Monday, 11 July 2016

EMN Limited Set Review Part II: Card Highlights

This is the segment of the set review where I just go through some individual cards that either have some math analysis on how good they are, which I think are interesting, or that I think are being significantly misunderstood or mis-evaluated. Last time I did this, I definitely had some misses. But I don't think you go into the set review business expecting to get them all right. Actually, I don't think you go into the set review business at all.... in any case, let's get back on the horse (and hope it doesn't eldrazi-fy in the meantime)!

How often are you going to hit with this? Well, a hypergeometric calculator gives us this table (which I expect to see in an article from the wonderful Dr. Frank Karsten soon):
The big point is that 3/4 for 4 is already pretty serviceable, so drawing the card is gravy on the cake. That's the right expression, right? Well, it's a baguette at any rate. Anyway, about half of white's creatures are humans, and a big chunk of greens, with a smattering in other colors. If you just stay true to average (and I probably wouldn't go far out of my way to play humans for this card), then in GW you will probably have roughly 7-8 other humans (roughly 60% hit rate), whereas if you're pairing white with another color, it will be closer to 5-6 (slightly less than 50%). In the cases you miss, you're probably getting a tiny bit of value by digging towards humans, but that's pretty slight.

So on the whole, you're getting about half a card. Seems pretty darn good, but not broken.

The card is going to be swingy, no question about it. Instant speed removal can really blow you out badly, especially if it's giving your opponent a surprise blocker. Knowing what's in the format will help you play around that in many cases. Most such removal is sitting at the Uncommon level. But I actually think there's going to be a lot of play in this card as well - when do you cast it on a big creature, which will be more secure, and when on a small one, to avoid all your eggs going in one basket? In general, I think the card will be pretty darn good, but of course, it's not without its risks.

This is my early pick for best blue common. Between your own ETB effects, opposing werewolf transforms for a zillion mana, Emerge creatures, and the occasional permanent buff (creatures that get counters from when other stuff dies or is sacrificed, or might I suggest the card right above this one), there's going to be quite a bit of value to be had, I think, when you get an extra card to boot. But even in a bad case, bouncing any creature with CMC of 4 or more is a tempo-positive cantrip, 3 is tempo-even, and even bouncing an opposing 2-drop is a 1-mana-down cantrip, which isn't the worst thing ever.

Casting one of this is obviously bad. Casting the second is obviously good. Does getting to cast the second make up for having to cast the first? I think so, but it isn't fantastic - 4 mana for +1 card is below rate, but you do get to split it up, and I expect this to be a bit of a slow format. Compare to Courrier's Capsule. It's worth pointing out that Mill/Looting and to some extent discard can help you out here. But I still don't think I would run these almost ever with less than 3 in my deck. You won't get 3 very often (on average, only 2 will be opened in a draft), so I wouldn't pick it high, but you can spend a mid-pack pick on one if you tihnk another will wheel. If you ever get to cast 3 in a game, you've obviously done it, with a split-cost Opportunity.

It's worth noting that this is really the best chance you have in this set of reliably getting an enchantment in your graveyard (at common, since SOI commons are now rarer than EMN uncommons), which is fairly important for Delirium. It also kills 80% of the format (or more, if you include tokens). Not only is this going to be the best Black Common, it won't be all that close. I'm fairly confident there's a bigger gap here than in any other color.

I think I've learned my lesson from Angelic Purge and Sinister Concoction: This card will be good. Now, it is worth noting that between costing 5, there being less madness overall and in black in particular, and actually wanting your lands in play because of additional mana sinks, you're going to get to mitigate that discard cost much much less than you did with the Concoction. This is also worse for Delirium. On the flipside, though, the "sacrifice a creature" part is actually less painful now - we have a lot more fodder now, probably largely because they needed to make Emerge work. You can't load yourself up on too many sac effects without enough fodder, but I think you can make this work.

It's also worth noting that you need them to have two creatures for this to be not bad - there's no 'up to' clause. Still, that's not uncommon, and 3-for-2ing yourself when the 2 are their two best creatures, has got to be worth it, in general. So I expect this to be one of the better black uncommons, while still far far below the top dog (Murder).

