Wilds of Eldraine Draft Primer

Scuffle D. Lux breaks down Wilds of Eldraine Limited to its very core, sharing insight that will take your drafting to the next level.

A Labor of Love

Wilds of Eldraine is here, and there has never been such a complex set that blends the mechanics with the flavor so well. The bombs require building around, they can be defeated with a synergistic deck and – for the very first time – you can draft a synergistic deck by picking cards for their art! WOE is flavorful, powerful, and there’s such a feeling of intention behind all of the design decisions that it comes across as a labor of love.

I’ll stop gushing now.

I’m not here to tell you about how much I love this set. I’m not here to tell you about the mechanics of the Wilds of Eldraine, or explain what each signpost uncommon tells you about what that color-pair is trying to do. I’m not here to give every card in the set an individual numerical rating based on how contextually difficult that card is to play, because I did that already.

I am here to show you how to approach a Wilds of Eldraine Draft; how to evaluate the cards for yourself; how to make your own decisions; and how to always have a deck that plays like a story.

The Stats

Here are some useful numbers for context and future reference.

The Wilds of Eldraine draft format has, at the common and uncommon rarity:

  • 32 Enchantments (+29 Role-Makers)
  • 4 Sources of Enchantment Removal
  • 23 Combat tricks (12 of which add toughness)
  • 13 instant-speed permanents (to trigger Celebration)
  • 106 Creatures (+5 Noncreature token-makers)
    • 18 of which have flying
    • 5 of which with Reach
  • 30 1-Toughness Creatures (+ Rat, Fairy, and Human Tokens!)
  • 39 2-Toughness Creatures (+ Knight Tokens and Rats with Roles!)
  • 43 3-Toughness Creatures
  • 28 4-Toughness Creatures
  • 6 5-Toughness Creatures
  • 6 6-Toughness Creatures
  • 1 7-Toughness Creatures
  • 0 Creatures with 8 or more toughness

There’s plenty of common and uncommon removal in the form of:

  • 3 Auras
  • 3 Curse Role Creators
  • 14 Instants/Sorceries
  • 6 Tappers
  • 2 Bounce Spells
  • 1 Tuck Spell (Top or bottom of the library)
  • 7 Creatures that kill creatures
  • 5 Rare/Mythic Removal Spells

Taken together, the conditional removal that gives -X/-X or deals:

  • 1 Damage kills 18% of creatures (4 Spells)
  • 2 Damage kills 43% of creatures (3 Spells at C/U + 1 at Rare)
  • 3 Damage kills 76% of creatures (2 Spells at C/U + 2 at Rare)
  • 4 Damage kills 89% of creatures (1 Spells)
  • 5 Damage kills 96% of creatures (2 Spells)

The Archetypal Puzzle

Wilds of Eldraine is a Puzzle Set, and rewards figuring out the deck you’re trying to build and filling in the pieces. The cards in WOE are powerful on average, meaning a deck of simply strong cards will look pretty good compared to draft decks of formats past. Within WOE, however, a deck of “pieces that are good” will usually lose to “pieces that make a complete picture.” Fortunately, the easiest and safest way to put a picture together is still:

Drafting Within An Archetype

The WOE archetypes are clearly defined and well-supported in each pair of colors, with an amazing foundation in the story and lore of the set. Like most recent sets, there are 10 two-color uncommon cards signpost cards in WOE that point to what each two-color archetype is trying to do – in this case, the protagonists of their fairy tales. The color pair archetypes match their signposts well, and are billed as follows:

B/GFood(Hansel and Gretel/The Candy Village)G/WEnchanted Creatures(Beauty and the Beast)
B/UFairy Flash(Sleeping Beauty)G/R4-Power Stompy(Little Red Riding Hood)
B/RRats(The Pied Piper)U/WTempo Tapping(The Ice Queen’s Castle)
B/WEnchantments Dying(Snow White)U/RInstants and Sorceries(The Sorcerer’s Apprentice)
G/U5 Mana-Value Ramp(Jack and the Beanstalk)R/WCelebration Aggro(Cinderella and the Ball)

You have the option of starting a WOE draft with a powerful rare or multicolored uncommon, and you’ll end up with a perfectly functional deck. The cards with the highest ratings and win percentages are the ones that flexibly fill the gaps. Uniquely in WOE, you can also first-pick a food payoff and take all the edible creatures, or grab an ice queen and have a pretty strong deck by simply picking every card with ice in the art.

