As you likely noticed, Emrakul is back and in a new form. Her full art is awesome, as you can see in the banner above. However, how is her design? How does it match up to her first incarnation?

Emrakul the Aeons Torn

The original Emrakul is undeniably one of the most powerful creatures ever printed in Magic. If she’s cast, the game is almost guaranteed to be over, and her attack is even more likely to seal the deal.

That said, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is rarely actually cast. She’s almost always cheated into play, either through Show and Tell, Through the Breach, Nahiri, the Harbinger, Tooth and Nail, Shallow Grave, or Oath of Druids (to name some of the more common ways of playing her). If she is cast, it’s normally off of lands that produce multiple mana, like Cloudpost or Urza’s Tower. Emrakul is so heavily played because if you’re going to cheat on mana costs, you ought to cheat in the best, and Emrakul’s only real competition for ‘best giant creature in Magic’ is Griselbrand.


The new Emrakul is definitely a clear reference to her previous incarnation. She’s still an enormous (slightly smaller) flying creature. She’s lost her Annihilator 6, an absurdly powerful and generally net negative fun ability that essentially guarantees victory if she attacks, and replaced it with trample, a solid form of evasion but not one that says “you probably win the game” when Emrakul attacks. She can be countered now and her protection against colored spells has dropped to only against instants (meaning she’s the only Eldrazi who’s safe from Scour from Existence).

Her Time Walk ability has morphed into a Mindslaver variant; you still get an extra turn, but instead of one where you just attack with your new Eldrazi, it’s one where you you drive your opponent insane, forcing them to make terrible decisions. They’ll come to their senses before you untap with Emrakul, but not before you’ve (ideally) demolished everything they could do to stop you. Flavorwise, that’s an excellent change; Emrakul’s presence on Innistrad has been driving everyone mad and this ability lets you push that madness onto your opponent. Her previous ability, time magic, is actually the domain of Kozilek’s reality-warping brood (so this is a much better fit). In terms of raw power, Mindslaver is almost definitely worse than the original Emrakul’s Time Walk, which essentially granted the flying spaghetti monster haste.

Treasure Cruise

Overall, Emrakul, the Promised End doesn’t look like she’ll be dethroning her first incarnation as the best creature to cheat into play in Magic. However, we’ve thus far disregarded an essential ability, one that Emrakul, the Aeons Torn doesn’t have: cost reduction. As previously mentioned, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is almost uncastable. However, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, who costs a whopping 10 mana, is a castable creature even in Standard; if Emrakul costs 10 mana, she is a very conceivable threat, one which might be fighting with Ulamog for deck space or coexisting with him.

There are eight cards types in Magic (land, creature, artifact, enchantment, planeswalker, instant, sorcery, and the retired, but still relevant tribal), so Emrakul, the Promised End can be (theoretically) cast for as little as five mana. Granted, that’s exceptionally difficult to make happen, but also absolutely absurd if you can. Realistically, I’d expect Emrakul, the Promised End to cost 8-11 mana, given how difficult it is just to achieve Delirium. However, a dedicated deck with cards like Vessel of Nascency, Traverse the Ulvenwald, and Explosive Vegetation could be casting some very early Emrakuls.

Terashi's Verdict

Overall, the new Emrakul is either highly successful or disappointing, based on your perspective.

If you were expecting an even more powerful thing to Show and Tell into play, sorry, but I think you were doomed to be disappointed. I don’t think Wizards is going to intentionally make a better creature than Emrakul, the Aeons Torn or Griselbrand for a long time, if ever. Those decks don’t need something even more ridiculous.

However, if you want a card that really hits Emrakul’s flavor, or a card that gives you some interesting deckbuilding decisions, or a powerful card that can actually be cast, or a Jenny/Johnny build-around, or a truly, despicably mean effect (Annhilator ends things so quickly; Mindslaver causes real suffering) this Emrakul is far, far better than what came before. I’ll be rooting against her and for the denizens of Innistrad, but I’m happy to see such well thought-out design in action.

And as always, thanks for reading.

—Zachary Barash

Zachary Barash has been playing Magic on and off since 1994. He loves Limited and drafts every available format (including several that aren’t entirely meant to be drafted). He’s a proud Cube owner, improviser, and game designer (currently going for an MFA in Game Design at NYU). He has an obsession with Indian food that borders on being unhealthy.

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