I am not a fan of playing Hill Giant, and the tribal benefits are pretty minor here. But Madness is a real thing, especially because it's the only black madness card in the set, and you're reasonably likely to have a discard outlet lying around somewhere. If you can ever flash this in to effect, for only 3 mana, it's a pretty big game. Hill Giant isn't that far below the curve, so I expect to be playing it fairly often even if I only have a couple cheap outlets - maybe half the time overall, maybe a little more.

I think a good comparison here is Fireshrieker. That card was pretty good, but not absolutely amazing. You could pay its cost in installments, but once you were going to the second creature, it cost more overall. It was colorless, though, and importantly, it worked on defense. So it's hard for me to think this will be a good card, but with the number of boardstalls that seem likely, it will probably be at least playable.

As I noted in my mathy review, this kills about 20% of the creatures in the format. My guess is that that's enough to make it begrudgingly main-deck-able, or more likely, a card I'd like to have in my sideboard. Worth noting that I think it would be pretty playable as an instant (where it can block and kill an x/3, with some options for upside), or as a 1 mana card. Also, this does have some applications in "finish a creature off, get a devil", but.... a devil for 3 mana is too bad to help you on such a minor trade-up, I think.

This card is very good. 3 mana shock is a bit below rate, but would get played reasonably often anyway. 4 mana to deal 3 to a single creature is in a similar reasonable-not-good territory. The option between the two is already getting to be a fine inclusion. This also has the board-sweep option, which is a nice little plus. Four mana is going to be very common - killing one thing, and trading up with one or more others (and picking off X/1s). People are going to learn to expect this and play around it - that'll be a key skill in the format. Problem is, it's going to be pretty touch to play around most of the time.

The big thing I want to point out, though, is that the fully escalated version is actually an overrun variant. 5 mana, probably kill a thing, all your stuff gets trample, and hits in for 1 more because you pinged their stuff. Not as big pump for sure, and scales off their blockers rather than your attackers. But one cheaper, instant speed, and probably most important, with lots of flexibility.

There's enough sacrifice that I expect this to make the cut... probably a bit more than half the time. Friendly reminder that clues count.

The nice thing about this is that you can just "raw dog" it on turn 2, and you'll almost never miss. With very few Vessels of Nascency anymore, this is going to be one of the better ways to get to Delirium, which is quite a bit harder now. The more important this is for you, the better this card is.

I think this card might actually be reasonable. Transform costs are a lot more than this, and flipping is very much like a combat trick much of the time. The thing I really want to note, though, is that this is the only way to get the new eldrazi werewolves back to the front side.... though you'd almost never want to. I guess someone somewhere will at some point use this to get around a Humble the Brute or something, and I will be happy then.

People seem to think this card will be very good. I look at the font side and see... well, 3 mana for an 0/3 and a 3/2 is fine, but not worth sacrificing a permanent, unless you're getting big value from that. We see lots of fodder in this set, but I'm still rather skeptical. It's certainly not a turn 3 play. But I think that, in general, to be good enough, you have to have a reasonable chance of turning on Delirium. I am thinking that's going to be a good bit harder now than it was before, which makes me think that this card is middling. If you can get it fairly reliably, then the card becomes quite good.

I think this is getting slept on significantly. 3 mana 2/3 is only slightly under where we want to be. Tap to mill for 2 is fairly powerful in the format. If you can ever flip it, the back half is really game-winning if you aren't massively behind - and even if you are, paying 3 mana for a 4/6 is more or less better than you can hope for. Hard to imagine the card can be too great, since it will be a bit tricky getting enough colorless creatures to make this reliable (remember, you only count front faces). That brings the average number of colorless creatures per draft to 11.6. I expect you can get a disproportionate number of those, so let's say 3 on average. That means you'll usually draw or mill one within a couple turns of this being out, which makes it such that you're reasonably likely to flip it by the time you'd be flipping a wolf (assuming it isn't too hard to trade a critter off) - but with no additional mana cost.

I'm actually going to go ahead and predict this will be the best green common, over Prey Upon. I wouldn't be surprised to be wrong on that, but they're at least in the same ballpark. Mana dorks are typically good anyway, and this format has tons of mana sink. This has the extra bonus of being quite relevant in the late game, too. It's just a win/win/win.

