Kumagoro42's picture
By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Nov 05 2019 11:00am
0
Login or register to post comments
2102 views


THRONE OF ELDRAINE

> summary <

 With its vastly successful, combined fairy tale/Arthurian myths top-down design, Throne of Eldraine marks the first time since the introduction of the Three-and-One Model that we visit an entirely new plane where we'll stay only for the duration of a single set (Dominaria was the first to get the single-set treatment under the new model, but we were already quite familiar with the plane).

 A top-down design in general is bad news for tribal synergies, because it means there are going to be a large number of individual cards that don't necessarily share an affiliation, since each of them was created as a standalone reference to one of the elements of the source. This said, Throne of Eldraine still has a few areas where it shows very wide tribal support, primarily with Knight (the main consequence of the Arthurian half of the pie) and secondarily with Faerie. A few other tribes, like Beast and Wolf, get a huge boost despite not pulling big numbers in terms of new additions. And then of course we get three entirely new tribes, two of which, Noble and Warlock, get to retroactively recruit members from the past, while Peasant is, as much as the other two, a candidate for further growth, as they're all classes rather than races, and even pretty wide at that, nicely fitting the specifics of the plane, but not dependent on it – there are still going to be aristocrats and commoners elsewhere, while Warlock, which is used as a less gendered term for "witch", is the new default for black spellcasters.

  

 Throne of Eldraine is also the first set to provide direct support to the Brawl format, in the form of four preconstructed decks that are released alongside the regular booster packs but contain a mix of old cards, Eldraine cards, and 20 exclusive cards that are still considered part of the set. The four decks reprise some of the themes of their parent expansion, namely Knights, Faeries, Food, and storytelling.

   

 And the aesthetic values of the set are just out the roof, especially with the new showcase treatment from the debuting Project Booster Fun, which in this case is applied to the cards with the adventure mechanic, already sporting a novel frame. The work supervised by lead graphic designers Cynthia Sheppard and James Arnold is outstanding, and can be fully appreciated throughout all the 30 instances of the showcase cards.

    

 Time to have a look at the new creatures and their tribes. As always, the main focus is on all the Constructed applications, the tribes are presented alphabetically, and you'll find a hyper-textual list at the end.

 Infodump

  • Cards: 285 (+15 duplicated basic lands)
  • New cards: 272
  • New creatures: 159
  • Reprinted cards: 13
  • Reprinted creatures: 2 (Sporecap Spider, Youthful Knight)
  • New Legendary creatures: 19
  • New Snow creatures: 0
  • New artifact creatures: 17
  • New enchantment creatures: 0
  • Triple-subtype creatures: 2 (Robber of the Rich, Queen of Ice)
  • Creature types affected: 51
  • Tribes with more than 5 additions: Human (+60), Knight (+45), Faerie (+17), Noble (+13), Wizard (+8), Elf (+7), Giant (+6)

Archer: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 78, online: 74

 Related Tribes: Elf, Human, Rogue

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Most sets start with Angel, and sometimes with Advisor, yet none of those tribes are present on Eldraine (which is surprising at least in the case of Advisor, given all the courts and kings and queens – is nobody advising them?). We get Archer, instead, with two intriguing new additions of substantial power level.

 Robber of the Rich is Eldraine's take on Robin Hood, despite the fact that the Sherwood bandit is neither a fairy tale character nor a contemporary of King Arthur (in fact, his adventures allegedly take place about seven centuries later). Still, the inspiration here is definitely unambiguous, and the Robin-like character from this card is even accompanied by the Merry Men themselves (or at least the most famous trio of Little John, Friar Tuck and Will Scarlet) in the form of Outlaws' Merriment.

  

 As a card, the Robber has a lot going on: he's a two-drop 2/2 with haste, which is already enough to pique the interest of monored and other red-based aggro; he can steal and cast a card from the top of the opponent's library; and he has reach as a nice, quirky bonus, due to flavor's requirement of making him an Archer, which is top-down design at its most blatant (there really was no reason to add reach to a creature that's going to attack as much as possible). It's all fine and dandy, but I, for one, find this roguish fella a bit overrated, as the ability only triggers when the opponent has more cards in hand than the Robber's controller, which doesn't quite happen as often as one might hope, especially when on the draw. It does reference his other tribe, though, letting any Rogue complete his robberies even after our ersatz Robin is gone – we might have to re-evaluate him as a tribal enabler once we'll get there. As an Archer, he's mostly an unusually prominent one (it's the first mythic the tribe has ever got), though not in one of its main colors.

 On the other hand, Wildborn Preserver is exactly in Archer's primary color, and definitely powerful, a flash creature that's bound to grow to match the dimensions of the oversized fox he rides. An excellent sink that lets you put to good use every last mana resource available, and a great companion to cards like Nightpack Ambusher, cementing green's position as the secondary home for flash, the Preserver only lacks trample to be completely effective, but that's certainly not too hard to come by in his color.


Archon: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 13

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: I'm not sure why Angels were deemed unfit for the fairy tale world of Eldraine, yet Archons apparently are okay. Honestly, these two winged deer look like they could be from any plane, so it's the rare flavor fail for a set that's otherwise very on point. They're also hard to evaluate, in that they both have relevant effects on the battlefield, but it's not immediately clear if and where their services would be needed. Archon of Absolution is a decently costed, decently bodied flyer that comes with the Ghostly Prison-like tax on attacks that has become a staple of white after moving out of blue (just in the past year we've seen it on Baird, Steward of Argive and, partially, on Forbidding Spirit). And then it has protection from its own color, which is unusual, and potentially attention-raising. The package is not the most synergistic, but it does a few different things, none of which is negligible. The toughness is a bit low, but it's also an uncommon, so it already exceeds the expectations. Still, what deck would want this? As a flyer it's a bit more appealing than Baird, but not exceedingly so.

 The mythic Harmonious Archon is a lot of power and toughness for six mana: a 4/5 flyer plus what ultimately amounts to two 3/3s. Except now everybody else but the Archons is a 3/3, which definitely feels like a mythic effect but it's also some weird tribal stance: I'm not sure I'd want to face a deck filled with three-powered Goblins. Sure, you can play this alongside a bunch of cheap tokens, for some living and breathing double anthem, in some convoluted way. And now everything dies to Deafening Clarion, I guess, likely leaving only the Archons around. Still, at six mana, it's not something you're going to play early on, and we're merely one mana away from Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. Just saying.


Artificer: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 119, online: 115

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: There's only one Artificer on Eldraine (some of the Faeries do Artificer things without being called one), and a crazy expensive one too, but so, so powerful! Put them in the right deck, and these fabulous toymakers will create a free 4/4 flyer per turn! Not to mention, flying Wurmcoil Engine! Flying Walking Ballista! The Workshop Elders came with the Alela Brawl deck, and it's evident they've been designed for a Commander-like format. They remain a threat that has to be answered or will reach inevitability soon. Did I mention they can permanently turn Darksteel Citadel into an indestructible, evasive 4/4?


Beast: +2

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 375, online: 366

 Related Tribes: Noble

 Impact of the New Additions: Severe

 Highlights: This couple of prestige Beasts might well be the two most popular creatures in the entire set, reinforcing the leading role green has established for itself in post-Eldraine Standard. The Beauty and the Beast reference, Lovestruck Beast, is a staple of decks built around the adventure mechanic, and a trusty three-drop in green Stompy and midrange, in competition with Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig, but not limited to monocolored. Compared to his direct predecessor, Steel Leaf Champion, Lovestruck Beast is sturdier but lacks evasion, and indeed could even find himself unable to attack when there's no 1/1 to pin for on the battlefield. Luckily, his adventure corner is able to summons Belle herself, which is good additional value and a nice early play in just one card. And while his fearsome body, which can still block regardless, makes our besotted friend a coveted sideboard card to put a buff roadblock against fast aggressive strategies, being an adventurer makes him a centerpiece of that mechanic, which is enjoying success in a number of green-based builds, chiefly Golgari and Selesnya; there, the forlorn Beast can find new love in surprising places for the likes of Edgewall Innkeeper or Smitten Swordmaster.

