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Ardenvale Tactician Art by Jason Rainville - Throne of Eldraine

Throne of Eldraine (ELD) Premier Draft Guide

Our in-depth guide to Throne of Eldraine (ELD) Premier Draft, with the most important information you need to know about the format.

Hey everyone! We’re heading back into the absolute last place I ever thought we’d be going, that’s right we’re going back to Oko World where we’re all going to have an elking good time! Or you could just call it Throne of Eldraine if you want to be all normal about it. As much as I want to make a ton of bad Elk jokes that would make even my dad cringe, you don’t need to worry Oko is a mythic and you won’t run into him that often.

Back to the actual subject at hand (or hoof…alright fine… I promise that’s the last one), we’ll be getting Throne of Eldraine premier drafts on Arena from October 21st through October 28th. This is going to be a much different environment than the previous Arena Quick Drafts where there was a clear exploitable strategy. This is actually an amazing limited format with an extremely diverse selection of archetypes that you can run. It even has amazing fairy tale flavor backed up with a pile of puns, what could go wrong?

Key Ideas of Throne of Eldraine Draft

To start off it is important to remember that this was during Wizards FIRE design phase so there are a ton of busted cards. It’s downright comical how many of them had to be banned in constructed and you can assume that most of those are just as dumb in limited. If you don’t remember them all, you can check the bombs list near the end of the article. Don’t let that scare you off though as there are plenty of ways to play through them.

On top of that, Adventure is an obviously great limited mechanic because it provides versatility alongside a natural two for one. Don’t go all out taking the lower end ones over better cards, but they are worth more than the sum of their parts since you have the option to get both. For example, Ardenvale Tactician looks pretty mediocre, but is one of the best white commons.

Coming out of DMU, it’s going to be a weird transition back to how viable mono-colored decks are in this format. The hybrid mana uncommons and the adamant abilities offer strong payoffs for staying in one color on top of getting to have great mana. There’s even a common cycle of lands (Mystic Sanctuary, Gingerbread Cabin, etc…) that are way easier to trigger when playing mono-colored decks.

The overall speed of the format is really fast. You can play slower control style decks, but make sure you have answers to early threats or you will get ran over quicker than Mufasa in a stampede of wildebeests.

There are a bunch of artifact and enchantments floating around. That makes a card like Embereth Shieldbreaker premium since having the option to blow one up without being stuck in your hand is great. I don’t mind playing a single copy of True Love's Kiss because it has my favorite text in magic “draw a card”. Return to Nature is a little more questionable because it doesn’t have as high of an upside or a relevant fail case option.

If you have enough adventure cards, Edgewall Innkeeper and Lucky Clover turn into mythic uncommons in a hurry. They are well worth building around if you get them early. The only reason I didn’t list them under the normal mythic uncommon list is that they do literal nothing if you don’t have any Adventure cards.

Mono-Colored Archtypes

To start the archetypes off with, there’s the BeersSC special or as I prefer to call it the mono green pile of (your choice of expletive here). It is a great example of playing against the meta when a bunch of cards that look individually bad synergize together to get the job done. When recently talking to him on the podcast, he said that he saw these bad cards performing better than expected against him before he began stress testing them together into a successful, but unexpected archetype.

While Maraleaf Rider, Rosethorn Halberd, and Wildwood Tracker might look like draft chaff, they can put so much early pressure on your opponent that they never have time to find their footing. Outmuscle clears the way and since you’re mono green it will always give your creature indestructible eliminating even the biggest threats (plus the art is suplexing a bear, how can you go wrong).

I’m sure anyone who ground their way through the later stages of quick drafts knows all about the mono red decks. I love collecting as many Seven Dwarves as I can get my hands on while collecting bonus points for naming them as I play them. Beating someone down with Dopey just hits differently.

The other key common red creatures are Rimrock Knight and Redcap Raiders with even Weaselback Redcap playing a role. You can clear the way with Scorching Dragonfire and Searing Barrage to keep the beats coming in hot.

Even monowhite is getting in on the action with Ardenvale Tactician, Faerie Guidemother, and Flutterfox leading the way. They are backed up by an assortment of other cheap creatures, tricks, and removal.

Mill

There is also a mill deck that can come together easier than you might think. It’s typically going to be in some form of the Sultai colors with even mono-blue as an option. It really depends on how high your table is on Merfolk Secretkeeper, but since it’s not a great card in most of the other archetypes, you should be able to get them if no one else is going for it.

Once you are on the Merfolk Secretkeeper train, Run Away Together goes up in value because it lets you block one creature and bounce another attacker along with your Secretkeeper to mill them even more.

One of the secrets of the mill deck is that it makes Revenge of Ravens obsolete. Thanks for paying four to not pressure me when I wasn’t ever planning on attacking you anyway. Revenge of Ravens can be absurd against some decks and it’s certainly the card I heard the most complaining about when this set was live. I’m going to list it as a mythic uncommon, but there are certainly times it’s not and this is one of them.

