The Riki Rules – Rise of the Elder Dragons

Welcome to another exciting Elder Dragon Highlander-centric set review. We won’t be going card-by-card like LSV because in a format as diverse as EDH, the average new card faces an uphill battle against a dozen years of Magic history. Still, Rise of the Eldrazi holds a bit more potential than average thanks to its big mana theme. We love big mana, and I think it’s only appropriate to start with the biggest and baddest of the Eldrazi, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.

For whatever reason, the ultra-fatties of the past haven’t scaled very well, perhaps because they have had lame cost reduction abilities. Draco and Autochthon Wurm actually cost more in order to have cost reduction abilities. Frankly, that’s ass backwards, and as a result you’re better off running medium fatties like Sundering Titan and Darksteel Colossus. Emrakul finally gets it right and we get to see how ridiculous an actual ultra-fatty can be when you pay the fifteen mana for fifteen mana worth of abilities.

The question now becomes whether Emrakul is too good. As a general, I don’t think this is too scary. We’ve had the fully colorless Karn, Silver Golem general deck for awhile and the tools just aren’t there to make it truly effective. I don’t think a dozen new colorless Eldrazi spells is going to change that fact. However, there are two prime candidates for Emrakul abuse, generals that have already achieved a bit of notoriety for being unfair: Jhoira of the Ghitu and Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary.

Llanowar’s Emissary

Since being unbanned as a general, debates have raged about Rofellos. In a duel, it takes a certain kind of deck, usually with plenty of creature removal and/or counters, to not get blown out by Rofellos, but in multiplayer games the little green mana engine is not the end of the world. Someone will usually have an answer to the first casting, and even if Rofellos goes active the effects of his mana advantage are lessened by the number of players.

The question is whether something like Emrakul changes that. Is a turn seven Emrakul from the Rofellos deck a problem? It’s a Time Walk that can’t be countered, and pretty much can’t be removed. Yes, there are plenty of mass removal spells around the table, but they are all sorceries. Barring a Rout, Emrakul is going to get to swing on its Time Walk turn, and someone is going to get annihilated for 6.

Jhoira of the Ghitu suspending an Emrakul sounds even more terrifying. Remember, cards coming off of suspend are cast (nee: played) so the Time Walk will trigger. Oh, and creatures coming off of suspend have haste, so someone is getting annihilated for 6 even before the extra turn. Enjoy.

The saving grace for the anti-Jhoira coalition that is your table is that they will have four turns to prepare for the impending face-smashery. Maybe. Jhoira decks have been known to cheat the clock with Paradox Haze, Clockspinning, and yes, even Jhoiras Timebug.

Do we have a problem yet? And which card is the problem? I’ve been asking a few EDH regulars, and most of them think that Jhoira will be the one getting the axe as a general if things get out of hand. I will certainly be doing my best to prove that this is the case by tuning my Jhoira deck to maximize the Emrakul potential because I’m a jerk like that.

Speaking of Jhoira, did you see Training Grounds? It’s a Heartstone that works just for you and costs two mana less. Suspending things for just one mana each is nice, not to mention all the other big cool abilities that you can reduce in cost.

None of the rebound spells excite me. Casting your spells twice is the kind of efficiency you look for to maximize your spell slots, but most of the spells with rebound don’t look Standard worthy let alone EDH. A card like Staggershock is clearly designed for Limited.

Cast Through Time is another matter entirely, and this should shake up EDH tales without being as confusing as Eye of the Storm. You need to be careful with cards like this though because of the social aspect of the format. Sheldon Menery has written a lot about this subject, the primary lesson being that being too much of a jerk will earn you many enemies in the game you’re in with the possibility that you will have trouble finding people to play with in the future. For Cast Through Time, this means that you might want to resist the temptation to say rebound a Time Stretch. Where do you draw the line for what is too good to rebound? It’s going to depend on your playgroup. Tread lightly and test the waters.

