Throne of Eldraine is an appealing set for those of us who like to stay mono-color. The most obvious example of this appeal is the adamant mechanic, which gives your spells and creatures bonuses if you spend three mana of the appropriate color to cast them. While it looks as though adamant will be more important in Limited than in Constructed, there are other incentives as well.
Each color has a powerful rare creature with three colored mana symbols in its cost. And most important of all are the nonbasic lands.
The Castles are among the most powerful lands printed in recent memory. They rival Constructed staples of the past such as Kjeldoran Outpost; Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx; Desolate Lighthouse; and Sea Gate Wreckage. The difference, however, is that the Castles come at virtually no cost! They tap for colored mana, and only make a very simple request before they enter the battlefield untapped. On top of all of that, they’re not even legendary! These are going to be gamechangers.
But that’s not all. There’s also a common cycle of lands that, for some mono-color decks, might somehow be even better!
The common lands have a somewhat higher cost, requiring three of the corresponding basic land before they enter the battlefield untapped. Importantly, however, these lands count as the appropriate basic land type, so multiple Idyllic Granges will help each other to enter untapped, and a single one will ensure that your Castle Ardenvale is good to go.
Another important note is that the shocklands do have the basic land types for these purposes. So it’s easy to imagine Overgrown Tombs helping Castle Locthwain enter the battlefield untapped. However, the high cost of the common cycle of lands makes it likely that they’ll only be played in mono-color or nearly mono-color decks.
For this reason, exploring mono-color decks feels like the perfect place to start in Throne of Eldraine Standard.
Making your manabase work for you is a secret to success in Constructed Magic. The marginal upgrade from a Plains to a Castle Ardenvale, or even to the less-flashy Idyllic Grange, is much larger than the marginal upgrade from an 8/10 spell to a 9/10 spell. So even though mono-color decks give up some small value in not having access to multiple colors worth of Standard’s best cards, they can more than make up for it in the free value they’ll take from their nonbasic lands. All of that is not even to mention that mono-color decks have zero risk of color screw, and less risk of their lands entering tapped at the wrong time.
Let’s take each color one by one.
Mono-White with Throne of Eldraine
Adanto, the First Fort was one of my favorite things about the White Weenie and Vampire decks of old Standard. Castle Ardenvale allows you to have this effect every game, even when you can’t get the traction of three early attackers. It gives your low-curve deck resilience to manaflood, and will be a major headache for control players.
Idyllic Grange is one of the two lands that I had in mind when I said that the common cycle of lands might sometimes outshine the rares. When your hand comes out smoothly, Idyllic Grange has zero cost, and can give you that tiny extra boost that you need to get over the finish line in a close game. A +1/+1 counter might be the crucial difference between attacking into a blocking creature or being stopped dead in your tracks. It might allow you to unexpectedly pick off a planeswalker or allow a creature to survive next turn’s Flame Sweep. Constructed Magic operates on thin margins, and I predict that Idyllic Grange will mean the difference between many wins and losses.
Mono-White by Reid Duke
3 Castle Ardenvale 4 Idyllic Grange 14 Plains (331) 4 Venerable Knight 3 Law-Rune Enforcer 3 Giant Killer 4 Charming Prince 1 Tithe Taker 2 Tomik, Distinguished Advokist 3 Linden, the Steadfast Queen 4 Venerated Loxodon 4 Healer's Hawk 4 Ajani's Pridemate 3 Gideon Blackblade 2 Ajani, Strength of the Pride 2 Conclave Tribunal
Of note, 14 basic lands will be the absolute lowest I go in any of my recommended decklists. This is because if you don’t have a basic in your opening hand, you’re guaranteed that at least your first land will enter the battlefield tapped–quite painful for a deck like this.
There are multiple directions you can go with White Weenie with Throne of Eldraine. However, as I sketched out Knight tribal decks, it felt as though there weren’t quite enough payoffs unless you touched into at least two of the Mardu colors. Instead, I’ve gone with a small “Soul Sisters” theme, highlighted by the excellent Linden, the Steadfast Queen.
Mono-Blue with Throne of Eldraine
Considering all archetypes and all constructed formats, Castle Vantress might just be the most powerful of all the Castles. It should slot in comfortably as a one-of in most of Standard’s blue-based control decks.
Mystic Sanctuary is almost certainly the most powerful of the common cycle of lands. This card has combo potential, as well as serving as an effective Mystical Tutor in games that have gone long enough. There’s talk of using Mystic Sanctuary to set up miracle cards in Modern and Legacy.
All of that said, these lands are the most difficult to slot into mono-color beatdown decks in Standard. Similarly, blue is the color that has the most difficult time piecing together a beatdown deck, particularly with Tempest Djinn and Curious Obsession rotating out of standard.
Since these lands require a bit more finesse to use, blue will be the one color for which I don’t recommend a decklist in today’s article. Nevertheless, keep a close eye on both Castle Vantress and Mystic Sanctuary.
Mono-Black with Throne of Eldraine
It looks like the effect of Witch’s Cottage will be more suited for attrition games in Limited, and not as relevant for curving out in Constructed. Still, small bonuses add up, and should not be ignored.
Castle Locthwain, on the other hand, is a powerhouse. A repeatable ability to draw extra cards is amazing, and–as with the other Castles–the cost is outrageously low. It’s best suited for a low-curve deck looking to empty its hand, both because the life-loss will be less annoying, and because you’ll be able to start sinking mana into your Castle a lot more quickly.
