Evaluating The Enchanting Tales in Wilds of Eldraine Limited | Magic: the Gathering
12. Oktober 2023
Magic: The Gathering
Wilds of Eldraine, Limited, cards, MTG, Magic: the Gathering
As has been the tradition lately, Wilds of Eldraine, the new Magic set, has a bonus sheet of Enchantment cards from the past inserted into the packs. There is exactly one per pack and it is a bonus card, so it doesn’t replace a card of the same rarity.
Today I want to help you evaluate these cards for limited play, as they might often look very exciting, but won’t always perform the same as in constructed. At the same time, if they weren’t very useful for constructed, that doesn’t mean they can’t be excellent in this limited format.
Cards like Bitterblossom are obvious bombs. If you play it on turn 2, it generates so much value that it is easily worth the life loss because you don’t have to invest anything extra other than the 1B on turn 2 and it still gives you a new creature every single turn. This helps you build your board position with evasive creatures, make good trades, and eventually overrun the opponent.
The downside is that you can draw it very late into the game when you are both low on life and in a topdeck mode and it won’t really do much. That is a good argument, but the ceiling on this card is so high (single-handedly winning you the game) that it is worth the risk. Thoughtseize is a horrible topdeck in the late game, too, but you still run 4 in your black decks.
Grasp of Fate and Stab Wound are excellent cards and a very high pick for any deck. Removal is always good. Garruk’s Uprising is a great card for Red/Green because the theme of this color pair is creatures with power 4 or greater, so it naturally fits in.
Most cards in the set aren’t that easy to evaluate, though.
What’s the floor and ceiling on the card? | Enchanting Tales
First of all, you have to ask yourself if this card is contributing to you actually winning the game, how, and if it is really worth the card you invest into its effect.
Take Impact Tremors, for example. Is this a good card for your aggressive red deck? I love aggressive decks more than anyone, but I would almost never play this card in my deck. Why? The biggest problem is that it doesn’t impact the board. In the best case scenario, I’ll play it on turn 2 and then it might deal about 5 damage over the course of the game.
The issue is that playing it on turn 2 already sounds bad to me because I have to play it instead of a creature. If I played a 2/2 creature instead, it would likely get in for a couple of attacks, dealing 4-6 damage by itself. But then I still have a creature in play, which can keep attacking or blocking. Now it won’t always be able to get in for a profitable attack or block, but having a creature on board is so much more impactful on the game than an enchantment that just sits there, because it puts pressure on my opponent and maybe forces them to slow down or help me overrun them with other creatures and some combat tricks.
So the ceiling on this card is roughly a two-mana Lava Axe if everything goes perfectly, close to half a Lava Spike if I draw this card in the mid game, and a complete blank if I topdeck this card in the late game. That is not a card I am willing to put in my limited decks. Keep in mind that this isn’t a “surprise Lava Axe”, which can catch your opponent off-guard, but something they know is in play from turn 2 and can act accordingly.
There might be some super aggressive decks where Lava Axe will act as your finisher because the rest of your deck is designed to quickly get them to 5 life or lower, but the idea is that a topdecked Lava Axe will be a fine card most of the time. You’ll hate to see it in your opening hand, but you’re more likely to draw it later than to have it in your opener, so it can be fine to take that risk and run a card or two like that if you are short on playables.
Impact Tremors is only going to do some work if it’s in your opener and even then it is questionable whether it will actually be more impactful than a random two-mana 2/2.
There might be some corner case scenarios where I draft a Black/Red deck heavy on Rats producing effects, where most of my cards generate two creatures, but even in that scenario I would expect Impact Tremors to be come to me in the last few cards when I already know I am in this kind of archetype, instead of taking it aggressively myself in the first couple of picks over better cards that are more flexible.
Consider the format | Enchanting Tales
This draft format is just like any other in terms of starting the game with 7 cards and 20 life, but there is one key difference. Bargain is a very common ability that shows up on a lot of cards. Bargain is technically like kicker, you pay an extra cost to get a better effect out of your card. In this case, Bargain lets you sacrifice a token, artifact or enchantment to do something more powerful. You probably see where this is going. Enchantment is the key word here.
