Innovations – Ten Shadowmoor Cards

Read Patrick Chapin every week... at StarCityGames.com!
Monday, April 21st – Shadowmoor is here, in spirit if not yet in body. Today, Patrick “The Innovator” Chapin takes us through his personal viewpoints on ten of the more exciting cardboard rectangles available in the new set. Do you agree with his assessment?

If you’ll recall, Michael J decided to take his sweet little time writing one of his articles. As a result, Two Great Articles by yours truly – one featuring Swans of Bryn Argoll, one featuring the even more compelling Zvi Mowshowitz – were released in the same week. This overwhelming amount of Awesome temporarily overloaded the system, and a week without Innovations was necessary to reset things.

That was last week.

I’m back, maniacs!

Often imitated, never out-innovated, I am here to unveil my format defining new deck, sure to get a card banned this summer…

Wait, what? Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t want to steal anyone’s thunder. Far be it from me to take any credit rightfully belonging to those that are actually coming up with the Good Ideas in Magic. Just go to the forums and look around. I am sure it is being discussed there by the select few who come up with all the ideas us pathetic Pros exploit. Where else would the Technology be thought up? I guess I will let them tell you about it.

Since you don’t need me for the technology, I suppose I should at least try to make myself useful in some capacity. We have a number of avenues to explore to make this a reality.

I went to a prerelease today. However, I was told to avoid Limited articles, so I guess I will just sum it up like this:

“It is truly beautiful to see this many people have this much fun with the culture and game I love so very much. The positive energy from Prerelease players made the atmosphere great, and the kind words from readers make every article I write a labor of love. You guys are the absolute best.”

[heezy slaps pchapin]

Thanks, man. I am good now.

Yes, yes, I am gonna get to some actual Magic content. Chill. It was already requested that I stop shipping the tricknology, so I will surely stick to general thoughts about ten cards in Shadowmoor in which I am interested… that’s the content this week, so deal.

First off, I would like to tell you a story of the only girl with whom I was ever in love. She and I were friends for years before we were ever an item, but after a convoluted series of events we decided to give it a go (I had been chasing her for 100% of the time I knew her, and she finally gave in).

We learned so much from each other, and saw so much more in life. I convinced her to go to college. She convinced me to take the job with Wizards of the Coast. I took her to Australia, Cancun, Hawaii, etc. She took me camping in a foreign country, to the ruins of a castle that we explored without anyone within miles, and her ballet recitals.

I truly loved her. I still do, and always will, despite knowing we will never be together again. It is of no consequence that she now lives 1000 miles away. Her love was a source of inspiration for years, encouraging me to be a man worthy of it. Even to this day, she serves as an inspiration for how great a gift life can bestow, if and when it sees fit.

It was not just that she was beautiful, though her beauty left a mark on every red-blooded man to have ever met her. It was not just her charm, her charisma (a natural 18 on 3d6). It was not just her dedication, though let me tell you, when the chips are down, this is the type of girl you want in your corner. It was not just…

[Craig]: Some of your recent articles have been a little strange… It’s almost as if you’re channeling Kyle Sanchez at times. Please, control those baser urges and tighten up a little.

Here are ten cards from Shadowmoor that turn me on (I am not talking sexually, this is purely a professional interest).

Twilight Shepherd
I know this guy is a big dumb dork, but man, he just screams out to me. He feels like the new Kokusho, Keiga, Yosei, whatever. How do you deal with this guy? (Let’s pretend I have answers to your Sower…)

See, in my day, we were lucky to get a 5/5 flying vigilance creature for 6… and if we did, you’d better believe we said thank you, may we have another? Throw on a great ability like persist? Now we are talking tournament powerhouse! Think of it like a Keiga that has Vigilance in exchange for being harder to play. Now when it dies, you get a Serra Angel instead of a Control Magic. That is not the worst deal.

Then we get to the Second Sunrise part….

This one is tricky. On raw power, this card is way up there. Second Sunrise is a powerful effect. To get it twice for free? That is unheard of. The trick is that it is by definition hard to take full advantage of.

