Wilds of Eldraine Set Review - White

Michael Celani • September 4, 2023

Archon of the Wild Rose by Chris Rahn

White | Blue | Black | Red | Green | Artifacts & Lands | Allied Colors & Shards | Enemy Colors & Wedges | cEDH | Reprints

Snow White and the Seven Hundred Million New Cards

Once upon a time, a man named Michael Celani decided he would review all the white cards in Wilds of Eldraine from the perspective of someone who needs to know what new tricks they should add to their Commander decks. The tale is a tragedy, and everyone died. The moral of the story is to always listen to your parents, faeries are just short people trying to con you out of your babies, and that isolated towers are great places to find wives.


Moonshaker Cavalry

Wizards printed a better Craterhoof Behemoth. Let that sink in for a bit.

Okay, some of you might be crying foul here, but I'm no chicken; I'll back up my assertion. White's the superior color when it comes to exploiting a Craterhoof's behemoth abilities. It's unrivaled at creating tons of creature tokens, it has access to efficient blink effects, like Ephemerate, and it even lets you cheat out creatures out by discarding them and reviving them using a Resurrection. Jumping your entire team also seems stronger to me than giving them trample, which is subject to getting blown out by common tricks such as blocking. On the other hand, green is green, so maybe it's all a wash in the end anyway.

But I can't think of an opinion more milquetoast than "Craterhoof Behemoth is a good card," so the question I want to ask is if anyone was really clamoring for a second one. Does slamming a Hoof really spark joy in the hearts of players? It's an Insurrection. It's a Rise of the Dark Realms. It's another super-high cost card that requires nearly no setup and rewards you with the end of the game. I dunno, maybe some people find that exciting, but if I wanted the game to end abruptly with me the uncontested champion, I'd just offer all my opponents fifty dollars and a trip to IHOP.

Virtue of Loyalty

The new Virtue cycle is a set of insanely pushed enchantments. Their effects are completely busted; the other colors get, in order, a Panharmonicon, the good half of Sheoldred, an engine that converts incidental burn into free copies of Act on Impulse, and a Nyxbloom Ancient for basics. If you're still somehow incapable of noticing these virtues signalling that you should play them, they're also, bafflingly, attached to usable Adventures. Blue gets to duplicate one of their activated or triggered abilities, black gets a playable removal spell that also gains you life for no reason, red gets another (admittedly less) playable removal spell, and green gets a budget Regrowth.

White breaks new ground in this cycle by adding a healthy dose of disappointment, as their Virtue of Loyalty represents... a more consistent Felidar Retreat? Actually, I'm not even convinced Virtue of Loyalty is more useful than Felidar Retreat: no matter how hard you try, you're only ever getting a single Basri's Solidarity a turn, and once it's out, it can't generate more bodies for you. Plus, if you find yourself with no creatures? It's completely useless on-board, a trait it shares with exactly none of the other Virtues. Sure, the twiddling instead of vigilance might be helpful if you're tapping your creatures for their activated abilities, but the Venn diagram of activated ability decks and +1/+1 counter decks are disjoint circles. I'd rather just see a Drumbellower in that case.

Add to that the fact that if you're in white and you do care about the +1/+1 counters, you're almost certainly also in green, which has much faster ways to pump up your creatures. I think I'd even prefer Loyal Guardian to this since I can take advantage of the buff right away instead of having to wait until my next combat. I haven't even mentioned the Cathars' Crusade-sized elephant in the room, which unfortunately seems to have locked down the five-mana "give all your things counters" slot in perpetuity. Well, like Meat Loaf says, four out of five ain't bad; just save your money and buy a copy of Felidar Retreat instead. Seriously, that card's good.


Archon of the Wild Rose

Archon of the Wild Rose reminds me a lot of Sigarda's Summons, which was an alright card, but enchanting your creatures with Auras is a far more challenging endeavor than putting a single +1/+1 counter on them. Wilds of Eldraine has a go-wide Auras theme in Selesnya, thanks to the Role tokens, but outside of fairy tales, one Aura equals one card in your deck. You're just not getting this benefit on more than two or three creatures at a time, and I think the only way you realistically could is if your commander is Gylwain, Casting Director (or maybe Estrid, the Masked). That just leaves Voltron, and if you're in the business of loading up a single creature with buffs, I'd recommend another Aura instead of Archon of the Wild Rose, because that will also synergize with your enchantresses.

