Shadows Over Innistrad Financial Set Review: Part 3!

Chas Andres closes out his excellent Magic finance series by detailing his projections for the remainder of Shadows over Innistrad’s new singles!

Shadows over Innistrad Prerelease April 2-3!

Welcome to part three of my Shadows over Innistrad set review! If you missed part one, you can check it out here. Part two is available here.

Red Rares

Sin Prodder – $8.99

Whoa! Sin Prodder looks sweet…but is it actually any good?

First off, Sin Prodder is a 3/2 with menace for 2R. That’s not amazing, but it’s solid enough as long as we’re getting some additional value.

At the beginning of your upkeep—before you draw for the turn—you reveal the top card of your library. Let’s pretend it’s turn 4 or 5, you’ve got a decent aggro curve going, but your opponent is slowly turning the corner. If you reveal a land, your opponent puts it in your graveyard and you get no bonus (other than, perhaps, clearing a land from the top of your deck). If it’s a small creature or a cheap burn spell or something, your opponent takes one or two damage and the spell goes to the graveyard. If it’s a big creature, your opponent has a tougher decision to make; more often than not, you’ll get to draw an extra card.

People are thinking about this card like Abbot of Keral Keep, something that lets you keep a cheap aggro curve while gaining card advantage, but I don’t think a 3/2 for three that draws you a card on maybe 25% of future turns and deals another damage or two another 35% of the time is good enough in most decks. If Sin Prodder sees play, I’d expect it to happen in some sort of R/G or R/B Midrange list. Curve this into Mindwrack Demon and flip another Mindwrack Demon off the trigger, and they’re either taking four or letting you have a card that’s going to make a pretty big difference in the game. It’s also pretty good with Goldnight Castigator, though I don’t know if that deck will have a high enough curve to take advantage of Sin Prodder’s trigger.

· Ceiling: $12-$15 staple in red aggro and R/x midrange

· Floor: bulk rare

· Realistic Outcome: $2-$3 role-player in red midrange decks

Falkenrath Gorger – $3.99

It doesn’t take much for a good red one-drop to see play. While Falkenrath Gorger is no Goblin Guide, a 2/1 for a single red mana with a relevant tribal affiliation, no downside, and a decent ability is totally reasonable. I doubt Gorger’s ability will be good enough to build around—madness seem like it’ll be more cute than good in Standard—but if you’re already playing Olivia, Mobilized for War, you might as well take advantage of this.

I expect B/R Aggro Vampires to run this as a four-of, and that alone should keep the price at $3-$4 at least. If there’s another solid red deck—say, Goldnight Red—this could easily hit $7-$8. Of the $4 cards in Shadows over Innistrad, this is one of the safest to buy early on.

· Ceiling: $8-$10 staple four-of in R/B Vampires and Mono-Red Aggro

· Floor: $1.49 card in a deck that managed to be a surprising bust

· Realistic Outcome: $3-$5 staple in a Tier 1 Standard deck

Avacyn’s Judgment – $2.99

Take away the madness cost, and what we’ve got is a sorcery-speed Twin Bolt. We know roughly how good that card is: Twin Bolt sees some play in Standard, but not much. Sorcery-speed Twin Bolt is playable if the upside is high enough, but it’s certainly not great.

Pay the madness cost, though, and suddenly Avacyn’s Judgment is an undercosted Rolling Thunder. Rolling Thunder isn’t a playable card in Standard, but it has to be great when it’s got some early game versatility and you can play it for “free” off a Jace loot, right?

I’m skeptical. This is one of those high upside/low floor cards that has the potential to be outstanding in the right format (essentially an interactive card early on that makes an impact and gains you card advantage late) and unplayable in the wrong one. I’m not buying for $3, but I’m putting this on my “watch closely” list. If it looks like madness is easy to activate for value and the versatility here proves strong, the upside is very high.

· Ceiling: $10-$12 staple four-of in multiple R/x decks

· Floor: bulk rare

· Realistic Outcome: bulk rare

Harness the Storm – $1.99

Harness the Storm is too hard to set up in Standard and it’s totally useless in Commander. That’s strike one and strike two. Harness does seem like the kind of card that will end up in some crazy budget Modern deck three years from now and spike to $8, though it’s clearly worse than Pyromancer Ascension. I’m going to keep my eye on it after it drops to bulk anyway. In the meantime, feel free to trade these away.

