Days of Future Future: Eldritch Moon

Posted in Latest Developments on August 26, 2016

By Sam Stoddard

Sam Stoddard came to Wizards of the Coast as an intern in May 2012. He is currently a game designer working on final design and development for Magic: The Gathering.

Hello and welcome to another edition of Days of Future Future, the feature of Latest Developments where I talk about some of our FFL decklists during Eldritch Moon playtesting.

Before I get started, I want to point out that many of these decks are not tuned, and many of them contain cards that have changed since we used these versions. Like all sets, we kept changing cards in Eldritch Moon after Kaladesh entered the FFL, so many of the cards in these decks are not the final versions. This is also not just a listing of the strongest decks in our FFL. Instead, I've tried to take a pretty wide sampling of fun and interesting decks that we created, to give you an idea of some of our thoughts during this period.

If you have additional questions about how the FFL works, I have put together an FFL FAQ article you can read here that may explain some things in more detail.

Anyway, let's get off to the decklists.

Tribal Decks

As with last time we looked at decks, I want to look at our tribal decks first. That was a big goal of this FFL period, to make sure that tribal decks were viable.

Mono-White Humans

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This was the easiest deck for us, since we already had a really good version of it coming over from Shadows over Innistrad. Really, the only things added here were Collective Effort and Thalia, Heretic Cathar. Because of how strong we knew the deck was, we didn't want to add a ton to it—unlike the other tribal decks, which needed more help.

Red-Green Werewolves

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Red-Green Werewolves is a deck that hasn't really shown up in the real world, but we had it as a player in FFL Standard. I think it hasn't shown up in reality partly due to how weak the deck is to Collected Company, but also because the deck has problems with Dromoka's Command...both of which are in the most popular deck in Standard.

Black-Red Vampires

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Black-Red Vampires is another deck that we added quite a few things to with Eldritch Moon. Stromkirk Condemned and Olivia's Dragoon added additional discard outlets to the deck, and Bloodhall Priest gave the deck another strong card with madness.

White-Blue Spirits

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White-Blue Spirits is a deck that has shown up quite a bit in the real world, but hasn't quite had a breakout experience yet. Because it casts things at instant speed, it can compete with Collected Company decks—but mostly people just make Bant Spirits decks.

Blue-Black Zombies

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Blue-Black Zombies is the final tribal deck from Eldritch Moon, and probably the non-Human deck with the most success up until this point in Standard. Our versions were less all-in than the ones seeing play now, and we definitely weren't going as far as casting Kozilek's Return off of Distended Mindbender, but we were still doing the "fill your graveyard up then get Prized Amalgam back" stuff, if less efficiently than the deck in the real world.

Block Mechanics Decks

Another important part of getting any set to work is making sure that your block mechanics show up in Standard. To that end, we wound up with a Temur Emerge deck, much like the real world—though many of our cards were different, and our deck was much less tuned than the real one.

Temur Emerge

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While we thought delirium would hit when Shadows over Innistrad came out, it made only a small splash. Fortunately, Eldritch Moon gave it enough extra juice to go over the top, bringing the cards it needed to be a force in Standard.

Black-Green Aggro Delirium

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The aggro version attempted to go all-in early (dumping its hand to Noose Constrictor if need be) and use Mournwillow to push through a huge damage swing. The Lupine Prototype thing was really cute, but likely neither strong enough nor consistent enough for the real world.

Black-Green Midrange Delirium

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The midrange version of this deck was all about getting out Den Protector/Deathmist Raptor loops to always have the best late game. I think a lot of this deck would probably still work now, but a significant portion of the cards in this list, as well as ones not in here, changed enough to make this deck require quite a few shifts.

Updates to Our Top Decks

Esper Control

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In our FFL, Esper control decks were a popular deck for most of the year. There wasn't a ton added to those decks in EMN, but Take Inventory went a long way to help the decks out with early card flow, and Emrakul, the Promised End gave the deck a strong finisher.

Green-White Megamorph

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After seeing the deck perform so well after Pro Tour Magic Origins, we made a lot of Green-White Megamorph decks. In the real world, though, people have mostly gone with Green-White Tokens and Collected Company decks instead.

Plenty of control decks existed in our metagame. First off, the most common: blue-based control.

Blue-Black Control

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Even though this was a blue deck, it didn't use a ton of blue except for card drawing—and much of that isn't that strong. The deck highlights some of the issues we knew blue had in Standard, but didn't quite solve them. The lack of strong blue card draw led to most control decks playing white-black instead.

White-Black Control

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Much like the real world, we hit on White-Black Superfriends decks as the go-to control deck to get card advantage, since each of our planeswalkers does a really good job of acting as a free Jayemdae Tome each turn.

We expected a bit more out of aggressive decks in the format, especially red ones. Below is our take on Atarka Red.

Atarka Red

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This deck takes a lot from the ones that were doing well in Standard when we were working on EMN (the ones using fetch lands/Become Immense/Atarka's Command as the green elements). Obviously, in the real world these decks seem to have been pushed out by a combination of the power of all the 2/3s in the format and the white weenie decks getting cards like Always Watching that let them win every combat.

Green-White Tokens

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While Green-White Tokens has fallen off in popularity quite a bit since Eldritch Moon, we also had a version of it that was pretty close to what the real world was doing—though (as always) ours wasn't very tuned for the metagame. I believe at the time this was made, Westvale Abbey had not yet lost the "pay 6 life" part of its activation, so people were playing with Foundry of the Consuls instead as their utility land.

Green-White Angels

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We identified green-white as a really strong color pair, and that is part of the reason we had so many decks with those cards. This deck was ramping into Brisela, Voice of Nightmares and trying to use Selfless Spirit to save it through various Wrath effects that might be able to kill it.

Bant Tamiyo

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While we largely missed out on the Bant Collected Company decks, we were instead playing Bant decks with Tamiyo, Field Researcher in the four-drop slot. Heron's Grace Champion used to be a very different card—a green-white 3/3 with some hate-bear text. We quickly realized that green-white just didn't need any more cards like that, but that's why it was included here. While this deck was not what people ended up playing in the real world, it's still a pretty good approximation of many of the Tamiyo decks that exist.

Finally, what would Standard be without:

Cat Pact

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Harmless Offering-Demonic Pact wasn't an accident; the card was created to allow that kind of combo to exist. We want to make sure there are fun decks like this in Standard, and we make a lot of similar kind of weak combo decks that work out from time to time. I am just happy that Cat Pact was one of the ones that worked out—it's the most adorable way to die.

Our FFL snapshot at the end of a season is never going to be perfect, partly because we keep making changes to the set after it is no longer the newest set in the FFL, and generally after a rotation has occurred. We certainly missed quite a few decks here—most notably, we were just playing a lot less Collected Company than the real world, as well as fewer of the 2/3 creatures that have come to so thoroughly set the bar for Standard. Still, while we missed things, I am pretty happy with the number of decks we managed to approximate in the FFL. I feel like we mostly had fun decks that came through into the real world in some fashion, even if they are not as competitive as we would've liked them to be. There were quite a few misses for us within Standard, but EMN itself has mostly done a good job of showing off the cards we expected.

That's it for this week. Next week on Latest Developments, I'm going to talk about how Eldritch Moon Standard shaped up—what worked and what didn't—much like I did for Shadows over Innistrad Standard.

Until next time

Sam (@samstod)

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