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Welcome to the Eldritch Moon Constructed Set Review. I’m subbing in for LSV for this set and, just like for Limited, I’ll be using the framework he already has in place.
I do things a little differently than in the Limited review:
I evaluate the cards that have a shot at seeing play in Constructed. Sorry, Cathar’s Companion, you’re in the doghouse when it comes to Constructed. Sometimes I leave a card off that ends up seeing play, but I try to cast a wide net.
I talk about non-Standard formats if applicable. If I don’t mention a specific format, assume I’m talking about Standard.
5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Collected Company. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren. Radiant Flames. Shambling Vent.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Zulaport Cutthroat. Explosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept. Anticipate. Transgress the Mind.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living Guildpact. Naturalize. Duress.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. (One with Nothing). I believe it was tech vs. Howling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.
Bedlam Reveler might be my personal favorite card from Eldritch Moon. If you’re like me, then you’re a fiend for value, but you lack the patience to wait around with a bunch of reactive spells in your hand. If you’re like me, then Bedlam Reveler is for you!
In a deck built with it in mind (with a lot of cheap, proactive instants), you should be able to cast Bedlam Reveler for 4 or 5 mana within a reasonable time frame. Once you empty your hand and cast it, you get an Ancestral Recall stapled to a body with very respectable combat stats. A devilishly powerful card!
The challenge posed by Bedlam Reveler is that you badly want to be empty-handed when you cast it. Decks with tons of instants and sorceries typically like to have permission spells, or at least some number of situational, reactive cards. These don’t play well with the Reveler. Moreover, the more expensive cards you want to put in your deck (Goblin Dark-Dwellers, Chandra, Flamecaller, etc.), the worse this card is going to be. Specifically, Bedlam Reveler is horrible to draw in multiples since you’ll have to discard redundant copies when you cast the first. A build-around card that’s poor in multiples is a bit awkward.
So where might Bedlam Reveler find a home? Well, it’s excellent with burn spells, so even though it’s not fast enough to go in a red suicide blitz deck, it’s playable in either the main deck or sideboard of burn-heavy midrange decks. I also like it alongside discard spells, since they tend to be cheap and help you empty your hand (and fill your graveyard) quickly. Perhaps an RB or RB/x Midrange deck might be interested.
Collective Defiance might just be the card red mages have been waiting for. It’s a powerful burn spell that can take out a creature, go to the dome, or both. The most common use will be as a 4-mana Searing Blaze, which is honestly still a great card, since Searing Blaze was so far above par for a 2-mana spell.
The one-sided Windfall ability is expensive, but also useful. You can use it to cycle unwanted lands, or to trigger madness on a Fiery Temper. There’s also the back-door possibility of forcing the opponent to discard once they’ve set up (perhaps even with a tutor effect) a hand that they’re excited about.
Collective Defiance is the perfect mix of a big, dumb burn spell that’ll do exactly what you want it to do every time, and a complicated, flexible spell that can give you a decent amount of control over the game. Escalate is a powerful ability, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Collective Defiance is the best escalate card for Constructed.
I referenced Furyblade Vampire yesterday when discussing 2-drop creatures that enable madness. This looks powerful enough that it will very likely make the cut in dedicated Vampire decks, and might even be good enough to stand alone in non-tribal red aggro decks. Attacking for 4 trample damage every turn is no joke, and it won’t take much more than 4 Fiery Tempers to turn the discard requirement into something positive (or at least neutral).
If it weren’t for the existence of Fiery Impulse, the printing of Galvanic Bombardment might’ve really changed the landscape of Standard. As it is, I predict this will be a marginal improvement over Fiery Impulse in decks that are willing to play the full 4 copies. It will probably become a staple card once Magic Origins rotates out of Standard.
For convenience, I decided to review this land alongside its meld partner, Hanweir Garrison. It will appear in the lands section as well.
Often, lands like Hanweir Battlements don’t start out as the most exciting cards in a set, but then prove to be among the most widely played. The reason is that the marginal difference in upgrading your basic Mountain to a Hanweir Battlements can be much larger than the marginal difference in upgrading your Fiery Impulse to a Galvanic Bombardment. There is no shortage of powerful creatures and spells in Standard, but there are no lands that can do what Hanweir Battlements can do.
