Previous Set Reviews

Limited

White | Blue | Black | Red | 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. (Declaration in Stone. 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.)

Backwoods Survivalists

Limited Rating: 2.5

4 mana for a 4/3 is already a rock-solid Limited card. With a large potential bonus on top of that, Backwoods Survivalists looks excellent. A creature that can attack as a 5/4 trample this early in the game is a creature to really pay attention to.

In an average deck, this is a 4/3 creature with the potential to grow a little bigger in the late game. In a dedicated delirium deck, you’re getting a giant, trampling creature way ahead of schedule. Backwoods Survivalists will rarely get cut, and is a pretty solid payoff for drafting delirium (at least when it comes to commons).

Bloodbriar

Limited Rating: 2.5

There aren’t a lot of repeatable ways to sacrifice permanents, but there are a handful of permanents with abilities that require you to sacrifice them, and there’s the emerge mechanic.

I think the most common home for Bloodbriar will be as a filler creature in a deck with 2-4 ways to sacrifice other permanents. In this case, it’ll start as a 2/3 with a reasonable ability to grow into a 3/4 a little later in the game—a fine filler card. Once you get multiples, you can start going out of your way to make them better. With 2 Bloodbriars, you’ll be happy to pick up a Warped Landscape in the Shadows over Innistrad pack—just as one example.

If the stars align and you’re actually able to build a “sacrifice deck,” then this is a great payoff. Interestingly, it might be white, and not black, that gives you the best weapons to pair with Bloodbriar. Extricator of Sin and Lunarch Mantle are two of the best ways to sacrifice permanents in Eldritch Moon.

Clear Shot

Limited Rating: 3.5

Rabid Bite was one of the best commons in Shadows over Innistrad. Clear Shot costs an additional mana, but it offers +1/+1 and—more importantly—is an instant.

Clearly, this is a great card. It’s a premium removal spell, and does a better job killing big monsters than most of the removal in black and red. It’s conceivable that this could even do double-duty by serving as both a trick to help a creature win in combat and a removal spell to take out one of the opponent’s other creatures.

Keep in mind, Clear Shot only deals damage to the opponent’s creature—it’s not a fight spell like Prey Upon.

Crop Sigil

Limited Rating: 1.5

Crop Sigil will help you achieve delirium, but it’s pretty slow at its job. Crawling Sensation dumped 2 cards in the graveyard per turn, and gave you value while it was at it. Crop Sigil has to sit in play for a bunch of turns in order to fill your graveyard, and doesn’t actually do anything until you’re ready to sacrifice it.

Still, this is a decent card since you can play it early and sit on it for awhile. If you draw it in the late game, you can spend 4 mana to cash it in right away for a reasonable effect.

Crossroads Consecrator

Limited Rating: 1.0

Say it 10 times fast! “Crossroad Consecrators constantly complicate combat.”

Anointer of Champions was a good card in very aggressive decks, but that was in Magic Origins, where a major goal was to punch your renowned creatures through blockers. More importantly, the Anointer and the Consecrator have the type of effect that you really don’t want to have to commit mana towards. The strength of a creature like this is to sit on the table and passively offer extra damage and make things difficult on the opponent. If you have to play off-curve in order to activate it, the value drops off very quickly.

Crossroad Consecrator is still passable if you’re aggressive and most of your creatures are Humans. It also helps that he’s a Human himself. Overall, however, this shouldn’t be a high pick.

Decimator of the Provinces

Based on feedback from the blue section of the set review, I decided that seeing the green emerge creatures alongside the rest of the green cards would offer a more complete picture. These emerge creatures will be featured again in the colorless section tomorrow.

Limited Rating: 4.5

10 mana is quite a lot, so you should only be excited about Decimator of the Provinces in a deck that can pay its emerge cost. This card is very likely to win you the game immediately when you cast it. I envision plenty of games where you emerge this out on turn 6 or 7 for a quick win. I envision even more where the board stalls out and you’re simply waiting to draw it to win the game.

Overall, Decimator of the Provinces seems noticeably better than Overrun, which has traditionally helped set the bar for broken Limited cards. I’d be thrilled to first-pick this card.

Eldritch Evolution

Limited Rating: 0.5/2.5

Eldritch Evolution is card disadvantage, so under normal circumstances you should avoid it. However, if you wind up with an incredible bomb creature like Ishkanah, Grafwidow, then Eldritch Evolution will increase your chances of getting it into play.

I think you can mostly ignore Eldritch Evolution, and in the rare cases where your deck wants it, you’ll know.