But if you can find a way to…

This card is a pick to prove itself as Top 10 or better in the set, no question. Time will tell. Its home is not readily apparent, but there is just so much raw power fueling this card. It may turn out to be one of the very best cards in the set.

Watch this card.

Savor the Moment
Obviously, take an extra turn is a very powerful effect. The thing is, how important is the untap step? Let’s look at Time Warp, a card that was never as powerful as Tidings (a similarly costed tournament staple).

One card is the untap phase.
One card is the draw phase.

One card is the land drop.
One card is the attack phase.

Here is the tricky thing… with Savor the Moment, you don’t just get 3 out of 4 of the abilities. See, the primary constraint is that most attack phases are limited by the untap phase. (Most Vigilance creatures are White. White sucks, etc.)

In addition, the ability to play a land loses a lot of value after turn 2.

So why bother?

The simplest way to explain it is that Savor the Moment is a cantrip, as it gives you the draw phase, so the question you have to ask yourself is if you can get enough other value out of a turn to justify a 1UU sorcery.

May I suggest Garruk?

Better yet, may I suggest Ajani?

Let that one sink in a moment.

Savor the Moment is by far best utilized in conjunction with Planeswalkers, as they typically have abilities that are worth a card or more. Between this ability, the draw phase, and even the land drop, not to mention the possibility of an attack phase with your new Beast or all of your vigilance creatures, Savor the Moment can turn into a game-ending tempo boost.

Flame Javelin
It was suggested that I write my article about how overrated this card is.

I dunno… maybe it is me, but I happen to really like it. I almost want to splash it in a mono-Black aggro deck with 4 Graven Cairns, 4 Reflecting Pools, 4 Sulfurous Springs, and 4 Auntie’s Hovels.

It seems pretty simple. This card is a good deal. It is an honest card that makes just one promise, and it delivers on it every time.

Swans of Bryn Argoll
See here.

Still, this card is a complex flower whose beauty will take time to truly appreciate. Sort of like the eventual proof of the inaccuracy of the Rule of Diminishing Primes.

Fulminator Mage
This guy is sick! Why do I always think of World of Warcraft when I think about this guy? I don’t know too much about that game, but I think there was a card like this and it was bananas.

Obviously this guy is just great against pretty much everybody, and can be used by a lot of strategies, but is it worth trying to abuse him or just extract a little bit of value?

On the one hand, he is breathtaking among Grey Ogres. On the other hand, he has many interesting applications. For instance, he gets +2/+2 from Ashenmoor Liege, plus he derives all sorts of bonuses from being double-colored.

On the other hand, he is an elemental (a fine creature type, if I do say so myself). He fits right in to aggressive Red and aggressive Black strategies looking to add an interactive element to their game plan.

Want your face to be melted? Imagine playing with a Doran deck and trying to figure out a way to get your Treetop Village past this guy without getting 10 for 1’ed!

One of the Top 10 cards in the set, not close.

Murderous Redcap
My pick for the best card in the set, this guy does so much more than I could ever ask for. He is a Flametongue Kavu without the drawback. He is usually a three-for-one or better on board card advantage. He is a victory condition. He has awesome creature types (Goblin? Obv. Assassin? Yes!)

He blocks Profane Commanded creatures. He kills Perfect, Reejerey, whatever. He can serve as a chump blocker… twice. He has my favorite new ability in a long time: Persist.

This card is unbelievable. A straight up Gabriel Nassif of Goblins. Let me just go on record as saying this: if you are playing a strategy that can support him, the burden is on you to prove that you shouldn’t be playing him… he should be in by default.

Trust me when I tell you, this guy is an “eight” (and my scale is the one that Wizards of the Coast uses when it designs cards. It goes from 0-8).

Let’s just say that Turian asked me what it would take to make me embrace the Rakdos guild.

I am in.

Guttural Response
I have to stop calling this card Pyroblast. For one, it puts me at risk of misregistering my deck. For another, this card can’t hit Ancestral Visions, let alone Lord of Atlantis or Counterbalance.

Still, it does the primary things Pyroblast does, but it does 1 better.

You can play it for a G.

That is revolutionary. This will probably prove to be one of the most significant cards to impact the evolution of the game to come out of Shadowmoor. For the history of Magic, Green has had countermagic in the vein of Rust and Avoid Fate. That is hardly a potent threat.

