Previous Set Reviews

Limited

White | Black | Red | Green | Colorless, Lands, and Gold

Constructed

White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Colorless, Lands, and Gold

Eldritch Moon is here, and it’s time for me to review each and every card, starting with Limited. A few quick notes before I get to the reviews:

The grade on each card is much less important than the analysis. It’s a good shorthand, but what I write about each card gives a lot more context to the grades, and goes deeper on cards that defy a simple grade (such as situational cards).

Some set specific mechanics (emerge, escalate, and meld) are hard to understand until you get to see them in action. It’s also not completely clear how Eldritch Moon will change Shadows over Innistrad’s existing mechanics (delirium, madness, tribal synergies, etc.). I’ll provide my best estimate as to how good the cards that relate to these abilities are, and I like to assume that all of a set’s themes are well-supported.

LSV’s are some big shoes to fill, but I’ll do my absolute best. He’s a genius when it comes to evaluating new cards on the fly, but I think I can do well enough to give you a solid starting point with Eldritch Moon. He’s also a great, entertaining writer when he’s not making us all cringe. Sorry (but not sorry) if I can’t continue his proud tradition of a pun in every single card review.

Ratings Scale

Retired and inducted into the Limited Hall of Fame: Pack Rat. Umezawa’s Jitte.
5.0: The best of the best. (Archangel Avacyn. Sorin, Grim Nemesis.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (The Gitrog Monster. Descend Upon the Sinful. Jace, Unraveller of Secrets. Avacyn’s Judgment.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Burn from Within. Devil’s Playground. Elusive Tormentor.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Duskwatch Recruiter. Breakneck Rider. Fiery Temper.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Graf Mole. Dauntless Cathar. Niblis of Dusk.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Nephalia Moondrakes. Stormrider Spirit. Reduce to Ashes.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Expose Evil. Inspiring Captain. Lamplighter of Selhoff.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Fork in the Road. Convicted Killer. Militant Inquisitor.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Moldgraf Scavenger. Vampire Noble. Seagraf Skaab.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Invasive Surgery. Ethereal Guidance. Open the Armory.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Harness the Storm. Vessel of Volatility.)

Advanced Stitchwing

Limited Rating: 3.0

Advanced Stitchwing is on par with Stitchwing Skaab and significantly better than Ghoulsteed, which makes it a very strong Limited card. A 3/4 flyer is capable of dominating games, and this one can come back over and over again. Add the fact that you can discard or mill your own Advanced Stitchwing for value, and you have a premium card that ought to go highly in booster draft.

Chilling Grasp

Limited Rating: 2.5

Frost Breath would already be a good card in Shadows over Innistrad block since it’s fairly aggressive and there are archetypes where having a lot of cheap instants are helpful. The madness is only a small bonus, but a small bonus on an already good card makes for something you’re quite happy with.

Coax from the Blind Eternities

Limited Rating: 0.5

Coax from the Blind Eternities can let you tutor for a handful of the powerful rares in Eldritch Moon. The problem is that you then have to keep your powerful rare in the sideboard! You could contrive situations where this card is good, such as having multiples, or having multiple different Eldrazi that you’ve decided not to put in your deck anyway. All things considered, though, this is a bad Limited card that should mostly be ignored.

Contingency Plan

Limited Rating: 0.5

Contingency Plan is very bad. For the cost of 2 mana you get card disadvantage and no effect on the board. You do get to mill yourself for a bunch with the small upside of fixing your next draw step or two, but you have to have a very specific deck before this is a passable effect, let alone one you’re excited about. If playing with Contingency Plan is your contingency plan for drafting a self-mill deck, then I recommend not drafting a self-mill deck.

Convolute

Limited Rating: 1.5

Cancel is a decidedly average Limited card. Compared to Cancel, Convolute loses a little bit of late-game value due to the risk that the opponent might be able to pay the 4 mana. On the other hand, it gains a little bit of early-game value by being easier to cast, with less demanding color requirements.

Overall, Convolute is slightly-below-average filler in most normal decks. It’s slightly-above-average filler in decks that have a lot of instants and that keep their mana untapped anyway. You should generally avoid putting more than one copy in your main deck.

Curious Homuncullus // Voracious Reader

Limited Rating: 1.5

The front side of Curious Homunculus is fairly bad, and the flipped side is probably a bit worse than Pyre Hound in a “spells matter” deck. Granted, the fact that you only need to invest 2 mana is a strong point in its favor.

The Homunculus is legitimately great in the right deck. And the good news is that, if you want it, you probably don’t have a ton of competition for it (if you’re not certain that you want it, then you probably don’t want it).

