Examining The One-Drops of Throne of Eldraine For Limited

One-drops are normally underwhelming in a Limited environment, but Ryan Saxe thinks that with eight previewed in Throne of Eldraine so far, change could be coming.

At this stage of preview season, it’s difficult to discern actionable
insights for any Limited format. Evaluating cards in a vacuum isn’t
particularly useful and there aren’t enough commons available to get a good
grasp on the environment. However, there’s something I’ve noticed already:
There are a lot of one-drop creatures in Throne of Eldraine,
considering how few commons/uncommons have been previewed.

One-drops tend to be pretty bad in Limited. It’s hard to get enough of them
to facilitate a plan, and if the game goes past Turn 4, it’s easy to
invalidate them. They tend to be about as good as they can scale. Savanna
Lions and Typhoid Rats are playable because they can trade up, but in most
decks you don’t want too many of them, and Flying Men won’t get in for
enough damage without help from something like an Equipment. Because of
this, the general consensus is to sparingly draft one-drops unless they
scale extremely well into the late game – think of cards like Dreadmalkin,
Thraben Inspector, and Siren Stormtamer. And this consensus often means
that the premium one-drops go later than they should.

Some sets have a cycle of one-drop creatures at common with a specific
ability to let them scale into the late game. But it’s the same tale as old
as time – they just aren’t good enough. Blightkeeper saw some play in Ixalan, but this was because both Dimir and Rakdos in that format
were in the market for Flying Men. Eight mana was just too much to properly
scale. Most games of Limited end with players at six or seven mana. Luckily
it seems like Throne of Eldraine may have the proper balance.

Foulmire Knight is more of a four-drop, but that’s the point. Typhoid Rats
is mostly filler, but one that cantrips later in the game is quite
powerful. If you need to block and don’t have excess mana, Foulmire Knight
can fill that role. And if there are cards in the set that reward attacking
early – think mechanics like ninjutsu – having a generic good card that can
also be played as a one-drop is fantastic.

Flaxen Intruder is a bit odd. The 1/2 body isn’t exciting and paying seven
mana for three 2/2s isn’t a great deal either. But the ability to destroy
artifacts or enchantments is a nice buff and there could maybe be some
late-game engine with this card and something like Portal of Sanctuary to
continue and produce Bears. While I don’t think the card is great, it is a
playable one-drop.

Faerie Guidemother is my vote for the common that will start extremely
underrated out of the gate. Flying Men isn’t traditionally a good card and
the initial inclination for many players will be to evaluate this card as a
split card between a bad creature and a bad pump spell.

It’s both, which means it’s neither.

Faerie Guidemother is much more like the following card: 1WW, 1/1 flier,
When Faerie Guidemother enters the battlefield, target creature gets +2/+1
and flying. It’s a lot closer to Yeva’s Forcemage or Welkin Guide. It’s not
a fantastic card by any means, but it’s almost certainly a playable
one-drop creature. Maybe it functions more like a three-drop in this
manner, but my point is just that decks will have access to more one-mana
plays. The option is there if you need it, even if it isn’t the default

What do all these one-drops have in common? The new Adventure mechanic. For
most Limited decks, if a creature costs less than two mana or more than
four mana, there are only so many you can justify including in your deck.
Cards like Foulmire Knight bridge the gap between a one-drop and a
four-drop. The same is true about Beanstalk Giant, just the other way, as
it’s an expensive creature that has an early spell mode. This mechanic
introduces a more fluid function to curves in the Throne of Eldraine Limited format, which enables the inclusion of
more one-drops. But note that this doesn’t necessarily increase the speed
of the format.

At the time of writing this article, these are the eight one drops that
have been previewed. I have high hopes that this set will have the proper
balance and tension of early creature plays thanks to this (desired)
density alongside the Adventure mechanic. I hope this creates a format
where decks can easily adapt between the aggressive role and playing for
the late-game.