People seem to think this card won't be good. I don't think it will be amazing - 3 is kind of a lot to equip - but +2/+2 is a big bonus, and if it's slow and board-stall-y, as I expect, this one will be above average.

People are really scared of the rider here. Obviously, that's not a good thing for you. But you can plan for it, and this creature is just sooo big. Artifact creature also helps delirium. You have to be wary of enchantment-based removal here, which probably makes this a tiny better if you have sac effects to get out from under it, but I think that just by itself, it's already something I'm never cutting form my deck, and usually pretty happy to have.

And the last card is one I think is pretty overrated. Yes, gravedigger is usually pretty good. Adding a mana, power, and toughness.... you can debate if that's good or not - I think it's a weakening. But being limited to CMC 3 or less is a real cost, and one I think is being underestimated. There are a couple things it stops you from doing; first of all, you can't loop this thing. So your endless loop of value has been cut off. Possibly more importantly, you can't get actually good creatures back with this very often. Finally, you're going to have 0 legal targets for this, which is a molten disaster, way more often than with normal Gravedigger. So I expect this to be a mid-late pick (6th-10th ish), and while totally playable, also definitely cuttable.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

EMN Limited Set Review Part I: Gory Numbers and Differences from SOI

The set is fully spoiled, and I've been chugging some math - the numbers are in! In this first part of the set review, I'm going to go through the major themes and mechanics, and see how much support they have now that EMN is around. Importantly, because this is the second set of the block, I am going to use heavy comparisons between this format and the previous one. Because EMN is a small set, and because it's 2/3 of packs now, things can potentially have changed a lot. On the other hand, for many of the themes, the fine folks in WotC R&D have re-supported what was there before, at least to some extent.

A quick note before we begin, just like in SOI, I have done a tiny bit of guesswork on the numbers. I'm assuming every pack has one common/uncommon DFC (in place of a common), and 1/8 packs also have a Rare/Mythic DFC (in place of another common). I haven't seen this confirmed, but I'd be very surprised if it weren't correct. Also, there was a little bit of guesswork on how the print sheets worked to get the ratios right (particularly for DFC). However, it's worked out such that for Uncommons, Rares, and Mythics, the number you expect to open doesn't care if the card is DFC or not, and for Commons, you are getting about 1% more of the non-DFCs - not enough for the vast majority of people to notice over the course of the format, particularly given that card-to-card variation is going to swamp that for at least several hundred packs.

And just like in BFZ/OGW, you want to realize that the old cards are much rarer now: in fact, you're slightly more likely to open a particular card of one rarity higher from EMN than you are from one a single rarity lower in SOI. To give an example there, I'm slightly more likely to open Hamlet Captain than Byway Courier in any given draft, slightly more likely to open Bedlam Reveler than Rise From the Tides, and slightly more likely to open Tamiyo than her Journal. You don't want to know what your chances of opening Avacyn are now (but I'm going to tell you anyway: one out of 120 drafts; on the plus side someone at the table will open one only one out of 15 drafts now, so you get wrecked less often).

Without further ado, onto the analysis!

Returning Mechanics

Madness is significantly down in this format. Madness cards themselves are down 26.5%, and discard outlets are down 15.5%. Note that this is also a significant shift in the ratio of Enablers to Payoffs - before, we had about 1.3 enablers for every madness card, now that ratio is up to 1.45. What that means is that the simple ability to have a discard outlet should be somewhat less valuable (both because there are fewer payoffs overall, and also because it is proportionally more likely to be redundant). But the actual effect of Madness itself might be better - if you really want to use those activations, you are going to want to be getting value, and there's just fewer options for that now. It's unclear how that will trade off against slightly fewer enablers existing.