This card is great. When you’re playing an aggressive red deck, the ability to look down in the midgame and find a land that can translate into extra damage on the opponent is incredible! It’s most exciting to imagine giving a big creature haste, so this might be great in a Dragons or Eldrazi deck. But giving a 1-drop creature haste in a red aggro deck is plenty good enough. I expect Hanweir Battlements to see play—at least in small numbers—in every red deck that has smooth mana and a handful of creatures.
Battlements also has a pretty unique effect in Modern and Legacy. We saw Slayer’s Stronghold shine in the prebanning Amulet Bloom deck, so it’s not a big leap to imagine Hanweir Battlements seeing play also. It’s a land that you can search for with Knight of the Reliquary, or just play for value in some red creature decks.
Hanweir Garrison looks like a powerful creature. It doesn’t unload damage as quickly as Goblin Rabblemaster, but it has a similar ability to run away with a game if it goes unanswered. This definitely meets the bar for a Constructed-quality 3-drop.
And let’s talk about the meld mechanic. Meld almost seems too good to be true. It seems too fancy, too flashy to be a realistic plan in Constructed, and that might be true. The thing is, it’s not really a “plan,” it’s more of a bonus ability that you can build into your deck and take advantage of once in a while.
And take advantage you will, as Hanweir, the Writhing Township is a hasted creature that will win the game in the very short span of 1 or 2 turns. Since you don’t have to do anything special to get this ability (Hanweir Battlements and Hanweir Garrison are both good cards that can stand alone), this is truly fantastic.
I’ll be starting Hanweir Garrison as an auto 3-of in all of my decks which are playing multiple copies of Hanweir Battlements. I also think the Garrison is good enough to see play in some multicolor beatdown decks that might not be able to afford the colorless land.
It seems like the best thing to do with this in Standard is harmlessly offer your opponent a depleted Demonic Pact. That’s a game-winning interaction, and Demonic Pact is a very powerful card that’s never been quite good enough for widespread play.
The problem, of course, is that the Demonic Pact decks struggle in the games where they don’t draw Pact (or where it dies to a Dromoka’s Command), and Harmless Offering is going to make that problem even worse. You can build Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy or Nahiri, the Harbinger into your deck to cycle through copies of Harmless Offering when they’re not useful, but I’d still be very nervous sleeving up a playset of a card that does nothing on its own.
I’d be inclined to start with 1 or 2 copies of Harmless Offering alongside Dark Petition and Demonic Pact. That said, I’ve tried absolutely everything with Demonic Pact over the past year and I’ve never been quite happy. I’ll be surprised if this combo winds up being a major player in Standard.
The decks that would be interested in Impetuous Devils would’ve probably rather had Ball Lightning. I don’t envision this card seeing widespread play, but killing a Tireless Tracker and getting in 4 damage is a pretty solid effect. Maybe you’ll see this in small numbers, or as a sideboard card.
Incendiary Flow isn’t necessarily better than Galvanic Bombardment, but it does a job that’s a lot less replaceable. It can send a Hangarback Walker straight to the scrapyard, or it can burn the opponent, helping you kill off a weakened planeswalker or player.
Incendiary Flow will be a 4-of if there’s a dedicated burn deck. It’ll also appear in smaller numbers in any multicolor red midrange deck.
Mirrorwing Dragon might not quite earn a 3.0 rating on its own. But the fact that it reflects well on Draconic Roar, Thunderbreak Regent, and the other Dragon-themed cards from Dragons of Tarkir might allow it to shine new light on an old archetype.
Even though I haven’t completely given up hope, I have to admit that Avaricious Dragon proved to be a disappointment. Given that, Dragons players were forced to either spend 6 mana, or go off-color to find a Dragon to complement Thunderbreak Regent. If you actually wanted to play a strong Constructed card (Dragonlord Ojutai), you were forced fully into Jeskai.
Now, Mirrorwing Dragon changes all that, allowing you to build Mono-Red Dragons, RB Dragons, RG Dragons, or anything else you really want. Let’s not forget that Draconic Roar is still the best burn spell on raw power level that you have access to in Standard. Let’s also not forget that Dragons are really sweet!
Despite not being as flashy as something like Ojutai, I believe Mirrorwing Dragon is a strong Constructed card. At 5 mana, it’s a pretty affordable giant flyer, and giant flyers are good at killing planeswalkers, and protecting you from smaller flyers. At 5 toughness, it lives through Languish, Grasp of Darkness, Chandra, Flamecaller, and most burn spells. Even the black removal spells that are able to kill it will come at the cost of your opponent slaughtering all of his or her own creatures!