 As for the Arthurian-based Questing Beast (a monstrous figure linked to the quests of several knights from the Arthurian lore, like Pellinore and Percival), nothing speaks more of green's newfound prominence than its endless expanse of rule text. This legendary 4/4 beater drops on turn four, and easily earlier, and immediately starts asserting its supremacy on the battlefield. The opponent is attacked right away, one of their unaware planeswalkers suddenly suffers the same amount of damage, and Questy will prove as hard to block as the glorious Steel Leaf Champion, so no amount of 2/2 Zombies or other chump-blockers will save you from its ire. And that's just half of the tale. This unfathomable monster has deathtouch, which makes it a perfect carrier for the frightening Embercleave (which means all that damage will cut right through any ill-fated blockers, with devastating effects), and it's proficient in the arts of defense as it is at unabashedly smashing faces, thanks to vigilance. So after destabilizing the opponent's side of the field out of nowhere, you'll still have a deathtouching blocker that trades for almost anything. But that's still not the whole story! Remember how protection is now back as an evergreen mechanic? Well, you can forget about protection while Questing Beast is on the table, because it just won't do anything anymore. Fog effects? You better forget about those too, as no creature on the Beast's side will be bothered by those.

 Calling Questing Beast a powerhouse doesn't even start doing it justice – it's THE green creature of this era, the new, outrageous paragon everything else will have to compare with going forward into the future of the color.


Berserker: +1

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 76, online: 73

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: With its somehow confusing new frame (a lot of players didn't get that you can't cast the spell anymore after the creature has dropped; others are tricked into thinking these are split cards with converted mana cost equal to the sum of the two sides, but instead they must be treated as a creature with an ability, except on the stack while you're casting the spell), adventure is the mechanic with which Throne of Eldraine has been best able to reference its sources, particularly the fairy tale half of the inspiration.

 In this case, we have Goldilocks, re-imagined as a crazed bear hunter, with the Three Bears lurking in the background. The tension between the adventure spell and the creature that hosts it is always a factor, and it reaches here its highest registered level. The thing is, if you don't cast the adventure first, you'll give up on the opportunity to enjoy two separate effects from the same card (as you can't cast the adventure anymore once you dropped the creature, unless you manage to bounce it back to hand). Problem is, Flaxen Intruder's "Welcome Home" sorcery is seven mana worth, while her own blonde self is just a one-drop. This tremendous gap means that if you draw into the Intruder early on, you'll either lose the adventure value, or you'll have the card stuck in hand until you amass enough mana resources. Add to this the fact that a trio of 2/2s isn't likely to be something that solves the late game, while the Intruder's ability to destroy an artifact or enchantment by sacrificing upon connection is hard to achieve for a 1/2 with no evasion. Still, the flavor is clever (our Goldilocks equivalent is messing with the opponent's food and furniture), an adventure creature for one mana is sometimes useful as a follow-up to Edgewall Innkeeper in dedicated adventure decks, and when one or more copies of Lucky Clover are around, you can make an army of up to fifteen bears. That's more likely to get the opponent's attention.


Bird: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 251, online: 238

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Arcanist's Owl is a fine value critter, part of a cycle of ten hybrid-mana four-drops (not all of them are creatures), and in this case linked to the artifact and enchantment subtheme that has some nice payoffs in the set.

 But the Bird of the day is the one and only Gilded Goose, a take on the fabled Golden Goose, specifically the one that appears in Jack and the Beanstalk, the most represented fairy tale in Throne of Eldraine (The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs is originally one of Aesop's Fables, and there's a Golden Goose recounted by the Brothers Grimm, too. These are stories that have been around for literally millennia). The Goose is, along with Oko, Thief of Crowns, the main enabler of the Food archetype, since apparently a Golden Egg is still edible (or maybe you sell the egg-shaped gold, use the proceeds to buy some real eggs, and eat those instead. Yes, all in mid-combat).

 But the flashiest thing this odd Bird does is allowing for turn-one acceleration in a Standard environment that's been recently orphaned of Llanowar Elves. It's not exactly Birds of Paradise – in fact it compares to the original mana birdie as a Mox compares to Lotus Petal, but that remains the intended blueprint, and the Goose's mana production can come back online later, once the original Food is spent but you found the right tempo window to dump some surplus mana into egg production. And that's the other major thing the Goose does, it provides a steady supply of Food, both for its end users, like Wicked Wolf, and for the consumption by a player in need of lifegain, churning out three life per turn for two mana. All in all, the Goose makes for a noticeable presence on the board, both on turn one or later on, when a fresh Food token in exchange for a single green mana is still welcome for a variety of reasons. Plus, it's a solid early blocker, as well as the elusive green flyer, ready to carry some +1/+1 counters and turn into an unexpected threat.


Cat: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 182, online: 175

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Three very different Cats here. Worst to best, we've got Prophet of the Peak as a reasonable colorless beater, mainly designed for Limited. Keeper of Fables is a solid midrange card advantage engine, linked to the "non-Human" subtheme of the set, which represents "the Wilds", the fairy tale faction that's opposed to the human-ruled Courts – the leonine Keeper was in fact included in two of the Brawl precon decks that weren't about Knights.

 Cauldron Familiar, which is actually a cat, as opposed to a (weirdly green or mechanical) lion, has instantly become a fan favorite due to the "cat in the oven" combo, also known as The Cat Came Back. It's about exploiting the Familiar's ETB drain by sacrificing it to Witch's Oven, then using the Food its dead body generates to immediately bring it back alive and well onto the battlefield (let's not delve too deeply into the darker implications of this routine). It's a fun little combo piece for sacrifice archetypes, well-matched with cards like Mayhem Devil and Judith, the Scourge Diva.

 


Construct: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 126, online: 125

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Not much to talk about in the Construct side of things; just a couple of "artifacts matter" cards (in one case, it's "artifacts or enchantments matter", and I so wish they keyworded this permanent pairings already), plus Pinocchio, even if it's not strictly a fairy tale, which is a literally genre more correctly defined as ancestral folk stories that don't have a specific author, and instead get simply collected and retold by writers like the Grimms or Perrault, while Carlo Collodi's The Adventures of Pinocchio is a relatively modern, original children's novel from the late 19th century. Yeah, Disney made a movie about it, but the number of Disney movies that are based on actual fairy tales is surprisingly small. Also, on Arena they use the same Belle token from Lovestruck Beast's "Heart's Desire" adventure to represent Pinocchio's transformation, resulting in an unexpected transgender tale where our little wooden puppet wished to turn into a real pretty girl.


Dragon: +4

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 200, online: 198

 Related Tribes: Noble

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Dragons are featured heavily in both fairy tales and knightly quests, so it makes sense for Throne of Eldraine to include a few of them. Korvold, the Fae-Cursed King, inspired on Norse mythology, is one of the four commanders of the Brawl precon decks. For five mana in Jund colors, he drops as a 5/5 flyer that requires a sacrifice but also draws you a card. And then he keeps growing and drawing cards at each subsequent sacrifice (fetch lands included), and personally enables one of those per attack. He makes for a pretty effective and threatening commander, but also a good centerpiece in sacrifice decks that are able to generate a lot of Food tokens. You can find more about him and the other Brawl commanders in my Guide to Brawl.

 Shimmer Dragon also springs from Brawl, as an exclusive card within Alela's deck. That archetype's all about artifacts (and enchantments), so there we find Shimmer Dragon as a strictly better Mahamoti Djinn with hexproof if at least four artifacts are around, and the ability to turn each two of them into card draws every turn. Expensive, but very rewarding in the right list.

 Opportunistic Dragon is an interesting design, reminding of those tales where a dragon kidnaps a princess or guards some treasure (of course, in Magic games, the princess could be replaced by the Edgewall Innkeeper, and the treasure could just be a pie). Functionally, it's akin to white's temporary exiler effects, except the affected permanent remains on the battlefield, so it could be rescued by a bounce spell (as well as Trostani Discordant's presence) or sacrificed by the Dragon's controller. It's also more situational than the average white counterpart (try to find a Human or an artifact to target in monored) and the Dragon itself has a bit of a glass jaw at three toughness, but four mana look like a reasonable cost for a four-powered flyer and some quasi-removal.


