Wilds of Eldraine Set Review - Pauper/Budget

Chancellor of Tales by Joshua Raphael

A Return to the Wilds!

The fairy tale forests of Eldraine are full of delightfully illustrated stories, and for every faerie queen, there's a hundred moths and beetles. While you might get lucky and pull a shiny fae sovereign, you'll also pull all those little common bugs. And what are you gonna do with them? Probably shove them in your bulk box, but be careful, because there's a few hidden gems in there. Whether you're making a pEDH deck or just looking for good, cheap, commons, the Pauper Review is here for you. 


Callous Sell-Sword

For a long time, Fling has been the go-to version of the "Fling" effect, but if you're in the right colors, Callous Sell-Sword might be a better alternative. Obviously, it costs one less to cast, but the downside is that it's a sorcery. The lack of instant speed has left Thud at a third of the decks that Fling has, so is this hired hand any better? The most important thing here is that the Sell-Sword causes the creature to deal damage, which will trigger some abilities. Lifelink will gain you life, and Obosh, the Preypiercer will double the damage. On top of that, you have the creature side, which has the potential to become huge. Like its Adventure, the Sell-Sword suffers from being sorcery-speed, preventing you from casting it after an opponent's wrath, but you're in Rakdos colors. Creatures will be dying on your turn. As a pEDH Commander, it looks like even more fun. You can cast either side as many times as you want and play out whatever gameplan suits you best. 

Tempest Hart

Hey, what? This is a good card just as an Adventure. Maybe it's just me, but I always need to draw and discard. My Living End Modern deck? Looting is so much better than rummaging. A wheel or madness deck? Discard is the name of the game. As a pauper commander, this thing also looks like a ton of fun. The early game card filtering is going to smooth out your start so well, and while the creature half isn't amazing, it does push you in a very fun direction. I can see potential for this card as a great casual deck. 

Woodland Acolyte

They just took all the utility and value cards they could and just slapped them on Adventures, didn't they? It's not a bad thing. Modality in spells is really useful, allowing you to cut out cards that aren't synergistic, but you need to run anyway. You can save a slot by running graveyard hate along with artifact and enchantment hate, like Return to Nature, or put your ramp with your removal, using Dire-Strain Rampage. On top of that, it saves you the pain of drawing a set up spell when you need interaction, or vice versa. Here, Woodland Acolyte is either recursion, card draw, or both. Neither ability blows you out of the water, but together, they add a lot of value for one slot in the 99. 

Frolicking Familiar

Here's another instance of two options being great. One damage doesn't deal with everything, but in a four-player game, there's bound to be some valuable weenies lying around. It doesn't take the place of a removal spell, but it does trigger Guttersnipe when you need it, and otherwise, the Familiar is a decent means of getting in for damage. In addition, it makes some changes to how you would play with damage spells. In 60-card formats, it's an age-old adage that you should bolt the bird. With two players, using a removal spell to disrupt your opponents' plans leaves you even. In EDH, however, you only bring yourself and one opponent down, while leaving the other two in the clear. I'm not saying that you should always steam the bird, but you technically have another card to play in exile, and aren't losing out on card advantage. 


Break the Spell

Okay, this isn't that great of a card. Only targeting enchantments makes it a terrible removal spell, but the title points out its real use. This card seems to be specifically for the Role enchantments, and this card synergizes perfectly with cards like Cursed Courtier, where it improves your creature. Of course, Cursed Courtier is unplayably bad, and there's no real shell that wants your enchantments to be destroyed. It's not even a flavor win, as it doesn't let you get rid of enchantments on permanents you control, like Ichthyomorphosis. While it's not terribly useful right now, I'm excited to see where this direction of mono-white card draw goes. I think it's got a lot more thematic potential than the card draw white has now. 

Knight of Doves

Once again, I'm a big fan of the interaction that enchantments have with the graveyard lately. Enchantments have always had this weird effect where they create what looks like a huge board state but have no real presence at all. The idea of sacrificing enchantments and using them as spells that you can cycle through to get effects, like on Omen of the Sea or Bitter Reunion, seems like a really fun, open-ended design space. Encouraging this with Knight of Doves or Anikthea, Hand of Erebos is a step in the right direction. Right now, though, the main use is going to be with the Roles, another very cool mechanic. 

Discerning Financier

Man, Wizards is making it clear that they want to fix mono-white, and I'm not complaining. This card is very powerful. The fact that it ramps you with Treasures rather than lands means its ability will constantly be active, and the ability to trade that for card draw is extremely good. Well, four mana and giving your opponent some advantage isn't actually that great, but having the option there is a welcome addition to the card. This card isn't half as busted as Smothering Tithe or Esper Sentinel, but it's a welcome addition to mono-white, and even some other lacking color combinations. 


