Deconstructing Constructed – Thoughts on Eventide

Read Josh Silvestri every week... at StarCityGames.com!
Tuesday, July 15th – Today I’ll be going over some thoughts on Eventide, and its impact on Block and possibly Standard. I’ll also recap some of my thoughts on the impact of cards I saw in Limited play at the prerelease this past weekend.

Today I’ll be going over some thoughts on Eventide, and its impact on Block and possibly Standard. I’ll also recap some of my thoughts on the impact of cards I saw in Limited play at the prerelease this past weekend.

Honestly? I think Eventide may be the worst set for Constructed play since Legions.

It really is quite terrible. There’s only eight or nine cards I can see making any sort of notable impact in Constructed. Out of those, though, a couple are obviously great (“hi, I’m a Wrath clone that hits Persist men too”)… otherwise we’ve got Quillspike, Wake Thrasher, Cold-Eyed Selkie, Bloom Tender, and the best card in the set: Figure of Destiny.

Yes, I know there’s no Retrace cards on the list. I simply haven’t seen anything to indicate the super sick world-ending combo card that would make the mechanic like Storm. If one does exist, it’ll certainly make things… interesting.

As for cards like Unmake, which should see some play either in Standard or Block, I simply don’t see them being so much better than options that already exist. Maybe Stigma Lasher gets a pass, but honestly, that card seems far more suited to Extended unless you really love Mono-Red Aggro.

Quillspike has to be one of the most obvious creatures that has a chance to make a serious impact. Sorry for the repetition, but again, it combos with a number of cards that were already seeing serious play in both Standard and Block Constructed. It allows for a huge infi/infi attack on turn 4, or a possible Rite of Consumption kill. Quillspike can also take advantage of Persist or Hatchling creatures, or simply spells that involve -1/-1 counters such as Dusk Urchins or Scarscale Ritual. Draw two, remove the -1/-1 counter, bash for four seems perfectly reasonable in some matches. It also can make reaching Mosswort Bridge activation very simple if it can remove two or three counters in a single turn.

It’s still very possible that Quilly isn’t good enough because of his low starting Power/Toughness and mana cost of three, but if you work with it a little, you have a very potent and difficult to kill creature that can support a deck itself.

Wake Thrasher isn’t a really impressive creature at first glance. Just like Quillspike, you get a 1/1 for three mana, and then requires another turn to really do anything. It also requires a number of support resources to truly be effective. However, if properly utilized, Thrasher can end an opponent in a matter of a few turns with or without a Lord powering it up. If played on a natural curve on turn 3, and if it lives to turn 4, you’ll have a 4/4 to 6/6 to attack with. And then if you do anything at all, you can do it again, and again, and again and again…

Yes, the card is fragile and dies to pretty much any removal spell if cast during the opponent’s turn. However, Merfolk is quite good at stopping removal with a generous bounty of counter effects. Good ones, no less! Even more important may be that the card forces attention away from the Lords or Sower of Temptation. It may be a magnet for removal, but that may not be such a bad thing in the long run. The question of if Thrasher can be truly effective when so many Bitterblossoms exist is a good one, but considering most Merfolk straight-up die to one or two Bitterblossom tokens, being able to be chumped doesn’t look as bad by comparison. Besides, in Standard you have Islandwalk and ways to turn the opponents’ lands into such monstrosities, and in Block Constructed Merrow Reejerey can still tap blockers out of the way. Or you can Sygg him up to get by blockers… whatever floats your boat.

Oh, and for Johnny, it does count as a cheaper kill card for Devoted Druid / Umbral Mantle shenanigans.

Cold-Eyed Selkie is probably the most interesting of the playable cards, in Standard even moreso due to the existence of Pendelhaven. It becomes mostly interesting simply trying to figure out how to fit this guy into a format full of 1/1s and removal. It has some form of evasion built in, and if you can connect a few times, just like Ophidian, Thieving Magpie, or Shadowmage Infiltrator before it, you can simply bury an opponent in card advantage. Of course you could always cheat on the ‘hit them a few times’ part and instead pump up Selkie and draw all at once. In Block Constructed this is easier said than done… one of the more the obvious ways involves Merrow Reejerey or any of the on-color Lieges. Unless you really wanted to rock Barkshell Blessing, of course.

Rather than sliding into an established deck, it seems like you’d have to build around to accommodate the Selkie. Against Block Fae, it’s likely they’ll have an Island out by turn 4/5 unless they’ve been rather land flooded and can pick and choose. So if you can sneak him into play, you’ve got the ability to start bashing and drawing at will. Of course, most of your time after that point will likely be protecting it from dying, but them’s the breaks.

Bloom Tender… once again, another accelerant and combo enabler. The obvious use is simply to boost out huge hybrid spells since it’s a super elf with a non-Green hybrid in play. The other use is with the hybrids and Umbral Mantle for an infi/infi Bloom Tender, or, if you have 4 colors in play, then you’ve got infinite mana to play with. He might just not be worth running, but the sheer amount of mana he can pump out is interesting.

