I am back from Grand Prix Detroit and I'm ready to investigate some Shadows over Innistrad cards.
In Detroit I played U/W Eldrazi to an 11-4 finish and let me tell you, I'm still waiting for them to ban Eldrazi Temple.
An aside on upcoming bannings: the lands are what are essential to Eldrazi decks. The deck still might survive with Eye of Ugin if you only ban Eldrazi Temple, but that will kill most versions of Eldrazi and massively hurt the ones that survive. Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin are the keystones and getting rid of just one will leave the deck in ruins. I don't think it's necessary to ban both. Sure, you might be able to rebuild the deck from the rubble if you only ban one of the lands, but it won't be the same.
There is no reason to jump the gun here and ban more than Eldrazi Temple. Taking away one of the best cards from a deck so reliant on it, and so soon, is safe enough. Keep in mind that Eldrazi decks have only been around in Modern for about a month now. If something gets banned at all this Banned and Restricted announcement, and at this point it looks like something will, that is applause-worthy.
Postban lists might survive by adapting from this version of the deck:
- 1 Conduit of Ruin
- 4 Eldrazi Mimic
- 1 Endbringer
- 4 Endless One
- 4 Oblivion Sower
- 4 Reality Smasher
- 4 Thought-Knot Seer
- 1 Kozilek, the Great Distortion
- 2 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
Is it possible that a deck like this could still be too powerful if just Eldrazi Temple gets banned? Yes, but I think that would be an acceptable risk. Getting rid of Eldrazi decks completely isn't necessary; they just need to be much worse.
Now, on to the main course.
The sun is setting on Khans of Tarkir and the Shadows over Innistrad are growing long. The hype train is leaving the station and you'd best be aboard.
Speaking of which, I've been enjoying the bits of lore and events to promote Magic sets recently, including the trailers for new sets. My favorite is the one for Journey into Nyx. Erebos, God of the Dead's voice gives me some nice chills.
Onward to new cards!
Well then. Seems like a good card.
Archangel Avacyn lookss ridiculously powerful, quite possibly the flashiest flasher in years. It's been a while since there has been a card that looks so good to me at first glance. Perhaps Siege Rhino or Thragtusk?
To start with, Serra Angel with flash is a fairly decent rate on its own. A solid body good for racing and having flash gives you options for playing other cards, around countermagic, or what have you. Once you start adding on more good abilities, you have an insane card.
She's great defensively. If you're thinking about attacking into five open mana in Standard, think again. She will flash onto the battlefield, make herself and the rest of her allies indestructible, and eat up smaller attackers as easily as Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir. The threat of her makes any sort of combat a risky proposition, so be careful when you're making blocks as well.
Her ability to transform into Avacyn, the Purifier is the icing on the angel food cake. When she flips she gets a power and toughness buff and deals three damage to your opponent and all other creatures (including your own). Remember that she doesn't transform immediately; once a creature dies, you have to wait until next upkeep. She also doesn't flip off other Angels dying, which keeps you from casting a second copy of Archangel Avacyn to trigger the first. This is a somewhat similar contingency to Restoration Angel not being able to blink other Angels to create infinite loops with itself, although it seems a lot less necessary to tack it onto Archangel Avacyn.
Having a sacrifice outlet will be the best way to use her on the flip side. Eldrazi Scions and other tokens trigger her to flip as well. Eldrazi Displacer comes to mind as a good card to pair with Archangel Avacyn. Once you have both on the battlefield, you're just three mana and a blink away from giving your team indestructible. You can also flip her into Avacyn, the Purifier and then, with the three damage on the stack, blink her back into Archangel Avacyn, giving your team indestructible. Eldrazi Displacer works well with cards like Eldrazi Skyspawner or Drowner of Hope to get Eldrazi Scions.
So what is going to keep the plan of “Avacyn and win” in check? Control decks shouldn't mind facing her. She's not a great deal if she's just getting hit with a removal spell like Grasp of Darkness, and Languish should be picking up in popularity once Siege Rhino leaves the format.
