It is Day 1 of Eldritch Moon Spoiler Season folks, and WOTC has started us off strong. We have the biggest, most anticipated, longest hidden, and perhaps most expected flavor reveal in recent memory on our hands. Are we surprised? Not exactly, but we sure are excited, even if the cards spoiled today are not shoe-ins for Constructed. Let’s start with the monumental Emrakul, the Promised End:
This here is a very powerful card, no doubt about it. At first I found myself being profoundly disappointed, as this is no Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. But I think that, once you get over that, you see that this card has real potential.
It is a 13/13 for 13 (awesome!), but not really. To put it in flavour terms: the more delirious you are, the faster Emrakul comes online. While we aren’t going to be casting this for less than 8 very often, it can be pretty efficient.
The next ability is key to the whole card. If it is good enough to carry the card, then we may have a real powerhouse on our hands; but if it isn’t, this could be a constructed flop a-la Kozilek, the Great Distortion.
Clearly the comparison that needs to be made is with Mindslaver. Is Emrakul better or worse than the Mono-Blue Tron wincon? It is hard to say, but there are some very interesting points of comparison.
Essentially, Emrakul gives your opponent an extra turn after Mindslaving them in exchange for a huge, hard to block, hard to kill creature. Is this trade worth it? It gives your opponent an extra card, at the very least. If that was all it did - your opponent gets an extra card and then takes their turn - that wouldn’t be bad for you. That wouldn’t be anywhere close to playable, but it wouldn’t be a negative effect. When you consider that, in addition to drawing a card, your opponent will spend their sorcery-speed removal on their own creatures, attack another creature into Emrakul, and generally do whatever they can to wreck themselves, then take their normal turn... well, you can see that is pretty powerful.
I think that, at this point, we can conclude that this is probably just better than Mindslaver. It gives you your slaver effect (and lets you get a little more mileage out of it by having a huge creature for your opponent to attack into) and a win condition. The only downside is you can’t lock the opponent out of the game like you can with Mindslaver and Academy Ruins.
Now what we need to evaluate is Emrakul’s constructed playability. To do this, we would be best served to compare it to Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger: the best Eldrazi Titan for constructed to date, in terms of “fair” decks (Emrakul, the Aeons Torn’s combo implications are another matter entirely).
Ulamog gets you ahead on board, dealing with whatever permanents were troubling you permanently, is very hard to kill, and puts your opponent on an unblockable 2-3 turn clock.
Emrakul gets you ahead on creatures (assuming you can attack a creature into it and possibly use your opponent’s removal against them) and can expose and wreck whatever pitiful gameplan your opponent had. It is hard to kill in Modern, and, thanks to its slaver ability, marginally more difficult in Standard, and puts your opponent on a 2 turn clock that is hard, but possible, to block.
Which of those cards is better? That remains to be seen. This is the kind of card whose power will be best revealed through testing. My impression is that Emrakul is somewhat more situational, but also has the potential to lock up a game like Ulamog can’t.
This card is pretty underwhelming. It obviously a limited powerhouse, and will likely see Standard play, but is by no means a stellar card. It’s power will hinge the most on how good the +4/+4 ability on entry is, which will be very format-dependent. If there is a deck that can leverage that effect to crush opponents, then perhaps this will be very good... but if that deck doesn’t exist or there is a lot of instant-speed removal running around the format, Ulrich will start to look pretty poor.
And now we arrive at Stunning Wish. I wouldn’t say I am exactly stunned. At first I was intrigued, but then I remembered why Call the Gatewatch is terrible. The only thing interesting about this card is that it confirms that Nahiri intentionally (maliciously, I might add) summons Emrakul to Innistrad. Once again, that isn’t exactly a surprise.
Before I go, I would like to highlight something in the full art of Emrakul, the Promised End that reveals what exactly has been going on in Innistrad recently:
See the bottom half of this incredible piece? See what’s is going on in that battle? We are in for a trip folks. On Zendikar we got an alien invasion of Cthulus, which we were all a bit tired of by the end. Emrakul, and Innistrad, brings her own twist to the draining of a plane’s mana: we are about to experience a Lovecraftian Zombie Apocalypse.
I don’t know about you, but I’m terrified.