Druid: +4

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 188, online: 184

 Related Tribes: Elf, Human, Treefolk

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Rosethorn Acolyte and Tuinvale Treefolk are solid picks in Eldraine Limited, and the former's mini-Manamorphose adventure can also be used to help fuel a turn-one Arclight Phoenix in Constructed – otherwise, a three-mana dork that taps for one isn't acceleration enough in green.

 Chulane, Teller of Tales is the more intriguing Druid, a perfectly designed Brawl commander (which is indeed where he originates), with built-in card advantage, and an activated ability that ties into a clear theme of creatures with useful ETB effects that you get to bounce and retrigger over and over. I talk more about him and the other Brawl commanders in this article. It remains to be seen whether or not it's possible to work Chulane's talents into regular Standard, since his whole package, albeit extremely effective, is kind of mana hungry, and prone to dissolve in the face of removal, in a format where unfortunately you don't get to replay him post-mortem for two additional mana.

 And just like its precursor Bloom Tender, Faeburrow Elder is obviously intended for builds that include many multicolored cards, possibly even five-color permanents like Niv-Mizzet Reborn, next to which the Elder can drop as a 5/5 for three that taps for five mana – it's worth noting how our ultimate mana dork is itself a Selesnya card, as opposed to the monogreen Tender, so Niv-Mizzet will be able to find it via ETB trigger. It's also pretty easy to concoct infinite mana combos with the Elder; in Standard alone, you can enchant it with Gauntlets of Light, then untap it for three mana after generating four or five, so netting one or two – something like Oath of Kaya is already enough to almost hit the Elder's maximum potential, and Biomancer's Familiar can help activating the Gauntlets at a discount, while boosting the mana production to include blue. Dropping at three and only tapping for two on its own, Faeburrow Elder is no fast ramp by any stretch of the imagination, but it's sufficiently noteworthy to keep in mind, adding to Bloom Tender's original recipe a more resilient body and a bit of a threat factor – vigilance provides a way to activate the ability without precluding an attack, a feature that this druidic Treefolk shares with fellow tribesman Chulane.


Dwarf: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 67, online: 59

 Related Tribes: Knight, Noble

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Amazing showing for the Dwarves, which gets one of the rulers of the realm in Torbran, Thane of Red Fell (in case you were wondering, thane, or thegn, is an ancient rank of nobility in pre-Norman England, roughly equivalent to baron). More than a creature, Torbran is a living boost to red's damage output, and especially in the archetype's more go-wide forms, he gets close to triplicating the whole shebang, since with the mighty Dwarf around, each 1/1 will now hit for three – making Cavalcade of Calamity particularly lethal, i.e. even more so than usual. Of course Torbran has become instantly popular with the monored crowd, and his builds are bonafide awe-inducing, making him something the opponent must deal with asap, or else suffer a death by a thousand cuts suddenly turned three thousand.

 The more humble-looking Rimrock Knight is still a very efficient aggro player, with an adventure that acts as a pump spell for just one mana, and then a three-powered body for two. Who cares about not being able to block when you can threaten so much damage for so little investment? And if Torbran is in the room, this Rimrock fella's damage/cost ratio becomes pretty disgusting. And he's a Knight, so he gets to benefit from all the Knight-related advantages, like being able to equip Steelclaw Lance for cheap.

 The Seven Dwarves also join the Eldraine party (despite Snow White herself not getting a direct shout-out; even Glass Casket is actually from a different fairy tale), and their mechanic might seem like just a meme, but getting to run seven copies means it'll be frequent enough to have three of the cheerful miners on the battlefield at once as 4/4s for two. The real fail is that if you manage to get all seven out, they'll be 8/8s. I guess making them 1/1 for one would have been too much, while for two it would have been too weak; design always trumps flavor. Also, they are contained in one card with the same art, as making seven different pieces of artwork would run into logistical problems (Maro touched on that), although the one piece of artwork we've got has multiple hidden references to the number seven, so that's cool.


Elephant: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 55, online: 54

 Impact of the New Additions: Severe

 Highlights: Most impactful Elephant to enter the Standard pool, and the battlefield, since Terastodon (and that's almost ten years ago!), the equally cataclysmic Thorn Mammoth debuts as an exclusive card in both Chulane and Korvold's decks, and one can certainly read "Commander design" all over it, but it remains an insanely powerful green-based removal, eating lesser creatures left and right, potentially every turn, potentially even more than once per turn (provided you don't overwork the big guy by exceeding what its toughness can bear). Seven mana could make it incompatible with Constructed playability in non-Commander formats, but it's very very close, as its first ETB kill makes it a two-for-one even in case of its instant demise.


Elf: +7

   

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 388, online: 375

 Related Tribes: Archer, Druid, Knight, Noble, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Most of these Elves (and their giant Foxes!) are good for Limited, particularly Oakhame Adversary and Maraleaf Rider. The most Constructed playable are Wildborn Preserver as a cheap flash beater that can grow to concerning proportions, and Ayara, First of Locthwain, the black widow-y queen of the black court, the first legendary monoblack Elf since Maralen of the Mornsong, and a minor centerpiece for monoblack builds, where she can provide some draining and a bit of card-drawing by means of her free (if slow) sacrifice outlet. Like each of the five rulers, she doesn't have any application elsewhere, she just wants to frontline a monocolored list.

 A little note of praise has to go to Wildwood Tracker, which is essentially a two-powered one-drop for Stompy decks. Not as effective as Pelt Collector, but useful to up the early aggression in monogreen, even if in general the archetypes relies less on matching what white does on turn one and two, and more on having larger threats than everybody else starting from turn three. Also, since the Tracker firmly stays a 1/1 outside the combat phase, he's able to give Lovestruck Beast the required motivation to attack – their secret love story remains an unsung one, eliciting the jealousy of both Belle and the Beast's true love, the Edgewall Innkeeper.


Faerie: +17

    

    

    

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 94, online: 91

 Related Tribes: Rogue, Warlock, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Severe

 Highlights: For a while, before the spoiler season began, due to a promotional leaflet announcing the prerelease that circulated at San Diego Comic-Con, many were convinced Throne of Eldraine would feature a heavy Faerie tribal theme. Mark Rosewater later debunked that notion, but the Faeries are still a sizable presence in the set – they're called "fairy" tales, after all. Despite availing of the third largest number of new additions after the two mastodons Human and Knight, there's no real tribal synergies involved for the mischievous tribe. They make up for it with the sheer average quality of the new entries: with the sole exception of Oko's Accomplices from Oko's planeswalker deck, all the Faeries in Throne of Eldraine sport some interesting abilities (all right, I might have also left out the Limited filler Eye Collector).

 Alela, Artful Provocateur, one of the four commanders from the Brawl decks, is the closest to a tribal lord the tribe gets at this time, boosting each flyer's power while populating the board with 1/1 Faeries through an "artifacts and enchantments matter" mechanic (more than the previous Faerie-friendly block, which was the Lorwyn-Shadowmoor binary system, Throne of Eldraine pushes the notion of Faeries as little thieving magpies). As good commanders do, she also provides direct card advantage in the form of card-drawing, and she can count on a number of relevant combat abilities, all for a reasonably midrange price, but she's still not proper Standard Constructed material, relying too much on specific deckbuilding criteria and command zone recursion. More about her can be found in my Guide to Brawl.

 Curiously an exclusive of Chulane's Brawl deck instead of Alela's is Faerie Formation, another powerful Faerie token generator cum card-drawing. As a sort of Spectral Sailor on steroids, this one-card Faerie army could find a home as a finisher in Standard at large, but didn't so far.

 What's seeing a ton of play is Rankle, Master of Pranks, Eldraine's own Rumpelstiltskin. Monoblack decks, Jund and Rakdos sacrifice decks, Golgari midrange decks, all of these enjoy Rankle's fast-hitting knack for hand disruption and board destabilization. Trading bad cards or excess lands for an opponent's treasured spell, and/or a random token or designated sacrificial fodder with an opposing creature is the kind of deal the character's flavor alludes to. In some occasion, Rankle may also indulge in some symmetrical drawing, accompanied by a life loss that only goes to increase his overall damage output. Coming down at four for an immediate, evasive payoff, Rankle is definitely the best black creature in the set.

