Emerge is one of the strongest and scariest mechanics in Eldritch Moon and could easily be the most busted ability since delve. Cost reduction mechanics are always a scary proposition and these cards are no exception. There is an actual cost, as you need to sacrifice board position to get the mana efficiency instead of some theoretical resource you’ll never use like with delve.
This also encourages creature-heavy decks, which are the fairest types of decks, and the easiest to interact with. But they somewhat negated this by giving all the relevant creatures abilities that trigger when they’re castt, which tones down how effective counterspells will be at stopping emerge. Instead of the full-on blowouts you only net the actual threat, which can be little comfort if you want to successfully avoid getting Mind Twisted.
With that said, it’s clearly a mechanic that drops in effectiveness if the opponent is prepared. You know what trumps Matter Reshaper into turn-4 Elder Deep-Fiend? Bouncing away Matter Reshaper with Reflector Mage and playing minions on curve, then floating mana and blasting the Fiend after it has resolved on turn 5.
There are many scenarios like this where the emerge player successfully negates the full blowout potential of getting their 5/6 removed, but you still waste your 3rd and 4th turn play in exchange for 1 card and half a turn. Not quite the ideal trade.
Of course you don’t have to do this, which is the nice thing about the second coming of Mistbind Clique. Upkeep is the default time to cast it, but it will frequently be correct to do it in other phases. This is an effect we haven’t had in awhile, so it should take some time for people to adjust. Remember that while you can tap mana down—sometimes you’ll prefer to just flash in a 5/6 blocker. The same goes for if you play chicken with the opponent’s removal and dare them to tap out for a play, or try and kill off a 3-drop instead.
The key to stopping emerge is in shutting down the early drops and leaving the big spells stranded in hand for multiple turns. BWx Control certainly looks strong in this department and UW in particular has the duo of format warping 3-drops in Reflector Mage and Spell Queller. Both can wreck your 3-drop-into-emerge plan and on the draw you could easily lose 2 turns before your get to resolve something relevant. This is not the plan you want to follow for a successful outing.
The key to succeeding with emerge, then, is to build your deck in such a way that it’s resilient to early interaction. But for now, GW Tokens and Bant CoCo are freeroll stomps because outside of Dromoka’s Command, they just don’t do much to stop you. If they continue to try and get along with a handful of sorcery speed interaction and the occasional Stasis Snare, then emerge decks feel like the natural trump.
Yes, Titan’s Presence. A card that’s gotten a whole lot better with the printing of Elder Deep-Fiend. In the Bant Eldrazi deck there’s a whopping 17 ways to turn it on and 13 of those wipe a 3-power creature, which is the majority of non-Avacyn creatures in the meta. Reveal a Deep-Fiend and you eat just about every creature in the meta, including opposing Deep-Fiends.
EDF also allows for the possible return of Kozilek:
Remember the good old days? Jamming an Elder Deep-Fiend to wipe their board and mess up their turn while tutoring for an Ulamog or Emrakul to shut the door? No? Well here’s hoping you can live that dream. Take Inventory may be too cute, but I’m trying to increase the consistency of the deck while boosting the draw power later in the game. Magmatic Insight or Tormented Voice might be the more reliable options. It could also be correct to find room for more Chandras in the main deck.
Some form of UR Eldrazi seems like a perfect starting place since now you have an Eldrazi you can power out on turn 6 off Archive that actually has a real board impact and can trigger Sanctum/Return.
Of course, Elder-Deep Fiend isn’t the only emerge creature to take advantage of.
Distended Mindbender and Decimator of the Provinces could be exactly what the Cryptolith GBx Aristocrats decks needed to be viable again. Both of them are immensely powerful cards that benefit from the mana production Rite enables. Both of them also benefit from building up an army of mediocre synergy creatures, sacrificing a Catacomb Sifter and tapping your lands and another creature to Craterhoof and attack for 16+. Or if you want to clear the way, tap your creatures and jam an Inquisition of Kozilek + Transgress the Mind to set up your kill.
These also fit nicely in a GB Delirium deck as Traverse the Ulvenwald targets where you really want to find the right tool for a given situation. The obvious starting point is GB Rites.
Distended Mindbender is also an easy fit for this deck—I’m just not sure how many emerge cards a deck can actually hold to start. Also please keep in mind if you go with Hangarback Walker that it isn’t a combo with emerge unless you really need those tokens the same turn. Theoretically you don’t even need Nantuko Husk anymore, but I like this hybrid approach to start with. If you focus purely on the GB value, then you can make more room by cutting Husk, Lili, Cutthroat, and Blisterpod in exchange for more token or mana generators.
I could also see looking into UBG Aristocrats again as Eldrazi Skyspawner and Whirler Rogue are both sweet value cards that have good bodies to sacrifice to emerge.
These are just outlines for the decks you see here, and I’m excited for this mechanic, especially since it doesn’t favor GW decks. If these end up being the natural predators to such decks, then I’ll be thrilled to actually play some Standard again before rotation. Maybe Thalia won’t be the best card in the set after all…