Magic The Gathering's Wilds of Eldraine set turns the Golden Goose into a honking hydra
Remember how after Endgame, the Marvel Cinematic Universe lost its lustre a little bit? As if the remaining Avengers were ticking off side quests now that the final boss was beaten? There were some hits, sure, but imagine if they'd all gone to a world where fairytales were real.
That's a ham-fisted way of setting up this Magic The Gathering: Wilds of Eldraine preview, but it's not without its merits. Magic The Gathering is leaving its Phyrexian Invasion story arc behind, and its own multidimensional heroes have been scattered to the wind somewhat. That brings players back to Eldraine, but things are a little different this time.
While 2019's Throne of Eldraine was all about knights in armour and royalty, Wilds of Eldraine is decidedly more whimsical, offering a storybook world with Magic flair.
In this first look at the multiverse post-Phyrexian Invasion, consequences are felt. Two new Legendary characters, Will, Scion of Peace, and Rowan, Scion of War, lost their parents in the preceding arc, and are working to restore their kingdom in very different ways. Both have lost their Spark in the Unkindling, meaning neither are referred to as Planeswalkers, too.
Still, the Phyrexian conflict has brought universes within touching distance of each other through Omenpaths, meaning some characters are able to slip between them without needing a spark - opening all kinds of narrative possibilities for the future of the game.
For now, though, you can expect various characters from fairytales and fables given the Magic treatment, like Red Riding Hood, who becomes the crossbow-wielding Ruby, Daring Tracker, or the multi-headed Goose Mother at the top of this page.
Decadent Dragon has depth
An expansion means fresh mechanics, and Magic The Gathering: Wilds of Eldraine has a couple of tricks up its gingerbread sleeve - although as with its twists on fairytales, many of them are tweaks on ones you know (and hopefully love).
Speaking of gingerbread, food tokens return, able to be sacrificed to recover life, but they're not the only tokens arriving. Roles are new Enchant Creature Aura Tokens, with six different Roles in the main set.
- Read our interview with the artist that helped bring Sauron to life in Magic The Gathering
The Royal Role, for example, offers +1/+1 and ward 1, while Monster offers +1/+1 and Trample.
Also returning are Adventures, which offer the chance to cast creatures as Instants or Sorceries in exchange for exiling that creature and potentially casting them from Exile later. What's different, however, is the addition of 'Off-Colour' adventures which means these can be cast using mana of another colour.
In the example below, Expensive Taste is a Black magic Adventure, found on Decadent Dragon - a red card.
Sagas are also back, with Wizards doubling down on their storytelling aspect since it fits the Wilds of Eldraine theme so well. Sagas will play how you'd expect them to, but a new keyword, Bargain, means some of them exact a toll - the sacrifice of Artifacts, Enchantments, or Tokens.
That means you may find it useful to keep plenty of Role tokens around to chew through as Bargain fodder.
Finally, on the mechanic front, a new one called Celebration will add counters when you play additional nonland permanents in a single turn. It's primarily for Red and White cards (which makes sense), and may help you overwhelm opponents a little more quickly.
Spin a yarn
Each Archetype in the set ties in with a well-known tale to aid in Draft deckbuilding, too.
For example, there's an archetype tied to the story of climbing the Beanstalk, which Wizards of the Coast says they hope will help it feel like each match tells a story. You can mash these narratives together, too, with Ogres climbing Beanstalks, for example, or Hansel and Gretel teaming up with the Pied Piper.
It's a smart way to lean into the core conceit of Wilds of Eldraine, give players an easy route into Draft composition, and help get newer players on board, too.
Magic The Gathering's Wilds of Eldraine set feels like a great place to kick off another chapter in the long-running card game, and one with a story and characters that more casual or recent players can jump on, too.