Magical Hack – Revealing Shadowmoor

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Friday, April 18th – As with last week’s article, if you are avoiding Shadowmoor spoilers until after the pre-release, my article today is not going to make you happy. I will be more than happy to see you on Monday, however, instead of making you unhappy today, so if you are keeping yourself virginal and pure for the Shadowmoor pre-release tomorrow, please direct yourself to the leftward-pointing arrow above rather than spoiling yourself.

As with last week’s article, if you are avoiding Shadowmoor spoilers until after the pre-release, my article today is not going to make you happy. I will be more than happy to see you on Monday, however, instead of making you unhappy today, so if you are keeping yourself virginal and pure for the Shadowmoor pre-release tomorrow, please direct yourself to the leftward-pointing arrow above rather than spoiling yourself.

For pretty much everyone else in the world, however, we’ve got some excitement planned. Usually my pre-prerelease article tries to keep to only the spoiled cards so far… but so large a portion of the set has been spoiled already through various official sources, thanks to the fact that Wizards has been pushing a lot of cards out through three weeks of MTG.com previews… and a bunch of previews across various websites, including our own here (for Murderous Redcap and Torrent of Souls)… and compiling everything spoiled in one place HERE. And sending out “spoiler” boosters to numerous stores, encouraging the sharing of ‘spoiled’ material… and, and, and. With so very much of the set already revealed, or at least hinted at as we see other portions of the apparent ‘cycles’ of cards, it made a lot more sense to me to use the spoilers that are growing in detail and accuracy as the week grows longer to try and give an advanced look at what Shadowmoor sealed deck will feel like at the Prerelease, and thus provide some tips and hints to improve both play and deck design at the pre-release.

As of writing this, MTGSalvation has 274 of the 301 cards in the set ‘known,’ and with less than 10% of the cards missing I am going to run through with the assumption that the last bit won’t invalidate what we are talking about. Inevitably, we are going to miss a trick or two… but for the most part we have enough to work with, even if I can’t tell you every single removal spell or combat-relevant Instant. For trends and themes, we have what we need.

Shadowmoor is one complex set. The only reason our brains aren’t exploding from sheer overload is because we are already comfortable and familiar with the idea of hybrid mana, which when stacked alongside the complex interactions of -1/-1 counters in various abilities, the dance of tapped-then-untapped that comes with ‘Q’ and some other funny cards along the way, and spells that Fork themselves mark a very complicated set. If we were just seeing Hybrid for the first time, we might think this game is so very far removed from Magic that we’re wondering when it is that we are legally able to attach Energy cards to our Planeswalkers. (Answer: The same speed at which you can reveal your Trap cards, bleed your prey, turn to attack a Feng Shui site, or assemble a Contraption.) With such a complex bundle in front of us, some advanced warning of what is going on can make the difference between a stressful and a comfortable half-hour of deckbuilding on Saturday. Knowing what an opponent’s untapped mana and cards in hand might represent can win you matches just by not walking into tricks, and pointing out what kinds of card synergies mater and how much you can get away with splashing are all relevant points. Let us look, then, at the dance of mechanics and their ramifications, to see what is at play.

Wither and Persist have their own little unique interactions. Both also interact with every little thing that can even hint at causing a -1/-1 counter to appear, but straight out of the bag you have to look at your Persist creatures and realize that they really, really hate anything that has Wither. What this means, then, right off the bat… is that you should be putting a higher-than-expected value on Wither, and try not to over-value Persist. Persist is going to look great in a vacuum, but in actuality it seems that you will find that Persist is a huge skill-tester in Shadowmoor. Fortunately it is also a huge potential source of card advantage and recursion, two elements of the very best sealed decks and two elements that the best players try to work into their decks however they can. Persist, then, basically follows this chain of thought:

9am, looking at your Sealed Deck pool: “Man, these guys are AWESOME! I’m going to jam everything I can that has Persist into my deck!”

11am, facing down yet another cheap Wither creature: “Man, this 5/2 guy does nothing. It trades with my opponent’s bear and gets some trample damage across. This stuff is awful! I hate these guys!”

3pm, watching an opponent’s Leech Bonder at work: “I thought these guys were terrible, but really I just didn’t know how to use them right. I should have played THAT GUY alongside of these guys!”