 And here's a trifecta of strong monoblue Faeries with an adventurous side for you. Fae of Wishes is the star of control decks, and especially the lot of them that runs Fires of Invention, allowing for the most varied sideboard cards to be fetched and then cast for free, before the Fae briefly hits the battlefield just in time to fend an attack with her considerable butt, and then back into the hand she goes, to do it all over again. The tempo champion Brazen Borrower is a valuable tool for interacting with the board via an offensive-only Boomerang that later doubles as a three-powered flash flyer. He may not feel worthy of his mythic status, but he's pretty damn good at his job, even if the flavor (and initial design?) makes it seem like he would be some kind of stealer of things rather than a bouncer (possibly inspired by The Borrowers novel, better known for Studio Ghibli's The Secret World of Arrietty). Hypnotic Sprite is instead very clearly positioned as a creature that begins its career in the role of a conditional counterspell, something the Faeries had already experimented on with Spellstutter Sprite from Lorwyn. Notably, this new Sprite doesn't rely on tribal elements to perform its duties, which, again, is a specific choice of Throne of Eldraine.

 The set also debuts monowhite Faeries, playing into a less tapped protective side of the tribe, in reference to the "fairy godmother" fairy tale trope. And indeed, in a bit of an awkward pun, we have Faerie Guidemother, which is good enough for adventure decks featuring white; Mysterious Pathlighter, which is much less played, despite his intended role of "adventure lord"; and Hushbringer, which is a potentially useful Torpor Orb on a stick, but is mostly notorious for her unsettling artwork by French illustrator Bastien Lecouffe Deharme. I, for one, love those weird, sensual lips shushing your ETB triggers. More audacious, experimental art, please.

 Maraleaf Pixie is the only green Faerie (reminding us that the tribe did start monogreen in Alpha, with Scryb Sprites, and remained green for a while in the early sets). This little Pixie, who's apparently cosplaying as a tiger, is a serious contender for the role of choice turn-two mana dork, in direct competition with "the Druids" – Paradise Druid, Incubation Druid, Leafkin Druid. The Pixie's advantage is the fact that she combines her mana production with a good evasive body, doubling as a threat to pressure planeswalkers in the air.

 Finally, Faerie Vandal is a minor payoff for the "draw your second card" mechanic; Tome Raider is the Faeries' strictly worse Cloudkin Seer (as well as a terrible, terrible pun); and Animating Faerie is Pinocchio's Blue Fairy (aka The Fairy with Turquoise Hair, in non-Disney parlance), except Eldraine's Pinocchio is not a 4/4, so who knows what she's actually animating here. Maybe it's the Golem of Prague.


Fox: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 24, online: 22

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Is this Fox gigantic like the one from Wildborn Preserver? Hard to tell from the art. Anyway, it can fly, proving it's not your regular earthbound Fox. Also, it makes for a cute pet on MTG Arena.


Gargoyle: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 27, online: 26

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Vantress Gargoyle is the one to talk about here, and it's more effective than its various restrictions would suggest, because, damn, it's still a 5/4 flyer on turn two. It'll be able to block by then, but not attack, and that's huge for strategies that just want to survive the early turns against aggro – that the flying wall later turns into a threat is just gravy. Its small-sized universal mill ability is a finishing touch, meant to enable its attacks faster, but can actively prove useful, both to corroborate a milling endgame, or to fill your graveyard in self-mill builds that aims to use it as a resource, like those based on Emry, Lurker of the Loch.


Giant: +6

  

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 155, online: 149

 Related Tribes: Knight, Noble

 Impact of the New Additions: Severe

 Highlights: Before Throne of Eldraine, Giant was kind of an awkward tribe. Sure there were a few individually powerful members, most notably the M11 Titans, but those encompassed the entire mana wheel, dropped at the same high point in the curve, and didn't exactly play well with each other. The rest of the tribe had very little of note (Brion Stoutarm mostly comes to mind), and even the more synergistic members from Lorwyn were ultimately just a bunch of clunky stinkers like Borderland Behemoth, Giant Harbinger and Sunrise Sovereign.

 Enter Throne of Eldraine, where Giants are beloved and respected, because of the various fairy tales they star in. Mind you, I'm not saying any of the six new Giants pictured above is on the same level as Questing Beast, but they're all very playable, and a few of them really change how the tribe will be perceived going forward. I mean, the two most negligible additions, Rampart Smasher and Garenbrig Paladin, are still okay beaters, the former showing how much things have changed since the time when Juzam Djinn was the paradigm for a four-drop, and the latter demonstrating what Steel Leaf Champion should've cost if it weren't a very pushed rare.

 Most of all, now the Giants get an actual, functional curve. At two, they can cast Bonecrusher Giant's adventure side, shocking an opponent's creature or their face with no prevention allowed. Then at three, the Bonecrusher comes down, as a serviceable 4/3 that further punishes targeted removal (he also punishes you when you equip, enchant or bounce him, but that's a less frequent circumstance). It's a really well-accomplished card for both aggro and control lists alike.

 But we're still on turn three, and another adventure comes into play, the "Fertile Footsteps" from Beanstalk Giant. The signature antagonist from Jack's story is an amazing curve filler, ramping into the mana required to eventually drop him as a proper goliath that likely dwarves everything else on the battlefield, truly matching what facing a Giant should feel like. Beanstalk makes for a crucial role player in ramp decks, and as such he was a fixture of Field of the Dead builds for the entire time they were Standard-legal together.

 The same ramp or control archetype is very happy to smoothly transition from the green fetcher (which, it should be noted, also greatly benefits from Lucky Clover in adventure decks) to a one-sided white sweeper in Realm-Cloaked Giant, subsequently doubling as yet another large beater, in this case even a vigilant one. This is exactly the kind of edge the tribe required, and had only partially attempted with the tamer Thundercloud Shaman, which asks for more mana without even guaranteeing a complete sweep – in fact, considering how much the average playable Giant used to cost before Eldraine, it's difficult to envision Thundercloud Shaman casting much more than a Pyroclasm, whereas his Realm-Cloaked descendant is nothing less than a Day of Judgment for non-Giants. This alone incentivizes players to try and build a synergistic list with Giants, even outside of Tribal Wars. It also counteracts the fact that these new heavy hitters lack trample as a way to leverage their size against the opponent's life total – now you can deploy them and then segue into an instance of "Cast Off", leaving the path clear for a lethal alpha strike.

 In an entirely different flavor of lists, namely green Stompy, Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig comes to claim the three-mana slot that was left vacant by Steel Leaf Champion's rotation. The green ruler doesn't contribute any form of evasion, making up for it in sheer size, as a sort of Pelt Collector's big brother – he certainly wishes for Vivien, Arkbow Ranger to drop the turn after.


Gnome: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 8, online: 7

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Adventure and Food are the two splashier mechanics from Throne of Eldraine, one with the special frame, the other with the colorful tokens. The third one, adamant, is more workmanlike, just pushing the same monocolored theme the court rulers also encourage (honestly a welcome respite after a full year of Ravnica-based sets). The "paying three mana of the same color matters" theme makes for a mechanic that is simple to both grasp and implement, and in Eldraine it was used on solid if unexciting low-rarity cards like this Gnome. Which, by the way, is just the eighth in existence in black border, the first ever to debut in a Modern frame (the previous one came in Odyssey, 18 years ago), and seems to confirm that the gnomes of the MTG universe are exclusively mechanical beings – the only flesh and bone Gnome ever designed appeared in Legends, a set that notoriously didn't really know what it was doing.


Goblin: +5

  

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 349, online: 336

 Related Tribes: Knight, Shaman, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: The Goblin contingent in Throne of Eldraine isn't really impressive, and also feels like it doesn't really fit the flavor of the set. Why are these red-capped and red-haired gobbos even there? Well, it turns out the redcaps are actually a specific kind of murderous goblin from North England folklore. The more you know.

 Anyway, a few of them are okay in Limited, while Mad Ratter is not aggressively costed enough to fulfill his ambitions of having a role in the "draw two" Izzet archetype, and even Grumgully, the Generous, despite having a decent cost/body ratio and a nice Metallic Mimic-like ability for non-Humans, isn't really finding any home, if not maybe as an offbeat Brawl commander. Plus, he really looks and acts like he's pushing hallucinogenic mushrooms, which is funny but also pretty weird; I guess I missed that fairy tale as a kid.


