Like children who can’t wait to hear their favorite bedtime story, the Magic community is once again giddy with excitement over spoiler season. Throne of Eldraine is looking to be one of the most flavorful sets of all time, tapping beloved fairy tales and Arthurian legend for resonant top-down designs. Just the thought of beating down with The Gingerbread Man or The Little Mermaid was enough to start the hype before we’d even heard about Eldraine’s mechanics.
But the new effects we’ve seen so far are also quite enchanting. Wizards opened up the spoiler season by teasing a new “storybook” card frame, and the payoff has definitely been worth the wait! Adventure is among the most evocative mechanics in recent memory, creating an instant story within a single card. As an avowed fan of creatures with utility, I couldn’t be more excited to explore the potential of these flavorful new cards.
A DETOUR FROM THE BATTLEFIELD
The adventure mechanic refers to a secondary spell contained in the creature’s text box. Its end result works something like the split cards of previous sets: when a creature with an adventure on it is in your hand, you can choose to either cast it normally or cast its adventure instead. The adventures are always instants or sorceries, with casting cost and effects totally different to the creature they’re printed on! But clever design means that the two “halves” will often synergize…
The big difference from previous split cards is that these cards let you have your adventure cake and eat it too! If you choose to send your creature off on its adventure instead of casting it, then it goes into exile upon resolving. You can follow up by casting the creature side of the card, now or later on, as it returns from its own fairytale storyline to join the battle!
Throne of Eldraine mechanics are first going to appear in Standard and Limited, although I think adventure has the potential to make waves elsewhere. The idea of getting two useful spells out of a single card is going to define the Eldraine Limited environment. This to me is the main reason to have the mechanic in all five colors: it would be too powerful an ability if everyone didn’t get to use it!
Meanwhile in Standard, I think it is quite telling how many of the adventuring creatures belong to the knight tribe. Knights are already a focus in Throne of Eldraine, receiving tribal support in Mardu colors. It seems like the black and white knights in particular will prefer a grindy midrange game plan, based on finishers like The Circle of Loyalty. If so, getting to double-dip on Order of Midnight and Murderous Rider fits that theme perfectly!
Of course, there is still a wide range of adventuring creatures outside of black and white. Green is the color which most often relies on creature cards for utility, and it has some of the most powerful-seeming adventures previewed so far. Beanstalk Giant will slot straight into ramp decks, and Rosethorn Acolyte may have an interesting role to play, shoring up the gaps in manabases with no dual-land cycle coming in Eldraine. Edgewall Innkeeper is also a major indicator that there will be plenty of adventure support in green.
I welcome the adventure mechanic to Standard as an incentive for decks to slow down and focus on value. For the last several sets, the format has been pulled between extremely fast and resilient UG combo decks, fast and consistent red aggro decks, and control decks which curve hand disruption into tempo-prison Planeswalkers into sweepers. It’s very difficult for a midrange creature deck to successfully slide between all of those, but maybe adventures paired with cheap removal will be the answer.
MODERN DAY FAIRYTALES
Moving into more serious speculation, I am gung-ho about the chances of seeing adventures cast in Modern! The idea of getting two spells out of one creature card is reminiscent of the format-defining Stoneforge Mystic. Right now, that feels like a very strong recommendation.
When considering new mechanics for older formats, I look for hidden interactions which might stand out in these larger card pools. One main advantage of these cards seems to be that you can gain cheap instant or sorcery effects from something with the card type “creature.” This is important for effects like Duskwatch Recruiter and Eladamri’s Call. Ranger-Captain of Eos is a popular tutor which will gain several power targets in the form of adventurous one-drops like Giant Killer.
Of course, these cards also have creature types that may be relevant for Modern. A good number of them are Humans – just keep in mind that you can’t cast their adventures with Aether Vial or with mana from Unclaimed Territory. Hypnotic Sprite seems to be the frontrunner here, offering Faeries another counterspell. Seeing as how many Modern decks essentially end their curve at three mana, Hypnotic Sprite may even end up seeing play in some builds of UW Control.
IT’S NOT EASY BEING A HERO
Unfortunately, the unique two-part design of these creatures prevents some possible lines we could take to squeeze extra value out of them. Because the adventure effects must be cast separately, there’s no bonus to reanimating, flickering, or otherwise putting the creatures into play. Mark Rosewater and Eli Shiffrin have clarified that you can only cast the creature side from exile if the card was exiled by the adventure side resolving, not if it gets Path to Exile’d.
It’s also tricky to figure out the types and mana costs of these cards. When not in play or on the stack, older split cards combine the CMC, colors and types of both their halves. This often opens up unusual interactions with mechanics like cascade or cards like Chalice of the Void. But the adventure creatures are creatures in all zones except when their adventures are on the stack.
This means that you cannot flash back an adventure spell with Snapcaster Mage or Past In Flames. You also cannot cascade from Violent Outburst into the adventure half of Flaxen Intruder to make three bears, nor can you cast it with As Foretold with one counter. This is because the rules double-check the adventure spell’s characteristics are legal during casting. However, it IS possible to flash back the adventure side of the card with Kess, Dissident Mage, due to the very specific wording of her ability.
Does this mean we’ll end up with a Modern list that uses Kess to endlessly recycle both halves of Hypnotic Sprite and Murderous Rider? It seems like we might need to see a few more high-impact adventures to make it work. But then again, perhaps figuring out the eternal format adventure deck should feel like an adventure all its own…
Tom’s fate was sealed in 7th grade when his friend lent him a pile of commons to play Magic. He quickly picked up Boros and Orzhov decks in Ravnica block and has remained a staunch white magician ever since. A fan of all Constructed formats, he enjoys studying the history of the tournament meta. He specializes in midrange decks, especially Death & Taxes and Martyr Proc. One day, he swears he will win an MCQ with Evershrike. Ask him how at @AWanderingBard, or watch him stream magic at twitch.tv/TheWanderingBard.