Uncontested, this will often yield a powerful deck. With some luck, you’ll be the only person at your draft table in that particular color pair and archetype, even if other people are in one or more of those colors. Conversely, you can stay open through a draft by taking the cards that are powerful in a single color, then finding the open archetype later.

To summarize: except in the cases where you’re lucky enough to have a deck with the most singularly-powerful cards in the set, you’re going to need synergy. You’ll fill in the puzzle that is your deck by either forcing a narrow archetype from the beginning and diverging for the strongest individual cards, or by:

Staying Flexible

There are many powerful cards in WOE, but many of the cards you want to pick early in your draft are simply the most flexible. WOE has hardly any multicolored cards and, with the exception of Celebration, the WOE mechanics all exist in every color pair. 

The other keyword mechanics – Food, Roles, Bargains, and Adventures – all operate as enablers for all archetypes, and the power level of the mono-colored cards makes it possible to root the archetypical synergies in singular colors. Traditionally, important draft pieces (such as removal spells) belong in every color where they can be played, but here there are many cards that act as bridges between multiple archetypes.

Let’s take another look at WOE’s archetypes, from the other side. These are the card synergies for which you can find support within each color:

WhiteEnchantments Dying, Enchanted Creatures, Tempo Tapping, Celebration
BlueFairy Flash, 5 Mana-Value Ramp, Tempo Tapping, Instants and Sorceries
BlackFairy Flash, Food, Rats, Enchantments Dying
RedRats, 4 Power Stompy, Instants and Sorceries, Celebration Aggro
Green5 Mana-Value Ramp, 4-Power Stompy, Food, Enchanted Creatures

Now we have a lens for evaluating the rest of the cards in this set on a basis of flexibility. An aura that brings a creature up to four-power is strong in two of the green archetypes. An instant that taps down a creature is strong in two of the blue archetypes; and a creature bringing in an aura is strong in two of the white archetypes.

These five black commons are each strong in two two-color archetypes, and quite weak in all other decks:

Warehouse Tabby makes Rats for Auras dying, unifying B/W Enchantment Death and B/R Rats.

Barrow Naughtyis a fine body for a U/B faeries deck and wields Roles well for B/W auras.

Stingblade Assassin is a fine U/B fairy to flash in on your opponent’s endstep or take out a creature that just blocked a B/R rat.

Scream Puff is only strong when it can wield a Monstrous Role, then push damage as a finisher in B/R or make usable Food in B/G.

Minstrosity makes a Food token that’s handy for U/B decks to bargain away or G/B to turn into a real card (This is the weakest example, as Mintstrosity is just a good card).

This is an intentional dynamic, and archetypical flexibility is guessable by rarity:

  • After the strongest handful of commons, most commons fit into two specific archetypes.
  • The Mythic and Rare cards tend to be strong anywhere they can be played, with a few exceptionally powerful cards for singular archetypes.
  • Identifying the difference early will help you choose between forcing and staying flexible.
  • The Uncommon cards tend to have an archetype where they excel, while still being powerful in other colorful archetypes. This is most obvious in the multicolored adventure creatures, which are all strong when either half can be cast but strongest with consistent access to both.
  • The Enchanted Tales are more likely to reward building around them or have specific conditions for including them in your deck, becoming narrower at higher rarities.

