TWR: Throne of Eldraine Spoilers & The Next Year of MTG

We’ve known about the next Magic: The Gathering expansion, Throne of Eldraine for a little while now, but as is customary in the month leading up to a set’s release, we’re entering into spoiler season for it. I saw a few whispers about a Twitch stream that certain community members were given access to, and shortly thereafter we were learning that Wizards of the Coast would be attempting again to push the Brawl format. Most people, myself included, had already written it off as dead, but with the additions to Arena, they have been pushing the format again between paper and digital. I’m not sure if there will be Planeswalker decks, or if these are going to be more comparable to the Guild Kits from the Ravnica block, but whatever the case, a new product is launching with Throne of Eldraine and we’ll see Brawl preconstructed decks for the first time. Here are the face commanders for these sets:

Brawl Commanders:

If you are unfamiliar, Brawl is a Commander variant in that it follows the same color identity and singleton rules, but instead of being 100 card decks they are only 60 cards. They also have a rotation that matches standard, meaning you can only play with standard legal cards. So no putting your Commander deck cards into your Brawl decks. I think it’s a silly limitation and part of the reason I stopped playing standard is because rotation can be expensive. In EDH, you can wait for a set to rotate out and get a good deal on singles you want. Otherwise it’s pretty much the same game. And when it comes down to it, I’m not overly impressed with any of these commanders enough to warrant building a new EDH deck around it. I think the Bant and Esper creatures are more interesting than the others, but I’m sure people playing knights are excited to access to a new color with a new general. Friends of mine seem to be most interested in Korvold, and I’ve seen what sorts of shenanigans you can pull with him but I find it uninteresting. Deck lists were already released for these, though I don’t believe all of the cards have been spoiled just yet. They don’t really seem worth the time, but I’ve heard they are going for $20 a piece so not a lot to invest if you want to build around one.

New Mechanics:

Throne of Eldraine is adding a couple of new mechanics, and though they are kind of interesting and their take on fairy tales aren’t bad, I just haven’t really seen much yet that I’m excited for in the set. I don’t think I’m burnt out on the game because I’m still always brewing, building, writing and thinking about the game. One problem is that I don’t really play much, but even with all of that on my plate I still don’t find much to be excited for. So the new mechanics are Adventure, Adamant and Food Tokens. Various cards from the set reference food and creating food tokens. Some, like the Goose above, will allow you to create food but also to sac food to the goose itself to get a different effect. Otherwise, Food tokens are much like Clues or Treasures before them, but instead of drawing you cards or giving you mana, instead you gain life. I guess Oloro players rejoice, but it just seems like a tacky limited-only thing. The same really goes for Adamant. It’s great for mono colored decks I suppose, because it typically requires you to cast the spell with only one color of mana in order to get a bonus effect. That’s pretty meh, and I haven’t seen one that seems worth it yet. Of course, spoilers have only just begun. Lastly, with Adventures you get the new card frame at top right above. There is a spell side and a creature side to these cards. You can cast the creature normally for its CMC and be done with it, or you can cast the adventure spell (which can be either instant or sorcery) which is then exiled rather than going to your graveyard. You may then cast the creature half of the card from exile for it’s normal cost. I can see ways this could be really good, but the creatures spoiled that have adventures on them haven’t been great.

New Planeswalkers:

A couple of Planeswalkers have been spoiled so far, including the return of Garruk. Apparently Will and Rowan from the Battlebond set are supposed to be around as well, but we haven’t seen them just yet. Garruk looks ok, but I’m not sold; older versions are better. A brand new walker in Oko has appeared as well, and he references those damn food tokens too. I’m not into this guy either. As a matter of fact, I think I still have a hangover from War of the Spark.

In other news, we were treated with the schedule of releases for the next year of Magic: The Gathering. I first saw this information over on Hipsters of the Coast.

 

So, we know that beginning in quarter one of 2020, we’ll be returning to an older plane with Theros: Beyond Death. I’m pretty excited for this one as I wasn’t playing when the original Theros set released but I have purchased many cards from the block. I’m curious to see what sorts of new Gods them might come up with. In quarter two, we’ll be heading to another brand new plane, Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. Apparently there’s something about building monsters in this set, but I’m not sure if that will be like the fusing of creatures in Unstable, or if it will be more like the meld cards. Whatever the case, the new planes tend to be more exciting than the old. Core Set 2021 will likely have some gems, but overall core sets are dull. Finally, in quarter four we’ll see another old favorite in Zendikar Rising. I didn’t play during either of the Zendikar blocks, though the latter was still standard legal when I came back to the game in 2016. As such, I own a ton of cards from these sets, but I’m disappointed that we won’t get more Eldrazi.

