Hello friends! Eldritch Moon has finally launched, and players are getting the chance to play with the new cards and mechanics. The real question is, at least for Limited gameplay, what have we learned so far?
New sets generally bring about fresh interactions that we have never seen before in a game of Magic. With Eldritch Moon we have the return of delirium, where an additional effect or bonus happens if you have four or more card types in your graveyard, as seen on Ishkanah, Grafwidow. We also have the discard-centric madness making another appearance, as seen on Stromkirk Occultist.
Limited Lesson #1
Be prepared to see familiar cards and abilities in new scenarios.
While Sealed and Draft will be played predominantly with cards from Eldritch Moon, we still receive a portion of our cards from the previous set, Shadows over Innistrad. You should look for synergies and other commonalities between the cards from both sets that will give you a stronger and more developed game plan. For example, if you are drafting the new format and pick up a good number of delirium cards from your Eldritch Moon packs, even if you don't have any good ways of currently enabling delirium, stay aware of that fact that you can pick up many good enablers in your Shadows over Innistrad pack. Part of the fun of drafting or playing Sealed with a new set is the fact that you get to experience new ways to interact with familiar cards.
Creatures that transform or that have the skulk ability are also back for some fun, and you should take note that all of these things are present. But it is the new abilities that really have people excited. In Eldritch Moon we are introduced to escalate, emerge, and meld.
Limited Lesson #2
Be wary of over- and underestimating new cards.
We all rightfully should be excited to play with new cards, but don't let new cards warp your judgment. Escalate and emerge are both fairly innocuous on the surface, and I believe they will be underrated until people realize just how great having options really is. Escalate, for example, provides you with choices at varying stages in the game. Take a look at the card Savage Alliance:
For three mana, you're capable of dealing 2 damage to a pesky creature, should you need to, or if you're able to invest a little bit more mana you can escalate (see what I did there?) your options. Many of the cards with escalate have modes that are good on their own. Adding the option to do more on a single card? Sign me up.
Emerge is in a similar vein of optional value to escalate, but until you play with it seems a bit poor on the surface. Take a look at Abundant Maw:
Eight mana for a 6/4 that drains an opponent for 3 life is hardly a deal, and by most accounts would be passable at best. Add to the equation that you're able to emerge this card for a discounted cost and all of a sudden you have a great top-end creature. Now instead of only being able to cast this creature when you hit eight mana, all of a sudden you're able to discount its cost, in addition to being able to normally cast it if you choose. That is the true power of emerge—giving you options.
As far as meld is concerned, I'm afraid people will generally tend to overrate rather than underrate these cards. Not because they are bad—they aren't, they are very good—but because of the unlikelihood of getting the necessary pieces. For starters, there are only three pairs of meld cards in the entirety of Eldritch Moon. Additionally, only one of those pairs is at common, while the other two are rare and rare/mythic rare. While you can expect to eventually see a few powerful meld cards come together, don't overrate them because of what they could be. Take the meld cards and value them alone, and if they still fit your deck then by all means play them.
Limited Lesson #3
Removal is still great in Limited.
This probably shouldn't be a necessary thing to mention, but it is worth pointing out (and probably will always be). Removal is good. Oftentimes your opponents will be casting large creatures early in the game (thanks to emerge). If you're not prepared for a large threat early, then you might very well find yourself too far behind to come back. I'm not saying you have to have four copies of Murder in your Draft deck, 4 Murders would probably be overkill (get it? No?...Fine), but cards like Drag Under and Sigardian Priest are definitely cards I want to see. Sometimes you won't get much or any removal, however, and in those scenarios I would recommend trying to go faster or wider than your opponent. That leads me to my next point!
Limited Lesson #4
This Limited environment is slower than Shadows over Innistrad.
This comes from my own personal experience and the overall collective thoughts of others who I've talked to. Thanks to Emrakul returning, the Eldrazi are back, and they tend to be large, expensive creatures. Add that to the fact that we no longer have as many ways to investigate and produce Clues and you have a Limited environment that takes a bit more time to develop and smooth out. While this by no means implies fast decks are not viable, I mean to say that it feels as though Draft and Sealed will be slower in general. Seventeen land is generally considered the norm for Limited decks, but do not be afraid to have more and play the more expensive threats in the format. We don't have as much of the luxury of producing Clues as we used to!
Thank you for spending some time with me! That wraps up this installment of Limited Lessons for Eldritch Moon. Hopefully you've taken something new away from this, or at least further solidified some of the points you might have already discovered for yourself. Just to reiterate the four points I mentioned above, here they are again:
- Limited Lesson #1—Be prepared to see familiar cards and abilities in different scenarios.
- Limited Lesson #2—Be wary of over-/underestimating new cards.
- Limited Lesson #3—Removal is still great in Limited.
- Limited Lesson #4—This Limited environment is slower than Shadows over Innistrad.
As we continue to gain further experience playing cards from Eldritch Moon, I expect some of these lessons to evolve and change. If you've had similar gameplay or thoughts to the points I've listed in this article I would love to hear your feedback. You can always message me over on Twitter.
Eldritch Moon Prereleases start on Magic Online July 29, and I plan on streaming them nonstop. If you want to catch that action when it goes live, then head over to my Twitch page, where I stream every weekday.
Until next time,