Looking back at Eldritch Moon & Take the Crown

It’s a bit hard to motivate myself right now, but I do not want to cease blogging about Magic altogether yet. I had intended to write about Eldritch Moon and Conspiracy: Take the Crown from a Next Level Cube perspective, but then my computer died, and I still haven’t completely caught up with re-installing everything I feel I need on it, and working through the backlog of my computer-related activities, of which keeping my Limited Card Pool up to date is one. I finally did the latter – although obviously it’s still pre-Kaladesh yet – and will now briefly mention which designs from the latest two published Magic sets made the cut.

About Eldritch Moon in general: I’m not the set’s biggest fan, at least not from the point of view of single card design. I still strongly dislike double-faced cards for RL play (and, even more importantly, draft); I still believe madness is a too swingy mechanic, rewarding you too much if its pieces come together, and punishing you too much if they don’t; and I still think delirium is just taking up too much mental space in a game. That is already most of what Eldritch Moon is mechanically about…

Then there are tribal matters cards, which I do like on principle. However, for the sake of backwards compatibility I will not adopt human tribal, which would be terribly confusing with many older cards which are humans but don’t say so in print, and wolf tribal can not be separated from werewolf tribal, which would require double-faced cards.

This leaves three tribes I use. Among those, I have zombies firmly in Black. Both Innistrad blocks offer some blue zombie tribal stuff, but that fails to reach the necessary level in both quantity and quality to convince me to put zombie tribal in two colors, since I decided against „splashing“ a tribals matter theme in a secondary color. As for the black zombie tribal designs in Eldritch Moon, they just did not survive the crunch – some are fine by themselves, but lost out to similar cards I already use.

Vampires matter cards, which I also only have in Black for similar reasons, offer a couple good designs though, and so do blue spirit tribal cards. Spirits in my pool still reel from the removal of all arcane cards, and consequently all spiritcraft cards (triggering off casting spirit or arcane spells), which left mostly soulshift as a spirit tribal mechanic – the exception being Blue, which is slowly gathering spirit tribal cards from the Innistrad blocks. I decided I want a clear split in colors between soulshift and other spirits matter, so white spirit tribal from Innistrad is being left out.

I was disappointed by the designs with skulk in Eldritch Moon, although I like that mechanic in principle. With emerge, it was a bit the other way round: I took a fancy to some of those cards by themselves, but realized they would require too many specific support cards in a Next Level Cube if they were to be a meaningful addition. As for escalate, I consider it a superfluous design in a space that is already full of too many slightly varying similar mechanics. With access to 23 years worth of Magic cards, I just don’t need it. It doesn’t help that the more interesting escalate cards tend to be overpowered and/or complicated, with the latter escpecially being an issue if casual players try to play around them.

Like in Shadows over Innistrad, there were some recurring creatures in Eldritch Moon, but I do not like how those affect gameplay, so I do not use them. Eldritch Moon also dabbles in insteries matter, auras matter and equipments matter designs. The first delivered a few nice cards, while the others suffered from not being compatible with my approach to those themes – for example, I do not want to mix auras matter and equipments matter on the same card.

As a final note, I was disappointed by Eldritch Moon‘s only “devilpops” design, which lacked the elegance of those from Shadows over Innistrad.

So here is what made it, 30 cards all in all:




Most of these are simply basic, elegant designs on a good power level, something I am always on the lookout for. Some were added to my Limited Card Pool without any specific card leaving to make room for them (although I am continuously culling cards to stunt the growth of my collection in general), while some were direct replacements. Among the latter are Drogskol Shieldmate for Affa Guard Hound, Faithbearer Paladin for Dawnstrike Paladin, Falkenrath Reaver for Goblin Raider, Noose Constrictor for Darkthicket Wolf (but consequently allowing Rootwalla back in), and Tattered Haunter für Vaporkin (for tribal reasons only).

The more specific cards enhance existing themes in my Limited Card Pool: Vampire tribal, spirit tribal, insteries matter, and self-milling (the only kind of milling I allow). Imprisoned in the Moon is especially important as a maindeckable answer for special lands at common. Sanctifier of Souls made the cut as a well-designed, interesting, but not suppressive rare.

Some noticeable cards which I considered lengthily, but didn’t make the cut: Lunarch Mantle and Faith Unbroken are too swingy; Long Road Home is too close too Feat of Resistance; Stensia Innkeeper doesn’t make for a great gameplay experience while not fulfilling an essential function; Noosegraf Mob has a cool concept, but is just a little too strong; Assembled Alphas are a bit too powerful for a splashable creature; and Geist of the Archives makes repeated scrying a little too easy – too much card selection goes against the very idea of limited play.

Now to Conspiracy: Take the Crown! Obviously, I do not care too much about the reprints in there, although I am always searching for updates to cards in my pool with a more current wording (for example, Skulking Ghost from Eternal Masters now saying that it’s a spirit is great). Also, since I do not play multiplayer, the vast majority of original Conspiracy cards make no sense in my Limited Card pool. Even those which do not feature specific multiplayer mechanics are usually not balanced for one on one limited play.

Two cards still made it:




Sinuous Vermin complements my other monstrosity options (Ill-Tempered Cyclops, Ravenous Leucrocota) nicely; and Leovold, Emissary of Trent replaces Sidisi, Brood Tyrant – both designs are a bit loaded for my taste, but Leovold is more straightforward.

