Initial Thoughts on Eldritch Moon Limited (Part 1)

by Zen Takahashi on 19 July 2016, Tuesday

Limited  EMN 
Zen Takahashi

Initial Thoughts on Eldritch Moon Limited


Hello everyone,


Eldritch Moon is only days away from being released and we'll soon have a new Limited format upon us. Although Shadows over Innistrad will still be part of this format, two-thirds of the card pool for both Sealed and Draft will be from Eldritch Moon, so it's very important to have a good understanding of these new cards.


Today, I will be going over my first impressions of the set followed by reviewing the top commons and uncommons from each color. Although I have been studying this set since the full spoiler was released, I have yet to play any games so it's important to be aware that these evaluations may change over time.



Initial Thoughts


  • The majority of two drops in the set are typically sized, while the three drops are mainly 3/2s or 2/3s. They're also commonly spread out between all the colors. This means that aggro decks will need a way to make their creatures bigger so they don't end up trading away with everything, while slower decks want to try stabilize the board with four toughness creatures.


  • These new Red/Green Werewolves basically have Monstrous. This works well with the Werewolves from Shadows over Innistrad as you can spend your turn transforming your Werewolves by paying mana, while simultaneously flipping your other Werewolves as you didn't cast a spell.


  • Escalate and this new "transform Monstrous" on Werewolves is the replacement for Clues in terms of ways to leverage your mana later in the game. Though they may look over-costed on paper, in practice they will play out better than you may think as limited decks are prone to flooding so having any insurance for it is good.


  • There is a lot less support for both Madness and Delirium. There are less ways to help enable it, and the pay-off cards are also weaker. Don't expect to build a deck around these mechanics – instead you're looking to have some synergy in your otherwise normal deck.


  • Blue-Red Spells seems to be the one exception, as there's decent support for it in this set. Though the key cards for the archetype don't really go into other decks, they're also predominantly uncommons. This reminds me of Red-Black Devoid Aggro from Battle for Zendikar Limited, where it'll only be able to support one, maybe two, drafters on the table. Look to move into it mid-late in Pack 1 depending on which cards you see. If a key card for the archetype wheels, you know it's a signal to move in.


Wretched Gryff

  • While Emerge is also well supported, it looks to be a mechanic that you don't have to build around and instead just looking to play some cards that work well with it but are playable on their own.


  • Due to the sizing of the creatures, I expect there may be a decent amount of trading early in the game and then the board will become more stabilized later on as the slower decks deploy some big toughness creatures. The aggro decks will need some powerful pump effects or ways to create tempo if they want to get through. This also makes Fliers much better as they'll be a good way to close the game, especially for white-based aggro decks.


  • There isn't much instant speed removal but there is a decent amount of creatures with Flash. This makes pump spells much better as your opponents will be looking to kill your creatures by ambushing it in combat. Be careful to not tap out in your first main phase, a mistake that I see happen all too often and will be especially punishing in this format.


Just the Wind Drag Under Unsubstantiate

  • Blue has access to a lot of decent bounce spells in the form of Just the Wind, Drag Under and Unsubstantiate. This makes Auras worse and you'll have to be careful with Emerge as it's largely like an Aura effect – albeit with the ability to be cast again later.


  • As the game goes long, the slower decks can leverage their mana well as they can start transforming their Werewolves or cast their Emerge creatures without having to sacrifice. This means that the aggro decks want to stay low to the ground, as it'll be hard to come back once these decks can stabilize the board and start generating incremental advantage.




Top Uncommons


Faith Unbroken Courageous Outrider Subjugator Angel


Top Commons


Choking Restraints Sigardian Priest Steadfast Cathar Guardian of Pilgrims Dawn Gryff


White is a relatively aggressive color, as represented by its commons and uncommons. There are some good Delirium cards in White, but I'm unsure how well they will play in practice due to the decreased support in Black which would be the natural color to pair it with. Because of this, I think it's best to try stay focused on being aggressive.


Though I do believe Auras aren't great in this format, I think the power level of Faith Unbroken is so high that the card will still be great. Courageous Outrider is well sized for the format, as explained before, and there's a decent amount of Humans in White that the card will often be a two-for-one. Subjugator Angel is the perfect top end card for the aggro decks to get through a board stall and close the game - an effect which I think is very necessary if you want to be aggressive in this format.


White's commons are decent, especially as it gets two common removal spells. I personally dislike the two drops due to the sizing of the format, but the White two drops in Shadows over Innistrad are much worse so you'll likely have to pick these higher than you'd otherwise want to. It's especially awkward as both Red and Green also lack good two drops. Dawn Gryff is unexciting, but Wind Drake is no slouch and will get the job done for those looking to be aggressive or tempo their opponent out with some Fliers.





Top Uncommons


Advanced Stitchwing Nebelgast Herald Scour the Laboratory


Top Commons


Ingenious Skaab Exultant Cultist Drag Under Enlightened Maniac Tattered Haunter


Blue has good Fliers as well as some neat creatures that work well with Emerge. However, the color also doesn't have many good commons. My initial instinct is that I would want to try pair it with Green for an Emerge deck, or White for the Tempo-Fliers deck. The Blue spells you're looking to play in Blue-White are also similar to those you'd want in Blue-Red Spells, so you can stay open that way.


Advanced Stitchwing and Nebelgast Herald are both great Fliers. Stitchwing is especially well positioned due to its size, while the Herald does a nice job of impersonating Pestermite - which was a Limited all-star. Scour the Laboratory may not be one of the best blue uncommons as it doesn't necessarily go into every blue deck, but I think the pay-off on this card is high and will be one of the most powerful cards for Blue-Black Delirium and Blue-Red Spells.


Ingenious Skaab is an efficient three drop for a color that otherwise usually lacks in this department. If you have some ways to trigger Prowess, the card can rumble nicely in combat. Exultant Cultist and Enlightened Maniac will both be key commons for the Blue-Green Emerge deck. Though I don't expect this archetype to be as linear as Blue-Red Spells, having some creatures that pay-off nicely with the mechanic while still being half-decent on their own seems like a good place to be.


Drag Under is decent and I generally like bounce spells in this format. However, I wouldn't pick them that highly as you don't want to overload on these effects and you can easily pick up Just the Wind in your Shadows over Innistrad pack. Tattered Haunter will be a key two drop for the Blue-White Fliers deck, an archetype which I expect will be good as this format resembles more normal Magic.


Well, that's all for today guys. I hope you now understand the general feel of this expansion and we'll be back tomorrow for the second part where I evaluate the top three uncommons and top five commons of Black, Red and Green!


See you tomorrow!


Zen Takahashi

@mtgzen on Twitter

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