Limited Lessons – A Shadowmoor / Eventide Over-Under

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Tuesday, August 12th – Eventide is now available online, and the drafters are gathered to wait for queues to fire in a few days… with an Eventide pack in the mix, things have definitely changed! Today, Nick examines some of the star players and also-rans from triple-Shadowmoor, and re-evaluates them in the Brave New World of SSE…

With Eventide ready to hit Magic Online in the near future, I think we can all be sure that the server will crash plenty of times in the next few weeks.

Besides that, it’d probably a good idea for me to share some tidbits I’ve learned about Shadowmoor / Eventide draft before you guys hop into a draft queue. This week I’ve brought some over and underrated cards to the table for further discussion.

Remember back in triple-Shadowmoor, where this guy basically never made the cut because there were plenty of guild-mana Hill Giants? Those days are long over, friends.

One problem that comes up a lot in SSE is that you’ll pick a Steel of the Godhead or Shield of the Oversoul and then not end up with enough guys to really justify playing it. Both of these auras are fine on a guy that is only one of the colors, but things start to get interesting when you take Scrapbasket higher and actually put it into your deck.

Not only does the ‘Basket allow you to validate playing a god aura, but on multiple occasions I’ve built the Super-Basket with multiple auras on it. Usually you don’t want to attempt something like this unless you get Shield of the Oversoul down first and are able to keep mana up to make him indestructible. Once you’ve done that, though, you’re free to dump as many auras on as you want as long as you can keep up some mana after passing the turn.

Overall this guy has improved a ton and offers a lot of flexibility by turning on any auras you’ve drafted as well as being a playable pick for any deck.

River Kelpie
If we’re talking about cards that drastically improved with the addition of Eventide, I think this is the number one candidate.

Retrace Flame Jab, draw a card?

Retrace Oona’s Grace, draw two?

The best part is that most people have no clue what this guy can really do and won’t even pay attention to him until you start doing something degenerate at which point it’s too late. Oh, and yeah, he also has Persist to make it that much harder to stop you from going off once he’s in play. All I know is, you better have Unmake against this guy or you’re in trouble.

I never played this card once in SSS, but I could definitely see first picking it in SSE and totally drafting around it if possible.

Merrow Levitator
Terrible Blue common, right? Not always.

This guy has found a niche home for me in the UG archetype as well as obviously being solid with Power of Fire.

The reason I even tried this guy out initially was because my roommate came up with the bizarre idea of forcing a deck around this guy. The plan is to take Gloomwidow’s Feasts, Raking Canopy, Aerie Ouphes, and anything else that kills fliers, and then use the Levitator on your opponent’s guys. We ended up with a pretty hilarious deck one night online that had two Raking Canopy, two Gloomwidow’s Feast, and four Levitators. Multiple games were locked down by Levitator plus Canopy and the only problem really was finding a way to win. Noggle Bandit was usually good for that, but hopefully you get the idea.

This is a good example of a rogue draft strategy that is available if the packs open well for it so you should keep an eye out and maybe try it sometime. In most regular decks this guy will barely be playable, but in UG he can combo off with anti-flying measures or simply ship your Green fatties to the air. Another side-benefit is that he goes well with Presence of Gond, which is one of the big reasons to draft UG to begin with.

Unfortunately Zac Hill spilled the beans on this one in his column last week. Even so, I think it’s worth mentioning again here in case you didn’t read the last few paragraphs of his article.

This card has gained a ton of value with Eventide namely in strategies that employ Hotheaded Giant. I’ve actually lived the dream on the beta, and cast turn 2 Talara’s Battalion. There are also a lot more difficult mana costs now with Eventide, and this will help smooth things out if nothing else.

Springjack Shepherd
I’ve seen this go around the table far too late for it to be right. Any dedicated White deck can make really good use out of this card, and there are plenty of ways to make it do more than chumpblock. If you have a Mine-Captain, Liege, or any other way to pump your team, this card should jump from playable to high pick. You could also end up with Springjack Pasture and create some crazy Goat synergy.

Inside Out
This card is tricky for many people to evaluate, and I can understand why.

