Feature Article – LSV on Shadowmoor

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Wednesday, April 16th – It seems that the current Standard metagame is caught in a rut. Faeries, Elves, Red Green Big Mana… as usual, we’re in the need of some fresh meat. Luis Scott-Vargas is here to help! He looks at some of the more exciting cards available from Shadowmoor, and considers how the major players may adapt come the new release.

Writing articles about Constructed is always the hardest right before a new set comes out. Everyone wants to hear about how the new set will impact the format and see decks with new cards in them, but the entirety of the set is still unknown. Also, any deck with new cards is going to have minimal testing at best. Still, that doesn’t mean such an article is without merit. According to MTGSalvation we have 248 out of 301 cards at the moment, which gives us a good starting point for speculation.

So far, it appears to me that Red has received the lion’s share of the cards with the most potential for Constructed. Specifically, Tattermunge Maniac, Fulminator Mage, Murderous Redcap, and Flame Javelin all seem quite powerful. Something like what Dan Paskins suggested yesterday:

Red Deck Wins 2008

4 Tattermunge Maniac
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Keldon Marauders
4 Fulminator Mage
3 Murderous Redcap
4 Incinerate
4 Tarfire
4 Rift Bolt
3 Lash Out
4 Karplusan Forest
1 Pendelhaven
3 Fire Canopy
2 Mutavault
2 Forest
10 Mountain

Flame Javelin probably fits in the deck over the Rift Bolts or Lash Outs, although it looks like Dan was only taking into consideration cards officially spoiled by Wizards. Now anyone who is familiar with the decks I tend to play knows that this deck is The Enemy. The only time I see efficient Red creatures is when I am battling them, which now will happen much more often by the looks of things. It was so nice with Kird Ape gone, as turn 1 Fanatic was so much easier to beat. Unfortunately, the reprieve appears to only last until Shadowmoor comes out, as Tattermunge Maniac looks to be played quite a bit. However, his lack of three toughness leaves the door open to answers like Desert or Pyroclasm, by which Kird Ape was almost wholly unaffected. Now I may be wildly off-base here, but I really think that Red decks in this vein are going to be a very strong force in the upcoming Standard format. The previous incarnations of Red Deck Wins (or the Burn deck, if you prefer that name) were already good at beating Faeries, and the addition of a bunch of new cards should help. Especially if Faeries continues to drive away the decks that best utilize anti-Red cards, RDW should flourish. An example of this is the relative unpopularity of Reveillark, and with it, Aven Riftwatcher. Still, other decks besides RDW will be using Shadowmoor, so let’s take a look at cards that might fit into the current slew of decks.


The previous (and possibly still) best deck in Standard receives slim pickings from what we have seen in Shadowmoor. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as Faeries was a tad overpowered for my taste as is. Let’s take a look at the best candidates for inclusion.

Sunken Ruins
The new Graven Cairns cycle is sure to be one of the best dual lands we have seen for a while, and Sunken Ruins seems like an automatic four-of in Faeries, not to mention any deck with use for a good amount of U or B mana. One of the reasons Faeries is the best is that its manabase is superb, with effectively eight Underground Seas in Secluded Glen and River of Tears. Adding Sunken Ruins helps even more, ensuring that this two-color deck has almost no mana problems despite running Mutavaults and a Pendelhaven. The nonbasics are in fact so good that an assured target for Fulminator Mage is impossible to avoid. Unfortunately, after Sunken Ruins there are no slam dunks for inclusions in the deck.

Sygg, River Cutthroat
Adding a non-faerie seems sketchy at best, but it’s possible Sygg will act as a personal Howling Mine. As it stands I don’t see adding him, as doing three a turn already puts you in a good position, but his effect is powerful enough that he warrants looking at. I get the feeling that Sygg just needed some other small bonus to be worth it, preferably evasion of some sort. Him being the only non-flier besides Mutavault makes it unlikely that he will get in for damage against some decks, making him fairly ineffective. Three toughness is nice though, avoiding dying to Tattermunge Maniac or Murderous Redcap, two cards that are guaranteed to see a lot of play.