Next up is Kaladesh, which has a couple of really interesting designs!

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8 Comments on “Looking back at Eldritch Moon & Take the Crown”

  1. jashinc Says:

    I agree in Sinuous Vermin being a very nice addition. Early drop with real mid- to late-game applications.
    Only question is: Isn’t it strange having black such a good Grizzly Bear?!?

    • It would have been strange a couple years ago, but I’m glad WotC is coming around on playable 2-drops in all colors (albeit VERY slowly). Grizzly Bears / Fresh Volunteers have been made obsolete in Green and White roughly a million times already, and it seems that it finally dawned on R&D that the vanilla 2/2 for 1M follows an unreasonably low standard in every color.

      Yes, I wrote “every color” – while Red just got its first “bear” in Eldritch Moon, and Blue is still missing out, the power level of 2/1s for 1M has in all colors often surpassed those of vanilla bears by so much already that I believe it is just a question of time until we finally get the latter in Blue, and even slightly “better bears” in both Blue and Red. Even Alpha Myr might finally get obsoleted (maybe already in Kaladesh block?)

      Now, 2/1 vanillas for 2 mana still serve a purpose in limited, but so did 3/3 vanillas for 4 mana and 4/4 vanillas for 5 mana, and I don’t think we have seen any of those in quite a while, because they were just unnecessarily underpowered. I believe that the “eels” will go the same way soon. Common creatures have become so much stronger during the last few years that it makes no sense to keep that last relic of a long past design age.

      About Sinuous Vermin in particular: I guess it is noticeably stronger than my other two monstrosity creatures, but not by so much that it would not fit in. My default generic black 2/2 creature for two mana is now Olivia’s Dragoon, BTW, another “better bear” in black. Note, though, that this lineage already started in Dragons of Tarkir with Kolaghan Skirmisher.

  2. muerrischemasse Says:

    “since I decided against „splashing“ a tribals matter theme
    in a secondary color”

    Scheint eine prinzipielle Entscheidung zu sein.
    Die Begründung dafür würde mich interessieren. Ich meine eigentlich
    klingt es in der Theorie ganz interessant wenn in einem Cube Zombies
    (oder jeder andere Tribe)
    hauptsächlich schwarz sind es aber auch ein paar blaue gibt sodass
    bei jedem Draft wieder die Entscheidung getroffen werden muss
    ob sich der Blausplash für Zombies lohnt oder man lieber keine
    weitere Farbe oder eine andere Farbe die grad offener ist in sein
    Deck tut. Die blauen Zombies müssten dann natürlich im Mittel vielseitiger
    aufgestellt sein so dass man die meisten von ihnen auch zocken kann
    wenn man nicht so sehr im Zombie-Thema ist. Einige der blauen Zombies
    könnten aber auch nicht vielseitig sein, sondern auf viele Zombies
    im Deck angewiesen sein, aber dafür ein höheres Powerlevel aufweisen.

    • Argh! Manchmal schnappt sich der Spamfilter einen völlig legitimen Kommentar wie diesen hier…

      Ja, es ist eine prinzipielle Entscheidung. Nach meinem Gefühl draftet es sich nicht gut, wenn ein oder zwei “tribal matters” Karten isoliert in einer Farbe stehen. Kreaturen dieses Typs hingegen setze ich in benachbarten Farben gerne und bewusst ein – blaue Zombies wären auf jeden Fall vorhanden!

      Eine Sache, die man auch bedenken muss ist, dass man häufig mit Spielern draftet, die sich nicht so perfekt mit Magic auskennen. Eine “gesplashte” tribal matters Karte in einer ungewöhnlichen Farbe kann diese Spieler möglicherweise auf einen völlig falschen Dampfer führen, weil sie berechtigterweise annehmen, dass sie in der selben Farbe noch mehr Unterstützung für dieses Thema finden würden.

      Das ist jetzt keine Entscheidung, die Wohl oder Wehe beim Spielspaß mit einem Cube ausmacht, aber wenn man auch auf solche Kleinigkeiten achtet, zahlt sich das in der Summe dann doch spürbar aus.

    • jashinc Says:

      Ich denke mal, das hängt ja auch stark davon ab, wie vielfarbig die Umgebung ist. In einen grünen Tribe was mit Hilfe von grünem Fixing reinzusplashen ist ebenfalls einfacher.

      • Es kann aber nicht der Sinn der Sache sein, dass eine Karte einen Slot im Cube einnimmt, deren Sinn darin besteht, für ein ganz bestimmtes Thema in eine andere Farbe hineingesplasht zu werden.

        Abgesehen davon benutze ich Grün ganz ausdrücklich NICHT dafür, andere Farben damit zu splashen.

        • jashinc Says:

          Wie siehst du dann eine Karte wie Strength of Night, die ohne Splash unspektakulär, im richtigen Archetypen aber ziemlich stark ist?

        • Ich meide Strength of Night aus genau diesem Grund. Hier kommt natürlich noch erschwerend hinzu, dass Grün nur äußerst sporadisch Zombies hat, so dass selbst ein paar zusätzliche grüne zombie tribal Karten nicht ausreichen würden, diesen Tribe zusätzlich in dieser Farbe zu etablieren.

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