So once again, three months roll on, and another Magic: The Gathering set is released. Wallets will empty faster than it can be opened. The magical power of hype will cause the value of cards to spike high and crash low So and so card will be broken, overpowered, break the format et cetera et cetera. Brewers will be hard at work building decks- that range from actually sensible to fantastical, and hope theirs will be the one to win the Pro Tour (to be held in Sydney).
Eldritch Moon continues the storyline (for that had been set in motion in Shadows Over Innistrad. In her revenge against the vampire planeswalker Sorin Markov, Nahiri unleashes and Eldrazi titan named Emrakul into Sorin's native Innistrad- Emrakul instantly goes about corrupting the entire plane, and many of its inhabitants suddenly transforming into writhing horrors worse than the werewolves and the vampires that already exist. Jace Beleren, who was on the plane investigating the source of the madness, immediately puts two and two together and calls the Gatewatch (think Power Rangers/Justice League), a group of planeswalkers dedicated to protecting the Multiverse, to respond to his new terrifying threat.
You don't play this game for the story. For the most part, it's Saturday morning cartoon level of writing. Three new mechanics are introduced, in order of frequency and impact- Emerge, Escalate, Meld. Emerge is a mechanic that allows you to summon a big Eldrazi monster (finishing the triumvirate that was established in the Zendikar block) by sacrificing one of your own- much earlier in the game, before the opponent can prepare for it. A well-timed Emerged creature can suddenly swing games all on their own. Cards with Escalate allow you to pay an additional cost on top of the normal mana cost, allowing early game cards to escalate well into late. Meld, which appears on three things in the set, fuses two separate cards together into one big card (and their respective cards have a back facing that shows one half of each part).
The release of this set provides plenty of support cards for decks built around a specific race, like Werewolves and Zombies, but not very many cards to support existing tournament level decks- but the few that do are almost vital and just the touch away from being overly oppressive. So it's a set with extremely good cards, as well as cards that are extremely situational, potentially opening up space for new brews, which may or may not alter the metagame. I am not skilled enough to judge that matter.
I got the chance to play the new set on the weekend, at a pre-release event. Sitting with 4 other people, between 30 booster packs, three of us pulled Gisela, The Broken Blades, two of us pulled Tree of Perditions, one of us even had the privilege of pulling out the antagonist of set, Emrakul, The Promised End- all of these are quite rare cards, with Gisela being worth quite a fair bit money-wise. After opening my packs, the cards that I had out of my packs indicated to me that white and red were the best colours, so I headed in that direction, finished mine with enough time in had to help anyone else needing help.
Despite drawing Gisela, I only managed to win one round and lost two, one of which came as a result of me helping this young lad build a better deck than the one he had. He came up to me after I won my first round, with a black and white deck, and I asked to see the rest of his pool, saw a lot of good cards in red, and told him to cut some in order to fit the third colour. I have acquired a reputation for fine tuning people's decks it seems. This is a sign of things to come. How quickly the student becomes even greater than the master.
I'll be drafting myself for the official launch of the set, which actually comes out this Friday. I hope I pull something really good and get passed all the bombs.