Insider: An Eternal Look at Eldritch Moon (Mythics and Rares)

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Welcome back, readers! Today's article will focus on the cards from Eldritch Moon that may find a home in decks outside of the Standard format. As you know, the larger the card pool gets, the higher the power level an individual card needs to compete with its brethren.

Eldritch Moon does appear to be a pretty flavorful and fun-looking set. Could it affect Modern, Legacy, and maybe even Vintage? Let's review it with these formats in mind.

As you're all well aware, the casting cost tends to be one of the biggest deciding factors in older formats (and in the case of Legacy or Vintage whether the card is blue, i.e. pitchable to Force of Will). Typically we focus on casting costs of three or less to determine eternal playability, however, thanks to cards like Show and Tell and Sneak Attack high-cost creatures with powerful abilities are also still an option.

First we'll take a look at the mythics of the set (as those tend to be the most pushed in power level).


Liliana, the Last Hope


First let's talk about the new Liliana. At first glance she looks considerably worse than her previous three-drop incarnation. Her creature removal ability is far more limited in what it can kill. It does target instead of letting the opponent choose, and there are a good number of powerful creatures in eternal formats with one toughness. That said, most of those creatures will cost less than three, which doesn't translate to a favorable mana exchange.

Her ultimate isn't likely to win the game immediately (it would likely take a few turns). Her second ability is the hardest to truly evaluate. It does help fill the graveyard (a powerful and often-used resource in all three eternal formats) and can repeatedly bring back a powerful creature, which thanks to the typical low mana costs in eternal formats is likely to be castable quickly.

My personal opinion is that she's a complete downgrade from her former "Of the Veil" self, though if the metagame ever shifted to a lot of x/1 creature-based decks she might be playable.

Nahiri's Wrath


Next up we have Nahiri's Wrath. This card reminds me a lot of Firestorm except it costs two more and isn't an instant. While this card can't hit players, it can hit multiple planeswalkers, which Firestorm can't. It can also deal a lot of damage to any number of threats if you have a high-CMC card rotting in your hand.

I could see this card as a potential Modern Tron sweeper as it would allow Tron to deal with creatures much larger than three toughness (and the deck happens to play a lot of high-CMC cards to begin with). I'm still not sure if the card disadvantage is worth it, given all Tron has to do is get to eight mana to cast Ugin, the Spirit Dragon for the same effect.

Still, I think it's important to bring up as a potential option. Note that this card isn't getting much love and will likely drop to bulk/near-bulk status (barring a breakout in Standard).

Grim Flayer


Grim Flayer is an interesting one. A 2/2 for two with trample is mediocre at best, but a 4/4 for two with trample is pretty powerful. Add to the fact that it can filter draws (and fill the yard) and it definitely has potential in older formats.

The biggest challenge I see so far is turning on delirium by turn two, which is rather difficult (save for something like a lucky Thought Scour). My gut tells me this card is a trap, as its mana cost restricts where it can go and trample is not exactly the most busted mechanic. This is likely one of those cards that's really good when things go right and very unimpressive when they don't.

He does look like he has some strong potential in Standard, which will buoy his price (he's currently sitting at $10).

Emrakul, the Promised End


The jury is still out on this one. Some people believe that the Mindslaver effect coupled to a very powerful creature will allow the caster to take over a game.

The problem I see is that it has no enters-the-battlefield ability. So if you cheat it into play all you get is a pretty powerful flying spaghetti monster, but it's nowhere near as powerful as the original Emrakul, the Aeons Torn which annihilated the opponents board after attacking. The size also dropped (-2/-2) and the protection ability got worse.

The one thing this version does have going for it is its castability. Unlike the original Emrakul, which was nigh uncastable without a full-on mana ramp deck or Omniscience, you can realistically cast this card in a normal game.

Decks that ramp into big threats tend to play a lot of lands, sorceries, and instants, so this card is likely down to 10 mana almost by default. Such a deck is also likely to play some mana dorks or creatures that ramp (and/or chump block) so a 9 CMC Emrakul is also semi-realistic.

Decimator of the Provinces


To me this is just a worse version of Craterhoof Behemoth. That does see play in some eternal formats, but never more than two copies in a deck. Why play a worse version that can't be tutored up with Green Sun's Zenith?

Gisela, the Broken Blade


Hey look, a slightly cheaper but much worse version of Baneslayer Angel. This card would have been playable if it didn't have a toughness of three (i.e. died to Lightning Bolt).

As it is, I don't see her finding a home unless people really want to try and meld it with Bruna, the Fading Light. I doubt that will be worth the setup, especially considering the meld happens at the end step, so you don't even get an attack in.