-1/-1 counter synergy among your creatures is the #1 thing to look at abusing, and any method of inflicting -1/-1 counters on the opponent’s creatures is a card you should be considering playing in your deck. In between the regularly-scheduled games of card advantage and tempo, you will see that tactical battles over your opponent’s Persist creatures, and enablers to re-allocate the -1/-1 counters on your Persist creatures, are the defining theme of the format. Persist is reasonably common — it shows up 14 times in the Orb of Insight, which suggests 14 unique cards and includes some decent commons — and everything with Persist is deserving of careful consideration, on both sides of the board. If you can control Persist, you have a steady opportunity to gain card advantage and grind your opponent out through the long game, while perhaps simultaneously denying him the ability to attempt to do the same right back at you. Wither is an excellent way to control Persist, as the best way to try and get a use out of a Persist-ent creature is probably by attacking with it, and even a single -1/-1 counter from the smallest of possible Wither-dudes can at least shut down the recursion of having to trade for the same card twice.

Because card-pool synergy is going to have a lot to do with how good your Persist creatures are, you should try and figure out what cards of yours work at removing -1/-1 counters from your creatures, and seeing if there is a reasonable means to pair those sorts of cards together. This seems pretty obvious just in general but with the heavy two-colored theme it might not be obvious to try and squeeze your mono-Blue Merfolk next to your Red-Green Persist creature, when the hybrid-mana design says that Blue works with Black and White only. The depth of each color granted by Hybrid mana means that enemy-color combinations are harder to pull off, not impossible, and card synergy is the key reason to break the allied-color rules of your cards. Controlling -1/-1 counters is the easiest way to try and look at this, but there is another: it calls itself ‘Q’.

The actual ‘Q’ mechanic of untapping as a cost is limited to 11 cards. The word ‘Untap,’ however, shows up in the Orb of Insight an additional 24 times, none of which are eaten by the ‘Q’ mechanic. That shows up as ‘Q’ in the Orb, and only has the word ‘untap’ in its Reminder Text, which the Orb doesn’t look at. So you have untapping as an effect, sometimes in exchange for a -1/-1 counter dropped onto the creature, other times as part of another effect. Combining “untap this” with “tap this” is in fact getting peanut butter in your chocolate (or chocolate in your peanut butter, whichever you prefer) and so card-pool synergy is going to have a high impact on your deck design. There also happens to be some cards that give the ability “Tap to do something” to a creature or even to all creatures you control, and an entire mechanic that lets you tap guys to Fork a spell. Admittedly, the “Color Matters” theme is more straightforward and plenty of decks will be more profitable by adding in their dual-color Lords and giving all their guys +2/+2, and the general rules of sealed deck still apply, but powerful interactions abound and you should be looking for -1/-1 tricks or untap-happy guys.

Unfortunately, while they abound, they will have to be actually plentiful so you aren’t just using a few two-card combos and hoping you actually draw the right pieces, and that your opponent doesn’t kill one. If instead you have a bunch of guys that work with -1/-1 counters, either eating them or sharing them, and can get your Persist on or find some other way to make them besides running into creatures with Wither… well, so long as you have a large team of guys that care about this theme then you might just want to jump into putting all of these cards together regardless of whether they fit an allied-color pair and going with it. The same goes for guys that tap or untap, and possible combos to use these sorts of abilities multiple times a turn… except that without the other half of the ‘combo,’ you still have a useful utility guy and aren’t missing an enabler.

So with color-matters, tapping/Q-matters, and -1/-1-matters as different angles of attack to choose for potent synergy, it’s a good idea to look at everything that matters as quickly as possible and figure out how you’re supposed to be building your deck. Much like Ravnica block, we have pairs of colors that matter, but this time everything is working with allied colors (… so far; Eventide offers no comment at this juncture…) so piling your cards in color-wheel order works just fine. No hyper-dimensional ‘tricks’ here, to align your color combinations in a plus-sign formation and to treat it like a cube extended into fourth-dimensional space. You will want to have eleven columns all together: the five mono-colored columns, prominently displayed… the five dual-color hybrids, beneath and between each of their associated color pairs… and a stack for cards you can cast regardless of your colored mana situation (which includes not just artifacts this time but also a cycle of uncommons, the ‘monocolored hybrid’ cards, since you’d probably be happy to play Lightning Blast in your Sealed Deck even if it costs 6).