Moving on, Uril, the Miststalker and Zur the Enchanter will find some use for the better totem armors, and that’s a little scary because those are already two of the more popular and powerful generals. Uril is already a problem because he dodges all targeted removal; making him immune to Wrath of God makes him some kind of Akira. If you’ve got a Miststalker in your local playgroup, it’s time to invest in Hallowed Burial and Final Judgment. If you’re not white, you’ll need to get a little more creative, possibly focusing on sacrifice effects like Barter in Blood. Red is probably just dead.

My favorite red card in the set has to be Tuktuk the Explorer. I’ve always been a fan of stupid red cards like Risky Move and Warp World. Tuktuk is much simpler in execution, while maintaining a high stupid factor, and he is actually a useful guy. It’s mildly disappointing that he doesn’t work as a general; if you exile him to the command zone when he dies, you don’t get the token. It is hugely disappointing that Tuktuk the Returned does not deal general damage. C’mon, it’s only fair!

The Rest of the Hits

There are a few other cards that strike me as potential EDH staples. Sphinx of Magosi is a book and a finisher. Nirkana Revenant is a Mana Flare and a shade. EDH is all about finding the best two-role cards because 100 cards just isn’t enough. Conquering Manticore is another one: dragon and Threaten.

There’s plenty of utility in the set as well, mostly in green. Growth Spasm will replace a lot of random Kodamas Reaches and Rampant Growths. In fact, it’s the closest thing to Solemn Simulacrum since the sad robot himself. Awakening Zone is another card that should steal a few such slots, serving as both token generator and mana accelerator. Doubling Season continues to gain in value with every passing set. Double those Eldrazi Spawns. Go!

Finally, green gets Tajuru Preserver, a truly unique card. If you’ve got a table full of black mages that like to make you sacrifice things with edicts, this guy is gold. Thankfully, they realized the potential problems and made it your opponent’s sacrifice effects only. If you value your sanity, don’t even try to imagine what would happen if it didn’t.

There are plenty of other hits in this set. Dreamstone Hedron, aka triple Mind Stone is one of my favorites. Can we get a double Mind Stone next? This is likely better than Gilded Lotus for one and two-color decks. Clearly not as flashy as Emrakul, but this is the kind of glue that is far more important for your average deck.

The one card that surprised me was Evolving Wilds. I know that most people are kind of upset about this different-name reprint of Terramorphic Expanse, but these things really matter in EDH because it allows you to run a second copy. I’m at the snob end of the spectrum in that I like to play with my full complement of Onslaught and Zendikar fetch lands (and they must be FOIL!) However, I know that my glittering, Bruce Wayne lifestyle isn’t the norm and many players will welcome a second Terramorphic. Heck, they’re hoping for a third.

A word on Souls Attendant from a non-EDH perspective. LSV asked why you would want to play a Soul Warden with a “may” trigger. I can think of two scenarios. First, maybe you are afraid of missing multiple triggers with the associated penalty upgrades. Several people I know cited the multitude of triggers as a reason they did not want to play Elves in Extended.

It’s also possible that you might gain so much life that you longer care about your life total, but will continue to pump out creatures. Again, Elves decks often enter into loops where they gain enough life to not matter, but continue the loop to draw cards and find their victory condition. There’s been some discussion amongst judges about whether players are allowed to disregard mandatory triggers like Essence Warden once the player is at a million life, or if they must keep tracking their irrelevant life total through the iterations of the loop. Just a little extra judging food for thought to end things on.

Next week”¦ I have no idea what I’ll be writing about. I do have quite a few subjects I’ve been thinking about, including some other subtler changes to the IPG, the value of the Game Loss penalty, and the change to Regionals. Oh wait. Everyone else has already griped about that last one. Let me know in the comments what kind of articles you might be looking for in the future, and also what cards from Rise peak your EDH interest.