Displace

Limited Rating: 0.5

Displace has some corner-case applications, but really doesn’t do much. 3 mana is far too expensive of a way to protect your creatures from removal spells. Retriggering enters-the-battlefield effects or untapping blockers will also typically not be worth a card. When your opponent has 4 or more detrimental Auras they want to stick on your creatures—dis is da place for Displace.

Docent of Perfection // Final Iteration

Limited Rating: 4.5

You’ll be able to get some of the lynchpins of the “spells matter” deck—like Curious Homunculus—late in the draft. But not Docent of Perfection—this is a card that everyone at the table will want. 5 mana for a 5/4 flying alone is bordering on bomb status. Docent of Perfection also has a powerful triggered ability and the possibility of transforming into something even bigger. This is a stone-cold bomb rare.

The Docent is good enough that you shouldn’t feel pressure to draft your deck around it. That said, it goes from great to insane if you actually have a lot of instants and sorceries to cast.

Drag Under

Limited Rating: 1.5

Sorcery-speed hurts bounce spells a lot, since it means that you won’t get the value of blowing out combat tricks and Auras. 2-mana instant-speed bounce spells like Unsubstantiate will generally be better than Drag Under, and there’s no shortage of those in this Limited format. But Drag Under is a perfectly reasonable Limited card as well.

If you’re playing a spells-matter deck, you’ll be interested in Drag Under since it replaces itself while helping you keep pace on the board. It’ll be especially good in the combo-esque Rise From the Tides decks since it helps buy time while filling your graveyard.

Beyond that, any blue deck that doesn’t get the 1 or 2 Just the Wind effects that it wants will be happy to play a Drag Under. It’s also a solid 23rd card that’ll never be embarrassing to play.

Enlightened Maniac

Limited Rating: 1.5

4 mana is too expensive for a 3/2 ground creature. Enlightened Maniac gives you a bit of extra value in a free chump-block, or the option to bounce-and-recast (or Displace) it for another creature. It’s also the perfect body to use for emerge. But if I had no way to make use of the 0/2 body, I’d be fairly disappointed to play with Enlightened Maniac.

Exultant Cultist

Limited Rating: 2.0

I tend to like any card that can trade off for value in the early game. Exultant Cultist isn’t a good beatdown creature, and it doesn’t have evasion or any other useful abilities. But the games that you get to play it and trade with a 2- or 3-drop creature, it’s going to be excellent. It’s not even the end of the world if you have to chump block with it. This is a pretty strong filler card for defensive decks.

Fogwalker

Limited Rating: 2.0

Like Exultant Cultist, Fogwalker is a great way for defensive decks to add to the board in the early game while getting a bit of bonus value for their troubles. I’ve never been too proud to play a Seagraf Skaab, so I like everything about Fogwalker. I like that it can block most 2-drops without dying, I like that it can lock down a flying creature for a turn, or generally help you in a damage race. I also like that skulk can let it pluck away for a few damage later in the game, once you no longer need it on defense.

Fortune’s Favor

Limited Rating: 1.5

Fortune’s Favor is a fun and interesting card that breaks down to being roughly equal to Inspiration. You can guarantee yourself at least 2 cards, but you cannot count on getting the 2 you want most. If it was a 4-card Fact or Fiction, you could at least choose the single card you want most, but Fortune’s Favor allows your opponent to hide information from you and forces you into making your choice half in the dark. Unless your opponent makes a mistake or tries and fails to pull one over on you, you’re probably going to wind up with something like the best and worst of the 4 cards, or the 2 median cards.

So for practical purposes, I think you should play with Fortune’s Favor when you want Inspiration in your deck. It’s better than Catalog, but still slow and overpriced. Play it in a deck that really needs spells, or has a lot of ways to operate at instant speed. Leave it on the bench in your average, normal-looking decks.

Geist of the Archives

Limited Rating: 2.0

Sigiled Starfish anyone? The extra point of toughness is definitely not worth the extra mana, making Geist of the Archives a bit worse than Sigiled Starfish. But this is still a powerful effect in Limited, helping you to smooth your draw, find your bombs and answer cards, and make sure you don’t flood out in a long game.

If you can use both a ground blocker and a little extra late-game power, then Geist of the Archives is a card you’ll be very happy to play with.

Grizzled Angler // Grisly Anglerfish

Limited Rating: 2.5

Grizzled Angler is a reasonable body with a cool ability. You’ll play him when you need to fill out your creature curve, you’ll play him when you’re interested in self mill, and you’ll play him when you have 2 or 3 colorless creatures to help him transform.