Emrakul’s Evangel

Limited Rating: 2.5

Emrakul’s Evangel is a very unique card. I don’t think you can count on 3/2 Eldrazis being major upgrades to too many of your creatures (although it’s nice with tokens and Sanitarium Skeletons). Instead, what’s cool about this card is the ability to leave it untapped and use it in response to removal, or as a reaction to an unfavorable combat step.

On the whole, Emrakul’s Evangel is a reasonable body, and you’ll almost always find a way to get some extra value from it. In particular, look for it as a way to make your Bloodbriars huge at a moment’s notice.

Emrakul’s Influence

Limited Rating: 0.5

It’s going to be tempting to play with Emrakul’s Influence in UG when you wind up with a handful of emerge creatures, but I strongly recommend staying away. If you’re able to resolve a 4-mana do-nothing and then multiple Eldrazi that cost 7 or more mana, you shouldn’t need help winning the game. If you’re looking for a card that’s good alongside tons of 7+ mana creatures, I recommend basic Forest. You’re allowed to take as many as you like from the land bin.

Foul Emissary

Limited Rating: 2.5

In case you couldn’t take the hint with cards like Enlightened Maniac and Exultant Cultist, Foul Emissary is holding a big, flashing neon sign that says, “use me with emerge creatures!” And he’s very good at his job. Where emerge normally costs two cards to produce one creature, when you sacrifice Foul Emissary you’ve actually gained card advantage—you get a creature in your hand, a 3/2 token, and a giant Eldrazi on the battlefield.

This is simply a very good card. The enters-the-battlefield ability on Foul Emissary is better than drawing a card, making him a good chump blocker that replaces himself well.

If you have even one creature with emerge, this is a slam dunk, and I also think it’s fine to play Foul Emissary with no emerge just for the enters-the-battlefield trigger. If you suspect you’re going to end up with multiple emerge creatures, this should be a high pick.

Gnarlwood Dryad

Limited Rating: 2.0

Gnarlwood Dryad is a Sedge Scorpion for most practical purposes. Small deathtouch creatures tend to trade up the curve anyway, so whether Gnarlroot Dryad is a 1/1 or a 3/3, it’s likely to trade with a Brazen Wolves or an Ingenious Skaab either way. That said, Sedge Scorpion rocks, and I’ll put this card in basically all of my green decks!

Grapple With the Past

Limited Rating: 2.0

In the past, I’ve always been a big fan of Raise Dead effects. But in this Limited format, I’m grappling with the idea that they’re so plentiful that they won’t be worth high picks. BG is the color combination that would want Grapple with the Past the most, but in that archetype you could just as easily play Cemetery Recruitment, Macabre Waltz, or Rise from the Grave.

Grapple With the Past is a strong card, and has a nice home in the green delirium decks, but doesn’t need to be a high priority.

Hamlet Captain

Limited Rating: 3.0

In original Innistrad, this was a staple of WG Aggro—the archetype that many players felt was the best in the format. Hamlet Captain has still got moves in Eldritch Moon, being one the cheapest, most direct, and most efficient payoffs for drafting a Human aggro deck.

White and green are the colors with the most Humans, and Human tribal is a major theme of the color combination. But there are Humans in every color, and the Shadows over Innistrad Werewolves are even Humans on the front side, making Hamlet Captain powerful in a variety of decks.

While not a bomb, Hamlet Captain is a very good 2-drop creature that ought to be a priority for aggressive green decks, especially when paired with white.

Ishkanah, Grafwidow

Limited Rating: 4.5

Here’s the newest creature to follow in the footsteps of Siege-Gang Commander, Cloudgoat Ranger, and Pia and Kiran Nalaar. Ishkanah, Grafwidow can easily hold a candle (or 8) to all of them.

Her high toughness and reach help stabilize the board immediately, and the fact that her Spider tokens are 1/2s makes them resistant to many of the normal anti-token measures. Pair stabilizing the board with a deadly activated ability to sit behind, and you have a creature that can win the game all on its own.

Ishkanah, Grafwidow is probably the best payoff for delirium in the format. If you see her, windmill slamming and drafting GB delirium will usually be a great option. In particular, creatures like this are disgusting alongside recursion (like Grapple With the Past), and recursion happens to be a theme of the delirium decks.

It of the Horrid Swarm

Limited Rating: 2.5

It of the Horrid Swarm is one of only two common emerge creatures. I like this card, and I like its immediate impact on the battlefield. You can think about it as a very affordable 4/4 creature that replaces whatever you sacrificed with 2 Insect tokens. That alone is a strong card and if you allow for the possibility of “value-emerges,” like with Foul Emissary, then you have a card that’s worth picking up relatively early.

