There are annoying ways to lose a game of Magic: The Gathering. When a red aggro deck full of creatures with haste demolishes you by turn three, for instance. Or when a blue control deck counters everything you try, just turn after turn of “nope” until they finally get around to finishing you off. But there are also fun ways to lose at Magic, and being bodied by a combo you didn’t see coming is one of them.
I was playing Commander using the preconstructed decks released as part of the latest set, Wilds of Eldraine. The theme is fairytales, with a side of Arthurian legend, and the deck I was ruined by went strong on the faeries. While I’d summoned a coalition so varied it included angels and oxen, I was facing a force entirely made of flying fey. Which is why the Kindred Dominance card, which lets you pick a creature type and then destroy every creature that doesn’t match that type, was so effective. My opponent picked “faeries”, and I said goodbye to my oxen and angels and everything else.
That would have been bad enough, but he followed it with Thrilling Encore, which lets you steal every creature put in the graveyard that turn, bring them back to life, and make them your own. My entire army joined the faerie force, and everyone lived happily ever after. Except for me. I died immediately.
Unlike the previous set, Commander Masters, Wilds of Eldraine is valid in multiple formats. It’s the first Standard-legal release we’ve had since May, and even that was a “micro set” rather than a tentpole release. While Magic players on Reddit endlessly moan about there being too many releases to keep up with, if you don’t play every single format the rhythm of releases is a lot easier to handle.
It feels like Standard is due for a shake-up, but I’m not sure Wilds of Eldraine will deliver it. Back in May, Wizards of the Coast announced that rotation would slow, and sets now take three years to drop out of Standard instead of two. That makes it cheaper to be part of the competitive scene—you won’t need to cycle out all those cards from the Innistrad sets, Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, and Streets of New Capenna for a whole ‘nother 12 months.
The last deck I put together in Arena, which is where I go to play Standard, is a Selesnya Enchantments deck. That means it’s green/white and, as the name suggests, has plenty of enchantment cards in it. It draws heavily on Kamigawa for cards like Kami of Transience—a creature that gains +1/+1 whenever I cast an enchantment and, if killed, bounces back out of the graveyard into my hand when I next lose an enchantment.
While Wilds of Eldraine plays a strong enchantment game, I’m not sure this deck needs them. I could pop in Yenna, Redtooth Regent, who makes copies of other enchantments, but who would I get rid of? With old cards staying Standard-legal for longer, it’s harder to justify cycling in the new ones.
Wilds of Eldraine doesn’t feel essential, unless you want to pick up that faerie-themed Commander deck, or you’re really into the theme. It is a great theme, though. Check out Three Bowls of Porridge, which has three different effects as you Goldilocks your way through its three bowls, or Syr Ginger, the Meal Ender, a badass gingerbread warrior. Like the recent Middle-earth set, it benefits from familiarity. Instead of a bunch of planeswalkers that only people who read the tie-in books and comics care about, there are cards referencing the Pied Piper of Hamelin, Snow White, Cinderella, Three Blind Mice, Beauty and the Beast, and various bits of folklore—like Cooped Up, an enchantment that represents cold iron’s ability to trap faeries.
Actually, I’m going to make room in my Selesnya Enchantments deck for that one. It may not have been an annoying way to lose, but I’ve still got a bit of a grudge against faeries these days.
Wilds of Eldraine is available now.
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