By the time you read this I'm sure there will be more cards in Throne of Eldraine spoiled. That's the nature of preview season! It's super fun to think about where all these new goodies will fit in. To a certain extent I believe it is easier to try and predict if a card will be good in Modern or Legacy. In Standard there are many more cards that might make an impact, and there is a huge rotation coming up as well. We really don't know what the next decks in Standard will be in a couple of week's time. That said, I'm going to talk about some cards that really stand out from my perspective.
This card looks awesome to me. Casting cards off the opponent's deck is very reminiscent of Thief of Sanity, and we know how good that card ended up being. I suspect the haste on Robber of the Rich will end up being much more relevant than reach.
This should be at its best in aggressive red decks. Aggro decks traditionally have lower-costed cards compared to the slower decks of the format. A great example is Mono-Red Aggro, which typically tops out at four mana. Cheap spells means you can empty your hand more easily, which is perfect for enabling the Robber's ability. Notably, you can attack with a different Rogue to cast the exiled cards, so there is some benefit to having other rogues in the deck. However, I don't think you need to focus on that too much.
Worst-case scenario, it's still a two-mana 2 power haste creature. Sign me up!
This will end up being a tremendously powerful sideboard card. Most of the time the decks you want countermagic against are also blue, so I think it will end up being better than Negate. The fact that it is versatile enough to counter Risen Reef or Teferi, Time Raveler is what makes it so strong. It will be interesting to see if white-blue decks want to sideboard Mystical Dispute or Dovin's Veto.
This card reminds me a lot of the power level of Veil of Summer: not good enough to maindeck, but perfect out of the sideboard.
Initially, when reading over Oko, Thief of Crowns, none of the three planeswalker abilities stood out to me as particularly impressive. Then I looked at the card a second time, and all of a sudden I started to understand why Oko, Thief of Crowns could end up being a format staple. This a planeswalker that is both cheap, and has a lot of loyalty. We very rarely see planeswalkers with both qualities. The ability to continually generate Food tokens provides inevitability against aggro decks.
We still aren't exactly sure what cards we will want to play Oko, Thief of Crowns alongside, but there are sure to be options that synergize with Food tokens. Oko itself also works very well with extra Food. Once you tick up a couple times you'll incidentally have some artifacts lying around that you may not need. That's when you can start turning your food into 3/3 creatures, or exchanging a Food for an artifact or creature of the opponent's. This is a planeswalker to watch out for.
It wouldn't be fair to talk about Oko and not also mention The Royal Scions in the same breath. The two planeswalkers are similar in many ways, the biggest being they are both three-mana multicolor planeswalkers that start on a large amount of loyalty. Keep in mind Arclight Phoenix is still Standard-legal and loves looting effects. From a power level standpoint I don't think The Royal Scions is quite as strong as Oko, but the fact that it fits so well in the Izzet color pair, which already has a number of tools from Guilds of Ravnica, is a big deal.
This is essentially the new Ravenous Chupacabra. Creatures that can come into play and destroy other creatures are rare, and typically end up seeing Standard play. This one is going to be best against smaller creatures, but there is a decent chance you will have it in a deck that is capable of generating plenty of Food, so it can scale up and deal with bigger threats. Green is losing staples like Jadelight Ranger, so a card advantage creature is a welcome sign for the color.
Could Mono-Black become a real deck? I'm a bit surprised to see a triple-black creature with such a high power level. I would have thought Wizards of the Coast would want to take a breather from those with Goblin Chainwhirler and friends rotating out. However, Mono-Black really hasn't existed in Standard since the days of Zombies, so Ayara, First of Locthwain should be okay for the health of the format.
We are talking about a creature that will both drain the opponent over time, and become a source of card advantage. By continually activating Ayara, First of Locthwain to draw a card, you are likely to find more creatures to continue draining life. This should be very impactful if Ayara doesn't immediately die. It will be at its best in decks with cheap creatures that don't mind being sacrificed.
