Throne of Eldraine Wildcard Crafting Guide – Standard
Wildcards are a precious resource in MTG Arena. Magic: The Gathering releases new expansions every three months, each with around 53 rares and 15 mythic rares – which is a lot if you multiply that by four for a full playset! The fact that cards of the same rarity are worth exactly the same – whether they are good or bad – can be both a blessing and a curse. Players will also find that a lot of these cards are unplayable or too specific to be any good. You will need to navigate yourself around these cards especially if you are a new player or your resources are limited. In this series of crafting guides, we will review the notable cards in each set, how many you should be safe to craft, and how they can be used.
Wildcard Crafting Strategy
- In general, our recommendation for the best way to use your Wildcards is to choose a deck you would want to play, and craft just the missing cards from your collection. Take this guide as an indication of cards that are played (or not played) in the current competitive metagame.
- If you plan to open more packs or play a mixture of limited formats (i.e. sealed and draft) then the longer you hold off using Wildcards, the better. This also allows you to potentially build up your resources for the next set.
- As the current system stands, players will either not have too much trouble getting common or uncommon cards from the latest set or have a build up of common and uncommon Wildcards. For now, we will not include these in these guides but may introduce them for older sets for newer players.
- Throne of Eldraine has a higher concentration of rares and mythic rares that are good and broad enough in nature to be playable in many different decks. This will make Mythic Rare Wildcards more valuable than usual.
- Throne of Eldraine cards have their full duration in the Standard cycle for at least two years (from September 26, 2019) so you will also get a lot of mileage out of them even if you crafted something “wrong” now.
- This guide will be updated and more cards added as the meta develops and as our evaluation of the cards changes. The Standard meta is not static and there is always a degree of uncertainty when ranking these cards.
Wildcard Crafting Category
With all that being said, we will attempt to categorize cards into categories so you get a general idea on how many copies a card might be in a deck and thus Wildcards you may need. This also pertains to fundamentals of deck building in general and also will depend on the format and meta on how much you may need.
- Tier A – Top Priority Craft: These are cards you will usually want to craft four copies of and safe to do even if you do not end up using it right away. Whether they are powerful cards or not on their own, they will be a key component of your deck and cannot generally be replaced. Example: Godless Shrine, Risen Reef, Teferi, Time Raveler
- Tier B – High Priority Craft: These are powerful cards, but you may not need the full four copies because you don’t necessarily want to have more than one during the game. This includes legendary permanents as you cannot own more than one of the same card on the battlefield or just an expensive but very powerful spell you won’t get to cast too much of. These cards also may still warrant four copies in your deck, but may not be essential. Example: Agent of Treachery, Knight of the Ebon Legion
- Tier C – Medium Priority Craft: Cards that may be somewhere in the middle – not so great in multiples, slightly specific in its purpose and/or not essential to the deck’s strategy and may be replaceable with other cards. Still, they may be a necessary evil in the deck’s archetype and still may need four copies for the deck’s consistency. Example: Thunderkin Awakener, Chandra, Awakened Inferno
- Tier D – Low Priority Craft: Cards that are specific or narrow in nature so your deck will still function without it and you can find replacements relatively easily. This also applies to expensive spells (compared to your rest of your deck) and cards that may act as a finisher in your deck, don’t mind drawing these later on in the game, and/or you have ways to tutor/search for them. You would rarely need to craft more than one copy. Example: Chromium, the Mutable
- Sideboard: Cards that are powerful but very specific or narrow in nature. If you only play best-of-one games, cards in this category will likely not apply to you unless the meta is so warped that you want to include some of these cards in your main deck. Example: Noxious Grasp
Tier A – Top Priority Craft
- Questing Beast: This card has six different abilities (one for each head) and players will have to get used to memorizing them so they don’t misplay! It will likely belong to many green decks for the foreseeable future and is a very safe craft, though you may not need all four copies due to it being legendary – so even three should be enough.