Delirium is also less prevalent (maybe Emrakul doesn't have people crazy so mcuh now as completely gone, crazy Eldrazi?), down about 10% from last format. More importantly, though, it's going to be harder to turn on. We have a 9% drop in, for example, enchantments that go to the graveyard through play, but that's including Crop Sigil, which only goes if you already have delirium, Spontaneous Mutation, which likely only gets there if you use it as a trick to win a combat you would otherwise have been trading, and Choking Restraints, which you need to activate for potentially little value to get there. If we take those out, we'd be down over 60%. Of course, that's not entirely fair, because there were more unplayable Vessels than questionable Lunar Forces we have now, and sometimes you will get those things to happen, but the point stands that it's significantly harder. Enchantment was a fairly easy type before, if you wanted it; now your only really good bet is Boon of Emrakul (which should make that effect a bit better).

In terms of other types, there's about 5% more instants now, while sorceries remain within 1% of where they were before. These aren't huge issues, since those cards were already disproportionately being cut in order to keep creature counts high. Milling was very important though, since it tends to be your best bet at lands (and even more so now with fewer Forks in the Road and Warped Landscapes). That, too, is down about 5% from where it was previously.

So it's not a massive change, but it's a little less important than before, and a bit harder to get turned on.

Skulk is down 39%. It wasn't all that important before (a little more than the flavor text it was oft joked to be, but not tons), and I don't expect it to be now - there are a couple rares which try to use it to effect, but well, ok, that's rares for you.

Investigate is not present in Eldritch Moon, so naturally it's exactly 1/3 as present in this format as it was in the previous. The implications of this are that cards which care about investigating or having lots of clues (Graf Mole, Erdwal Illuminator) will get significantly worse. On the other hand, the actual act of investigating will probably get better, since you're less likely to get to the point where you have too many clues and not enough time to crack them all.


All the same tribes are back, though maybe not all at the same level of importance.

There are about 4% fewer humans than before, along with about 5.3% fewer cards that care about them. About 35% are now in white, and 31% in green, with the rest spread over the other colors, which is within a couple percent of where they were before. Of note, the green cards that care about the type are a bit more aggressive than the white ones.
The number of spirits is down about 6%; the number of cards for which the type matters is down from the already paltry 4.7 per draft by an additional 43%, all the way to 2.7 per draft. This tribe continues to not be an important factor in terms of typeline in limited, being more impactful here in terms of flying.

The number of zombies is steady from last format to this, but the number of payoffs or cards that care about them is up by over 14%... but still only at about 5 and 1/6 per draft. That's enough to do something with in certain cases, but not something you should expect to see on a draft-by-draft basis.

The count of vampires are up about 3%, but the number of payoffs is down 18%. Again, this wasn't a huge number before, but the only non-rare card (out of 2 total) that does something in this set is a cantripping lava spike that cares about the number of vampires (which is probably unplayable unless you get very all-in somehow).

Wolves and Werewolves
More of these now care explicitly about Werewolves, whereas before it was almost always either or. Furthermore, the total number of these is down about 11% now, and the payoffs are down by 26%. This is one of the tribes that had some cohesiveness before, with cards like Howlpack Resurgence, Moonlight Hunt, Howlpack Wolf all seeing pretty serious play, but now there's far less reason, which in turn probably makes all of those cards worse. Also, they used to have mechanical cohesion with their flip triggers playing well together, but that's more or less out the window now - all but a mythic from the new set are based on pouring mana in (more on that later), which really function pretty independently.

New Mechanics and Themes

The fist thing I want to note about emerge is that all of the Emerge costs total 1 less than the creature's normal CMC - so even if you're sacrificing a token, you are getting a discount. Next, strictly speaking, they're colorless, but they're expensive enough that I imagine that you aren't gong to be playing them in very many decks at all where you can't at least pay that color of mana to Emerge them out some of the time. (Note that sacrificing even an on-color creature can never reduce the colored mana portion of the emerge cost). Some of the cheaper ones might be good to keep in mind as sideboard options even when out-of-color in the durdliest of matchups, though. That they are, by themselves, very expensive, can potentially make them more susceptible to bounce (though once you have the mana to hardcast them, that flips around). It's also worth noting, though, that you are going in on one big creature, which makes you a bit more susceptible, at least potentially, to go-wide strategies, and potentially removal.