A Tale for the Ages

A Tale for the Ages is surprisingly cheap for a +2/+2 buff. Usually, that caliber of bonus is reserved for four-mana cards, and even then, they still have some sort of restriction on what they pump; good examples of this are Day of Destiny and Earth Surge. Well, at least compared to the last time we got this buff at two mana, enchanting creatures is actually possible. Still, though, I'm convinced the go-wide Aura strategy is going to remain niche; as proof, all of the Magemarks grant a bonus to enchanted creatures, some of them actually good, and nobody plays them. The most popular one, Infiltrator's Magemark, has around 1000 inclusions, and its most common commander is Hakim, Loreweaver, a general so hipster it gives my beloved Gabriel Angelfire a run for his money. If you can make it work, kudos to you.

Court of Ardenvale

Now here's a Commander card. Court of Ardenvale crowns you the monarch when it enters the battlefield, meaning at the very least it's guaranteed to replace itself, and it rewards you with Sun Titan triggers for keeping it through the entire turn cycle. I actually like that there's at least a little decision-making here when it comes to the failure state: unlike Court of Grace, which is pretty much strictly worse when you're not divinely appointed, I could see reasons for you to want some permanent cards to go to your hand, whether it be Cycling, cast triggers, or using an alternate mode on the card. For that reason, I find it a little disappointing that being the monarch forces you to revive the permanent instead of letting you choose to put it into your hand. Aside from that hiccup, though, this card is solid, and worth running in any white deck, especially if you already just can't wait to be king.

Expel the Interlopers

We've seen this effect before: it's Fell the Mighty, although its 2023 revision is much better since you can cast it as a true board wipe in case of emergencies. Expel the Interlopers is likely to show up in the same places that card does: toughness matters decks, such as Arcades, the Strategist and Doran, the Siege Tower, where you often run creatures with 0 power and therefore can name 1 with little downside to yourself. In a less all-in low-power-matters deck, such as Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper // Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa, I still prefer Slaughter the Strong for being cheaper and more flexible when it comes to choosing what you want to survive. All in all, not bad, and even if your deck has no synergy I still prefer this to Day of Judgment. If you ever find yourself in a state where 10 is the appropriate choice, I weep for you.

Lady of Laughter

Based on the cards I'm seeing in Wilds of Eldraine, Celebration is clearly a Limited aggro archetype, which never bodes well for Commander viability. Lady of Laughter is by far the most playable Celebration card in Commander, and even that's a stretch that makes Elastigirl look stiff. This actually reminds me of one of those too-specific two-mana value enchantments, like Dawn of Hope or Chivalric Alliance, but the price doesn't match the payoff: five mana is a lot for an engine this finicky. Its only saving grace is that it's attached to a relatively big blocker, but I can only imagine this making a splash in the most battlecruiser of metas.

Liberated Livestock

People really seem to love Wurmcoil Engine, and Liberated Livestock is a version that not only nets you three tokens instead of two, it also lets you cheat out or even recur three Auras for free? That's approaching Bruna, Light of Alabaster levels of busted, but unlike Bruna, your opponents can't toss a Beast Within to stop it from happening. Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist is salivating, and even if you can't easily reattach the Auras to creatures that actually matter, that's still three free Constellation triggers at a minimum. You also have opportunities for hilarious blowouts if your deck is running cards like Eldrazi Conscription or Colossification. Liberated Livestock has the potential to be absolutely absurd, as long as you build around it properly.

Ox Drover

Unfortunately, the fact that Ox Drover's color identity is white is a major downside, because I can imagine Grismold, the Dreadsower players would really want another way to give your opponents creature tokens for free. There's really only a few commanders I can think of in white that actively want their opponents to have more oxen goeth to the slaughter; Elenda, the Dusk Rose, since murder causes her to get stronger, and Gabriel Angelfire, because more blockers means more value from Lure effects.

So I'm forced to review Ox Drover at face value, and I've come to the conclusion that he'll enter the battlefield, draw a card, swing once, and then probably die. Giving your opponents value in exchange for card draw is really only useful if you're mono-white, since every other color has better options, and a 2/4 Ox isn't a completely negligible gift. If you are mono-white, I'd recommend Master of Ceremonies, since it's better in basically every way. Its ceiling is a free Cut a Deal every turn or three (!) Treasure tokens, and its floor still leaves you with a lot of chump blockers. Then again, if you're running the world's dankest Oxen deck, this... still doesn't work, because it's a Human. Oh, well.

Regal Bunnicorn

It's hilarious that Regal Bunnicorn can go toe-to-toe with Maraxus of Keld despite being four mana cheaper and a bunny.

