Torrential Gearhulk has finally rotated out of Standard! Huzzah! No longer do we need to worry about a blue mage passing with 6 mana up with the ability to flash in a creature for an ambush in combat and card advantage.
Dream Eater is very different from Torrential Gearhulk, but it offers similar power. One of the reasons that the Gearhulk was so incredible was that it offered the ability to completely turn the corner. You may be spending the early stages of the game trying to stabilize and keep the board under control. You might be falling behind a bit on cards and resources as you try to keep things contained. Then you would reach 6 mana and everything started to come together.
That’s the position Dream Eater can get you into. A 5/6 flash creature definitely had impressive stats and it could close out a game in a hurry, but a 4/3 flying attacker is also extremely hard to defend against. It might take an extra turn to close out a game in theory, but the inability for small creatures to chump block means that this can be an even faster clock.
There’s also a change in deck building restrictions by moving on from Torrential Gearhulk to Dream Eater. Gearhulk required you to play a ton of instants which, honestly, wasn’t that big a deal for any control deck. You’re still going to want to have instants, because that’s how blue decks tend to play, but it’s no longer a path you need to force yourself down. This means you don’t need to play underpowered cards like Opt in your deck.
While getting a second crack at a powerful instant like Vraska’s Contempt with Gearhulk is absurdly powerful, getting to bounce a creature is still an excellent tempo advantage. You’re getting some mana back and you’re helping to keep the board a little bit clearer, which are both big advantages.
Surveil 4 is massive. This can make sure you don’t flood out, put key cards into the graveyard, and help to make sure the top of your library has action. It’s hard to put a card advantage value on something like surveil 4, but there’s a very real in-game advantage that will greatly increase your odds of winning the game.
The combination of needing fewer instants, bouncing an opposing creature, and surveil 4 on your big finisher means you get to utilize what is already looking to be one of Standard’s best weapons. I’m already seeing lots of copies of The Eldest Reborn popping up in winning deck lists, and that card combos absurdly well with Dream Eater. Bouncing one of their creatures during their turn so they have to sacrifice a bigger one on yours is amazing, and surveiling a creature (perhaps another Dream Eater?) to bring back with your Saga is insane. Getting an opponent hellbent before bouncing a creature and ticking up your Saga to make them discard it, or maybe utilizing Nicol Bolas, the Ravager to nab it is a devastating play. These cards are going to be popping up alongside each other for some time to come, so you better be ready!