There aren't all that many Emerge cards in the set, to be perfectly honest, coming in at just under 9 opened per draft. That they are centered in one three color wedge (Sultai) will help you see more if you're in those colors, to be totally fair. And almost all of them seem at least reasonable to think about playing, so that helps, too. It's a bit hard to tell how much worse this mechanic will make enchantment-based removal, like Sleep Paralysis and Choking Restraints, but my best basis of comparison is the similar Exploit mechanic from Dragons of Tarkir - in both cases, you tend to be getting a spell-like effect worth roughly the cost of a card, then when you exploited and now just when you cast.

This comparison to exploit leads me to needing fodder to sacrifice, which more generally gets me to:

Sacrifice more broadly
We still have 6 and 3/4 other sac outlets besides emerge cards in the format (depending slightly on how you define a sac outlet), for a total that's 79% higher than we had in triple SOI. On top of that, we go from 11.8 cards per draft with death or sacrifice triggers all the way up to 18.9 (again, there's some slightly different ways you can define this, but the underlying point remains the same), getting us a massive 61% increase. Worth noting is that msot of these trigger on their own deaths, but a few care about other things dying.

On top of this, for more fodder, we are up to 40.3 Enter the Battlefield triggers per draft from 39.1 before. This is only about a 3% increase, but in my estimation, a bit higher percentage of the triggers now give you the value of a card (a la Enlightened Maniac), as opposed to being a nice tack-on bonus (see Gibbering Fiend).

This last point on ETB effects makes bounce spells on their creatures potentially a little worse, but bounce on your own creatures much better, and obviously blink and flicker effects quite a bit better. With the addition of EMN, the format comes up to 8.3 of these per draft from 7, an increase of 19%.

Mana Sinks
The way most werewolves transform is now a pretty simple mana activation. This has some things in common with Morph from KTK and especially, as several others have pointed out, Monstrosity from Theros block. There are more of these cards with low CMCs than there were with morph or especially monstrous, which is a bit different, but on the whole, I expect similar play patterns - they reward you and help you hold mana up at instant speed, as well as providing early plays which let you continue to use mana and have good plays later on in the game. Thraben Gargoyle is the one example of this kind of card in the last set - it was pretty good, and I expect basically all of these cards to be pretty good as well.

Beyond that, we also have Escalate, which is another mechanic that gives a lot of flexibility, and can also serve as a mana sink of sorts. These cards also seems to generally be good to me. And then we have just traditional mana sinks as well. When you combine all three of these effects, the number of mana sinks in the format jumps a blistering 125% (not to 25% more than it was, but 125% MORE, or 225% of the original SOI number). We do lose out on a lot of clues, which helped to be mana before, but even accounting for that, we remain at a 72% increase.

Because of all that, I expect EMN EMN SOI to be a format where you will usually be wanting to play with 18 land.
There are going to be about 3 more flash spells per draft now than there were before, a 55% increase over the previous format. This works well with the hold-mana-up-for-sinks plans, as well as other instants in general. So it makes a card like Silverstrike better, but on top of this, it's just something to be aware of in order for you to be able to play around it effectively.

I mentioned Mill before, but something important to add is that the number of cards with activated abilities in graveyards is sharply down, by about 53%. We're mostly left with a couple new zombies with similar return-to-play abilities as some we've seen before, plus all the old stuff.



I mentioned I think it's going to largely be an 18 land format already, but it's worth noting that there's also very little fixing in this set. You have Terrarion, a green 2 mana 0/3 common that needs to die to Rampant Growth you, and a very strange 3 mana rock. Then there's the smattering of duals and fixing you had from last pack (Fork in the Road, duals, Wild-Field Scarecrow), but that is much diminished now. Even if you assume you can always kill Primal Druid to get the effect, fixing is down 35%, to less than 10 pieces opened per draft now. In fact, you're more likely than not to see more fixing in the last pack than in the first two combined. Worse still, a lot of that is tied up in uncommon duals from SOI, which will be very unreliable to be your colors. Almost all the rest is green. So 3 colors is a very strong no-go, and you really don't want to splash unless you have a massive incentive - I'm talking Tamiyo here.