This sounds like a lot, but so long as you are neat about it you can fit these all into the table space you have. We did it during Ravnica Block with some very strange geometric patterns and we can do it here with simpler patterns too, as we start putting pieces together and figuring out what we want to play. This can be made simpler by cutting down information… you are going to go through and pull all the chaff cards you don’t want to play anyway, so doing that before you set cards on the table can’t hurt. You’ll want to analyze your cards for general Sealed Deck strength, because the old rules still apply, and for the in-context rules of Shadowmoor, which means having a look at the tap-and-untap tricks you have available, the -1/-1 counter tricks you can pull, and whether there is anything bomby to reward you for playing a bunch of cards that share those two colors. In addition to those, you will of course still be looking for ‘generic’ bombs, like mass removal or Dragon-size monsters, and counting removal spells so you don’t get run over by your opponent’s synergistic effects because you are short on elimination.

Still with me? It’s a lot to absorb at first, because you want to look at so many different layers and figure out where your card-pool is drawing you. Lots of ways to move around counters might draw you to one color combination, while depth of removal suggests a different color entirely and powerful color-counting cards would provide beatdown from yet another color combination. Thus it is that you can have three people look at a card pool and get three very different strong ‘first impressions’: one person might say, “You have a lot of Black removal spells,” while another would say “Your White-Green is so aggressive” and the third would say “I know it’s not a normal color pairing, but putting your Blue and Red cards together gives you the best combination for abusing untap tricks.” Worse yet, they’ll all be telling the truth and figuring out which is the best is the challenge. As with any Sealed Deck format, sometimes it’s obvious, often it’s not.

So while we are still going over choosing colors and meshing themes, let’s discuss the impact of Hybrid mana on the status-quo realities of Sealed Deck. Many Sealed Deck card-pools will match up with two strongest colors that suggest powerful returns for playing your two ‘best’ colors together. When colors fall along pre-set lines, such as Lorwyn’s tribes or Ravnica’s guilds, there will often be form, structure, and synergy to be found in using these together. Hybrid… sort of works like that. Many things like to be played with things just like themselves, so it’s almost like there are five guilds… but the fact that hybrid mana deepens each color it contributes to means that each of your colors will have a larger-than-average number of cards it could conceivably cast, so while plenty of times you’ll find that it works just fine to pick your strongest ‘guild’ and stick with it, adding in some leavening from the nearby guilds that can lend cards by pretending to be mono-colored for one of those two colors, you will OFTEN find that your two best colors overall are not necessarily two colors that form a ‘guild.’

I would in fact go one step further, to posit that playing a two-color combination pair of enemy colors is the best way to gain access to a deep card-pool, because of how the numbers work out. Let’s leave out the complexity of mono-colored hybrid, lands, and artifacts for the moment, and just assign straight percentages:

Mono-Colored Cards: 10% of the card pool for each color
Dual-Colored Hybrids: 10% of the card pool for each of the five allied pairs

To use an allied-color hybrid combination, like Blue-Black, you gain access to 10% of the card-pool for each mono-color in the pair, so you have access to 20% of your card-pool right there. Add in your guild’s hybrid cards, naturally, and you bring that to 30%. Add in the Blue-White hybrids and the Black-Red hybrids, because you can technically cast them in your ‘mono’-Blue/Black deck, and you get a whopping 50% of the card-pool accessible in your deck.

To use an enemy-color hybrid combination, like Blue-Red, you gain access to 10% of the card-pool for each mono-color in the pair, so you have access to 20% of your card-pool right there. You don’t have a guild’s hybrid cards to add: you are not playing a guild. You then get to allocate all of the hybrids that you can theoretically cast, adding in the Blue-Black and Blue-White hybrids (they’re Blue) for a bonus 20% because you are Blue, and adding in the Black-Red and Red-Green hybrids (they’re Red) for an additional 20% of the card-pool you can cast. This adds up to 60% of the card-pool… a realization many will not come to when they see the allied-color theme and obediently stick with the notion that playing an allied-color pair is “best.”