If you've ever played with something like an All That Glitters, you already know how backbreaking getting +1/+1 for all the ancillary Food tokens you've made over the course of the game is, and Regal Bunnicorn has that built-in for free. At the same mana value. And it counts your battles, planeswalkers, and creatures, including itself, too. This might become the most consistently high-statted two-drop in all of Commander; all you need is a way to make it evasive, and it'll be brutally impaling all your enemies upon its horn of slaughter in no time.

Notably, Regal Bunnicorn's power and toughness are each set by a characteristic-defining ability, as opposed to being a 0/0 that gets +1/+1 for each permanent it cares about, like on Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar. As a result, Regal Bunnicorn's power is massive in all zones, not just the battlefield. This is a bit of a double-edged sword; it stops you from reanimating the bun through an effect that cares about low power, which makes Alesha, Who Smiles at Death smile less at its death. On the other hand, cards like Corpse Explosion, Dread Defiler, and Varolz, the Scar-Striped are all full power when you feed the Bunnicorn to them. Generally, this means that Regal Bunnicorn has more utility in decks with black, red, or green than decks without them. Seriously, imagine scrying this to the top when you cast Nissa's Revelation.

Songbirds' Blessing

The strength of an Aura cascade is based entirely around what other Auras you put into your deck. Therefore, Songbirds' Blessing is either terrifyingly powerful or unusably weak, and you'll only have yourself to blame. To get the most out of it, you'll definitely want to load your deck up with high-cost Auras, and since you have to attack to trigger it, you're going to want to put it in decks that already want to attach Auras to attacking creatures, meaning this is a Bruna plant and I need another bottle of cigarettes.

Spellbook Vendor

Paying to trigger Constellation every turn seems decent. If your target happens to be Agrus Kos, Eternal Soldier, paying to trigger Constellation five times every turn seems hilarious. If your deck does not care about Constellation, it doesn't care about Spellbook Vendor, either.

Three Blind Mice

If playtesting with City of Death has taught me anything, it's that making copies of arbitrary tokens is powerful, especially if your commander is cooperative. Unfortunately, you don't have the guaranteed floor of counterfeiting Treasure every turn like that card has, but Three Blind Mice makes up for it by somehow omitting City's non-Saga restriction, meaning that the ultimate play here is to copy Hot Cross Buns Three Blind Mice itself. You can easily win with an exponential explosion of mice in quantities I haven't seen since I toured the Oscar-Meyer plant.

Unfinished Business

Unfinished Business stuns me in multiple ways. Not only is it an unconditional reanimation spell in white, it also brings back up to two Equipment or Aura cards with it and attaches them to the reanimated creature for free. I say for free because five mana is already the going rate for reanimation with upside in white, and reanimating three permanents is substantially better than the usual spattering of +1/+1 counters you get for paying the extra mana. If your deck cares about Auras or Equipment at all, you might want this card just to reanimate something dumb so you can retrieve a crucial Equipment that your opponent blew up. And if one of those Auras you decide to reanimate is named Mantle of the Ancients, the game's just over. Finally, I'm incredulous that this card's name somehow wasn't taken during Streets of New Capenna.

Werefox Bodyguard

Oh, what a difference one word can make, because slapping flash onto Werefox Bodyguard decidedly rescues it from the pit of mediocrity its Banisher Priest cousins are forever consigned to. Now, not only can you use Fantastic Mr. Fox to send your opponent's Auriok Steelshaper to the penalty box for high sticking, you can also effectively play him as an instant-speed Flickerwisp to no-sell a removal spell. He even has his own (atrocious) sacrifice outlet built-in for when it's safe to come out, Mr. President. No, Werefox Bodyguard isn't as backbreaking an offensive tool as Skyclave Apparition, nor as much of a blowout on defense as Guardian of Faith, but he's flexible, cheap, and most importantly, adorable. I want one!

Uncommons & Commons

Cheeky House-Mouse

Squeak By is going to end way more games than people will be willing to admit. It's just a better skulk most of the time, and that's especially valuable if you have access to green; there, I'd try paring it up with something that already can't be blocked by creatures with power 2 or less to create a truly unstoppable threat.

That's not even mentioning that Cheeky House-Mouse represents two spells for only two mana on one card, stapled to the type that's by far the easiest to recur or bounce back to your hand: creature. Storm decks aside, this attribute makes it particularly powerful in engine-based decks, like Extus, Oriq Overlord, who can not only take advantage of the combat buff, but also the fact it's a sorcery to recur other creatures with Adventures. I also really like it in those Jeskai spellslinger decks, like Kykar, Wind's Fury or Narset, Enlightened Exile, which gain disproportionate advantage from casting many small spells. Finally, it's Magic: The Gathering official lore that the House of Mouse is as strong as a pack of lions, which is hilarious.

