Magic: The Gathering – Wilds Of Eldraine Review – Food Knight

Wilds of Eldraine heralds the next era of Magic: The Gathering with a trip to a fairytale realm.

Image Via Wizards of the Coast

A new era has begun in Magic: The Gathering, as the Wilds of Eldraine set, is the first new mainline Standard release since the end of the Phyrexian invasion storyline, where the multiverse united against a common foe. Wilds of Eldraine is a welcome change of pace for the series, with a fairytale-themed set that is a ton of fun to play, with some of the most entertaining card designs and mechanics in years. 

Wilds of Eldraine marks a return to the regular Magic: The Gathering format, following the excellent The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth crossover and the reprint-heavy Commander Masters set. The story has returned to the fairytale plane of Eldraine, with fae and witches taking the lead this time around, for a much lighter tone than the Gigeresque Phyrexian horrors of the last Standard set. 

Related: Magic: The Gathering Is Remastering Ravnica In 2024

Wilds Of Eldraine Is A Light-Hearted Follow-Up To The Phyrexian Invasion Storyline

Image Via Wizard of the Coast

The previous Magic: The Gathering storyline involved the Phyrexians invading the familiar planes, leading to iconic characters dying or being depowered while others rose to prominence. It was a heavy storyline, and now that fans have had a break with Commander Masters and The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth. In Wilds of Eldraine, the monsters you’ll see are straight out of classic fairytales, with pixies, mice, magic mirrors, sentient desserts, witches,  and even a hydra-goose hybrid. 

The New & Returning Mechanics In Wilds Of Eldraine

Image Via Wizard of the Coast

As a fairytale-themed set, Wilds of Eldraine leans heavily into Enchantment cards, with the introduction of the brand-new Role Enchantment Tokens, allowing players to assign a character role to a creature (such as the Young Hero or the Sorcerer), granting different benefits or debuffs. The Food mechanic (which was a big part of The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth) is also a huge part of the set, which makes sense, considering the cake-themed monsters that keep appearing. 

One new mechanic in the set is Bargain, where a card can have an additional effect if its player sacrifices an Enchantment, Artifact, or Token, with Roles acting as the perfect fuel. There’s also the Celebration keyword, where an extra effect kicks in if two nonland permanents enter the field this turn. The Adventures and Sagas from previous sets have also made a return, tying into the storytelling theme. 

Some existing archetypes also got support in Wilds of Eldraine, with Rats and Pixies receiving lots of new cards. However, these aren’t particularly splashable, and need a solid support to be viable. The fact that the Rat tokens in the set can’t block is a particular blind spot for them that can be exploited by foes. 

Bargain is the highlight of the set, even if it’s just a variation of the existing Kicker mechanic, while Celebration is a little trickier to pull off and can’t always be relied on. The implementation of Roles is also well done, fitting both the theme of the set and adding multiple buffs/debuffs that tie into the mechanics, most notably as fuel for Bargain.

A Lone Planeswalker Enters The Field

Image Via Wizard of the Coast

An event called The Desparkening happened during the Phyrexian invasion, resulting in multiple Planeswalkers losing their powers. This is being reflected in Wilds of Eldraine by the addition of a single new Planeswalker: Ashiok, Wicked Manipulator, marking a new era where fewer Planeswalkers will be appearing in sets. Ashiok isn’t the only new Legendary creature in the set by any means, but players won’t have to worry about unbalanced multi-use Planeswalkers running roughshod in the future. Ashiok itself is a force to be reckoned with, though the high mana cost means that players might struggle to get them out quickly enough for them to do a lot of damage. 

Outside of Ashiok, there are a couple of standout cards from the set. White gets amazing support with Archon of the Wild Rose and combos well with Roles, as any Aura-enchanted creature on your side gets 4/4 and Flying. At the same time, Virtue of Loyalty adds 1/1 counters to all your creatures and untapped them during your End Step, making attacking less risky. 

Wilds of Eldraine also introduces awesome new Artifacts, with Hylda’s Crown of Winter being a notable standout, thanks to its ability to tap any creature for one mana or for free on your turn. At the same time, Agatha’s Soul Cauldron lets you ignore mana color for the purposes of activating creature effects, and you can exile a creature to give other creatures its abilities. These Artifacts are incredibly cheap to play (3 and 2 mana of any color, respectively) and will have a huge impact going forward. 

During a recent Wilds of Eldraine preview event, Gamepur took part in, two cards were particularly devastating: Gingerbrute and Forced Fruition. Gingerbrute is a 1/1 Artifact creature that can be made unblockable by creatures without Haste for one mana, leading to buffing tactics that did ridiculous damage, especially when multiple were played on the field. Forced Fruition is a bit harder to play, as it’s a blue card that costs six mana, but it forces the other player to draw seven cards whenever they play a spell. This gives them access to a lot of their deck but limits what they can do considerably, as they’re only a few plays away from milling themselves into a loss, leading to some of the best matches of the event. 

The Verdict

Image Via Wizards Of The Coast

Wilds of Eldraine does a fantastic job of setting up the next era of Magic: The Gathering. Incredible production values aside, Wilds of Eldraine has fun new mechanics that use existing concepts really well, and the shift to a single new Planeswalker per set is a welcome move, even if we don’t really believe that Wizards of the Coast will stick to in the future. The fairytale theme is a refreshing change of pace after the doom and gloom of Phyrexia: All Will Be One, and there are lots of fantastic faes, rodents, and living cakes that are sure to see play in multiple formats.