So because of the hybrid nature of the set, we see clear benefits assuming a normal card distribution, as you gain a deeper chunk of castable cards by going enemy-colored. You also, unfortunately, butt heads with the ‘color matters’ theme in all of its strength, as your allied-color guild cards would have a decent chance of having at least some effect on every spell in your deck that generates a permanent in play. If, however, the color-matters theme is weak in your best colors by the other pointers (be it a classic, like removal, fliers, or card advantage, or one of those newfangled vectors like Q or -1/-1) then feel free to jump ship entirely on the allied-color theme and hop aboard enemy-color central.

This same idea is likewise true in draft, as well. Drafting an enemy color has an outright bonus right up front, just in the sheer number of cards you could potentially cast, so there is reason to think there should in fact be 10 color-pair archetypes to play instead of just the five obvious ones. And since I haven’t heard a single word elsewhere on bucking the allied color theme, feel free to say you heard it here first.

And another thing we’ve seen hinted at, by a certain Wizards employee who happens to have a bit of experience drafting this set so far (… how lucky!) is that near-monocolored decks are also something you have to look at. “Color matters,” after all, counts basic lands as well as cards of a color, so thanks to the deeper card-pool for each color and a reasonable number of artifacts helping out to boot it is within the realm of possibility to maximize just one single color. While this is almost certainly a bad idea for Sealed play, one heavy color and a second-color splash is worth thinking about if you happen to have that one ridiculous color… but I expect you to show me three burn spells if you want to try it.

But the lesser-realized effect of hybrid mana is that the colored mana symbols are greedy, greedy things in this set. You can in fact spend WWWWW or UUUUU or anything in between on some of your bombs, so the traditional two-colors-plus-splash model we have been using forever is very, very hard to expect to make happen here in Shadowmoor. I suspect this is part of the reason that the color-neutral artifacts are in the set, so that you can reliably build your two-color deck and get to 23 playables, and while there is some mana-fixing to potentially allow for a third-color splash it is not something I would expect to see very often. After all, the mana symbols are greedy and the ramifications of drawing that off-color land could be huge: your spells lose one point of potency, and suddenly your high-power three-drop is delayed indefinitely. With your potential playables so greatly expanded for a two-color deck compared to prior formats, the need for splashing is hopefully reduced… but the penalties of splashing are considerable indeed.

So let’s get to the nitty-gritties: cards to know about, and the tricks that don’t sit on the table.


Calcify — 5ww
Sorcery (Rare)
Destroy all nonwhite creatures.

Here is the bomby Wrath variant. Be aware. But don’t be afraid… it is slow and expensive, and it might just not do anything if you too are playing White. A Wrath that your opponent has to worry about siding out… an occasionally-toothless, ridiculous-when-it-works bomb rare.

Inquisitor’s Snare — 1w
Instant (Common)
Prevent all damage target attacking or blocking creature would deal this turn. If that creature is black or red, destroy it.

This is always damage-prevention and thus an acceptable maindeck spell, that happens to be a kill spell against three of the five allied-color pairs at least some of the time.

Last Breath — 1w
Instant (Common)
Remove target creature with power 2 or less from the game. Its controller gains 4 life.

Removal for utility creatures. Still more instant-speed removal than white usually gets.

Prison Term — 1ww
Enchantment — Aura (Uncommon)
Enchant creature. Enchanted creature can’t attack or block, and its activated abilities can’t be played. Whenever a creature comes into play under an opponent’s control, you may attach Prison Term to that creature.

One of the obligatory Pacifism variants, and an excellent one at that. White’s removal is plentiful indeed.


Aethertow — 3 {w/u}
Instant (Common)
Put target attacking or blocking creature on top of its owner’s library. Conspire (As you play this spell, you may tap two untapped creatures you control that share a color with it. When you do, copy it and you may choose a new target for the copy.)

Four untapped mana and two untapped guys means you should give serious consideration to attacking with more than one creature this turn. Continuing to develop your board to make your opponent keep that mana up each and every turn he wants his Aethertow online might mean that your opponent chokes on this to the point where even it will no longer save him, but this card is very potent and needs to be respected despite the fact that it is clunky and hard to use effectively. Pulling off ‘Plow Under your guys’ is worth those occasional awkward moments where this is just a bit of a worse Repel instead.

