Welcome to another edition of Fact or Fiction! Today, Sam Black, Tom Ross, and Shaheen Soorani are here to render their five statements about Throne of Eldraine preview season. Don’t forget to vote for the winner at the end!
1. Garruk, Cursed Huntsman is the best six-mana planeswalker in Throne of Eldraine Standard.
Sam Black: Fact
This is an interesting question, as the comparison with Liliana,
Dreadhorde General is very close. Fundamentally, I want my six-mana
planeswalker to impact the battlefield immediately as much as possible and
making two creatures is much better at doing that than making one. The
clearest win for Garruk to me, is when I think about the games where I get
to activate my planeswalker once and then my opponent kills it, and I think
Garruk is better on average both going up and down against removal.
Obviously making two creatures and dying is better than making one and
dying, and I think destroying a creature is somewhat comparable to making
your opponent sacrifice two creatures, but when you add drawing a card and
you don’t need to sacrifice any creatures yourself, I think Garruk is
You can certainly make the case that Liliana is better across multiple
turns, particularly because of naturally gaining loyalty, but I don’t think
you want to maximize for the situations where you untap with a six-mana
planeswalker over the situations where your opponent can answer it, since
that’s mostly win more.
As for Ugin, the versatility of the removal is a reason to play it, as is
the easier casting cost, but I’m giving the nod overall to Garruk on power
Tom Ross: Fiction
More than just Fiction. I think Garruk, Cursed Huntsman will be the worst planeswalker legal in Throne of Eldraine Standard that doesn’t come from a Starter deck. Garruk means Golgari and none of the others are that restricted.
Liliana’s plus ability puts her to 8 loyalty. Just one 2/2 but 8 > 5
here and her static of drawing a card when one of your creatures dies
plays. Her minus can kill two creatures compared to Garruk’s one. Her
ultimate is great when you’re behind, while Garruk’s is only good if you
have a battlefield.
Chandra can’t be countered against control, her sweeper and targeted
removal are comparable to Garruk, and her plus seals the deal better than
Garruk’s ultimate does.
Ugin goes in any deck, his plus has comparable value to Garruk’s, and his
minus hits any non-colored permanent.
I must give this one a nod because of the lack of competition. Ugin, the
Ineffable and Liliana, Dreadhorde General are both solid cards in a vacuum.
In a world where creatures are large with hexproof, Liliana, Dreadhorde
General would be amazing. There are also situations where a deck could
combo off the static ability, drawing a bunch of cards while sacrificing
creatures to some greater purpose. At this point, that is not the case in Throne of Eldraine Standard.
Ugin, the Ineffable is another solid six-mana alternative, but the modes on
Garruk, Cursed Huntsman are better. Comparing the power level of two
creatures being created, compared to one that has the top card of your
library attached, is a tough task. As the format becomes defined, it may
get grindy enough where one of the other planeswalkers at six mana are
superior. If it remains somewhat fast paced, with easy to kill creatures,
Garruk, Cursed Huntsman is a slight favorite.
2. Oko, Thief of Crowns is the next great three-mana
Oko is unbelievable. Like, I’m still kind of floored by its printing. The
natural play pattern on an empty battlefield is to make a food token and
have a six loyalty planeswalker. If your opponent plays a small creature,
you can immediately take it and give them your food. If they play a big
creature, you can make it a 3/3. That’s a good start.
Where it really shines for me is attacking other planeswalkers, because it
doesn’t kill a thing and make a 3/3 token, but rather it turns something
into a 3/3, which means if you use it on your own thing, your 3/3 has
haste, so it’s great for something like finishing off an opposing Teferi.
We still haven’t seen the full power of this card, as it benefits from
every other card that makes or uses food, but the synergy with Gilded Goose
is incredible, as an answered Goose leaves a food, which enables the
three-mana play of 3/3 Haste creature + 5 loyalty planeswalker for three
mana, and an unanswered Goose gives you a Turn 2 planeswalker that
immediately gives you the food back, which can fuel either the Goose or the
+1 on the following turn.
Tom Ross: Fiction
Oko has huge starting loyalty of essential six given his +2, but you need
to convert that food into value fast by having a sacrifice effect. The +1
is hard to utilize in constructed and the -5 synergizes with the plus, but
doesn’t look to have anywhere close to the power level of Teferi, Time
Raveler or Narset, Parter of Veils.
To warrant the “next great three-mana Planeswalker” title, it must join
the ranks of elite company. This Planeswalker has a two-turn creature
generation that both provide additional loyalty. The final ability is an
easy one to attain one, having the potential of swinging creature matchups
wildly. This is another tough question because it could all change as the
format has no guaranteed players just yet.
Food tokens alone are not impressive in aggro/midrange decks with what
we’ve seen so far. This provides some utility for them, but until I see
something that utilizes these Artifacts in this color scheme, I’m not
stamping my approval on Oko, Thief of Crowns. The second ability is
interesting, the third can be powerful, but there are simply too many
variables to allow it to sit at the table with Narset, Parter of Veils and
Teferi, Time Raveler just yet.
3. Gilded Goose will take many by surprise as a more-than-capable replacement of the rotating Llanowar Elves.
I have enough faith in people that I don’t think they’ll be surprised.