Golem: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 114

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Gingerbrute was reportedly one the very first cards to be designed for the set. It's a very amusing take on The Gingerbread Man (a character already reinvented and popularized by the Shrek movies, and later leading to the creation of the short film that functions as a trailer for Throne of Eldraine), and marked the upper limit on how much humorous Eldraine cards could get. But it's also a clever design, using opposing haste in a creative and novel way to determine how elusive the running biscuit can be. Plus it's the only creature with a Food type (due to it also being an artifact), and the combination of all these factors makes it desirable both in decks that care about Food as well as in fast aggro builds, especially those running Cavalcade of Calamity, which prioritize cheap and fast 1/1 creatures with evasive potential.


Griffin: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 47, online: 46

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: So, we're seeing a lot of vivid, inventive, eye-catching, powerful creatures on Throne of Eldraine... and then we get to Griffin and here we are, suddenly crashing down to the harsh reality of requiring barely Limited-worthy filler, too. Oh, Griffin, will they ever give you a chance to shine? Just once?


Horse: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 32, online: 27

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This rampant horsey (why is she doing that in the middle of nowhere? Was Grumgully in charge of her forage?) aspires to be part of adventure decks, as one of the payoffs for having a high density of adventure cards. And she's indeed playable, but unfortunately she's not proven to be impactful enough to become popular in those lists – she's too slow for Selesnya builds (which more directly descend from White Weenie or Selesnya Tokens), and just off-color in Golgari and Jund builds.


Human: +60

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 2304, online: 2121

 Related Tribes: Archer, Artificer, Berserker, Druid, Knight, Noble, Peasant, Soldier, Warlock, Warrior, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Irrelevant

 Highlights: Even if they tried to make Knights for most of the humanoid races, the Arthurian side of Throne of Eldraine remains dominated by Humans, and that's true for many fairy tale characters too, since most of the protagonists of those stories are usually human beings (as opposed to the talking animals of the fables, which were avoided on purpose, up to and including Puss in Boots). This lead to one of the highest Human counts in recent memory, even though, at the end of the day, it's still irrelevant. But it's funny how the "non-Humans matter" subtheme feels like it's referencing a card type instead of a creature subtype – which is a correct feeling, as there's more black-bordered Human cards in the game than there is sorceries (2226), artifacts (1907), and of course lands (667), and they're getting close to instants (2453) and enchantments (2354). Supertype much?


Hydra: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 45

 Related Tribes: Turtle

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Hydras are having an amazing year, with Hydroid Krasis, Voracious Hydra and Gargos, Vicious Watcher all reaching the highest echelons of the tribe. The two Eldraine additions don't top any of those, but Thunderous Snapper is a serviceable four-drop that nicely interacts with the rest of its kin, while Steelbane Hydra introduces a new, useful tool in their bag of tricks with artifact and enchantment hate. Our favorite many-headed monsters are still going strong in 2019, and I'll be surprised if Theros and Ikoria won't further add to their ranks next year.


Knight: +45

    

    

    

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 310, online: 297

 Related Tribes: Dwarf, Elf, Giant, Goblin, Human, Ogre, Scarecrow, Spirit, Skeleton, Zombie

 Impact of the New Additions: Severe

 Highlights: More than half of Throne of Eldraine is Arthurian in nature – the set actually started with the Arthurian lore as its only source, before Mark Rosewater proposed to fuse it with his longtime project of a fairy tale set, which perfectly combines with Arthur's myths and legends. But that core identity is still there, and Knights are of course a big part of it. So here's an unprecedentedly massive influx of new members for the tribe, as they appear in all five colors, although Mardu is the designated home for their tribal archetype – Arthurian Knights are loyal, brave and a bit self-absorbed, and that's Mardu for you. Standard Knight decks clearly still regret the ill-timed rotation of cards like History of Benalia and Benalish Marshal, but they still have a lot of new toys to play with.

    

 The quantity of new creatures to mention here is overwhelming, so I'm gonna try and touch on the relevant ones roughly following their curve.

 First of all, Throne of Eldraine supplies the Knights with a white one-drop and a red one-drop, both very solid, to complement the already existing black one-drop, Knight of the Ebon Legion, thus covering all three facets of Mardu (which is not such a good thing, because there's only so much fixing Tournament Grounds can do). Venerable Knight is mostly notable as a 2/1, in the long tradition of White Weenie staples like Savannah Lions and, more recently, Dauntless Bodyguard. The death trigger putting a +1/+1 counter on another Knight is a nice little bonus, though the opponent won't always cooperate, killing the armored old lady at the wrong moment. Damn you, opponent.

 More exciting is Fervent Champion, the card that bears the effigy of reigning World Champion and Mythic Championship V winner, Javier Domínguez (too bad he wasn't running it in his victorious Gruul Aggro list at MCV). Domínguez didn't help design the card, since that's not how the new Player Spotlight initiative works (as opposed to the long discontinued Magic Invitational), but it still feels like a very Spike card, a one-drop 1/1 with haste and first strike that can boost another Knight (so two of them attacking on turn two are basically Goblin Guide with no downside), and can equip for no cost at all any Sword of X and Y or Embercleave. I'd say Fervent Champion is definitely the guy you want to start your knightly charge with.

 The adventurous Foulmire Knight is also a one-drop if need be; and as much as the attached card-drawing instant is alluring, waiting for it might prove counterproductive, especially if Edgewall Innkeeper is already online, so you can still draw a card before enjoying the services of your typical 1/1 deathtoucher that will trade for something, or just deter attacks until the opponent figures out a way to get rid of it. Definitely more of a card for Golgari Adventure than a Mardu Knights staple.

 Moving onto CMC 2, Inspiring Veteran is your basic dual-colored anthem lord, devised along the same lines of previous tribal cards like Legion Lieutenant and Merfolk Mistbinder. The flavor of being inspiring because he's brought his little daughter to the knights' parade is very cute –until you realize you're gonna get this lovable daddy killed. Get ready to be orphaned, child!

 Worthy Knight is the Knight version of Hero of Precinct One, but of course she cares about Knights rather than multicolored spells. The flavor is that, once a Knight has been proved worthy (I guess by performing the Silverflame Ritual), they're given a squire. Or maybe a wife, judging from the Belle token still subbing for it on Arena. Anyway, this looks like a must-include card for Knight builds, but some competitive lists (remarkably, all those from the Mythic Championship) judged it too slow, favoring more explosive options. One of which is definitely Blacklance Paragon, a three-powered flasher than can ambush-kill an enemy and gain you three life, or help another Knight do the same at a moment's notice. The already discussed Rimrock Knight is another good combat trick on legs for hyper-aggressive Knight decks.

 Stormfist Crusader's symmetrical card-drawing benefits fast aggressive decks more than their slower opponents, and it's accompanied by a life loss that comes in handy to enable spectacle; for these reasons, she's been sighted within Rakdos builds running Spawn of Mayhem, where her menace keyword can also score some damage now and then. Also noteworthy is Order of Midnight, that gives you access to a Raise Dead spell that otherwise couldn't find room in a competitive deck, by doubling as a cheap flyer, which can in turn be raised from the dead or just bounced back in hand, creating a potential chain of recursion. The lifelinker Smitten Swordmaster continues the saga of the adventurer Knights, and his conjoined spell is even tribal in nature, draining the opponent for an amount equal to the number of Knights under your control. This effect alone is able to generate considerable life swings, especially if duplicated by Lucky Clover, since adventure decks are bound to have quite a few Knights in their lineup, starting from the most excellent Murderous Rider, who similarly marries a lifelinking body with an impactful adventure spell, essentially a slightly painful version of Hero's Downfall. Sometimes three mana for one targeted removal is too slow a pace, and the life loss does eventually add up, but the efficiency of the design makes Murderous Rider one of the most surefire additions to any black-heavy deck in Standard and beyond, though it's not necessarily desirable in Knight tribal builds, which are all about getting on the board and swinging.

 Wintermoon Commander feels more like a card for that kind of tribal deck, since he wants to be surrounded by other Knights to boost his own toughness, then attack alongside them, making one of his friends indestructible, and hopefully surviving being blocked – albeit his deathtouch will likely turn it into a trade. This scenario won't always lines up correctly, though, leaving Wintermoon Commander stranded with not enough companions or no good attacks. And the marvelously named Belle of the Brawl also incurs in this kind of issues, with menace not being enough of guarantee she'll stay alive, and her low toughness actively working against those odds. Plus her first attack happens on turn four, when the board might be too crowded already for her partial anthem effect to prove effective – which is a bummer, because one would really look forward to play with a card called Belle of the Brawl.

