Welcome all, players and judges, to Eldraine! Magic has always been about telling a story, so it should be no surprise at all to finally find ourselves in a storybook set. With cards crafted to evoke Arthurian legend or European folklore and only so much space in the title, type line, and rules text at their disposal, there’s quite a lot of wordy effects for us to get through. Thankfully, the Adventure mechanic eats a lot of the technical complexity of the set; and with those out of the way, we’re left with fairly few triggers to analyze, and even fewer deemed generally detrimental. Let’s dive into them!
This set, the Missed Triggers Project has identified five triggers that upgrade when missed:
“Whenever a creature you control dies, put it on the bottom of its owner’s library.”
The Cauldron gives all creature cards in its controller’s graveyard one more chance at life… But these “eternal life” deals always have some kind of drawback. And this one’s certainly no exception. Since the reanimation ability can only be activated “at sorcery speed”, any creatures that die after the Cauldron resolves will get tucked into the library without a chance to bring them back the easy way. Being back in the library does mean there’s a chance to see them again – but since the trigger reduces the fuel available to reanimate, this one’s generally detrimental.
“When Murderous Rider dies, put it on the bottom of its owner’s library.”
When this article initially came out, Murderous Rider was evaluated as having a trigger that, sure, was probably bad for its owner… But that we did NOT consider “generally detrimental”. Our reason rested on the “vacuum” test; where we examine the trigger, allowing for other text on the card itself, but assuming no interaction with any outside cards or synergies (Bomat Courier is a famous example using this test). Rider has no way to come back from the graveyard. But if it goes into your library, then you can draw into it and cast it again later. In a vacuum, this trigger makes the card “more castable”, which makes it a good thing. Right?
It’s always important to remember, though, not to rely too heavily on only one test or set of criteria. The “vacuum” test is an important and valuable way to evaluate triggers! However, it is not the only way. And different tools often give different answers when evaluating the same card.
The bottom of the library is very far away from castable most games, especially with the number of shuffle effects in Standard declining in recent times. The Cauldron of Eternity helps to confirm this; a trigger that’s almost exactly the same is very clearly a drawback on that card. And there are a lot of effects in Standard, and several in the Eldraine limited environment, that either care about creatures in your graveyard or return them to your hand or field. Putting this all together: it seems very clear that this trigger is a negative for its owner. Players will almost always prefer to have the Rider go to their graveyard when it dies. And the counter-argument, the vacuum test, isn’t particularly strong; if we do assume that the rest of the deck is a bunch of nondescript, generic “other cards”, then the Rider on the bottom of the library might as well be entirely out of the game.
This trigger has been re-assessed as “generally detrimental”, based on the above.
“When Clackbridge Troll enters the battlefield, target opponent creates three 0/1 white Goat creature tokens.”
And “At the beginning of combat on your turn, any opponent may sacrifice a creature. If a player does, tap Clackbridge Troll, you gain 3 life, and you draw a card.”
Both of the Troll’s triggers are generally detrimental, which makes sense when they’re tacked onto an 8/8 hasty trampler for five mana. Giving three creature tokens to one’s opponent is clearly a bad thing in an average game… And while its combat trigger is less straight-forward, with pros and cons to deciding to sacrifice creatures, we can’t ignore the fact that the opponent gets the choice of feeding the troll.
Letting an opponent pick for a trigger with choices can usually only escape being generally detrimental if all the options are either bad for them or good for the controller. Since one of their options here is “do nothing, nothing happens”, and the other taps the troll (which is a pretty big lost opportunity, despite some offsetting benefits), we expect this trigger to average out to negative value in most cases.
“Whenever Bonecrusher Giant becomes the target of a spell, Bonecrusher Giant deals 2 damage to that spell’s controller.”
This giant seems quite the unfriendly fellow. Paying him any kind of attention results in damage, whether he’s an ally or not, making this effect perfectly symmetrical. So a player forgetting to take damage when they target their own Bonecrusher with a spell will result in a Warning.
“At the beginning of each player’s upkeep, that player sacrifices a nonland, nontoken permanent…”
When doom comes, it comes for everyone; no leniency for the player who foretold it. If the controller and owner of this enchantment draws for turn without sacrificing anything, they’ll receive a Warning. Don’t forget that opponents aren’t allowed to rush through their upkeep to try to skip this trigger… But if the controller forgets to say something at the appropriate time, it’s not on the opponent to remind them.
“When Emry, Lurker of the Loch enters the battlefield, put the top four cards of your library into your graveyard.”
This trigger fuels Emry’s activated ability (or at least, it has the chance to), so we’ll treat this one as not generally detrimental across the board. The only times that it would be all downside is if she’s being played in a deck with zero artifacts; and in the odd case where a three mana 1/2 makes the cut in a deck like that, that’s the player’s fault, and not the generally expected outcome for this card.
“Adamant — When Clockwork Servant enters the battlefield, if at least three mana of the same color was spent to cast it, draw a card.”
This one is actually the only Adamant card in the whole set with a trigger, instead of a replacement or spell effect! Fun tidbit!
What that means, of course, is that this is the only card where the Adamant bonus is missable. On any other card, a player who notices that their opponent’s spell is Adamant needs to remind them if the bonus isn’t demonstrated. But for this little Gnome, forgetting to draw a card is regrettable but allowed.
“Whenever Korvold, Fae-Cursed King enters the battlefield or attacks, sacrifice another permanent.”
A late-comer to our list! Korvold is a brawl-exclusive card, and wasn’t included in our initial evaluation. He grew popular enough to see Standard play however, which prompted a number of discussions. Going forward, our project will try to include “around set” cards in these guides, not just those cards that you’ll find in the boosters.
And specific to the poor accursed king; while this trigger is certainly much closer to the line than some we’ve considered, our determination is that the trigger is not generally detrimental. Giving the controller the choice of any permanent to sacrifice and gaining an entire card (and +1/+1 counter) in exchange is enough to mitigate the downside to this ability, even if the more desirable use case for making value from the king’s third ability is by sacrificing objects to other effects (such as Witch’s Oven).
With that, we’ve reached the end of our venture into Eldraine! Hopefully this guide will prove helpful as we navigate the changes to come this fall. And we invite you all to visit again in three months’ time, when we return to another familiar realm of story; Theros, the starfield Nyx, and the underworld that awaits in Theros: Beyond Death.
-Missed Triggers Project