Whatever the case, 2020 looks like a good year for MTG. I’m looking forward to new things to come!

TWR: Dominaria, Legendary Focus and Brawl

The next main set coming out for Magic: The Gathering is simply called Dominaria. The original plane from the beginnings of MTG, we have finally come full circle back to where it all began. Spoilers for the set were “accidentally” released a bit early, but we’re now in the official spoiler season for the set, and with it there have been some themes revealed and other special announcements.

The set releases on April 27th, featuring 269 new cards with a heavy focus on the Legendary super-type. Traditionally the word Legendary appears in front of the type of card you are playing with, and 99% of the existing Legendary cards are either Creatures or Planeswalkers (as the new legendary Planeswalker rules errated all existing Planeswalkers to be legendary). There are some legendary lands and artifacts, but that was the extent of it. This is important to EDH players like myself, as Legendary Creatures are the only ones able to be the Commander of your decks. With Dominaria, there was promised to be at least one Legendary card per pack, though they also added some additional types, like Legendary Spells. They have also added a new keyword called Historic, which now affects several types of cards. Legendary cards, artifacts and another new type of enchantment called a Saga. Sagas are like most enchantments, they are paid for and hit the board until they are dealt with, but they have an ETB trigger, then upkeep triggers that do different things. It was also announced that pre-orders for booster boxes have started, and the price is very tempting at $85 a box. The Buy-a-Box promo this time around is also an exclusive, meaning you can’t get the promo card anywhere else, which is a first. Here’s the card:

It’s not the most amazing card ever, but it is a new commander in boros which is sadly under-represented in most cases. I like the ability to make spells have lifelink, and I think I might actually brew a deck for these minotaurs. The added bonus of being able to Lighting Bolt creatures or players every time you gain life from a spell is nice too.

Another recent announcement had to do with a new format that Wizards is trying to start up. It’s called “Brawl” and it’s an EDH variant. Normally I get excited when I read about EDH variants but most of them are officially supported by Wizards, and thus they don’t get cards printed specifically for them. Kitchen table rules are a thing though, so we’re seeing Wizards themselves trying to add their own twist on the format. Here’s the rule breakdown:

  • Each player’s deck is exactly 60 cards. Other than basic lands, no card may appear in a deck more than once. Each card must be legal in the Standard format; cards banned in the Standard format can’t be played in the Brawl variant.
  • Before the game begins, each player designates one legendary creature or planeswalker card in their deck as their commander. This card begins the game in the command zone and the other 59 cards are shuffled up.
  • The mana symbols that appear on your commander dictate what cards may be in your deck. Mana symbols that don’t appear on your commander can’t be in the deck. For example, if the Dominaria card Firesong and Sunspeaker is your commander, your cards may have R, W, both, or neither, but no B, G, or U symbols may appear anywhere in your deck. This includes the card’s text box as well as its mana cost; for example, Pride Sovereign from the Hour of Devastation set can’t be in your deck if your commander has only G in its cost and rules text.
  • Each player begins the game at 30 life rather than 20. If you’re playing a multiplayer game (which we recommend for Brawl!), each player draws seven cards again on their first mulligan and the player who plays first draws a card on their first turn.
  • As long as your commander is in the command zone, you may cast it from there. Doing so costs an additional two mana for each time you have cast the card this way this game.
  • If your commander is countered or leaves the battlefield, you may put it back into the command zone instead of putting it anywhere else it would go.
  • The Brawl variant has no other rules for playing, winning, or losing the game. Have fun!

Here’s what I like about it: You can use normal everyday Planeswalkers as commanders for your Brawl decks. Under normal EDH rules you can only use the ones that have “this Planeswalker may be used as your commander” as your general. I’d actually be for this change in normal EDH myself, as there are a ton of Planeswalkers that are all Legendary now and that would open up a slew of new commander options.

Here’s what I don’t like: Everything else. Having a limited card pool just like Standard sucks. I moved away from Standard because I didn’t like the fact that you couldn’t play with the 25 years worth of cards that are out there. I also don’t like decks that are sub-100 cards. These decks will be 60 cards, and that’s not enough in my opinion. I’m even more turned off by the decks you build for pre-release events that are only 40 cards. I also think that this could potentially fracture not only the EDH crowd but also the Standard crowd… I mean we have a shitload of formats already I don’t think we need more. You can see the whole Brawl article here, but that’s my two cents.