Last night (Wednesday), Harry, Ben, and myself headed out to Sydney to meet up with Wizards of the Coast and a few other media companies to play a pre-release for the newest Magic: the Gathering expansion Eldritch Moon. Like most pre-releases, there was a good mix of casual and competitive players around, and it was great fun. More importantly, it gave us a great chance to get a feel for the set so that we could give you some of our thoughts of actual gameplay with the cards before you head into your own pre-release.
Our Pre-release Venue
Rares/Mythics: Second Harvest, Drownyard Temple, Decimator of the Provinces, Emrakul, the Promised End, Mirrorwing Dragon, Voldaren Pariah, Sigarda’s Aid, Dark Salvation
Thoughts: My view of the Eldritch Moon release is quite a bit skewed. The fact that I opened three high-powered mythics and two very playable rares was great from the point of view of playing to win, but it didn’t give me a good idea of what to do moving forward. There is quite a bit of depth and synergy going on, with cards such as Noose Constrictor enabling both delirium and madness. The Werewolf, Spirit and Vampire tribes got a much needed shot in the arm, with Spirits in particular looking to be impressive moving forward, as Spell Queller is very strong, and well-backed up by Mausoleum Wanderer, and the existing Shadows over Innistrad cards Rattlechains, Bygone Bishop and Always Watching. The deck practically builds itself! The lack of colour fixing beyond Terrarion and Cryptolith Fragment makes playing more than two colours difficult, but it can also be very rewarding as there are quite a few rares that are worth the splash.
As you are probably aware, MtG recently changed the format of how their sets are released, and we have so far had two releases of the new two-block paradigm. Oath of the Gatewatch (the follow up to Battle for Zendikar) was, while a fine set with some great constructed cards, really just more of the same. Eldritch Moon, however, absolutely smashed the second set out of the park. While it still had the second-to-none Innistrad-y flavour, it felt unique and exciting. With the corrupting influence of Emrakul being reminiscent of old-school Lovecraftian horror, but still maintaining its own unique style, Eldritch Moon is, in my opinion, a strong contender for the best flavour set of all time.
Rares/Mythics: Ishkanah, Grafwidow, Wharf Infiltrator, Collective Effort (x2), Harmless Offering, Nahiri’s Wrath, Foreboding Ruins
Archetype: UW Spirits
Thoughts: I started out with a red black removal heavy deck thinking that it would buy me enough time for my few creatures to eventually win me the game. I was very, very wrong. The deck was awful and I quickly looked over my pool again and put together a fairly decent Blue White tempo deck. I found that the format was very dependent on controlling the board state as much as possible. The Emerge mechanic was much better then I expected, and if you are able to get some advantage from the creature you sacrifice then you gain so much tempo. Cards like Enlightened Maniac, Exultant Cultist and Desperate Sentry are perfect for helping with Emerge cards. Another card that I underestimated was Subjugator Angel. It clearly needs you to have a good board state, which is another reason I think it is crucial to prioritise keeping the board under control at all costs.
Much like other sealed formats I recommend focusing on having a good curve of creatures – especially in the three drop slot. Also remember that because of the promo that players receive in their kits there is a higher chance of your opponent having some bomb rares, so don’t waste your premium removal spells until you’re absolutely sure you have to. The fixing in this set is almost non-existent, so play it safe and stick to two colours if possible. Highlight of the night: When Harry let me play his deck. Seriously guys, it was insane…
Rares/Mythics: Spell Queller, Tamiyo, Field Researcher, Bloodhall Priest, Corrupted Grafstone, Westvale Abbey, Drogskol Cavalry, Noosegraf Mob (x2)
Archetype: UW Spirits
Thoughts: I played UW spirits with a very light green splash for Tamiyo (which was really greedy, but I wanted to give the card a spin). The spirit archetype is really strong. There’s some nice synergy, plenty of flash creatures and instant speed interaction, and flying makes your small army much harder to compete with. Spell Queller was amazing all night, but did get worse when people knew to play around it. Still, that lingering threat was sometimes all you needed to get the upper hand psychologically. Westvale Abbey was also great at sitting there and being a persistent threat. Fogwalker and Ingenious Skaab did most of the heavy lifting in the deck and are solid cards at common. Gryff’s Boon went on Fogwalkers most of the night, but putting it on a Fiend Binder for extra evasion was great. Cryptolith Fragment was originally a Corrupted Grafstone, but I made the change because the former was just a better card in the flier deck.
Tamiyo is a cool card. She’s going to fall very quickly in limited, unless you have complete control over the board state – though at that point, she’s essentially win more. At best she bought me some extra life while I tried to stabilise (which I can’t really complain about), but I didn’t get to really see what she could do. Tribes are looking much stronger now with the inclusion of Eldritch Moon, so unless you happen to just pull mythic.dec like Harry did, you’re going to want to build around synergy more than brute strength, which is something I absolutely love about this set. So far, this set is looking pretty good. I’m really looking forward to trying out some of the other archetypes in future pre-releases and drafts.
Honourable mention goes to Harry, who managed to find two pieces of a Meld card in his booster packs from game wins:
There you have it – our thoughts from our pre-release. Hit us up with what you’re hoping to pull, what cards you think are the best in the set, and how you do at your own pre-release down below!