My first draft booster for Throne of Eldraine was filled with a number of good cards including Righteousness and a foil copy of Corridor Monitor. There was also a copy of Brazen Borrower // Petty Theft, currently the 3rd most expensive card in the main set1. However, I’m not going to discuss that one but instead an uncommon which caught my eye:
Savvy Hunter is a uncommon human warrior creature with 3/3 stats and the following abilities:
- Whenever it attacks or blocks, create a food token
- Sacrifice two foods and draw a card
A 3/3 creature for three mana isn’t too bad although it’s a shame that the creature type isn’t that relevant2. However, the two abilities provide a huge amount of value to the point that I’m surprised this isn’t a 3/1 or a 2/2. Creating food tokens is extremely important, especially in limited games, so being able to create them simply by attacking or blocking introduces a huge amount of tension to a game and makes this a card that needs to be dealt with.
In most situations you are going to get at least one food token from this. You’re either going to block and trade for another creature or you’re going to attack and your opponent is going to decide to trade in order to prevent you getting more food. It’s possible that an opponent may want to use a Lava Coil or Murderous Rider // Swift End (in which case you get nothing) but it’s more likely you’ll get at least one token.
Even more likely, though, is that you’ll create a stalemate. Your opponent doesn’t want to attack blindly into you letting you block and gain food so they keep their creatures back ready to block en masse to ensure this card dies with only one token gained. This, in turn, prevents you from attacking and so the cycle repeats until they find the removal piece they need. This is not a bad thing though; in many decks, you want to create a gentle halting of hostilities for the first few rounds whilst you get your pieces in order. This is especially true against an aggro deck where there small numbers will prevent them from attacking for fear of gaining you multiple tokens. Similarly, flying decks that can easily attack and hurt you might not want to as they’ll have no defence and you’ll be able to get a token each turn as well as dealing 3 damage (and unless they’re hitting you for at least 3 you are going to have a life advantage if you use the token for life-gain).
Due to this, I think the most relevant piece of text is actually the second, that you can sacrifice two foods to draw a card. Notice that there is no mana cost for this nor do you even have to tap the Savvy Hunter to use this ability. That makes it ripe for exploitation. There are multiple cards that create food when they enter the battlefield; in fact there is one for nearly every spot of the mana curve:
- Free: Gingerbread Cabin
- : Gilded Goose or Curious Pair // Treats to Share
- : Fell the Pheasant
- : Giant Opportunity (creates 3 tokens!)
- : Fierce Witchstalker
- : Wolf’s Quarry (creates boars that turn into food when they die)
- : Feasting Troll King
There is a huge amount of scope for creating food, and that’s before you even think about Oko, Thief of Crowns as I went over yesterday. The advantage here is that the ability to sacrifice all of this food is free and you can do it at instant speed; if you have five tokens, you can attack against a mighty foe to create your sixth, then sacrifice all six to draw three cards before the card is destroyed. It would probably have been sensible for the card to need to tap to perform that draw operation but I’m very glad it doesn’t!
If I had to pick a fault it would be that flavour-wise I don’t understand why this card creates food when attacking and blocking. I suppose it’s to show them either attacking or trapping small quarry but it just feels a little off. It would make more sense to me if it worked in a similar way to Giant’s Skewer in that dealing combat damage to a creature spawns the food token3. Having said that, I do really like the flavour text! I’m also particularly pleased to see Dan dos Santos back creating Magic art after a 10 year absence4. The artwork is just perfect and reminds me instantly of his cover for Vengeance of the Demon by Diana Rowland. I really hope he’ll be sticking around for future sets, especially Ikoria: Lair of the Behemoths which sounds like it would fit his style really well.
In short, I think this card is definitely going to be a sizeable chunk of any food-based deck be that Golgari () or Sultai () and I’m already trying to work up a few ideas. Remember that food isn’t just about paying and gaining 3 life; you can use them to poison your opponent with Tempting Witch, dig through two cards with Trail of Crumbs, or even ressurect a Feasting Troll King…
You would think human would be relevant bearing in mind Throne of Eldraine is all about humans vs non-humans but there are no anthem effects specifically aimed at that type. That doesn’t stop you using an Icon of Ancestry but that’s the only real boost. Interestingly there are quite a few warriors around; 50 of them in fact! ↩︎
This post is part of a weekday series where I open up a booster pack and pick a card to discuss. Whilst these are often the best cards from the set, I'll often pick one that is a bit niche or one that has cool artwork or flavour text. If there's a particular card you want me to take a look at, get in touch or join my Discord community.