Magic: The Gathering has returned to a world of fairytales and knightly courts with its latest set, Wilds of Eldraine. Last time we visited, Eldraine provided us with some of the game’s most infamous mistakes. Both Oko, Thief of Crowns and Once Upon a Time ended up getting banned in multiple formats and Mystic Sanctuary even got banned in Pauper. Let’s hope that this visit is less disastrous than the previous one.
With a focus on the Wilds, rather than the Courts of Eldraine, Elf players had high hopes for what the set might bring for their favourite archetype. Last time, the set didn’t provide any stand-out Elves. For this review, we’ll be looking at all of the new Elves (and other support cards) to see if Wilds of Eldraine can outdo its predecessor.
As always, this review focuses exclusively on a card’s application in Elves decks across Magic‘s many formats. If you think there’s a cool card for your Beauty and the Beast theme deck in Legacy, this isn’t the review for that. (That card’s still cool though, whatever it is.) The rating given at the end of each entry is out of five Trees and applies to whichever format the card suits best.
Regardless of of any qualms I have about the name of this card, Werefox Bodyguard is a fantastic new removal option for Elves.
We’ve previously considered cards like Brutal Cathar and Skyclave Apparition in Elves. Removal options that can be found with creature tutors will always be of interest to us. However, in Werefox Bodyguard, we finally have one that’s actually an Elf. This immediately puts it above the majority of its competition.
Previous incarnations of this effect have been held back by mana cost. Skyclave Apparition is a powerful card, but often difficult to cast. If you’re tutoring it up with Chord of Calling, the two White mana pips aren’t a problem. However, if you ever draw it, it becomes a much harder card to use. However, for Elf decks, there are a plethora of lands that produce any colour of mana as long as you stick to your tribe. Secluded Courtyard and Unclaimed Territory are already great options for Pioneer, Historic and Explorer decks. Cavern of Souls is even getting reprinted later this year, bringing it into those formats. All of these options can make the White splash for Bodyguard effectively free.
I’m becoming suspicious about Wizard of the Coast‘s intentions.
Elves have never really cared about artifacts. To be honest, there are more Elves that destroy them than work with them. However, writing these reviews has drawn my attention to some Elves that want you to be playing a bunch of artifacts.
Dominaria United gave us Meria, Scholar of Antiquity and Brothers’ War had Citanul Stalwart. With Elvish Archivist, we have three cards pointing in the same direction. While this isn’t enough for a deck as of yet, maybe some day there will be a Elf artifact deck for us to try on stream.
For now, however, we’ll stick to hating on artifacts instead.
Here’s our first casualty to limited. Ferocious Werefox pulls together two themes in Wilds of Eldraine – Role tokens and Adventures. However, it’s balanced around the draft format, not constructed.
Oh well, I guess we weren’t getting two Werefox hits.
Another card exclusively for Wilds of Eldraine limited, Redtooth Genealogist isn’t really worth talking about. If it were cheaper (and therefore smaller), it might be worth it to give a creature ward. However, it isn’t. Moving on.
If you’re trying to put an Elf deck together in smaller formats, maybe a 3/1 trampler will be useful. You’re never triggering that other ability outside of Wilds of Eldraine limited, so the stats and keyword are all you’re really getting.
Sentinel of Lost Lore
Endurance this is not. However, not every format has access to Endurance.
In formats like Pioneer or Historic/Explorer, Sentinel of Lost Lore is a perfectly functional sideboard card. The anti-Adventure option might come up sometimes, especially with a plethora of new powerful Adventures being printed in Wilds of Eldraine. However, we mostly want it for the anti-graveyard ability.
As with Werefox Bodyguard, having a sideboard option that works with our Elf synergies is extremely useful.
Yenna, Redtooth Regent
Yenna, Redtooth Regent is a cool card, but not one for Elf decks.