 Another disappointing yet flavorful card is Oathsworn Knight, which is none other than a reference to the impossibly stoic Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The original character's foolish belligerence and progressive loss of limbs are perfectly evoked by the card, but the problem is that all of this doesn't translate into a rare that you'll actually want to play with, since your Knight will just end chump-blocked into irrelevancy – which, granted, it's exactly what happens in the film, but do you want your games of black-bordered Magic to feel like a tragicomic farce? (Of course you could proliferate more counters onto the Oathsworn Knight, but I personally wouldn't bother).

 More satisfying, if a bit commonplace, is Acclaimed Contender, a three-drop 3/3 that digs for more Knights and their favorite trinkets, including Auras and Equipment to wear – and I guess "legendary artifact" is listed among her targets to find The Circle of Loyalty too (aka Eldraine's Round Table, despite not really looking like a table in the art). I'm sure most Knight players would still happily run Benalish Marshal over the Contender in this spot, because the former's boost immediately change the board state, whereas the latter's search is just a setup for the next turn (and could still result in a miss); nonetheless, the Contender is probably the most expensive Knight worth running to ensure more action is coming.

 And speaking of expensive Knights, we shouldn't forget Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale, Eldraine's more martial proficient Guinevere. She's another of the four Brawl commanders, and does impressive things with equipments (Colossus Hammer combo!), but six mana are way over the top for an aggro enabler in regular Standard. Once again, I discussed her in greater detail in my Brawl guide that you can read by following this link.

 I'm gonna stop here but there are many more Knights to account for in Throne of Eldraine, like the adamant Paladins, or the famous legendary Knights, of which at least Syr Konrad, the Grim deserves a shout-out as a provider of noncombat damage through his stern monitoring and disciplining of all kinds of graveyard movements. Also, from the ancillary products, Rowan's planeswalker deck has Rowan's Battleguard and Rowan's Stalwarts, while Syr Gywn's Brawl deck includes the exclusive Embereth Skyblazer and Silverwing Squadron. All of these are generally skippable, but they nonetheless exist.

   

 I swear, since when I've started writing these evaluations, I never struggled so much to present an overview of the new members of a tribe; but that's the Arthurian Knights for you: too many, too relentless.


Merfolk: +5

  

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 214, online: 211

 Related Tribes: Rogue, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Amidst a few good Limited cards (most notably the milling star Merfolk Secretkeeper), two major references have been filed under the Merfolk label. One of them, from the fairy tale side, is of course The Little Mermaid, which gets a very flavorful treatment in the form of Wishful Merfolk, albeit the resulting card is not exactly playable. More luck befell the Arthurian Lady of the Lake, who becomes the legendary Emry, Lurker of the Loch, and now she's not just handing over Excalibur, but all sorts of knick-knacks, most of which are probably less valuable than Arthur's mythical sword, but make for a steadier game plan. She's indeed the main enabler of an entire, minor archetype that's all about milling, casting, saccing and recasting various artifacts from the graveyard, mostly cheap stuff like Witching Well and Golden Egg. Due to her cost reduction, Emry can easily drop for one mana, mill four cards and keep going from there. Of course strange merfolk women lying in ponds distributing trinkets is no basis for a system of government – but it is for a Magic strategy.


Noble: +13

    

   

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 33

 Related Tribes: Beast, Dragon, Dwarf, Elf, Giant, Human, Troll, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: Noble is one of the three new tribes that debuted on Throne of Eldraine, and it outlines a whole class of individuals that are in a leadership position in virtue of their blood and social status – a description that matches a wide range of previous creatures, which is why it was retroactively added to 20 preexisting creatures, and honestly there could have been many more. Some highlights from Noble's reworked past include Brago, King Eternal, Falkenrath Aristocrat, Merfolk Sovereign and Stromkirk Noble (so yeah, they're all over the place, as they should).

 The Nobles from Eldraine quite naturally include the rulers of the courts (or at least four of them, since Gadwick, the Wizened is there to represent blue's choice of relying on working-class nerd power). These are all fairly playable, if restricted by their very nature to monocolored builds, unsurprisingly making the monored Torbran, Thane of Red Fell the more popular of the lot, while Linden, the Steadfast Queen is the one who's seeing fewer applications, despite gaining a bunch of life should be appealing to the "lifegaining matters" archetype. On the other hand, her husband, Kenrith, the Returned King, the set's Buy-a-Box promo, is a choice finisher in decks with access to a wide range of colors, most notably those running Fires of Invention, where Kenny can drop for free on turn five and immediately activate his red ability to pressure the opponent's life total or their planeswalkers, trampling over any interposing chump-blocker. Tapping white mana will then provide the life required to fend off aggro, while blue supplies cards, so Jeskai seems like it could be the primary home for our pseudo King Arthur, who's able to beat Cavalier of Flames at its own game – turns out Will and Rowan have a cool dad, when he's not just one of Oko's Elks (you can take this as a reference to a story spotlight, or to some regrettably frequent in-game occurrence).

 Still in white, Beloved Princess is definitely a miss (that ability doesn't really help her survive an attack, which wouldn't accomplish much anyway), but Charming Prince is a beautiful two-drop that gives you three variously useful options of ETB triggers (get it? He's Prince Charming, but he's also a prince who casts a charm!). Early on you can scry, in late game you can patch your life total, and when there's a good target around you can blink it for value. Nothing too flashy, but a perfectly reasonable role player, even if right now he's not seeing a ton of play anywhere.

 The already mentioned, and already praised, Korvold, Fae-Cursed King and Lovestruck Beast are fine representatives of the Noble monsters, and are joined by the very entertaining Feasting Troll King, a large vigilant trampler for six mana who joins the battlefield carrying his personal reserve of Food, which is what will nurse him back to health after death. In a (more casual-oriented) Food build, you can stockpile Food tokens, while at the same time trying to discard or mill the Troll King into the graveyard in order to cheat him into play with the allure of a banquet. Also, he's not legendary (the Trolls have many competing kings, apparently), so you can hardcast a second copy while you have already one in the graveyard, and that'll result in two 7/6s ready to rumble. It's a pretty fun card, and entirely Timmy-approved.

 Among the Limited fodder still notable for its fairy tale references, Queen of Ice is of course from Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen (please tell me you didn't just say "Frozen"!), and apparently there's more than one of those freaky monarchs with ice powers running around. Wicked Guardian is instead the politically correct term to bring up the evil stepmother (they could have also gone with Morally Questionable Legal Guardian) – you can even see Cinderella silently suffering on the background in her typical submissive stance. The intriguing part is that we find out that every abuse she endured resulted in the stepmother drawing a card, so it was all in the pursuit of knowledge. And that ungrateful little brat never appreciated it!


Ogre: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 89, online: 84

 Related Tribes: Knight

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Nothing to say about this couple of forgettable new Ogres, except to note how they really missed the chance to make a Shrek reference here (because, let's face it, Throne of Eldraine is more of a pop culture aggregator than some in-depth research on its source material). They chose to do it with the instant Barge In, instead.


Ouphe: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 13, online: 9

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: In a world widely populated by all manners of "little folk" (Oko, the story's antagonist, is himself a reference to Puck from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, who is in turn based on a genre of faerie), it makes sense for the Ouphe subtype to make a reappearance. Unfortunately, this is just a planeswalker deck card from Oko's starter deck, a mere Grizzly Bears with an expensive mana sink that's even only available when his master is around.


Ox: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 14, online: 11

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This is the cow from Jack and the Beanstalk, the one that prompted the great Stephen Sondheim to write the memorably punny verse, "We've no time to sit and dither / while her withers wither with her" (from Into the Woods, which is another major unspoken inspiration for Throne of Eldraine). In the story, the cow gets bartered for the magic beans that generate the colossal beanstalk which is the conduit to the castle in the sky where the giants live. However, the cow pictured above just gets butchered and eaten, since the original design where she would get exchanged with one of the opponent's permanents ultimately fell through. Also, that's a very battleworthy cow as a 3/3, isn't it? Stronger than a bear!


