Exploring Wilds of Eldraine in Modern and Pioneer

Piotr Glogowski


The past weekend was the first set of Challenges with Wilds of Eldraine cards available – let’s take a look at the new technology developing in Modern and Pioneer!

Decks Updated in Wilds of Eldraine

Izzet Phoenix

Izzet Phoenix had a big comeback last weekend, with multiple copies showing up in both Pioneer Challenges. 《Thing in the Ice》 or 《Ledger Shredder》, 《Temporal Trespass》 combo or just focusing on being a lean 《Treasure Cruise》 build – It’s not obvious which direction you are supposed to go with the introduction of 《Sleight of Hand》, but the increased density of cantrips is greatly appreciated.

ConsiderSleight of HandOpt

Notably, with 12 one-mana cantrips, it seems like it’s meaningfully easier to chain three spells on turn 3, returning a 《Arclight Phoenix》 on the earliest possible turn and putting some nice pressure on your opponent.

It’s hard to quantify how big of a deal getting 《Sleight of Hand》 is for Izzet Phoenix, but my personal early experiences are positive and the deck feels smoother all around.

Boros Heroic

Illuminator VirtuosoMonstrous Rage

Boros Heroic received the most hard-hitting one-mana combat trick printed in recent years. 《Illuminator Virtuoso》 really doesn’t need much more than a 《Monstrous Rage》 to obliterate opposing life points, so it’s no surprise that Heroic is seeing a small resurgence right now after being outshined by other aggressive Boros options for the past few sets.

With more trample – and especially, now an option to grant it at instant speed – chump-blocking is much less reliable against Heroic than it used to be in the past.

Esper Beseech Tinker

《Beseech the Mirror》 has failed to produce any results in Pioneer. It’s making waves in older formats – in Legacy and Vintage, it’s trivial to have spare mana-producing artifacts and chaining Beseeches can easily turn into a lethal storm count.

Dark RitualBeseech the MirrorYawgmoth's Will

Thepowernine won a Vintage Challenge with a decklist doing exactly that. A combination of 《Dark Ritual》 and 《Beseech the Mirror》 giving easy access to actual 《Yawgmoth’s Will》 make storming out trivial. Besides that, it’s a combo deck fairly similar to Doomsday, but with 《Urza’s Saga》 and 《Tinker》 serving as backup plans, which seems powerful.

In less degenerate formats, 《Beseech the Mirror》 is much less appealing. An effectively free combo enabler that the card represents in Vintage and Legacy is much more attractive than a toolbox enabler that forces you to build your deck in awkward ways, so we haven’t seen midrange 《Beseech the Mirror》 decks popping up in either Pioneer or Modern over the weekend. Instead, I spotted an interesting take on an old archetype.

Oops All Spells

24 lands when only half of them producing black doesn’t inspire my confidence when it comes to 《Beseech the Mirror》‘s castability. The Talismans you need to sacrifice to Bargain anyway help a bit. Still, it’s 《Pentad Prism》 that’s a perfect pairing, producing two black mana and leaving behind a blank artifact that’s perfect as sacrifice fodder.

Beseech the MirrorPentad Prism

Even if we explicitly think of 《Beseech the Mirror》 as a two-card combo with 《Pentad Prism》 here, it’s still a nice boost to the consistency of a deck that’s literally all about mulliganing to turn 3 or 4 kills.

Goblin Charbelcher

《Goblin Charbelcher》 is the traditional juke Oops All Spells uses against graveyard hate, and getting to play effectively 8 copies of Belcher is a neat upgrade post-board.

Still, the biggest hurdle that Oops All Spells has to clear is still the fact that the kill mechanism takes so many slots – 18 cards in this version of the deck – and it’s going to be pretty hard for Oops to become meaningfully better in Modern before that gets to change. Once that package gets more compact and Oops gets to play more mana and 《Thoughtseize》 – then we’ll be talking.

Rakdos Scam

Results from the past weekend once again showcased the power of Rakdos Scam. Some of the players forgot to make the swap, but most were happy to update and take their extra tenth of a percent increase in their winrate. 《Undying Evil》 replaces remaining 《Undying Malice》, since with fewer +1/+1 counters it’s harder to get punished by the drawback of the Undying keyword, and the scammed creature immediately being able to block is a small upside.

Golgari Yawgmoth

《Agatha’s Soul Cauldron》 is a headache to evaluate, but seeing actual decklists it becomes much easier to understand what we should be aiming to do with it.

Golgari Yawgmoth seems like an excellent home for the card. It’s an already strong deck full of activated abilities and even centered around one!

Agatha's Soul CauldronGrist, the Hunger Tide

An important and funny line that happens with 《Agatha’s Soul Cauldron》 is exiling 《Grist, the Hunger Tide》 with it. As players who played with 《Sarkhan the Masterless》 in Standard know, loyalty abilities are just something you can activate every turn. They aren’t strictly tied to the Planeswalker card type, so a 《Agatha’s Soul Cauldron》 with 《Grist, the Hunger Tide》 imprinted will let all your creatures with +1/+1 counters produce insect tokens every turn.