Finally, I want to plug a really fun event if you happen to live in my neck of the woods (Northern California). Drom’s Comics and Cards in Davis will be running a 24-hour Draft Challenge. From 2pm Saturday to 2pm Sunday, you can jump in as many 8-mans as your bank account will allow for. At the end of the 24 hours, whoever wins the most matches goes home with 3 boxes in addition to regular pack prizes for each draft. I have also donated a foil uncut sheet of Worldwake commons and uncommon to be raffled off. The sheet was a special gift I received from the DCI for organizing some judge conferences in California last year. Despite the fact that I love foils and I love collecting Magic art, these types of sheets have never appealed to me, so I decided to give it to the community to help promote this great event. For more information, check out this page.

39 thoughts on “The Riki Rules – Rise of the Elder Dragons”

  1. if im spending 15 mana in EDH with Roffelos,it better be winning me the game right there,wont be making it in my build,,sorry guys

  2. I’ve already lost to Jhoira suspending Emrakul (accelerated by a rift elemental)… it really is as ridiculous as it seems.

  3. @xsv1nrg2

    What are you casting at 15 mana in a Rofellos deck that just wins you the game? (Hurricane for 14? lol). Pretty sure this CAN just win you the game, since green has no other form of time warp to my knowledge, and this very well could be 15 difficult to block dmg with haste, all by itself (more then the hurricane mentioned above).

  4. I am stoked for Enclave Cryptologist. I never have really had the room for a looter, and this guy finally gives me a decent one.
    Lighthouse Chronologist for reasons other people will say for me.
    Artisan of Kozilek
    Gruul Draz Assassin
    It That Betrays
    Mnemonic Wall

  5. dude u just made my day by posting the stuff on emrakul since it is my favorite card in the set. also u are awesome for donating the sheets

  6. @Fin Seedtime is a green time walk.

    All is Dust, Nirkana Revenant, and Consume the Meek are making Maga happy.

  7. Soul Warden – May ability

    Reason – your opponent has punishing fire, uses your NON may ability to shotgun your whole team. Getting a burn spell back for every creature you play and every creature he plays.

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  9. I got my eyes on Momentous fall. EDH+green already means you mostlikely will employ Fatties(tm) and being instant means this card can serve double duty as anti-theft with value. Vapor snare cataclysm hydra? Nah, Ill just draw 10 instead, ok?

  10. Emrakul appears to be one of the most boring cards – it just lame to have such a big “omfg this is so winning me on it’s own” card. Lame, it sucks, let it destroy EDH – maybe we get some fun cards in the future …

  11. Surprised Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief isn’t mentioned, as it’s easily the best EDH card in the set. General, repeatable removal and pump, evasion, decently cheap body. She’s arguably the best “good stuff” MBC general ever, even over Maga, Traitor to Mortals.

  12. I was playing Emrakul in my EDH deck.. In one game I dropped him, and swung immediately (akroma’s memorial) took my turn, swung again, sac’d him to my diamond valley, dug him back up with eye of ugin and cast him again…. that was the last game i was allowed to play…

  13. I did indeed forget to mention Lighthouse Chronologist, I believe as a result of dismissing the levelers entirely from my EDH train of thought. If multiple people get them leveled-up in a multiplayer game… get a note pad to track those extra turns. Speaking of which, I need to find one for my deck…

  14. I don’t think there is a fun way to use the mythic eldrazi, annihilator 4+ is too brutal, people hate braids for a reason and these guys can be just as bad if not worse

  15. @ nick

    Umbral Mantle
    Staff of Domination
    Sword of the Paruns
    Malachite Talisman
    Holistic Wisdom
    and a turn 4 slaver u

    sorry they didnt meet the 15 mana requirement,,but like i said,,definatly not making it in my roffelos list,btw,,i took hurrican out for the win condition a while ago,,now i just desert twister everyones perms,deck everyone,then attack with a */* guy.

  16. Rise of the Elder Dragons…best article title EVER!!! The eldrazi are overpowered for EDH due to the fact that you can cheat them in so easily. Channel is in the format and I can’t tell you how broken it is when your opponent goes turn two channel Emrakul… Emrakul is a cool card and all but it ends games a little too easily. If it won a game every now and then it would be fine. But with the Eye of Ugin making it so easy to cast him every game and get him from your deck it ends up being really annoying.