Chancellor of Tales

Okay, here's the Adventure synergy I was looking for. Doubling spells is always good, and most of the Adventures are just value spells that are fantastic to copy. If you want to commit to the Chancellor as a pauper commander, there're only nine common blue Adventures, but that number's likely to go up, as going on a quest has become a much-loved mechanic. Bouncing something twice, buffing two things twice, and then getting two of those cards back is solid value. Regardless of whether you're playing pauper or standard EDH, this card will be one of the best for Adventures. 

Diminisher Witch

It seems to me like Cursed Roles are by far the best of the bunch. Obviously, they're all great for triggering enchantress effects, but in terms of the actual effect they have, Cursed Roles provide something extremely relevant. Got a Prodigal Sorcerer laying around? Any creature is fair game. How about Asinine Antics combined with Electrickery? Ouch! Diminisher Witch is pretty mediocre, as you never want to cast it without the bargain, but watch out for those Cursed Roles. I'm certain they're going to go crazy. 


Twisted Sewer-Witch

Is this the best new Rat Colony commander? It's a bit expensive, but if you fill out the early turns by deploying as many Rats as you can, Twisted Sewer-Witch will come down with a huge impact. Suddenly your opponents have some very tough choices to make. If your board gets taken out by a wipe, you get a game tipping consolation prize. Otherwise, you get a decent anthem effect. This commander will make an already powerful archetype into a genuine pEDH deck. Now if only Rat Colony could get a genuine reprint, the deck wouldn't be $200!

Ashiok's Reaper

The enchantment archetype usually exists within Bant, so how does it do in mono-black? Ashiok's Reaper and Hateful Eidolon are both very powerful commanders for the archetype, but what are their options? There's actually a large amount of very playable Auras in black (I chose to look at Auras because sacrificing enchantments is both very difficult and often inefficient). You get a lot of effects that steal a card when the enchanted creature dies, as well as stellar buffs and evasion effects. On top of that, you have plenty of removal. With some creatures that'll wear your Auras well, you've got a powerful deck. 


Witch's Mark

Here's yet another Thrill of Possibility reprint, trading instant speed for the ability to create a Wicked Role token. I'm sure there's going to be some moment where you need to dig for a counter on an opponent's turn, but otherwise, the timing restriction shouldn't be relevant. But you know what else won't be relevant? Giving one creature +1/+1 and draining your opponents for one. That'll do something once in a blue moon. When evaluating all the role cards, the most important thing to consider is that they're enchantments. It'll trigger your Eidolon of Blossoms, your Setessan Champion, and make your Sanctum Weaver tap for one more. (Keep in mind, it won't trigger any enchantress that says "cast".) Still, if you have anything at all that cares about enchantments, Witch's Mark should be an instant replacement for Thrill of Possibility.

Flick a Coin

Everyone's been going wild about this card and how insane it is with Zada, Hedron Grinder. It certainly does make a lot of value, but my question is, what does it go anywhere else? Not really. Like I said when talking about Frolicking Familiar, one damage doesn't kill a whole lot, and on this card, you need three mana open. Drawing a card is nice, of course, and the Treasure token is relevant, but unless a deck can really abuse this, there's no point in adding this random bunch of knickknacks. And even in Zada, is it that good? Zada decks are running all the Krenko's Commands that they can, and sending one damage around wipes your board. 


Return from the Wilds

How much does modality add to a card? When cast, Abrade is either a strictly worse Lightning Bolt or a strictly worse Smelt, but it sees more play than both of those cards combined because of the modality. Drawing a card that can deal with either a small creature or any artifact is often a great draw, whereas drawing a card that can deal with an artifact when you need to kill a Laboratory Maniac feels terrible. So does the modality on Return from the Wilds make it a good card? I'd say yes. Need a chump blocker and a land? Done. Need two pieces of sac fodder? Easy. Need a Landfall trigger and some life? All good. I wouldn't put this in a deck that can't abuse all three modes, but for the right set of cards, it's a Treasure heap. 

Tough Cookie

I'm so excited to see some candy-themed decks. The art, flavor, tokens, and themes from Eldraine are just so tasty. I can almost smell this card. As a practical card, it doesn't do much. The ability to create 4/4s will close out some games, but not efficiently, and if you just sac the cookie and Food, you've paid six mana to gain six life. The next best thing you could do is use it to get two artifact ETBs and two sacrifice triggers, but those kinds of decks have much better things to run. But really, who cares? It's a buff gingerbread man. You know you want to play it. 

I'll find that pesky porridge thief if it's the last thing I do!

What excites you more about Wilds of Eldraine? The storytelling, the art, or the gameplay? Personally, I'm here for all three. It's been a while since we've gotten a set with this much colorful creativity and thrilling card design. What commander are you planning to make a deck for, and what cards are you planning to pick up? Are you going to go for the maximum value with Flick a Coin in Zada, Hedron Grinder, or are you going to play the Vorthos role with a candy-themed deck? Whatever you're in to, this set is a win.

Alejandro Fuentes's a nerd from Austin Texas who likes building the most unreasonable decks possible, then optimizing them till they're actually good. In his free time, he's either trying to fit complex time signatures into death metal epics, or writing fantasy novels.