- Embercleave: This could be one of the better legendary artifacts from the set. It works well with Mono Red in general, but even more so with Knights and cards like Fervent Champion. It definitely is worth having access to one or two copies for such decks.
Oko, Thief of Crowns: Oko is a great midrange card. Whether it becomes a format warping staple like Teferi is another question. At the moment though, it is definitely prevalent in meta decks and will be for a while until players adopt to the new cards.This card is currently banned in Standard – read announcement here.
- Murderous Rider: This will be a ubiquitous card for the foreseeable future in Standard similar to Vraska’s Contempt – it even costs one mana less! You won’t go too wrong with crafting all four copies, though not all decks will need the full playset.
- Fires of Invention: Cards that allow you to cast your spells for no mana is asking for it to be broken. This card will require your deck to be built around it, and will want the full four copies. Whether the deck can survive the metagame is another question, but certainly looks powerful now as many players look to break it in different shells in combination with a lot of planeswalkers. Unless it clearly becomes a first tier deck, I would not want to be investing all my resources on to a single deck archetype, hence the rating.
- Bonecrusher Giant: Another potentially staple Adventure card, and most likely won’t regret crafting all 4 copies. Being a 4/3 for 3 mana is good on its own and the Shock portion is just cherry on the top.
- Gilded Goose: This card fills a similar role to Llanowar Elves in green decks and will likely be a staple as such. Other than ramping, it also obvious provides Food Token synergy and works well with Oko. If a deck would want Llanowar Elves, a deck would likely want the geese as well – as is the power of accelerating your mana.
Once Upon a Time: Similar to Emry, this card won’t do too much broken things in Standard but still a good enough card with broad applications to be included in any deck that can support green.This card is currently banned in Standard – read announcement here.
- Castle Embereth: The rare land cycle in Throne of Eldraine is going to be almost quintessential – in one or two color decks, there are hardly any downsides to playing these over basic lands. Though these might not have a game changing effect, their benefits definitely can add up during games and you will want to start crafting these where you can. The red version will be able to squeeze in the last few damage here and there especially if your deck is more creature focused (with Cavalcade of Calamity for example). You definitely would want three to four copies in such decks as you would want to always have at least one in play. You will want these in your Mono Red decks as soon as possible.
- Castle Locthwain: This card will be part of many black decks to come – especially in aggro decks and in combination with Rankle, Master of Pranks where you can empty your hand (and your opponent’s) even faster. One thing to be wary of is that the self-damage can add up in the form of shocklands and Murderous Rider that will likely be played in the same sort of decks.
- Fabled Passage: This land will be crucial for three color decks and even two color decks to fix their mana without having their lands come into play tapped. Like the shocklands, the more access you have to this card the more freedom you will get when deck building. The fact that you can choose how to play this land (e.g. on your first turn if you don’t have a one-drop) makes it just fine, and the likeliness of it coming into play tapped and affecting your game plan is definitely worth the mana troubles it will save you from.
Tier B – High Priority Craft
- Brazen Borrower: This card offers you tempo advantage, disruption and an evasive, aggressive creature in one card. It is flexible enough to fit into a lot of different deck archetypes, even in a control deck where it can slow down your opponent and act as a finisher. Decks will want to generally include 2 to 4 copies of this card. Though it will not be good in all matchups – such as against Mono Red Aggro – if you play best-of-three matches, you can still sideboard it out.
- Fae of Wishes: This card has the potential to become a format staple – it can search for answers from your maindeck and sideboard, as well as being a pesky 1/4 body that aggro decks will have a hard time going through.
- Wicked Wolf: This card is very good, and obviously with other Food Token generators like Oko and Gilded Goose. If those cards become a mainstay in Standard, this card will likely to join them in the same sort of decks similar to Ravenous Chupacabra.
- Lovestruck Beast: It’s a big creature for 3 mana, and works well with other Adventure cards like Edgewall Innkeeper. The card itself is a mediocre priority craft as without such synergies, it can be easily replaced by another big green creature unless you just really want to play an Adventure deck.