Curse of Chains – 1{w/u}
Enchantment — Aura (Common)
Enchant creature. At the beginning of each upkeep, tap enchanted creature.

Another Pacifism variant. Interesting alongside Q but still not something you’re going to put on your own guy, I’d expect.

Glamer Weaver 4{w/u}
Creature – Faerie Wizard (Uncommon)
Flash, Flying. When Glamer Weaver comes into play, attach all Auras enchanting target permanent to another permanent with the same controller.

Not quite a Sentinels of Glen Elendra, but it can do a similar job… and happens to have a very interesting comes-into-play ability that can mess with your attack quite unexpectedly, as this is an enchantment-heavy set by all appearances.

Godhead of Awe – {w/u}{w/u}{w/u}{w/u}{w/u}
Creature – Spirit Avatar (Rare)
Flying. Other creatures are 1/1.

A powerful rare that kills all other creatures with a -1/-1 counter on it (that’s how the layering works after all) and neuters everything that isn’t itself. Worthy of knowing about, just like that Wrath out there.

Mirrorweave – 2{w/u}{w/u}
Instant (Rare)
Each other creature becomes a copy of target nonlegendary creature until end of turn.

A rare, but still a combat trick that exists and needs to be thought about for at least a moment when you try and figure out what your opponent is representing… that mana means Aethertow 99% of the time though I’d figure.

Plumeveil – {w/u}{w/u}{w/u}
Creature — Elemental (Uncommon)
Flash. Flying, defender.

More combat-specific U/W removal. Worthy of being aware of, if nothing else. It is after all a surprise the first time it comes for you.

Repel Intruders – 3{w/u}
Instant (Uncommon)
Put two 1/1 white Kithkin Soldier creature tokens into play if {W} was spent to play Repel Intruders. Counter up to one target creature spell if {U} was spent to play Repel Intruders. (If {W}{U} is spent, do both)

The Counterspell in the format you need to think about. It does good things, even if it is quite a bit expensive… but then that just means it probably counters the first thing it can, so you don’t waste mana forever.

Thistledown Liege – 1{w/u}{w/u}{w/u}
Creature – Kithkin Knight (Rare)
Flash. Other white creatures you control get +1/+1. Other blue creatures you control get +1/+1.

Technically a combat trick. But like I said, with this being a rare, 99% of the time it’s Aethertow that this mana will be representing.

Turn to Mist – 1{w/u}
Instant (Common)
Remove target creature from the game. Return that card to play under its owner’s control at end of turn.

Technically a combat trick, since it can save your guy or throw off an attacker’s math, just not quite as good of one as previous versions of this card have been. Still playable, I’d expect.


Cerulean Wisps — u
Instant (Common)
Target creature becomes blue until end of turn. Untap that creature. Draw a card.

… An incredibly cheap, cantripping untap effect, that can re-use a utility effect, jumpstart your engines some or ‘just’ untap a blocker to eat an attacker on the cheap.

Consign to Dream — 2u
Instant (Common)
Return target permanent to its owner’s hand. If that permanent is red or green, put it on top of its owner’s library instead.

The standard-issue overpriced bounce spell is always playable, but like the Snare above it does more against most opponents.

Leech Bonder — 2u
Creature – Merfolk Soldier (Uncommon)
Leech Bonder comes into play with two -1/-1 counters on it.
{U}, {Q}: Move a counter from target creature onto another target creature. ({Q} is the untap symbol)

While not an instant-speed trick, this is one of the most powerful cards to abuse -1/-1 counters. It also shows up on the ‘Q’ radar, and so is one of those cards that when it is being used, sure isn’t doing anything fair.


Fate Transfer – 1{u/b}
Instant (Common)
Move all counters from target creature onto another target creature.

This is the set full of -1/-1 counters after all. That makes this basically a removal spell, right?

River Grasp – 3{u/b}
Sorcery (Uncommon)
Return target creature to its owner’s hand if {U} was spent to play River Grasp.
If {B} was spent to play River Grasp, target player reveals his or hand. You choose a nonland card from it. That player discards that card. (If {U}{B} is spent, do both)

When cast at full functionality, this kills any creature it can target or might just clear a bomb out of the opponent’s hand instead if they have something worse. Clearly limited as a bounce spell by its sorcery nature, but it’s a four-mana Banishing. If the five-mana one was good, isn’t the four-mana one good too?