Every night, as I fall asleep, I drift off imagining a blue Wall of Omens in the hopes that I'll dream about it all night.
Last year, my dreams were answered thanks to Jace, Vryn's Prodigy.
Now my dreams have been answered yet again.
It could be better.
First of all, Thing in the Ice is obviously lacking what makes Wall of Omens good: the card draw. Wall of Omens helped smooth your draws while providing a roadblock and didn't require a bunch of spells to be good. Thing in the Ice is more of a suspend card with Awoken Horror attached for upside.
What makes both Wall of Omens and Thing in the Ice good is that they're low-investment. Two mana for an 0/4 is already good against aggro decks, and it's easy to slip them onto the battlefield against control decks.
Four counters is a lot, especially after topdecking Thing in the Ice in the late-game. Running cantrips will be important. Thing in the Ice also fits best in a deck that just wants an 0/4 roadblock and then buys time with card advantage and removal.
Awoken Horror is massive. It clears the way and crunches in for seven points the turn it flips. Being able to bounce all other non-Horror creatures is great, especially when you're immediately dominating the battlefield in a big way with a 7/8. It also plays nicely with other copies of itself by not bouncing any Things that haven't thawed yet.
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy combined with Thing in the Ice could usher back in a golden age of control decks in Standard. A lot of the good cards in Shadows over Innistrad seem nice and slow and packed with value.
Thing in the Ice also has a shot at being good in Modern. (Assuming the pesky Eldrazi have been swept out of the way by then.)
Jeskai and Grixis Control wouldn't mind a two-mana 7/8, and Delver or even Storm might have use for it as well.
Being able to return all other creatures on the battlefield at instant speed in a great effect for control decks in Modern. Against G/W Hexproof, Infect, or Affinity, it is likely a big enough tempo swing to win the game on the spot.
Thing in the Ice also pairs nicely with a lot of cards already in control decks, like Snapcaster Mage. Bouncing your Snapcaster Mage back to hand after flipping into Awoken Horror seems like a sweet deal. Gitaxian Probe, Serum Visions, Ojutai's Command, or just plain old Lightning Bolt all make Thing in the Ice look good in Modern as well.
Here's how an intial Thing in the Ice Jeskai Control build might look:
Just looking at these cards is giving me a major clue on how sweet this set is.
How good are the actual Clues? Is there a way to abuse the fact that they're artifacts? If so, these weaker investigate cards could shoot up massively in value. If not, they might just be too clunky.
Magnifying Glass is likely worth a closer look. It ramps, adds colorless mana, and generates card advantage in the late-game. I could easily see control decks that could use a three-drop running it.
This is really powerful card draw. Once you factor in its discount of untapping lands, you're looking at a great deal. When the card you discard is a madness card that you're casting off the land you're untapping, you're looking at a Constructed staple.
Better early on than Path to Exile, which says something, but it seems much worse than Path to Exile in the late-game. Giving your opponent a land off Path in the late-game isn't so bad, but giving them a card is. Giving your opponent a Clue in the early game isn't going to hurt that much, since they should be busy using their mana anyway.
Still, as removal goes, it's incredibly efficient and will certainly see play.
Aether Vial wasn't immediately deemed playable when it first came out.
Brain in a Jar is slow, but I think it has potential. First of all, it turns sorcery speed into instant speed. That's great for Declaration in Stone, Read the Bones, Languish, and Pore Over the Pages. It takes a while before you get a good return on your mana investment, and that's assuming you're actually using it to cast spells every now and then.
You do need to manage the number of counters to be able to cast what you want when you want it, but you do have the option to scry, which is nice, and set your quantity of charge counters to help you cast the spell you want next turn.
Brain in a Jar seems like a great turn 2 investment for control decks, but it might be too slow and clunky when you draw multiples. I'll be trying out Brain in a Jar in small numbers in my control decks and going from there.
That's what caught my eye from spoiler season so far. Which cards from Shadows over Innistrad are you most excited for?