Wasp Lancer
The only reason I even bring this guy up is in the chance that he may replace Pestermite in the three drop slot. Pestermite has been the worst card in the Faeries deck for quite a while, but another Faerie is needed to make the deck run properly. Wasp Lancer has better stats, but the lack of Flash is likely to keep him out of the running. 3/2 for three is a nice set of numbers though, and he might find a home somewhere.

Murderous Redcap
The power of hybrid allows inclusion of what appears to be soon a staple in RDW to see play in even the most diametrically opposed deck. While I doubt Faeries will maindeck Redcap, he might be good enough to sideboard in against small creature decks. In this deck he probably is better than Damnation, killing at least two creatures (and often more) without disrupting your attack force. I foresee many Redcaps killing other Redcaps in the future of Standard.

RG Big Mana

Using the list I have been playing, a few possibilities spring to mind:

Devoted Druid
This guy might have a home in other decks that combo him with Might of Old Krosa or the like, but in RG Big Mana he is just a mana elf that can tap for GG once. While he does die to Sulfurous Blast, the possibility of accelerating to a third turn Siege-Gang or fourth turn Cloudthresher without any assistance is pretty exciting. Replacing Into the North (since Wall of Roots isn’t going anywhere) might not be right, although I think I would start out by cutting the two Civic Wayfinders and two Into the North for a full set of Druids. That leaves you with now 10 accelerants, as well as keeping the snow count reasonable.

Thicket Elf
If not for Devoted Druid I would advocate Thicket Elf in the Wayfinder slot, but Druid seems a bit better. Thicket Elf is still a good looking card, and might see play in some capacity.

Woodfall Primus
Cute, but no Angel of Despair (or Bogardan Hellkite for that matter). If Wrath decks were more popular Primus would be a good threat, but Wrath is at the lowest point I can remember at the moment.

Fulminator Mage
Might be better than Magus of the Moon as a three-drop disruption type guy, providing a beater that takes a land out on his way down. If anyone still played Acid Moss in the mirror, this guy seems like a superior replacement. He isn’t dead lategame, and has more applications against other matchups.

Firespout, Vexing Shusher and Guttural Response
I covered these in my last article, and my opinion hasn’t changed since.

Murderous Redcap
I don’t want to keep going on about this guy, but he seems like he will fit in many different decks, RG being one of them.

Deus of Calamity
Replacing Siege-Gang or Cloudthresher is tough, but especially with Devoted Druid, a turn 3 Deus is quite the threat. One hit and the game is basically over. Garruk might be just about phased out with the addition of Deus, who seems like he has the goods to compete in this deck.

Wort, the Raidmother
Probably not making it due to the high competition for lategame threats, Wort still conjures up the intriguing possibility of doubling Skred or Harmonize.

Kitchen Finks (which doesn’t sound remotely like a real name, but might just be.)
This unassuming little guy might be quite potent against RDW, gaining what looks like 6 or 7 life over the course of a few turns. Play him, trade for two damage, gain another two, trade for a Fanatic. That adds up to quite a beneficial exchange, and for only three mana. He might just keep you alive until you can start dropping huge threats.

Fire Canopy
Sadly, Skred demands commitment, enough that it seems unlikely for Fire Canopy to make the cut as a four of. With the new addition of Deus, Canopy should edge out Desert for consistency. If this deck ever loses the Snow aspect, a set of Grove of the Burnwillows and Fire Canopies would sure make the mana even better.

A RG list post Shadowmoor might look like this:

4 Devoted Druid
2 Murderous Redcap
3 Deus of Calamity
4 Cloudthresher
3 Siege-gang Commander
4 Wall Of Roots
4 Skred
4 Sulfurous Blast
4 Harmonize
2 Into The North
2 Primal Command

10 Snow-covered Forest
4 Snow-covered Mountain
2 Fire Canopy
4 Treetop Village
3 Highland Weald
1 Mouth Of Ronom

4 Fulminator Mage
3 Kitchen Finks
2 Chameleon Colossus
3 Guttural Response
2 Vexing Shusher
1 Primal Command

I apologize for spending so much time on RG, but it appears that Shadowmoor brings many possibilities for inclusion. Turns out being in one of the hybrid color pairs is good, unless that pair is Blue-Black, apparently.