Torpor Dust – 2{u/b}
Enchantment — Aura (Common)
Flash. Enchant creature. Enchanted creature gets -3/-0.

Another Blue ‘combat trick’, with the benefit of being permanently disfiguring to a creature even if you aren’t trading this spell for their man instead of your creature. Pretty solid all around, even if it does leave a blocker around.


Corrupt – 5b
Sorcery (Uncommon)
Corrupt deals damage equal to the number of Swamps you control to target creature or player. You gain life equal to the damage dealt this way.

You are not safe. You have been warned.

Gloomlance — 3bb
Sorcery (Common)
Destroy target creature. If that creature was green or white, its controller discards a card.

Obligatory five-mana Banishing… this set’s Weed Strangle.

“Incremental Blight” – 3bb
Sorcery (Uncommon)
Put a -1/-1 counter on target creature, two -1/-1 counters on another target creature, and three -1/-1 counters on a third target creature.

The name of this one we’re not so sure about, but that there is a Black ‘dark Incremental Growth’ is basically a known fact. This card… is ridiculous. True fact.

Torture – b
Enchantment — Aura (Common)
Enchant creature. 1{B}: Put a -1/-1 counter on enchanted creature.

Apparently Daily Regimen was a throw-in, as the ‘anti-Torture.’ Slow and expensive removal is still removal… and who knows, maybe something crazy exists out there that would cause you to want to enchant your own creature with this. Who knows.


Cultbrand Cinder – 4{b/r}
Creature – Elemental Shaman (Common)
When Cultbrand Cinder comes into play, put a -1/-1 counter on target creature.

Removal is removal, even when it’s bad removal on a Snidd.

Din of the Fireherd – 5{b/r}{b/r}{b/r}
Sorcery (Rare)
Put a 5/5 black and red Elemental creature token into play. Target opponent sacrifices a creature for each black creature you control, then sacrifices a land for each red creature you control.

Stupidly expensive, and a Rare so it’s not like you have to worry about it often, but this is almost like a one-sided Wrath-a-Geddon that leaves a 5/5. I’m not suggesting you suddenly start playing around eight-mana sorceries, but realize if you have it that this card is stupidly, stupidly powerful.

Grief Tyrant – 5{b/r}
Creature — Horror (Uncommon)
Grief Tyrant comes into play with four -1/-1 counters on it. When Grief Tyrant is put into a graveyard from play, put a -1/-1 counter on target creature for each -1/-1 counter on Grief Tyrant.

Expensive removal still counts, and this trades as a 4/4 then gives -4/-4 to something else. Or possibly does even worse, if you can actually abuse it just being a creature that comes into play with four -1/-1 counters on it.

Kulrath Knight – 3{b/r}{b/r}
Creature – Elemental Knight (Uncommon)
Flying. Wither. Creatures your opponents control with counters on them can’t attack or block.

… And this is another potent Uncommon, since many cards either start with a -1/-1 counter or can give them to a creature, and since it only neutralizes an opponent’s creatures the symmetry comes pre-broken. A very powerful uncommon, in the context of the set.

Murderous Redcap – 2{b/r}{b/r}
Creature – Goblin Assassin (Uncommon)
When Murderous Redcap comes into play, it deals damage equal to its power to target creature or player. Persist.

A two- (or more) —for-one that is very, very good. It’s no Flametongue Kavu, but its subtle power plus the potential to well and truly abuse it by harnessing those -1/-1 counters to turn Persist infinite makes this an Uncommon to be afraid of.

Scar – {b/r}
Instant (Common)
Put a -1/-1 counter on target creature.

Super-cheap small removal. Doing what black and/or red does best.

Torrent of Souls – 4{b/r}
Sorcery (Uncommon)
Return up to one target creature card from your graveyard to play if {B} was spent to play Torrent of Souls. Creatures target player controls get +2/+0 and gain haste until end of turn if {R} was spend to play Torrent of Souls. (Do both if {B}{R} was spent)

… And this is this set’s real Overrun effect, pumping your team and adding a huge body while you are at it.