· Ceiling: $3 four-of in a rogue second-tier Standard deck

· Floor: bulk rare

· Realistic Outcome: bulk rare with long-term upside

Scourge Wolf – $1.99

I’m very high on Mono-Red Aggro in Shadows, but I don’t really like Scourge Wolf. People are comparing this to Ash Zealot, but that card had haste in addition to first strike. If Scourge Wolf had haste instead of first strike, I’d like it a lot more; on a card like this, haste is exactly what you want. A 2/2 with first strike still just dies to a 2/3.

As for the delirium ability, I’m not impressed. Fast red decks aren’t going to be hitting delirium with any regularity, and Scourge Wolf isn’t even very good once you do hit that threshold. It’s mediocre early and mediocre late. I’m passing.

· Ceiling: $3-$4 four-of in Mono-Red Aggro because there just aren’t any better two-drops

· Floor: bulk rare

· Realistic Outcome: bulk rare

Burn from Within – $0.99

Considering the paucity of relevant indestructible creatures in Standard right now, this is one of the worst Fireball variants we’ve seen in a long time. It might be playable if the format dictates, but it’s no Crater’s Claws, it’s no Avacyn’s Judgment, and it’s certainly no Bonfire of the Damned.

· Ceiling: $2-$3 staple in a red deck that really wants Fireball for some reason?

· Floor: bulk rare

· Realistic Outcome: bulk rare

Flameblade Angel – $0.49

When you actually have to ask yourself if a card is better than Serra Angel, you’re probably not looking at a Constructed all-star. Current bulk rare, future bulk rare.

· Ceiling: bulk rare

· Floor: bulk rare

· Realistic Outcome: bulk rare

Green Rares

Traverse the Ulvenwald – $3.99

Could we all be overstating how hard it will be to hit delirium? I doubt it, at least in Standard. Oath of Nissa is going to be more reliable than Traverse the Ulvenwald most of the time, and this is going to be a frustrating card in the mid-game where you haven’t hit delirium but you really want a creature or a sweet nonbasic instead of another stupid basic land.

That said, this is exactly what ramp decks want to smooth their draws: extra mana in the early-game and a big finisher on turn 7 or 8. I do think Traverse the Ulvenwald will be played…just not to the extent that it’s worth pre-ordering at $4.

· Ceiling: $15-$20 multi-format staple

· Floor: bulk rare

· Realistic Outcome: $2-$3 staple in Standard ramp

Wait, hold on, what’s up with that super high ceiling!? Well, this is why I’ve started laying out my set reviews this way. While I don’t think Traverse the Ulvenwald is anything special, it’s still a one-mana tutor, which gives it upside going all the way back to Vintage. I don’t expect Traverse to be a $20 staple, but I can see a world where we’ve all misevaluated delirium a bit and it ends up as the most expensive rare in the whole set. I’m still not buying at $4, but you’d better believe I’m going all in on Traverse the Ulvenwald if the early returns are promising.

Silverfur Partisan – $2.99

Casual players love Werewolves and silly Zada-esque (Zadesque?) win-more pump cards, so Silverfur Partisan should stay above bulk over the long run. We’ll need to see some good two-drop Werewolves before I start thinking about the Partisan in Standard, though, and let’s not forget that Zada, Hedron Grinder is a bulk rare right now. I’ll risk missing out on a potential Standard staple and advocate buying in at $0.75 in the weeks leading up to the first Eldritch Moon previews.

· Ceiling: $5 lord in a Tier 1.5 Standard Werewolf deck and beloved Casual card

· Floor: bulk rare

· Realistic Outcome: $1 – $1.50 Casual favorite

Tireless Tracker – $1.99

Could Tireless Tracker be part of the Thalia’s Lieutenant Collected Company Humans build? Perhaps. I doubt we’ll want to mess around with Clue tokens too much in Standard, though—they’re so darned slow—and while there are a couple of Commander decks I’d run this in, it’s not likely to be a new staple in that format, either.

· Ceiling: $2-$3 Standard role-player

· Floor: bulk rare

· Realistic Outcome: bulk rare

Sage of Ancient Lore – $1.99

With all due respect to Mark Rosewater, five-mana Maros aren’t playable in any competitive format, even if they look like Mulldrifters. This thing is a decent beater in multiplayer, especially because it’ll keep flipping back and forth, but Standard is too slow for this sort of nonsense and it’s far from overpowering in Commander.