Taken all together, we have a framework for navigating a draft with maximum flexibility. We have a method for staying open within a color, identifying the open archetype at your table, pivoting from one archetype to another, and getting cards for your deck late.

In a draft where you’re staying open but have strong cards in a given color, try to pick the cards that fit into multiple archetypes early in the draft. As the draft progresses, pick the commons that fit two archetypes, then settle into one where they intersect. If you have a Mintstrosity, take Scream Puff to lean towards B/G or Stingblade Assassin for B/R.

We can also use these archetypical intersections to identify the open archetypes. Let’s look at a hypothetical pick nine – a pack that you opened and that everyone else at the table has already seen, where you have a lot of solid black cards and not much else. If you’re lucky enough to see a Greta, Sweettooth Scourge, then congratulations! You’re now the only Food player at your table, and you’re about to have a great deck. Since this isn’t very likely, we can instead look at the commons leftover and try to find the deck where neither is played. If we see consecutive Warehouse Tabbies, then either W/B Auras or B/R Rats is open. However, a few Warehouse Tabbies AND a few Barrow Naughties means that their intersection at W/B Auras is more likely to be available.

Mono-colored Archetypes

Within each color, the power level for cards is high enough to build the intended archetypical synergy out in that color alone. This means you can have strong tap synergies in just white and strong rat synergies in just black, so your black/white deck will not always be built around enchantments dying. Maybe you’re using the tappers from white with a few Solitary Sanctuaries to grow your creatures and keep a creature with a Stab Wound disabled. I’ve personally had a lot of success with a mostly-black Food deck, using white removal spells and Griffin Aerie. This approach is useful for establishing splashes, and often stems from staying in one color for a significant portion of the early draft.

Other pieces of the puzzle

As you settle into an archetype over the course of your draft and start to see your deck come together, fill in the gaps by trying to answer these three questions:

Do I need to prioritize the Payoff for what I’m trying to do, or the Enabler?

As you draft, keep in mind the number of things you have that “Make the Thing” vs. “Use the Thing”. It’s valuable to know how difficult it is to get the effect you need at different rarities.

For food packages, this means either securing cards that create food or a way to get better value from Food Tokens. There are some clear ways to do this in the form of uncommons, with Tough Cookie, Greta, Sweettooth Scourge, and Night of Sweet’s Revenge all being powerful ways to turn your Food Tokens into fresh threats. Having a strong way to win the late-game or access to powerful rare bombs can also make your Food tokens valuable as a simple source of life to extend the game.

For tappers, cards that offer a bonus for tapping an opposing creature are nearly all at uncommon or rare, and there are numerous weaker ways to tap creatures down at common. Solitary Sanctuary is a higher pick than Succumb to the Cold for that deck because in WOE there are more cards available for tapping down a creature. You can also build a payoff out of tappers by taking advantage of the tempo. Tapping down a creature with a card generates time – not cards – so if you’re not using that time to deal damage with your cheap aggressive creatures or draw towards a bomb, you are wasting that effort.

I’ll be drafting this set more than is healthy, and reporting my findings back to you in our card rankings every week.

With Bargain, it’s pretty easy to have something expendable for your first few Bargain cards. After that, balancing your Bargain cards with the things you want to bargain becomes important.The easiest way to think of Bargain is a means to save some mana – Hamlet Glutton is actually just a 6/6 that can be summoned with a Food token or get an extra mana from a Treasure. Bargain cards need to be evaluated as if you can’t pay the Bargain after the third or fourth one in your draft, unless you start picking up cards that make any sort of Bargain valuable- like Hatching Plans and The Princess Takes Flight.

The enablers for any of the aura-based and Celebration strategies are secretly one and two-mana value creatures. There are some obvious ones for generating card advantage when an aura enters or dies, but the value lost from a Redtooth Genealogist, Witch’s Mark, Ferocious Werefox, or Conceited Witch is difficult to recover from. Curse of the Werefox, Monstrous Rage, and Royal Treatment are all similar ways to pull ahead with these archetypes but only if your cheap creatures are consistently in play and lining up with the stats of opposing creatures on these turns.