Figure of Destiny is probably the best aggro White one-drop ever printed. Non-legendary, becomes a 2/2 with no drawback at a negligible cost that can be spread out, no mana requirement like Pouncing Jaguar. Topping all that off, Figure can grow over time, not only making it a gradually increasing threat, but it becomes a non-useless topdeck unlike just about every other White one-drop. For Red? Meh. Figure ranks up there with the top tier Red one-drops, but right now I’d rather be playing a Kithkin deck than a Red deck in Block Constructed. I think it’s easily the best card in the set.

My sleeper card for the set is Evershrike. I think if Zur can see play, this guy has a shot. Get him into the grave early and then bring him back. Three mana, you slap an Edge of Dvinity on him and have a 7/7 flyer on turn 3. Wait for five mana to recur Shrike and slam a Steel of Godhead down, and voila! You now have an Exalted Angel in play on turn 5. I know, it’s a bit of effort to do this, and you have to play Auras, but there are a decent number of filter cards that can be applied with this.

There are a few more cards of interest, so let’s hit them quick.

Shorecrasher Mimic — There’s a total of twelve Simic creatures in Eventide. Being generous, about half of them are playable in some way and could potentially be decent. Part of the problem is the curve on these guys is trash… you have this guy filling the two slot, and then you jump immediately to three and four to make any use of him. Shorecrasher Mimic could potentially be used for some cheap smashing, but you have to lower the overall quality of the deck to get full functionality. In addition, the guy still eats it to Nameless Inversion, the ubiquitous removal spell in Block and Standard at the moment.

Nettle Sentinel — Another two-power drop for one mana. Do you realize there are now five currently Block legal two-power drops for one mana? If you count Figure of Destiny, that’s six. I can’t remember the last time so many two-power drops were running around in a Block format, let alone Standard. Is the card good? Meh. It’ll help you curve out with Green decks, but those decks aren’t all that impressive anyway. I guess it gives the G/W deck a bit more game against Fae with the earlier pressure.

Talara’s Battalion — A big creature that dies to almost every relevant piece of removal, and is only a two-drop if you play Manamorphose or (for Standard) power out this plus something else with a Birds of Paradise or Elf.

Twinblade SlasherBasking Rootwalla is back, but it traded in Madness for Wither. The latter is actually relevant nowadays, although perhaps it’s destined to only be a half decent draft card. I actually kind of like the design, and it’s a solid enough donk for one mana in any situation not involving Bitterblossom.


Anyway, enough about Constructed and the constant crying over Bitterblossom (I’m also mildly peeved about the fact that we now have ten Cairns lands, Reveal lands, Vivids and Reflecting Pool. That’s a huge amount of mana fixing available in this format, and it’s truly unneeded. Being able to play practically any card at any cost and color has completely destroyed the idea of decks having color boundaries and being forced to work around issues. Of course, this wouldn’t be an issue if we actually had non-basic land hate, but that’s clearly too unfun for people [No love for Fulminator Mage? — Craig.] No, we can have roughly 20 individual lands that make mana balancing and mana restrictions a complete joke, but we can’t have Wasteland for those decks that want to go mono or dual colored. If it’s that big a deal, print a new version that can only blow up lands that make more than one color of mana. That leaves manlands and some tribal specific lands completely untouched.

For Limited, the removal is all awesome and a very nice change of pace from the relatively spell-light nature of Shadowmoor Limited. There are a few notable differences about the format with Eventide . One is that Savage Conception and Cenn’s Enlistment tend to just end games all the time. The main issue is if you aren’t ahead (in some cases significantly), then everything the opponent draws is gas and you, well, probably aren’t going to draw a spell every single turn. You might be able to play one or two better spells, but when the opponent gets to go four-for-four when you hit a stalemate because he had a Retrace card… this is not fun times. Oona’s Grace served a similar role for some of the sealed decks I saw throughout the day: drawing cards after hitting six mana, all the way to the bank.

As for newer decks that’ll establish themselves in draft, I’m sure the Mimics will be a point of interest for many in triple-Eventide draft. I only had two Nightsky Mimics and a total of five Orzhov spells, but beating for two and then flying over blockers and smashing for another four was a great feeling. Especially when in draft you can get enough of these cards to trigger the Mimics constantly. Good removal still takes care of them, but it becomes quite the race once these guys start bashing in. In SSE, I doubt it’ll come up too often, but a drafter willing to take some risks might luck out and have a few two drops that do more than just chump block after turn four.

Hopefully I’ll be able to draft some more Eventide this week and get a better idea of how the draft format shapes up. Block testing will occur I’m sure, but I don’t know if much more will come from it. Almost everyone I actually test with is sick of death of the Fae menace, pining to go back to a time when it was just beating U/G Madness or Affinity.

Josh Silvestri
Team Reflection
Email me at: joshDOTsilvestriATgmailDOTcom