Finally, you could actually put Mirrorwing Dragon in a deck with combat tricks in order to pump your whole team. Many of the old-fashioned Dragon decks played token makers like Hangarback Walker and Thopter Engineer. It’s only a short leap to including a card like Titan’s Strength in your deck and setting up big turns with Mirrorwing Dragon and the rest of your creatures.
The costs on Nahiri’s Wrath are quite high, so you probably won’t want this in Constructed unless you have madness or other ways to take advantage of discarding cards. But if you’re okay with discarding a few cards from your hand, this will let you do it, and will decimate the opponent’s board while you’re at it.
One of the great appeals of Nahiri’s Wrath is its ability to kill planeswalkers. I envision something like discarding Fiery Temper and Thunderbreak Regent to massacre a Gideon and a Sylvan Advocate, while using the Fiery Temper to take out the Knight Token. That’s actually a pretty modest use of the card, and with a fuller hand or more madness cards, this might get extremely powerful.
I’m skeptical of Prophetic Ravings seeing play in Standard. But this could easily be a combo card for older formats like Modern and Legacy. It’s a natural fit in the Jeskai Ascendancy combo decks, since it turns mana creatures into looters and can help you win immediately, even if you started the turn without a creature.
It’s also just a cheap way to get cards into the graveyard, which are always worth paying attention to because of reanimation strategies.
Savage Alliance is a way for red creature decks to get a leg up in the mirror match, and against token decks. Midrange and control decks will still prefer Radiant Flames, but if you have a lot of low-toughness creatures of your own, then Savage Alliance can be a one-sided board wipe, and can even help you unload extra damage with the trample ability.
Since it’s an instant, it’s also a savage trump card against Secure the Wastes. I expect this to see a healthy amount of Constructed play.
Shreds of Sanity
I’m not crazy enough to want to play with Shreds of Sanity in any kind of fair and square capacity. But this is a pretty cool card for combo decks. In particular, if you have the ability to copy this (like with Pyromancer Ascension), it can be a game-winner. Imagine having an active Pyromancer Ascension and returning Desperate Ritual, Sleight of Hand, Manamorphose, and Grapeshot to your hand!
I don’t know if it’ll be good enough for Modern Storm, but this is a cool card that you might see pop up somewhere down the road.
There’s a big difference between 2 and 3 mana in a Constructed aggro deck, so I’m not convinced that Stromkirk Occultist is going to be a staple in RB Vampires, or in mono-red aggro. But it could realistically be a fringe card in either deck. Trample is very nice, especially with its triggered ability, and will help it play well with cards like Titan’s Strength. If you can reliably cast this for the madness cost, it’s a solid card.
Again, I’m a bit skeptical, but Thermo-Alchemist is a decent way for red or UR Burn decks to push damage past blockers. Creatures that untap themselves can also be pretty cool with Auras that grant activated abilities, so maybe Thermo-Alchemist could pair with Prophetic Ravings or a different Aura to make some wacky, fringe deck.
Weaver of Lightning
Similar to Thermo-Alchemist, Weaver of Lightning doesn’t look like it’ll see widespread Constructed play. But at least it’s a little bit more clear when you’d want this. If you have a spell-heavy red or UR deck, and come up against an aggressive deck with a lot of 1-toughness creatures, then Weaver of Lightning will be a good sideboard card. The fact that it has reach even makes it a natural enemy of any kind of UW Spirits deck.
5 6 Red Cards
- Incendiary Flow
- Collective Defiance
- Hanweir Battlements
- Hanweir Garrison
- Bedlam Reveler
- Mirrorwing Dragon
Red is a great color in Eldritch Moon. Red gets to do what red does. It gets to burn people, it gets to play giant Dragons, and it gets to use quick, aggressive creatures to punish opponents with slow draws. I’m most curious about whether or not Bedlam Reveler will have a home, and what exactly that home might look like.
There really seems to be a burn spell for every purpose in this set. Need a 1-mana spell to keep pace with White Weenie? Try Galvanic Bombardment. Need to answer Hangarback Walker or kill a creature without triggering Catacomb Sifter and Zulaport Cutthroat? Try Incendiary Flow. Secure the Wastes giving you trouble? Savage Alliance. In the market for something more powerful? Collective Defiance.
Red was remarkably poor in Shadows over Innistrad Standard. I believe that Eldritch Moon offers red what it needs to take back its throne as Standard’s best beatdown color.