· Ceiling: $2-$3 surprise role-player in some kind of Standard midrange blink deck

· Floor: bulk rare

· Realistic Outcome: bulk rare

Deathcap Cultivator – $1.99

Two-mana Elf accelerants (or in this case, Human Druid accelerants) are the new normal, but none of them have proven format-defining yet. Rattleclaw Mystic bounced between $0.50 and $3 during her time in Standard, and Beastcaller Savant never spent more than a couple of days over $1. Deathcap Cutivator might be a little better than those in a deck where you can reasonably expect to hit delirium, and it’s certainly a much better topdeck. Is it good enough to see play in multiple good decks, though? I doubt it.

· Ceiling: $10-$12—becomes the first two-mana “Elf” to really shine thanks to late-game utility, ends up in the Sylvan Caryatid slot in multiple great decks

· Floor: bulk rare

· Realistic Outcome: $1-$2 fringe player in some Ramp decks

Second Harvest – $1.99

Second Harvest is going to be worth a lot eventually; see Doubling Season and Parallel Lives if you don’t believe me. Commander players love cards like this, and the fact that it works at instant speed makes it a very potent weapon in the right deck. Win-more cards like Second Harvest tend not to be good enough for Standard, though, so I expect you’ll be able to pick these up for a dollar or so once the set hits market saturation.

· Ceiling: $4-$5 Casual all-star plus a finisher in a surprisingly powerful Standard G/W tokens list

· Floor: bulk rare with long-term upside

· Realistic Outcome: $1 rare with long-term upside

Soul Swallower – $0.99

The trample is nice, but there’s too much keeping Soul Swallower from being good. A 3/3 for 2GG is below the curve, you can’t hit this off Collected Company, delirium isn’t going to be easy for a green deck to trigger, and the upside isn’t high enough to try. Pass.

· Ceiling: $2-$3 staple in a fringy midrange delirium deck

· Floor: bulk rare

· Realistic Outcome: bulk rare

Inexorable Blob – $0.99

How is this thing inexorable? It’s super-easy to stop! Just kill it with any spell or block it with a creature that has three power. It’s only good when you have delirium, and even then the extra blobs you get are just standard Oozes; they don’t have special powers beyond being 3/3 vanilla creatures. This would have been a chase rare the last time madness was dominant in Standard, but creatures are a whole lot better now.

· Ceiling: bulk rare

· Floor: bulk rare

· Realistic Outcome: bulk rare

Multicolored Rares

Anguished Unmaking – $7.99

While some disagree with me, I don’t think Anguished Unmaking is good enough to become a Modern staple. There are quite a few good removal options in that format already, and paying three life is steep when you’re also running shocklands, fetchlands, and potentially Thoughtseize. It might see a little play there, but I wouldn’t count on Modern to bolster its value.

Standard, though? Yes, please! People are underrating Anguished Unmaking because Utter End was never the best removal spell, but three mana is a lot better than four. The mana cost is restrictive, so it probably won’t see play in more than one or two decks, though it’s probably good that this card didn’t exist at the same time as Siege Rhino.

Anguished Unmaking doesn’t have the highest ceiling due to its restrictive color requirement, but its floor is pretty high as well. I can’t really see a Standard format where this isn’t a four-of in at least one good deck. If you’re a B/W player, buying in at $8 seems reasonable to me, but you’re unlikely to get hurt much if you choose to wait.

· Ceiling: $10 Tier 1 removal spell in multiple great decks

· Floor: $2-$3 Tier 2 removal spell purely because of the mana requirements

· Realistic Outcome: $5 Tier 1 removal spell in one great deck and playable in a few others

Prized Amalgam – $3.99

Prized Amalgam is one of the most exciting cards in the set. I’m not sure there’s room for this in Legacy Dredge, but I can see it making Modern Dredge a lot more reliable, and perhaps even viable in a post-Eldrazi metagame. Vengevine and Fauna Shaman, anyone?

As for Standard, 1UB is a pretty restrictive mana cost and there either is or isn’t going to be a grindy Zombie deck near the top tiers of the new format. Right now, it looks like we might be a piece or two away. Could that change in Eldritch Moon? I hope so. Considering the promise this card has in both Modern and future iterations of Standard, I’m hoping it’ll drop toward bulk and I’ll get a chance to buy in a few weeks from now.

