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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Nov 20 2023 9:04am
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WILDS OF ELDRAINE COMMANDER

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 The release of Wilds of Eldraine was accompanied by two pre-constructed Commander decks, a green-white knightly list called "Virtue and Valor", and the blue-black Faerie-based build "Fae Dominion".

 

 Eight new cards aren't part of the two decks but only found in Set Boosters and Collector Boosters. Among these, we get the representations of all the five courts (in their heyday before the Phyrexian Invasion), all naturally linked to the monarch mechanic.

    

 Also appearing exclusively in Set Boosters and Collector Boosters is the fabled Throne of Eldraine, marking the latest in the long line of cards with the same name as an expansion set.

 Let's have a look at the new creatures and their tribes. As always, they are presented alphabetically, and you'll find a hypertextual list at the end.

 NOTE: Alchemy cards, Acorn cards, and other non-tournament legal cards aren't counted toward the tribal totals.

 Infodump

  • Cards: 173
  • New cards: 28
  • New creatures: 17
  • Reprinted cards: 145
  • Reprinted creatures: 39
  • New Legendary creatures: 6
  • New Snow creatures: 0
  • New artifact creatures: 1
  • New enchantment creatures: 0
  • Triple-subtype creatures: 1
  • Creature types affected: 18
  • Tribes with more than 1 addition: Faerie (+8), Human (+4), Rogue (+3), Knight (+2), Noble (+2), Wizard (+2)

Artificer: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 192, online: 188

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Meet the creator of the Food Golems! It makes a lot of sense for a pastry chef to be considered an Artificer – we know Food is an artifact, which represents anything man-made – although other cooks in the game, like Asmor and Rocco, didn't get printed with the subtype. Brenard (who's only found in Set Boosters and Collector Boosters, since he doesn't match the color identity of any of the two precon decks) has a sinister side, because he apparently turns any corpse into a cookie. That's also his best ability, reminiscent of "second chance" cards like Nightmare Shepherd. The +2/+2 and trample boost is certainly generous, but there are only three Food creatures in the game – Gingerbrute, Tough Cookie and Syr Ginger – while Golem decks aren't very likely to include a Bant four-drop to go aggro with. Brenard may be a fun commander for holiday-themed lists, though. I just wish they didn't misspell his name.


Bard: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 20

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: MTG goes meta, revealing the roles were actually acting roles in a stage play! Or at least Gylwain distributes a bunch of them to anybody who comes knocking, which is an excellent recipe for an Aura-based or even generically enchantment-based build. Except nobody is Wicked or Cursed in his company, and there are no Young Heroes. Also, I don't think a casting director qualifies as a Bard – maybe performing was his original calling, but wasn't talented enough and moved to the production crew?


Bird: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 333, online: 319

 Related Tribes: Cat, Ox

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Apparently, "dying" for any group of livestock animals just means being split into its components. After all, two 1/1s plus a 2/4 equal to a 4/6. It's simple MTG stats math. Once separated, the Cat gets access to lifelink and the Bird to flying – native abilities they couldn't exploit while stuck together with their cumbersome Ox pal. It's unclear where the Auras came from; I suspect it's just because a six-drop vanilla 4/6 wasn't much appealing as a sacrificial fodder. It still isn't, and the underlying concept is weird.


Cat: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 269, online: 259

 Related Tribes: Bird, Ox

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Does a house Cat count as livestock? Then again, that Bird also doesn't resemble any species you keep around on a farm, none of which is capable of flight.


Dragon: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 329, online: 324

 Related Tribes: Noble

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Korvold is back, and not just as a mentioned character from a Saga! Once again part of the Commander section of Eldraine (although this time not as a designated commander; in fact, he's not even in one of the decks, he's a Set Booster and Collector Booster exclusive), the insatiable Jund-colored Dragon had his mana value increased from five to eight. Luckily, we can reduce that burden and make it as low as three, provided we sacrificed several different types of permanents before casting him – for starters, we may use one Treasure token to pay for his cost, after maybe fetching a land. In exchange, Korvold is now a hasty frampler. More notably, he doesn't ask for sacrifices anymore, in order to grow larger and draw us cards; he just needs to connect and then count the card types in our graveyard, delirium-style. This new incarnation is a bit more demanding in terms of build-around, but if set up in the optimal way, it can end the game really quickly.