I’ve been wrecked by this in combat way too many times to not give it the respect it deserves. You can switch before damage neutering a guy. Switch after damage and just kill something. Make your Scuzzback Marauders nearly unkillable by switching it after damage. You get the idea.

None of this is even the best use for the card! The best thing you can do is destroy a Devoted Druid on turn 2.

This is a super versatile trick that is also hard to play around, and it replaces itself. You really can’t ask for more, and this is certainly much underrated right now.

Banishing Knack
I thought this card was marginal, and probably worse than Unsummon when I first saw it. I’ve since come to realize the error of my ways, and that this card is actually awesome.

The majority of Untap guys are in Blue, which makes for an easy “bounce your side” in the mid-game. In a lot of situations the opponent won’t be able to recover from this if you have any type of board presence, as he will only be able to re-play one guy a turn.

This may be one of the more obvious cards on this list, but it certainly isn’t being picked highly in the drafts I’ve been in, and it has a lot of potential.

Flourishing Defenses
Now that the GB archetype is fully available, this card has skyrocketed.

I know there were those of you who advocated this during triple-Shadowmoor, and I was never really a fan of it. There are so many cards in Eventide which make this totally busted, and I think you can even justify splashing it into decks with lots of -1/-1 counter effects.

The thing about this card is that it doesn’t look like much until it gets going, and then suddenly you’re buried in an avalanche of 1/1 dorks.

Clout of the Dominus
I hate to overlap Zac Hill again here, but I’ve loved this card since the prerelease, and everyone told me I was wrong and that it sucked. Sorry to the naysayers, but I’ve had my time to test it out thoroughly now, and this card is definitely awesome.

Aside from the obvious use of dropping it on a Noggle Bandit which will put your opponent on a non-negotiable five turn clock, the card is just fine on a mono-colored creature. The best practical use for this is in a base Blue deck, where you can Shroud an important creature like Silkbind Faerie while also making it attack for more. You can also protect a guy with Power of Fire or Presence of Gond on it by just dropping both enchantments in the same turn, since Clout is only one mana. In Mono-Red it gives Haste if you need it (not likely, with Crimson Wisps and Sootstoke Kindler, but still possible).

Rite of Consumption
I’ve written about this already in combination with Quillspike, but since then I’ve had the chance to play with it in regular decks, and I’ve been very pleased.

The general idea is to combo this with a large man and Monstrify, which will usually allow you to attack and then fling it at them for a considerable chunk of your life total. Or you could just have a Scuzzback Marauders, which is a combo in itself.

The best place for this is BG of course, or possibly Mono-Black with Loch Korrigan for a late game finisher. I’ve splashed it into GR once or twice now, with good fixing and multiple ways to go nuts with it.

Overall this isn’t like something you always put into your deck, but it’s definitely worth picking up with your late picks and the situations where it will be good are pretty easy to recognize.

Barrenton Medic
I know Adam Prosak was a big fan of this one in triple-Shadowmoor, but I’ve only started liking it now.

The main reason for this is that in triple-Shadowmoor I’d much rather be aggressive if I was drafting White, and now that Eventide is around, the White control archetypes are much more viable. After playing with this guy in a few drafts recently I started to wonder if maybe Prosak was right, and he really was good in triple-Shadowmoor because he’s been really effective for me in SSE.

This doesn’t make him a high pick like River Kelpie or anything, but don’t be afraid to put him in a mid-range deck and he also combos well with anything involving -1/-1 counters.

Nettle Sentinel
Most people consider this in their GR deck and end up cutting it.

A lot of the time this is wrong, and this guy should be making your maindeck quite frequently. I think the key thing people don’t realize is that you don’t need a Green spell on turn 2 to keep this guy going. You attack, and then play a spell before combat on turn 3, and he hasn’t missed a beat.

Faerie Macabre
I’ve won multiple matches on the back of this card in SSE.

That’s right, not games… matches!

And in none of these matches did I actually pay any mana for the Faerie to do its work. You see, there are plenty of annoying cards with Retrace in Eventide, and also some Rare bombs with the ability. You need answers to these.

To give you an example, in one match I was playing a GW mid-range build and instantly lost game one when my opponent played Call the Skybreaker and I had no answer to it. I sided in the Faerie, dealt with the initial token in both games 2 and 3 while removing the Retrace option, and was able to pull it off.

