Insider: PT Eldritch Moon Picks

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As I write this, Pro Tour Eldritch Moon is a couple hours from starting, though when you read this Day 1 will already be in the books. You'll have more information at that time than I do, though I have been wracking my brain and keeping up on content in an effort to find a deck for SCG Regionals enough that I have some good insights on things to watch out for.

The time zone difference makes the viewing experience for this PT particularly interesting for American viewers, and hitting the ground running (literally) and making it out to local game stores Friday morning/afternoon should be a good way to find some nice deals on decks performing well at the PT.

I've put a lot of lists together, and your methodology may differ from mine, but what this means is that I've found a lot of different ways to be frustrated. Through the madness, I've found some aspects of decks that I really like, and I expect to see some specific elements show up in PT decks.

It has become clear that Emrakul, the Promised End is not all that difficult to cast with a little work, and as such a little bit of work makes enabling delirium relatively easy. While they didn't print any busted graveyard enablers in Eldritch Moon, I do expect these cards to show up side by side in some number of decks:

When Traverse is on, the power level of the card is obvious. Grapple is a little rougher around the edges, but the fact that it can grab any land or creature from the graveyard makes it quite powerful. Even if you whiff with it on turn two, Evolving Wilds on turn one leaves you with a land to pick up. And that is where I've seen the real power of featuring these two cards in a deck.

On the early turns, either of these can facilitate land drops. As the game progresses, suddenly you're looking at a bunch of copies of Eladamri's Call. The fact that both can be used to develop your mana means that you can run a little lean on lands, which gives you space for some nice bullets and a bunch of Den Protector and/or Goblin Dark-Dwellers to generate a lot of value.

There are tons of ways to configure these decks, though one way or the other I am confident in saying that Traverse the Ulvenwald is a great Standard pick. At under $2, this is an easy pickup for me. It's a basis for a deck that is very flexible, and a card that we have already seen in the Goggles Ramp strategy.

Every build of Traverse decks that I've come up with have featured Ishkanah, Grafwidow, usually as a two-of. Ishkanah spiked to $12 before the set was released, but lost some value as time passed and it looked like people mostly just wanted to cast Collected Company. The card valleyed in the $5-6 range, though now is on the rise, and I expect it to continue to climb from its current $7-8 back up to $10+. Five toughness is a great mark to hit in Standard, and Ishkanah isn't straight outclassed by Archangel Avacyn // Avacyn, the Purifier, which says a lot.

So many of the decks I've built---see literally every green deck---started with four Sylvan Advocate. This is one that Brian DeMars also identified, though I'm slightly skeptical of Oath of the Gatewatch rares. We've known that this card is great for a long time, and given the Expedition effect it's possible that the card sees little if any growth during its life in Standard. You'll recall the comically low prices of Khans of Tarkir rares even as Mantis Rider and Siege Rhino dominated Standard due to the fetchland effect. There could be a small bump here, but I'm bearish.

I messed around with a lot of green builds, and as I branched into other cards, the reason was either to play Elder Deep-Fiend or Distended Mindbender. There are a lot of sweet pairs for these cards, with Matter Reshaper and Foul Emissary being the premium three-drops for such decks, and Eldrazi Skyspawner and Pilgrim's Eye being serviceable support.

With these emerge decks, you can be graveyard-based with efficient Kozilek's Return "flashbacks" as your focus, creature-heavy and value-based, or somewhere in between. Frankly there's too much going on here for these cards to miss. Elder Deep-Fiend has held onto a good amount of its value, while Distended Mindbender has mostly plummeted, though I feel like Mindbinder isn't being given its proper respect.

Imagine that you're expecting a Bant Company-heavy field---not hard to imagine. A sequence available to you is to have a Kozilek's Return in your graveyard with a creature in play to sacrifice to your Mindbender. You cast it, trigger it and the Mindbender, let the Mindbender trigger resolve first so that if they cast Collected Company you kill the stuff they find and if they don't it gets exiled. And since it's a cast trigger, you end all of this with a 5/5 in play.

I think this interaction is too powerful not to show up, and a Top 8 berth would be great for the value of both K-Return and Mindbender.

Of course, if you follow me on Twitter you already know that I've decided against bringing these creature-heavy decks to SCG Regionals this weekend. There are a lot of cool things I want to try, but none of them are polished.

While tinkering around with decks I read Shaun McLaren's Premium piece this week, which featured an Izzet tempo deck that looked neat. I don't like the idea of playing Curious Homunculus // Voracious Reader, but I believe that McLaren correctly identified Take Inventory as being under-appreciated and Galvanic Bombardment as being very strong. Incendiary Flow is also a big upgrade for red, especially if Matter Reshaper is to become more popular.

Naturally, this led me to Pyromancer's Goggles. Goggles seems great to me, and with Take Inventory being a sweet draw spell that you don't really have to work for as well as major efficiency upgrades to the removal, the deck seems pretty great to me right now.

There is some issue putting Thing in the Ice // Awoken Horror in your deck with Gisela, the Broken Blade as well as some Eldrazi horrors showing up in the format, though the fact that Thing in the Ice // Awoken Horror is a 7/8 makes it so that you can outclass most of what you'll be paired up against. I'll be sure to report on how things go one way or the other, but I feel like at $4 as a flip rare, the new cogs could make Thing in the Ice // Awoken Horror much more relevant in Standard.

I'm very excited to see how PT Eldritch Moon shapes up the format, and I fully expect Bant Company to be taken down a few pegs. We've already watched Osyp Lebedowicz slice through a field of Company decks without even getting fancy. There are multiple strong engines as well as payoffs to explore in Standard, and I'm thinking something sweet is going to come of this weekend.

Thanks for reading.

-Ryan Overturf
@RyanOverdrive on Twitter

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