There’s also the Folio of Fancies option which is a card that is legitimately unbeatable if you drop it on turn two against slower decks. Seriously, what are they doing when you draw step mill them for eight. It can be pretty bad against the really aggressive decks though.

Two Color Archetypes

Heading back into normal two-color deck land we have Golgari food as a really sick grindy deck. It is the last thing you want to run into with one of the aggro decks as it just feels like if you don’t get across the finish line early, you’re never going to get there. The combination of incidental life gain from food and beefy creatures like Fierce Witchstalker just make it a complete nightmare for anything whose goal is to get you to zero ASAP. On the flip side, this deck never wants to run into the mill deck as it’s usually not quick enough to kill them before running out of cards.

The Izzet draw your second card deck is an archetype that I really want to jump into if I get an early Improbable Alliance or Irencrag Pyromancer. Faerie Vandal and Mad Ratter aren’t bad fallback payoffs, but they’re not as hard of a pull into the archetype as the others are.   

How are you going to trigger all those fun little payoffs? This is limited Magic, I’m sure you were planning on drawing extra cards anyway. There are the normal ways like Tome Raider or Turn into a Pumpkin on your turn or even Sage of the Falls if you want to do it every turn.  Don’t forget that you can trigger it on your opponents turn as well by popping your Witching Well or Thrill of Possibility.

Gruul non-humans is something that I used to end up in when either mono red or green wasn’t going to get there. It can use Ferocity of the Wilds or Grumgully, the Generous to turn everything into a very real threat.

Any combination of Mardu colors can make a sweet knight deck with Steelclaw Lance showing that cheap equipment still has a place in limited. There’s a whole collection of other solid archetypes too, don’t be afraid to experiment.  

Sweepers

The lack of any uncommon sweepers means that in most cases you will be free to go ham on dropping your hand while only rarely (see what I did there) running into any consequences.

Realm-Cloaked Giant not only has one of the best animations on Arena, but is the only full kaboom sweeper in Eldraine. It does leave its own kind to run free though and that can really matter when you’re facing down some massive giants.

That also means that you should try to pick some of your own giants to thrown them off the scent of the sweeper before dropping the boom. The other giants in the set are Beanstalk Giant Bonecrusher Giant, Garenbrig Paladin, Rampart Smasher, and Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig.

Sundering Stroke isn’t really a sweeper per se, but it can sometimes do its best Raigeki impression once you hit seven mana.

Witch's Vengeance can straight up decimate the knights deck or just happen to catch someone with their pants down with multiples of a creature. Most of the time it’s going to be a three-mana single target removal spell with more upside than downside. It’s just something to keep in mind when it’s a close call between creatures to play.

Tricks

So Tiny was jokingly called a better Swords to Plowshares early on because it was straight up one mana instant speed remove a creature. If you’re in the mill deck, that actually isn’t a bad comparison since you don’t care about attacking through their now tiny creature.

Barge In is great in any of the non-humans decks as a one mana trick to force damage through while still being able to deploy more threats. Think about a turn four where you attack with Raging Redcap and after they block you use Barge Inand the +2+0 from Rimrock Knight before playing the Rimrock Knight. That’s not even a magical Christmas land scenario, that’s just commons beating face. It can only target attacking creatures so that can be a red flag when they suddenly gain priority.

Garenbrig Carver and Silverflame Squire are some of the other tricks to think about because they are commonly played since they are adventure creatures. Try to sniff them out and respond with removal to cost them the future creature too.

While it’s a mythic, it would be irresponsible for me not to mention that actual factual Embercleave is in the format. Sometimes you just die to it, but that’s Embercleave for you.

Counterspells

Didn't Say Please is the most commonly played counter in the format and is a great piece for the mill deck. Between this, Hypnotic Sprite, and Mystical Dispute be wary of anyone holding up three mana with blue in it.

Unless you masterfully manipulate your graveyard, Drown in the Loch is probably going to either get your creature or spell eventually. You’re just going to have to try to play around it early and try to bait it out later.

Bombs

These are the Pack One Pick One (p1p1) no doubt, windmill slam, just take them rares of the set. These are not in rank order, just take these over any non-mythic uncommon or common.

Mythic Uncommons

These might be uncommons, but they sure don’t play like they are.

Do Not Draft List

These are the ones that some people talk themselves into, but you should always pass.

Wrap Up

I’m excited to see this come back for a short time to see how the format will play out on Arena without the training wheels of 17lands data for premiere draft. While quick draft data analysis can tell you some tales, they aren’t necessarily the ones you want to rely on. Thanks for reading and I’ll be back soon with more limited analysis for you.

I’m always open to feedback, let me know what you loved, what you hated, or just send dog pics. You can contact me at:

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j2sjosh
j2sjosh

Josh is a member of the elite limited team The Draft Lab as well as the host of The Draft Lab Podcast. He was qualifying for Pro Tours, Nationals, and Worlds literally before some of you were born. After a Magic hiatus to play poker and go to medical school, he has been dominating Arena with over an 80% win percentage in Bo3 as well as making #1 rank in Mythic.

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