As a side note, there are way fewer lands in this set as well, such that the number is down nearly 60%, and almost all of those are in pack 3. That does mean that you'll see more spells, which in turn means that you'll likely be taking from a slightly higher quality cut of cards, in terms of what you actually play - though this effect will be minor.


As a note here, I am not including combat tricks or bounce spells as removal; there are some other cards which I had to choose one way or the other, as they aren't hard removal per se, but but often incapacitate a creature; I tend to include these as removal, but it's a bit of a judgment call - certainly all the numbers here are within a margin that, depending on what's good or bad in the format, it could 'go either way'.

More about specific kinds of removal when I get to creature size in a moment. For now, I'm going to say that there's about 7% more removal overall now compared to before. At instant speed, though, it's about 6.7% less; when you look at interactive spells at instant speed (including bounce and flicker), we're about the same, and when you add in the flash creatures, the current format is again in that same 7% range lower than we were before.

Creature Size

Overall, creatures are slightly more expensive than they were in triple SOI - an increase of about 1 CMC, which is about 3.4%. However, this doesn't take into account things like Emerge, and in any case this is well within the margin of "but how good are the cards" changing the conclusions there.

The average toughness of a creature now is 2.70, compared to 2.74 previously, and the average power is down to 2.39 from 2.57. Again, there are playability issues here, but there is something significant in terms of the shift to a lower Power:Toughness ratio. That means the format will likely be a little slower, with more groundstalls. More groundstalls make evasion better, but the rate of flying is also down by about 13%, so those cards probably go up in value ever so slightly.

I would be remiss to not note that these figures don't take into account the 2/2 zombies and 1/1 flying spirits which still litter the plane, nor do they account for the now fairly common 3/2 Eldrazi Horrors.

When you look at actual distributions, 2 is the most common power for a creature, followed closely by 3, and a bit further behind by 1. Only 9 or so creatures per draft have power greater than 3, at least without looking at the back half of DFC. On toughness, 3 edges out 2, with 1 still being ahead of 4.

More concretely, when you're looking at creature combat, defensively, a 2/4 is where you start to get a very stable body. It stops the tokens, eats most of the 2s and 3s, and bounces off of most things until a few 4 drops and a decent number of 5s can rumble through. Moving up to 3/4 allows you to eat almost all 2s and 3s, and most of the 4s, and 4/4s are bigger than just about everything below 5 mana, and not smaller than much even then. The 5th point of toughness lets you live to block to the vast, vast majority of attackers.

Offensively, the 2nd point of power is as important as ever, to provide a threat and be at least able to trade with basically any playable creature. The 3rd point gets you to where you at least trade with cards up to 4 and 5 drops (and even with some of those). The 4th point of power means very little is going to straight-up eat your creature, and very little will bounce with it as well. There are a few X/5s in the format, but for the most part, 4 power will be able to attack more or less freely. The third toughness is important, as usual, to be able to get through 2/Xs, but the 4th is pretty important, here, too, with a healthy number of 3/2s, 3/3s, and even some 3/4s, plus all the Eldrazi Horror 3/2 tokens.

In short, the creature sizes vary pretty typically for a modern limited format. It's not the world were Bears rule the roost and Pikers are fine to hold off the bears, as Origins was, nor is it the one with lots of giant monsters all around, as BFZ was - though it's a lot closer to the latter than the former.

In terms of how the creature sizing interacts with toughness-based removal:
1 or less toughness = 19.5% of creatures
2 or less toughness = 48.6% of creatures
3 or less toughness = 79.6% of creatures
4 or less toughness = 92.7% of creatures
5 or less toughness = 97.6% of creatures
6 or less toughness = 99.0% of creatures
7 or less toughness = 99.96% of creatures
13 or less toughness = 100% of creatures (base stats)

Again, these numbers don't take into account tokens, which typically have 2 or sometimes 1 toughness.

Friday, 8 July 2016

EMN Spoiler Spotlight 1: Chaining Ancestrals

Welcome to the first installment of EMN Spoiler Spotlight here on the WanderingWinder games blog. My limited review will come later (need the full set to get the numbers right, also hopefully my own predictions are a little better than last time), but for now, we're doing some Constructed thoughts. These aren't meant to be comprehensive (there's too many cards) or very predictive of what you should play (too early to try to figure out the metagame).