Mono-Black by Reid Duke
4 Castle Locthwain 17 Swamp (339) 2 Witch's Cottage 4 Knight of the Ebon Legion 4 Gutterbones 4 Footlight Fiend 1 Foulmire Knight 4 Blacklance Paragon 4 Order of Midnight 3 Ayara, First of Locthwain 4 Murderous Rider 4 Rotting Regisaur 1 Spawn of Mayhem 2 Rankle, Master of Pranks 2 Priest of Forgotten Gods
Thanks to the utility of Priest, Rankle, and Murderous Rider, I’ve been able to unlock the achievement of brewing a deck comprised entirely of creatures and lands! Imagine the consistency of a mono-colored deck made almost entirely of creatures that cost three or less mana, plus a manabase that ensures you’ll never get flooded. This consistency comes along with the ability to kill opposing creatures, draw extra cards, and recur your key pieces from the graveyard. Mono-Black is a deck that might really become viable with Throne of Eldraine.
Mono-Red with Throne of Eldraine
Mono-Red by Reid Duke
2 Castle Embereth 4 Dwarven Mine 16 Mountain (343) 4 Scorch Spitter 4 Fervent Champion 4 Runaway Steam-Kin 4 Robber of the Rich 4 Bonecrusher Giant 2 Chandra, Acolyte of Flame 4 Shock 1 Skewer the Critics 4 Light Up the Stage 3 Slaying Fire 4 Experimental Frenzy
Mono-Red is a tried-and-true archetype that’s already had extensive success in pre-Eldraine Standard. With free upgrades coming from the manabase and a couple of key new printings, how can you go wrong?
Slaying Fire is reminiscent of Flame Javelin, which was a very nice card when it was legal in Standard. Slaying Fire has the additional appeal of being perfect to recast with Chandra, Acolyte of Flame, and giving you massive reach in the Experimental Frenzy games.
Robber of the Rich is a highly efficient two-drop. It unloads quick damage just like Viashino Pyromancer used to do, but also has the potential to provide card advantage when the situation calls for it.
Speaking of card advantage, the best new printing for red decks might just be Bonecrusher Giant. Two mana for two damage is a tiny bit under par for Constructed, but when you tack on the ability to get an oversized creature, you have an absolutely amazing card.
The one thing that could weaken Mono-Red compared to previous Standard is a lack of hard-hitting one-drops. It seems to me that every red deck built in the next few months will start with four Scorch Spitters. However, you need more than that in order to get out of the gates quickly and ensure that you can trigger spectacle for Light up the Stage and Skewer the Critics. Fervent Champion is unexciting with no equipment and no other Knights, but at least it’s a hasty one-drop that happens to be good in multiples.
Mono-Green with Throne of Eldraine
Finally, we come to green. Like the Witch’s Cottage, Gingerbread Cabin looks like more of a small bonus or a Limited card, rather than something to build for in Constructed. However, Castle Garenbrig is definitely something to keep an eye on.
Lands that can generate more than one mana are among the most broken category of cards in MTG. Even when they don’t look like much, they almost always overperform expectations. Granted, Castle Garenbrig looks less like a Gaea’s Cradle or Ancient Tomb and more like a Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx or a Temple of the False God. But let’s not forget, those cards are awesome and were both tremendously impactful in Standard during their respective eras!
Perhaps the single most obvious use for Castle Garenbrig is to cast Primeval Titan ahead of schedule in Modern. However, there’s plenty to pair with it in Standard, including Feasting Troll King, Voracious Hydra, and Hydroid Krasis.
Much like Castle Vantress, I suspect that Castle Garenbrig will find its best home in multicolor decks. But a free bonus is a free bonus, so let’s look at what Mono-Green might look like in Throne of Eldraine Standard.
Mono-Green by Reid Duke
4 Castle Garenbrig 1 Gingerbread Cabin 18 Forest (347) 4 Pelt Collector 4 Wildwood Tracker 2 Barkhide Troll 4 Growth-Chamber Guardian 3 Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig 2 Questing Beast 3 Voracious Hydra 4 Syr Faren, the Hedgehammer 3 Once Upon a Time 3 Vivien, Arkbow Ranger 2 The Great Henge 3 Giant Growth
As mentioned, this Stompy deck is less about the lands and more about a handful of beautiful nonland printings for green mages in Throne of Eldraine.
Wildwood Tracker is unassuming, but slots in alongside Pelt Collector as a hard-hitting one-drop. Once Upon a Time builds in consistency, while The Great Henge offers power and the ability to go toe-to-toe with control decks in the lategame. Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig is a natural fit that overpowers everything else in Standard on raw stats. And Questing Beast is a perfect curve-topper to unload damage and attack into bigger blockers.
But the single best card for an archetype like this is Syr Faren, the Hengehammer. At face value, Syr Faren is a two-drop that attacks for four damage. When you look deeper, you realize that he also allows you to get double value out of pump effects like Vivien, Arkbow Ranger, and the ancient weapon of Giant Growth.
Yes, I actually believe that Giant Growth can be a Standard-playable card. With Syr Faren, it represents six damage for one mana–even red decks can’t get anywhere close to that! It also serves as a “green ritual” when it comes to getting The Great Henge onto the battlefield, making it a versatile and efficient card that can make for some very nice turns.
And what does Castle Garenbrig do in this deck? Well, you could almost certainly play this deck without the Castle, but why not include it to help you double-spell on turn 5 and 6? (Which is particularly good when you’re drawing extra cards from The Great Henge). It’s also a great pairing with Voracious Hydra, which is a strong and versatile curve-topper in this deck that can represent either removal, or simply a giant trampler.
So there’s a first look at the nonbasic lands from Throne of Eldraine, as well as some sketches for monocolor decks in the new format. I can’t promise that every deck in this article will make the final cut in its current form. However, I do believe that they’re great starting points for exploring Eldraine Standard, where at least some monocolor strategies are sure to be major players.