Power Ranking the Eldritch Moon Intro Packs

magic the gathering

Eldritch Moon is here, and with a new Magic: The Gathering set means we get five new Intro Packs. Intro Packs are great for beginner to intermediate players because they are only about $15, they give you a great baseline of synergistic cards to learn and improve upon, and as a complete bonus, they comes with two booster packs! Subtract the cost of the boosters and you are essentially only paying about $7 for each of these decks. Now that we have convinced you that there is practically no good reason for new players to not go and buy a booster pack, we here at Nerd Reactor have went ahead and power ranked the new Eldritch Moon Intro Packs for you, just like we did in the past with Oath of the Gatewatch and Battle for Zendikar. We have assembled our team of five of the most skilled MTG players at our disposal and randomly assigned them each an intro deck. We then played a 5-man double elimination tournament, where each round was best of three. We pitted these intro decks against each other, head-to-head, completely unmodified. When the dust settled and the tears of the fallen were consumed, we ranked the decks based on their performance in the tournament and each wrote a summary of our experience with our respective decks. We will start off with number 5, and work our way down to what we have determined to be the best deck in the set!

#5 Shallow Graves – Black/Blue

Played/Reviewed by Kenrick Young

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A better name for this deck would have been, Shallow Library, Grave, and Hand. First, the good. Wizards should be commended for trying new mechanics and playing styles with these introduction decks. The point is not to create a deck that would be able to win constructed formats, but rather introduce players to new synergies and mechanics. This deck is no exception. It certainly explored the use of a player’s graveyard as a resource; as a way to gain card advan- sorry, I can’t finish that sentence.

Actually, all this deck does is open up the graveyard as a possible resource. However, there are no “bombs” or win conditions that come from the graveyard. At most, a player could hope to pull an Advanced Stitchwing (a 3/4 flyer) from the graveyard. The cost to do so is 2U, discard two cards. That is, it is very expensive to actually use the graveyard for anything. This also reflects a key issue: the combos are difficult to assemble, and do not result in a win condition. If you’re facing an aggro deck, it is likely that you won’t be able to assemble a significant combo before being killed. If you’re facing a mid-range deck, the combos that you do put together do not result in a win condition. Most interesting of all is the fact that, even though blue and black are the most control oriented colors in Standard, this deck has very little removal or card advantage mechanics. For example, there are no counter cards at all. Finally, the cards here do not integrate well into other top decks in Standard or Modern. (Compare Dangerous Knowledge Intro Pack, which uses three of the top cards in Standard: Take Inventory, Galvanic Bombardment, and Ingenious Skaab). The cards here have almost no use in Standard or Modern.

 

#4 Unlikely Alliances – White/Black

Played/Reviewed by David ‘Gando’ Ng

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The Unlikely Alliances deck is all about overwhelming your opponent with vast numbers of small creatures. Most of the deck relies on spawning little 1/1 flying spirit tokens with cards like Spectral Reserves and Vessel of Ephemera. Then, with Campaign of Vengeance, you will be doing damage and gaining some life back on each combat step. To capitalize on all of your little creatures dying, we have Unruly Mob, who gets stronger as your other creatures die.

There is a little bit of removal in the form of Angelic Purge and Ruthless Disposal, both of which need you to sacrifice one of your creatures to work, but will deal with the threats that out-class your little humans and spirits. If you make it through the mid-game with a slight lead, Morkurt Necropod will blow the match open for you, at the cost of more of those tokens you have been amassing. At the end of the day, Unlikely Alliances stood in the middle of the rankings. Most of the creatures are small and very susceptible to any damage spells because there are not enough ways to bolster their strength. The main win condition for this deck is to just have more creatures than your opponent can block, because if you fall behind on the board, your removal will not make up the difference, and the creature value is generally low in this deck. The biggest piece missing from this deck are effects, like Glorious Anthem, to help make all your creatures stronger.

#3 Dangerous Knowledge – Blue/Red

Played/Reviewed by Marcus Hunter

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I always end up playing the instant and sorcery Intro Packs, but I do enjoy the strategies involved when playing this type of deck.  I was sad to see that there were no new mechanics built into this deck, however, there are a lot of other cards in this deck that are new, that make it fun to play.

After playing a few games, it became very clear that I needed to have creatures in my starting hand, because this deck relies heavily on triggering creature abilities by playing instant and sorcery cards.  Thermo-Alchemist was my favorite creature to start out with, because I was able to deal one damage to each opponent with his tap ability.  One damage is not a lot on its own, but he has a second ability that untaps him, activated by playing an instant or sorcery spell.  Untapping him allows you to deal damage for a second time, and the possibility, even more, if you can play multiple instant or sorcery spells.  This becomes really effective when you have more than one Thermo-Alchemist on the battlefield, because you would be dealing damage with X-number of Thermo-Alchemists.

This deck had great card draw as well.  I was able to combo Take Inventory, or Pore Over the Pages, with Geistblast, later in the games that I played.  Take Inventory and Pore Over the Pages allows you to draw cards.  Geisblast would allow me to copy those sorcery spells, doubling the amount of cards I drew.  This was great, because it allowed me to get to a lot of my instant and sorcery spells that I needed.

The Dangerous Knowledge Intro Deck ranked #3 out of 5 when play testing it in a double elimination tournament against the other four Intro Decks.  It struggled because the lack of heavy-hitting creatures, used for attacking/defending, and drawing too much land.  Bad luck on my draws?  I don’t think so, because I played around 10 matches and always ended up with small creatures or more mana than I needed.  Overall, this deck is good and would be easy to improve.  A player should be comfortable with planning his or her turns in advance and be able to understand that the order you play cards does matter.

