Magic: the Gathering - Throne of Eldraine Watch
The theme of this new set will be 'Fairy Tales + Arthurian Legend', which appeals to me greatly. I'm predicting lots of cool knight cards, a few faeries (though MaRo has confirmed they won't be as prevalent as people first assumed ), and perhaps a few figures from Grimms' tales given an original MTG twist. Twins Rowan and Will Kenrith, as well as a new character Oko, are to be the set's Planeswalker cards.
Of course, the launch of this new set means its time for Standard rotation - goodbye to Ixalan, Rivals of Ixalan, Core 2019 and Dominaria (so my dreams of ultimate Knight tribal will be limited to Arena's new Historic format )
What would you like to see from the new set? Are there any cards from rotating sets that you'll be happy/sad to see go? Or maybe you just want to gush over the art, as I've been doing all of last month? Whatever the case, post away, but be warned that any cards or info which have been officially previewed may be discussed here untagged (please do keep any unofficial leaks to spoiler tags, though).
Oko, Thief of Crowns is an interesting Planeswalker. We don't yet know what these Food tokens he creates do, but assuming they're artifacts, he'll be able to switch them for your opponent's creatures, so long as their power is 3 or less. Sounds infuriating, it's bad enough with all those Agents of Treachery stealing my stuff in the current Standard. Very much on flavour for a shapeshifting fae prankster, though.
Witch's Cottage is pretty cool - if you have three Swamps (not basic Swamps!) in play, it can bring a creature back from the Graveyard. A nice replacement for Dominaria's Memorial to Folly, which I used here and there in a few decks.
Gilded Goose tells us what Food tokens are: Artifacts which for 2 mana can be tapped and sacrificed to gain 3 life. Of course, no doubt there will be plenty of cards which give them additional / alternative effects, such as the goose's mana ability.
Tons of Faeries Given that MaRo told us to expect them in different colours to usual, I assumed we'd see some white ones (if they wanted to go down the peaceful haven route) or red ones (for more chaotic pranksters), but nope. All Blue, Black or Green so far, nothing revolutionary there. Faerie Vandal seems like trouble, could grow fast in a deck built to draw cards each turn. Maraleaf Pixie is a fairly chunky, cheap mana dork with Flying, so should see plenty of play. Rankle, Master of Pranks could be an awesome Brawl commander.
And a new card just got added in the time it took me to write this post! For just 3 mana, Midnight Clock gives a delayed Timetwister effect (for its controller only, mind), which can be accelerated for a reasonable mana cost, AND can itself be tapped to provide 1 blue mana before it strikes midnight. Not available in boosters judging by the card number, however - almost certainly a Brawl card, as it's far too complex for the Planeswalker decks.
Still, The Circle of Loyalty is amazing, providing plenty of Knights and boosting them, effectively filling the roles of the soon-to-leave Radiant Destiny, History of Benalia + Aryel, Knight of Windgrace from my current deck.
Tournament Grounds provides mana in all three Mardu colours, but only for Knights or Equipment spells (for all other costs, it can provide 1 colourless mana). Comes into play untapped. I will be getting four of these.
Order of Midnight and Foulmire Knight are two more of those split 'Adventure' cards. Though the mechanic has yet to be officially explained, the text seems to support the theory that the creature vs sorcery costs are an either-or thing... but in their case, you can pay the Adventure cost, exile the card, then cast as a creature from exile.
Syr Konrad, the Grim is ridiculously good for an uncommon, and I'd be tempted to build a brawl deck around him too. Outside of Brawl, that combo with Corpse Knight and Skyknight Vanguard.
Lastly, another card which showed up as I refreshed the page, right before going to post this: Fireborn Knight! AKA the main reason to go with Mardu colours for Knight tribal as opposed to Orzhov which I've been doing up until now. Possibly throw in GRN's Truefire Captain as well, for Mentor.
Also, suddenly Garruk, Cursed Huntsman! Expensive, certainly, but the fact that he can create TWO wolf creatures or destroy an opponent's creature + draw you a card on first activation is pretty scary stuff! The ultimate seems fairly easy to trigger too, either by throwing wolves at your opponent, or using the many Proliferate options in Green.
Not so keen on Piper of the Swarm - stop printing cards which steal my stuff! Thankfully Rat Colony is rotating out (unless they reprint it here ), but not so for Burglar Rat, and no doubt we'll be getting some new ones to compliment this guy.