Traitor’s Roar – 4{b/r}
Sorcery (Common)
Tap target untapped creature. That creature deals damage equal to its power to its controller. Conspire (As you play this spell, you may tap two untapped creatures you control that share a color with it. When you do, copy it.)

As a Sorcery, this card is hard to implement, but this breaks stalemates by potentially outright killing the opponent. This effect may be better than you realize, despite the high cost and obvious disadvantages.


Burn Trail – 3r
Sorcery (Common)
Burn Trail deals 3 damage to target creature or player. Conspire (As you play this spell, you may tap two untapped creatures you control that share a color with it. When you do, copy it and you may choose a new target for the copy.)

This format’s Magma Burst. It’s “pretty good”, I’m told.

Flame Javelin – {2/r}{2/r}{2/r}
Instant (Uncommon)
Flame Javelin deals 4 damage to target creature or player.

Lightning Blast for RRR, RR2, R4, or 6. Clearly it gets worse the more you have to pay for it… but getting hit for four at instant speed by a Blue-White deck is something you would like to at least be aware is technically possible if they are representing six mana up.

Furystoke Giant – 3rr
Creature – Giant Warrior (Rare)
When Furystoke Giant comes into play, each other creature you control gains “{T}: This creature deals 2 damage to target creature or player” until end of turn. Persist.

Obligatory bomb rare. Might just say “When this creature comes into play, target opponent dies”. This is so sick, sad and wrong that it is literally nauseating to face off against.

Jaws of Stone — 5r
Sorcery (Uncommon)
Jaws of Stone deals X damage divided as you choose among any number of target creatures and/or players, where X is the number of Mountains you control as you play Jaws of Stone.

See “Corrupt”. You life total is not safe. This also happens to be Volcanic Winds sometimes, if you are old-school enough to remember that¬ ¬six-mana Red sorcery power-bomb. In heavy Red this is basically Rolling Thunder, which was basically “GG” in its day. Unlike Corrupt, this one is absolutely ridiculous against a board of creatures in addition to being able to X-spell you out of the game.

Nice card.

Power of Fire – 1r
Enchantment — Aura (Common)
Enchant creature. Enchanted creature has “{T}: This creature deals 1 damage to target creature or player.”

This hits the ‘Q’ button and is cheap, repeating removal. Sometimes more repeating than others it seems, in this set full of Horseshoe Crabs.

Puncture Bolt — 1r
Instant (Common)
Puncture Bolt deals 1 damage to target creature. Put a -1-/1 counter on that creature.

Just a generic two-mana two-damage burn spell, but one that happens to have an interesting incidental effect that is great against Persist or the occasional one-toughness regenerator.


Firespout – 2{r/g}
Sorcery (Uncommon)
Firespout deals 3 damage to each creature without flying if {R} was spent to play Firespout and 3 damage to each creature with flying if {G} was spent to play it. (Do both if {R}{G} was spent.)

This card is stupidly powerful and incredibly customizable. This card may even be better than Savage Twister, if you look at it the right way, because it was very rare indeed that my Savage Twisters ever cost six or more mana. This is far and away the best mass-removal in the set, and is only an Uncommon… so be aware, and try not to over-extend right into it.

Farhaven Elf – 2g
Creature – Elf Druid (Common)
When Farhaven Elf comes into play, you may search your library for a basic land card and put that card into play tapped. If you do, shuffle your library.

Green mana-acceleration and five-color fixing. There’s so little five-color fixing in the set, it’s worthy of note.

Gloomwidow’s Feast – 3g
Instant (Common)
Destroy target creature with flying. If that creature was blue or black, put a 1/2 green Spider creature token with reach into play.

Expensive and narrow removal is Green’s hallmark, when it gets any at all, but if you have a lot of fliers, watch for this out of the sideboard.

Howl of the Night Pack – 6g
Sorcery (Uncommon)
Put a 2/2 green Wolf creature token into play for each Forest you control.

It isn’t Overrun. It isn’t Tromp the Domains. It is, however, an army in a box… and may simulate either of those cards in the “casting this correlates 100% with winning the game” department. Seven is a lot, but hey… more lands means more men.

