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Lessons from the Eldritch Moon Prerelease


I played at two prerelease events this weekend. This is my sealed pool from the first of those events.

Lands

Nephalia Academy

Colorless

Cryptolith Fragment
Cultist's Staff
2 Field Creeper
Neglected Heirloom
Wretched Gryff

White

Borrowed Grace
Collective Effort
Courageous Outrider
Geist of the Lonely Vigil
Inspiring Captain
Ironclad Slayer
Ironwright's Cleansing
Long Road Home
Militant Inquisitor
Nahiri's Machinations
2 Sigardian Priest
Spectral Reserves
Spectral Shepherd
Steadfast Cathar
Stern Constable

Blue

Compelling Deterrence
Convolute
Deny Existence
Grizzled Angler
Invasive Surgery
Seagraf Skaab
2 Stormrider Spirit
2 Tattered Haunter
2 Turn Aside
Unsubstantiate

Black

Boon of Emrakul
Cemetery Recruitment
Collective Brutality
Diregraf Colossus
Gavony Unhallowed
Hound of the Farbogs
Liliana's Elite
Merciless Resolve
Midnight Scavengers
Murderous Compulsion
Rancid Rats
2 Rise from the Grave
Rottenheart Ghoul
Ruthless Disposal
Skirsdag Supplicant
Strange Augmentation
Thraben Foulbloods

Red

2 Alchemist's Greeting
Assembled Alphas
Blood Mist
Bold Impaler
Brazen Wolves
Distemper of the Blood
Dual Shot
Fiery Temper
Hulking Devil
Incendiary Flow
Mad Prophet
Make Mischief
Scourge Wolf
Stensia Innkeeper

Green

Backwoods Survivalists
Clear Shot
Clip Wings
Crawling Sensation
Primal Druid
Quilled Wolf
Root Out
Shrill Howler
Solitary Hunter
Splendid Reclamation
Springsage Ritual
Swift Spinner
Waxing Moon
Wolfkin Bond
Woodland Patrol

Multicolor

Grim Flayer

I quickly eliminated green from consideration. Blue had some good flyers but had little removal and perhaps also not enough playables, so I eliminated it next. I decided I was definitely playing red because it had the most removal spells, some good creatures, and Mad Prophet for card filtering (and occasional card advantage if I happened to also draw cards with madness). I thought white and black were of similar strength, but I chose white as my second color because I thought it had better creatures than black, because Collective Effort and the pair of Sigardian Priests could help neutralize large creatures that my red removal might not be able to deal with, and because it had three global pump effects that I figured could help me win quickly after I'd dealt with my opponent's most threatening creatures. Here's the deck I built from this pool.

My first match was against a green/white deck that splashed black for Throttle and a couple of other cards. After splitting the first two games, I lost game three despite have 20 life more than my opponent at one point, in part because I forgot that my opponent's Desperate Sentry was a 4/2 because he had delirium.

I realized after the match that I'd also forgotten about my Collective Brutality promo card (in my defense, this was a midnight prerelease smiley), so I decided to switch to a white/black build for round two because I thought that was comparable in power and I wanted to try it out. I replaced the 10 red cards with Rancid Rats, Diregraf Colossus, Thraben Foulbloods, Gavony Unhallowed, Rottenheart Ghoul, Midnight Scavengers, Collective Brutality, Murderous Compulsion, Cemetery Recruitment, and Boon of Emrakul. I also figured the card advantage offered by several of these cards would help if I had another slow, grindy matchup.

My second match was against a black/green deck. We both had Diregraf Colossus in game one, but he had more Zombies to trigger its ability and I only had a couple of ways to kill it since I'd sided out my red. I swapped the red back in for game two, but lost when I kept a five-land hand and drew lands for several turns. I dropped at 0-2 since there was little chance of prizes, and so I could get some sleep.

Some lessons from this prerelease event:

  • I'd kept my promo card (Collective Brutality) in its wrapping to minimize wear, but that led to me forgetting about it during deckbuilding. In the next prerelease, I unwrapped my promo card immediately. The additional wear on the card is minimal, and there's no reason to risk a worse outcome, even when the stakes are low.
  • I didn't notice that I coudn't get delirium in this deck unless my opponent milled me or destroyed my Cultist's Staff. This meant that Scourge Wolf was just a 2/2 first striker that I couldn't consistently cast on turn two. That said, I would still play it in this deck because I needed two-drops.
  • I'd thought Collective Effort was an excellent card, but it was even stronger than I expected. Giving all your creatures a +1/+1 counter is powerful, but combining it with either of the other modes usually results in a blowout. You can pay the escalate cost using a creature you just cast to kill their largest blocker and pump your team, then attack for a bunch.
  • Borrowed Grace was probably too aggressive an inclusion in this deck. While it can sometimes be an instant-speed mini-Overrun, I usually ended up using it to protect a single creature during combat.

My biggest takeaway is Eldritch Moon/Shadows over Innistrad sealed is slower than Shadows over Innistrad sealed. The new mechanics in Eldritch Moon (emerge and escalate) don't seem to reward highly synergistic decks and don't interact specifically with the Shadows over Innistrad mechanics. And since we now have only two packs of Shadows over Innistrad, it is more difficult to build a good aggressive deck. There are also a number of cards in the format that are good at slowing down a fast start, especially Desperate Sentry and Exultant Cultist. In addition, most red removal can't deal with large emerge creatures. Consequently, slower decks seem better positioned in this sealed format, and so bombs and flyers are likely to more important than in other sealed formats.

The only bombs in my pool were Collective Effort, Diregraf Colossus (but with only four other Zombies that I was happy to play), and perhaps Assembled Alphas. Since I didn't have the tools or environment needed for an effective aggressive deck, or the bombs needed to win a long game, I should have probably tried for a white/blue Skies tempo deck that looked something like this.

Conclusion

Eldritch Moon/Shadows over Innistrad sealed appears to be a slower, less synergistic format than Shadows over Innistrad sealed. While I did see fast starts over the course of the tounament, there are many ways to slow your opponent down, and even gain card advantage in the process. Ground stalls seem like they will be common, so flyers are even more important than usual. Slower games mean that decks will also have more time to find and play their bombs, so you can probably afford to play a few more high end creatures, but you should also try to ensure that you have ways of dealing with your opponent's bombs, especially since creatures with emerge can be powered out early.


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