- Castle Ardenvale: See note on the castle cycles above – the white castle seems to be especially strong in control deck shells, where you can slowly generate tokens and whittle away at your opponent.
- Castle Garenbrig: The green castle is rated slightly below the rest as it is a little bit more specific (best in Mono Green) and it can’t really fit into two color decks all that well. Ramping from 5 to 6 mana might not make a huge difference, but as stated above – it’s better than a plain old Forest, and multiple copies are just fine to have as they can help activate each other.
- Castle Vantress: The blue castle is also rated slightly lower as it is a little bit too slow for a “mere” Scry effect, even in control decks. It is definitely no Search of Azcanta, and in multiples will not be as good unlike potentially the other castles. One copy is fine to have in some decks just for the sake of it, but any more may hurt your deck more.
Tier C – Medium Priority Craft
- Robber of the Rich: This card will look to fill the the role of cards such as Direfleet Daredevil and Viashino Pyromancer that rotated out – potentially all in one card! In aggressive decks, it will not be too hard to trigger the ability and works with other fellow rogues such as Rankle and Tin Street Dodger. The mere 2/2 body can be the factor that makes this card underwhelming as currently in Standard there are a lot of creatures that can favorably block this card. As it stands, you will want all four copies of the card included in decks.
- Rankle, Master of Pranks: This card has the potential to be a staple in any Standard decks that can play black. Like Brazen Borrower, it has an evasive, aggressive body and gives you three abilities of your choice that you can trigger to your advantage.
- Emry, Lurker of the Loch: The card is definitely powerful, but less so in Standard where there are less powerful cards to play around with. Thought it is a contender to become a top deck archetype in the Historic format.
- Ayara, First of Locthwain: An interesting card, but will be hard to play outside of non-mono black decks. It fills a similar role to Midnight Reaper, but what makes it so good is that all you have to do is play your creatures and you can ping your opponents for the last bit of damage that you need.
- Blacklance Paragon: Part of the Knights tribe, it will be an excellent inclusion in such decks, but is definitely a replaceable card as a 2 mana 3/1 is nothing too special. It might be better off crafting other important cards first before finishing the playset for this one.
- Fervent Champion: If you can make use of the Knight and Equipment synergy, then it is a really good card. Without it, it is pretty mediocre and can be replaced with other mediocre one drops (e.g. Tin Street Dodger, Gingerbrute). It is still the best one drop an aggressive red deck can have (so far) – while not essential, you may need to craft these to make your deck marginally better.
- Torbran, Thane of Red Fell: The card competes with cards like Experimental Frenzy at the top of the curve in Mono Red decks but perform a completely different role. Ideally, it can buff your creatures on turn 4 to potentially deal a lot of damage. It being a high costed card and a legendary makes it not good in multiples makes it not a too high priority craft. Two or three copies would still be okay to try out as Mono Red is always playable in some form or another, especially in best-of-one matches.
- Wildborn Preserver: This is not the type of card that you would need all four copies of, but still makes some deck archetypes (namely Simic Flash) stronger as a mana sink.
- Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig: This card is deceivingly good, possibly even in a dual color deck. For a mere 3 mana investment, it can get very big very quickly if not dealt with. Especially red decks will have difficulty getting rid of it, sans Lava Coil as soon as it comes down. It will be the safest craft for Mono Green aficionados.
- Dance of the Manse: This card, in combination with Doom Foretold has spawned an early meta Esper control deck called Esper Stax. A large mana investment means it is best in a control deck shell, and makes the card fairly narrow. The deck archetype aside, it is unlikely to be played in other decks so will have to be approached with caution if you want to craft this.
- Doom Foretold: Used in conjunction with Dance of the Manse to complete the Esper Stax deck, the card is good in that archetype but outside of that will be hard to find a good shell.
- Stormfist Crusader: The card is surprisingly good in a Rakdos aggro deck, as your hand empties naturally faster than your opponents in general. It also allows you make the necessary land drops to cast multiple creatures at once. Being multicolored means it is only really decent in a smaller number of decks, and there are definitely replacements in the same mana cost range.