Tower Above – {2/g}{2/g}{2/g}
Sorcery (Uncommon)
({2/g} can be paid with any two mana or with {G}. This card’s converted mana cost is 6.)
Until end of turn, target creature gets +4/+4 and gains trample, wither and “When this creature attacks, target creature blocks it this turn if able.” (It deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters.)

Another far stretch for Green removal, but one that will get some significant damage across when you successfully Provoke your chosen creature to death. Not great, but it is on the correct side of playable… better than you’d expect a sorcery-speed pump spell to be.


Dawnglow Infusion – x{w/g}
Sorcery (Uncommon)
You gain X life.
You gain two times X life instead if {G}{W} was spent to play Dawnglow Infusion.

I hate to say it, but double-X in life is a lot of life, and might even be worthy of consideration if you are Green-White. But then, if you are G/W you are probably very aggressive, and might just be boned anyway since G/W usually gets the short end of the removal stick, so I’m still probably back to “would slit my wrists with this card before I ever cast it”. Thank goodness.

Mercy Killing – 2{w/g}
Instant (Uncommon)
Target creature’s controller sacrifices it, then puts X 1/1 green and white Elf tokens into play, where X is that creature’s power.

Speaking of G/W getting no removal, here is some G/W removal. Like Pongify, this is probably best used on your own man… and this can get out of hand with some mass-pump effects. Of which there are thankfully few.

Reknit – 1{w/g}
Instant (Uncommon)
Regenerate target permanent.

Part unimpressive combat trick, part counterspell for creature removal. It is worthy of noting that so far nothing gives a creature +X/+X at instant speed in Green, it’s been either sorcery speed or just pumped power (while it made something Green for a turn).


Cauldron of Souls – 5
Artifact (Rare)
{T}: Choose any number of target creatures. Those creatures gain persist until end of turn.

This is a one-sided way to maul your opponent in combat… my guys live, your guys die, possibly every turn (who knows). Add the fact that you can use Persist to generate -1/-1 counters, survive even the worst of removal spells, or otherwise just be unfair and this is a bomb rare.

Chainbreaker – 2
Artifact Creature – Scarecrow (Common)
Chainbreaker comes into play with two -1/-1 counters on it. 3, {T}: Remove a -1/-1 counter from target creature.

And this is the common that starts the -1/-1 shenanigans, making Persist re-usable or just breaking the symmetry of the set when your cards fight your opponent’s. Not as good as Leech Bonder, but still… pretty solid, if expensive and fragile.

Grim Poppet – 7
Artifact Creature — Scarecrow (Rare)
Grim Poppet comes into play with three -1/-1 counters on it. Remove a -1/-1 counter from Grim Poppet: Put a -1/-1 counter on another target creature.

Kind of like Triskelion. Except you can do more unfair things with -1/-1 counters, and get to keep a 4/4 after.

Pili-Pala – 2
Artifact Creature – Scarecrow (Common)
Flying. 2, {Q}: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

Common mana-fixing in all five colors, and possible untap shenanigans. The Horseshoe Crab to Power of Fire’s Hermetic Study. Pay careful attention to your other tap/untap cards when you see this in your pile of cards.

Scuttlemutt – 3
Artifact Creature – Scarecrow (Common)
{T}: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. {T}: Target creature becomes the color or the colors of your choice until end of turn.

Both five-color mana-fixing and acceleration, and a tricksy color-manipulating creature in the Color Matters set? This card would have been Blue in most other sets, and that says something about how good this guy is.

Trip Noose – 2
Artifact (Uncommon)
2, {T}: Tap target creature.

Simple any-color removal. Not something you won’t see coming, but it is worth noting that you can probably expect your opponent to have a decent artifact or two, so being able to kill one might be good.

Umbral Mantle – 3
Artifact — Equipment (Uncommon)
Equipped creature has: “3, {Q}: This creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn.”
Equip 0

More untap shenanigans to be watched for, stapled to a card that makes a creature bigger while it is at it… good on an attacker, great to untap and defend, and adds to the tap/untap craziness.

And without that last 10% of the set, that’s all the news that is fit to print. Good luck at the Shadowmoor pre-release, and maybe this has struck some deep thoughts in how you should go about building your deck so that maybe just maybe you won’t need that luck… you might just be better armed than your opponent is. As the old adage says, “study and grow strong”.

Sean McKeown
s_mckeown @ hotmail.com