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Lessons From the Eldritch Moon Prerelease, Part Two


I played in two Eldritch Moon prerelease events last weekend. My experience from the midnight prerelease is covered in a previous article. This is my sealed pool from the second event.

Lands

Nephalia Academy

Colorless

Cultist's Staff
Field Creeper
Lashweed Lurker
Mockery of Nature
Stitcher's Graft
Wild-Field Scarecrow

White

Angelic Purge
Apothecary Geist
Dawn Gryff
Desperate Sentry
Fiend Binder
Hanweir Militia Captain
Inspiring Captain
Lone Rider
2 Lunarch Mantle
Nearheath Chaplain
Not Forgotten
Providence
Puncturing Light
2 Sanctifier of Souls
Sigardian Priest
Spectral Reserves
Subjugator Angel

Blue

Aberrant Researcher
Chilling Grasp
Compelling Deterrence
Drag Under
2 Drownyard Explorers
Fogwalker
Laboratory Brute
Nephalia Moondrakes
Silent Observer
Turn Aside
Vessel of Paramnesia

Black

Borrowed Malevolence
Cemetery Recruitment
Dusk Feaster
Farbog Revenant
Ghoulcaller's Accomplice
Gisa's Bidding
Graf Rats
Kindly Stranger
Midnight Scavengers
2 Olivia's Dragoon
Shamble Back
Skirsdag Supplicant
Strange Augmentation
Wailing Ghoul
Whispers of Emrakul

Red

Alchemist's Greeting
Bold Impaler
Borrowed Hostility
Deranged Whelp
Fiery Temper
Gibbering Fiend
Insatiable Gorgers
Otherworldly Outburst
2 Prophetic Ravings
Rush of Adrenaline
Shreds of Sanity
Spreading Flames
Thermo-Alchemist
Uncaged Fury

Green

Backwoods Survivalists
Bloodbriar
Byway Courier
Clip Wings
Crop Sigil
Crossroads Consecrator
Moldgraf Scavenger
Kessig Prowler
Prey Upon
Swift Spinner
Ulvenwald Hydra
Wolfkin Bond
Woodland Patrol

Multicolor

2 Grim Flayer
Mercurial Geists

It was tempting to try to make the powerful multicolor cards work. However, there were few pump spells in green or black to support the pair of Grim Flayers (one of which was my promo card), and not enough manafixing to let me splash the four red pump spells. And while there were a handful of payoff cards for the blue/red spells deck (Aberrant Researcher, Mercurial Geists, Shreds of Sanity, and Thermo-Alchemist), the color pair didn't have enough playables. Blue, red, and green were all fairly shallow in this pool and also had additional problems to boot:

  • Almost all the blue creatures cost four mana.
  • Red had only four creatures (mostly two-drops), and another four of the playables were pump spells.
  • Green had some decent creatures, but nothing really exciting to pull me into the color.

Luckily, white and black were both deep, with good early drops and strong win conditions. I also determined from the midnight prerelease event that the format was slower than Shadows over Innistrad sealed. I decided that I could afford to splash a couple of red removal spells off two Mountains and a Wild-Field Scarecrow. As a bonus, the Scarecrow also defends well and can help with delirium (for Desperate Sentry, Kindly Stranger, and Dusk Feaster). I did consider playing some of the white and black cards in my sideboard instead of splashing red, but most of the appealing options were four-drops, which my deck already had enough of. Here's the deck I ended up playing with:

I won the die roll in round one and decided to draw first, then regretted that when my blue/red opponent played a turn three Hanweir Garrison. I didn't have removal or a blocker that could take it down for a couple of turns, so I backpedaled for a bit but managed to win the game at 14 life. However, I decided that I would choose to play first going forward, even with a controlling deck that was splashing a third color. I won game two quickly.

Round two was against another white/black deck that also splashed red. My opponent was a strong player and had Westvale Abbey, Collective Effort, Drogskol Shieldmate, Voldaren Pariah, and 2 Murders. I got him down to four life in game one before Collective Effort allowed him to claw his way back into the game, and he won after I then drew land for several turns. I won game two after he double mulliganed. He won a close game three after I misplayed and gave him a window of opportunity to flip Westvale Abbey.

The last round was against a white/blue deck that splashed green. This opponent also had Westvale Abbey but wasn't using it optimally. I won both games quite easily, although my opponent was apparently one mana away from casting Emrakul, the Promised End in the second game. I ended at 2-1 (5-2 in games), which was disappointing with a strong deck but much better than my 0-2 at the midnight prerelease.

Conclusion

This event confirmed my suspicion that Eldritch Moon/Shadows over Innistrad sealed is a much slower format than Shadows over Innistrad sealed. There are synergies between individual cards, but not more broadly, at least not in sealed deck. More games seem to be determined by who has the last unanswered bomb or flyer. However, I still think it may be better to choose to play first, since there are a number of cheaper creatures that you need to be able to kill quickly, and many of the removal spells are more expensive.

Some notes on individual Eldritch Moon cards:

  • As I'd observed in my previous article about my experience at the midnight prerelease, Desperate Sentry is very good. Even if you can't hit delirium, it chump blocks for a turn and then turns into a 3/2, which is an excellent deal for three mana. It is one of the reasons I believe that aggressive decks are disadvantaged in this format.
  • Collective Effort proved again how amazing it is. Unfortunately, this time it was on the other side of the table.
  • Drogskol Shieldmate, which I faced in round two, is also amazing. A 2/3 for three mana is par for the course in this format, but Drogskol Shieldmate also has flash, provides a toughness boost for all your creatures, and is a Spirit to boot.
  • Sanctifier of Souls is incredible. A 2/3 for four mana doesn't seem very imposing, but you can cast a creature pre-combat to have it attack as a 3/4. As soon as you have any creatures in your graveyard, it goes from good to amazing since the threat of activation means you usually don't have to actually spend the mana if you have other spells to cast.
  • Spreading Flames was excellent in my deck and usually killed about half of my opponent's creatures
  • Subjugator Angel is a bomb. If your creatures have more power than your opponent has life, you win on the spot unless your opponent has instant-speed removal or flash creatures. If not, you can still attack for a smaller amount and get a 4/3 flyer out of the deal.

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