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Eldritch Moon Spoilers: Limited Review for June 27


Welcome to the first day of spoiler discussions for Eldritch Moon! Things are getting even weirder on the plane of Innistrad, and we're here to figure out how that's going to affect the Limited environment.

I'll be reviewing these cards from the standpoint of how well I expect them to perform in Limited. We can't rate the cards completely accurately without knowing the entire set, but we can evaluate the cards in an "average" limited format. You can find all the latest spoilers on the Eldritch Moon page. Please note that if I haven't yet reviewed a card, it's probably because the official spoiler for it has not been released yet.

Grading scale

A: This card will often be the best card in one's deck. I'd consider splashing it where possible. (Linvala, the Preserver, Tireless Tracker)
B: This card is rarely cut from a deck that can cast it. In draft, it signals that a color or archetype is open. (Baloth Null, Forgotten Creation)
C: Cards like this make up the majority of limited decks. You're neither excited nor embarrassed to have them in your deck. (Akoum Flameseeker, Moorland Drifter)
D: I'm not putting this in my main deck unless I have a specific reason or I'm low on playables. (Dazzling Reflection, Reduce to Ashes)
F: This card will have little or no impact on the game if I draw it or is strictly sideboard-material. If I cast this card, please stage an intervention for me. (Hedron Alignment, Trail of Evidence)

White

Bruna, the Fading Light & Gisela, the Broken Blade

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

A-/A

If you open Bruna or Gisela, you will almost always play them, and will try very hard to be in White. Bruna, the Fading Light is less impressive stat-wise, but there are enough Humans to make her reanimation ability somewhat easy to pull off. Gisela, the Broken Blade is the second coming of Baneslayer Angel, and her lower 3-toughness is the only thing that gives you a chance of beating her in Limited.

Blessed Alliance

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

For two easy mana, you get the better half of Celestial Flare. For two mana more, you can kill an extra attacker or two by virtue of untapping your creatures. When you have the full six mana, you gain some life as well. Blessed Alliance is very efficient for its cost and could easily lead to blowouts when your opponent falls into its trap.

Dawn Gryff

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C

There's not a lot to say about Dawn Gryff, so let's save our word count for the more exciting cards. Dawn Gryff is a fine playable with no particular synergies or reasons to get excited.

Long Road Home

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C

Otherworldly Journey is back again (and I hope I don't have to explain where it's been), ready to save your creatures or delay your opponents. You can use Long Road Home to escape a combat gone wrong or to get a +1/+1 counter. While not very powerful, it is versatile and the first copy will likely be played in most White decks. 

Thalia, Heretic Cathar

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A-

In Limited Thalia, Heretic Cathar won't wreck manabases as she will in Constructed, but she's still an efficiently costed creature that provides more than three mana's worth of effect over the course of the game. If you can establish an early lead, making your opponent play one turn behind can be all you need to crush them before they have a chance to stabilize.

Thalia's Lancers

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

The power level of Thalia's Lancers will generally be that of a middling Uncommon, but occasionally it will be a 4/4 first strike that tutors up the best card in your deck when it resolves. You can take this card early and hope to get lucky, but I wouldn't be excited to get this card first pick in a draft.

Blue

Chilling Grasp

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

Keeping your opponent's two best creatures out of commission for two combat cycles is a pretty good deal and that's without considering the possibility of discarding this instant for Madness. Take Chilling Grasp highly and run it even when you only have one or two ways to discard it at instant speed.

Coax from the Blind Eternities

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

F

Even in triple Battle for Zendikar, with its high concentration of Eldrazi and exile-matters cards, you are unlikely to run Coax from the Blind Eternities. In Eldritch Moon, I'd wager this card is virtually unplayable. If you have good Eldrazi, just put them in your deck and not in your sideboard.

Identity Thief

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B

Identity Thief has taken a strong early lead in the Weirdest Card Award standings. The list of things it can do is huge. It can:

  • Retrigger your good ETB (enter-the-battlefield) effects
  • Retrigger your opponent's bad ETB effects
  • Move your opponent's biggest blocker out of the way and attack for a bunch

The shapeshifter can do this repeatedly if you can protect Identity Thief from dying during combat. The crazy combos should make it worth the risk of running. Keep in mind that this card doesn't work well if you copy your own Legendary creature; you'll have to sacrifice one at the end of turn.

