Hey there and welcome! I’m Roman Fusco. This is my inaugural article for SpellSnare.com, so I guess an introduction is necessary. I’ve been playing Magic for about five years, the last two competitive. My journey started back in my Freshman year of High School. I’d always been interested in the game and found out one of my friends, Kenny, was an avid player. I didn’t know a single thing about mana or spells, and the first thing I ended up saying to Kenny was, “Are you a Planeswalker?” From there, our friendship grew and so did my love for the game. Ever since I moved to New York City two years ago to pursue a degree in film production at NYU, I’ve been playing non-stop and working to improve my game. What I love most about Magic is that I feel I always have so much to learn and discover. Here in my articles I hope you too can learn something with me in my Magic journey!
Limited has always been my go-to format. Every game feels so unique and I enjoy being put into an environment where impactful decisions need to be made on the spot. To start off, let’s recap this past weekend’s two drafts at Pro Tour Eldritch Moon.
Limited Lessons from Pro Tour Eldritch Moon
I rushed home after work at seven o’clock Thursday night to find GP Master, Brian Braun-Duin featured in the first draft pod. BBD started off with two solid picks: A pack one pick one Thalia, Heretic Cathar – a solid white rare – and then picked up a Deranged Whelp, a not too shabby red uncommon in the next pack.
For his third pick, Brian found himself face to face with a Gisa and Geralf, which he took almost immediately. Although picking this card up third pick seems a little odd, it was a small risk that could give out a high reward. The only other notable card in his colors in the pack was a Borrowed Grace, which is way less exciting than a powerful mythic. By taking Gisa and Geralf, Brian opened up his options and was able to cobble together a solid U/B deck, picking up two Certain Death, a Haunted Dead, and two Ever After!
Although it’s tempting to stick to your first couple picks in a draft, keeping your options open and taking small risks can lead to huge rewards. If Brian had taken Borrowed Grace, the only pickable white card from the third pick, he would have missed out on a huge opportunity. Since red and white dried up early on in the draft, sticking to his original plan would have left Brian with a handful of underwhelming red and white cards, and could have forced him into another color. However, by picking Gisa and Geralf, he was able to make a slightly risky decision that benefited him greatly. Even though you may be content with your first couple picks of a draft, it’s important to consider your options and stay open if passed a powerful card that is not in your colors. It may notify you that the players to your right could be in your colors and they’re opting to stay away from a different colored or multicolored card early on. Sometimes playing it safe could be very detrimental, and it’s vital to take small risks here and there, even if they don’t guarantee a reward.
Following up in his post-PT article, BBD discussed that he slammed the multicolored rare because in testing, U/B had resulted to be a powerful color combination, even though in Shadows over Innistrad it was arguably the worst color combination. There are many powerful synergies in this two-color pair, such as utilizing the graveyard with cards like Haunted Dead and Liliana’s Elite, and being able to trade off creatures and regrowth them with Cemetery Recruitment, while drawing an additional card.
Cards that Impressed Me:
In Round 1, BBD faced off against Kentaro Yamamoto on U/R. Each game, Yamamoto lead with Tattered Haunter. Although I’m personally not a fan of Welkin Tern in a format with Borrowed Malevolence, Dead Weight, and Smoldering Werewolf, Tattered Haunter proved to put in a lot of work each game, and knocked Brian down to a low life total. However, even though the spirit was able to push through significant amounts of damage, the downside of it not being able to block Brian’s creatures meant that Brian was able to use his removal on Kentaro’s blockers, which let Brian win the damage race. Tattered Haunter can look impressive when it punches through damage every turn, but it can prove meaningless if your opponent spends their removal on your blockers and wins the damage race.
In Round Nine, Luis Scott-Vargas, on R/G battled against Yuuya Watanabe on U/R. Luis assembled an aggressive red-green deck with some interesting rares: Goldnight Castigator, Permeating Mass, Arlinn Kord, and Lupine Prototype. Wait, did you just say Lupine Prototype?? Although I’m not a fan of a creature that can’t attack or block until you’re out of cards, a 5/5 for 2 isn’t the worst in an aggressive strategy. In game two, LSV’s respect was shown for Tattered Haunter when he chose to cast an Incendiary Flow on it, turn three, on the play. Although Haunter is a 2/1 that can’t even block LSV’s army of ground creatures, LSV understood how much damage he could potentially take from a 2/1 flier on turn two.
Again, Tattered Haunter can prove to put through a lot of damage if left unchecked, but when you can’t block your opponent’s creatures, they may end up not giving any thought to the spirit, and instead focus their game plan on pushing through on the ground and removing your potential blockers.
