Throne of Eldraine Second Looks: Building Some Decks

The creator of EDH is back to take another look at Magic’s newest set! What fun and exciting decks has Sheldon come up with this week?

We’re still not done with Throne of Eldraine preview season, but
it’s not too early to start jamming some deck builds. Last week, I threw
out some ideas for building each of the multicolored Brawl deck legends
that we’d seen so far. I supposed a Korvald, Fae-Cursed King deck last time
and the direction to take Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale isn’t all that
compelling. There are a few outside-the-box builds to be had, so let’s take
a drive down that road not yet taken with Alela, Artful Provocateur and
Chulane, Teller of Tales. I’ve included some relevant Throne of Eldraine cards but note that they’re limited to the ones
that had been officially previewed as of writing this piece.

Alela, Artful Provocateur
Sheldon Menery
Test deck on 09-19-2019
Magic Card Back


…you really want your commander to be important. Although it’ll function
without Alela (at least to some extent), it hits overdrive when you can
take advantage of her triggered ability to create Faerie tokens. If you can
keep them alive, they’ll fuel a bunch of the other things you want to do,
from tapping stuff with Opposition to milling people with Phenax, to
crewing the few Vehicles that are there. I had actually considered a whole
Vehicle subtheme, since casting them when Alela is on the battlefield helps
crew them, but just ran out of space.

…you’re a fan of unconventional strategies. Opposition might have been the
first card that Alela made me think of, but this isn’t a traditional
control deck of any kind. It uses Opposition to create favorable combat
situations or at the very least to keep things off your face.

…you like the inspired mechanic. Opposition lets you tap things without the
danger of putting them into combat if you don’t want to. When untap comes
around, you get huge value out of exiling things with King Macar, extra
draws with Pain Seer, or draining a little life with Servant of Tymaret.


…you want a specific win condition. Like many of my decks, there isn’t a
narrowly-defined win-con; I like using what’s on the battlefield at the
moment to figure out a path to victory. As I recently said elsewhere, I
don’t want the cards to win the game, I want my brain to win it with my
cards’ help. If you want a specific infinite combo or winning set piece,
this deck won’t provide it for you.

…you want the game to end very early. This is at least a Turn 10 deck.


The deck maintains some flexibility based on what the rest of the table is
doing. It wins by going wide, whether that’s just a swarm of tokens which
Alela makes larger or by using the various tap effects to create enough
room to get things through.

Its main outside the box idea is that most of the creatures are also
enchantments, triggering Alela’s ability. Several of them have the
constellation mechanic, so you get to keep graveyards in check with Agent
of Erebos, wipe out small creatures with Doomwake Giant, or gain some life
with Underworld Coinsmith. Replenish then becomes a one-sided Living Death
for you in case all your enchantments get nuked.

Because Alela is so important to the deck, there are a few things there
intended to protect her, like Darksteel Plate and Lightning Greaves.
Command Beacon will also help with the cost in case you have to cast her
multiple times.

At a certain point, the deck can swarm for the win on the back of Eldrazi
Monument. You’ll create enough creatures to sacrifice to it, then with
Archetype of Imagination make sure no one else can fly and block you. Those
1/1 Faeries will be 3/2s, and deadlier faster. Throne of Eldraine’s Harmonious Archon will make them even larger.

In the cast of a long game, you can increase the size of your army at end
of turn of the opponent to your right with either White Sun’s Zenith or a
cycled Decree of Justice. Those can be defensive if you need them, but
you’ll most often want them as offensive weapons. Chasm Skulker will also
eventually create a rather large army for you.


The deck doesn’t combo out. There’s no series of pieces that simply wins
the game regardless of board state.

It has only a few control elements, the sweepers being moderately
situational and deck-specific, like Retribution of the Meek or Elspeth
Tirel’s ability to destroy everything except lands and tokens.

Even though it’s blue, it doesn’t counter any spells, save for with Siren
Stormtamer. I was originally going to attempt to make the deck some kind of
Harpy tribal, and that card is simply a viable leftover.


Without Opposition or a timely sweeper to protect you, large creatures are
going to hurt.

Without counterspells or other control elements, it’s not likely to be able
to deal with a dedicated combo deck. You might be able to use Opposition to
tap down a relevant piece, like using it during upkeep to prevent the
opponent from using Gaea’s Cradle or Cabal Coffers, but if your environment
if full of combo decks, this deck will have a tough time hanging with them.


Daring Thief is one of my favorite cards in the deck. Untap it to trade one
of your Faerie tokens for something really big.

Knacksaw Clique synergizes with Opposition, letting you get effective card
draw from other players or just exiling the stuff you’d rather they not

Siren’s Call is originally from Alpha and a very Richard Garfield card. Its
obvious worth is in killing a bunch of creatures that can’t attack because
they’re tapped (Turnabout could help with this, too) for only one blue
mana. How often does blue get to wipe out an army?