Gilded Goose is incredible. Part Birds of Paradise, part Deathrite Shaman,
part Servant of the Conduit. It ramps and fixes mana like Birds of
Paradise, which makes it much better than Llanowar Elves at enabling gold
cards on Turn 2, the second toughness and late-game utility are reminiscent
of Deathrite Shaman, and the fact that it leaves an object that can be used
to power other cards is similar to Servant of the Conduit.
I hope no one will be surprised, as I expect this to be one of the best
cards in the set and a defining part of Throne of Eldraine Standard.
Tom Ross: Fact
The goose that laid the golden egg. I think Gilded Goose is on par with
Noble Hierarch on power level and may even be closer to Deathrite Shaman
given the lifegain potential. The first mana is free, and more take work,
similar to how Deathrite Shaman is. I think the second toughness compared
to Birds of Paradise is what will make Gilded Goose really glean by
blocking small attackers and surviving other small targeted dings.
Gilded Goose is a wonderfully designed, adequate replacement for Llanowar
Elves. The ability for Llanowar Elves to continue to produce mana is top
notch, but just providing a refillable Lotus Petal with upside will get the
job done in Throne of Eldraine Standard. Players want to power out a
three-mana creature or Planeswalker on Turn 2, which Gilded Goose will help
We’re back to the overall usefulness discussion of Food tokens to carry
Gilded Goose across the finish line. If there are enough constructed
playable cards that produce Food tokens incidentally, while the main effect
of the spell handles business, cards like Golden Goose and Oko, Thief of
Crowns get better. I have my own plans for Food tokens if they come with
control staples, as gaining three life isn’t something to scoff at in my
4. PVDDR is correct in his assessment of Rankle, Master of Pranks as being
a planeswalker in disguise.
While it has flying and haste, the fact that it needs to attack and
connect makes it function much more like a creature. If your opponent has
Lightning Strike up, you have nothing to show for your mana, unlike with
planeswalkers, and it doesn’t offer a different way to extend your
battlefield to play around sweepers. This does fancy stuff when it hits a
player, but if you think of each fancy ability as having a value equivalent
to some amount of damage, it compares reasonably to imagining it as simply
a 5/3 flying haste creature or something. Some games it will be a little
better, some a little worse, many times (whenever it can’t connect),
functionally the same. To me, that’s more like a creature, even if it does
fancy things instead of just damage sometimes.
Tom Ross: Fact
PV hit it on the money. You only play Rankle when the time is right; into
an empty battlefield or when the opponent is tapped out, or when the
battlefield is opportune for it: the same as you do planeswalkers. You have
a variety of effects to choose from on connect, just like planeswalkers and
Rankle is likely to be even better since it can’t be attacked and killed
like planeswalkers can.
If this card is a planeswalker, then I will add it to the likes of
Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded. Rankle, Master of Pranks has a very interesting
design, with sweet multiplayer application. For Throne of Eldraine
Standard, I do not see this card being a major player in competitive play.
Effects that hit you and the opponent require a good amount of deck
building around it, which is why cards like this have struggled over the
Cards like Smallpox when perfectly set up, led to more losses than wins.
Even though this card is a bit different, it follows the same requirements
to have early creatures to take advantage of the sacrifice ability, and
difficult setup to take advantage of the other two. Having each player draw
cards and discard cards isn’t the most exciting unless the format falls
perfectly inline for it. This would mean Throne of Eldraine Standard
would need to be dominated by low creature count, slower decks for Rankle,
Master of Pranks to shine. I doubt this will be the case, as aggro enjoys
the early tournaments while the rest of us figure out how to defend against
5. Bake into a Pie is the most flavorful card previewed during Throne of
Eldraine preview season thus far.
I’m taking the coward’s way out here. I think there are a lot of cards in Throne of Eldraine that hit all the notes I’m looking for flavorfully – cards that I’d say get 5 out of 5 stars for flavor and all of
them are “the most flavorful.” So, I’m not claiming that Bake into a Pie is the single most flavorful card, but that it earns top marks.
I’m disappointed that the name can’t line up with the line the card’s
referencing from Sing a Song of Sixpence, because that line is past tense,
and I don’t love the flavor text, but the card has great art, the right
feel, fit, and mechanics, which carries it to top marks for me, but it’s on
par with cards like Frogify, Witch’s Oven, Piper of the Swarm, Beanstalk
Giant, Lovestruck Beast, and Flaxen Intruder for me.
Tom Ross: Close second, but Fiction
I had the privilege of working on Throne of Eldraine for a bit.
Many cards changed in the card file since I left but Bake into a Pie sure
didn’t. In fact, the playtest name stuck the whole way through!
“The black Murder that costs a little more but has set mechanic upside.”
Easy to design and implement. My vote, however, for most flavorful card
previewed thus far is Run Away Together.
Fact and Fiction!
The beauty of this set is the number of storylines it has been willing to
adopt. Depending on your childhood, there’s a card that hoists the most
flavorful trophy above the rest. You have golden eggs from a golden goose,
a beautiful human with a beast of a creature, and even a poor Merfolk that
wanted nothing more than to be a human for her to carry out additional
vengeance. These are just the initial preview cards with many more to come.
For me, this must be the most flavorful card. Not just because someone made
a funny image on top of it, or I get to use my exclusive Star City Games
Personality Token, but because of the association from my childhood
stories. Enjoy the set my friends; I know I will!