It’s finally here! The full spoiler for Throne of Eldraine, one of the most hyped and highly anticipated Magic sets of all time, dropped this morning and I have spent the entire day poring over it. On one monitor, the Loading Ready Run Pre-Pre Release. On the other, word documents and spreadsheets filling up with statistics and card grades in preparation for the Lords of Limited Crash Course.
This format looks like an absolute blast to play! There seems to be something for everyone: tribal themes, lifegain, pure value, efficient removal, and synergy packed to the brim. And amidst all of these exciting cards and decks to draft, I have a feeling there are a few diamonds in the rough that people are going to undervalue in the early weeks. But not to worry! I’m here to help you scoop up every piece of equity left behind by your fellow drafters. Here is my list of the top 8 underrated commons and uncommons for ELD limited.
8. Steelclaw Lance
I am incredibly excited about this card and I still think I’m probably too low on it. The comparison I made to this card on the podcast last week was to
Ghostfire Blade from Khans of Tarkir.
Ghostfire Blade was one of the three major payoffs for going all in on a Morph deck. And when you did, you were rewarded handsomely. And it was a RARE!
I know what you’re thinking. “We’ve seen similar effects like this before. We had
Ancestral Blade in M20, how much better could this be?” So. Much. Better. +2/+2 for 1 mana is incredibly cheap and there is no shortage of Knights in red and black to make me think that it will be fairly easy to maximize this card if Rakdos is what you’re meant to be drafting in your seat at the table. If you’re sitting to my left, don’t expect to get passed this in pack one ever as I plan to take these early and often
7. Faerie Guidemother
This is a card that has been getting a lot of love on twitter from some limited aficianados, namely Ari Lax and Alex Nikolic. And the more I think about it, the more I’m inclined to believe that this will be one of the top commons in white. Much like
Raise the Alarm was the glue that held white together in M20, I expect this to fill a similar role. Whether it’s helping some larger green creatures swing in the air with the adventure half or it's being augmented by some equipment when paired up with red or black, this unassuming flyer can pack a punch in a variety of situations. And because it’s an adventure it doesn’t suffer from the issues that one-mana 1/1s often do in being dead outside of your opening hand. The flexibility of this card in combination with the endorsement from players I trust has me coming in hot on the Guidemother
6. Adamant Lands
There is a cycle of 5 lands at common in this set that all grant a bonus if they can come into play untapped: Dwarven Mine, Gingerbread Cabin, Idyllic Grange, Mystic Sanctuary, and Witch’s Cottage. These effects are not all created equal (a 1/1 or a food token probably the least exciting, and rebuying a spell or creature to the top of your library as the most exciting) and none of them provide an entire card’s worth of value. But the chance to reap the benefits these lands offer does not take up a spell slot in your deck, and that is the important thing to remember when evaluating these cards.
The last time we had anything like these was the cycling common lands from Hour of Devastation and by the end of that set all of those lands were among the top 3 commons in each of their colors. I don’t know if these will quite achieve that sort of ranking, but I know I’m going to be taking them pretty high at the start of the format to find out. Remember: when you get to draft lands, you get to play with a higher number of your draft picks, which in turn makes your deck more powerful.
5. Spinning Wheel
There are a few reasons why I’m fairly excited about this card. It’s colorless which means it’s a card that will be able to be cast in your deck 100% of the time. It helps fix your mana and, after looking through the entire set today, that’s a fairly unique effect in Eldraine where things seem to be skewed more towards mono-color than five colors. Speaking of mono-color, it can help get your third source of a color to get Adament bonuses. It ramps you in a format that looks to be fairly mana hungry with the number of Adventures you’ll want to go on and the amount of Food you can consume.
And once all of its uses as a mana source are done, it doesn’t become irrelevant the way
Manalith does. It now becomes a mana sink to tap their best creature when you have nothing else to do with your turn. This card looks deceptively clunky as neither line of text is usually desirable, but together I think this makes for a powerful uncommon.
4. Sporecap Spider
What I’m about to say is a fairly controversial statement: flying is good in limited. I know, sarcasm doesn’t come across clearly in writing. Seriously though, flying is looking like just as a big a threat as ever in this limited environment. And coming off of M20 where we had both
Netcaster Spider and
Mammoth Spider to combat the opposing flying forces, I was hoping for a similar pair of green creatures to hold the skies. But Sporecap Spider is what we get this time around. (Brimstone Trebuchet does have reach, but its power is too low to kill a lot of creatures and it’s toughness is too low to survive a combat trick or even straight up block a number of creatures.) Because of this, I think
Sporecap Spider will play out similarly to
Hitchclaw Recluse in defensive decks from GRN. If you’re interested in having the game go long, you’re going to need this spider to help you get there.
3. Revenge of Ravens
I’ve been wrong about effects like these before, but I don't think I'm going to make the same mistake about Revenge of Ravens. I’ve thought about this card in a number of scenarios and I keep coming to the same conclusion: it’s amazing.
If you’re a more assertive deck, this card makes it nearly impossible for your opponent to race. And if you’re a more controlling deck, this card is basically
Cumber Stone, which is an effect often underrated by newer limited players but not something you take lightly again the future once experienced. Sure, I can see situations where your opponent is just going tall or has some big dumb creatures and this isn’t very good. But most of the creatures in this format aren’t that large and I think this is going to perform very well in most matchups.
2. True Love’s Kiss
A question I always try to answer at the start of a format is, “will
Naturalize effects be maindeckable?” And in Throne of Eldraine I think the answer is yes. In particular, True Love’s Kiss because it offers the upside of being a two-for-one. Blue and White each have two removal spells, both of which are enchantment or artifact based. Azorius itself is an “artifact and enchantments” matter deck which means there have to be plenty of playable artifacts around. Some of these playable artifacts include a range of equipment in the Mardu colors. And if all else fails, there will probably be a chance for you to blow up a food token and draw card with this. Which is, admittedly, not great, but when you factor in all the other targets you’d be happy with listed above, I think a single copy of this will make my main deck more often than not.
1. Covetous Urge
Discard spells are not inherently strong in limited.
Mind Rot and
Duress are cards I rarely play even out of the sideboard.
Toll of the Invasion is one of the better targeted discard spells we’ve seen for draft in a long time. But I’m not thinking of this card like a discard spell. I’m thinking of it like
Thief of Sanity or
Gonti, Lord of Luxury.
The best case scenario for this card is obviously going to be to play this on curve, grab the expensive bomb out of their hand and then cast it on one of your following turns. But what makes this card great is the line of text "or graveyard." So unlike targeted discard, it’s not dead late in the game. You can just grab the best thing that died and cast that instead. And if the game has gone long, I would assume something worthwhile has made its way to the graveyard. It’s costly at four mana, but I imagine a lot of people are either going to miss the graveyard part of this card or just undervalue it altogether. Don’t make that mistake.
Well, there you have it! There are a lot of cards I'm excited to get my hands on from this set, but these I've got my eyes on these 8 in particular. When you can correctly identify a card’s power level while those at your draft table underrate it, you can see a huge spike in your win rate at the start of a format. What cards are on your radar as underrated in Throne of Eldraine? Let me know on twitter! And, as always, Happy Drafting!