Peasant: +5

  

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 5

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: These five newcomers encompass the novel commoner tribe, Peasant, in direct contrast with Noble. Once this new subtype was in place, they could have delved into previous cases of preexisting yokels to possibly retcon, but chose not to. The tribe's concept is actually wider than its name implies, sort of a placeholder for anybody that doesn't belong to any other class, just regular citizens and townsfolk, and I'm sure there could have been quite a few of those, especially from Innistrad (cards like Cloistered Youth, Gatstaf Shepherd, Unruly Mob, Village Cannibals), as well as cards representing agricultural laborers (Elvish Farmer, Orcish Farmer, Springjack Shepherd). Regardless, it's going to be a regular presence in future sets.

 All the current Peasants are Humans and share a tight mechanical identity, being four adventure creatures and their main mechanical payoff, the esteemed one-drop Edgewall Innkeeper, with his coveted card-drawing and subtly unsettling demeanor – judging from that smile and body language, I swear he's inviting you in only to murder you overnight and feed your meat to his other customers during the next midsummer celebration. And let's not forget he's also one of Lovestruck Beast's principal love interests.

 The Peasant adventurers are in Naya colors, and serve different strategies: Curious Pair (Eldraine's Hansel and Gretel) is a Food provider; Merchant of the Vale works decently in the "draw two" archetype, and his adventure even allows you to discard (Arclight Phoenix) on turn one, to potentially see it reanimated right away if two instances of Rosethorn Acolyte's filtering were cast beforehand; and Shepherd of the Flock is a way to rescue your creatures, or maybe just bounce them back to double the value of their ETB triggers, after which he becomes a three-powered beater, because everybody knows shepherds are really ripped.

 None of these is bad, but none is too exciting either, so leave it to Jack himself, he of the over-represented beanstalk fame, to be the best in-tribe way to go visit the Innkeeper to hear some juicy gossip that somehow will draw you a card. Giant Killer is a cheap, unconditional tapper whose "Chop Down" adventure doubles, appropriately enough, as instant removal for big dudes. Against control he probably does very little, but in other matchups he's going to make himself useful one way or another. Plus one mana to draw a card with the Innkeeper while putting a body on the board is still a good deal, which makes it good enough for a seat on the Selesnya Adventure Standard archetype. Jack is indeed a resourceful young man of many talents.


Rogue: +5

  

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 255, online: 240

 Related Tribes: Archer, Faerie, Human, Merfolk

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Rogue gets three mythics out of five new cards, which is an impressive feat in its own right. And while Rankle, Master of Pranks and Brazen Borrower are indubitably high points in the set, Robber of the Rich is more iffy, even if he's the only one of the three to directly reference his tribe. Does this wannabe Robin Hood work any better in a tribal setting? Well, let's see, there still have to be more cards in the opponent's hand than in the Robber's controller's, but maybe Rogue tribal will be able to drop cards faster than the opposing player. Also, if the Robber doesn't survive the attack, all the other Rogues can pick up the mantle of casting the stolen spells in subsequent turns. I'd say the red bandit is slightly more appealing within a Rogue deck than he is in a build where he's the only Rogue. But that's not saying much – despite the lower cost and the haste, he still can't hold a candle to Thief of Sanity.


Scarecrow: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 35, online: 34

 Related Tribes: Knight

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Only a couple of pretty minor Limited cards for Scarecrow. I think it's funny that the Knights on Eldraine use a Jousting Dummy which is an actual animated automaton, and a Scarecrow at that. Like, why specifically a scarecrow mannequin? And who knighted him? Is Kenrith drinking again? Is Grumgully selling food supplies to the courts?


Serpent: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 33, online: 32

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: For some reason, Throne of Eldraine includes a reference to the Loch Ness Monster (like, it's from the same island as the Arthurian myths, but that's about it, it's not even from the same cultural background, let alone the fact that it's mostly a 20th century thing). Loch Mere Serpent is the same kind of flash finisher for blue control decks that already gave us Nezahal, Primal Tide in the previous Standard cycle. The Serpent is less effective than the blue Dinosaur, and not just because of the second color requirement: it can be countered and can't escape removal remaining on the battlefield, it can only return there after death, and has to be cast again. Also drawing cards out of it is a much demanding endeavor. On the plus side, you can sacrifice the occasional surplus Island in the late game and deal the finishing blow to the opponent, so there's that. It won't probably be as popular as Nezahal (Nezzie vs Nessie?), which didn't see a large amount of play to begin with, but during its time in Standard this elusive Serpent could be able to win over some Dimir or Esper player with a secret Timmy component.


Shaman: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 382, online: 377

 Related Tribes: Goblin

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Is Grumgully more relevant as a Shaman than he is as a Goblin? Maybe. For one, Shamans are able to have him out on turn two more consistently... in Pioneer, where Deathrite Shaman is still legal. Seriously, though, is this Wizards taking a pro-drugs stance? And how is he "generous"? Are his prices affordable?


Skeleton: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 51, online: 49

 Related Tribes: Knight

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: This unusual Golgari-colored Skeleton is part of the hybrid four-drops cycle, and it might just be the best creature of the lot, because a hasty beater that hits for four and recurs into hand through basic lifegain makes for a pretty good package. Its low toughness means it's probably going to die every time, but it's also probably going to trade for something and come back. It's awfully midrange, and inherently problematic to cast as the rest of the cycle, but not bad.


Snake: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 83, online: 75

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: There haven't been many Snakes with a colorless identity so far. In fact, there's only been another one, the very old (and insignificant) Coiled Tinviper from Tempest. But now Stonecoil Serpent is coming to rival its organic brethren. Its mana cost is straightforward and nicely scales up with the game, potentially hitting tremendous sizes later on or if assisted with ramp. And the quantity of its abilities is almost worthy of Questing Beast. A well-built Stonecoil Serpent blocks and kills even your large flyers and tramples over your defenses. And let's talk about that protection from multicolored business. It sounds situational, but just looking at the current Standard environment, it translates into protection from Teferi, Time Raveler and Oko, Thief of Crowns, from Vraska, Golgari Queen and Assassin's Trophy, from Bedevil, Tyrant's Scorn and Deafening Clarion – and the list could continue. This Snake is definitely a mana sink for the ages – one that feels green and yet it's not.


Soldier: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 658, online: 600

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: Soldier took a set off with Eldraine, because its spare presence doesn't amount to much, with a pair of second-rate adventure-based or adventure-related creatures with very low potential even in Limited.


Specter: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 24, online: 23

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Reaper of Night is a decent curve-topper in Limited, coming down to threaten some evasive attacks after it cast Mind Rot with its adventure, which is another case of a spell that could never claim a slot in any circumstance, but becomes okay when it's spliced onto a creature. In Constructed, I'm afraid, every part of this card is overcosted.


Spirit: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 462, online: 455

 Related Tribes: Knight

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Sorcerer's Broom is a cool top-down design based on the famous sequence from The Sorcerer's Apprentice segment in Disney's Fantasia (as well as the original Goethe's poem, I suppose) – which, once again, is more pop culture than fairy tale. It's not a very playable card, as it requires a setup and some mana investment for little reward, but it's the first Spirit to inhabit an artifact since Dancing Scimitar from Arabian Nights and the more obscure Horrible Hordes from Mirage, so essentially the first time this association has been deliberately made since when the artifact creatures have subtypes. And I guess this also deviates a little bit from the source material, making the walking brooms a team of poltergeists?


Treefolk: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 69, online: 67

 Related Tribes: Druid

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: These two Treefolk are all right, and Faeburrow Elder is even Constructed playable, but they don't do much for the tribe as a whole, which is not going to be fielding many multicolored permanents (Doran, the Siege Tower just adds black to the Elder's collection), and can count on better curve-toppers than a vanilla 6/5.


