Change is in the air, and in order to prepare for Pro Tour Eldritch Moon, I have been dissecting each card as it gets previewed in terms of its potential impact on Standard. Any Mythic that can disrupt the dominance of the Green/White Dromoka's Command-fueled decks should be a game changer. Mythics tend to be some of the most powerful and complex cards in the set, as well as being the most difficult cards to procure physical copies of.
The Planeswalkers so far seem a bit underwhelming when first looking at them, but they could be better than their first impression. Remember how when Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and Nissa, Vastwood Seer were first spoiled, many players didn't think much of them? Liliana, the Last Hope has a reasonable casting cost at only three mana. For a three-mana Planeswalker, you don't actually need Liliana, the Last Hope to be incredibly powerful; as long as she can stay in play over the course of the game, the advantage gained over the activations each turn will add up.
The +1 effect is the most important mode. Being able to potentially kill an opposing one-toughness creature here is the best-case scenario. Against, for instance, a white/red Humans deck, Liliana, the Last Hope could be good as long as the opposing one-toughness creatures aren't beefed up in some way. Against W/G Tokens I could also see Liliana, the Last Hope being good — for instance, if the opponent is on the draw you can simply play Liliana, the Last Hope and immediately kill Hangarback Walker. Liliana, the Last Hope also eats Nissa, Voice of Zendikar Plant Tokens for lunch.
Liliana, the Last Hope's plus ability can still slow down an opposing attacker, just like Jace, Telepath Unbound, and her minus ability means that she wants to be in a deck with plenty of creatures to potentially return. In a deck trying to fuel the graveyard, I can definitely see the self-mill aspect of the card being relevant.
None of the modes are spectacular, but none are bad either. The ultimate doesn't win the game immediately, but the Zombie Tokens will multiply quickly (as long as the opponent doesn't have a Virulent Plague in play!). I would be surprised to see Liliana, the Last Hope make a huge impact immediately since it is not clear exactly what decks can make use of her. Instead, black decks may start adding a couple here or there to get a better feel for her.
The last three-color Planeswalker was Sarkhan Unbroken, a card that hasn't lived up to its potential. Sometimes playing a three-color Planeswalker isn't worth the effort required to play those three colors.
Tamiyo, Field Researcher is in many ways similar to Liliana, the Last Hope. None of the abilities seem overpowered, but in the right archetypes I can see this card being great. Playing some sort of evasive cheap threats will help you draw cards off Tamiyo, Field Researcher. Even if the creatures die during combat they will still draw you cards.
Tamiyo, the Field Researcher's -2 ability will vary in effectiveness based on matchup. Against decks without many creatures, the effect isn't great, but there are certainly board states where tapping opposing creatures will be important. It is even possible to use the -2 ability on consecutive turns, so in any creature-on-creature fight, it will be game-changing.
Once getting up to Tamiyo, the Field Reseacher's ultimate, the hope is that you will draw into a bunch of expensive cards. It is likely that drawing three cards is going to be more important than casting spells for free, unless this is in a deck with large Eldrazi — perhaps even an Emrakul, the Promised End!
Speaking of Emrakul, the Promised End, this was the first-spoiled card, and the card that I am most excited by. This card can be cast in a variety of different decks other than just ramp strategies. Sure, ramp might be able to get it into play the fastest, but on the flip side, it is also important to have a variety of different card types. Emrakul, the Promised End will now be competing with Ulamog, the Ceaseless End as a finisher in decks that have access to a bunch of mana.
There will be decks that can pretty routinely get Emrakul, the Promised End down to a seven or eight-mana play, and at that point, Emrakul, the Promised End can become a top end play in a control or midrange deck. This may become a Dragonlord Atarka sort of card for a deck like Naya Midrange that can't consistently get all the way to ten mana to cast Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.
In a delirium deck, Emrakul, the Promised End seems like a perfect fit. The question then becomes: how often will Emrakul, the Promised End win you the game? The answer is: a lot of the time.
