cube even with loads of lovely legends supporting it. Great tribal card however, likely the best reason to play knights. Good enough to get play whenever the knight count happens to get high, tribal or not.


  1. Order of Midnight is a lot better than you are rating it IMO. If you run blaggro, and Eternal Taskmaster is good enough for a slot, this is almost always going to be better. It is a modal card, and it can be cast on curve for 2 mana in two different modes, either as an aggressive flier, or a raise dead that draws you a 2/2 flier, and it casts at 4 as a near strictly better gravedigger. The stats are not so impressive on blaggro creatures that a french vanilla 2/2 flier for 2 is much below your other options, so in that, it is safe to test and include, as it will never be wrong to draft and run in black aggro. and this provides extra modality and stickiness that helps blaggro's strategy.

    1. I wish you were right as I do love the card. Sadly the inability to block is a big deal as the card is more of a value midrange card than an aggro one. I thought Eternal Taskmaster would be good but it didn't last, simply coming in tapped was too much of a drawback for what that card offered. A lot of black aggro dorks already return themselves and this is a fairly poor tempo play and an unreliable source of value. A few years back this would have been a lock in for cube but nice cute limited cards like this just don't cut it anymore. Everything has to be high powered and stand up on its own in cube now pretty much which this doesn't quite do. Certainly in limited Order will be one of the better uncommons but that no longer translates into cube success.

    2. I am coming round to the potential this has. I remain fairly un-hopeful for the card long term but I do plan to give it a good old test in the cube.