Druid: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 284, online: 280

 Related Tribes: Satyr

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Exchange excess lands for dead permanents? That sounds like a late-game dream. This Druid does it once as an ETB, but that's very trivial to abuse with any kind of recursion or flickering. And it also synergizes swimmingly with anything that fills our hand with lands. And that's why you should keep them in hand if they're not strictly needed on the battlefield!


Faerie: +8

   

   

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 New Tribal Total: 138, online: 135

 Related Tribes: Noble, Rogue, Shapeshifter, Warlock, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: The Faeries are given their own dedicated precon deck, "Fae Dominion", so it's no wonder that they encompass the only tribal synergies in this product. Starting with the designated commander, Tegwyll, Duke of Splendor, an anthem lord for three mana, sporting a decent flying body with deathtouch, and an especially relevant last ability that has all other Faeries replace themselves when they die. Kind of a textbook case of how a tribal lord should be designed to appeal players (cheap enough to drop early on, relevant presence on the board, significant boost to the team, plus a card-drawing mechanic), even if it's nothing particularly original. The other new Faerie marked as mythic is an old acquaintance of ours, the always seductive Alela, who's currently helping the ambitious Tegwyll in his political machinations against Lord Talion. In her new incarnation, Alela maintains her previous four-mana cost but drops white (possibly just to accommodate the deck's colors), and her 1/1 flying tokens – which are now black and Rogues, a not irrelevant subtype – are harder to create compared to those from Alela, Artful Provocateur. Instead of triggering on each instance of our artifact and enchantment spells, now the token generation happens only once, in response to the first instant or permanent with flash that we cast during an opponent's turn. The new Alela also lost deathtouch and lifelink, but gained a point of toughness. Her new universal boon is not a power boost anymore, but a more situational goad via saboteur. It can have strategic value, if primarily in multiplayer, and it's extended to all Faeries, making Alela more of a tribal leader than she was in her past form. Still, she feels a little less effective, if also a little less of a strict "artifacts matter" or "enchantments matter" build-around.

 The same "first spell during each opponent's turn" template is used by Blightwing Bandit, too. In her case, it unlocks the stealing of a spell (or land drop) from the top of that opponent's library, a type of ability that's always satisfying to resolve, but doesn't always pay dividends. Plus, a four-mana 2/2 flyer, even with deathtouch, is not extremely curve-efficient, and the Bandit has very little impact on the board until we manage to trigger her ability.

 Similarly, two other new Faeries mimic Alela's "any tribal connection matters" ability. If at least one of our Faeries will deal combat damage to a player, Faerie Bladecrafter will grow larger, and then threaten inevitability by draining the opponents upon death – especially effective if we can sacrifice her at the right time. A much stranger effect results from fellow three-drop Rogue flyer Nettling Nuisance, which generates a 4/2 red Pirate token on the opponent's side every time one or more of our Faeries connect. The token cannot block and is forced to attack through goad, but it's still a mightily awkward "payoff" in one-versus-one games.

 The most powerful addition to the Faerie lot is arguably the monoblue Archmage of Echoes, a solid five-drop 4/4 flyer with ward 2 that goes and doubles all our subsequent Faerie spells. And our Wizard spells, to boot! In a dedicated tribal build, letting the Archmage survive for a couple turns unchecked is easily going to take over the game.

 To round out the list we have Malleable Impostor, a clone with flash that adds flying to the copied creature, but can only pick targets from the opposite side of the board; and the seven-drop Shadow Puppeteers, another double-warded 4/4 that comes accompanied by two 1/1s, and has the twist of basically doubling the power of this whole flying team, because each of them transforms into a 4/4 Dragon whenever they attack – and all our other flyers do the same as well, so it's quite possible the Puppeteers will be a game-ending play right there and then, even if most Faerie builds won't really care for including such an expensive curve-topper.


Human: +4

   

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 New Tribal Total: 3195, online: 2989

 Related Tribes: Artificer, Bard, Knight, Peasant

 Impact of the New Additions: Irrelevant

 Highlights: Human isn't the largest tribe of a set, for once! Eldraine really is a fairy tale land.


Knight: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 417, online: 404

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Syr Ellivere is a peculiar animal-loving Knight and the designated commander of the "Virtue and Valor" precon deck. As that name suggests, she creates the unique Virtuous Role, which corresponds to the enchantment half of All That Glitters. Over the course of the game, Ellivere will turn each creature in her team into an enchanted creature, and then have them draw cards upon connection, as if they had an additional Curiosity on them. Needless to say, it's an extremely powerful build-around deal, and her skill set might even be strong enough to sustain itself without external help.

 Another very unusual green Knight is Timber Paladin, which is specifically designed to go in Ellivere's list, as it's essentially a two-mana body that functions as a base for an enchantment-fueled Voltron. Give the Paladin any three Auras and it'll become a 10/10 vigilant trampler plus whatever the Auras are granting – hexproof is highly recommended to be among them.


Noble: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 109, online: 108

 Related Tribes: Dragon, Faerie

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Korvold counts as a Noble because he was originally a greedy Human king turned into a voracious Dragon by the Faeries. They probably didn't think that one through. I don't think Tegwyll was one of those Faeries, but he cares exclusively about his people, not other Nobles, so he does zilch for a Noble deck.


Ouphe: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 17, online: 13

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The Commander decks for Wilds of Eldraine add another Ouphe to the still meager tribal count. This one is a scalable threat that searches for Auras off the top of our library, to play for free. In a dedicated deck, there's a chance he'll find one, maybe two if we sunk a lot of mana into that X. Either way, this is not going to rock anybody's world.


Ox: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 18, online: 15

 Related Tribes: Bird, Cat

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This weird menagerie has certainly more impact on the Ox tribe than on the other two. Still not a lot, but some. For one thing, it's the most expensive Ox ever printed, tied with Goldenhide Ox from back in Journey into Nyx. It's also the third rare or mythic rare Ox after Charging Cinderhorn and Ox of Agonas.


Peasant: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 45

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Judging from the flavor text, this guy terribly abuses his Oxen, which is why they're so traumatized that they'll refuse to put themselves in his way. Then again, giving a ton of free 2/4s to the opponent, even in exchange for cards and even if they cannot block our 4/4 and he has vigilance, might come back and bite us in the back. Fun concept, though.


Rogue: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 418, online: 398

 Related Tribes: Faerie

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: The only Faerie Rogue that's not strictly a Faerie tribal card is Blightwing Bandit. Rogue decks are known to employ instant-speed strategies, but the Bandit might still be a bit too slow and inefficient for their tastes.


Satyr: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 35

 Related Tribes: Druid

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: The fourth Satyr from Eldraine continues the brilliant streak the tribe is having since it was revealed to be dwelling on the fairy tale plane (somehow). Loamcrafter Faun's strong land-based recursion is on par with the other tribesmembers of various rarities showcased on Wilds of Eldraine, all of which are also monogreen.


Shapeshifter: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 121, online: 118

 Related Tribes: Faerie

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: The original Clone is one of those creatures from Limited Edition Alpha that Magic designers constantly try to improve upon (see also Grizzly Bears, Giant Spider, and Air Elemental, among others). Malleable Impostor cannot really be called a strictly better Clone, because it cannot target our creatures, but it's less of a drawback than its opposite – i.e. exclusively targeting our creatures – because it helps when we're behind on board. On top of that, dropping at instant speed and adding flying are both exceptional advantages, for no additional cost at all. The Faerie subtype might be occasionally relevant, too.


Warlock: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 87, online: 86

 Related Tribes: Faerie

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Alela is always scheming within the Fae Court, but she's not a Noble herself. At the time of her first incarnation, she was one of the first Warlocks to see print after that subtype was introduced. But Alela, Cunning Conqueror wants to be surrounded by Faeries, or even Rogues, and doesn't have much to offer to other Warlocks, unless they're organized in an extremely focused Dimir Tempo build.


Wizard: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 979, online: 955

 Related Tribes: Faerie

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: A Wizard deck could take the form of a "flying matters" build, to which Shadow Puppeteers might add a late-game finishing move. However, it's unlikely that the curve in that kind of deck will extend to such a high mana value. It's more plausible to imagine Archmage of Echoes finding a home there, as a five-drop that duplicates every Wizard we cast afterwards.


SUMMARY

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