Troll: +3

 

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 35, online: 34

 Related Tribes: Noble

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Feasting Troll King, as noted, is a veritable hoot, and Clackbridge Troll gives the tribe another good laugh while putting on the board a pretty scary threat, in the form of the hungry antagonist from Three Bill Goats Gruff. As the fairy tale teaches us, this bridge-stationed Troll can be tricked into letting you go unscathed, except the twist that Throne of Eldraine put on the whole incident is that you have to feed him the three ill-fated little Goats that suddenly appear on your side of the battlefield – or, you know, any other sacrificial fodder, but I bet most of the times, it'll be the Goats. This means the massive 8/8 Troll won't easily connect, in spite of having trample and haste and an agreeable mana cost. It's sort of a mix between Hunted Troll and Desecration Demon, with three life and a card as the consequence of getting an attack impeded, which is a pretty big consolation prize, essentially turning Clackbridge Troll into a supercharged Phyrexian Arena. It's also worth noting that, unlike Desecration Demon, the tapping sacrifice can't be performed in the opponent's combat phase, so if the Troll hits the battlefield on second main, he'll be available as a blocker at least once. All in all, he's probably too slow and clunky for a finisher that's hardly going to be able to ever do his job, and it's unclear what kind of black deck would want to start drawing cards and gaining life on turn five. But it's another fun card for sure.

 The third Troll from Eldraine comes within Korvold's Brawl deck and is clearly meant for multiplayer, where it could potentially drop accompanied by as many Food tokens as a hardcast Feasting Troll King generates. In 1v1, that number shrinks to only one, and that leaves you with just a costly sacrifice outlet, which is much less appealing.


Turtle: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 17, online: 15

 Related Tribes: Hydra

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: So for some reason the two new Hydras are both many-headed Turtles. I guess it makes them more fairy tale-like? I, for one, am somehow reminded of Morla the Ancient One from The Neverending Story, even if she just had the one head.

 Mistford River Turtle presents a strange tension between being a valuable blocker and wanting to attack, but it's not the worst design for Limited, overall.


Unicorn: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 17, online: 14

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Possibly inspired by The Last Unicorn (say it with me: "Not a fairy tale!"), the Lonesome Unicorn, which of course is the only Unicorn in the set (I see what you did there), is not very Constructed playable but perfectly encapsulates how the adventure cards are trying to tell a two-beat story, with the "Rider in Need" approaching the Unicorn, and now they're together on the battlefield, always vigilant. The Unicorn still feels lonesome, though. She should be called The Hard to Please Unicorn.


Wall: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 131, online: 110

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Throne of Eldraine really stretches the definition of "wall". Is a siege engine a wall? (It's sort of the enemy of walls!) Is it a bridge? Or a moving castle? Anyway, these cards are okay in Limited, and Crashing Drawbridge is a roundabout way to give all your creatures haste, which might be useful in some build, and it achieves this goal by requiring fewer and less specific mana than Rhythm of the Wild, Domri, Chaos Bringer, or Samut, Tyrant Smasher.


Warlock: +5

  

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 6, online: 6

 Related Tribes: Faerie, Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: Meet Warlock, the third new generic tribe to appear for the first time in Throne of Eldraine, filling a void that most people weren't even aware of: the absence of a black spellcaster type. See, white has Cleric (monowhite component: 65%), blue has Wizard (50.6%), red has Shaman (35.8%), and green has Druid (86.6%). Warlock, which is chosen as identifier over "Witch" because it's allegedly more gender-neutral, will henceforth be available to represent black creatures doing magicky things. The only older card whose type line got revised because of this is Dread Warlock, merely in virtue of his name.

 So what do we currently work with in this newborn tribe? Well, they already got their first mythic in the lovely Alela... who's sort of a Faerie lord. And then the rare Piper of the Swarm (a well-designed take on the Pied Piper of Hamelin) is an effective... Rat lord. Chittering Witch, which is an exclusive card from Korvold's Brawl deck and is meant for multiplayer, also deals with Rats, which seems to be a running subtheme of Warlock. There's not much of a cohesive throughline here, which was to be expected with a tribe that's intended as a stepping stone towards a generic new conception of spellcasting creatures in black. We get a strong Brawl commander in Alela, a slow but potentially powerful token generator in the Piper, and then Barrow Witches resurrect a Knight (mostly in Limited), and Tempting Witch is a secondary Food payoff, as well as the representation of the evil queen from Snow White peddling poisonous apples in her "old hag" disguise.


Warrior: +5

  

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 708, online: 691

 Related Tribes: Elf, Goblin, Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: A few serviceable new members for Warrior, but nothing very enticing. Garenbrig Carver is an adventure creature with a built-in combat trick, but both are way slower than Rimrock Knight. Wildwood Tracker is a reasonable one-drop for Stompy decks, while Savvy Hunter is a Food producer with diminishing returns, because a 3/3 for three with no combat abilities isn't going to be able to find favorable attacks for too long; the Food-based card-drawing may be nice, but it's in direct competition with much better payoffs, like Wicked Wolf, Cauldron Familiar, and Korvold, Fae-Cursed King.


Wizard: +8

   

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 714, online: 696

 Related Tribes: Faerie, Human, Merfolk, Noble

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Several Wizards worth talking about here. Of course Fae of Wishes and Emry, Lurker of the Lock are both neat, while the bolt-thrower Irencrag Pyromancer is (alongside Improbable Alliance one of the two main payoffs of the Izzet "draw two" archetype.

 And then we've got Merlin in the house! Gadwick, the Wizened is a surprisingly simple design, just a scalable card-drawing attached to a 3/3 body that drops for three blue mana in a pinch. The additional ability of tapping down a nonland permanent whenever a blue spell is cast by Gadwick's controller further reinforces his firm ties to the color – he's one of the five monocolored rulers, after all. All this makes Gadwick an easy go-to commander for "good stuff" monoblue decks, and he can also potentially replace X-costed card-drawing spells in Constructed builds, even if not being able to function at instant speed is a major drawback.

 Finally, the minor miller Overwhelmed Apprentice is the Human version of the Mickey Mouse character from The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Given how the set's references ended up not being of a very high intellectual degree, they really missed the opportunity to make him a monoblue Rat Wizard. All right, Mouse Wizard. Yes, Cinderella brought Mice into Magic.

   


Wolf: +2

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 51, online: 47

 Impact of the New Additions: Severe

 Highlights: It's amazing how Wicked Wolf plays in a much more remarkable way than it could be perceived by just looking at the card. I mean, it's got the bad Hill Giant ratio of being a 3/3 for 4, and it doesn't create the Food it needs to become more threatening and indestructible. In this sense, it's not an individually powerful card, as it requires a specific setup around it. The thing is, that's not a very demanding setup, because the two main food generators, Gilded Goose and Oko, Thief of Crowns, are cards one would already want to run regardless of the Wolf's presence. But when they all work together, they describe an outstanding curve that culminates in the Wolf taking down a larger threat without dying, and then growing bigger and bigger from there, essentially brickwalling everything ground-based that the opponent could throw at us. It's not by chance that the "Food Package" made up of Goose, Oko and Wolf is utterly dominating Standard right now.

 Wolf is definitely the most improved tribe of 2019, adding cards like Nightpack Ambusher and Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves, and now further reinforcing its ranks with Wicked Wolf and (Garruk, Cursed Huntsman). And even Fierce Witchstalker isn't terrible, despite being yet another four-drop, as it gives you a 4/4 trampler and a Food; pretty busted in Limited.

  


Wolverine: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 7, online: 5

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Wolverine sort of randomly came back in Throne of Eldraine for the first time since Coldsnap, as a very negligible card with the "draw two" mechanic. Until they make a Human Wolverine with a healing factor and retractable claws, I won't be interested.


Zombie: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 449, online: 442

 Related Tribes: Knight

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Only two Zombies in Throne of Eldraine (I guess there aren't too many reanimated corpses in fairy tales and Arthurian legends), but they're both worthy of play, and both double as spot removal in different ways. Murderous Rider is clearly the superior card here, but I won't be surprised if Foulmire Knight will surpass him in popularity in the more low to the ground Zombie builds that have no patience for a Hero's Downfall surrogate.


SUMMARY

> top <

 Check the Complete Creature Types Reference Table here.


BEST IN SHOW
(click on any them to go to their review)

  

   

  

> top <


THE RULERS OF THE COURTS
(click on any of them to go to their review)

  

 

> top <


THE FAMOUS KNIGHTS
(click here to go to the Knight review)

  

  

> top <


THE COURT PALADINS
(click here to go to the Knight review)

  

 

> top <


KUMA'S TRIBAL EVALUATIONS