This deck looks like it gets some new toys, but none of them seem to answer its current weakness against Faeries. If RDW does push Faeries back some, then Reveillarks may be seen soaring around again.

Order of Whiteclay
Even returning just one Aven Riftwatcher should easily win the game against an aggressive deck, not to mention returning multiple. Add in a four toughness that isn’t easily dealt with, and the Order seems like a solid sideboard card for matchups like RDW and Elves. His stock naturally increases if more three-mana or less creatures see play in the deck of course. Multiple Orders can save each other also, adding just a bit more functionality.

Prison Term
This one is interesting, trading the versatility of Oblivion Ring for the option to move it up as better creatures come into play. I like the idea of throwing it on their Vanquisher turn 3, then moving it up to a Chameleon Colossus that comes along later. Again, another card for Reveillark that helps their aggro matchups.

Twilight Shepherd
This card seems really good, but with Wrath still not really making an appearance and Reveillark itself already filling the role, there isn’t real use for it right now.

Augury Adept
Another dangerous card, it might see use against Faeries as a cheap threat. The lifegain is also pretty relevant there, and this guy backed up with bounce like Venser or Cloudskate could be a beating.

Just what Reveillark needed: another good anti-aggro card. This one does provide a hard wall for Faeries to get through, which might give it a nod over other options.

Repel Intruders
When I first read the card, I thought it was “counter target spell” and was amazed. Turns out it isn’t just Dismiss, although it still seems pretty strong. Basically a Mystic Snake in this creature heavy environment, it also can be cast as Raise the Alarm if nothing else is going on. I like it, although probably only as a two-of or so.

Sick, they remade Upheaval. Wait, it costs two more and all the good parts are gone… I guess this is the “fair” and hence unplayable version.

Kinscaer Fields
This should be a big help to Reveillark’s somewhat awkward mana, and is more important to this deck than Sunken Ruins is to Faeries. Now Reveillark might be able to move away from the 14 basics it has been forced to run and have a better chance of playing cards such as Cryptic Command.

Reflecting Pool
While not really a candidate for Faeries or RG, the pool might fit in just fine in Reveillark. Probably only as a one or two of, it still will help make the mana more consistent in conjunction with Kinscaer Fields.

Overall, Red decks appear to be the biggest winners thus far. RDW looks like it might add up to four or five new cards, the largest amount by far. RG Snow also has a slew of new options, including what appears to be an excellent accelerator plus a threat worth accelerating to in Deus of Calamity. It also has a brand new sideboard, with cards that excellently shore up the weaknesses against Faeries. Speaking of Faeries, not much is gained from the inclusion of Shadowmoor. Still, Faeries has been the best for a while, and didn’t need much to remain good. Lastly, Reveillark gains a bunch of new possibilities, although most of the new cards don’t do what Reveillark needs to beat Faeries. A deck already good against aggro, Reveillark now has more tools at its disposal to really crush aggro. I haven’t really taken into account new archetypes formed by Shadowmoor, since those we will see in the coming weeks once the whole set is revealed. Next time I’m sure to have some nice brews in the works.


PS: On a side note, here is what I’m playing in a local event tonight (pre-Shadowmoor obviously)

4 Makeshift Mannequin
4 Mulldrifter
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Cloudthresher
3 Shriekmaw
3 Profane Command
4 Wall of Roots
2 Primal Command
3 Into the North
3 Thoughtseize
3 Nameless inversion

4 River of Tears
4 Treetop Village
3 Vivid Grove
3 Snow-Covered Forest
4 Llanowar Wastes
2 Snow-Covered Swamp
1 Mouth of Ronom
1 Frost Marsh
1 Gilt-Leaf Palace

2 Damnation
2 Aeon Chronicler
2 Loxodon Warhammer
2 Primal Command
2 Chameleon Colossus
2 Mind Shatter
1 Deadwood Treefolk
1 Spike Feeder
1 Shriekmaw