It doesn’t even have to be this drastic and I know I’ve had plenty of decks where I’d want to side in a Faerie to deal with something like Flame Jab that is otherwise going to kill a bunch of my creatures. Just imagine the times where you’re actually Black and get to maindeck this guy and actually cast him.

Fate Transfer
I would treat this like an actual removal spell now, since almost every game played in this format involves some number of -1/-1 counters. I remember Steve Sadin writing a piece on MTG.com about the many stipulations you should think about when deciding whether or not to play a Fate Transfer. I think that all goes out the window now, and you can maindeck this happily in most drafts.

Slippery Bogle
He looks pretty terrible on paper, doesn’t he?

The truth is that most of the time he will be just as terrible in play. However, there are those drafts where you get a couple Presence of Gond and you want a good target for it, and the Bogle is happy to step up to the plate. It may not seem like much, but since he’s untargetable you get a guaranteed 1/1 every turn, which is quite annoying to play against in this format when you can’t stop it.

The main reason I’m mentioning this though is that if you see some Favor of the Overbeings going around, you should probably take as many Bogles as you can find as the game will end very quickly if you create a 3/3 Flying, Vigilance, Shroud on turn 2. This is actually even better than Stream Hopper with a Clout on it, so I try to keep my eyes open and grab this little combo when I can, since both cards are generally treated as unplayable (or close to it).

Painter’s Servant
This is another card that really gained a ton of value in the new format. There are countless situations I can think of where this guy is awesome, but just to give one example, imagine him in combination with Kithkin Zealot. You gain one for every permanent your opponent has in play, which ends up being over ten life if you wait until the mid-game.

I don’t want to spend a ton of time going over all of the ways you can abuse this guy, but just know that he’s a relatively high pick now and you should treat him accordingly, and once you have him, look for ways to abuse his ability.

I guess this article wouldn’t really count as an Over and Under piece if I didn’t talk about some cards I think are overrated…

Dream Thief
Yeah, a 2/1 flier for three is always going to be fine. Sure, sometimes (read: rarely) it will also draw a card when it comes out. A lot of players I know where really excited about this guy when the set came out and so far it has performed way below expectations in my book. Definitely still playable, but don’t get excited because you’re setting yourself up for a big letdown.

I thought this guy was pretty awesome, but it has been super underwhelming the few times I’ve had it in play. It’s not really that great at defending against large monsters since most of them crash right past it, and you also usually don’t have the mana to be fighting in with it unless you’re already far ahead.

Put Away
I can see playing this sometimes in Mono-Blue, but it definitely gets cast against me far more often than it’s worth. This is a fast format, and I wouldn’t be putting my stock into a four mana counterspell unless I was playing a very quick deck myself and could get a board advantage than then keep mana up to counter.

Loch Korrigan
I mentioned this guy earlier in combination with Rites of Consumption. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean he’s very good on his own.

I see some players using this as an excuse to draft Mono-Black or splash it into Mono Blue when they really should be choosing other options. The Korrigan has been very mediocre for me in this format, largely because there are lots of ways to give -1/-1, and also because the format is fast and you won’t have the mana or time to pump this guy effectively. Sometimes he ends up working out, and I’d still play him in Mono-Black of course, but I wouldn’t see him in a pack and take it as a reason to enter such an archetype.

Elsewhere Flask
This definitely went down in value with the loss of a Shadowmoor booster, and yet I don’t see it going around very often. It could be that there just aren’t any being opened, but since I’ve had it played on me a number of times still I think that people are actually just picking it too highly. Since the ultimate goal in this format is to get into a good mono-colored deck that still has excellent card quality, I don’t see why you’d want to use an early pick on a card that will essentially do nothing in that type of deck.

If you’ve opened Jaws or Howl of the Night Pack or something, by all means. But don’t go taking this card hoping you’ll get shipped one of those spells later, because more often than not it’s a waste of an early pick.

Hopefully this article gave you some new ideas to try out with the online release of Eventide coming up. See you all in the forums.

Nick Eisel
Soooooo on MTGO
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