Hey look, we’re back just like we said we would be to talk about more Eldritch Moon. Hopefully you had yourself a good time at your local prerelease, and maybe got to try some of the very weird cards featured last time. If you managed to lay low all comers with your Magic: The Gathering prowess, then that’s certainly a bonus. This time we’re going to have a peek at the cards that just look okay, but due to how the format shapes up, are really quite boss.
Let’s get this party started with a card that actually brings the party to an abrupt and violent end. Subjugator Angel has a lot of things going against it. First of all it’s 6 mana and has a double white in the casting cost. For that, you get what looks like a lowly 4/3. Well, here’s a couple of things to think about. There’s nothing in the format that flies and is this big at uncommon or common, so it’s probably the biggest thing in the air. Second, it taps your opponent’s dude-steins. The confusion is that usually a beefy flying is something that a control deck wants, but this is at its very best as the top end of an aggro strategy. Eldritch Moon is a slower format, and this card rewards you for going after your opponent with gusto. If you don’t just outright win on the spot (which feels gross in the best way) you still have a 4/3 flyer to finish the job next turn. You know what you call that Mr. Anderson? Inevitability.
On the other end of the spectrum is one of those great cards that makes you feel like you’re cheating. Geist of the Archives doesn’t seem to do a lot, but what it does is slightly broken. For 3 you get a 0/4 wall, which is more than enough to keep the other 3 drops off your jock. Then, because the gods have smiled upon you, you get to scry every turn for 1. Being able to constantly smooth your draws out is just filthy. In limited it helps you find your answers, your resources, or your bomb and stands in the way long enough for you to get there. Worst case, if you’re running a bunch of flying Spirit Tokens this does an admirable job of standing in the way and letting the air force bring in the win.
Moving from filthy to cleanly efficient we have an interesting case. Imagine there was a black sorcery that for 5 mana killed a 4 toughness creature and gained you 4 life. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Well with Markov Crusader that’s basically what you’re going to get. In the Shadows Over Innistrad / Eldritch Moon limited format a 4/3 lifelink creature is simply not something that you can ignore. Either it will just eat a creature you have, eat a piece of removal, or will create an 8 point life swing. The worst part is if you happen to have a vampire around it has haste. The 5 drop casting cost isn’t terribly relevant either, since at that point you’re looking to close out the game or get back into it and this helps with either scenario.There’s going to be a lot of games that get broken wide open when a hasted Markov Crusader comes down and applies the beatdown directly to the forehead.
Now this is unfortunate. Usually I like to have different cards in the What to Play and All Star sections, but in this case I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Savage Alliance again. Last time I referred to this as an Extra Value Meal, but I had no idea just how strong it is. Early game you can use the 2 damage function by itself and burn a guy like he’s a witch. The weird thing is that Shadows Over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon are both filled with 2/3 creatures and 1 toughness tokens. So later in the game (and especially post combat) Savage Alliance functions as a de facto board wipe. When it resolves it is often a 3 for 1 or better (my personal best on the day was a 7 for 1) and that is just backbreaking. Let me put it another way – the threat of Savage Alliance is enough to make you want to main deck counterspells. It’s really that good.
Next we have one of those cards that I love, the weird little oddities that make Magic fun. So allow me to present Permeating Mass.. Oh yes, that’s a 1/3 for the low cost of 1, and I am aware that it is a rare, but it is a rare I will gladly play forever and smile with glee if somebody passes it to me in a draft. At the very least, this is impossible to attack into. Think about it, are you ever going to swing with one of your premium creatures? No, because you don’t want it to turn into a 1/3 with what the internet has decided to call “Derptouch.” On the attack it’s really gross too, because it’s basically unblockable. But it really shines when it’s playing D. If a 10/10 attacks, you can block it with Permeating Mass and 2 power worth of guys. The 3 damage will go onto the 10/10, who will then lose all abilities (including Indestructible and Regeneration) and become a 1/3 with 3 damage assigned to it. Then it will promptly die, get wrapped in a carpet and get left in the desert. Of course, I will always be dreaming that one day every creature in play will turn into a Permeating Mass and then I’ll giggle until I wheeze.
Finally, we have something that I think might just be on the good side of broken – Cryptolith Fragment. This card is slightly bonkers, and the only thing that keeps it from being completely broken is that it comes into play tapped. It’s a transforming artifact, and the front side lets you tap it for any color, and it does a damage to everybody. We call those “Premium Features.” Early on the mana helps you ramp into your good stuff and later the 1 damage will help you finish off your opponent sometimes (since mana burn isn’t a thing anymore). Now, it doesn’t help you if you’re at low life, but the rest of the time it’s bringing the goods. Of course, if the game is brutal and close and everybody is at 10 life or less, it turns into the Aurora of Emrakul, a deathtouch flyer your opponent can’t easily attack past, and can’t block either. Most people will read “Each player loses 1 life” and decide this card is awful, and I’m here to tell you it’s not. Put it in your ramp decks, and your control decks and it will make you feel just delightful.
That concludes our coverage of Eldritch Moon. If there’s anything I missed, or you want to talk about great victories and bitter defeats at your local game store, let me know in the comments. In the meantime I’m going to go try and open up some more Bedlam Revelers for my Modern Mardu Burn Deck.
In our next installment we see what happens when when Wizards of the Coast stops giving us reruns, and we see the brand new world of Kaladesh. See you then.