Unsubstantiate

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C

Unsubstantiate is a powerful bounce effect that answers the age-old problem of, "What if I want to bounce my opponent's biggest creature but don't them to reuse its enter-the-battlefield effect?" Now you simply Unsubstantiate it while on the stack. You still get the tempo advantage of setting your opponent back, but without giving them extra triggers. Most Blue decks would probably prefer Just the Wind for its Madness capability, but with only one pack of Shadows over Innistrad in the draft, Unsubstantiate will probably be the bounce spell of choice.

Wretched Gryff

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

Emerge seems like a really interesting mechanic, and I'm looking forward to making Wretched Gryff work in Limited. You'll note that I've placed this card in the Blue section and not the colorless one. If you're planning on hard casting this for seven, my condolences to you.

The best combo for Emerge cards is to sacrifice some high-CMC creature with low power and toughness whose value has already been extracted, perhaps from an enter-the-battlefield effect. Drownyard Explorers and Rottenheart Ghoul from Shadows over Innistrad seem like the perfect creatures to sacrifice to Emerge.

Black

Graf Rats & Midnight Scavengers

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+/B-

For the common Meld card cycle, I was expecting a little bit more. Graf Rats is an unassuming 2/1, and Midnight Scavengers is a simple Gravedigger variant that can go get the Graf Rats back from the graveyard. When you combine them you get to have a big, scary combat step with Chittering Host. The problem is that if you're a slow Black deck trying to get this Meld combo to work, you may not be in a position to attack once you finally get these creatures stapled together. If you can't use the attack trigger, you've done a lot of work for a flipped Gatstaf Arsonists, and you may end up disappointed.

Borrowed Malevolence

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+

Borrowed Malevolence is a deceptively good combat trick. It's not efficient at its one or three mana cost, but combining the two options grants flexibility. The ability to pick off 1-toughness creatures and occasionally swing two close creature combats in your favor makes it exactly the type of card you want in this slot.

Cemetery Recruitment

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C

Raise Dead effects are generally better on creatures (like Midnight Scavengers), but if you have important enough targets to get back and some of them are Zombies, Cemetery Recruitment is worth inclusion. 

Red

Hanweir Battlements & Hanweir Garrison

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

C+/A-

On its own Hanweir Battlements is a fine utility land, but hardly exciting for Limited. Hanweir Garrison on the other hand, is completely bonkers. After one attack, it's already good, and if you can force this through two or more times due to an opponent's slow start or through a combat trick, you're miles ahead. If you somehow manage to pull off the dream and meld these together, you deserve the win and all the glory that comes with it.

Green

Gnarlwood Dryad

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

B-

Relevant one-drops are at a premium in Limited, and Gnarlwood Dryad is an example of one done correctly. It can trade early or with almost anything you need it to, and late game it becomes a threat of its own. You can't ask for much more than that, unless you like getting your requests denied. 

Multicolored

Ulrich of the Krallenhorde

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A-

Ulrich of the Krallenhorde disappointed some Commander players by not being Werewolf-centric, but for Limited, he's an insane Mythic near Arlinn Kord's level of power. When you're behind on board, it may take some time to flip and help you out, but in most games, Ulrich's pump effect will immediately affect the game by forcing through a big chunk of damage or a chump block. When Ulrich is around, your opponent will be on a strict one-spell-per-turn schedule, and any deviation from that will only serve to help Ulrich flip repeatedly and make short work of any opposing creatures.

Colorless

Cryptolith Fragment

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

C

Between entering tapped and costing life, this artifact is pretty clearly not ideal for a control deck. In an aggressive deck however, Cryptolith Fragment is an evasive threat that can end a game quickly if transformed. While most aggro decks don't really need the ramp, they'll sometimes still play Cryptolith Fragment just for the life drain.

Emrakul, the Promised End

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

A

Emrakul is good. There, I said it. If you won't take my word for it, why are you reading this article? Secondly, check out SaffronOlive's article where he reaches the same conclusion.

In Limited, you won't often be facing counterspells, and there will generally be other creatures around for you to waste your opponent's sorceries on, so that negates two of Emrakul's biggest downsides. A (roughly) nine mana spell that (roughly) wins the game is good enough in most Limited formats, so take her early, work on Delirium, then make your opponent mad with envy. And also mad with madness, because it's Emrakul! 

Conclusion

Eldritch Moon is looking wacky and zany, and I'm already ready for the Prerelease. Please join me for more spoilers and more Limited reviews throughout these two official spoiler weeks. Reach out to me on Twitter @JakeStilesMTG or in the comments below with your thoughts on the new cards.


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