Yawgmoth, Thran PhysicianWall of RootsFulminator MageWalking Ballista

Besides those, 《Agatha’s Soul Cauldron》 in play will render countermagic and creature removal almost ineffective, letting you turn any of your creatures into effectively a copy of 《Yawgmoth, Thran Physician》. Mana dorks, 《Wall of Roots》, 《Haywire Mite》, or even sideboard 《Fulminator Mage》 represent niche (and nice) abilities to spread amongst your creatures, but 《Walking Ballista》 is an especially intriguing piece of technology in Xerk’s list, opening extra combo lines with Undying Creatures – a 《Young Wolf》 with a 《Walking Ballista》 imprinted can kill itself an unlimited amount of times, and then you are a 《Blood Artist》 away from winning the game.

Hardened Scales

Speaking of 《Walking Ballista》 – Scales is another deck that’s happy to take advantage of the 《Agatha’s Soul Cauldron》. With every creature already carrying a load of counters, imprinting a 《Walking Ballista》 will likely be immediately lethal in most spots, and imprinting an 《Arcbound Ravager》 will make using removal a nightmare for your opponents.

Walking BallistaArcbound Ravager

Both 《Walking Ballista》 and 《Arcbound Ravager》 can sacrifice themselves, meaning you won’t struggle with imprinting cards onto your 《Agatha’s Soul Cauldron》, and it’s yet another source of +1/+1 counters, so overall it seems like a great fit.

Agatha's Soul Cauldron

The truly great aspect of 《Agatha’s Soul Cauldron》 is that besides the small initial 2-mana investment, it’s free to use. Often, we’d expect an activated ability on a card like this to cost an extra one or two mana, which would render it mostly irrelevant for Constructed, so it’s exciting to see the released design, which seems both exciting to build around but also strong – and I haven’t even gotten around to mentioning how 《Agatha’s Soul Cauldron》 functions as half of an 《Unlicensed Hearse》 if you need graveyard hate!

4C Omnath

Up the Beanstalk

So far, the card that impressed me the most from Wilds of Eldraine is 《Up the Beanstalk》. Once again, we see the same pattern of a slightly aggressive design – it triggers on itself, which is a gamechanger from a medium card where juice is not worth a squeeze to a card that can rival other two-mana card advantage spells like 《Expressive Iteration》 or 《Night’s Whisper》 in playability.

Leyline BindingSolitudeFury

Modern is a more natural home for 《Up the Beanstalk》, because it’s easier to cheat on mana here. 《Leyline Binding》 and Incarnations, even when evoked, still trigger 《Up the Beanstalk》 even if you never actually pay five mana for a spell.

Magic Online user Dazant proved the wealth of options that 4C Soup decks are drowning in with a victory in the 500-player Modern Super Qualifier, simply opting to run all the good cards, ending with 75 cards in their maindeck. While it’s still not a fully serious way to approach deckbuilding, between 《Up the Beanstalk》 and 《The One Ring》 you get insane card draw and decking is more than just an afterthought. Occasionally, games will be decided simply by how much value there exists in your deck.

Most players seemed to stick to a more traditional approach of playing 60 cards, but the 《Up the Beanstalk》 seemed to seep into most Omnath decklists and I only expect to see more of it in the future.

The combination of being cheap, helping with early land drops, being tough to interact with for some decks, and being impossible to interact with profitably when it already cycles on ETB itself is a perfect storm of valuable traits for four-color decks, and with time passing players will unearth even more obscure ways to cast expensive spells for free or for cheap.

After all, there are very few problems in Magic that don’t get solved by just throwing enough card advantage at them.

5C Bring to Light

Pioneer doesn’t have the breadth of free “expensive” spells that Modern offers, so using 《Up the Beanstalk》 is a bit harder.

Yorion, Sky NomadEnigmatic IncarnationBring to Light

Obvious synergies include 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》, who draws two extra cards per 《Up the Beanstalk》 and offers a five-mana card every game, and 《Enigmatic Incarnation》, which is already interested in running cycling 2-mana enchantments and appreciates the occasional upside of 《Up the Beanstalk》 in their deck, but Magic Online user Drizzy went a step further and introduced 《Bring to Light》 as a way to double-cast a five-drop, immediately drawing two extra cards.

Zurgo and Ojutai

While 《Zurgo and Ojutai》 isn’t the card I would intuitively choose as a 《Bring to Light》-able threat of choice, I like the basic idea behind the included synergies.

Rakdos Sacrifice

The End

This decklist, so far, is one of the only appearances of 《The End》 in Pioneer. While it’s not 《Jegantha, the Wellspring》 compatible and after all a 4 mana removal spell, the 《Cranial Extraction》 attached to a card that trades for an onboard threat is refreshing and exciting as a way to handle specifically Mono Green Devotion.

Karn, the Great CreatorCavalier of Thorns

Extracting either 《Karn, the Great Creator》 or 《Cavalier of Thorns》 should be a very effective move, either cutting Green’s ability to combo off entirely or meaningfully weakening upcoming 《Storm the Festival》. Rakdos Midrange, instead of Rakdos Sacrifice, might be a more natural home for the card, and I won’t be surprised if it finds a cozy spot as a common sideboard option in those decks.

That’s all that we have to talk about after the weekend! Until next time!

Piotr Glogowski (X / Twitch / Youtube)

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Piotr Glogowski Before his first Pro Tour top 8, Piotr "kanister" Glogowski was already extremely famous as a streamer. He kicked off the 2017-2018 season with an impressive record at Pro Tour Ixalan (8th place), then reached the Finals with his great teammates at World Magic Cup 2017. His talent was flourished after all, and he finished that season as a Platinum Level Pro. Read more articles by Piotr Glogowski

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