Instead, I am going to point out some ideas to keep in mind which excite me - something powerful and at least situationally very good, something fun, something to keep your eye on. Like most ideas, I suspect most of these are not going to be good enough for serious competitive play, but some of them might, particularly under the right circumstances, and and hopefully some of the rest will be on the mythical level of "good enough to take to FNM", which I must admit I've never really understood. Or tl;dr My hope is these are fun and potentially powerful.

We start today with:
Influence of Emrakul
Whenever you cast an Eldrazi creature spell with Converted mana cost 7 or greater, draw 2 cards.

This card makes me think of that unplayable janky rare that can do wacky, potentially powerful things, but ultimately is unplayable in every format (except maybe EDH). Then I notice it's an uncommon... so maybe there's something in draft/sealed? I doubt it. But then there is this thought that built in my mind, and it's based around the first non'mrakul Eldrazi revealed in the set:

You'll notice that we have a CMC of 7, but that in practice, it costs less. This is something you're going to see on all of the Emerge cards (probably). Something I also expect to see on all the Emerge cards is a relevant cast trigger - in this case, the favorite words of most Magic players I read or listen to, Draw a Card.

With Influence of Emrakul in play, Wretched Gryff casting this guy draws you THREE cards. With a creature that has a CMC of at least 5 in play, you replace that creature with a 3/4 flier to draw 3 cards. Since the emerge creatures themselves all have CMCs that are very high (probably more than you are casting them for), you get to pay only the colored mana to do this kind of thing. So with one Wretched Gryff, you can cast a second for only U, you replace a creature with the same creature (ok, summoning sickness, but whatever), and draw three cards. You've just paid U to draw three cards. Ancestral Recall anyone? And then, if you have another one, you can do it again. "How likely am I to have another one?" Well, you've just drawn three cards, so ok still not too likely, but it helps a lot.

Obviously, Wretched Gryff is not enough, by itself, to make this engine run. Fortunately, we've already seen some other friends (wait, Eldrazi are our friends now?):

Okay, even having all three of these isn't enough. But I suspect that there are going to be at least some other creatures in the set that will fit the bill, and potentially you can even throw e.g. some World Breakers in. But assuming that we get some more reasonable cards in these colors, it could happen.

Other than Influence of Emrakul, and the Emerge creatures, what does this deck need? Well, it needs fodder to sacrifice to get your chain started, it needs to be able to survive, and it needs to be able to either find Influence of Emrakul and/or win without it.

As for the first couple of these, you probably want to have them work together. Matter Reshaper seems like the nutter butters. You also have lots of other creatures with ETB or dies abilities - Eyeless Watcher, Scion Summoner, Eldrazi Skyspawner, possibly Hangarback Walker, Youthful Scholar, Palace Familiar, Byway Courier, Elvish Visionary, Greenwarden of Murasa, Separatist Voidmage, Stitched Mangler, Tower Geist, Whirler Rogue, Pilgrim's Eye, Nissa, Vastwood Seer, Bounding Krasis... there are others, I am sure. I'm also sure that you're going to want to just play "Good cards" like Sylvan Advocate. I don't know if this is really going to be enough to survive against hard-core aggro decks, but building the right mix of cheap creatures to be able to survive, set up your sacrifices, and get the right bonuses, is going to be one of the big challenges of getting the deck to work.

The other problem seems bigger. There isn't really a great way of finding that enchantment right now. Worse, Dromoka's Command is everywhere to make you sacrifice it. This seems to be a pretty intractable problem right now, so I don't think this deck can possibly by viable, at least until rotation. Even then, I'm not sure whether you can spend so much time to play a 4 mana do-nothing enchantment. But at least part of me sure hopes you can.

A couple final notes: It's worth noting that there is also another sacrifice-based mechanic in Standard right now, and you might want to build a deck with some of those Exploit synergies together with your Emerge cards. Can I interest anyone in a Necromaster Dragon? And if you really want to throw playability out the window and live the dream, can I interest you in adding two superfluous colors (or getting very lucky off of Oath of Nissa) to play Sorin in your deck full of 7 and 8 drops?