Heraldic Banner... meh, no replacement for Radiant Destiny, nor is it as good as Icon of Ancestry. The advantages being that it's a mana rock, and works on any creatures of your chosen colour as opposed to type. But why would anyone not play tribal? Decent enough in limited or mono-colour, I suppose.
Thoughts to follow once I've played a few games, and I'll comment on the individual cards once they show up on Scryfall!
Expanded thoughts: I managed to get at least one win with each of them, all very fun and quite balanced. Unsurprisingly, Knights deck was my favourite, and I'll likely build a Standard deck with many of the same cards post-rotation. LOVE the commanders, though they make the Core 2020 legendaries pale in comparison, so I predict the pool of other Standard (non-Planeswalker) commanders that can compete with them will be quite small.
Still waiting for Scryfall to catch up, though I appreciate that adding all those cards at once will be quite a monumental task!
[EDIT] We also got to see the Throne of Eldraine-themed Arena battlefield... MEH. Not the prettiest, and lacking fun things to click on.
Embereth Paladin, Slaying Fire and Silverflame Ritual are three mono-coloured cards which feature a new keyword, Adamant, that provides a bonus effect if three mana of that card's colour are spent to cast it. Interesting stuff!
Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashenvale, the card which truly convinced me that Knight tribal could work in a post-Dominaria Standard format. Would be nice to experiment with Equipment too, since that hasn't had a place in Constructed for at least the full year I've been playing on Arena.
Alela, Artful Provocateur could also be entertaining in Constructed, as I love decks which create huge numbers of tokens... doesn't *quite* slot into my existing flyers deck though, I'd have to splash in Black and a lot of Equipment / Enchantments to make her abilities worth it (especially with Favorable Winds rotating out). Same reason I don't use Kykar. A buff to toughness would have been nicer as well, to protect from the likes of Cry of the Carnarium.
Last but certainly not least: Korvold, Fae-Cursed King. Just what Jund sacrifice decks have been asking for, this plus the Priest of Forgotten Gods plus Mayhem Devil and the like...
Outside of the commanders themselves, Thorn Mammoth could be great in mono Green, due to its ability to fight and keep fighting. Steelbane Hydra is a fantastic answer to Artifacts and Enchantments, especially combined with M20's Gargos (who also fights stuff). Mace of the Valiant is a scarily powerful Equipment in any deck which seeks to create lots of creatures (again, something I like to do). Knight's Charge Nice enough early effect, and a potentially devastating late game effect if you can meet the mana cost, worth experimenting with certainly. Then there's a number of cards designed for multiplayer (Chittering Witch, Embereth Skyblazer etc) which I doubt will see use on Arena until they add an option for 3+ players.
Shining Armor. The flavour. I can hardly have a Knights deck and not provide them with Shining Armor, can I? Objectively speaking, not the worst Equipment I've ever seen, but not the best either - a decent enough common card.
All That Glitters is a bit scarier, buffing a creature by +1/+1 for each Artifact and Equipment you control. With all the Food tokens going around, they could get very big very fast.
Keeper of Fables, a decent option for mono Green card draw. I'm surprised this creature is a Cat as opposed to a Sphinx, but I guess they've always been Blue or White.
Belle of the Brawl - They've had some fun with the card names this time around Menace makes her worth attaching plenty of Equipment to, and the buff to other Knights is a lovely bonus.
Inspiring Veteran - Boros Knight Lord And I already have four of these on Arena, thanks to the prizes from the Brawl event. Ridiculously good card for a ridiculously low cost.
What have now been officially revealed are some of the Planeswalker deck cards, including the three leaked ages ago, but some new ones as well. Nothing game-changing, but since these previews were in French, we have at least got to see Scryfall's temporary naming genius in action, with the likes of "Rowan's Badass Sidekick" and "Flying With Scissors".
Theros: Beyond Death is up first, in Q1 2020. No doubt focused on the Hades-inspired underworld, Elspeth, and the loose threads needing to be tied up from the last visit to Theros. And yet, I have to wonder whether we'll see a cameo from another, more recently departed planeswalker while we're there... could be too soon for that though, death is only a good plot device if it's at least vaguely permanent.
Q2 will see the release of Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. An all-new plane. The only thing they've revealed about it so far is that it'll be monster-themed, and apparently we'll get to 'make' our own monsters! Presumably out of different 'part cards' or something? This set has already piqued my curiosity, and that's exactly what you want from a new plane.