Discerning Financier

Discerning Financier is what happens when the people behind Land Tax don't care about the national deficit. A Treasure per turn is fine, but I'd rather cast an actual mana rock, like Wand of the Worldsoul, or try something along the lines of Archaeomancer's Map to get more consistent ramp over the course of the game. Its card draw ability is also the most incomprensible thing I've seen in my entire life, and I sat through the 2018 independent film Joy of Wolf. Four mana to draw a card, one of which goes to your opponent, is abysmal, and I think I'd rather concede the game than entertain the thought of activating it.

Eerie Interference

Almost, but I desperately wish Eerie Interference was two mana instead of three. Three mana is a lot to hold up, and its strength over something like the much-cheaper Holy Day depends on your opponents making bad attacks or blocks, which you can't really control. You also lose the flexibility of using it to help out other players in exchange for favors down the line, because Eerie Interference is coded to only benefit you. Pound-for-pound, I still prefer Dawn Charm as my Fog of choice in Commander.

Knight of Doves

Knight of Doves is a decent payoff if you're running some sort of enchantment creature Aristocrats deck, like you might see helmed by Anikthea, Hand of Erebos. I'm just mentioning it because it goes infinite wth Enchanted Evening and any sac outlet.

Solitary Sanctuary

I somehow made it down to the uncommons without referencing the fact that Wilds of Eldraine has an Azorius tap-down theme. To tell you the truth, I'm thrilled: I've always thought tapping enemy creatures instead of outright killing them was underutilized. The only generals that I'd say really cared about the mechanic before this set was Rhoda, Geist Avenger // Timin, Youthful Geist, and the payoff was "Sleep suddenly murders a man." Wilds of Eldraine fixes this: not only has it introduced the standard draw a card for doing the thing value engine, it also introduced an even better draw a card for doing the thing value engine.

Anyway, Solitary Sanctuary takes Rhoda, Geist Avenger to its logical conclusion, again turning Sleep into a kill spell, but with any creature you want now. It also actively shuts down a threat for a turn thanks to that additional stun counter, meaning you don't have to feel bad about the fact it's sorcery-speed. Get your Verity Circle ready.

Stroke of Midnight

Instant staple. Better than Generous Gift.

Okay, some of you complained when I described Excise the Imperfect that way verbatim last time, saying that "it's not as good because the creature it makes is bigger" or "but what about hitting lands" or "this guy isn't funny, and bad at doing set reviews." To that, I say that you've got to submit evidence of you dying to a vanilla 6/6 Phyrexian or wanting an opponent's Massacre Wurm in the graveyard instead of exile so you can Reanimate it or needing to blow up a Glacial Chasm more often than once every fifty games. Plus, if someone's using Glacial Chasm to prevent all damage to them, odds are pretty good they're also playing it from the graveyard every turn, so what you really need is a Rest in Peace.

The Princess Takes Flight

The text "exile target creature" is an incredibly tempting prospect on a three-mana permanent, so The Princess Takes Flight got my attention. Unfortunately, its third chapter undoes all the hard work you put into damning your opponent's Serra's Emissary, so you need to find some way to sacrifice or blink the Saga before it reaches its conclusion. Ideally, you even have some way to remove counters from the thing so you can exile more than just one creature. Nesting Grounds just keeps getting better and better.

Archon's Glory

Oh, yeah, bargain is in this set. It's kicker with the additional cost of sacrificing an artifact, enchantment, or token. All the good bargain spells are in other colors, but it's worth bringing up here, in case you have some sort of combo that would benefit from the ability to sacrifice an enchantment as a cost.

Besotted Knight

Smash. Before you ask which one, yes.

Return Triumphant

This is Unearth stapled to a Constellation trigger. My dream is to revive Setessan Champion with it.

And so, everyone lived happily ever after. Everyone slept soundly in their beds, as they had learned the truth that Wilds of Eldraine is a decent set for white cards this time around, but there's nothing you really have to have to protect yourself from the dastardly power-creep gremlins. Syr Spicious defeated the evil King Brady Bunch and brought peace to all the land. Queen Frozen melted, and you now know her by her maiden name, the Atlantic Ocean. Dumpelstiltskin collected enough babies to save the recreation center. Everyone else became a pumpkin. The End.

Newly appointed member of the FDIC and insured up to $150,000 per account, Michael Celani is the member of your playgroup that makes you go "oh no, it's that guy again." He's made a Twitter account @GamesfreakSA as well as other mistakes, and his decks have been featured on places like MTGMuddstah. You can join his Discord at https://gamesfreaksa.info and vote on which decks you want to see next. In addition to writing, he has a job, other hobbies, and friends.