Tier D – Low Priority Craft
- The Great Henge: The green legendary artifact deserves a mention as a decent card that generates extra mana, a bit of life and card advantage and its condition to lower its cost is not too restrictive. It works well with Rotting Regisaur, but players are finding that it is more of a win-more card and finding that it won’t get you out of games you are already losing.
- Garruk, Cursed Huntsman: There are a few other 6 mana planeswalkers competing in the same kind of space (Liliana, Ugin, Chandra) and its effects are not too flashy even compared to ones we have already. A singular copy is definitely okay to have (since it came with the preorder as well), but two copies might just be too much and the Wildcard is likely better spent elsewhere.
- The Royal Scions: The card will first need to find a good home for it to be a format staple, as on its own it does not do too much to impact the board and requires other cards to make it truly effective. Like the other three mana planeswalkers, there is no doubt that it is good, it just needs to find the right deck.
- Realm-Cloaked Giant: Conditional board wipe and a big creature in one card, this card is ideal for grindy or control decks that can eventually make use of the creature portion of the card. There are other relevant giants in the set such as Bonecrusher Giant and Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig that it does not affect, though it is also important to note that the second copy does not affect itself. There is no shortage of board wipes in Standard at the moment if that is the only effect you are after, such as Time Wipe, Planar Cleansing and Kaya’s Wrath. It should still be safe to craft 1 or 2 of these if you enjoy playing controlling, slower decks, as its flexibility definitely makes it one of the better board wipe cards.
- Acclaimed Contender: The card is specific for the Knight tribe, and while being able to draw a card is (like Kaalia, Zenith Seeker) decent, a mere 3/3 for 3 is definitely not something that will be high priority in your deck and you will likely not be able to use it elsewhere either.
- Charming Prince: The third ability has the most potential to make the card good, but in Standard there are not too many effects that we can think of that will work well with this card. Similar to Acclaimed Contender, a 2/2 for 2 is not where we really want to be when the power level of Standard demands more than that.
- Worthy Knight: A Knight specific card, similar to Acclaimed Contender but has more potential as black and red both offer sacrificing strategies for the extra tokens generated.
- Vantress Gargoyle: The card requires some work and specific decks to be built around but 2 mana 5/4 flying is always worth looking into.
- Irencrag Pyromancer: Similar to Fae of Wishes, this card has a lot of resilience and the payoff is huge in the right deck. Multiples definitely add up, and similar to The Royal Scions it just needs to find the right shell.
- Lochmere Serpent: I see this card as a decent finisher in a control deck, but it can be stopped pretty easily as it has no natural form of protecting itself (like how Carnage Tyrant has hexproof).
- Hushbringer: This card is a great sideboard option, and as we have seen in the last Standard season, Tocatli Honor Guard was even used in the main deck. Cards like this depend on the meta more than anything. What makes this card less useful in the current meta is that it does not stop cards like Field of the Dead and the Explore mechanic already rotated out. Unless cards like Risen Reef and sacrifice (aristocrats) strategies dominate the metagame, it will be hard to justify crafting this card, even in a creature based white deck where it fits the best. If it was needed, you will need 3 or 4 copies of the card as its body is also relatively fragile and susceptible to Shock.
- Sorcerous Spyglass: The card is not new to Standard and will be useful for fetching from sideboards to stop planeswalker abilities and the likes
- Witch’s Vengeance: Much of the tribes are gone with Standard rotation, but it could still be useful for Knights.
- October 6, 2019: Changed the sorting of the guide from rarity to tiers. Revised a few cards:
- Robber of the Rich and The Royal Scions from B to C and Castle Ardenvale from A to B.
- Bumped up Ayara, First of Locthwain from D to C as it is proving to be quite good in specific decks.
- Downgraded Charming Prince and Worthy Knight from C to D.
- October 2, 2019: Guide added with preliminary metagame data.