Don’t take my word on Lashknife Barrier. Play it for yourself and you’ll


Although you can’t help but have a swarm of Faeries with Alela, the
unconventional path is to not go Faerie tribal. Faeries is certainly a
viable tribe, but it’s obvious enough that I wanted to suggest a different
direction. This one started from a very loose point and wandered to its
conclusion; it is intended to play in a heavily casual environment and
should do well among medium-powered decks.

Chulane Proliferate
Sheldon Menery
Test deck on 09-19-2019
Magic Card Back


…you really want to do something different. If you like Superfriends but
want to try a take on it that’s definitely not another Atraxa control

…you like drawing cards, casting creatures, and playing lands. This deck
does that pretty consistently.

…you’re a fan of getting emblems from planeswalkers. The original intent of
the deck, which I stuck quite closely to, was to select a few planeswlalker
ultimates that aren’t all that broken and get to them with a great deal of


…you want to let other players play the game. The planeswalker emblems were
specifically chosen to not be the ones that take away the game, like Dovin
Baan, Venser the Sojourner, or Narset Transcendent. Of course, it’d be
pretty easy to adapt it to do that if you want by just replacing the
planeswalker suite.

…you’re tempted (like I am, not gonna lie) by a Chulane goodstuff.dec. It’d
be so easy and I’ll concede that there are some of the engine elements that


The deck has definitive overarching goals. It’s an Elemental deck (maybe
not tribal, but definitely stronger than a sub-theme) that proliferates
more and more counters onto planeswalkers, then gets the emblems. There’s a
broad swath of emblem types so that you can chose the path you need to win.
There’s not much overlap between what the eight planeswalkers do.

Underneath it all, Chulane provides an engine to get more cards and more
land, which let you have some explosive turns in the mid-game. What I like
about Chulane is that early-game cards like Wood Elves or Farhaven Elf
aren’t dead later in the game. When you have enough land already, searching
up another one is fine, but it doesn’t advance your plan every much.
Chulane at least draws a card for that creature spell. With the obvious
star of the show, Evolution Sage, things get even saucier, because there
are ways to landfall, and landfall proliferates.

While there’s not a focused win condition, there are some obvious card
combinations that are strong. There’s enough landfall to make even a
moderately-sized Avenger of Zendikar army lethal. Nylea, God of the Hunt,
gives your creatures trample – and when one of those creatures is Multani,
Maro-Sorcerer or Psychosis Crawler, you can one-shot someone.

Psychosis Crawler also provides an alternate win condition if you can’t
attack. Just draw cards and let the life loss happen.

There’s a +1/+1 counter subtheme going. Forgotten Ancient and Doubling
Season can get out of hand pretty quickly.

With a bunch of cards in hand, Empyrial Plate makes nearly any creature
dangerous. I’m hoping for the occasional commander damage kill with


It’s another blue deck that doesn’t counter anything. It focuses on its
game plan and provides some safety nets, but unless the other players’
plans involve attacking, it doesn’t do much to stop them. It doesn’t have
sweepers, but it can at times make people wish they didn’t attack, like
with Comeuppance or Aetherize.

It doesn’t have Consecrated Sphinx (especially with Psychosis Crawler),
which some folks might consider an oversight, but sometimes you just want
to play different cards.

The ramp is creature-based. There’s no Kodama’s Reach or Cultivate, which
might seem like obvious cards.


The most common way the deck will lose is to a combo or loop it can’t stop.
It draws enough cards to nearly always have the Tangle or Cyclonic Rift at
a critical point. If those cards aren’t enough to stop what will kill you,
then say GGs and shuffle up.


The first +1 ability plays into the subtheme, the second is effective card
draw, but it’s all about that gaining 100 life.

One of the ways the deck loses is getting its stuff blown up, so making it
all indestructible stops that from happening.

The emblem is strong without being scary. Drawing more cards means getting
to the business end of the deck faster.

The Explore ability is quite useful early, the +1 very nice at keeping your
planeswalkers around, and everyone should love 9/9 Krakens.

The obvious dream play is cast Nissa, proliferate (Contagion Engine would
be best), then activate the ultimate.

The ultimate on this version of Nissa is designed to create a lethal
Avenger of Zendikar attack—or just thin the deck to being just gasoline.
There was some thought early in the process to making the lands
indestructible and then playing Living Plane, but I abandoned that as a
little too janky.

One of the problems with drawing lots of cards is having the mana to cast
them all. The ultimate on this Tamiyo solves that problem without any way
to go infinite.

The deck is still going to try to kill with creatures, so giving them
trample and making them bigger—not to mention indestructible—fits right
into that goal.


I’m very excited about this deck (although it might need a Concordant
Crossroads). Chulane is clearly a strong engine for doing many kinds of
things. To me, the key to building something interesting with it is to find
a theme or idea that isn’t the common way of doing things and committing
deeply to it.

There’s more to come from Throne of Eldraine. I imagine that there
will be cards we’ve yet to see that will fit nicely into either of these
decks. It’s already shaping up to looking like an amazing set for
Commander, so I suspect it’s only going to get better from here.

Sheldon Menery’s Deck Database

Check out our comprehensive Deck List Database! Click each section for lists of all my decks.

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