Hatching Plans is a card I can’t really imagine playing in normal limited sets. It does absolutely nothing by itself and there aren’t usually very many effects that allow you to sacrifice it. Wilds of Eldraine is completely different in that regard.
Bargain cards are very easy to come by in Wilds of Eldraine and they are usually fine playables on their own already. By adding a card like Hatching Plans to your deck, you are risking it getting stuck in play without a sacrifice outlet, but it should happen way less often than it normally would. By knowing you have a card like Hatching Plans, you can also prioritize the Bargain cards a little bit higher, making sure you end up with 5 or more. The ceiling is investing 1U into drawing 3 cards and we all know how good Ancestral Recall is.
By the same logic, cards like Spreading Seas that replace themselves and can slow down your opponent’s early development, but can also be used later for Bargain, are better than normal in this set.
Synergy | Enchanting Tales
A card may look bad, but if it synergizes very well with the rest of the deck, by all means play it. Griffin Aerie is not something I would normally consider a very good card, as life gain is not usually a very good strategy in any format. Green decks in Wilds of Eldraine can produce quite a lot of Food tokens, though, so if you are already in that kind of archetype, Griffin Aerie can be a nice addition to your deck.
Curiosity triggers when you deal any damage to your opponent, it is not limited to just combat damage. It is a card that can be fine in aggressive decks with evasion creatures, where if you make a good read that your opponent doesn’t have removal, it is going to provide you with a lot of value. But you can also build a nice two-card combo with it and a card like Scalding Viper or Unruly Catapult to draw an extra card every turn.
Kindred Discovery can be great in a dedicated Fearie deck or if you have a lot of Rat tokens generation.
Limited isn’t Commander | Enchanting Tales
There are a lot of good Commander cards in the Enchanting Tales, but most of them are not good in Limited. What usually matters the most in Limited is impacting the board, curving out with creatures on turns 2, 3 and 4, and having good tricks and removal. If you are going to spend an entire third or fourth turn playing an enchantment that doesn’t attack or block, it needs to have a much bigger impact on the game than potentially drawing you a card or two if the opponent decides to give it to you. The important part here is that you give your opponent the choice. Most of the time, they will simply pay the extra mana, but if it is convenient for them, they will pressure you more and give you the extra card or treasure. The argument that these cards are good against someone who is stuck on lands is not very relevant here, as you should already be winning those games anyway.
Remember that Limited games usually only have 2 players, unlike Commander, where it is more likely that these cards will produce value for you as you have multiple opponents. The limited games are also usually much faster and don’t involve sweepers and resetting the board multiple times. You simply don’t have the luxury of investing in these kinds of effects instead of impacting the board in most Limited games.
My best advice is if the card looks hard to evaluate, try to compare it to an average creature of the same mana cost. Does my deck want Forced Fruition? It could be a decent win condition for a slow Blue/Black deck with a lot of removal spells and some counters. After all, your opponent won’t be able to play more than 3 or 4 spells after you cast it, so if your deck is designed to play long games, it can be fine. But in most decks, I can imagine that a Colossal Dreadmaw type of creature would simply be better, as casting Forced Fruition when you are behind means that it won’t help you stabilize and it might even give your opponent more gas to finish you off. Whereas a 6/6 trample creature can usually stabilize more boards and also turn into a win condition.
Is Raid Bombardment something I am interested in? Wouldn’t a simple 3-mana 3/3 be better? In my opinion for the vast majority of decks it would be.
If the answer is that an average creature would be better, the card is usually not worth it.
Keep Bargain in mind. Avoid win-more cards. If your goal is to win, go for raw power and cards that are solid whether you are currently ahead or behind. If your goal is to have fun, anything goes!
Martin learned to play Magic at a young age after he saw some of his classmates playing it. Once he learned, he built a beginner deck and ever since then, he’s been hooked. Considered one of the top players in the world, his busy travel schedule made him become a real Magic Globetrotter, representing the game worldwide. Learn more about Martin.