 

#2 Untamed Wilds – Red/Green

Played/Reviewed by Eddie Villanueva Jr.

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Untamed Wild is probably the most accurate name for this deck, as it is a very unpredictable. The strategy for the deck is to cast creatures that can increase their power through abilities and instants, while keeping your opponent mildly at bay through sorceries and some instants. The uncertainty of this deck doesn’t lie in its synergy, but in its draw. The deck is pretty sound, but due to having 25 land, and a few cards whose primary purpose is to be a defender (Primal Druid), it’s ultimately a crapshoot as to whether you pull anything substantial in your first few hands. Now, keeping in mind, I do understand that this is an intro deck -a deck to be built upon – but as I’m critiquing the deck how it stands, my honest opinion is that it is a pretty good deck. Not a great deck, but a pretty good deck.

Through the use of small one-drops, such as Bold Impaler, to three-drops like Silverfur Partisan, this deck moves fast, and kills quickly. The deck is also primarily filled with one to three drop instant and sorcery cards, giving you the upper hand, at times, early on. Once the battle gets going, however, it is a matter of being able to use the unique abilities of each creature. For example, the red two-drop Furyblade Vampire’s ability states that at the beginning of combat, if you discard a card, she gets +3/+0 until end of turn, creating a 4/2 Vampire with trample on the battlefield. Noose Constrictor is a green creature that shares a similar ability, wherein for each discarded card, it gets +1/+1 until end of turn, giving you the opportunity to discard your full hand, essentially, and creating a 9/9 Constrictor on the field. But the stars of this deck aren’t the vampires or snakes, but the wolves and werewolves. Brazen Wolves, a red two-drop, has the ability that when it attacks, it gets +2/+0, making it a 4/3 creature on the field, without having to discard or sacrifice anything. Silverfur Partisan is another wolf creature card, as I’ve mentioned, that steals the show, in that it has trample, and whenever a wolf or werewolf creature you control becomes the target of an instant or sorcery spell, you put a 2/2 green wolf creature onto the battlefield. The largest creature in the deck, Assembled Alphas, although a red six-drop, is a 5/5 wolf creature that spawns a great ability that works both on your turn, and your opponents: whenever it is blocked, or blocks a creature, it deals 3 damage to that creature and 3 damage to that creature’s controller. The only issue with it is that it doesn’t come out until later in the game, due to the mana cost, which makes for its usage in the game slightly null.

The deck does also highlight some great enchantments, as well, such as Wolfkin Bond, which allows you to enchant a creature, giving it +2/+2, while also putting a 2/2 green wolf creature token on the field. Blood Mist is another one that helped in a pinch, but due to it costing four mana, it was a bit difficult to cast early on, and as I said, this is a quick-fighting deck. The enchantment states that at the beginning of combat on your turn, target creature you control gains double strike until end of turn. As I said, the deck has synergy, but it’s all in your first few draws that determine the pace of your game, and in this case, it can’t be a slow pace. Overall, I thought the deck was good to work with, and with some adjustments, like any intro deck, it has the potential to be great. I’d definitely recommend it to any agro player who is looking for a great foundation for a red/green wolf deck.

 

#1 Weapons and Wards – Green/White

Played/Reviewed by Cory Vincent

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The Weapons and Wards deck was able to easily march all the way down the winners bracket and seal the top spot in our friendly little tournament. I was more than pleased with the pace of this deck, often times getting a head start on my competition with host of very solid one mana creatures and spells. Several very cost effective creatures, like Crossroads Consecrator and Thraben Standard Bearer, would give me bodies to swing with early on while some of the other one cost spells, like Gryff’s Boon, would give me some ways to fly over the defense. Another effective card in my arsenal was Strength of Arms, which would give me a super cheap combat trick that allowed me to catch attackers or defenders off guard, while still have mana left to make other moves.

This deck is excellent for new players to learn the fundamentals of the spell stack and manipulating the battlefield with the pivotal timing of instants and abilities. Sigardian PriestFiend Binder, and Faith Unbroken are the cards that really came together in this deck to control the battlefield and allowed me to land major damage with other big hitters like an Intrepid Provisioner buffed with one of any number of auras or equipment cards in the deck. The biggest win condition in the deck for me was the Subjugator Angel. Just as the opponent felt we were at a stand still or that they were getting the better of me in the creature race, a Subjugator Angel dropping would cause every single creature on the other side of the board to tap, allowing me to swing in for game-winning damage. My only complaints with this deck was with the marquee foil Ulvenwald Observer. Flavor wise I don’t see how this card fits the theme, and it’s cost was very high and it really just felt out of place. I would have much rather had a card that makes sense like Sanctifier of Souls or even another Sigardian Priest. With this deck the matches I won were usually blowouts, and any match lost was very tightly contested. Our teams research and testing team all unanimously select Weapons and Wards as the best Eldritch Moon Intro Pack.

 

 

Complete Bracket Results:

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*The Magic: The Gathering Intro Packs were reviewed using review materials provided by Wizards of the Coast.

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Cory Vincent
Cory Vincent 434 posts

Forged in the crucible of awkwardness and self loathing, Cory somehow manages to get himself out of bed each day and make it a priority to spend life killing Beef and going H.A.M.

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