Q3 is, unsurprisingly, Core Set 2021. Slightly more surprising: just as 2020 was Chandra themed, this will focus on a specific planeswalker, and that planeswalker is none other than Teferi. Teferi, Who Never Rotates. Teferi, Who can go Tuck Himself. I want to like the character, but his cards promote the kind of degenerate control decks that I least like to play against, and would never build myself, so I'm not overly excited about this news.
Finally, Zendikar Rising in Q4. Lots of interesting new land cards to make up for the (presumed) rotation of the shock lands, I expect, but no reprints of the fetch lands in all likelihood. Hopefully a new Nissa planeswalker too, as it's hard to imagine any 'risings' occurring on her home plane going unnoticed. If the Gatewatch don't make a re-appearance in any of the earlier sets, this'll be the one where they become the focus again, no doubt.
Overall thoughts: No unofficial 'blocks' here (like the three recent Ravnican sets), at least not obviously. While it'll be nice to see a lot of different planes, mechanics and stories, it could come at the cost of depth and a running plotline. I have faith in the design team that they'll all play well together in spite of this, though.
Wishclaw Talisman Combos well with WAR Ashiok (who stops opponents from being able to use it). Even without combos, you'll get two cards out of it while your opponent only gets one, or if they refuse to use it to stop you from gaining it back, then you still profited.
Witch's Vengeance will be the death of tribal decks. Seriously, this is worse than Cry of the Carnarium for goblins, knights and elementals (plus faeries in Eldraine standard). This is evil.
New knights: Murderous Rider's Adventure ability (Swift End) is a decent kill spell, and the creature itself isn't bad either. Will be a must play in Knight and Zombie tribal. Joust is another very flavourful kill spell. Embercleave (while not strictly a knight card) could be ridiculously OP in the later game!
Lastly, Questing Beast is just one big list of ridiculously good abilities, and no drawbacks (aside from it being Legendary, so you can't have four out at once). A decent replacement for Steel Leaf Champion in my mono Green deck post rotation!
Clackbridge Troll is a mono-black 8/8 trampling hasty big guy, but with a drawback: when he enters play, your opponent creates three goat tokens (the flavour!), then your opponent can sacrifice a creature to tap the troll before you declare attackers... though if they do so, you gain three life and draw a card. VERY nasty, particularly in limited I'd imagine.
Finally, Emry, Lurker of the Loch is a card which brings back artifacts from your graveyard. Someone will find a way to break this by the time Brawl is live on Arena, calling it now. The fact that she costs 1 less for each artifact in play pretty much screams Commander, as no matter how many times you kill her, she'll always be cheap to recast, tax or no tax.
With Humans getting all the good stuff right now (as is often the case, got to make ourselves look good next to all these Dragons and Demons and whatnot), Wildborn Preserver is a card which seeks to restore some balance, rewarding players for casting any non-Human creature. Flash and Reach are decent, what with Faeries and Azorius flyers both being viable decks. And of course, if you have two, they can trigger each other!
So, Syr Carah, the Bold. Another Red card which allows you to exile cards then play them that turn. Possibly better for mono Red than Knights tribal I'd imagine, to raise the chance of getting something you can actually cast out of it. She also pings things for 1 damage. Downsides: lack of haste, dies to Witch's Vengeance, and of course the high mana cost.
Kenrith, the Returned King - 4W gets you a legendary creature who screams Commander / Brawl, and actually counts as all colours due to his abilities. R gives all creatures haste and trample (honestly seems the most useful ability to me, despite being the cheapest). 1G gives a creature a +1/+1 token. 2W gives a player 5 life. 3U draws a player one card. 5B brings a creature back from the graveyard to the battlefield. Note that these can all target ANYONE, not just yourself / your creatures, so he could be great fun in multiplayer.
Charming Prince allows you to Scry 2, or gain 3 life, or blink another creature you control. Which means that he's a charm in the usual MTG sense of the word, giving a choice between three effects. The design team have really knocked it out of the park for this set, though to be fair they've been on a roll ever since War of the Spark.
Finally, Outlaws' Merriment is an Enchantment which gives you (at random) a Human Warrior, Cleric or Rogue each turn, each with different stats and abilities. All good, though the randomness won't appeal to everyone.
So we have a dragon-themed burn spell, in a set about Arthurian knights... presumably we have a few more actual Dragons yet to come?