Taking a single turn of the opponents' is a big deal, as it will give you the chance to leave them in a terrible position, and use their cards however you want to. At that point your opponent will likely need to topdeck a piece of removal that is an instant to kill Emrakul, the Promised End. Having protection from instants isn't something too many cards get to have printed on them, so when it does happened it's a special occasion. The most popular form of spot removal is at instant speed so killing Emrakul, the Promised End becomes much more difficult.
The last factor is being able to cheat Emrakul, the Promised End into play without actually needing to cast it. The best way to do this is with Nahiri, the Harbinger going ultimate, as providing haste is a big deal. Most of the time this will be an automatic thirteen damage swing that the opponent can't do anything about, and then when Emrakul, the Promised End returns to your hand it can be recast later, assuming the game doesn't immediately end the turn Nahiri, the Harbinger goes ultimate.
While this may look like a colorless card it has a pretty hefty green requirement. I can see this being an addition to token-based green decks to provide an Overrun-type effect, or even just as a huge haste threat. Being able to have some creatures to make use of the emerge cost is going to be the key to making this card effective. Decimator of the Provinces is definitely a good card, so for decks that can make use of it, it will be an all-star.
In many ways this is the next Craterhoof Behemoth, as it can immediately end the game with one big attack. Don't be confused by the wording here though, Decimator of the Provinces will not give itself an additional +2+2 when it comes into play, because that trigger happens upon casting it. On the flipside, like other big Eldrazi creatures, this means even if Decimator of the Provinces gets countered it will still pump the squad.
As if we didn't have enough good white cards, here's Gisela, the Broken Blade. Is it actually broken like the name indicates? It might be. In order to maximize this card though, it does want to be played alongside Bruna, the Fading Light. However, a simple 4/3 with first strike, flying, and lifelink is good enough without any more text! The card would already be worthy of play in Standard. The fact that melding Gisela, the Broken Blade into Brisela, Voice of Nightmares is even possible is ludicrous.
So, now the real question is what Standard decks will be playing Gisela, the Broken Blade? Competing with Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Archangel Avacyn for slots in white decks should be interesting. Expect to see slower white decks move towards playing Gisela, the Broken Blade since they can more easily get to seven mana for Bruna, the Fading Light. Bruna, the Fading Light may not seem as broken as Gisela, the Broken Blade but it is still very playable. Decks will want to try to exile Gisela, the Broken Blade whenever possible rather than simply killing it so it doesn't get returned to play with Bruna, the Fading Light. Once Brisela, Voice of Nightmares is in play it will be extremely difficult to kill, since most removal costs three or less, but the card mostly can't be beaten without dealing with somehow.
Delirium-based decks haven't really gotten off the ground in Standard yet, but this card aims to change that. Without delirium, Ishkanah, Grafwidow is nothing special, but this shouldn't be played in a deck that can't get to delirium consistently.
Once delirium is turned on, this guy is a very solid threat as the three tokens are a lot of value. The activated ability is a nice addition to the card but the most important thing is getting those Spider Tokens into play. This may be the biggest incentive to play a delirium deck to date.
Here we have a classic graveyard enabler that can see play in a variety of graveyard-based strategies, including a delirium deck. However, this is a tribal card that is going to require zombies alongside it. There is not a zombie deck in Shadows over Innistrad Standard but if there is going to be one come Eldritch Moon, expect Gisa and Geralf to be the centerpiece. Being able to recast creatures from the graveyard is a powerful effect, but it is unclear whether this card will actually find a home.
This is the last mythic I will be discuss, but it's a doozy.
It seems like there will be some powerful multicolored cards in the set. The card bears resemblance to Wolfir Silverheart, a popular Standard card from Avacyn Restored, but may very well be better. Choosing not to cast spells is pretty easy, and when this guy flips, there is another significant effect. Not only will the pump bonus happen but fighting and killing off an opposing creatures is a huge deal.
This is basically the ultimate Werewolf. It is very similar to other werewolves in flavor except it is clearly much more powerful. At only five mana, Ulrich of the Krallenhorde is a Bargain. Expect it to be absurd against decks without much removal, and still reasonable against other decks in the format. It seems that all the stops are getting pulled out for Eldritch Moon, and it will be interesting to explore a red/green Werewolves deck with Ulrich of the Krallenhorde as the centerpiece.
Thanks for reading,