Throne of Eldraine prerelease is finally here, and this set is just dripping with flavor! Every card I opened had amazing art, great jokes, clever references, and most importantly of all good gameplay. Return to Nature your Enchanted Carriage, Claim Your Firstborn and then sacrifice it, and bake some kids into a pie. Playing with Eldraine feels like I am going on an adventure and I haven’t felt this way about a set in years. Come with me as I share with you the details of my prerelease at Game Grid Lehi in Utah who were generous enough to offer me a free prerelease kit. Once upon a time TuesdayTastic’s prerelease began. . .
The first thing you notice when you open up your prerelease kit is the shiny promo that comes with it. My promo was Wishclaw Talisman which is a very interesting card. Tutoring for any card in your deck for 3 mana is a powerful deal, but not all wishes come freely, and in this case, I give my opponent the ability to wish for whatever card they want as well, and then one more wish for me. This is certainly a monkey paw effect, and there might be games where they pull their big bad threat out of their deck and there is no way for me to answer it, but I have a feeling that getting to draw the 2 best cards of my deck as opposed to their best card will make up for it.
Moving onto the rest of the packs I pulled several great rares some of which I even talked about in my article about Eldraine cards in Cube. The majority of them are black, especially considering I pulled Wishclaw Talisman as another rare, so I have some very strong reasons to play that color. Of course, I could pull some great rares for a color, and not get any meat supporting it in the commons/uncommons. As for the rares themselves, Clackbridge Troll is secretly one of my favorite cards in the set, Irencrag Pyromancer seems like a really good Guttersnipe variant, Return of the Wildspeaker seems strong in limited, The Cauldron of Eternity is a fantastic grind engine, Doom Foretold is another one of my favorite cards simply because I like Stax, and finally Fabled Passage, last but certainly the least is just an expensive Evolving Wilds. Cool.
Starting off with White, I first just want to apologize for the potato. But upon initial impressions this color seems decent. Trapped in the Tower is good removal, I have a lot of good flyers (especially the Archon, that one is bananas) but in general everything is largely meh. I do like seeing True Love’s Kiss and I believe that it is correct to maindeck enchantment/artifact removal in this limited set as there are so many scary targets. A serviceable color but nothing is really drawing me towards it.
In Blue we have a pathetic assortment. The best creature is a 6 mana 4/5 that’s a man-o-war only some of the time, we have some disparate mill themes that don’t jive with the rest of the deck and the deck is really good at drawing cards for 4+ mana. Blue rares were also non-existent so I’m happy to see that my Blue common pool was shallow.
With Black, I really hoped that this color would be good as the rares can only do so much for a deck. Fortunately, Black overqualified as the best color, not only among the rares, but also among the commons. 2 Bake into a Pie is awesome, Order of Midnight is probably the best Gravedigger variant ever, there is a lot of card draw and food tokens, and of course the rares are pretty good too. This has become a solid sealed pool.
A quick side note, I didn’t realize that alternate art cards were going to be in normal card packs so I was very excited to open Order of Midnight as it is one of my favorite storybook cards of the set. Embereth Shieldbreaker is also pretty and amazing.
Red tried harder than Blue to be a color that I would be interested in, but again there are too many disparate themes for me to really be attracted to the color. Irencrag Pyromancer begs me to draw multiple cards, but half of the cards care about non-human creatures, except a lot of these creatures are knights? It doesn’t work well in my sealed pool, but at least I know that draft is going to be pretty cool.
Green has a nice little adventure theme going on that I really like and believe will be a powerful build around in draft. I didn’t pull any adventurer’s as good as Beanstalk Giant, however, and the curve is pretty awkward. 2 Boar’s Bounty is 2 more Boar’s Bounty than what I want to play, and while outmuscle can be strong, it is also very vulnerable to blowouts. If the curve were a little nicer, and there was more being offered in the color pair I might be interested.
The Multicolor cards really don’t tell me anything. RW Knights is not going to pan out, GW adventures could work but I’m more interested in Black, and Shinechaser is neat I guess. The colorless cards are nice, especially the adamant ones as I am leaning pretty hard towards one color at the moment.