You’ll increase your chances of making a Grisly Anglerfish if you accidentally sleeve your Eldritch Moon DFCs backwards with the Eldrazi side showing. Failing that, remember that artifact creatures like Thraben Gargoyle and Wicker Witch still count.

Identity Thief

Limited Rating: 2.5

When I first read Identity Thief I said to myself, “So it attacks as the best creature on the battlefield.” Upon further inspection, that’s a gross oversimplification.

For starters, if the best creature on the battlefield is yours, and you want to attack with it, then you’ll have to thieve the identity of something else instead. On the other hand, if you target an opposing creature, you make it unable to block for the turn. Other uses of Identity Thief include knocking off Auras and counters, and retriggering enters-the-battlefield abilities.

On the whole, this is a cool card that gives you a good amount of control over the battlefield. If it played better defense, it would be a 3.0 or 3.5.

Imprisoned in the Moon

Limited Rating: 2.0

Imprisoned in the Moon is an average-quality removal spell. It can answer any creature but can be destroyed to free the creature. I’d much rather pay the extra mana for Sleep Paralysis than give my opponent an extra mana for the rest of the game. That said, Sleep Paralysis is quite a good card, and I think Imprisoned in the Moon will still usually make the cut.

One thing that is very nice, as compared to other Auras like Sleep Paralysis and Bound by Moonsilver is that the opponent will have a hard time bouncing and recasting their creature. The bounce spells in this format (Just the Wind, Unsubstantiate, etc.) cannot bounce lands.

The ability to answer a planeswalker might come up, but I doubt it’ll ever be correct to cast this on an opposing land.

Ingenious Skaab

Limited Rating: 2.5

Ingenious Skaab is a very solid body that can hit quite hard if it goes unblocked and you have even a single noncreature spell to cast. In a color lacking a premium common removal spell, Ingenious Skaab could easily be among the best commons.

Laboratory Brute

Limited Rating: 1.5

Hill Giant is slightly-below-average filler for this Limited format, but it’s still reasonable if you need to fill out your mana curve. Add the fact that many blue decks will be interested in delirium and/or have other reasons to mill themselves, and you have a card that will probably make the cut in about 2 out of 3 of your blue decks.

Lunar Force

Limited Rating: 0.5

A permission spell that lets the opponent choose what it counters is not exactly stellar. At first, I thought that you could at least combo this with Ironclad Slayer, but it’s not even an Aura! I guess the value in Lunar Force is supposed to be a contribution to delirium. All things considered, I think you’d have to be a bit of a lunatic to play with this.

Mausoleum Wanderer

Limited Rating: 2.0

The stock of Spirits is on the rise! Mausoleum Wanderer is a Judge’s Familiar that sometimes attacks for 2, and can force the opponent to pay extra if you get very tricky. All of this makes for a solid and appealing card.

Unfortunately, this is the type of card that was designed with Constructed in mind, and it’s far less exciting for Limited play. It’ll range from average to strong depending on how dedicated you are to Spirit tribal synergies.

Mind’s Dilation

Limited: 0.5

Mind’s Dilation is a fancy card that’s going to mostly be slow and bad. You’ll need to cast 3 spells before you get an effect worthy of investing 7 mana. You also need to factor that you can miss (they reveal a land), that they have the option to save up multiple spells for the same turn, and that you might be losing on the board by the time you cast it. All in all, I don’t think it’s very realistic for this card to be worth its cost.

Nebelgast Herald

Limited Rating: 3.0

Pestermite is back! What it lacks in the ability to untap a permanent it makes up for in having a repeatable effect in a deck with other Spirits. Even as a one-shot tapper, Nebelgast Herald is a super efficient Limited card that will virtually always make the cut. In a dedicated Spirit deck, it will give you a ton of control over the battlefield, and is going to be very frustrating for the opponent to play against. Your sorcery-speed Spirits will only tap down blockers to help you on offense, but a healthy number of the Spirits in Eldritch Moon have flash, and will give you more Pestermite effects to help you in a race.

Niblis of Frost

Limited Rating: 4.5

Much like Docent of Perfection, Niblis of Frost starts with an extremely powerful flying body and becomes absurd with just a couple of instants and sorceries. If you’ve done the work to draft around this, you’ll virtually never lose when you draw the Niblis and it survives. This strikes me as one of the best cards in the set for Limited.

