Max Kahn: A Competitive Player’s Guide to Eldritch Moon

If you’ve ever followed a Magic preview season, you’ll know that a few days before the set comes out, Rules Manager Matt Tabak writes an article known as the Release Notes, which gives detailed rules information on every card in the new set.

Many competitive Magic players rarely read this, since it tends to cover very basic rules interactions that most competitive players understand. But there is still useful information to be found in it with some of the more interesting interactions in each set, and Eldritch Moon is no different. Let’s explore some of those interactions on cards that are likely to be players in Standard, Modern, or Legacy. (For the sake of efficiency, I’ve assumed that you’re already familiar with the mechanics of Eldritch Moon and that you have at least a basic understanding of the Magic Tournament Rules and the Comprehensive Rules; I also won’t discuss topics that are clearly understood by reading the reminder text of a card.)

Coax from the Blind Eternities

Coax from the Blind Eternities works similarly to the Wish spells from Judgment.coaxfromtheblindeternities In a Constructed tournament, you are only allowed to search your 15-card sideboard for an Eldrazi card (no looking through trade binders or other deck boxes). You are only allowed to play Eldrazi cards that are legal in the format you are playing. Therefore, don’t plan on bringing an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger to your Eldritch Moon prerelease in hopes of playing it with Coax from the Blind Eternities.

Coax allows you to get any Eldrazi card — not just an Eldrazi creature. This allows for some creativity, as you can find any card with a subtype of Eldrazi, such as All is Dust and Eldrazi Conscription. It also allows you to get Changeling cards, as they are considered Eldrazi in all zones. Some powerful options include Nameless Inversion, Crib Swap, and Mirror Entity. Coax, however, does not allow you to get cards that simply mention Eldrazi, as they don’t all have the Eldrazi subtype. Cards you cannot get with Coax from the Blind Eternities include Eldrazi Temple, Kozilek’s Return, and Eldrazi Monument.

Eldritch Evolution

Eldritch Evolution‘s ability that exiles itself as part of resolution will occur if the spell resolves. Sacrificing a Birds of Paradise to Eldritch Evolution to get an Eternal Witness will not return Eldritch Evolution to your hand, since the Witness trigger won’t be put onto the stack until Eldritch Evolution finishes resolving.

Emrakul, the Promised End

As part of the steps of casting a spell, you determine total costs and pay them before an opponent has priority. This means that if you announce Emrakul, the Promised End, your opponent can’t use an effect to exile your graveyard to make Emrakul cost more mana in response. emrakulthepromisedendOnce you announce that you are casting Emrakul, the total cost is locked in. This also means that if you have a counterspell war while Emrakul is on the stack, and your first instant goes into the graveyard before Emrakul resolves, Emrakul’s cost will not be discounted by the instant, as it wasn’t in your graveyard when you announced Emrakul.

Emrakul has protection from instants, but it can still be countered by an instant. Abilities such as Protection only apply once the permanent is on the battlefield, so while Emrakul is on the stack, it can be targeted by any instants that target spells on the stack, such as counterspells.

When you have an effect (such as Emrakul) that controls another player’s turn, you have access to all of the information that they would normally have, with one big exception. This includes looking at their face-down Morphs or Manifests, looking at face-down cards in exile that they can see, and looking at their hand. You also make all game decisions for them, such as which spells to cast (if any) and which creatures attack. You are not allowed to: intentionally miss mandatory triggers, take illegal game actions, or force them to concede. Also, an important rules update that takes place with the release of Eldritch Moon: You are no longer allowed to look at your opponent’s sideboard when controlling their turn.

Gisa and Geralf

Gisa and Geralf’s ability allows you to cast one Zombie card from your graveyard during each of your turns. You still need to follow normal timing restrictions and all costs must be paid.

Gisela, the Broken Blade (and Bruna, the Fading Light)

Gisela, the Broken Blade’s ability to meld is an intervening-if clause. This means that the trigger will check twice to see that the trigger condition (both owning and controlling Gisela and Bruna, the Fading Light) is met: once when the trigger would go onto the stack and once when it resolves. If either Gisela or Bruna has left the battlefield when Gisela’s trigger resolves, neither of them are exiled, and therefore the meld will not occur.

Ishkanah, Grafwidow

Ishkanah, Grafwidow’s enter the battlefield ability is an intervening-if clause. This means that the trigger will check twice to see that the trigger condition (having Delirium) is met: once when the trigger would go onto the stack and once when it resolves. For example, if you had three card types in your graveyard: Instant, Sorcery, and Land, you do not have the opportunity to kill Ishkanah in response to its ETB ability to gain delirium and make Spider tokens.

Assuming you have delirium when the trigger goes onto the stack, the trigger will also check for delirium when it resolves. If you don’t have delirium when the trigger resolves, such as from a Relic of Progenitus effect, you will not put Spider tokens onto the battlefield.

Nephalia Academy

Nephalia Academy allows you to use a replacement effect instead of discarding a card. Madness does too! Unfortunately, this means that you must choose one replacement effect or the other. You either can discard into exile for madness or discard to the top of the library.

Spell Queller

Spell Queller’s ability follows the old Oblivion Ring templating, not the new Banisher Priest templating that you may be familiar with. spellquellerThis means that if Spell Queller leaves the battlefield before the Enter-the-battlefield ability resolves, the abilities become “un-linked” and there is no way for the exiled spell to become cast again.

Stromkirk Occultist

Stromkirk Occultist’s ability is functionally identical to that of Chandra, Pyromaster or Abbot of Keral Keep. If you exile a spell, you must pay all costs for the spell and follow normal timing restrictions. If you exile a land, you may only play it if you haven’t already made your land drop for the turn.

Summary Dismissal

Summary Dismissal exiles spells from the stack rather than countering them. Therefore, Summary Dismissal can counter “uncounterable” spells, such as Abrupt Decay, and abilities that work when something is countered, such as Summoning Trap, will not apply.

Tamiyo, Field Researcher

Tamiyo, Field Researcher’s first ability specifies “combat damage” rather than “combat damage to a player.” This means that if a targeted creatures gets blocked during combat, you’ll still get to draw the card from Tamiyo’s ability.

Thalia, Heretic Cathar

Thalia, Heretic Cathar states that nonbasic lands your opponents control enter the battlefield tapped. thaliahereticcatharIn formats with fetchlands, this ability works overtime. Your opponents’ fetchlands will enter the battlefield tapped, creating a huge advantage almost immediately. Then, when they activate their fetchland, any nonbasic land they choose to get will also enter the battlefield tapped. This includes shock lands, even if the land’s controller chooses to pay two life.

The Legend Rule is different than the Planeswalker Uniqueness rule. With Legendary creatures, we only check to ensure that the name of the permanents is different, not to see if the characters depicted on the card are different. Therefore, in formats where both Thalias are legal, you are allowed to have both of them on the battlefield under your control at the same time. And they probably work well together.


Unsubstantiate returns spells to their owner’s hands. This does not count as countering the spell. Therefore, Unsubstantiate can counter “uncounterable” spells, such as Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, and abilities that work when something is countered, such as Summoning Trap, will not apply.

Max Kahn is a Level 2 judge from Buffalo Grove, Illinois. He serves as the head judge of the Nerd Rage Championship Series.

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Max Kahn