With all of that said, it’s pretty clear to me that I want to be in Black. Not only do I have amazing rares for it, but my pool of Black cards is easily the strongest and would have pulled me in rares notwithstanding. Looking at all of my cards in Black I’ve noticed 2 themes emerge. First, I have a lot of cards that care about the graveyard, and second I have a lot of ways to make food. Getting value from the graveyard seems great in a set filled with so many adventure creatures, and with Cauldron of Eternity I can easily take over the game. The main problem is that I am kind of light on creatures so hopefully that doesn’t affect my gameplan too much. This means I do have to play some worse creatures to try to make a more synergistic deck, at the expense of some card quality.
The second theme of the deck is food. In particular, it’s food stapled to great effects such as Bake into a Pie. This pushes me more towards a control deck, as I can use my excellent removal to pick off my opponent’s board, crack some food to refuel and then gain so much card advantage in the late game that my opponent can’t keep up. However, I don’t have enough good mono-black cards to play that color only, so I am going to have to look to another color for help. Blue and Red is right out, which leaves Green and White. Green’s curve is complimented well by White, but I am extremely curious to see how Doom Foretold plays out and want to see that in action so I had to go with White.
My first draft of the deck ended up looking like this, but after realizing how few creatures I had, I threw in a Smitten Swordmaster even though I have very few knights in the deck and cut the Roving Keep as that is a slow card, and I don’t want to get pummeled by knights. I really wanted to play True Love’s Kiss as I think it is incredibly important in this format, but I was scared my mana wouldn’t work with it. The deck is very Black focused so 11 swamps seemed appropriate. 5 plains is barely enough to get me the splash I need, but fortunately,
Evolving Wilds Fabled Passage has me covered. I think that this deck is really strong for sealed as it has a clear gameplan of grind the game to a halt, and overcome the opponent with advantage gained from the yard in the late game. With deckbuilding done, let’s get onto the jousting!
Match 1: Naya Food
Game 1: My opponent decides to go first which I’m pretty ok with because as the control deck I can use all the extra cards. I open a 7 with a 2 drop, 3 drop, and 4 drop and realize that I’m just going to kill him if he does nothing. I curve Order of Midnight into Knight of the Keep into Archon as he spends too much time trying to assemble Naya colors. He stabilizes at 1 and I cast a Foreboding Fruit targeting myself (!punt 1) and find Wishclaw Talisman. I think about what is in my deck and then realize I have lethal and find Smitten Swordmaster and drain him for one because of my Deathless Knight on the battlefield.
Game 2: I keep a sketchy hand with 2 lands, but I have 2 sources of card draw and I am on the draw so I think it’s doable. I get rewarded for my greediness and topdeck a plains. The game moves on very slowly as we both play lands and pass, and my opponent breathes a sigh of relief thinking that I drew a bad hand. He casts a 5/5 that can smash walls but doesn’t know how to get itself out of a tower. He then casts a Roving Keep that he spends a total of 14 mana on, only for it to get baked into a very crunchy pie. By this point in the game, I know that he doesn’t have any removal so I run out my Clackbridge Troll which was in my opener. He doesn’t want to get slapped for 8 so he keeps on sacing the goats and I net a ton of life and cards until finally, I can start beating face. I end the game with no creatures on his side of the board and a grip of cards and my opponent concedes. 1-0
I want to take this time and say that Order of Midnight is a 2/2 flyer first and foremost
Match 2: Timmy Gruul
Game 1: I keep a decent-mediocre hand and immediately realize that it was a mistake. He ramps out a turn 4 Keeper of the Fables and I have nothing that can block it profitably. After he draws a few cards I finally have enough creatures to trade with it and cast a combat trick on 2/3. He taps Syr Carah to ping my 2/1 and I reread the card in time for me to realize I hecked up. (!punt 2). He puts a ton of creatures on adventures as I struggle my best to not die to the onslaught of beefy green creatures. I don’t draw my removal, and try to grind it out with creatures and food tokens. I last for a very long time on the backfoot, but by the end, there is little I can do to stop the massive Timmy army.
Game 2: I keep a hand with Wishclaw Talisman and offer it to my opponent in the hopes that he will use it and I’ll be able to recoup having to search for a plains. He decides that’s not worth it and simply ramps up and starts emptying his hand. Bonecrusher Giant ends my Archons adventure and he slaps a 4/3 on the table. I try my best to slow down the aggression, but there are so many 4 power dudes and all my blocks are very infavorable. I have a Doom Foretold in hand but can’t even cast it as I would have to sacrifice my blockers to try to make it good. I get my face pummeled in and shuffle up for the next round. 1-1
Match 3: RB Pingers
Game 1: This game was the opposite of my last game, and took much longer. He cast a Brimstone Trebuchet on turn 3 and very slowly started to chip away at my life total. I spend my time developing my mana, adding to the board state every now and then, but I’m never in danger of getting pinged to death so I don’t worry. 6 turns later and I realize that my life total is at 13 all of a sudden. I use Wishclaw Talisman to find Clackbridge Troll and he holds onto it for a few turns worried about giving me another card. I play Doom Foretold and he realizes that he is going to have to start sacrificing real cards. He pings me to 9 and finally gives in and tutors for a card. He finds Opportunistic Dragon and steals my Wishclaw back which would have been a good play, had I not had the opportunity to make the Eldraine culinary classic of Knight’s Pie. With my last tutor I go find a Clackbridge Troll and end the game in quick fashion.
Game 2: He curves out, steals my blocker, and threatens to deal 8 damage on turn 4. I left the oven on, however, and bake another dragon pie and turn the 8 damage he threatened into 3. He starts flooding out again, his only thing being Syr Carah pinging me, and I run out Clackbridge when I know that he has nothing left. I clack it up and go to report. 2-1
Match 4: UR
Game 1: I keep a mono black hand filled with flyers and removal. We slowly start adding to the board and I have more flyers than he has blockers and I put him down really low. He activates Roving Keep and I make another Castle Pie (it is inferior to Knight’s Pie, but is much more satisfying to make). I get him in the air and it’s over.
Game 2: I keep a 2 land hand and finally get punished for my greediness and miss a land drop. He capitilizes on this and runs out Syr Elenora with my only removal spell being Bake Into a Pie and 3 lands in play. I get lucky and top deck a few lands in a row and am able to deal with his other threats, but by then the damage had been done and I lost.
Game 3: This is easily one of the best games of sealed I have ever played. I start off making a food token which gets bounced to my hand by Brazen Borrower. I follow that up by casting Eye Collector and my common creature completely invalidates his Mythic Rare. Still, he is able to hit me with a 3/3 for a while before I am able to set up good blocks and I am forced to kill it. Then he runs out his 5/7 keep while I am empty-handed on removal. I find a Clackbridge Troll with my Talisman and have to keep it back for blocks. He plays Syr Carah and starts whittling away at my life total. He swings all out and I block with everything attempting to kill his keep. He removes my blockers and wipes my board away, but at the very least I am able to trade with his other cards. I am desperately hoping that I can draw a spell that gives me life, preferably my second copy of Bake Into a Pie. Instead, I find Cauldron of Eternity when I’m at 5 life. I cast it for 2 mana and bring back a Witch with an apple. I eat it, go back up to 6 life and draw Trapped in the Tower which is finally an answer to his Roving Keep. He hits me with his flyers and I Cauldron back a flyer to block on my turn. In the end with 10 cards left in both of our decks, he draws a bounce spell and is able to finish me off.
Throne of Eldraine sealed proved to be a ton of fun. I found that there was just enough cards to make you feel like you should play mono colored, but not enough playables which forces you to splash a different color. I’ve said it before, but the flavor in this set is outstanding, and I am very happy that Magic is returning to a more light hearted nature. Magic is meant to be fun and with the arc of Bolas over, the less grimdark that Magic is, the better it is for me. I’m going to be doing this again on Sunday in a 2 headed giant event with my wife which I can’t wait for. Watch out for the Knight’s Pie team this weekend!