Kessig Prowler // Sinuous Predator

Limited Rating: 2.5

A hyper-cheap and aggressive creature that’s still good in the late game is an excellent Limited card. Naturally, this is at its best in something like GW or GR beatdown. But even your defensive green decks might want Kessig Prowler to trade off early, or to sink mana into late.

Mockery of Nature

Limited Rating: 2.5

There are enough artifacts and enchantments in this Limited format that you’ll kill something with Mockery of Nature a reasonable portion of the time. When it destroys something relevant, this card is going to be great. When it doesn’t, it’s still okay, but is a little on the expensive and vanilla side.

I’d be inclined to maindeck Mockery of Nature, but it seems natural to sideboard it out if the opponent doesn’t have artifacts or enchantments, and you don’t have combos with emerge.

Noose Constrictor

Limited Rating: 3.0

We’ve come a long way since Wild Mongrel was the best creature in Magic. But in Limited—and particularly in a format with madness—Noose Constrictor is still an excellent card. Reach is even a nice addition since the Odyssey days.

This is both a great beater and a cheap way for slower green decks to defend themselves against UW Flying Spirits which look powerful in Eldritch Moon.

Permeating Mass

Limited Rating: 2.0

Permeating Mass is a fancy rare that, for practical purposes, will wind up playing similarly to Gnarlwood Dryad. Your opponent won’t want to attack his or her big creatures into the Mass. But be careful about putting it into combat against disposable 2-toughness creatures because you’ll wind up giving your opponent Permeating Masses to hold off your creatures!

Most games, this thing will stay home and hold down the fort. Every once in a while, though, it might cause a game to get very, very weird…

Prey Upon

Limited Rating: 3.0

Prey Upon is a reprint from original Innistrad, where it was one of the strongest green commons. It will be no different here, letting green’s giant Werewolves take out opposing creatures on the cheap. Just remember that, unlike Rabid Bite, your creature will take damage back from whatever opposing creature you’re trying to kill.

Primal Druid

Limited Rating: 1.5

Primal Druid is a solid defensive card against opponents who are trying to attack you on the ground. As a 2-drop, it can hold the ground for a while, and you’ll usually be happy if it winds up dying in combat.

Unfortunately, Primal Druid will be poor in aggressive decks, poor if your opponent is controlling, and poor if they’re attacking you with flying creatures. This is a relatively useful card, but shouldn’t be a high pick.

Shrill Howler // Howling Chorus

Limited Rating: 2.5

Shrill Howler is a bit fragile, but being difficult to block makes up for that and helps ensure that it won’t trade down against weaker creatures. When it transforms, it becomes a big threat that can take over the game if it goes unblocked a couple of times. This is a strong card that you’ll be happy to play in any green deck.

Somberwald Stag

Limited Rating: 3.5

Somberwald Stag is like a Flametongue Kavu for little creatures. If you can cast this card and fight something like a Dawn Gryff, then you have a borderline bomb card capable of swinging a game in your favor. At only 3 toughness, it’s not terribly easy to kill a relevant creature while keeping the Stag out of danger. Remember, though, that you can always use this as a 5-mana removal spell to trade with a 4/4 if you need to.

Overall, Somberwald Stag looks like an excellent card, and will probably prove to be stronger than the majority of rares in the set.

Spirit of the Hunt

Limited Rating: 3.5

If Spirit of the Hunt pumped itself up, it would be incredible. Instead, it’s merely great. 3 mana for a 3/3 flash can ambush an attacker nicely, especially since it’s a rare and the opponent usually won’t expect it. You can also use it to save your other Wolves and Werewolves from removal or from a hairy combat step.

At its absolute worst, Spirit of the Hunt is a good, efficient creature. More often than not, I expect you’ll also be able to find a way for it to result in a 2-for-1 exchange.

Splendid Reclamation

Limited Rating: 0.0

Even if you’ve already gone to the trouble of filling your graveyard with lands, Limited decks usually aren’t in a position to benefit from the jump from 7 to 11 lands on the 10th turn of the game. The set-up costs are high and the rewards are low. Splendid Reclamation is a less-than-splendid Limited card.

Springsage Ritual

Limited Rating: 1.0

Here’s what I wrote about Ironwright’s Cleansing when I covered white: “Try not to maindeck Ironwright’s Cleansing, but there seem to be enough artifacts and enchantments in this Limited format that it wouldn’t be a complete catastrophe if you had to do so. Beyond that, it looks like a solid sideboard card.”

Springsage Ritual is noticeably better than Ironwright’s Cleansing, but the evaluation is mostly the same. Try not to maindeck this, but pick one up for your sideboard.