How am I dealing with what my opponent is doing?

The simplest way to deal with an opposing threat is to kill it. There is a lot of removal in this set, with good ways to get extra value out of those cards. Every color has removal, with Candy Grapple, Torch the Tower, Curse of the Werefox, Bitter Chill and Cooped Up all being excellent. There are numerous strong removal spells in the format, and sometimes the more expensive ones end up being better picks based on your curve or what you’re looking for. I will sometimes take Cut In over Torch the Tower, simply because all of my two and three-mana creatures get so much out of becoming Young Heroes.

Sometimes, the removal just doesn’t show up at the table, or you have to pivot late in the draft. In these situations, Plan B is often to just kill them. The combat tricks in this set are powerful, and will function as removal spells if you can apply enough pressure. Monstrous Rage and Archon’s Blessing have both overperformed as ways to push damage through a blocker while still developing my board.

WOE has enough power through synergy to win without removal in a few other ways. Lifegain through Food and lifelink can allow you to win a race. Blocking on the ground can allow Gingerbrute and other evasive creatures to whittle down their life total. If you’re lucky enough to have a Virtue of Loyalty Gruff Triplets, Moonshaker Cavalry, or Realm-Scorcher Hellkite, then stalling for one of these cards that wins the game on its own is a legitimate strategy.

How am I generating card advantage?

While this is always an important aspect of any draft format, the built-in mechanics of WOE provide extra value and clever ways to turn your 1-for-1s into 2-for-1s. The main sources of card advantage in this set are:

Drawing Cards with Spells

The simplest form of card advantage, cards that draw more than one card are powerful in WOE. There are multiple instant-speed common “draw two” effects, more at rare, and a sorcery that draws three cards.


Either each half of your Adventure creatures are worth a whole card, your deck is good at converting the halves into are worth two cards on their own, or your deck can convert the weaker half into a whole card. Many Adventure creatures are worth playing as just one half, and you can splash the other half of multicolored adventures.

Converting your Archetype’s Rectangles

There are an astonishing 63 common and uncommon cards in WOE which create an extra token on top of having most of a card’s worth of effect. Every archetype in WOE has a dedicated way to convert its unifying mechanic into whole cards.

  • Rats can be sacrificed for fresh cards with Vampiric Ritesor converted into real threats with Totentanz and Roles.
  • Roles can turn weaker creatures into whole threats or draw cards with Tanglespan Lookout and Ashiok’s Reaper.
  • Bargain is present in every color as a way to get extra value out of random token rectangles.


You don’t need to draw more cards if your opponent is dead because they took time off of affecting the board to draw cards.

End Step

The Wilds of Eldraine are, appropriately, the wildest draft environment we’ve seen in a long time. The colors are incredibly well-balanced, with rares and Enchanted Tales making up for weaknesses some colors and archetypes would otherwise have. The bombs aren’t unreasonable, the strategies are numerous, and the rares betray an enthralling amount of depth. I’ll be drafting this set more than is healthy, and reporting my findings back to you in the form of my card ranking tier list every week. If you have more questions or want to see me tackling this set all the way through Mythic in MTG Arena, stop by any time at Twitch.tv/ScuffleDLux or in the PlayingMTG Discord. 

Until I see you again, Happy Drafting!

  • Scuffle D. Lux

    Scuffle is a Demon Gambler Vtuber with 23 years of drafting experience. He’s been ranked Mythic in MTG Arena every season for the past two years, with three Mythic Rank 1 finishes, two MTG Arena Limited Open wins, five SCG Open Top 8 finishes, and two Grand Prix Top 8 finishes. He streams regular educational draft content and loves turning data into useful information to help your draft.

Liked it? Take a second to support PlayingMTG on Patreon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *