The two worlds collided in a shell that provided a ton of threats, especially for a control deck, but that still had the ability to disrupt an opposing game plan and play on its own terms. I posted an updated list last week, but in case you didn't happen to stop by, here is a refresher:
This was where I left the list before preview season had arrived and now, as it turns out, we have the entire set at our disposal, at least for brewing purposes.
For anyone that has paid attention to spoiler season, you probably noticed a few cards that jumped out immediately when thinking about updates to this deck. Some of the new tools we have to work with are extremely powerful and likely push us into brand new directions. Remember that our previous list was very much dictated by Sarkhan Unbroken and Silumgar's Scorn, pushing us into a Temur-dominant build, but with new Planeswalkers or other support, we could easily shift that.
Scanning the new set, a few cards stick out louder than others:
New planeswalkers are always going to get my attention for this deck. Double-black in the casting cost is pretty tough, but Oath of Nissa helps to enable that pretty well. While this may not be the best fit for our new Temur evolution, it is a strong card to consider for other shells.
An excellent new Oath to add to the list. This not only provides an edict at a reasonable price, but it also protects Planeswalkers with 2/2 Zombies. If you watched the videos of this deck, you know that token-making is often how you win, so I welcome more free bodies.
A nice utility spell that can create a little card advantage in-game. Nothing too special here, but worth noting.
One of the new powerful cards that will find homes all over the place. Obviously, with Silumgar's Scorn in our deck, we could afford to run this with our mana base, but I am not sure the room is available.
A potential big finisher for any control deck. This works with Nahiri, the Harbinger's ultimate, which is nice, but is also a decent colorless threat that can work out in our crazy mana base.
Arguably the best planeswalker for our purposes. The deck's already trying to accommodate a bunch of different colors and Tamiyo, Field Researcher is worth it. She controls the board better than most and comes with card advantage, making it an excellent four-drop where before we only had Arlinn Kord.
Another solid utility option. This probably isn't as necessary in our deck as we have enough colors to turn to more efficient answers that are not as easy to interact with, but this is an excellent thing to provide blue with. If we stick to three or less colors, there is a good chance we need this.
Probably the most splashy card for any planeswalker deck that one could conceive. I don't think this is a great fit for our Dragonwalkers list as we lean heavily on two different types of cards. That said, there are certainly some awesome decks that do abuse this and we will look at one a little later on.
Of these cards, Tamiyo, Field Researcher is where I wanted to begin exploring new directions. We already had Dragonlord Dromoka in our deck, so theoretically, we could move out the Dragonlord Silumgar and convert our dragon-lands into white-producing lands, which would help with the Tamiyo, Field Researcher situation. And if we are going to dip into white, that also allows us to look at other planeswalkers that already exist such as Nahiri, the Harbinger and Narset Transcendent.
With a Bant twist now wanting to be added to our previous Temur shell, I think that if we just stay disciplined and ignore black for now, we can maintain a similar concept but increase our overall power level from the last shell. So with that in mind, this is where I arrived:
The deck is still a dragon/Planeswalker hybrid, but we increased our four-drop Planeswalker from two to seven, added Dragonlord Ojutai for another five-drop threat, and updated our set of support spells.
If there is a weak point for this deck, it is the mana base. We ask quite a bit from it whenever we don't have Oath of Nissa.
While this list looks pretty sweet and I am excited to try it out, it was missing perhaps the coolest planeswalker toys we receive in Eldritch Moon. Liliana, Oath of Liliana, and Deploy the Gatewatch are all very appealing to me and I wanted to see what sort of deck we could arrive at while trying to incorporate all of these new weapons.
So, what exactly do we need to do to take advantage of Deploy the Gatewatch? The answer is rather straightforward: A lot of Planeswalkers. It should be noted though that purely having a large number of Planeswalkers is not enough because any planeswalker that shares a type line with another is actually a miss off of Deploy the Gatewatch.
Not only do we want a large raw number of Planeswalkers to increase the chances they are in our pile of seven, but we also want to diversify our Planeswalkers so that we can more reliably find two different ones that we don't already have in play. We could even take it further and play Call the Gatewatch to have a tutor for our various one-ofs, but I am worried that we have too many cards without board impact in that world.
Doing a little quick math, a threshold where I feel comfortable running Deploy the Gatewatch is probably about 15 Planeswalkers. At 15 total Planeswalkers in your deck, you are going to find 1.5 walkers when you cast Deploy the Gatewatch. Granted, this number does not account for duplicates or planeswalker rule, but at least we are trying to get value out of the card.
At 19 total planeswalkers, we find about 1.7 walkers per Deploy the Gatewatch cast, which is a little better and probably about the limit to how many walkers we want to be running. We could get super greedy and push into 20-22 range, but I feel the shell already has some weaknesses it needs to address and by going with even more Planeswalker and less utility spells, those weaknesses become exacerbated.
I also want to take advantage of the Oath cycle as they provide so much additional value when you have a ton of walkers running around. Oath of Chandra helps combat other walkers while Oath of Liliana protects your own. Meanwhile, Oath of Nissa and Oath of Jace help the whole engine run smoother.
So, after exploring around and figuring out exactly what planeswalker composition I wanted, this is where I arrived:
Chances are good that some amount of the planeswalker support will need to be switched around for more metagame-specific choices, but I like this as a jumping off point. We have a few sweepers in the main and a decent amount of spot removal aside from our walkers, most of which can answer a creature with at least one of their abilities.
Against control, I would hope we have enough threats that we can bust through a counter wall or fight through their one for one removal. Our deck has over 20 threats that can be considered game-winning on their own, so it is difficult for control to find a way to gain card advantage on you while neutralizing those threats. Classic sweepers or board resets don't often include a way to manage Planeswalkers.
Where this deck shines most is in how proactive it is while still looking to go over the top. You are faced with many decisions each turn thanks to a list of Planeswalker abilities, but if you can successfully navigate them, you'll pull ahead in advantage every turn. Because our deck has so many Planeswalkers, we can accomplish this by protecting a single Planeswalker for a long time, or by refreshing Planeswalkers that are under attack over and over, giving us quite a bit of inevitability as long as we can keep our life total up. It is worth noting that with this many Planeswalkers in your deck, you often have an inflated life total as opponents often send burn and attacks that would normally go to you towards your Planeswalkers!
Eldritch Moon is almost certainly going to usher in a new era of "Superfriends," if you will, or planeswalker-heavy decks. There is simply too many new tools in the set for it not to. My list above has 11 unique planeswalkers in it and doesn't even include all of the available options. Remember that the flip-walkers, like Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, cannot be found by Deploy or Call the Gatewatch, so they don't really have the same synergy with the list as others, but we still have cards like Kiora and Narset that didn't make the cut (mostly because we lack cards that synergize well with them).
In any case, Eldritch Moon looks to be incredibly fun and quite powerful! I hope everyone enjoys the set and enjoys their prerelease! Until next week, where we will continue a look life under the new moon, thanks for reading!