· Ceiling: $6-$8 Standard staple and Modern role-player

· Floor: $1 rare with long-term upside

· Realistic Outcome: $1-$2 Standard fringe player with long-term upside

Invocation of Saint Traft – $1.99

The goose is loose once again! I suppose this could see play in Modern Bogles, but WotC would need to reprint (ugh, please, no) something like (shudder) Invisible Stalker for Invocation of Saint Traft to see play in Standard. Otherwise, you’re just leaving yourself open for the easiest two-for-one in the world. I suspect this card would already be a $0.49 bulk rare if it didn’t have the words ‘Saint’ and ‘Traft’ printed on it.

· Ceiling: $3-$4 win condition in post-Eldritch Moon hexproof deck, fringe player in Modern

· Floor: bulk rare

· Realistic Outcome: bulk rare

Fevered Visions – $0.99

The good news is that Fevered Visions gets around the Howling Mine conundrum by drawing you the first card. It’s at your end step, but that’s still significant. The fact that Fevered Visions has upside beyond that is awesome, and there have been some past versions of Standard where this would have been a format-defining finisher.

Unfortunately, I don’t think Fevered Visions is fast or powerful enough for Standard in 2016. I hope I’m wrong—I love cards like this—but fast tempo decks don’t want to let their opponents draw cards, nor do they have the time to sink an entire turn into something like this. Fevered Visions has long-term Casual upside, but I see very little competitive appeal.

· Ceiling: $5 engine in a very cool throwback deck

· Floor: bulk rare

· Realistic Outcome: bulk rare with long-term upside

Altered Ego – $0.99

Clever Impersonator never saw any real play, and I doubt Altered Ego will either. It scales well, but it still requires too much to go right. Even in a U/G Ramp deck, I think it’s mostly just a win-more card.

· Ceiling: $2-$3 Standard role-player

· Floor: bulk rare

· Realistic Outcome: bulk rare

Artifact/Colorless Rares

Corrupted Grafstone – $1.99

I guess we should be lucky that there aren’t any Cluestones in a set so jam-packed with Clues. We got Corrupted Grafstone instead; it’s better, but not by much. It can certainly tap for a bunch of colors late in the game, but graveyard hate turns it off entirely, it might not tap for anything on turn 3, and the fact that it enters the battlefield tapped keeps you from using it as proactively as a Signet or Medallion. I suppose Corrupted Grafstone could see play in some sort of Standard U/X Control list, but I doubt that’ll happen. As for Commander, there are dozens of better options.

· Ceiling: $2-$3 Standard role-player.

· Floor: bulk rare

· Realistic Outcome: bulk rare

Brain in a Jar – $1.99

Aether Vial this isn’t. Not only does Brain in a Jar cost two mana instead of one, you have much less control over the counters you place, everything costs more mana to pull off, and you can’t dodge counterspells. I don’t even think most Commander decks are going to want this one unless they’re in it for the flavor. Getting value out of your new pet brain is going to be frustrating about 75% of the time.

· Ceiling: $2-$3 Casual darling and fringe player in Standard

· Floor: bulk rare

· Realistic Outcome: bulk rare

Tamiyo’s Journal – $0.99

Five-mana spells that don’t do anything are easy to evaluate. Tamiyo’s Journal is too slow for every format, and that includes Commander. Pass.

· Ceiling: $1-$2 tutor in a fringy Standard combo deck with a ton of Clues kicking around

· Floor: bulk rare

· Realistic Outcome: bulk rare

Rare Lands

Choked Estuary / Foreboding Ruins / Fortified Village / Game Trail / Port Town – $5.99

Hey, our fetchland replacements. Neat…

Yeah, mana-fixing in Standard is going to be mediocre again. The Shadow lands play nicely with the Battle lands—these are better in aggressive decks, those shine in controlling builds—but the real issue is that neither set fixes for enemy color pairs. That’s going to make the proposed B/W decks harder to play, and it’s also going to put more weight on the enemy painlands until Eldritch Moon (in theory) brings us the rest of the Shadow land cycle. Don’t be surprised if most of the best decks in Standard over the next three to four months are allied colors.

How good are these lands in the grand scheme of Magic’s fixing? Well, they’re not good enough to see play in Modern, but they’ll certainly be played in Standard due to the lack of other options. Like most large-set rare land cycles, the underplayed ones will be $2-$3 while the most popular ones should end up in the $6-$7 range. They’ll drop a bit once people start drafting a lot and they’ll go up again—some could break $10—once the next set comes out. And so it goes.

Because this particular cycle of lands is better for decks that interact in the early-game, I’d focus on trading for copies of Foreboding Ruins and Game Trail if you have a choice. To some degree it doesn’t matter much, though; if, say, U/B becomes the best deck, it’ll run four of these alongside Sudden Hollow. Monitor the metagame and buy in accordingly.

