Throne of Eldraine – Mechanics Primer by Kirsty McIntyre

Adventure, Adamant, Food tokens and second card draw triggers... Kirsty's got the lowdown from a Judge's eye view on Throne of Eldraine's new mechanics.

Oko, Thief of Crowns from Throne of Eldraine (ELD)

Throne of Eldraine is out in the world

Prerelease is over, and players are looking forward to drafting the set in paper for the first time over release weekend!

These Limited events are, for many people, the first opportunity to see how the new cards play out and interact, but they’re also the first chance players will have to grapple with a set’s new mechanics. This can be a daunting prospect, especially for those newer to the game.

Fortunately there’s nothing too frightening in Throne of Eldraine, but knowing the mechanics and interactions can help you plan your turn and use the cards to their full advantage. With this in mind, here’s the rundown on Throne of Eldraine, what you need to know and what might trip you up!


Lovestruck Beast from Throne of Eldraine (ELD)Adventure is the most complicated of the new mechanics, but don’t be frightened of it – as a judge, I’d far rather be answering questions about Adventures than I would about the Sagas from Dominaria.

These cards are immediately recognisable from their distinctive templating. They’re a creature card with a text box that looks like a storybook. One half shows the characteristics of the creature and the other the “Adventure” – an instant or sorcery with its own individual name, mana cost and effect.

Cards with Adventure essentially give you a choice: you can either play the creature side immediately, or you can send it off on an adventure! Casting the “Adventure” part of the card (an Instant or Sorcery) will exile it once it’s resolved, allowing you to later cast the creature from exile. It goes on an adventure, and then it returns! The flavour in this set is ON POINT.

Questions started flying around immediately after the first Adventure card was spoiled, because it’s different enough from anything we’ve ever seen before to confuse people, but similar enough to the split cards we’re familiar with from Ravnica blocks to lead to questions as to whether they would be treated the same way.

Most of the questions were related to the fact that the Adventure is exiled after you cast it, allowing you to cast the creature afterwards. Importantly, you can only cast the creature from exile if it was the Adventure itself that exiled it. For example, if you try to cast Stomp and in response your opponent counters it with Devious Cover Up, you won’t be able to play Bonecrusher Giant from exile as it was exiled by Devious Cover Up’s ability, and not Stomp’s.

Bonecrusher Giant from Throne of Eldraine (ELD)
…you can only cast the creature from exile if it was the Adventure itself that exiled it.

It’s also important to remember that, unless it’s on the stack after being cast for the Adventure cost, an Adventure card is a creature and the characteristics of the creature are what will be taken into account. This includes in the graveyard, in your hand, and on the battlefield, as well as on the stack if the creature rather than the adventure has been cast. For example, you can’t cast Stomp from the graveyard with Mission Briefing as it’s not an instant or sorcery card, and if you cast Bonecrusher Giant you can’t copy Stomp from the stack with the Expansion half of Expansion // Explosion.


Adamant is relatively straightforward – it’s an ability on the card that awards you a “bonus” effect if you use three of the same colour of mana to cast it. The effect will tell you which colour it needs you to pay three of for the Adamant effect to happen.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to Adamant is that the ability only cares that you’ve spent three of the same colour of mana, not how many times you’ve done it. For example, if an effect alters the cost of Embereth Paladin to be 5R instead of 3R, you don’t get to put two +1/+1 counters on it if you use three red mana and three black to cast it.

Embereth Paladin from Throne of Eldraine (ELD)
Adamant only cares that you’ve spent three of the same colour of mana, not how many times you’ve done it.

If you manage to copy a spell with Adamant, even if you paid the required three mana to get the effect on the original, the copy will not have the Adamant effect. Because it’s a copy, it wasn’t cast, and therefore no colours of mana were used to cast it. Similarly, if an effect allows you to cast a card without paying its mana cost, you can’t choose to cast it with that effect and pay mana in order to get the Adamant effect.


Food Token from Throne of Eldraine (ELD)
Please do not eat the delicious cards!

Probably my favourite new mechanic in this set!

Like Clues and Treasures before it, a Food token is an Artifact token with a sacrifice ability – in this case, you can pay two mana, tap it and sacrifice it to gain two life. You eat the Food, you get stronger.

Gingerbrute from Throne of Eldraine (ELD)
If a card has an ability that cares about Food you can sacrifice any artifact that is a Food, not just a token.

Food is an artifact type, not a creature type, but it can still show up on artifact creatures like Gingerbrute. If a card has an ability that cares about Food (like Tempting Witch) you can therefore sacrifice any artifact that is a Food, not just a token!

Importantly, as sacrificing the Food is part of the cost for Tempting Witch’s ability, you can’t sacrifice a Food token to gain the life as well as sacrificing it to pay for the ability.

And, as the set Release Notes state, please do not eat the delicious cards.

Drawing your second card a turn

This is a recurring theme in the set, but it isn’t specifically named as an ability. It’s a triggered ability that happens whenever you draw your second card of the turn. In the case of Mad Ratter for example, whenever you draw your second card for the turn, you make two Rat tokens.

Mad Ratter from Throne of Eldraine (ELD)
Drawing your second card is a recurring trigger in the set, but it isn’t specifically named as an ability.

The effect only triggers for the second card each turn, so if you draw multiple cards in a turn (looking at you, blue players) you only get one instance of the effect. The permanent has to be on the battlefield for the ability to trigger, so if you draw loads of cards and then play Mad Ratter, it won’t care. It also doesn’t care whose turn it is, so if you draw a few at instant speed on your opponents turn, Mad Ratter will trigger for the second card you draw that turn, even if it’s not your own. If you really like drawing cards, this is going to give you an extra little treat.

Food token (page break)

Throne of Eldraine has incredible flavour, so there’s something for everyone, whether you’re a competitive player looking for the next big meta-defining deck or a casual player interested in lore, art or stuffing the most fairytale references possible into one Constructed deck. Hopefully with this little insight into the rules you’ll be able to use the cards you open to the best of their ability.

As always, may all your packs have foil rares and your sealed pools be stacked!

Find more of Kirsty’s articles (including her handy War of the Spark Survival Guide!) via her author page.

Celebrate Throne of Eldraine draft weekend with us here at our Birmingham Tournament Centre. We’re drafting at FNM (alongside our regular Modern and Casual Commander), and on Saturday. Find more details via our Facebook event page, and join in the conversation on our local player page.

Throne of Eldraine – Mechanics Primer
Throne of Eldraine – Mechanics Primer
Adventure, Adamant, Food tokens and triggers, MTG judge Kirsty McIntyre has a helpful rundown on the core mechanics from Throne of Eldraine.

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