Scour the Laboratory

Limited Rating: 2.5

6 mana to draw 3 cards is a pretty fair rate for Limited (6 mana for 4 cards is a bomb). In a stalled game, this can swing a game in your favor even at full price. Factor in that it can be cast for 4 mana in the very late game, or in a dedicated delirium deck, and you have quite a strong Limited card.

You won’t play this in every draft deck, but the decks that do want it will be very, very happy to have it.

Spontaneous Mutation

Limited Rating: 1.5

Reducing the power on an opposing creature isn’t a particularly strong effect, but the price is right on Spontaneous Mutation. In slow decks that want to invest a lot of mana on card drawing (like Scour the Laboratory), Spontaneous Mutation is a great way to make up the tempo disadvantage and protect yourself. Even in a more normal deck, it’s a fine way to answer evasion creatures, and might be a good sideboard card against decks with a lot of flyers.

Again, not every deck will want Spontaneous Mutation, but it will be a very strong and efficient card in the decks that do want it, and you’ll have a good chance of picking them up late in a draft.

Summary Dismissal

Limited Rating: 1.0

This is a fancy way of printing what amounts to a vanilla 4-mana counterspell. I like a Cancel more than most, but I’d be quite unhappy to main deck a 4-mana Cancel, and would only sideboard it in for very slow matchups.

Take Inventory

Limited Rating: 1.5

In an average deck, you need 4 copies to be very excited about Take Inventory, which is simply not something you can plan for with only 2 packs of Eldritch Moon. For a dedicated “spells matter” deck, you’d be thrilled to play 3 copies, and might play with Take Inventory even if you can only get 1 or 2.

It’s always nice to pay attention to cards like this, in case you think you might wheel 1, or if you want to keep the door open for getting extremely lucky. But I think you’ll generally be making a mistake to spend a high pick on Take Inventory early in the draft.

Tattered Haunter

Limited Rating: 2.5

2-power 2-drops with evasion tend to be quite good, and Tattered Haunter is no exception. It might be held back a little bit by the fact that blue isn’t the most aggressive color in Eldritch Moon/Shadows over Innistrad Limited, but it’s still going to be excellent in decks like UW Spirits and UR Beatdown.

Tattered Haunter is just one more reason that Spirits are shaping up to be a very successful tribe in Eldritch Moon Limited.

Turn Aside

Limited Rating: 1.0

Highly situational cards like Turn Aside are never high draft picks. In an emergency where you’ve only drafted 19 or 20 playables, you could put Turn Aside in your main deck and hope things work out for the perfect blowout. Preferably, though, this is sideboard material.

Unsubstantiate

Limited Rating: 2.5

Most Limited decks benefit from having 1 or 2 bounce spells, and Unsubstantiate is a good bounce spell. You’ll still be bouncing creatures 80+% of the time, but once in a while Remanding that Descend Upon the Sinful or Devil’s Playground will be a game-winning play.

All of Innistrad’s bounce spells are hurt by the fact that bounce is relatively plentiful. I’m less likely to spend a high pick on Unsubstantiate when there’s a good chance I’ll be able to pick up a Just the Wind on the cheap later in the draft.

Wharf Infiltrator

Limited Rating: 3.0

Wharf Infiltrator has the potential to run away with a game very quickly. You should pick it highly, and always play it, in order to give yourself a good chance at some easy wins.

Looting and making 3/2 creatures are both extremely powerful abilities to trigger when your creature deals combat damage. But both abilities are slightly worse than they look on Wharf Infiltrator because you have to discard your good cards in order to make the 3/2 creatures. Later in the game, if you want to cycle through your extra lands, you won’t be making Eldrazi Horrors anymore. That said, having a looter in a stalled game is often good enough to win anyway.

Top 5 Blue Commons

  1. Tattered Haunter
  2. Ingenious Skaab
  3. Fogwalker
  4. Exultant Cultist
  5. Take Inventory

Blue’s commons are remarkably mediocre in Eldritch Moon. None of them really surpass the rating of “filler,” and what’s worse is that a lot of them are deck-dependent, oddball cards. Tattered Haunter is only good when you’re aggressive, Exultant Cultist is only good when you’re defensive, Take Inventory is only good when you have a lot of them, and Spontaneous Mutation is only good in slow decks that can fill their graveyards. Ingenious Skaab might be the only blue common that’s actually good across the board.

The good news is that things look a lot better when you see the uncommons and rares. Blue has 2 of the best Limited cards in the set in Niblis of Frost and Docent of Perfection, and both are regular (non-mythic) rares.

Don’t be afraid to first-pick a blue rare or uncommon and move into Spirits, control, or one of the variety of “spells matter” archetypes.