    I’m most excited about Emrakul’s hatcher, Kozilek’s predator, and Momentous fall for EDH.

  17. im not sure why people are so stoked about this thing in EDH,like @Nick
    can ur channeled eldrazi beat turn 3 combo with mana drain force backup,,cause in my play group,that is the competition,,storm is f***ing broken and consistently wins turn 3-4.

  18. “A card like Staggershock is clearly designed for Limited.”

    Yeah 3 mana for 4 points is clearly not constructed playable.

  19. @bigpapamulls,they played flame javalin with was RRR for 4 dmg,,this is better in some ways and worse in other,,killing 2 guys like a ranger and an BBE is fine,i think this card is servicable

  20. xsv1nrg2 : sounds like it is your playgroup that is the problem, not everyone else… In my playgroup people actually like to play the game.

  21. I dunno about staggershock being not standard worthy, its a char that can be split, and doesn’t cost 2 life.

  22. I was being sarcastic. Double shock is quite strong and it seems that LSV agrees with me. (See set review red)

  23. The whole point of the “may” on the warden(which no one has brought up so far) is Punishing Fire.

  24. I had dreamed before of a card with the Tajuru Preserver effect before. What I concluded is that, as fun as it would be to play Jonnhy around it, a card like that could easily create an infinite loop with SBT like Emperor Crocodile, turning it into a sudden draw. Is this right or can a card like that exist some day?

  25. Jhoira getting the axe? Are you kidding? This sounds like the worst idea ever…Jhoira is one of the few generals that you can completely focus your deck around, and really, that awesome generals aren’t seen that often.

    Also, Emrakul is ridiculous. Not just in this deck. It just is no fun because if you get there, almost nothing can stop you from swinging once, and it is just not possible to spread or reduce the power of Emrakul when you play him himself. In Multiplayer, you just immediately enter the “You and Emrakul vs. the Rest” mode, and that is usually a battle that you are able to win, especially because one player will, depending on the time you cast him and on which deck he plays, just being destroyed by a single attack.
    I have played games with my Azusa General (which is a lot more resilient than Rofellos) and cast Emrakul when two players had under eight permanents on the table. Especially blue, more controllish decks are totally destroyed by Emrakul.

    As of now, I just see no “fun” application of the giant spagetthi monster. You shouldn’t ban around him, for example, by banning Jhoira. There are other ways of making him unfun. Just ban it itself instead….sure, you lose a pretty fair and maybe even cool colorless Emrakul-EDH (which I don’t think would be anywhere near too good), but keeping him would be at the loss of Jhoira decks and still cause games to be ended in absolutely unfun manners. The problem is, in multiplayer, you usually don’t want to absolutely wreck another player until you are in a position where you plan to win as soon as possible. This usually requires quite a setup. With Emrakul, however, you have no other choice. You can’t simply “not attack” with it. How ridiculous would that be? So you attack someone, and take him out of the game even though that wasn’t even your plan, and suddenly, your game has entered the end game, as from that on, everyone is struggling to kill you (and usually fail at it, even if Emrakul gets destroyed asap after one attack).


    Just what I wanted to say…don’t ban around Emrakul – it is hopeless. Ban him instead.

  26. I’m surprised nobody has mentioned either Planeswalker (Gideon Jura or Sarkhan the Mad). Sarkhan seems taylor made for Kresh or Wort decks, and Gideon Jura is an unwrathable dude in a deck that will probable contain a bunch of wraths.

    As for Jhoira, it is all a matter of what you do with her that makes her unfair or not. Suspending Obliterate and combo-ing with Indestructibles is already a common (and very hard to beat) strategy, so adding Emrakul to the mix doesn’t really change that. It just means that the deck doesn’t necessarily need Obliterate to operate, as “Annihilator 6” will do that nicely anyway. Of course, in multi-player the efect is actually less worse than being Obliterated if you have 4 or more players, but the fact that the effect is comprable is saying something. It’s “1-card combos that kill multiple players at once no matter how much they cost” that got Biorhythm banned, and I think Emrakul fits that bill. Hell, if Kokusho can get itself banned, why not Emrakul?