I opened a copy at the Wilds of Eldraine prerelease and had fun copying Cooped Up over and over. However, Elf decks rely on a critical mass of creatures. As a result, we can’t really make use of her ability to copy enchantments.
The comparison is obvious. The same cost and colour intensity. An enters-the-battlefield ability that gives a keyword and a huge power and toughness boost to your entire board. However, a major component that the Cavalry is missing is Haste. A big part of Craterhoof’s game-ending potential is that the Behemoth itself gets to join in on the attack. Additionally, against Flying blockers, Trample wins out as a keyword to give your team.
Despite those disadvantages, Moonshaker Cavalry does a good enough Craterhoof impression to be a potential finisher in some formats. I had the chance to try it out on stream and it was more successful than I expected.
The Bargain Bin
Bargain is maybe the most important new mechanic (or, at least, kicker-variant) in Wilds of Eldraine. One of the options for Bargain is sacrificing a token. As Elves decks in multiple formats can create a surplus of tokens, it’s worth at least looking at the options available.
Beseech the Mirror is maybe the most talked about card in Wilds of Eldraine. It’s turning up in older formats like Legacy. However, three Black pips is a bit much to take advantage of in our mostly-Green decks.
Back for Seconds has potential. Sacrificing a token to get back two creatures, on of which goes straight into play seems useful. I am concerned that it’s too slow at three mana. It’s also a dead draw if your creatures aren’t dying.
Lich-Knights’ Conquest gets my combo brain working. I’ve talked about a graveyard-focussed Elf deck in the past. While I don’t think all of the pieces are there yet, it might get there in future. Of particular interest is its interaction with Grist, the Hunger Tide. Grist can fill your graveyard at the same time as providing tokens to sacrifice. A few Insects from Grist and a few Elves from Elvish Warmaster and you can suddenly be reanimating a lethal pile of Elves with a Shaman of the Pack.
I’m not sure if any of these three will make the cut, but I am definitely going to try brewing around Conquest.
Feral Encounter is an interesting mix of a card. The first part helps you find creatures you might need. The second part removes a problematic creature (as long as it’s small enough).
I’m not sure whether those two components add up to a card that’s worth running in Elves. At least, with all the mana generation, you’re likely to be able to play a card you find with it. Either way, it’s a card worth knowing about for some of the smaller formats that don’t have better search or removal options.
I was so excited for Thunderous Debut. Getting two creatures out of the top twenty cards of your library is a very powerful effect. I’ve previously been happy getting one creature from the top seven when casting Turntimber Symbiosis.
We got to see the card play out on stream recently. I even hit double Moonshaker Cavalry with it, which lead to an absurd amount of damage. While not the normal result, it was cool to see the card’s upper ceiling play out.
However, the fail case here is huge. If you don’t have a token to sacrifice, Debut is the most overpriced Lead the Stampede you’ve ever seen.
If you want a specific creature, cards like Chord of Calling are just better. If you just want any two creatures, Collected Company is half the price and doesn’t require setup. In the end, it’s really hard to justify putting this in any competitive deck.
Overall, Wilds of Eldraine leaves a lot to be desired for Elves players. Sure, there are Elves running around on Eldraine, but they don’t really play nicely with the ones from other planes. I can be happy with finally getting an in-archetype removal creature, however. That’s something we’ve been needing for a while now.
Beyond Eldraine, potential Elves in upcoming releases are currently uncertain. There aren’t Elves on Ixalan – they got replaced in Green by Merfolk. There are definitely Elves on Ravnica, though. And who knows about Thunder Junction. That one’s going to be a real wildcard.
As always, I’ve been trying out some of the new cards on stream, so if you want to see some of them in action, head over on a Thursday evening (UK time). Always happy for new viewers in chat to talk about these new cards with. If you’re interested in previous sets, you can find all of our older Elves All The Way Down reviews here.
Jamie is a MtG and assorted gaming enthusiast who wants to bring his enjoyment and passion for games to everyone.