Great news everyone: Eldritch Moon is upon us! And that means it’s time for another Top Ten Cards list! But first, let me set the stage…
When we last left off in Shadows over Innistrad, the people of Innistrad were going mad, getting revenge, and gone missing. Avacyn lost her mind and had to be put down by Sorin, and Nahiri vowed revenge for getting trapped for a very long time. Jace and the rest of the Gatewatch were put on the case to solve the mystery and find out who was behind all this madness (Spoiler Alert! Turns out it was Emrakul).
I really enjoyed Shadows over Innistrad. The set design and story line were both intriguing and well executed. Many of the cards printed in the set were both powerful and constructed playable. So there was plenty to look forward to with Eldritch Moon, the final set in the SoI block.
That anticipation soon gave way to uncertainty; however, when I learned that Eldritch Moon would feature another wave of Eldrazi creatures. After all, it was not so long ago that we were inundated with those otherworldly, all-consuming terrors during the Battle for Zendikar block, which was not regarded as the best set. The Eldrazi had only just recently invaded multiple formats, warping the Modern constructed environment, dominating Legacy tournaments, and earning an emergency ban not more than a few months prior.
However, after seeing the new cards in Eldritch Moon, I was pleasantly surprised. While there are several additional Eldrazi creatures in the new set, their characteristics are decidedly different from those we witnessed in the BfZ block. Gone too are clunky mechanics like Devoid, replaced with more intriguing ones including Emerge and Meld.
Overall, Eldritch Moon looks to be a solid set full of playable cards. So which ones stand out above the rest?
When evaluating new cards, I look at the following three factors:
- Excitement Factor – does the card provide a unique or powerful effect?
- Constructed Playability – is the card good enough to see play in Standard, Modern, or other constructed formats?
- Long-Term Value – will the card retain or gain value over time?
I had a harder time than usual narrowing down my top ten cards in this set. There are several powerful cards at all rarity levels in Eldritch Moon, so limiting myself to ten choices meant that I would be leaving off some noteworthy cards. Here are some of the cards that barely missed the cut:
1. Liliana, the Last Hope – 3-mana planeswalker may be stronger than she first appears
2. Decimator of the Provinces – powerful anthem effect and finisher with deceptively strong mana reduction ability
3. Imprisoned in the Moon – blue gets a creative removal card
Without any further ado, here are my Top Ten Cards in Eldritch Moon:
10. Harmless Offering
Who doesn’t love a cuddly kitten? You’d have to be a monster, or even worse, a dog person. This card is the closest I’ve seen Wizards come to outright re-printing a card on the Reserve List. While this isn’t exactly Donate, it’s pretty close. Is this a new way of getting around the Reserve List?
Harmless Offering may not be good enough to see play in many constructed formats, but you can bet there are going to be players at every LGS around the world that are going to try this card out in a deck with Demonic Pact. Look for this card to become a fan favourite.
9. Emrakul, the Promised End
So I don’t think I need to convince anyone that this is a very powerful card, but is it strong enough to displace Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, Ugin, or original Emrakul from current Tron/Eldrazi decks?
Well, it’s certainly strong enough to win games all on its own: 13/13 flying tramplers will do that.
While Emrakul, the Promised End costs 13 generic mana, you can reasonably expect to cast her for five to six less after a few turns if you have enough card types among cards in your graveyard. In a mana acceleration deck like Tron, it will not be out of the question to cast Emrakul by turn four or five.
Also, as Emrakul has protection from instants, there’s a good chance she will dodge most removal spells, but be aware that she can still be countered by an instant while on the stack (Protection abilities only apply while the object with the ability is on the battlefield). Knowing this, you can also be confident that she will likely survive play long enough for you to gain control of your opponent during their next turn. Doing so will allow you to both see their hand and play any removal spells they might have on their own creatures. How fun is that?
8. Splendid Reclamation
This card feels like it was built for Modern and Legacy. Paying three generic and a green mana to get back 4+ lands from your graveyard is a powerful effect. Say you just lost a Tron land or Eye of Ugin. You can play Splendid Reclamation to get it back, plus any other fetchlands that you may have sacrificed earlier in the game. The downside here is that it can only be cast at sorcery speed, which means you’ll have to give up tempo for a turn in order to get your lands back. Still, this kind of effect feels strong in the right situations.
I see potential for this card in landfall-based Standard decks as well. Getting back three or four lands from your graveyard and getting that many landfall triggers on the same turn could create some fun shenanigans.
7. Eldritch Evolution
Green and White are getting so many good cards, right? Here’s another powerhouse that should slot right into Standard G/W decks. Eldritch Evolution is certainly strong, as it allows you to search your library for nearly any creature card provided you can sacrifice a creature with the right converted mana cost to meet the card’s tutoring criteria. The fact that you get to put the searched creature directly onto the battlefield instead of just into your hand really pushes this card over the top. It’s certainly a card that is attracting a lot of early attention, but will it be good enough to justify the hype and see constructed play? I think so, but I’ve been wrong before!