    The problem with the EDH banned policy is that it can’t possibly ban everything that is going to be “unfun” without becoming this catastrophically huge list that makes nobody happy. You are almost better off making banned lists for each general rather than going down the slippery slope of determining how “unfun” a card can be in given circumstances and weighing whether or not that is worthy of banning it altogether. I don’t envy anyone who has to make that determination, as there are so many “legitimate” uses for cards that are abusable that it is hard to know where to draw the line.

  27. Talking of Emrakul, I got a story to share. we where a group playing EDH. I use my Rafiq Control. turn four i get to play Bribery on a opponent and get the mighty Emrakul on my side. on my next turn he was alive and ready to attack for 16 double strike thanks to my general.

    Hey buddy I attak you for 32…and you must sac 6 perm. Oh! your got only five! sorry

    after that the two other players scoop right away,

    So if you want to play super fattie be ready to fight them just in case.

  28. I´m playing Jhoira since 4 jears in EDH,
    Emrakul is not the mightiest card in the deck!
    Each Time Walk Effect let u win the game, some examples from yesterday:
    Sphinx of Lost Truths+Sphinx of Magosi, each suspended with remaining 2 Time Counters.
    I´m playing Time Strech, drawing Training Grounds(very cool Card^^)
    and play Timecrafting on Spinx of Magosi, activate her ability, drawing 5 extracards(would be 3 without Training Grounds) and the 11/11 Flying Monster killed the First! next extraturn, sphinx of Lost Truths without Kicker and drawing Time Warp Fork and Wild Ricochet, some Lands and Emrakul(including the 5 Cards from Last Turn by Magosi).
    I simply revealed the Emrakul and the other Opponents scooped the Game.
    WTF, Guys are u crazy, are u serious?(My Opponents are playing Teysa and Akroma, Angel of Wrath, really Hardcore-Removal Decks and they are scooping because they think Emrakul would win the Game xD
    NO! Emrakul didn´t win me this game, the Time Walks did it!
    Emrakul+Wild Ricochet doesn´t work but
    Temporal Manipulation +Uyo, Fork, Twincast, Echomage or something else
    work´s very well.
    Banning the Emrakul wouldn´t be the Problem
    (we´d ban him/it/her since yesterday <..<
    I kicked also Obliterate, Jokulhaups and Apocalypse, because they are tooo crazy, Upheavel and Sunder got the cut, too.
    I´m playing a Jhoira-EDH-Deck which was built for the FunTable, not for the
    “Kick all your Asses and get the Lifetime Ban!”

    Last but not least, excuse my bad english, also I´m tired of the Discussions about Emrakul and his/her three ugly sisters/brothers(Including “It that Betrays”^^)

  29. Am I right that if two people level their Lighthouse Chronologists up to max in a multiplayer game, those two people just take all the rest of the turns?

  30. yes u´re right.
    that´s the reason for our ban of the chronologist^^

  31. It seems to me that Emrakul is just too good. There are so many ways to get it out early (the two best being Jhoira and Rofellos) and once it hits the table (which it will, because it can’t be countered) it’s pretty much game over, and that’s pretty unfun. Also, the thing with Lighthouse Chronologist seems slightly troubling as well. I think both of these cards might have to be banned in order to keep Elder Dragon Highlander the fun, not-broken format that it currently is.

  32. Any love for Ancient Stirrings for EDH? It hits lands and artifacts, which is pretty big for G based decks that have some spicy nonbasics and artifacts (or eldrazis) that they want to see.
    In most decks, the odds of this blanking are VERY slim (average you should have 40% colorless cards, making this approx 93% success rate) and increasing your chances of hitting important non-basics and artifacts (which non U or B decks have a hard time tutoring for) is pretty cool. I know I’ll be using it in elf deck to up my chances at hitting Gaea’s Cradles, Cloudstone Curio, Citanul Flute, etc.

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