Guttural Response isn’t just good. It is great.

This changes everything. I may be married to Blue, but Green has always been my closest and dearest friend. I like to see my friends do well. With Guttural Response, Green is doing very well.

In Standard, people will be countering Cryptic Commands and so on, but where things get exciting is in higher-powered formats where Green would love an opportunity to play a Gaea’s Blast.

How sick is your favorite Vintage player going to be the first time his Ancestral Recall is run through the Gutter? (Let’s not even talk about his Flash…)

Condescend? Fact or Fiction? Thirst for Knowledge? Counterspell? Freaking Spell Snare! Gaea’s Blast can match them all!

Now, to be fair, in Extended and Standard, Pyroblast proper is not an option, so Red will gladly accept this as the next best thing. Remember, there is no shame in a “fixed Pyroblast.” Pyroblast and Red Elemental Blast are not only the best color hosers in the game, they are among the five best counterspells ever printed…

Honorable Mention: Spell Snare

5. Counterspell
4. Pyroblast
3. Red Elemental Blast
2. Mana Drain
1. Force of Will

Tattermunge Maniac
Okay, I admit it, this guy doesn’t excite me. He is a bad Jackal Pup. I get that. And yes, there is a lot of room for a card to be a bad Jackal Pup and still be good. All I know is that this guy may be decent, but he is certainly overrated.

Right now, Extended and higher formats have much better options. In Standard, he will see play, but everyone plays creature decks and a 2/1 is a pretty weak creature. Sure, on turn 1 he is a reasonable play, but he is stone terrible any other point in the game, save maybe with an Obsidian Battle-Axe.

Let’s just say that even Mark Herberholz, the Champion of Gruul Mages everywhere, is not inspired by this guy.

Vexing Shusher
Where does this guy go? He is interesting, to say the least. Goblin is obviously a strong creature type, and his uncounterability makes him fairly unique among permission-hosing cards of this nature. In addition, he is a respectable 2/2 for two. The thing is, he does so much, but he isn’t always the best at doing any of it.

Hmm, I am not sure yet. I will use this guy as my “Reserve Judgment” review. See, he is certainly amazing, but the thing is, will he get a fair shake? Counterspell-style control decks aren’t really viable right now anyway, and this guy plus the Guttural Response are just nails in the coffin.

There have been so many formats that this guy would have simply revolutionized. That said, I predict some such formats will eventually come. Can you imagine this guy in Extended Goblins? Counterbalance? Ha!

Besides, while Standard may be too hostile for even Wafo-tapa to play Counterspell.dec, some will tempt fate and show up in Hollywood with some kind of 20-counterspell deck. Those people will be Shushed.

(I’m pretty sure I will be one of the guys doing the Shushing this time…)

Kitchen Finks
This guy is just a star. Persist? Please. This ability is one of the most important abilities to be created in a long time. Meditate on it!

As a Loxodon Hierarch (the actual definition of life gain creature), this guy actually compares reasonably well. This may actually be the first creature to ever compare with the big dumb elephant. As such, he will have applications in several formats.

A 3/2 for three is not a bad deal. Throw persist on? Deal.

Wait, I also get four life? This guy is insane.

Let’s not even get into if you find a way to take advantage of the fact that he is Green and White, despite being a cinch for either color to cast without the other. He is a way to serve good beats, gain points on Red, but still have a strong threat versus control. Think about how well he fights Damnation!

Seriously, Flores predicted this guy would see sideboard play. He is crazy. Sure, some will sideboard him, but this guy is a maindeckable card without a doubt. There is nothing wrong with running four of this guy main deck. What is a Red deck supposed to do about this?

This guy is easily one of the top cards in the set. If you play Green or White, you need a good reason not to put three or four copies of this guy in your deck. Trust me on this guy. He is the one you have been looking for.

I’ve gotta go get some sleep. This girl is taking me to a My Chemical Romance concert tomorrow. I am not really familiar with their music, but she seems to like them, so I am excited.

You guys are great. See you next week.

Patrick Chapin
“The Innovator”