6. Spell Queller
Many players were hoping to see stronger tribal support for Spirits in Shadows over Innistrad. Rattlechains and Bygone Bishop were very good cards on their own but there wasn’t enough support to make a strong enough Spirits deck. In Eldritch Moon, the spirits tribe is getting a huge boost, thanks in no small part to the Spell Queller. Playing this card could give you a huge tempo swing as it has the ability to effectively counter any spell your opponent casts for four or less mana as long as you can keep Spell Queller alive.
Spell Queller will also keep your opponents on their toes due to its ability to be flashed in on their turn, which not only will give you the ability to counter what your opponent just played, but also provides a surprise blocker in the right circumstances. This is one of the best cards in the new set and should make waves in Standard and potentially Modern as well.
5. Bedlam Reveler
Why am I rating what looks to be a bulk rare so highly, you ask? It’s because this card is actually quite good. Really! Yes, on the surface, a 3/4 for six generic and two red is terrible, but in the right deck (I’m looking at you, Burn!), this will never cost that much. To play this optimally, you will likely need to wait until turn three or four once you have 3-4 instant or sorcery cards in your graveyard. If you’re playing an aggro deck (and why wouldn’t you be, after all, you’re playing red!), chances are you will not have many cards in your hand by the time you want to cast this, which means you will get to draw three cards without having to discard a whole mittful of cards. This is also a solid Madness enabler, should you be playing any Madness cards (e.g. Fiery Temper). This also has Prowess, which makes it even more playable in an aggro deck. Burn players rejoice!
4. Elder Deep-Fiend
This is another card that is already getting plenty of hype, and for good reason. By sacrificing a creature that you played a turn or two ago and paying the emerge cost instead of EDF’s regular mana cost, you can reasonably expect to cast this for as little as 1UU or 2UU. Casting a 5/6 creature with flash for that cost is bonkers, and the card also gives you the ability to tap up to four target permanents when you cast Elder Deep-Fiend. Talk about a huge tempo swing! This card will singlehandedly change the outcome of games, as it clears a path to victory or buys a turn of protection.
3. Thalia, Heretic Cathar
In addition to having some of the best art in the entire set, Thalia Heretic Cathar is just a really strong magic card. For two generic and one white mana, you get a 3/2 first striker. This alone makes Thalia playable. However, she also has the following ability: “Creatures and nonbasic lands your opponents control enter the battlefield tapped”. This is a very powerful ability, and gives you a huge edge for as long as you can keep Thalia alive. I’d love to see her get added to Legacy Death & Taxes decks, but is she strong enough to displace something else from that deck? She’s definitely standard playable, and will make Green/White decks even stronger (as if they needed any more help). Thalia, Heretic Cathar is also the Buy A Box promo card, with great alternate art (I still prefer the regular set art but both are quite striking, if you catch my drift).
2. Gisela, the Broken Blade // Brisela, Voice of Nightmares
Gisela is a powerhouse on her own, but when melded with Bruna, the Fading Light, she becomes a ‘you win the game’ card. While the new Meld mechanic is fun, it requires a bit of patience to activate here, as Bruna costs 5 generic and two white mana to play. However, even if you aren’t able to meld Gisela with Bruna, you still have a very good card in Gisela: a 4/3 flyer with first strike and lifelink is going to be tough to stop in Standard. Unfortunately, having three toughness means Gisela is vulnerable to burn spells like Fiery Temper or Lightning Bolt, but that won’t stop her from getting played in other formats.
Gisela, the Broken Blade will be a force to be reckoned with for the entire time she remains in Standard, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her make an appearance in other formats as well.
1. Tamiyo, Field Researcher
While it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to see a Planeswalker card top any list of powerful cards from a set, Tamiyo is one of the better Planeswalkers printed in the last few sets. She has a starting loyalty count of four, provides card advantage, combat advantage, and has one of the best ultimates available on a planeswalker to-date. Her only drawback appears to be that you need to be playing Bant colours, which isn’t really an issue in Modern or even Standard with numerous dual lands available from recent sets.
I’m really excited to play Tamiyo. I had the (mis)fortune of playing against her in the Eldritch Moon Pre-Release, and she definitely has the ability to lock opponents out of the game. By choosing to attack with two creatures on your side of the board with Skulk, you can easily achieve the card drawing ability in Tamiyo’s +1. Once you have her loyalty count up to a reasonable number, you can then start choosing her -2 ability to tap down your opponent’s cards. Something worth mentioning here is that you aren’t limited to tapping creatures with her ability here – you can tap any nonland permanent. This gives you a lot more flexibility to eliminate the biggest threats on the board.
While it is unlikely that you will get to cast Tamiyo’s ultimate, if you do, you’ll not only get to draw three cards, which we’ve already determined is an amazing ability, but also get to play anything from your hand for free. This type of ability usually costs a lot of mana, but here it can be accomplished in as little as three turns after casting Tamiyo. I’m speechless.
Eldritch Moon, the second and final set in the Shadows over Innistrad (SoI) block, is now available at your local gaming store. The set is brimming with plenty of noteworthy cards, but is it a worthy follow-up to Shadows?
All early indications point to yes.
Eldritch Moon is the 71st expansion of Magic: the Gathering. It was released on July 22nd, 2016.