Swift Spinner

Limited Rating: 1.5

I would’ve been more excited about Swift Spinner in all-Shadows-over-Innistrad Limited, where you could pass with a flash creature in order to transform all of your Werewolves. Unfortunately, Werewolves have found a new method of transforming in Eldritch Moon, and Swift Spinner cannot help them.

As it stands, the Spider has below-average stats, and generally isn’t that exciting. The fact that UW Spirits appears to be a strong archetype in Eldritch Moon will make this useful, especially for slower green decks. This is just a filler card, and is generally worse than Watcher in the Web.

Tangleclaw Werewolf // Fibrous Entangler

Limited Rating: 2.5

Tangleclaw Werewolf is Eldritch Moon’s only defensive Werewolf. The front side is pretty average, but it does hold the ground well. Once you find the mana to transform it, Fibrous Entangler is a creature that will give you massive control over the battlefield, and can force the opponent into chump-blocking under the right circumstances.

Tangleclaw Werewolf is a perfect fit in big-mana green decks where you can both make use of the defensive creature, and amass the mana to transform it into its Eldrazi form.

Ulvenwald Captive // Ulvenwald Abomination

Limited Rating: 2.5

I like mana dorks in Limited, and one that can turn into a major threat in the late game is very exciting to me. This is a card that deserves to be picked pretty highly, and almost always maindecked. Casting bigger Werewolves like Solitary Hunter ahead of schedule is a good way to run away with a game.

Ulvenwald Observer

Limited Rating: 3.0

Ulvenwald Observer is a powerful card and has a great chance of either dominating a game, or scoring you a 2-for-1 exchange. Be wary of bounce spells, though, and Auras like Bound by Moonsilver. Green in Eldritch Moon/Shadows over Innistrad is a color of meaty creatures, and the Observer will frequently trigger off of creatures other than itself.

Unfortunately, I have to make the same criticism that I made of Assembled Alphas, which is that 6-drop creatures aren’t at a premium, and Kessig Dire Swine can still do a lot of what Ulvenwald Observer does. This is a strong card that should always make the cut, but it’s not the rare you’re hoping to observe when you crack your first pack.

Waxing Moon

Limited Rating: 1.5

Waxing Moon is effectively a premium combat trick that can only be used on a Werewolf. When it works, you’ll be able to eat a guy in combat while transforming your average creature into a huge monster—either permanently or semi-permanently—and getting in some trample damage to boot. That’s an excellent effect, but it takes a lot to line up properly before it can happen. I’d want to have something in the ballpark of 7 Werewolves before I’d be excited to play with Waxing Moon.

Wolfkin Bond

Limited Rating: 1.0

Raised by Wolves was a good card, but that gave you 2 Wolves, and was in a set where you were constantly trying to trigger heroic. I really don’t see the appeal of Wolfkin Bond. When it turns your 3/3 into a 5/5 that can attack through an opposing blocker, then it’s okay. But I think you’re better off just playing an average 5-drop creature in your deck. The power level of this card is too low to risk getting blown out by removal or bounce in response.

Woodcutter’s Grit

Limited Rating: 1.5

This card looks like it can make the cut. It’s an overpriced Giant Growth that can reliably save your creature from any removal spell. That amounts to a pretty average combat trick that you won’t need to pick highly, but that you’ll often play with in a beatdown deck.

Woodland Patrol

Limited Rating: 1.5

3 mana for a 3/2 is average, and Woodland Patrol gets an ability on top of that. The problem with vigilance on a low-toughness creature is that it often won’t survive combat when it attacks. Even when it does, there’s not really much that you’ll be excited to block. This is the definition of a filler card.

Top 5 Green Commons

  1. Prey Upon
  2. Backwoods Survivalists
  3. Ulvenwald Captive
  4. Bloodbriar
  5. Grapple With the Past

Green was one of my favorite colors in Shadows over Innistrad, but I’m much less excited about it in Eldritch Moon. Prey Upon is a good card, but is worse than Rabid Bite. Backwoods Survivalists, Ulvenwald Captive, and Bloodbriar are decent, but can’t match the horde of awesome Werewolves from the last set.

The power that green lacks in its commons, it makes up for at least a little bit in its uncommons. I do expect Somberwald Stag and Clear Shot to carry a lot of weight for the color.

The biggest question mark for green is how good the emerge mechanic will prove to be. If It of the Horrid Swarm is a very strong card that you’re happy to build your deck around, then green will prove to be as good as the rest of the colors in Eldritch Moon. If not, it might be closer to the bottom of the rankings.