Tamiyo, Field Researcher


I'm honestly on the fence on the new Tamiyo. The minus ability can lock down a board and force an opponent to overcommit to deal with her, which leaves them open to any type of wrath effect. Her plus ability is really good with cheap vigilance creatures (a.k.a. Sylvan Advocate, which I feel may find a home in Modern).

Her ultimate can also be game-winning. Omni-Tell decks did dominate Legacy for several months and her ultimate is an unanswerable Omniscience topped off with an Ancestral Recall.

If any of the cards in the CMC-four-or-greater category truly make an impact eternally, it will be either Tamiyo or Emrakul---and my bet is on Tamiyo.

The Stragglers

The rest of the mythics are just very unlikely to do much of anything in eternal formats. They just don't do enough for their mana requirements.


For the rares I will simply highlight the ones I see that have potential (as there are 47 total rares in the set and only a handful seem decent for eternal).

Coax from the Blind Eternities


The "Eldrazi Wish" seems pretty unassuming at first. However, it is important to keep in mind that the original wishes ended up proving very powerful in Standard and both Burning Wish and Cunning Wish did eventually find homes in Legacy (in Storm and High Tide respectfully).

There are a lot fewer Eldrazi cards in Magic's history than sorceries or instants. But this card can fetch up a win condition (Emrakul, the Aeons Torn), pinpoint removal (Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger) or mass removal (All Is Dust). I can easily see it finding a spot or two in Modern Mono-Blue Tron lists due to this versatility and the copious amounts of mana that deck tends to make.

Collective Brutality and Defiance

CollectiveBrutality CollectiveDefiance

These two cards provide a lot of versatility for little mana cost. Brutality allows the caster to kill a small creature and psuedo-Duress an opponent while remaining on parity in cards, all for two mana.

Defiance can kill a creature and reset an opponent's hand for four mana. I didn't respect its power level until my opponent (in Sealed) escalated it twice to make me discard my hand (after tutoring up my best threat via Thalia's Lancers), kill my best creature, and deal three damage to me. That was a beating.

Modal spells tend to be inherently powerful simply by allowing the caster choices, so they're the ones you want to watch carefully. In particular, Brutality's escalate cost is more dangerous than one might think, given cards like Griselbrand exist in older formats, and combo decks are often happy to turn extraneous cards into other effects at no cost.

Eldritch Evolution


This has repeatedly been called a fixed Natural Order, which has found a home in several Legacy decks including Elves and NO RUG from several years ago. It costs one mana less (which is important) but it doesn't let you cheat on mana as much due to the X+2 requirement.

However, tutoring creatures into play is a very powerful effect and not to be overlooked. As we've already seen, Allosaurus Rider spiked hard after this card's announcement and other ways to cast higher-CMC creatures in alternate ways will be explored now that this card exists.

Eternal Scourge


I only bring this one up because we saw Misthollow Griffin go from bulk to a few bucks thanks to how well it plays with Food Chain. This simply gives that deck a second creature to go off with.

Unlike the Griffin, this one isn't blue, which takes away the cleanest and best way to exile it (pitching to Force). Its unique exile clause could lend itself to some new type of infinite combo, but as of yet that hasn't been discovered. If this guy hits near-bulk status (under $0.5) I'll likely pick up a few playsets.

Hanweir Battlements


If Hall of the Bandit Lord can maintain a $6 price tag, then it's important to keep this card in mind. I remember when Hall spiked back in February 2013. While some of us believed Hall was simply a buyout, others brought up the fact that it saw minor play in Amulet Bloom decks (prior to that deck's subsequent meteoric rise).

Giving any creature haste can be quite powerful, though keep in mind the effective cost here is 1R total. Whether that's worth it or not is still up in the air.

Harmless Offering


Donate is the original version of this card (this is simply a colorshifted one) and it created one of the most broken decks of all time (Trix). While red is decidedly weaker in the color pie than blue, this ability should not be overlooked.

There are plenty of cards in Magic's history with a "you lose" clause that was aimed at balancing their power level. Thanks to cards like this and Donate, those drawbacks can be turned into win conditions. Currently we have Demonic Pact and Immortal Coil in Modern, and Lich, Nefarious Lich, and good ol' Illusions of Grandeur in Legacy and Vintage as things to give to one's unsuspecting opponent.

These combos have already been available in Legacy/Vintage for a while, and a second copy of the card is unlikely to suddenly make them playable. The more interesting format to watch is Modern, where the combo hasn't existed yet and the power level is lower.

