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!

The War Report: The Rumor Mill

We’ve known for a while that the new Commander 2019 decks would be releasing in August, as they have years prior. Spoiler season hasn’t quite begun yet, so we don’t know what sorts of mechanics or colors to expect from the precons, but that changed ever so slightly once this image (and others like it) started popping up around the internet:

Clearly this is a website that belongs to a wholesaler, it appears that this listing was put up before it should have been, but that’s the nature of the Internet — someone is always watching. What’s important here is the line “Each deck has a returning keyword ability as its main theme. The four featured abilities are populate, flashback, morph, and madness.”

We now know what the themes of the Commander 2019 decks will be, or at least we should get some confirmation soon, as August isn’t too far away. This sounds believable though, particularly with recent sets bringing back old mechanics that maybe haven’t been fleshed out enough. For those of you not familiar with the keywords, here’s a breakdown of each:

1GreenWhiteTap: Populate(Create a token that’s a copy of a creature token you control.)

Populate is part of a token strategy and can easily be combined with abilities like convoke to have powerful turns. The keyword has been exclusive to G/W so far, so it would make sense for that to be the colors of this deck, but there may be a splash of something else. It’s not a very exciting mechanic as tokens tend to prefer going wide rather than tall, and populate only copies one token, but I suppose if they are 10/10 Eldrazi’s that’s not too terrible. We’ll have to see how the commander(s) abuses this mechanic to find out its worth.

Flashback 1Blue (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then exile it.)

Flashback is the most represented keyword in this selection. We have seen this stapled onto countless cards and it is usually quite useful if not a little expensive. Cards played from the graveyard with flashback will go into exile and though there are tricks for getting cards out of exile it’s probably best to just get the double value out of each spell with this keyword and move on. I’d say the most prevalent colors that use flashback are Grixis, but I don’t think we really need more Grixis commanders. I still think this is likely the deck that has some of the best cards in it though.

Morph 2BlackGreenBlue (You may cast this card face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)

I don’t like morph. It has its boons on the occasional card, but overall it just feels too slow. Essentially you want to play a big creature that does something cool after morphing, face down as a 2/2, then morph it into its bigger, badder self at the right time to surprise people. I wouldn’t advise letting morph creatures get through with combat damage, as the morph can be activated before damage is applied so you’ll have something worse coming at you with no blocks declared. It’s sneaky and I’m sure there are some cool things you can do with this mechanic, but it’s simply not my style. I won’t even venture to guess the color pairing because I believe the mechanic is present in all colors.

Madness 1Red (If you discard this card, discard it into exile. When you do, cast it for its madness cost or put it into your graveyard.)

Madness is another mechanic that I remember being a thing when I first got back into the game (my friend had a Rakdos vampire deck that did some disgusting things with madness and Smuggler’s Copter) but one that I didn’t use. The thing is, if you are drawing a bunch of cards and then having to discard (or using looting spells) you can get a nice engine going, as madness costs are almost always cheaper than the normal CMC of the card, so discarding it and then casting it on the cheap can be really efficient. However, if you can’t discard then you’re sitting on dead and expensive cards in your hand. My thought is that a different color pairing might work better than Rakdos, but I’d wager this deck is going to be janky.

We should be hearing more about the set and you know I’ll be here with spoilers when they come out, so we’ll discuss more soon. The second piece of information to leak is in the following image:

We’ve known about the next set coming out in September for a while, it was code named “Archery” and little other information has surfaced until now. When I first saw this it was just a rumor, but it has since been confirmed from a breakfast at the San Diego Comic Con occurring right now. The next major MTG set will be known as Throne of Eldraine, and apparently the artwork is littered with Fae. So a new plane and a bunch of fairies. Sweet, I guess? Honestly it doesn’t really matter what the theme is, new planes are awesome and we should get some new mechanics, new creature types and other support for existing themes so it will likely be awesome despite my implied negativity. A larger announcement is coming this evening at Comic Con, so I imagine there will be more stuff about C19 and this new set within a few hours. I look forward to thinking and writing about that as well.