· Ceiling: $8-$9 each if, say, the two best decks run the same color pair

· Floor: $2-$3 each for whatever the underplayed color pair ends up being

· Realistic Outcome: a few of these end up at $3, a few at $5, a few at $6-$7

Westvale Abbey – $3.99

People are comparing Westvale Abbey to Kjeldoran Outpost, but that card only required two mana per creature. This one takes five and a point of life. At first glance, I’d liken this more to Gargoyle Castle; Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree; or perhaps Grove of the Guardian. Of those cards, only Vitu-Ghazi was dominant in Standard, and that had more to do with Glare of Subdual existing in the same format.

Ormendahl, Profane Prince is a heck of a finisher, and giving this a land slot isn’t that big an obligation now that Standard is moving back toward two-color decks. I can certainly imagine some games where your opponent is at less than nine life, the ground is gummed up with blockers, and you can just slam this card and win the game. I can imagine a draw-go deck wanting one or two of these just as a way to crank out creatures. Ditto some kind of G/W Humans or tokens deck that can flip this on turn 6 with regularity. I don’t know if that’s enough to maintain a $4 price tag, but I doubt it’ll end up as Gargoyle Castle-level bulk, either.

· Ceiling: $6-$7 role-player in multiple Standard decks, sees occasional Modern play

· Floor: bulk rare with long-term Casual upside

· Realistic Outcome: $2-$3 two-of finisher in multiple Standard decks

Drownyard Temple – $2.99

I love, love, love Drownyard Temple as a long-term spec. Someone will find a way to make this sing in Eternal Magic, whether it’s in a Stax deck or Legacy Lands or something with Dust Bowl and Life from the Loam. It also might end up making an appearance in Standard, likely in an Eldrazi deck with World Breaker or perhaps as a one-of or two-of in a grindy control shell with Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. It’s far too slow to be a major player in Standard, though, and it won’t be a big enough player in Modern or Legacy for the price to be affected by playability there. I’m waiting until it drops down to fifty cents or a buck and then I’m buying a couple dozen copies.

· Ceiling: $5 staple in a top-tier control or Eldrazi Ramp deck; playable in Modern or Legacy as well

· Floor: bulk rare with long-term upside

· Realistic Outcome: $1 fringe player with long-term upside

This Week’s Trends

Standard risers: Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet; Chandra, Flamecaller; Liliana, Heretical Healer; Drana, Liberator of Malakir; Nissa, Voice of Zendikar; Deathmist Raptor (told you!); all five Battle lands (finally!); Sidisi, Undead Vizier; Reflector Mage; Needle Spires; Sanctum of Ugin; and Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit.

The first batch of cards shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone; they’ve been going up for weeks. More interestingly, the Battle lands are finally starting to make a move. If you want in on these, this is your last chance. I love buying in on the creature-lands, too; they’re so low right now, there’s no reason not to have a playset of each socked away. Reflector Mage is a shoo-in to keep seeing lots of play, so it makes sense that the price is starting to rise now that fewer people are drafting Oath of the Gatewatch. Last, I like Anafenza in the W/x aggro deck that appears to have gained a lot from Shadows over Innistrad. If you want to play that deck, grab your set now.

I’m not sure Thopter Spy Network is going to end up in a Tier 1 Standard deck—I strongly doubt it—but it’s a good, fun card that should be a lot easier to play now that there are going to be Clue tokens running around. At $1.25, you could do a lot worse as a spec. In the worst case, Casual players love the card.

In Modern, the Eldrazi and anti-Eldrazi cards all seem to be trending down. Unless you are one of the very few people who thinks that neither Eldrazi Temple nor Eye of Ugin will be banned, I’d sell ASAP. Even if the deck has legs in Legacy, you’ll have a chance to buy in a lot more cheaply post-ban.

Shardless Agent was announced as a judge promo, which tells me that it’s much less likely to show up in Eternal Masters than we all previously suspected. I’m not buying at $20, but it was a must-sell before the announcement. At this point, I’m holding. The other judge foil was Temporal Manipulation, so if you’re one of the seven people out there who owns one, I’d try to sell it ASAP.

That’s all for this week! I won’t have an article next week, so join me again on Monday, April 11th and we’ll take a look at the results from the first week of Shadows over Innistrad Standard.

Shadows over Innistrad Prerelease April 2-3!