Mausoleum Wanderer


While Mausoleum Wanderer doesn't seem like much, it's another in the line of blue one-drops that can counter instants and sorceries via sacrificing itself. In eternal formats, instants and sorceries tend to be major role players and mana is tight. Cursecatcher has proven its usefulness in Merfolk, and this card could fill a similar role in other archetypes.

The deck never really took off, but there was a U/W Sky Hussar deck that saw minor play in Legacy a couple years ago. I'm not saying it's going to jump to Tier 1 status, but it did just get another weapon. In theory this card has a higher ceiling than Cursecatcher or Judge's Familiar as it has the potential to tax for more than one mana.

Oath of Liliana


Three mana for an edict effect is a bit high (typically we see them at two, as with Diabolic Edict or Geth's Verdict). However, the fact that this card can kill a creature and give planeswalkers that come down later a creature to protect them is definitely something to keep an eye out for.



This may be my most controversial pick because it doesn't appear to do much of anything. However, the fact that you can gain six life (for free) if this card is in your opening hand and then later cast it (or discard/remove it from the game) could potentially allow it to find a home in a U/W Modern control deck.

I really like the idea of playing this card with something like Sunscour to pitch extra copies that are drawn later. You could potentially start the game at +2 cards if your opponent happens to be Burn. Even if the six life just means an additional turn of attacking (or two), that translates to more cards drawn for the control deck.

This is definitely the type of card that gets overlooked quickly. The Chancellor cycle in New Phyrexia didn't cause a lot of excitement, but several have been abused in specific decks. Chancellor of the Tangle allows decks with low land counts in Legacy, whereas Chancellor of the Forge can be teamed up with Blazing Shoal for a quick kill in all-in red decks.

These decks may not be tier one, but I have seen them brutalize unsuspecting opponents. Bottom line, free effects in Magic are extremely powerful, and even the marginal ones can break out in Constructed. I don't have a lot of hope for Providence, but it's something to keep in mind.

Sigarda's Aid


This one is exciting predominantly for the Puresteel Paladin storm decks in Modern. That deck plays a bunch of zero-drop equipment to tear through their deck, Retracts them back to hand to continue going off, and finally finishes with Grapeshot.

This deck hasn't traditionally cared about actually equipping its creatures (and Paladin already allows you to equip for free). But we could see a new archetype that veers away from the storm combo to just utilize powerful cheap equipment (with high equip costs) to abuse with Paladin and Sigarda's Aid.

Spell Queller


This one is already around $10 due to everyone's expectations in Standard, but it could easily be ported into Modern as well. Spell Queller has a very faerie feel to it, and it could fit easily into any number of tempo-based decks looking for disruption attached to an efficient creature.

In Modern most decks have a very low curve, so the targeting restriction shouldn't be a big deal. It will be live against every single deck, and hits a large majority of the cards in most of them.

Splendid Reclamation


We have never had a card like this before. A lot of brewers are trying to break it and the ability is just so powerful it is very likely to end up broken. This card is insane in something like Legacy Lands (as the deck tends to fill its yard with lands really easily) but I feel it's more likely to find a home in Modern.

I honestly could see this allowing an Amulet of Vigor deck to return to Modern. The key thing to remember is that if you use a lot of fetchlands you could easily double your mana on turn three or four, which is very significant. I would also look at creatures with landfall triggers as this card screams abusing them.

Thalia, Heretic Cathar


The new Thalia is extremely powerful and I think she fits very nicely into any type of Hatebears or Death and Taxes style deck. Three mana is a lot for Legacy, but the point of Death and Taxes is to slow the opponent down while applying enough pressure to kill them before they can overcome the "taxes" part.

Making all fetchlands come into play tapped and any non-basic they fetch do the same is a huge roadblock, especially in eternal formats in which most decks tend to play a very small number of non-basics (if any). Note that this also hoses red and black "cheat into play" cards like Sneak Attack, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Goryo's Vengeance.

Thalia, Heretic Cathar also plays well with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben (which can be on the battlefield at the same time). The abilities synergize to turn the screws on an opponent's mana base, and five power worth of first striking on defense is pretty formidable as well.


That's all for today. Join me next week when I'll follow up with the commons and uncommons of Eldritch Moon and discuss their eternal playability.

2 thoughts on “Insider: An Eternal Look at Eldritch Moon (Mythics and Rares)

  1. Great round-up. I specifically think Thalia is going to be brutal in Modern. I wish we had a great way to protect her from Lightning Bolt and Abrupt Decay. Perhaps a card like Apostle’s Blessing would be a good choice?

    1. I definitely feel like she will make her presence known sooner rather than later. I’m already considering changing up my Mardu Goryo/Breach deck considerably as she really hoses that strategy hard.

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