In Round Two, Brad Nelson, on G/W played against Ari Lax, on B/W. Brad’s deck was full of small creatures and enchantments to pump them up, including two copies of Lunarch Mantle and one copy of Equestrian Skill. Also of note was his inclusion of Lone Rider, which he could easily flip with these auras. Generally in limited, auras like Lunarch Mantle and Equestrian Skill aren’t cards you’d want to be in your main deck. However, in drafts where you’re not able to cobble together a deck that has a consistent plan, you can build your deck to be more aggressive. That’s when cards like Lunarch Mantle shine – when you’re committed to being the beatdown and always want to have your opponent on the back foot.
This proved to be true in games two and three of the match. After Ari was able to dismantle Brad’s board in game one, after taking out his Solitary Hunter suited up with Equestrian Skill with an Anguished Unmaking. Brad was able to put him on the blackfoot by playing cheap creatures and enchanting them with Lunarch Mantle. Like I said, auras that make you vulnerable to 2-for-ones are not what you usually want to include in your draft decks. However, if you’re lacking a game plan and want to take the aggressive route, these enchantments can shine in the right deck.
Mercurial Geists proved to be incredibly powerful in Game 1 of Round 9’s match between LSV and Yuuya Watanabe. I turned away for a minute and found LSV scooping up his cards. What happened? How was the game over in an instant? I rewinded to see Yuuya bash in with Geists and cast a Borrowed Hostility, and Fiery Temper to get in a whopping eighteen points of damage in total! Now, when facing off against this card, it’s unlikely that your opponent will have the exact same cards in hand when they attack, but an attack with Geists is scary nonetheless. Just casting a simple Uncaged Fury targeting the Geists adds up to 10 points of life, half your life total! Although a 1/3 for four mana doesn’t seem like much, things can go sour quite quickly if you’re not careful.
It’s no news that Planeswalkers are among the most powerful cards in limited. Hard to deal with and packed with strong abilities, Planeswalkers can easily turn the tide quickly. In Round 3 of the Pro Tour, Nathan Holiday cast a Steadfast Cathar on turn two, which was swiftly killed by Marcio Carvalho’s Liliana the Last Hope. I wouldn’t say by any means facing off against an opponent’s Planeswalker early on is just game over, but it creates a tough, uphill battle you must climb to win the match. When your options for answering walkers (besides burn and counter spells) come down to Imprisoned in the Moon, Anguished Unmaking and Sorin, Grim Nemesis, it can be hard to climb out of games when your opponent casts one early on.
Cards from Shadows Over Innistrad that Improve with Eldritch Moon
Throughout the draft portion of the Pro Tour, Marshall talked a lot about the speed of the format, and stated that the games in Eldritch Moon limited are much more grindy than they were in Shadows Over Innistrad.
Although this was only on camera once in the draft portion, Ulvenwald Mysteries is a card to look out for in your Shadows over Innistrad pack. The most important use of this card is to make favorable trades in combat that will allow you to create clues and even more blockers. Although you may not want this card in every deck, Mysteries is a great pick-up to help you slog through some grindy limited games.
I wasn’t a huge fan of this card in Shadows, but I occasionally slipped it into my main deck from the board if I thought games two and three would be a grind-fest. Magnifying Glass seems like a great way to obtain some card advantage when the board gets clogged up with creatures on each side.
I’ve loved drafting the B/G archetype in Eldritch Moon limited. Being able to cast Gnarlwood Dryad and bringing it back with Grapple with the Past is what I’d like to do every game. Thraben Foulbloods, a 3-power creature for 3 mana can quickly turn into a 4/3 menace attacker. All in all three mana for an enchantment to reach delirium that becomes a 4/4 hexproof is a price I’m happy to pay in a grindy game.
I wouldn’t say this card improves greatly, but being able to pick off a Shrill Howler, Tattered Haunter, or Graf Rats for one red mana is something I can get behind. This card still probably stays in the sideboard of most decks.
Again, not a card I’m thrilled to play by any means, but having four toughness and the ability to have your opponent discard a card when it dies isn’t the worst. It also makes for a solid target for Cemetery Recruitment and Ruthless Disposal!
If there’s one thing I like more than limited Magic, it’s grindy limited Magic, and Eldritch Moon is shaping up to be a format perfect for me. That’s it for Limited Lessons this week! Next week I’ll be talking about draft archetypes and cards that I’ve taken a liking to.
What cards have impressed you so far? What cards have let you down? Let me know in the comments down below!
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