This is another really strong black card. Technically, it isn't just a creature, because it comes with an Adventure! I am really looking forward to seeing Adventures in action. This one seems particularly strong, being both a Hero's Downfall and a very solid creature to boot. By putting this card in your deck you essentially have a built-in 2-for-1. I think we will see four copies of Murderous Rider make it into most of the midrange black decks of the format.
Since the creature part of the card has lifelink you can easily gain back life that you lost playing Swift End. I suspect the vast majority of the time you will want to play Swift End in order to get the full value out of this card, as basically every deck plays creatures or planeswalkers. There will be rare situations against aggro strategies where you will be worried about your life total, so in these spots immediately casting Murderous Rider will be fine. The flexibility is nice.
Getting a token every turn is quite powerful in a format that looks like it should be midrange-oriented. Keep in mind, Nexus of Fate and Scapeshift are rotating out. Outlaws' Merriment will be competing with cards like Experimental Frenzy as a way to generate an advantage over the course of multiple turns. I don't think this will see as much play as some of the other cards I have mentioned, due to color restrictions, but it should certainly see some action.
This is another card I'm extremely excited to see in action. I think it may end up being good enough to just be played in every green deck as a four-of. We will wait and see of course, but on the surface level, this is one of the few cards that could make its way into Modern as well. Getting to cast this for free is huge, as it can rescue you from a mana screw situation if you keep a land-light hand, or find a powerful creature. Cards like this sometimes go under the radar because it's an enabler card rather than something that impacts the board.
A good comparison is to Commune with Dinosaurs, a card we saw in a lot of Dinosaur decks. Once Upon a Time can be played in any deck with lots of lands and creatures. It does notably get worse the more noncreature spells you put in your deck. We will be seeing this card cast a lot without paying the mana cost, and that in itself is exciting to me.
This strikes me as a fantastic sideboard card. There will be decks that don't have big creatures against which you won't want to play it. Against decks that do have large creatures, it is really nice. You get to first kill a big guy with Chop Down, and then you can tap another big creature down later with Giant Killer. This is a Gruul deck's worst nightmare!
In my opinion most of the powerful adventure cards are being underrated. This one is quite solid, but you do need to have other 1/1s in your deck. However, without Goblin Chainwhirler around, the initial 1/1 created from Heart's Desire should stick around a reasonably often. We may very well see some token-based synergies in the format, and this fits perfectly in that style of deck. Also, Lovestruck Beast can always block, and it looks like a format where that could be quite important.
The existence of Witch's Vengeance is very important. I don't know that it will be good immediately, but we saw how great Vampires ended up being for a short time. There are definitely tribal support cards in Throne of Eldraine, specifically for Knights. Having a card like Witch's Vengeance around that can keep tribal decks in check is good; it looks like mostly a sideboard card in a specific sort of metagame.
The best tribe in Throne of Eldraine is going to be Knights. We are seeing multiple good white creatures that work well with this tribe. Inspiring Veteran is a card we should all be very familiar with, as we have seen it before in other tribes. The power level of this one will directly correlate with how good the other Knights end up being. As a standalone, it's not much to look at, but when we see a card like this we know there will be plenty of other Knights to pair with it.
This is another indication Knights are going to be big. Up to this point we haven't seen many lands in Throne of Eldraine (they may be coming), but right now this is the one that impresses me the most. Training Grounds should go straight into Knights decks. We also get a signal here that the Knights decks will likely be Mardu-based with potentially some equipment as well. This reminds me a lot of Unclaimed Territory.
On the surface Maraleaf Pixie looks like a clear inclusion in blue-green ramp decks. The card has the right power level, but also has some competition for what it is trying to do. The fact that blue-green decks usually play Risen Reef will mean that often you would rather have Leafkin Druid. I think this caps how good Maraleaf Pixie will be in the early days of Throne of Eldraine Standard, but definitely don't forget about this one.
Seth Manfield is a professional Magic player and member of both the Magic Hall of Fame and the 2019 Magic Pro League.
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